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Media Buzz

Media's Ferguson failure; Cosby's media enablers

This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," November 30, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the "Buzz Meter" this Sunday, the media narrative of what happened in Ferguson largely falls apart as a grand jury returns no indictment in the killing of Michael Brown and a prosecutor rips the round the clock coverage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERT MCCULLOCH, ST. LOUIS COUNTY PROSECUTOR: The most significant challenge encountered in this investigation has been the 24-hour news cycle and its insatiable appetite for something, for anything to talk about.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KURTZ: Did the press rush to convict Darren Wilson who we're hearing from for the first time?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC ANCHOR: And you're absolutely convinced when you look through your heart and your mind that if Michael Brown were white, this would have gone down in exactly the same way?

DARREN WILSON: Yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: No question?

WILSON: No question.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KURTZ: And with journalist in Ferguson facing tear gas and attacks ...

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: There's tear gas just dropped right near us. It's going to get very bad here if we don't have masks. They're throwing it back.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KURTZ: Did all those TV cameras exacerbate the violence? Bill Hemmer joins our discussion.

President Obama dumps Chuck Hagel as Pentagon chief while his aides anonymously trash the guy in the press. Why do news outlets publish this stuff?

Plus, a little fun talking about sexism with the ladies of "Outnumbered."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AINSLEY EARHARDT, "OUTNUMBERED" CO-HOST: In our line of work, I feel like we are criticized more as females in the business than the men are, especially for the way we look and the way we dress.

I work my parachutes two days in a row when someone comment on Twitter. It's just more than - Yeah, I'm like, really?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KURTZ: I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."

It was an extraordinary split screen spectacle, President Obama appealing for calm and right alongside his image the first eruptions of violence in Ferguson.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think the media is going to have a responsibility, as well. There is inevitably going to be some negative reaction and it will make for the TV.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KURTZ: Good TV. As fires raged and stores were looted, correspondents face danger and a Fox News camera was broken. And as prosecutor Robert McCulloch recited the grand jury evidence, we learned that some eyewitnesses cited in those early media counts changed their story or admitted they hadn't actually seen the shooting. And some pundits, even while urging caution, went too far.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DORIAN JOHNSON, WITNESSED SHOOTING: As he got closer, he fired one more shot. That shot struck my friend in the back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michael jerked his body as if he was hit, then he turns around, faced the officer and puts his hands up and the officer continues to shoot him until he goes down to the ground.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: To be clear, we need to hear from all the witnesses, but these two witnesses describe what seems to me to be a cold-blooded murder.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KURTZ: And finally, for the first time, we heard from the police officer at the center of the storm, Darren Wilson who resigned from the force this weekend sat down with ABC's George Stephanopoulos.

Joining us now to examine how the media covered this racially charged case and the violent aftermath, David Webb who hosts a Sirius/XM radio show and he's a Fox News contributor. David Zurawik, television and media critic at the Baltimore Sun and Mara Liasson of National Public Radio, also a Fox News contributor.

David Webb, what was it like, being on the Ferguson streets night after night and did you have much contact with the people who were engaging in some of the violence and troublemaking?

DAVID WEBB, RADIO SHOW HOST: I had a lot of contact, Howard. I was there in August. I spoke with the rioters then. I interviewed a lot of them, we have a lot of that file type. I also was in the middle of a scrum, in the middle of the looting, in the middle of the tear gas, all of this in Ferguson. I was right there next to the police station on South Florissant. Bottles flying overhead, we heard the initial gunshots, of course, then the looting began further down South Florissant. And a lot of this spurred on by a lot of the lie that began with hands up, don't shoot.

KURTZ: We'll come back there, but was it strange? Surreal? Scary to be there, right so up close, not just with tear gas going off, but with people that you were talking to one minute, end up (ph) getting arrested the next?

WEBB: I wouldn't go it's scary. I'd say be cautious. We had security with us. I was wearing a bullet proof vest. You do what you can, but our job is there to report on it, to get the story. I talked to people of all kinds, angry protesters, concerned residents who had lived there for 70 years, young people, some of whom confronted me, whether they don't like Fox or they do, or otherwise they recognized me. But at no point in that initial phase was it scary. What got - ended off as scary, what got worse is that eventually when people start looting and moving, there's - that means everything is a target, including people running through the crowds with dogs, with pit bulls.

DAVID ZURAWIK, BALTIMORE SUN: Right.

KURTZ: Zee, how did the cable networks do on that night, especially in the violent aftermath of the announcement?

ZURAWIK: Well, Howie, look, there's a lot of particular problems and criticisms I have. But the one thing I think is really, absolutely important for us. Cable news was there to bear witness to it. I would pay anything for that split screen that you showed to see what was going on. Cable news was the operation that dug in, brought us that story. When the networks really didn't pay much -- sort of came in and out, didn't pay much attention to it. That's good. I did have some problem with people, I had problems with CNN, for example, having a political commentator, one of the political commentators, Van Jones, out on the street with reporters. I thought in a situation like this, you need journalists. That's what you need. You need your best journalists, your most experienced journalists because it's hard enough to get verified information in a normal setting. This is - this might not be Gaza last summer, but it's scary. You know, and you're out there, you have no time to react. They have to process information. And what we in the public needed was real information. Not spin from one side or the other, not somebody saying, oh, this is just a small group of knuckleheads as Van Jones did say. It wasn't. We know that.

KURTZ: When the prosecutor said that his biggest problem was the nonstop media coverage and social media. Did he have an important point?

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: It probably was a problem for him, but that is what we've got today. We have got nonstop wall to wall coverage and we have got social media. There's absolutely nothing he can do about it. I actually thought that was a little gratuitous. I mean that's not his biggest problem. He was supposed to be finding the facts and presenting it to a grand jury. He did something pretty unusual. He didn't make a recommendation to the grand jury as most prosecutors do. So I think for him to blame his problems on the media I think is unfair.

KURTZ: Now, let's go back to the early media narrative, which was basically all about Michael Brown as the innocent victim over rogue cop. We've learned a lot more since then. But did journalists, looking back now with the benefit of hindsight, with the benefit of this evidence, rush to judgment?

WEBB: Yes, they did. Without a doubt, they did. They started from the initial gentle giant approach, then, of course, hands up, don't shoot, again, which I said was a lie cooked up by Dorian Johnson, who was his accomplice. So, now you have a narrative they can drive. The family contributed to this in part, at least their lawyers did because they brought in Shawn Parsells, a "pathologist" or medical investigator who turns out to be a fraud who was on many of the networks pushing this narrative of being shot in the back, and then, of course, that got refuted. So the media played into this because it fit their narrative. MSNBC did a horrible job. CNN did not do a great job. Fox, to our credit, not just because I work here, did a much more fair job of presenting the facts, and were actually attacked for demanding the due process play out.

KURTZ: Right. I mean there has been conflicting testimony now that we see what was told to the grand jury. But there was also a forensic evidence he was not shot in the back.

LIASSON: Not shot in the back.

KURTZ: But it's different. Was he charging the officer, was he not? But the problem in those early weeks -- and I talked about this at the time, is that Darren Wilson wasn't telling his side. Neither was the Ferguson police department. So the people the media had access to were Michael Brown's family, his allies, and people sympathetic to him, but that did create or foster a one-sided view.

LIASSON: Yeah, and is that the media's fault or the fact that those people chose not to tell their side of the story? Look, we know now he was not shot in the back, but when you read that grand jury testimony, it's still very ambivalent. You know, did he have to be shot in the head? Could he have been shot is in the legs? Could he have been told, you know, lie down on the ground? There are a lot of things that are still questioned. And that, I think, means that this is an ongoing story that deserves a lot of attention, not just the circumstances of his death, Michael Brown's death, but also all of the other things that contribute to this. You know, why are police forces in black communities mostly white? I mean, there's a lot of things that can be discussed in a serious, sober way going forward.

WEBB: And I agree with Mara. We need to have those discussions. But those discussions ...

KURTZ: There have been some good reporting.

LIASSON: Yeah, I think so.

KURTZ: Broader questions.

LIASSON: I think so.

KURTZ: Let me - let me come to you, David, and that is, we didn't even know until late in the process that - this altercation in the police car, that shots have been fired. I mean it was completely changed our understanding of what happened in the runup to that shooting. So, where are you on this question of whether the media were too quick to embrace one side? Even though we all knew as journalists that there was a lot that we hadn't yet found out during those early weeks.

ZURAWIK: Listen. I think the journalist's job in this situation like that, is to not buy into a narrative. It makes it easier, especially for cable news coverage, which is rolling, and you sort of need a narrative to process the information.

But on something like that, Howie, you have to get back to this notion of here's what we know to be true and don't go beyond what you know to be true. It happened in the criminal justice system to some extent, but it mostly happened in the journalists - and Howie, people don't even know anymore what journalism is. What are tough process and how much training it takes to process this information and to stop yourself from saying stuff that you don't know to be true because it sounds good.

KURTZ: And the other layer here, obviously, David Webb, is that the media coverage, which was divisive in my view to some degree also fueled an obvious racial divide over Ferguson. Just to pick one poll, "Huffington Post", 64 percent of blacks say Officer Wilson was at fault, 22 percent of whites. Do you agree that the media deepened the racial tension here?

WEBB: Yeah, I do believe they did. And I'll go to some of what David said. We have a job to report. I don't have a dog in this hunt when I go down there to cover the story. But media took what was a criminal event, and because of the white officer and the black youth turned it into a racial divide. This didn't start out in any manner that we now know from the grand jury testimony, from the witnesses, based on color. It started out based on a bolo alert of someone who had robbed the store and an officer who happened to be white who observed that - and or observed Michael Brown, saw the cigarillos and thought, let me question this person who is walking down the middle of the street.

KURTZ: So, do the media, as so often in these racially charged cases, take a local crime, make it a national story and kind of exploit it for ratings and clicks?

LIASSON: Sure, sure. But you know what? These are becoming a national story because every one of these is different. But when you have a series of unarmed black teenagers being killed by white police officers, regardless of the differences of their circumstances, it is a national story and it deserves attention, proper attention.

KURTZ: Let me briefly put up some New York Times video that everybody used of Michael Brown's stepfather engaged in what could only be described as a rant.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Burn this (EXPLETIVE DELETED)! EXPLETIVE DELETED) Burn this EXPLETIVE DELETED)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KURTZ: Should that have been shown?

ZURAWIK: You know, I thought when I was reviewing that evening, I didn't write about it, because I didn't know the facts. But I thought that the cable channels weren't showing that because they thought it was so inflammatory and they were holding it back. I saw it everywhere the next day.

KURTZ: Well, that may be ...

ZURAWIK: But you know what? David explained to me how that started and he was standing nearby and the crews couldn't get in there right away to film it. That's what it was.

KURTZ: All right. Let me get a break. We want to know what you think about this. Go on to Twitter. Send me a tweet. It's at Howard Kurtz. Either now or after the show. I read all of them. and we'll read some of them later.

Ahead, NBC reports on the latest person to turn on Bill Cosby, the guy who says he gave Cosby women lots of money.

But when we come back, President Obama praises Chuck Hagel while his aids trash the ousted Defense secretary, anonymously, of course.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: President Obama had some kind words for Chuck Hagel as he announced the Defense secretary's resignation. And yet, Mara Liasson, as I read the accounts in Washington Post and the New York Times, Politico and elsewhere, I read these - the White House lost confidence in him, he was never up to the job, he was the wrong man for the job. Why do journalists publish these disparaging quotes when somebody's getting kicked out of his job? When the officials won't put their names to it?

LIASSON: You know, I think that's a really good point. And I think if you want to say those things, you should be, you know, man enough to say with your name attached to them. The fact is that the Chuck Hagel resignation was complex. And the media worked hard all week to figure out exactly why. Was he the wrong man for the job the whole time or did the job change and he became the wrong man for the job? He was hired to downsize the military, deal with sequestration, budget cuts, get us out of Iraq, out of Afghanistan. All of a sudden, we're fighting wars in all of these different places against all these new people and that wasn't what he was hired to do.

KURTZ: Isn't this what people hate about the media? Letting top officials anonymously throw mud?

WEBB: They've been doing all along in D.C. as we all know it.

KURTZ: But we are the enablers.

WEBB: We are the enablers in that extent. But, you know, what Chuck Hagel didn't do, if you want to call that, the media fed on this, is he didn't keep the messaging clear between the president and the generals. And you had contradictory statements, conflicting statements over ISIS. The media has been feeding that all along for close to a year. And now it's a feeding frenzy because he's the next guy on the outs.

KURTZ: And then you had the spin from unnamed defense or Pentagon officials saying well, Chuck Hagel was frustrated by White House micromanagement. He initiated the discussion with Obama. What is you make of that back and forth?

LIASSON: Well, you know, that was pretty interesting. Then you also have John McCain on the record to his credit saying he was frustrated because the mission wasn't clear.

KURTZ: Right. He cannot ...

LIASSON: And we know that Chuck Hagel had sent a memo to Susan Rice about the mission in Syria not being clear. Because what you do about Bashar al- Assad? But I think that what we do know finally is he did not resign. You know, he then might have come to a ...

KURTZ: He had no choice.

LIASSON: Yes. Now, it's not like he was saying oh, please, please, please, let me stay.

KURTZ: Yeah.

LIASSON: I think that there was a number of conversations with President Obama. They were actually friends. They were both anti-war senators on the Foreign Relations Committee when they were in ...

KURTZ: A half a minute. So, do you know anything about the way, in which Hagel's side was playing the leak game, as well?

WEBB: They were playing the leak game, because this is what happens when you have a secretary of Defense that according to the people that I've talked to doesn't have the confidence of the generals of the Pentagon because of the micromanagement, because of the conflicts with the president over the reality of dealing with ISIS or al-Nusra, or all the other issues facing us.

KURTZ: One amazing thing about this whole story is that it didn't leak in advance, in which it almost never happens in Washington. David Webb, Mara Liasson, thanks very much for joining us this Sunday.

Up next, Bill Hemmer weighs in on the challenge of deciding what to air and how much to air about Ferguson.

And later, look at sexism and politics in the media with the gals of "Outnumbered."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: From the moment that Ferguson erupted, how did anchors and producers decide what to put on the air and what needed further checking? I sat down with the co-host of "America's Newsroom" here in Washington.

Bill hammer, welcome.

BILL HEMMER, AMERICA'S NEWSROOM CO-ANCHOR: Thank you, Howie. Good to be with you here.

KURTZ: Much of the early reporting on Ferguson now turns out to be wrong. How did you decide in the early days and weeks what to air and what not to air each day...

HEMMER: It's a critical question, and one that came with a lot of sensitivity, frankly, throughout the entire process. I felt that what the president had to say, I guess, was on Monday night now about the media and the responsibility the media was very well taken. It was my sense, in the ten days leading up to the grand jury decision, you had networks from all over the world who had already gone to Ferguson waiting for something to happen.

KURTZ: And promoting it constantly on the air.

HEMMER: And count the number of live shots you saw from an empty parking lot. And, listen, it's our duty and responsibility to understand the power that we have.

KURTZ: Just by showing up.

HEMMER: If we're a driving force for that story, we have to be extra careful.

KURTZ: Right. The counterargument is how can you not be there? Something could happen. But it was kind of promoted almost as a show. You know, decision imminent, we're here, something could happen.

HEMMER: I'm not saying they should not have been there. What I am arguing though, is that I thought we were judicious in the number of reports that we used and how we used them. I was watching last Friday afternoon one other cable network. And it was two hours of uninterrupted coverage from Ferguson, Missouri. Nothing had happened. And if you ...

KURTZ: The media show? Which network were you watching?

HEMMER: I was watching CNN. And it was nearly wall to wall. If you go back and look at some of the images from late August when it all started, Howie, there are pictures that you can still find online of the protests where it was 50/50. It was 50 percent protesters and 50 percent photographers and reporters.

KURTZ: Right.

HEMMER: And I think you really have to understand the context based on the number of media personnel who flew into Ferguson over the last three months and how they ranked and stacked up compared to the number of protesters. It's very important.

KURTZ: But go back to the earlier period after the shooting of Michael Brown. Eyewitnesses or people who claim to be eyewitnesses who were popping up saying he was shot in the back, he had his hands up. We now know that those accounts, most of them are discredited.

HEMMER: Based on the grand jury testimony, right.

KURTZ: Were you and Martha, and your producers reluctant to put some of that on if it had not been confirmed by Fox News? What do you do if other people are reporting it?

HEMMER: Very difficult, one we try to exercise a lot of caution and discretion. And I think we did a pretty good job of that overall. You know, in hindsight, you look at that now and you think, wow, should you have done that? That's a difficult line to walk. But now you have the grand jury testimony and the public can make up their own mind.

KURTZ: Were you concerned during that early period, that there was a one- sided narrative that was emerging, which was, you know, Michael Brown was an innocent victim, this is before we knew about the altercation in the car, before we knew a lot of things, before we knew exactly where he was shot? And we weren't hearing at all from Darren Wilson's side. Did you think ...

HEMMER: I think unfortunately that's just reality and it happens that way. And it's not just in Missouri. It's on multiple stories that we've seen over the years.

KURTZ: Puts journalist in a difficult position.

HEMMER: I agree. But it comes backs to the point I made about the president's point the other night is that we have a huge responsibility, especially when it comes to the tender subject of race in America.

KURTZ: Race in America in a way that can lead to violence in America as we unfortunately have seen. Let me switch you to politics in our final minute. You're from Ohio. You live in New York. So, you're not experiencing all the beltway dysfunction here all the time and you certainly report on it.

HEMMER: I feel like it's the Bermuda triangle down here sometimes. I can't figure out how to get out of it.

KURTZ: Well, it's an endless series of cliffs and ultimatums and showdown and rhetoric and obviously, not a lot getting done in this capital city. But do you also think that people are less interested in politics these days for that reason? And does that affect how much you cover?

HEMMER: It's a great question. I'm not so sure I know the exact answer on that. I don't think that people are less interested in politics. I think if you want to reflect on the turnout for the past midterm, it was like most other midterm elections. We were awash in it because of the control of Congress that was in the balance. But you have to think, Howie, in August there were 16 races that were considered competitive in the Senate. By October, that went down to 10 or 12. And that's where all the money was spent, all the attention was given. It was those people in those states that were -- that were -- they were getting the attention. And the rest of the country just had a regular, if I could use that word, "regular," midterm election that we've seen for decades now.

KURTZ: I thought it was a fascinating election. But I've just had this sense that public wasn't quite as engaged, and I think that drives media decisions as well.

HEMMER: Perhaps, may be. But I think in North Carolina --

KURTZ: Unless you're living in the battleground state or a battle ground district.

HEMMER: That's right. That's right.

KURTZ: Bill Hemmer, thanks very much.

HEMMER: Great to be with you, Howie. You bet.

KURTZ: Up next, some of Bill Cosby's media enablers say they're sorry for not calling him out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Bill Cosby's stocks keeping lower this week with more women accusing him of sexual assault. Colleges cutting their ties to him and a former NBC employee telling the "Today" show and New York's Daily News he sent thousands of dollars to Cosby's female pals and stood guard outside the comedian's dressing room. And there were apologies from some journalists who have written about Cosby. Joining us now from New York, Joe Concha, a columnist for Mediaite and still with us in Washington, David Webb of Sirius XM radio. Joe Concha, David Carr in his New York Times column recalls interviewing Cosby for the airline magazine "Hemispheres" not asking him about the allegations. And he says my job as a journalist was to turn down that assignment if I was not going to do the work to the truth about the guy. I should not have let him (INAUDIBLE) a lot about his new book at the time. Your thoughts.

JOE CONCHA, MEDIAITE.COM TV COLUMNIST: Kudos to David Carr, Howie. Because he is under no pressure whatsoever to write the column he did on November 24 dedicating 2,000 words to the top of basically saying I'm wrong, I should have addressed this sooner. It wasn't done in a tweet under 140 characters, it wasn't a throwaway line in some other column. David Carr said I was wrong and he was under no duress to do so whatsoever. No one was pressuring David Carr to write back column, and he even called out fellow writers, as well, such as Mark Whitaker and said hey, guy, you're in the same boat as me. You should have covered this. And Whitaker wrote a biography about Cosby.

KURTZ: Let me get to David Webb.

CONCHA: OK.

KURTZ: I agree with you that Carr called himself out, no one was asking him to do it. And so, former Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker who wrote this bio of Cosby and basically stay away from sexual allegations, tweeted, "I was wrong to not deal with the sexual assault charges against Cosby and pursue them more aggressively. So, were these and other people just kind of Cosby's media enablers? Because these charges have been out there for many years.

WEBB: Whether they did it deliberately, or because, of course, America's what - favorite dad, and people saw Cliff Huxtable, not Bill Cosby.

KURTZ: Yes.

WEBB: You do end up being the enabler. It goes back to something we talk about earlier, Howard, which is - media has a job to report the story. Whether it's good or bad. And that's something we need to have back in journalism. We have too many people who will not - they will ignore a part of a story that's uncomfortable. I say to do the work, dig in and get it out there. It's disheartening to me, but let's call it what it is. Report the story.

KURTZ: And Joe, with all of the media now piling on, in a way perhaps they should have earlier, essentially, has the collective power of the press sank Cosby's career?

CONCHA: Yes, I think in public opinion court, Howie, unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your perspective on this, now with 20 women coming about, we're seeing his legacy taken away one by one. TV Land pulling "Cosby Show" repeats, NBC pulling its contract for a new show. It's like what we saw with Joe Paterno pretty much at the end, where they took down statues and vacated wins. You know, the sin of omission, Cosby - - basically we're seeing it all go away.

KURTZ: Let me jump in because we're getting lots of e-mails, David Webb, from people who say the media have unfairly convicted Cosby on the basis of old and unproven allegations.

WEBB: They should tell the story if there are civil suits, which is likely where we are now. We'll see that play out in court. But we can't ignore the statements made by the women. I say don't run with hyperbole, but deal with that. Finally, Cosby now as I'm looking here, according to reporting, they are now offering refunds to his shows, including Taratown (ph) in New York December 6th, something they weren't doing before. So I think they're getting the idea, and I think he's going quiet on this.

KURTZ: OK. Before we go, Matt Lauer sitting down in an interview that will air tomorrow with Ray Rice, the previously suspended guy who everybody has seen the elevator video, and Janay Rice, now his wife. Let me show you some of that and I have a question for Joe Concha on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT LAUER, NBC: I can't imagine that you were that calm when you started to realize exactly what happened in that elevator. Can you describe those emotions?

JANAY RICE: I was furious. Of course in the back of my mind and in my heart, I knew that our relationship wouldn't be over. Because I know that this isn't us and it's not him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Well, that's the real interview, but ESPN, as you know, Joe, publishes a first person piece based on a, quote, interview with Janay Rice, in which she has total editorial control, including the timing. What do you make of that?

CONCHA: I wrote about this yesterday, Howie. Ron Fournier who writes for the "National Journal" summed it up perfectly in one tweet. He says, if this is true, ESPN needs to change its name to ESPR, as in public relations. Because what we saw here was the subject that now is the editor and publisher of her own interview. It's a whole bowl of wrong, Howie, quite frankly.

KURTZ: Well said. I can't believe this was - I understand this was an assisted op-ed. But why is it a news organization's job to assist a public figure, whether she is, you know, reluctantly or not, writing that op-ed. Joe Concha, David Webb, thank you. Joe, stick around for the next segment.

After the break, critics of George Stephanopoulos's interview with Darren Wilson, and how Al Sharpton's activism is playing on MSNBC.

And later, the "Outnumbered" sorority on Time magazine backing off after criticizing the word feminism.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Several top anchors tried to land a big interview with Darren Wilson. ABC's George Stephanopoulos winning that battle. He spoke with the Ferguson police officer at an undisclosed location.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is there anything you could have done differently that would have prevented that killing from taking place?

DARREN WILSON: No.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Nothing?

WILSON: No.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You have a very clean conscience.

WILSON: The reason I have a clean conscience is I know I did my job right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: We're back with David Zurawik in Washington and Joe Concha in New York. Joe, how did Stephanopoulos do in that rather sensitive situation?

CONCHA: I thought, Howie, George Stephanopoulos was solid. I thought he was methodical. I thought we got some answers there that we've never gotten before. And I thought the reaction that we saw the next day and in the days to follow showed that both sides, you can really see George being attacked either way. I think he asked all the right questions. Where I take slight issue is where ABC decided to play a little bit of this interview on "World News Tonight" and a little more on "Nightline" and a little bit more on "Good Morning America." This deserved a one-hour prime- time special, but because it was November sweeps, perhaps, and "Dancing with the Stars" is a juggernaut, it didn't get that. I thought this was a big enough story that it deserved to be played in full, in prime time.

KURTZ: Right. We never really heard Darren Wilson's voice. So it was a big opportunity for Stephanopoulos. How did he do?

ZURAWIK: I think it was interesting in the clip that you showed, morning television has made him better at getting sort of at emotions, and that question he asked was the really revealing one. I thought when Wilson said no, I have nothing, that that was surprising to me. I thought you couldn't go through that kind of fire without having some. So that was good. And he asked it. It was a morning TV question, but it worked.

KURTZ: I hadn't thought of Stephanopoulos as being a great interviewer. I thought he was pitch perfect on this. Joe, let me ask you, you wrote about the New York Times and a piece about Darren Wilson getting married publishes the street that he lives on with his new wife in a small town outside Ferguson. Why?

CONCHA: Look, regardless, Howie, of whether you think Darren Wilson is guilty or innocent, how could anyone not think that this was incredibly reckless? This was the type of action you see out of a blog that works out of a basement, not the premier print publication in the country that has 114 Pulitzers to its credit. Here is the worst part, Howie. By checking my ugly yellow phone two minutes before this segment, that story with the address is still up on their site. There are professional anarchists at work, and they only listed the street, not the actual number. Who is to say they won't just burn down the whole block to play it safe? It was completely reckless and the "New York times" needs to take down that story now.

KURTZ: Yeah. I don't understand why the Times did it because there was no upside. There was nothing to be gained. It was a feature story. It was a throw-away line, almost, but I think put his life potentially in danger, but I hope not. I don't understand why the Times still does not see that.

Coming back to the Ferguson coverage, Al Sharpton is in Ferguson again today. Obviously, he's played this dual role, as he often does in these stories, denouncing the grand jury's decision as an activist and also covering -- commenting on the story on MSNBC, hosting his own show. Is this helping MSNBC?

ZURAWIK: Howie, I think it's deplorable from a journalistic aspect that MSNBC does this. But I have been saying that since August. And they're not going to listen to me.

KURTZ: And last year with Trayvon Martin.

ZURAWIK: Yes. But you know what? MSNBC had terrible, had the smallest audience. Fox and CNN had audiences of over 5 million on prime time Monday night during that coverage. MSNBC had 1.6 million. They had a fourth of the audience of that. And I think it's directly attributable in part to Al Sharpton's activism. The audience told him, we don't want this. On a story this volatile, this important to American life, give us some reporting. I hope, I hope that gets MSNBC, sobers them up enough to say, okay, let's stop this, because they're not going to do it for righteous reasons. That's clear enough.

KURTZ: Right. So he's playing this dual role and he's not even putting up the numbers.

ZURAWIK: It's the only God they listen to in this business.

KURTZ: All right, Joe Concha and David Zurawik, thank you for stopping by this Sunday.

Ahead on "MediaBuzz," is there a double standard for female politicians and journalists? It's four on one on the set of "Outnumbered."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Sexism, feminism, these are terms that get tossed around by the media. Sometimes used as weapons, sometimes twisted or stripped of meaning, and that seemed a good jumping off point when I went to New York and sat down with the ladies of "Outnumbered."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KURTZ: I'm outnumbered today here on the set in New York with Ainsley Earhardt, Harris Faulkner, Jedediah Bila and Andrea Tantaros. I get to be the guy you all --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're one lucky guy.

KURTZ: I feel so lucky. So let me throw this out. Make my job easy. Think about the use of the word sexism. Nancy Pelosi says it's sexist to ask whether she should step down after the Democrats take a drubbing. Valerie Jarrett's allies say well, it's sexist to criticize her performance in the White House. Does that word get thrown around too much?

JEDEDIAH BILA, "OUTNUMBERED": Yes, absolutely. And the same way, if you throw around sexism or racism or whatever the word may be, it loses the meaning for cases where it's legitimate sexism and racism actually exist. So I think it's ridiculous when politicians do that.

KURTZ: And that's the thing, is that there is a sexism in our culture, in our media culture and our society. So it's not as though it doesn't exist.

ANDREA TANTAROS, "OUTNUMBERED": Yeah, but if you hear it on and on and on, then when there's a real instance, it's like, oh, it's her. Besides, someone like Valerie Jarrett and Nancy Pelosi hasn't really stopped them. These are two very powerful women who I think when they say things like that, they don't believe it for one second themselves.

AINSLEY EARHARDT, "OUTNUMBERED": Howie, I take a different approach to it. I will say in our line of work, I feel like we are criticized more as females in the business than the men are, especially for the way we look and dress. You never hear anyone comment on a man's suit. You have that news reporter that wore that same suit for a year.

KURTZ: Nobody cares what the guy is wearing.

EARHARDT: I know. But if a woman did that -- I wore a pair of shoes two days in a row and someone commented on it on Twitter. I'm like, really? Get over it.

HARRIS FAULKNER, "OUTNUMBERED": By the way, you look very nice.

KURTZ: Thank you.

FAULKNER: You're welcome. I kind of agree with that. I think it's always more important to put in your head more than you put on your head. So it would be nice as women if we were maybe recognized for that more often than I think we are. I certainly get that a lot.

KURTZ: So it's an interesting contradiction here. Some people are saying politicians use sexism, female politicians, some of them, as a way of insulating themselves from criticism. On the other hand, I can't disagree with you, your hair is off one day, you're not wearing the right thing, you get the tweets, you get the e-mails. That feels a little bit sexist, doesn't it?

FAULKNER: It's not just politicians. I think where it's competitively expedient, people use those isms. If it gives them the leg up in terms of the argument. I mean, you'll see it. Obviously, Nancy Pelosi did not really, really want to talk about whether she would be the heir apparent to be the minority leader in the new House second time in a row.

KURTZ: So she talked about Mitch McConnell.

FAULKNER: Republicans were going to lose that. So she deflected.

(CROSSTALK)

TANTAROS: -- deceptive in a way she answered the question, because the reporter was a woman asking the question. Nancy --

KURTZ: Who didn't mention gender.

TANTAROS: Right. Nancy Pelosi has been this a long time. She is shrewd enough to figure out that if she says a certain thing, that's the only clip that networks are going to run.

KURTZ: Will we see some of this in the Hillary campaign? Where she gets knocked around, as all presidential candidates do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You think she's running?

KURTZ: I think there's a pretty good chance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She hasn't announced it.

KURTZ: Oh, she's running until she stops running. Her allies might say, oh, you are just saying that because she is a woman.

BILA: Oh, absolutely. But all politicians are criticized. Everyone likes to focus when a woman is criticized. But you look at Chris Christie, how many times has he been criticized over his weight? Do women have a harder time oftentimes when it comes to their appearance? Generally speaking, I think, yes, but a lot of those women overcome it. They are enormously successful, and I think that's the story, the story is that women can do it in spite of. So you want to make it hard for me? Make it hard for me. I'm going to do it anyway.

(CROSSTALK)

TANTAROS: You can't right every wrong in the rule book. If we sat up here and complained about how we are analyzed for our hair and makeup, we wouldn't really be focusing on our jobs. At some point, it is what it is. We're focused on more than men. Who cares, move on.

KURTZ: Let me turn to another word question. You probably talked about this on your show. "Time" magazine comes out with this list of words to ban. Includes feminism. Real storm over that. Apologizes. A big uproar. We didn't mean to - we missed the nuance. Is feminism a word that gets twisted?

FAULKNER: There's so much political correctness, so between the "Time" magazine list, and the PC police, what is going to be left to say? Am I going to have any words where I can express myself?

KURTZ: It's using your high heels to walk on egg shells.

FAULKNER: Really. And who are these people who get to decide this for us? And what are they (inaudible).

EARHARDT: I love that story because they came back and said, you know what, we didn't think this through. Even though that word won. All our viewers and readers voted for this word, you know what, we're getting so much backlash about it. We'll just take it off the list. Let's do this all over again. It was just interesting. They only chose four or five words and then they started over again and took that word out.

KURTZ: I don't' like banning word anyway.

EARHARDT: I'm not for banning words either.

KURTZ: I know it was just kind of a magazine stunt.

TANTAROS: Especially us. The five of us are not into banning words. Right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's your favorite word to use?

TANTAROS: But doesn't it tell you what feminism has become? Think of how it's been hijacked. Feminism, the definition most people would agree with, men and women and equality and all different levels. However, if people want to ban it, it just shows the Frankensteinisms have taken over. And it has a negative connotation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's become one of the quivers on the war on women.

BILA: It's a scary world when you have so many people perpetually offended by everything. We're growing a nation of babies, really, where kids grow up thinking it's okay to be offended all the time.

KURTZ: Don't hurt my feelings.

BILA: You know how many kids got sent to the office for saying things that got said to me a million times when I was growing up, but I had a backbone and I fought back?

KURTZ: Lightning round. How is it that Kim Kardashian's naked butt and other parts on the cover of "Paper" magazine gets millions of page views and lots of stories? Are we that easy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you seen it?

KURTZ: Okay.

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: She does this for a stunt.

(CROSSTALK)

EARHARDT: Yeah, I know. I just want to know, did you see that picture? It was shiny. It was super shiny. I don't know what she used.

(CROSSTALK)

TANTAROS: She did an interview and said she used her own hair product on it. Don't ask me how I know that.

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: You women are not offended by this. You are fascinated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is fascinating.

(CROSSTALK)

BILA: Sex does sell. My whole Twitter feed that whole day, I was tweeting -- I couldn't look at Twitter without seeing a picture of Kim Kardashian's butt. No matter what was going on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She broke the Internet.

BILA: She did break the Internet.

KURTZ: We have reached a consensus. Sex sells.

(CROSSTALK)

EARHARDT: Do you remember the beginning of the reality show, she was so upset because that one tape made it out? It was public. You know the tape I'm talking about. Then she goes and does this.

(CROSSTALK)

TANTAROS: I said this the other day in the green room. We are obsessed with butts.

FAULKNER: By the way, I don't have a problem with that. I probably have the largest one on the couch.

KURTZ: On that note, probably time to get out. Thank you for your time here on the set of "Outnumbered."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KURTZ: Still to come, your top tweets. And speaking of Kim Kardashian, how did the New York Times fall for this one?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: The Hollywood website The Wrap has apologized for a piece by blogger Richard Stellar (ph) who savaged the women who accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault, calling them aging actresses trying to get TV and book deals. A DNA swab on most of Cosby distracters (ph) if done today, would come up likely exceedingly dry. I'm sorry, that is pathetic. Stellar later said he said he's sorry for a piece that was not only mean but incendiary to anyone who's experienced that sort of abuse.

Time for some tweets. Have the media handled Ferguson responsibly or not? (inaudible), Oh, please, they consciously rejected the facts and went with a narrative they wanted to be true. Caveat Emptor, owner and managing editor of the "New York times" should have their addresses published just as the Times published Wilson's, irresponsibly. Ed, why the focus on Officer Wilson's testimony instead of the physical evidence, cherry-picking information did not inform.

All right. I can't believe I'm mentioning this a second time, but there's a serious journalistic point to be made about Kim Kardashian's behind. The New York Times ran a piece on the famous derriere that quoted a radio interview on Chicago's WGYN with her husband, Kanye West. Quote, I don't understand why everyone is focusing on Kim's booty. Nobody has a butt like me. I have one of the top three butts of all time. My booty is like Michelangelo level, you feel me? Well, as the Times correction noted, there is no such radio station and no such interview. The alleged Kanye comments were taken from the Daily Current, a satirical web site. New York Times should stick to highbrow culture, no buts about it.

That is it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. Hope you're enjoying your Thanksgiving weekend. Check out our Facebook page. Give us a like. We publish original videos there. Go to our home page as well, where we can read my columns. And we are back here next Sunday, 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern with the latest buzz.

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