Media caution on Charlie Hebdo

Many outlets balk at showing cover


This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," January 18, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the "Buzz Meter" this Sunday, as "Charlie Hebdo" sells millions of copies with its first issue after the massacre, why won't many news organizations run this cover? Why refuse to (INAUDIBLE) cartoon, in which Muhammad says all is forgiven? Plus, the policy of CNN, NBC, MSNBC, NPR, the New York Times and, check this out, Britain's Sky News?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this, which is completely crazy, that in U.K. you cannot show a simple drawing as that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With Muhammad signees (ph) we've chosen not to show that cover so we would appreciate, Caroline, not showing that. We apologize for any of our viewers who may have been offended by that.

Some media outlets also ignoring or downplaying the fear over the Obama White House blowing off that huge march in Paris for free speech. The "CBS Evening News" giving it all of 17 seconds despite stinking criticism even from Jon Stewart.


JON STEWART: (INAUDIBLE). How could Obama not be there? Look how many world leaders he could have bowed down to and apologized.


KURTZ: Was this a blind spot for mistakes by the president?

Mitt Romney moving toward a third presidential campaign gets bashed by the media by commentators on the right and the left with this message. What, him again?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel like I'm taking crazy pills. It's the idea of Mitt Romney running again. I think It's a terrible idea.


KURTZ: We'll explore the negative reaction with the radio host who just had launched with Mitt Laura Ingraham. A plot to assassinate John Boehner comes of Boston Globe website to mock the House Speaker as a drunk. This is beyond the pale. Boston radio guy Howie Carr weighs in.

Plus, Al Sharpton and others ripping the Oscar nominations for being too white. This is a ginned up racial controversy. I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."

There was nothing short of inspiring the demand for this week's issue of "Charlie Hebdo" was so great that the 50,000 press - had even boosted to 3 million. And when those copies were snatched up, 5 million copies, and it was a great moment for free expression, when well over a million people showed up for last Sunday's march for free expression in Paris, including many world leaders. But even as a media furor erupted over why President Obama or his vice president or his secretary of state wasn't there, there was no story on the subject in the next day's "New York Times" or "Washington Post" and even after White House spokesman Josh Earnest acknowledged that the no-show had been a mistake, David Muir in NBC's "World News Tonight" gave the story 42 seconds, Scott Pelley and the "CBS Evening News" just 17 seconds.


SCOTT PELLEY, CBS ANCHOR: Today the Obama administration said it made a mistake by not sending a high ranking official to yesterday's historic march in Paris.

KURTZ: But Brian Williams led "NBC Nightly News" with the controversy and there were voices on CNN and MSNBC that sharply criticized the White House for not sending a high ranking official to Paris.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC ANCHOR: It was the largest crowd in the modern history of Paris. Missing from the picture was the man so often referred to as the leader of the free world, President Obama. No sign of him, Vice President Biden or Secretary of State John Kerry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Certainly, you'll grant the point that there is something wrong when, you know, this season's "The Good Wife" had higher Obama administration representation with a cameo from Valerie Jarrett than this very important rally, perhaps the most important rally in Europe in a generation.


KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage of these issues surrounding terrorism and "Charlie Hebdo," Nina Easton, senior editor of Fortune magazine, and the Fox News contributor. Amy Holmes who anchors the hot list at The Blaze, and Charles Lane, Washington Post editorial writer and a Fox News contributor.

Nina, when all these world leaders show up in Paris, including Benjamin Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas, no Obama, no Biden, no Kerry, is that a big story, a medium story, a small story?

NINA EASTON, FORTUNE MAGAZINE WASHINGTON EDITOR: That's a massive story. And it actually feeds into the narrative that a lot of journalists I think have in the back of their mind, which is, there is this president who seems kind of bothered that the war on terror is something that he has to continue dealing with. So, I think that there is that narrative out there. In terms of the coverage, I think Jake Tapper of CNN actually almost gave the press particularly cable stations permission early on in the week by saying I'm ashamed. He's at this march. He's there seeing these 44 world leaders as you know, the prime minister of Israel, the president of the Palestinian authority, putting their differences aside and locking arms and the president isn't even here and Jake Tapper even noting that Eric Holder was in France and couldn't bother to come.

KURTZ: I still haven't figured out. What .


KURTZ: Did some news organizations, do you think, play this down because of perhaps a reluctance to criticize President Obama?

AMY HOLMES, THE BLAZE TV ANCHOR: Well, I think they played it down possibly because they didn't realize what a huge story it was that the leader of the free world skipped out on the biggest demonstration in France's history and one of the biggest shows of solidarity in the world since 9/11. But I think it shows actually also the power of the blogosphere and of the cable networks that the White House was forced to respond. Initially the White House had no comment as to why there was no administration representation and then there was the excuse about security. And then finally an expression of regret. But not because of any coverage in the "New York Times" or CBS.

KURTZ: Or did some outlets - I mean this was a very big on Fox News, Chuck, overplay this when the march was basically symbolic?

CHUCK LANE, WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL WRITER: Well, you know, it's a funny kind of a story because it's a non-happening that we're covering. We're covering something that did not happen. We don't know what the impact would have been if the president actually had showed up. And I have a slight disagreement with Amy that I think the security thing is not a total nonissue. And every time the president moves anywhere, it's like moving an army division. So, what .

HOLMES: There was no John Kerry, no Joe Biden.

LANE: No, that's the point. The point is, there could have been high level representation. I agree with that. Especially if Holder was already in town and, you know, you asked if the media overplay it. I sort of think the media's general setting on everything is go nuts. I don't think this is overplayed. I think actually there was a kind of a breakthrough in a way that Jake Tapper jumped on that early on and then he stimulated other people.

KURTZ: With an op-ed saying, as you said, he was ashamed. To the cover of "Charlie Hebdo", because some of the earlier anti-Islam cartoons that were insulting not just to Islam. But there are also anti-Christian cartoons and so forth. A lot of organizations didn't show. This one, I mean, was shown by Fox News and "Washington Post" and "Wall Street Journal" and many other organizations. But for all those who are declining to show it, if you're selling 5 million copies, isn't that news?

EASTON: It's already out there.

KURTZ: Right.

EASTON: And I have to say, I stand with Charles Lane's boss and my former boss Marty Baron who says, we should run it. Unless it's pointlessly offensive. And then you have the "New York Times" saying, well, and this is just - this is a pointed image of Muhammad, this was not an offensive image that he was afraid of offending, the editor in "The New York Times" was afraid of offending the sensibilities of part of their audience. So that says to me are you setting the standards of what you run or are you letting a portion of your readership set those standards?

KURTZ: And the New York Times and other outlets that have shied away from this, and I understand there are concerns about the safety of their employees. This is not a black and white issue. But they didn't seem to exercise the same reticence when it came to showing pictures of, you know, that figure of Christ - submerged in urine and other things that are offence to Christians.

HOLMES: Right. (ph) actually compiled almost a dozen instances where other religious sensibilities could I think fairly be said, to be offended or potentially offended by these images. And this is - the whole point is, which is we are not going to allow the sensitivities of a small group censor what we put in the press and contrary, should "The New York Times" editors, you know, reasoning here. It wasn't gratuitous. It's a part of advancing the story of understanding what this is all about. You called the cover conciliatory. I can see some racial cartooning going on with that cover. And certainly understand that, but what draw 5 million copies to be sold and what, you know, was the part of the controversy in the first place.

KURTZ: You know, interestingly, Chuck, there have been demonstrations around the world against this cover. So it's not like there is no risk here at all. And an Agence France-Presse photographer was shot at a protest in Pakistan.

LANE: You know, part of what is special about this is that the sensitivity here is not to a cartoonish or offensive or disrespectful depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, but any depiction of the Prophet Muhammad. That's part of the problem here. And I think the Western media sort of being put on the spot here and has no choice in my view but to draw a very clear line that they will not allow even legitimate sensitivity curb the coverage of news. Not go out of their way to insult anybody gratuitously as you say. But when it's clearly newsworthy, you have to .

EASTON: And then, does that also feed into a sensitivity in the news media not to link two words, Islamic and terrorism? It's part of the same story.

HOLMES: And frankly, is, you know, the American media going to be operating under sharia law? And obviously, the answer ought to be no.

KURTZ: Right. But at the same time, there is the question of gratuitously offending readers and viewers. This came up on "Meet the Press" this morning. Chuck Todd asking the new editor of "Charlie Hebdo" Gerard Biard what he makes of so many organizations, news organizations refusing to run the cover? Let's take a look.


GERARD BIARD: When they refuse to publish this cartoon, when they blur it out, when they decline to publish it, they blur out democracy, secularism, freedom of religion, and they insult the citizenship.


HOLMES: I think that's exactly right. And, you know, again, missing the point of what this demonstration, what the demonstration for free speech and freedom of expression was all about, which is this magazine cover, as we say, is not gratuitous, it's not shall we say pornographic, so there is really no reason why it ought to be blurred out and it advances the story to show the audience what we're discussing.

LANE: The dilemma, Howie, you say, is absolutely right. There is a risk of violent blow back that the reporters who work for these publications might be victimized overseas where .

KURTZ: This is not theoretical.

LANE: But in a funny way, that only raises the stakes for free expression. Because you cannot allow - you have to find a way to resist the threat of violence. Because once the precedent is laid that violent threats, however real, can cause you to curb your coverage at all, then you're on a slippery slope.

EASTON: And you can also argue there are safety in numbers. If everybody is publishing it, if nobody stands out. If there's millions of these images out there.

KURTZ: Another question about terror coverage for you, a stunning letter from James Comey, the FBI director to the "New York Times" about the news story on the coverage of terrorism. Let's put it up on the screen. Comey writing to "The Times": "Your decision to grant anonymity to a spokesperson for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula could - so he could clarify the role of his group in assassinating innocents, including a wounded police officer, and distinguish it from the assassination of other innocents in Paris in the name of another group of terrorists is both mystifying and disgusting. I fear you have lost your way." On the other hand, the argument would be you're trying to get some insight into the way the terrorists think and .

EASTON: You absolutely should be ferreting out any information on all into how they think and what they're thinking and the level of responsibility they may or may not be taking. But you should also identify this guy. And I think they were wrong not to. I agree. I think there was - they were wrong not to.

KURTZ: And then, as we vacuum up the reaction here, you have former Congressman Joe Walsh, who is the guy who yelled, "You lie" during a President Obama speech, he's now a radio host. And he said in response to all of this, let's hope that when the Islamists next strike, they first behead the appeasing coward of CNN/MSNBC etal who refuse to show the cartoons." How did the rhetoric reach this point?

LANE: Wow. You'd have to ask that guy. I mean that's - I mean, but, you know that unfortunately just a - a sample of the kind of stuff that people say on TV and radio all the time. They lose - there is a breakdown in civility. There's polarization. All these other things going on. And that is just a sample of it. Fortunately no one is going to do what he says.

EASTON: And fortunately I don't think he really means it.

KURTZ: So, it's just getting attention. I just thought it was despicable. All right. Ahead on "MediaBuzz", first of all, don't forget to tweet at me at Howard Kurtz. We always enjoy getting the feedback. And we'll read some messages a little later. Ahead on "MediaBuzz," Laura Ingraham on her private lunch with Mitt Romney. Why so many conservative pundits don't want him to run again.

When we come back, President Obama giving his State of the Union address on Tuesday. But hasn't he already spilled all the beans?


KURTZ: I made a dumb mistake before the break. It's Joe Wilson, the former congressman who made those comments about beheading journalists, Joe Walsh, I think, most associated with the Eagles.

All right, the "State of the Union" is on for Tuesday. And after the big speech, President Obama will chat with well, none of the news outlets, but with three YouTube personalities, Bethany Mota, Hank Green and GloZell Green.


BETHANY MOTA: I want to share (ph) party favors, do you have right treats and also this really cool photo booth that I made.

HANK GREEN: Fart is one of the oldest words in the English language and that is just one of the 14 facts that I'm going to - for us today.

GLOZELL: OK, so I have a phrase (ph), how to do the countdown! Wait, wait, wait. All right.


KURTZ: So, Barack Obama prefers these people to the White House press corps?


HOLMES: Now, I think the White House press corps knows what it needs to do to be able to get a one-on-one with President Obama.


HOLMES: I guess you could say it's his presidency and he'll talk to who he wants to. I did like that woman's hair, I must say. But we know that the White House feels more comfortable on talk show couches and with YouTubers than with actual journalists.

KURTZ: This is a serious policy speech, and they're treating this like they are going to go to the Hollywood after party.

LANE: Is it a serious policy speech?


LANE: I thought it was the State of the Union address. I mean this is sort of the historical trajectory of the State of the Union has gone from being a piece of paper that Thomas Jefferson would hand into Congress, you know, all the way over to this. I guess the people who warned about the cheapening of the event that would begin when the president actually delivered it in person have been rendered prophetic.


KURTZ: But here is a more serious point which is president has been going around basically telling everyone what's going to be in the speech, federal housing aid, free community college. And then on front page in the "New York Times" and "Washington Post" this morning, you know, big tax increase on the wealthiest to finance a middle class tax break. So isn't that stealing the news value of the speech?

EASTON: Well, it's part of the dance that we see every year over the State of the Union message, which has, you know, become incredibly - incredibly and increasingly irrelevant. So the president puts out these proposals. Nothing ever happens with most of these proposals, 89 percent of them I would venture to guess.

KURTZ: You don't think Republican congressmen would go for a tax on big financial firms?

EASTON: I don't think .

KURTZ: Which is part of the .

EASTON: No one is going to ask, and no one is going to ask the hard questions about whether this stuff is really going to get done. And - but the press dutifully puts it on page one as if it's, you know, worth it. But he will get a good audience and a further audience with the GloZell Green, I think her name ...

KURTZ: GloZell.

EASTON: I wanted to - I just want to point out that she's famous because she put cinnamon in her mouth and wretched and gagged. And then another point ..






EASTON: And then another point, she sat it in a bathtub with cereal and milk and professed to eat it all. So, that's who he's talking to afterwards.

HOLMES: Right. But it gets to what we were discussing actually during the break, which is the White House and who they choose to talk to or places they choose not to go and a trivialization, it seems of the White House communication efforts and sending James Taylor to Paris to apologize .



HOLMES: I like James Taylor.


KURTZ: All right, you know, what is sad is that these YouTube chats are going to end up getting a lot more hits than a lot of - what major media put on the air. All right. Chuck Lane, Amy Holmes, Nina Easton, thanks very much for joining us.

EASTON: Thank you.

HOLMES: Thank you.

KURTZ: This is a Fox News Alert. Fox News has confirmed that shots were fired last night near Vice President Joe Biden's house in Delaware. According to the Secret Service, the shots were fired outside the security perimeter. So we're going to check more - and find out more about whether that house was targeted, whether it was something nearby. Fox will be keeping an eye on this story throughout the day. We'll be right back.


KURTZ: One more clarification. I was right the first time, it is Joe Walsh, the former congressman who made that inflammatory comments about beheading journalists. Happens to have the same name as the famous guitarist.

All right. An Ohio bartender named Michael Hoyt threatened to kill John Boehner by either shooting him or poisoning his drink, the FBI says, a dead serious story, but not to A web site owned by the Boston Globe writer Victor Paul Alvarez said, "Stories about Boehner's drinking have circulated for years. Had he been poisoned as planned, perhaps his pickled liver could have filtered out the toxins." The website has since apologized for that slur against the speaker and Alvarez has been fired. Joining me now from Boston is Howie Carr, syndicated radio host based at WMAX and The Boston Herald columnist. Hey, Howie.

HOWIE CARR, HOWIECARRSHOW.COM: Hi, Howie, how are you doing?

KURTZ: Why would the think it's a good idea to make some fun of a plot to kill the speaker of the House?

CARR: Well, you know, it's obviously an absurd - absurd question to even have to ask, Howie, especially when you're "The Boston Globe." I mean this is a newspaper who that has acted for many years as basically a house organ of the Kennedy family. Have any members of the Kennedy family ever had problems with pickled livers? They ran a cutline under the story saying that John Boehner has been known to get hammered from time to time. And was Ted Kennedy ever known to get hammered from time to time? Yet "The Boston Globe" would never report that kind of news. I think it goes back to sort of the larger problem of "The Globe," which is that this is a newspaper where political correctness is treasured above all else and I think .

KURTZ: What you're suggesting goes beyond political correctness. You're saying that basically this is a media organization, is run by separate editors, but you're saying this is a media organization that doesn't very much like Republicans and would make this -- poke this kind of fun at Boehner, but would never in that kind of mockery against Democrats.

CARR: That's - there's no question about it. Howie, I sent you a tweet from Friday night by another writer at and he said that the only people that were angry about the traffic disruptions by a group of occupy riffraff on Thursday that would shut down the city during morning drive rush hour, he said the only people who were angry were white Bostonians. I mean is that - it's not true for starters. And number two, why would you be putting out something like that publicly? There is a member of a purported news organization.

KURTZ: Right. All right. You're obviously enjoying this a little too much because you write for the rival paper. But .

CARR: I am enjoying it.

KURTZ: So, we have to point out that did apologize after Speaker Boehner's office objected. And fired the associate editor, this fellow Victor Paul Alvarez who admitted that what he wrote was mean and, you know, insulting and mocking. And the guy who wrote this garbage is gone. So belatedly, the website did the right thing.

CARR: Yeah. Well, I think there is another problem here, Howie, which is that this website and "The Globe" editors and management have even admitted this, it's run by non-journalists. It's just run by people who understand the Internet. And they want to get more control of it. They had a problem last month, they had a great story about a Harvard Business School professor who had jumped ugly with the owner of a Chinese restaurant over a $4 overcharge. And he .


KURTZ: Everybody loved that story.

CARR: Yeah. And it ended that - it ended with - it was probably the best story The Globe had run in a number of years. But it ended, The Globe was pranked. Somebody sent in an e-mail from a different web address than the earlier e-mails from the professor and it was full of racist comments about the Chinese bartender. You just looked at it online and you said I think The Globe has been pranked here and it turned out they had been pranked.

KURTZ: Right. Well, you've got to be careful in the things that websites that look like they are full of news and run by non-journalists. Howie Carr in Boston, thanks very much for stopping by.

CARR: Thank you, Howie.

Coming up, Mitt Romney moves to get into the presidential race and pundits on the right and the left are holding their noses. Laura Ingraham joins our discussion. And later, critics say this week's Oscar nominations may be the whitest ever, but do we really need Al Sharpton using this to stir up trouble?


ERIC SHAWN, FOX NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: This is a Fox News alert. I'm Eric Shawn. Fox News now confirming that gunshots were fired last night near the home of Vice President Joe Biden in Delaware. Secret Service agents posted near the home say they heard the shots and an agent saw a vehicle speeding away from the scene at a high rate of speed. A local police officer did stop that car near the perimeter and arrested that driver for resisting arrest. We'll have a live report with the very latest details on this at the top of the hour.

The so-called modern day Bonnie and Clyde now behind bars after two weeks on the run. Authorities say they have arrested the teenage fugitives in Panama City Beach, Florida. They were asleep in a stolen pickup truck. 18-year old Dalton Hayes and his girlfriend, 13-year old Cheyenne Phillips, accused of going on a crime spree across the south stealing checks and vehicles. They face extradition back home to their home state of Kentucky. I'm Eric Shawn. We'll see you at the top of the hour with the latest on the situation with those shots allegedly fired at the vice president's house.

KURTZ: Forget those years of denials to every reporter who asked. Mitt Romney now seems on the verge of plunging into his third presidential campaign. The media reaction has been overwhelmingly negative, growing from the pundits on the right as well as the left.


GREG GUTFELD, "THE FIVE" CO-HOST: Romney is like a loafer, you know, a casual sweater. You know, 0I want somebody who -- a charismatic persuasive Republican who wants to win.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, "HARDBALL" HOST: Can you believe it, Mitt Romney the man caught telling the one percent how much he thought the 47 percent were just takers, the guy who said corporations are just regular folks, can he run for president a third time?


KURTZ: I sat down with Laura Ingraham, the syndicated radio host and Fox News contributor.

Laura Ingraham, welcome.


KURTZ: You had an off the record lunch with Mitt Romney at a Utah ski resort. While he's making up his mind whether to get serious about 2016, is he courting you?

INGRAHAM: I hope that if anyone is interested in running for president, they are thinking of building a bridge to the conservative movement. I've been in the conservative movement since I was probably, I don't know, 18, Howie, it's a long time. And .

KURTZ: Bridge to Laura Ingraham?

INGRAHAM: And well, bridge maybe to my listeners and people in talk radio, people who have been a little bit disappointed with the way the establishment has handled things like common core, immigration and now, of course, the perhaps the non-repeal of ObamaCare. It's smart for people who might be thinking of running for president to actually recognize that really important segment of the voting population. It he was doing that, and I think -- he's an old friend, so I haven't seen him really one-on-one for probably a couple of years.

KURTZ: The timing seems a little - you know, given the prominent role you played in help an unknown Dave Brat, Eric Cantor.

INGRAHAM: Well, he's hardly unknown.

KURTZ: Well, he was unknown when you .


INGRAHAM: Mitt Romney doesn't need my help.

KURTZ: I understand, but the point is that, I think it made you more of a player Republicans wants to get your advice.

INGRAHAM: Maybe a little bit. And I didn't think of it that way when I saw him. I really thought of it more as, you know, I'm in town, he has a place in Utah. His family was there. I have little kids and he's just very gracious and a wonderful host. But as I sat and spoke with him and it was off the record, and I'm not going to go into great details, but as I sat and spoke with him, he just seemed - he's really engaged on all the topics. I mean he seemed on it. Like he knew everything that was happening with Russia, he knows my special interest in Russia. He understood what was going on in the 2016 field, he saw the jockeying that was taking place. And, you know, he and I went through, you know, a number of issues and a number of points and it was a great time.

KURTZ: Friendship aside, Romney seems a bit moderate for your tastes. And I've really been struck by how many conservative commentators during this period .


KURTZ: testing the waters have been either hammering him or expressing anywhere from skepticism to hostility that he might run.

INGRAHAM: They should know this. That the more they hammer someone like a Mitt Romney, they basically help you up. And the more they hammer any other candidate, they're helping the establishment's at least current favorite and I would argue it's probably going to be the favorite establishment candidate. He has been hopscotching the country meeting with high profile donors and basically saying don't commit to anyone else. He did this in Chicago .

KURTZ: By the way, when did the Constitution get rewritten so that the donors decide who is a viable candidate?

INGRAHAM: Well, that's .

KURTZ: It seems like everybody is just .

INGRAHAM: That's why I like to tell everybody, look, relax a little bit about this. You know, the idea that Mitt Romney is may be thinking about it, I don't know how seriously he's thinking about it. I think people run .

KURTZ: Wait a second. Wait a second. Wait a second.

INGRAHAM: People run to the conclusion that he's running. He may be running, he may not be running.

KURTZ: But here's what happened. Romney said again and again and again to every reporter that asked him .



KURTZ: And suddenly he tells a room full of donors, the big money men .

INGRAHAM: I haven't heard it from him.

KURTZ: No, I haven't heard him from his either, but don't you think there were a lot of authorized leaks, his former aides are out there .


INGRAHAM: I think there are a lot of former consultants for a lot of these candidates who are set to make a lot of money if these guys run. I think they want to be back in the game. Sometimes the consultants want to be back in the game more than the candidate or potential candidate.

KURTZ: I have noticed that.

INGRAHAM: And so I think a lot of this is consultancy driven and frankly that drives people nuts about American politics. But going back to the Jeb point for just a moment, I think people have to realize what is really going on here.

KURTZ: Do you think the media are missing the story?

INGRAHAM: I think the media .

KURTZ: Focusing on Mitt .

INGRAHAM: They are missing the narrative here, which is we are on the verge in the Republican field of having the donor class select the GOP nominee. Now, I know what people think, Laura, it's so early, the more the merrier. If I hear the more the merrier one more time - just - but the more the merrier - we need all those people in. What we know is that money still talks and it talks really loudly in politics. And if you don't have probably about $100 million lined up in the next 12 months to be super- competitive in these primaries, you're going to be like the next Tim Pawlenty, or the next Herman Cain, or the next Mike Huckabee in 2008. You'll give it a good go, maybe you'll even win a state, but you are going to have to drop out. Because Jeb or someone like him is going to have the money and the donor class and they are going to clear cut right through Florida to Ohio and Michigan.

KURTZ: Oh, maybe they'll get a TV talk show.

INGRAHAM: All right. Or a book deal. Or a hired speaking fee.

KURTZ: That's the the question: to the extent that Romney is seriously thinking about running for the third time, could all the negative press in the pundit tree dissuade him from getting in?

INGRAHAM: I don't think so. I think Romney -- he's - Look, he's not conservative for me on a lot of issues, right, but I think for him, he believes -- I think Jeb believes the same thing. The country is in real trouble. But I think Romney has been through that mill a few times, and I know people say it's yesterday's news. And I get that. Believe me, I get the sentiment. People are thinking telling Romney to run. That's not what I'm saying.

KURTZ: But you don't think he'll be dissuaded by what - a bunch of .

INGRAHAM: I don't think he is going to be dissuaded by the punditocracy. I think what he would be dissuaded by is if donor after donor after donor says look, we love you, Mitt, but you had your chance.

KURTZ: Laura Ingraham, thanks very much.

INGRAHAM: Thank you as always.

KURTZ: Romney did tell the RNC on Friday Night, he's seriously considering running and joining us now is Jackie Kucinich, senior politics editor at "The Daily Beast." It seemed like the press really, really wanted Romney to run and as soon as he indicates that he probably will, he's getting trashed everywhere.

JACKIE KUCINICH DAILY BEAST SENIOR POLITICS EDITOR: I think the most exciting thing about a Romney run part three is the lead up to it. Because otherwise what else is there to write or say about a Mitt Romney candidacy at this point. We went through it. It seems like yesterday, it was four years ago, but it really -- this is a rerun that has never really stopped. He hasn't gone and done something else and then come back. He has been running or helping other candidates the last three years.

KURTZ: You co-authored a piece of Daily Beast headline "Mitt '16 is not totally insane." So, and you called him the tallest midget in the room. Were you pushing back in the media perception that it is kind of insane?

KUCINICH: Yeah, I mean but it isn't totally insane that Mitt Romney would run again. He - he can raise, I was talking to Jason Chaffetz for that piece. He can raise $1 billion. He is someone that has been tested. Run again. You can raise $1 billion. He is someone that has been tested. He's been vetted. There is nothing .

KURTZ: You are talking about same phrase - not totally insane.

KUCINICH: Not totally insane.

KURTZ: It's only for GOP nominee.

KUCINICH: That's as far as I want to go on that.


KUCINICH: Because there are a lot of reasons why it's a bad idea. He didn't just lose. He lost big to President Obama.

KURTZ: I talked with Laura Ingraham about conservative commentators not being excited. To put it very diplomatically about a third Romney run, liberal pundits are loving trying to get - because you have got 47 percent, self-deportation, and he owns a couple of Cadillacs. They are digging into the archives.

KUCINICH: I think Democrats are the happiest people to hear about a third Mitt Romney run. I think (INAUDIBLE) said in someone's piece that he wishes he could run against Mitt Romney again and again forever because the book is already written of how they brought him down the last time. So Democrats are overjoyed by this.

KURTZ: But it seems to me he didn't even get a honeymoon of like two days before everybody will started focusing on his liabilities. And do you think the negative chatter, you just said it seems like it was yesterday, 2012, is due in part to the testy relations that Romney had with the press or the challenges that the press base in covering Mitt Romney last time?

KUCINICH: That's a part of it, definitely, but it's not like covering the Hillary Clinton campaign is going to be a walk in the park either. Assuming she runs. So I don't think that it's colored by the fact that dealing with his press shot was sometimes difficult. Because that's just a nature of a campaign in a lot of ways.

KURTZ: But is there a sense of deja vu in that reporters saying to themselves well, another two years on the road with Mitt and, you know. Do you think any of this is personal?

KUCINICH: I don't think so. I don't think it's personal. I think it's more that part of covering a presidential campaign, it's exciting to get to know this person. We know this guy .


KUCINICH: We know Mitt Romney already. And we covered that campaign.

KURTZ: But not a fresh face. Neither, by the way, as Hillary Clinton.

KUCINICH: Sure, but she went off, and was secretary of state and came back and there is a little bit more fodder than - a lot more fodder, frankly, than Mitt Romney.

KURTZ: Jackie Kucinich, great to see you.

KUCINICH: Thank you.

Ahead, a CNN correspondent bows out after an ugly feud about Muslim in Israel on Twitter. And up next, zero nominations for black actresses and actors in the upcoming Oscars. Some of the media are pretty ticked off.


KURTZ: Oscar season always generates controversy, but this week there has been high decibel criticism from Al Sharpton and others that the nominations are too white even though the civil rights film "Selma" got a nod for best picture, but they ignored every black actor and actress. Joining us now from New York Joe Concha, a columnist for Mediaite. So, is this a legitimate debate for the media we are having or is it being driven in part by the likes of Reverend Al?

JOE CONCHA, MEDIAITE.COM TV COLUMNIST: I think Reverend Al always gets clicks, it always helps. Reverend Al had a great quote saying that Hollywood is like the Rocky Mountains. He says, the higher you go, the whiter it gets. Maybe not so great quote, then, again, Howie, because he fails to mention that the Academy Awards president is one by the name of Cheryl Boone Isaacs, she happens to be an African-American woman. But to your point around the media driving this, yes, I mean "The Huffington Post" says this will be the whitest Oscar since 1998. "Chicago Tribune" says this - the subtlest racism of this year's Oscar season is the big headline. And that's a major print publication.

Look, Howie, I think sometimes the Oscar voters simply just get it wrong. You could go back to 1960 and "Vertigo," the greatest mystery of all time. Alfred Hitchcock wasn't nominated for best director or best picture. Why, because Hitchcock is British? How about "Jaws" in 1975? Steven Spielberg, a movie absolutely that was carried by the way it was presented, why wasn't Spielberg nominated for best director, because he's Jewish?


CONCHA: When we start categorizing things in boxes, we run into some real problems, Howie.

KURTZ: OK, now we do have to take note of the fact that the Academy voters are 93 percent white. And that only one black Halle Berry has ever won this for African-American actress, but at the same time, I'm thinking it's supposed to be their judgment. Flawed as it might be about best actor, best actress, best picture. And is it now going to be kind of done on a diversity scale like the president filling out his cabinet where you have to worry about everybody getting a slice of the pie?

CONCHA: I'm afraid in 2015, Howie, that may very well be the case. Remember, and Bill Weir tweeted this out from CNN, he said that yeah, 93 percent of Oscar voters are white, 76 percent are male, the average age is 63. Therefore they're kind of like those old farts in the Muppets that sit up in the balcony. They have no idea what a good black movie looks like. Even though these are the same voters that nominated and selected "12 Years a Slave" as best picture and two other Oscars just last year alone. For whatever reason, that is getting ignored in this whole debate.

KURTZ: So your take briefly, because I want to move on to another question, is that, yes, the Academy sometimes blows it, there's a long history of that, but in your view, it's not necessarily racial?

CONCHA: It's not racial, Howie. And ever since 1990 when Oscar voters selected "Dances with Wolves" over "Good Fellas," "Good Fellas", Howie, for best picture, I really haven't taken it all that seriously. It's opinion. And sometimes you get it wrong.

KURTZ: And still ticked off about that. All right.


KURTZ: Let me move you to Amazon announcing this week that Woody Allen will direct an online streaming TV series. First time that Woody's ever done this, the company getting some heat because of those child molestation accusations involving Woody's adopted daughter, Dylan. This all stems from a custody battle of Mia Farrow back in 1992. Legitimate issue, was this going to hurt Amazon?

CONCHA: I don't think it will, Howie. Because you go back in history with Woody Allen. He's always gotten a free pass. Now, he's never been criminally charged with anything, but on a creepy scale, on a creepy scale, Howie, I mean dating your adopted daughter who is 19 and you're 54, yet every Hollywood actress and actor clamored to work with Mr. Allen ever since he's been directing movies way back when in the '60s. So, Woody Allen unlike Bill Cosby, for instance, who was absolutely already found guilty in the court of public opinion, Netflix pools his show, Woody Allen's always gotten a free pass for whatever reason, Howie, honestly, I can't answer that question as to why?

KURTZ: All right, so, I'll have to wait and see what he does with Amazon, and I think you are right, because people still go to his movies. And it was a one set of allegations, as opposed to Cosby.

Joe concha, thanks very much for stopping by this Sunday.

CONCHA: Thank you.

KURTZ: After the break, what happens when a terror expert mangles the facts and gets called out by the British prime minister.


KURTZ: If you're an expert who appears on TV, it's not a good sign when British Prime Minister David Cameron says you are clearly an idiot and that he choked on his porridge after watching you on the air. Journalist Steve Emerson who runs the investigative project on terrorism really stepped in it in the wake of the Paris terror attacks during an appearance on Fox's "Justice with Jeanine Pirro." She asked him about Muslim enclaves, known as no go zones in France, and Emerson expanded the geography.


STEVE EMERSON: In Britain, it's not just no go zones. There are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don't go in.

KURTZ: To getting all kinds of abuse on Twitter, Emerson to his credit offered a full throated apology. "I have clearly made a terrible error, for which I am deeply sorry. My comments about Birmingham were totally an error. And I am issuing this apology in correction for having made this comment about the beautiful city of Birmingham. I do not intend to justify or mitigate my mistake by stating that I had relied on other sources because I should have been much more careful."

Judge Jeanine corrected the mistake last night and said she should not have let the statement go unchallenged. Fox also apologized last night for mischaracterizing this so called no go zones in France as well as Britain on other programs.

But speaking of mistakes, by the way, several news outlets wrongly identified Emerson with The Huffington Post variously calling him a Fox News contributor, Fox News expert and Fox News idiot rather than just a guest.

Iran has now indicted a "Washington Post" reporter Jason Rezaian who the regime has detained for months without any indication of the charges. Rezaian who holds dual U.S. and Iranian citizenship, is not a spy, he's a reporter who hasn't even been given access to a lawyer. John Kerry has pressed Tehran about his continued detention, which is an international outrage that I hope ends very soon.

Still to come, your top tweets of veteran CNN correspondent apparently tweets his way out of a job and a sports site that fell for an Olympic sized hoax. "Buzz Worthy is straight ahead.


KURTZ: Jim Clancy resigned as a CNN correspondent Friday after 34 years with the network, this after he got into a nasty spat on Twitter over the "Charlie Hebdo" cartoons. First, he said the cartoons never mocked Muhammad, they mocked the cowards who tried to destroy his word. Then Clancy accused his critics of being part of pro-Israel and anti-Muslim campaign, finally snapping, get a grip, you need to pick on some cripple on the edge of the herd."

No surprise that Clancy is out, but it's a shame that an award-winning reporter who has covered war zones around the world is ending his career on such a sour note.

Time now for your top tweets, are pundits being fair about Mitt Romney exploring another presidential race? Anthony Disamone (ph), "Are they ever? Mitt is a big boy and expected the blowback. Yet he got 21 percent of GOP poll. Downward facing kitty, "His own party has been pretty vocal. Not sure you can pin it on the pundits." Berkowitz, the teacher of media at Boston University compare media coverage of Mitt, "The punching bag to Saint Elizabeth Warren." And Dana says, probably not, but message to pundits, I don't want to hear about 2016 every day." What, because we're only two or three weeks into 2015? Ouch.

All right, and finally in our press books, this media fail. Pretty interesting piece on the sports site dead spin saying the Olympic community has approved three on three basketball. I played a lot of that growing up in the asphalt jungle, as an official sport for the 2016 games in Rio. It was taken from a website called the Patuto advocate, which might have been a tipoff. Reporter Cale Wagner (ph) admitted throwing up an ball saying, I wrote a post based on a satire website which is just about the dumbest way to blank up. Sorry, blank me. Would have been cool, though, would have been even cooler not to get faked out like that.

That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. We hope you like our Facebook page, we post a lot of our original content there including "Your Buzz". We put your questions into videos where I respond. And send us an e-mail, We'll respond to those as well. We're back here next Sunday morning, 11:00 and 5:00 Eastern for the latest buzz.

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