Obama vs. the pundits; media pump up 'deflate-gate'

Big speech called out of touch


This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," January 25, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On a buzzmeter this Sunday, the press tackles the Patriots. And coach Bill Belichick. And quarterback Tom Brady. Over allegations the team cheated its way into the Super Bowl by underinflating footballs. But with the constant coverage and breaking news banners, isn't this story, well, overblown?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you answer right now, is Tom Brady a cheater?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't believe so. I feel like I've always played within the rules.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not believe what Tom had to say. Those balls were deflated. Somebody had to do it.


KURTZ: Why the media are treating this football flop like a full-fledged scandal.

President Obama takes on the pundits for spreading cynicism, and many of them push back over his State of the Union.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE U.S.: Over the past six years, the pundits have pointed out more than once that my presidency hasn't delivered on this mission.

MEGYN KELLY, FOX: And the president calling for compromise, then blasting Republicans and vowing to block even bipartisan ideas. Some of them anyway.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: Like a ballplayer shooting from beyond the three- point line, President Obama last night gave it his best for history.


KURTZ: Why critics see a disconnect between a very liberal speech and a call for bipartisanship. And this burning question, why did the president sit down with this YouTube sensation?

Plus, Larry Wilmore makes his debut as America's only black host in late night, and promptly goes after Al Sharpton and Bill Cosby.


LARRY WILMORE, COMEDY CENTRAL: Look, guys, I know everyone is piling on Cosby, including me. But I'll tell you what, let's consider for a second if Cosby didn't do it.

Okay. We're done.


KURTZ: Can he say things that the white guys can't? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."

This president loves taking on the pundits. But that's hardly the usual fair for State of the Union address. After spending much of the speech on a wish list of tax and spending programs, Obama called for both parties to cooperate with a not-so-veiled shot at the phony stories that he sees as permeating the coverage of Washington.


OBAMA: A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other. Where we talk issues and values and principles and facts, rather than gotcha moments or trivial gaffes or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people's daily lives.


KURTZ: While some commentators praised the speech, many said it seemed divorced from reality.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's why I am saying it was highly partisan. It was basically saying, here, I'm Santa Claus, I'll give you all these wonderful presents, and mean old Scrooge is going to take them away from you.

GREG GUTFELD, FOX: But when he says you are not for my approach, he is saying that you are in a sense evil, and then he decries polarization.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He made absolutely no sort of acknowledgement that all of the proposals he was suggesting have absolutely zero chance of passing.


KURTZ: Joining us now to examine the coverage, Lauren Ashburn, a contributor at "The Hill." Jonah Goldberg, editor at large at "National Review," and Joe Trippi, former campaign manager for Howard Dean, both are Fox News contributors.

Lauren, the press treated this almost as a speech from make-believe land.

LAUREN ASHBURN, "THE HILL" CONTRIBUTOR: It was a speech from make-believe bland. There is less than a snowball's chance in hell that any of the things that he was talking about is ever going to be passed by a Congress led Congress.

KURTZ: That's why there was so little analysis of the proposals themselves?

ASHBURN: And people love to talk about was this the best speech he ever gave, what is Elizabeth Warren going to think about this. Not the actual merits of the proposals.

KURTZ: Many of the headlines were pretty upbeat. New York Times, Obama defiantly pushes his agenda, broad vision for his last two years. Politico, Obama leading from the front, again. Some people liked the speech.

JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW: Lauren may be right in the sense that it may have been the best speech he ever gave, but then again, he's been practicing it for seven years. This is the exact same speech he's been giving time and time again.

ASHBURN: That's not what I said.



GOLDBERG: Whole swaths of it are recycled from hundreds of other speeches that the's given, and he even spent -- the climax of the speech was dedicated to quoting himself from ten years ago.

KURTZ: So you are hurling a charge of self-plagiarism. So let me go to Trippi.

GOLDBERG: Not self-plagiarism, just boring, hackneyed, trite and recycled dreck, but yeah, OK, that works too.

KURTZ: Don't hold back. A lot of liberal pundits love the content of the speech, and the White House I am told doesn't view free community college or minimum wage hike or sick leave as provocative, partisan proposals, but you know and I think the administration knows that almost none of this is going to pass.

JOE TRIPPI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, but I think that's sort of the point of the speech. It is to lay out an agenda. He was on the offensive, and that's the thing I took from the whole speech. You can argue about good or bad, but he was clearly on the offensive. And what's going to happen -- some Republicans would say it was offensive. But the point I think is that it puts the Republicans on -- and even the way the media covered it, puts the Republicans on their back foot in terms of if they vote down everything that he wants to do, it's party of no again. This sort of --

GOLDBERG: Voting it down -- this won't even come up for a vote.

KURTZ: The GOP does control both houses. What about President Obama taking on as we saw a moment ago the pundits, talking about trivial controversies in the media culture.

ASHBURN: This is an attack dog president. When he doesn't like what people are saying about his potential policies, he is going to turn on the media. And by name, he's done that to Fox News several times, bringing up, well, Fox News says this and Fox News says that. As if he doesn't think of anything but Fox News.

KURTZ: At MSNBC, though, Chris Matthews responded to those passages in the speech and said I think he made a mistake about cable television, a lot of people at our network especially, says Chris, who have hoped and shared his hope for ending racial division and blah, blah.

ASHBURN: A lot of the people at the network support President Obama? What is that, breaking news?


KURTZ: So let me turn now to after the speech, all politicians come out and give their take on it. Joe Biden came out, he was on a couple of different shows, and he was asked are you going to run in 2016. And he is looking at it, he hasn't closed the door. And then at this conservative cattle call in Iowa yesterday, Sarah Palin was there and she told the Washington Post reporter she is seriously considering a run in 2016.



KURTZ: My question to you, Jonah Goldberg, how seriously should the media take that?

GOLDBERG: As seriously as they would take it -- if she decided to run, she would get considerable share of votes in places like Iowa. Not so much in New Hampshire. Probably do okay in South Carolina if she had a good team and was well organized and was actually taking it seriously. Sarah Palin creates some of her own problems, to be sure, but she also is constantly underestimated from people. She has a huge following in a lot of (inaudible) the right, and if she's actually serious about it, it's up for the press to take it seriously.

KURTZ: The key word there is if. Yes.

ASHBURN: Two words, Donald Trump. This is a woman--

KURTZ: Who was also in Iowa.

ASHBURN: Right. But this is a woman who I think just wants to make sure she's out there, and in the public spotlight, not so much whether or not she would actually run.

GOLDBERG: Donald Trump has a long record of clownishly pretending he'll run for president and people take him seriously, including all the people at this network, which drives me crazy. I think Donald Trump is a bane of humanity. But that said, that's not Sarah Palin's game. Sarah Palin has not done this over and over again.

TRIPPI: But she's done nothing to make -- taken any action to actually look like she's really seriously about doing this. And the press didn't cover that.


ASHBURN: And let's talk about her unfavorability ratings if she were to decide to do this. In a poll that was conducted last year, around the governor and the Senate elect in Alaska, the poll also considered whether or not if she ran, what her chances would be of winning against Huckabee, against Rand Paul, against others. And she -- no way in heck she was going to win.

KURTZ: I will take Sarah Palin --

TRIPPI; I'm not the only person excited about her getting into the race. The media would be. That's why they're doing this. They would love to see -- across the board, they would love to see her in the race.

KURTZ: I would take Sarah Palin seriously not at a political figure, but as a potential presidential candidate, when she gives up her Fox News contributing contract, which is the same thing Ben Carson did and Mike Huckabee most recently did when they got serious. Just briefly, the reporters have to ask Joe Biden are you running, and he has to say that because he wants to not be a lame duck, basically?

TRIPPI: No, one, they have to ask him, but, two, I think he still wants to run for president. I don't think he will end up doing it. But I think he wants to. I think he wants to try to keep that door open.

ASHBURN: What vice president wouldn't?

GOLDBERG: And the one thing that is hard for a lot of people to understand, there is one person in the world who takes Joe Biden really, really seriously, and maybe there is only one person, and that's Joe Biden.

KURTZ: The situation would be very different if Hillary Clinton were not up by 85 points in the pre-primary polls.

There was news this week on Ferguson. Obviously this was a huge story last year. And New York Times reporting that Justice Department -- it was the lead story on the front page of the Times -- Justice Department lawyers will recommend no civil rights charges be brought against Officer Darrel Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown. The coverage was kind of spotty. Why is that?

ASHBURN: The coverage of the actual New York Times story. I actually -- a lot of people picked it up. Reuters picked it up. A lot of other networks did. But my problem with that piece is law enforcement officials said, that there were anonymous sources that were used as the only basis for fact on this.

KURTZ: So you're saying that you have a problem with how solid the Times report was, or did that make it more difficult for other news organizations that didn't have the sources telling them that, to treat it as almost a fait accompli.

ASHBURN: CBS did have its own sources on this. And they actually reported a little bit more than the New York Times did, and so there was another organization that was able to say that there were 200 pieces of evidence that were examined.

KURTZ: CBS Evening News was the lead story, after the Times reported it. ABC World News gave it a couple of sentences. NBC Nightly News did not touch it. Do you think some in the press are playing this down, or is it more that the story is kind of fluid at this point?

GOLDBERG: I think they're probably disappointed. I think at the same time--

KURTZ: Disappointed. So you're saying the press is rooting for federal civil rights charges against Darren Wilson?

GOLDBERG: I think it is beyond ridiculous to say that the press wasn't overwhelmingly on one side of the narrative going back to the early days of the first --

KURTZ: Even after additional information came out about Michael Brown attacking --


GOLDBERG: Sure. The facts have required them to claw back certain bits of it, but just general enthusiasm about being on one side of the story I think is obvious. And at the same time, I think this has probably been leaked by the Justice Department to lessen the blow of the disappointment of the Sharpton crowd, of the MSNBC crowd. This is very embarrassing the way Holder went in guns ablazing in the early days of Ferguson, and they have to let the air out of this bubble as best they can.

KURTZ: And when the announcement comes, it is treated as old news. But this wasn't a huge surprise, Joe. Very few people expected federal civil rights charges against Wilson, because the standard is that you have to prove that he willfully intended to violate Michael Brown's civil rights and knowing it was wrong.

TRIPPI: But that is part of -- I think Jonah is right about the small leak that has totally been going out of the story from the beginning. Including that the level of what you need to do to charge this isn't there. The Justice Department leaking it now. And also I think that's why some of the media coverage has been so limited because you don't have a -- until there is a definitive ruling and it actually happen, then we'll see whether that happens or not.

ASHBURN: My problem again, I'll say it again, with the anonymous sources angle of this. Because everybody in Washington, you're not anybody until you've been an anonymous source, a military official, a law enforcement official.

KURTZ: That doesn't mean the story is untrue.

ASHBURN: It does not mean the story is untrue, but why do this before the report is actually final and out? Why play the game is my point?

KURTZ: Well, that's maybe one of the reasons the coverage is spotty, and also you guys have a good point, which is when this does, if this holds up and this is announced, it will seem like we already had that. We want to hear from you. Send us an email at, and don't forget Twitter. You can tweet me @howardkurtz. We always read some of your messages. We'll do that again this day.

Ahead, the constant coverage of the Patriots football tampering allegations. Are the media pumping this up into a scandal? But when we come back, the president sits down with those Youtube personalities like this woman, GloZell Green.


KURTZ: President Obama sat down with three YouTube personalities the other day, these are people who are often seen talking about farts or wallowing in a bath of milk and cereal. And here is some of what happened.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My mama says whenever you go to somebody's house you have to give them something.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't come empty handed. So I have green lipstick, one for your first wife -- I mean ...

OBAMA: My first?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean -- I mean ...

OBAMA: Do you know something I don't?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, for the first lady and the first children.

OBAMA: And the first children.


OBAMA: Obamacare has worked, and ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks for that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you have any super power, what would it be?


KURTZ: What super power would you like to have? Look, I'm fine with President Obama going on Ellen, "The View," Colbert, but this seemed like kind of a low rent district.

GOLDBERG: Yeah, it absolutely seemed like a low rent district. And although, look, I mean I've heard equally dumb questions from Barbara Walters about what kind of tree you want to be and that kind of stuff. It is not like, you know, the London proletarian of YouTube are the only ones who ask stupid questions.

KURTZ: You are saying the mainstream media bar is not that difficult to ...

GOLDBERG: That's exactly what I'm saying.

ASHBURN: But hey, there were some good questions right there.

GOLDBERG: They were.

ASHBURN: That I did not expect would be good questions. Very serious questions despite the antics that happened. I think -- I would like at some point to see what it would be like if we were to go back to pre-civil war era where anybody could just walk into the White House and talk to the president and ask a question. That's kind of what this was like.

KURTZ: Well, I think this woman GloZell Green, everybody's made fun of the bathtub scene, obviously, I guess we've only showed it three times already. Is this a star? She's going to have her own Netflix show soon.

ASHBURN: 3 million YouTube views.

KURTZ: Right, right, but one of the things that bothered me was the way, in which they were all kind of gushing over him and the woman Bethany Mota, when he gave an answer, she said that's awesome.

ASHBURN: But that's his M.O., right? That's the president's emo right now. Let's go around the mainstream media so I don't have to talk about what I don't want to talk about. Let's create our own videos and push them out to the press. Let's have Pete Souza take all the photographs, and push those out to the press to be used.

TRIPPI: But it wasn't in lieu of mainstream media.

KURTZ: Did the president give another interview this week after State of Union that I missed?

TRIPPI: Well, he was -- he was -- no, but I mean ...

KURTZ: Was he on "60 Minutes?"

TRIPPI: He was -- I mean -- he was in there -- you know, he gave his speech the entire country with the mainstream ...

KURTZ: And then he hung out with GloZell Green.

TRIPPI: And then, you know, and then they got -- all the pundits weighed in on what they thought of the thing. And then he hung out with millennials, which by the way, they don't watch the State of the Union.

KURTZ: I get that. And it got certainly more than a million -- public 2 million views by now. But this was the lowest rated state of the union in 15 years. About 31 million people watch. But what does this get him in terms of advancing his agenda?

TRIPPI: It gets him a wider audience -- look, you cannot do -- you know, if you try to do the State of the Union where you only talk to the three old television networks, you'd be blowing out -- you'd be losing Fox, MSNBC, CNN, everybody else.

KURTZ: So you're all for this.

TRIPPI: Yeah, absolutely.

ASHBURN: I happen to think that since he got trounced in the midterms, I think anything goes for this guy right now. I mean it doesn't matter if he's interviewed by someone with green lipstick. So what. As he told us, already won two campaigns.

KURTZ: So you're saying he is just having fun. Well, GloZell Green did not particularly like some of the media criticism, so she put up -- there is a tweet that she posted, put up -- let's put that up. "Have to love Fox News." And if we can -- if you can see that. There's two screens there, one of her in the bathtub, one of her talking to the president of the United States. So this woman knows how to fight back.

ASHBURN: Well, good for her for fighting back. But she also really blew it when she called him his first wife.


KURTZ: But that -- but that became a moment, right? It's all about moments.

GOLDBERG: Yeah, it's all about going viral and all that nonsense. And, look, again, you said why didn't he do "60 Minutes or he didn't do "60 Minutes".

I can't remember the last time the 60 minutes has done a tough interview with Barack Obama. The amazing -- about Barack Obama and why he goes after pundits and all the rest is, and why he likes talking to these people who think he's awesome. Because he only likes to people who think he's often awesome, and even the phoning sick of -- that we get from places like "60 Minutes" doesn't cut it anymore.

KURTZ: All right, well, I hope that this goes viral since we're at least talking about GloZell. Lauren Ashburn, Jonah Goldberg, Joe Trippi, thanks very much for stopping by this Sunday.

Ahead, "Late Knight's" only black comic takes on Al Sharpton and Bill Cosby and dozens full punches. But up next, a closer look at the controversy over the allegations of no go zones in Europe and more than one network is involved.


KURTZ: Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo got plenty of -- for saying she might sue Fox News for its reporting on the so-called no-go zones in her country. Never mind that this would be a frivolous lawsuit since legal experts say you can't really libel a city. Now, Fox made mistakes here, no question about it, but it wasn't alone. The network apologized last week for what it called regrettable errors. In describing these so called no go zones, particularly in France and Britain as areas where non-Muslims allegedly aren't allowed in, and supposedly won't go.

The comments about a nonexistent no-go zone in Birmingham, England, were made by a guest, Steve Emerson, who has apologized, but there were other mistakes, as well. Yet while CNN has had a fine time reporting on what happened at Fox, it turns out the network used that same terminology and more than once.


STEVE EMERSON: Anderson, the Europeans and the French in particular have problems that are the result of also 751 no-go zones in France where you have Islamic communities that have formed councils that are managing these areas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've seen that in Sweden, obviously in England, here in France. It's one of the things earlier I was talking about. There are kind of no-go zones where police don't even really go into. And again, it does cut both ways.


KURTZ: The media except for the "Washington Post" mostly gave CNN a pass. But this week Anderson Cooper to his credit stepped up and admitted he'd been wrong.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I think if you're going to point fingers at other people's mistakes, you should also acknowledge your own mistakes and we didn't do that on the program. In the wake of the Paris attacks, several guests on this program mentioned no-go zones in France. I didn't challenge them and twice referred to them, as well. I should have been more skeptical.


KURTZ: That was a good step. But it's worth noting that there is a history here. The French newspaper "Le Figaro" has referred to one area as a veritable no-go zone where non-Muslims are being forced to move out. A French mayor described one district as a no-go zone where you can no longer order a pizza or get a doctor to come to the house. "Newsweek" reported back in 2005 that French police would not venture without major reinforcements into some 150 no-go zones around the country. And in 2002, "Washington Post" columnist David Ignatius wrote that some Parisian suburbs have become no-go zones at night.

None of this is to say that Fox and CNN shouldn't have corrected their reports, but it's a reminder that at an age when it's all too easy to over- simplify, the subject is complicated.

Coming up, the press inflates the Patriots football tampering in to a huge scandal. Is the sports press getting even with coach Bill Belichick. And later, "The Daily Show" senior black correspondent makes his solo debut and takes aim at Bill Cosby and Reverend Al. Is that risky territory?


ERIC SHAWN, FOX NEWS: And we have a Fox News alert for you. I'm Eric Shawn. The Northeast now bracing for a potential blockbuster storm that they say could affect millions. The system is revving up right now in the Midwest and it could drop more than a foot of snow tomorrow through Wednesday. Blizzard watches are in effect in many areas. Warning of whiteout conditions, powerful winds and hazardous travel conditions. Areas east of New York City could get the worst of it, but forecasters warn the path of the storm is still unpredictable.

Meanwhile out West, there is still dangerous weather there. Fierce Santa Ana winds gusting at nearly 90 miles an hour across southern California knocking down trees and power lines. About 56,000 people are without electricity. Utility crews working right now to try and restore power. The winds expanded to continue for the rest of the day, but won't be quite as strong. I'm Eric Shawn. And I'll see you at the top of the hour with more news with Arthel Neville. Now back to "MEDIABUZZ" and Howard Kurtz.

KURTZ: Let's face it, the press can't stand New England's Patriots coach Bill Belichick. "Newsweek" calls him "Billghazi", says the NFL should give him the boot. The league inquiry found -- if a league inquire finds that the team underinflated its footballs before clobbering Indianapolis in last week, say, -- the championship. Now, Belichick denies any knowledge of the scheme, but was not exactly expansive with reporters.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In your own investigation, did it you find whether or not anyone would ...

BILL BELICHICK: I've told you everything I know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Coach, what do you think your ...

BELICHICK: I have nothing -- I don't have an explanation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Coach, what do you think ...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But coach, notwithstanding what you've said here today, there are a lot of people questioning your integrity who say that you were ...

BELICHICK: I've told you everything I know.


KURTZ: Please make it stop. Tom Brady was a bit smoother with his denials trying to put the story into perspective.


TOM BRADY, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK: Things are going to be fine. This isn't ISIS. This isn't -- you know, no one is dying. But, you know, we'll get through this.


KURTZ: Joining us now from Atlanta, Will Leitch, sports columnist for "New York Magazine" and in Philadelphia, Howard Eskin, sports anchor at Fox affiliate WTXF. Will Leitch, nobody died as Brady says. The media are treating this as the biggest scandal since Watergate. Why is that?

WILL LEITCH, NEW YORK MAGAZINE CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Yes, certainly you're seeing ISIS second on newscasts after this. So, certainly ...

KURTZ: Second, wow.

LEITCH: You know, a lot -- yeah, exactly, and a lot of this I think has the -- it's the Patriots. People dislike the patriots. They have been after them since Spygate. It's almost like an O.J. type situation where -- and they fill it -- like got off the first time, but they better obey the letter of the law from then on. Because everyone is waiting for them to mess up. This is kind of what happened here is, that if you are making such a massive thing, I don't know, a very -- if it's even happened, the tiniest competitive advantage. Because people dislike Belichick and they dislike the Patriots. And they kind of want to get after them, that's what's happening. Also, every Super Bowl needs a story. Last year, you know, last year it was Richard Sherman, the year before it was the Harbaughs. This is this year's Super Bowl story.

KURTZ: I thought I was going to have to commence you, guys, that this is all about much in the country hating the Patriots ...


KURTZ: And Tom Brady is the biggest celebrity quarterback in the league. Howard Eskin. If these same inflation, under inflation charges that involved the Seattle quarterback, Russell Wilson, would most of the media care?

HOWARD ESKIN, WTXF SPORTS ANCHOR: Well, it's not just about Russell Wilson. And most of the media would believe him. Because it's the Patriots that have cheated, it's -- they are not -- that a first time offense. If Seattle was the first time offense, then it'd be a different story. And I liked Tom Brady, liked Tom Brady before this, but he's Pinocchio.


ESKIN: He's clearly Pinocchio, he's stone cold lying. Troy Aikman has called him out. Another fancy quarterback ...

KURTZ: How do you know he's lying? Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. How do you know he's lying? Have you conducted your own investigation?

ESKIN: Well, he said I don't think I was cheating. And he said, well, I've never cheated. And then he said I like the ball pressure at 12.5 pounds, but he didn't know what the ball pressure was during the football game. I mean please spare me. He is not honest with this. And I have not played the position of quarterback at the professional level. As a kid I did, obviously. However, Troy Aikman has, Mark Brunell has. You know when you touch a football, how -- I don't know if you play golf, well, I don't know if you play golf, when I pick up a different club or I hit a different golf ball, I know the difference and I'm not a pro. He knows he's been playing football for over 20 years, the feel of the football. And I do not believe Tom Brady for a second. And Bill Belichick, he lied before. He's lying again.

KURTZ: All right, for those that don't follow football that closely, in 2007, Belichick had to pay a fine because the Patriots, and this was serious in my view, were using videotape to steal the defense of signals from the opposing team. But you've both admitted to a shocking degree of anti-Patriots bias in the mainstream media. But I've still got -- Even if the press and the country, many -- outside of Massachusetts doesn't like the Patriots, you know, the breaking news banners, the banners that say awaiting Tom Brady news conference and the confrontational atmosphere at these news conferences, it does seem over the top.

LEITCH: Yeah, I think it's kind of become their own theater. People kind of want to watch them just doing it. And Belichick, you know, Belichick has the press conference clips that you showed, Belichick is famous for these press conference, for these non-answers and these angry scruff and paying no attention to what the question is. And so it's fun to see that now he's been so antagonistic, him definitely more than Brady, Belichick has been so antagonistic for the media for so long that people kind of love to see him get in trouble. They want to see him taken down. I don't think there's any question about that.

But, you know, Howard brings up a good point. This is something that's not just the media. A lot of people in football don't really like Belichick that much either. I think a lot of it is, I find it kind of charming that everyone can't believe that someone in sports would use a competitive -- do something unfair for a competitive advantage. Like the idea that Belichick is the only person that has ever done anything like this, is kind of amusing, but people don't like Belichick, and I think people kind of enjoy seeing him kind of ...

KURTZ: And Tom Brady, before you -- let me just -- let me just slip a question here, I'll let you go. Tom Brady, you know, of course married to Gisele Bundchen, and every time he says something like my balls are perfect or don't touch my ball -- and the Twitter feed explodes, right?

LEITCH: There's a lot.

ESKIN: That's clear. But I want to touch on Bill Belichick. Earlier in the week, he didn't have any idea about the footballs. Later in the week, this guy doesn't call news conferences voluntarily. All of a sudden he call a news conference and he knows everything about science and about ball pressure. And he brought up a point, there is two points that I have to make here. I think they are important.

KURTZ: Real quick.

ESKIN: You brought up a point about tire -- tire pressure. Well, people in coal regions know your tire pressure goes down. However, it was 51 degrees at the game. It doesn't go down with that. And we are missing the point. It's not just about the Indianapolis game. You think this was an epiphany he just started? This has been going on for a while ...

KURTZ: All right. I've got to jump in. I've got to jump in as we are running out of time. A quick answer from you, Will, on this. You know, seriously, this is not Lance Armstrong winning all those titles through dope. This is not Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens and Bobby Bonds using steroids. This is not Ray Rice decking his fiance. I mean this is a minor infraction at best.

ESKIN: Well ...

LEITCH: You would think. You would think. But, you know, the way the NFL works now, they react more to public opinion, more than they do to any sort of honor, ethics codes. So the real question is how angry are people, are they Ray Rice angry or are they concussion angry?


LEITCH: And I think right now the more people angry -- angry -- you might see something done, but I don't think people are -- people find it more amusing and they find the ball jokes funny. I feel like the average fan -- it's a fun diversion until the game next week.

KURTZ: Yeah.

LEITCH: And it's another ...


KURTZ: It's a juicy story and it even made it on last night to "Saturday Night Live". Let's take a quick look at Tom Brady on SNL.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you have anything to do with deflating these footballs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me? Absolutely not. Honestly, I wasn't even aware that footballs could be inflated or deflated.



KURTZ: All right. Howard Eskin, Will Leitch, thanks very much for helping us deflate this story just a little bit.

Ahead, Mike Huckabee unloads on Beyonce. The TV anchors keep asking him about it. But first, when it comes to Al Sharpton and Bill Cosby, can a black comedian say things that others can't?


KURTZ: Larry Wilmore made his Comedy Central debut this week on what is being called "The Nightly Show." But as the only black host in "Late Night," it was interesting to watch as he promptly took on one of his own.


LARRY WILMORE: I wish there were a black Hollywood expert who could go to bat for us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reverend Sharpton has called for an emergency meeting here in Hollywood next week to discuss possible action around the Academy Awards.

WILMORE: Sharpton?




WILMORE: I mean no one else can represent us? Look, look, Al, Al, Al, slow down, man. You don't have to respond to every black emergency. You're not black Batman.


WILMORE: Or a racial fire chief.


KURTZ: One night later, Wilmore went after another man who had been an African-American icon.


WILMORE: The better question is why aren't people listening to these women? Is it because most of this allegedly happened so long ago, it's because some of them went to Cosby's hotel room alone, is it because there are no Polaroids? Is it because he's so famous? Or is it just because they're women? Because I would say enough have come forward, I mean, the current tally stands ...


WILMORE: ... the current tally stands at 35 women. Really, folks, how many more do we need?


KURTZ: Joining us now from Palm Springs, California, Rick Grenell, Fox News contributor and here in Washington, Richard Fowler, syndicated radio talk show host. So Richard, let's start with Reverend Al. Larry Wilmore comes out at the gate and wax Sharpton. Does that have an extra sting coming from an African-American?

RICHARD FOWLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Not at all. I think, you know, it's flattering. It's always flattering to be sort of depicted and portrayed by the late night host. That means you are doing something right or doing something wrong.

KURTZ: Like make it SNL.

FOWLER: Exactly. But I think, you know, for Wilmore, the goal of the show is to get ratings. Right? The goal of the show he has a dominant in late night television. Going after your own is a great way to do it. So I think this was definitely funny. I'm pretty sure the reverend laughed about it just like everybody else did.

KURTZ: All right, well, you know, Wilmore is a comedian, he has to get laughs, but he made a serious point about Al Sharpton jumping in to every racial controversy. Most recently the Oscar nominations.

RICK GRENELL: Yeah, look, one of the things that the "Washington Post" did this week is the "Washington Post" said that in this Q&A with Larry, that Larry was going to go after really people who were politically incorrect. One of his big influences is the show "Politically Incorrect". And I think he's going after low hanging fruit. This is not something that is too risky. However, it's been risky for "Saturday Night Live," and risky for even Jon Stewart. But there is also a variety piece, this is the other side, there's a Variety piece by Brian Lowry where Brian goes on to talk about the risks that Larry is taking by putting people in the hot seat and being politically incorrect. Because what it sends the message to Hollywood publicists, that it's too risky, it's not safe. It is what Brian calls a no-go zone. And I think there is a real risk for Larry Wilmore with this.

KURTZ: Well, it is interesting, he has to balance getting guests on the show to get ratings and being seen as topical and even taking risks. So here is Wilmore taking on another black comedian in Bill Cosby, an icon, and he believes the 35 women who say the man is a sexual predator. It's not that others haven't said it before, but Wilmore said it rather emphatically.

FOWLER: Listen, don't get me wrong. I think there are those out there that are changing their opinion about Bill Cosby. But one point I want to make about Bill Cosby, generally speaking, is I think there is a departure from reality, right? Cosby himself might be a creep, but what he's been able to do for American culture is the opposite of creepy. It's been actually remarkable, what the Cosby Show and the Huxtables have portrayed.

KURTZ: Excuse me. Might be a creep? 35 women is a lot of women.

FOWLER: I hear you. But I think it's a departure from reality in that saying what he's done for the Cosby Show, what he's done for African- Americans -- what he's done for America if we're talking about African American families, something to be admirable about.

KURTZ: Which is why it is so sad that it's all been tarnished. And Rick, would you regard Wilmore going after Bill Cosby as also low hanging fruit? It's a pretty big story, obviously.

GRENELL: Yes, I think it's extremely low hanging fruit. Look, the fact that he's going after Al Sharpton, even Barack Obama, which he went after and kind of said, you know, can't we criticize a black president, he's saying the things that I think a lot of people have been saying for six years. The idea that Larry Wilmore is getting publicity around criticizing this low hanging fruit, I think is a more of a commentary on Saturday Night Live, which has really been unable to make fun of President Obama very often, and Jon Stewart. Those are the places where people are safe to go and send, you know, Hollywood publicists can send their clients.

FOWLER: Richard, I beg to differ. I think every late night comedian, they sort of poke fun at political incorrectness or they poke fun at the president. I mean, all of the late night hosts have poked fun at this president, they poked fun at George W. Bush. But that's the job of late night. The job of late night is to bring the levity to the news, to the hard days of news. And I think Larry Wilmore does that artfully, both in how he talked about Al Sharpton as well as how he talked about Bill Cosby. Will it stop him from going on his show? I don't think so, because it's all about ratings at the end of the day, and they want to be seen.

KURTZ: Rick, I got half a minute for you to respond.

GRENELL: Yes, I totally agree that's the job of late night, but let's be honest. Saturday Night Live, Jon Stewart are safe places for liberals to go. We know their politics. And what Larry did this week is he really showed that politically incorrect humor is going to be what he goes after. It's not going to be a safe place for anyone. And I think that it remains to be seen whether the media and the public embrace that.

FOWLER: That's healthy, though. That's healthy, Howard.

KURTZ: The low hanging fruit. (inaudible) going after the New England Patriots last night. Richard Fowler, Rick Grenell, thanks very much for joining us.

After the break, Mike Huckabee is running for president, a job even more important than hosting a Fox show. So why does everyone keep asking him about Beyonce?


KURTZ: Mike Huckabee is aggressively looking at a presidential bid. That's why he gave up his Fox News show. And the most important issue facing the country, according to a series of TV interviews, is Beyonce. That's because he's pushing his book, "God, Guns, Grits and Gravy," and the media just can't resist his siren song against the superstar.


JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: What do you got against Beyonce?

HUCKABEE: Nothing.

SCARBOROUGH: No, come on now.

HUCKABEE: She is half a page in a 242-page book.

SCARBOROUGH: You are pushing Beyonce.


SCARBOROUGH: I can't even tell you what she sings, so I'm not--

HUCKABEE: Here's the point. You could not repeat the lyrics.

JON STEWART, HOST, DAILY SHOW: You view that as a sort of a permissiveness that you think is not great for our children. Is that correct?

HUCKABEE: Well, it was one page out of a 240 --

STEWART: I understand but it's representative --

HUCKABEE: You know any parent who has a daughter that says, honey, if you make really good grades, some day when you're 12 or 13, we'll get you your own stripper pole. Come on, John, we don't do that in our culture.

STEWART: I think that's diminishing Beyonce in a way that's truly outrageous.

HUCKABEE: This is what I said, and it was a simple illustration, half a page in a 270 page book, and I'm thinking my gosh it's all I've heard about this week.


KURTZ: Here's the deal. I'm not buying Huckabee's oh, it's just a half page defense. The ex-governor knew when he put that in the book, when he ripped Beyonce for raunchy lyrics, when he said her husband Jay-Z was exploiting her as a sex object, that it would be catnip for the press, generate chatter for his book, and by extension for Huckabee the presidential candidate. And it worked brilliantly. So enjoy the musical debate, Governor. You earned it.

Now you may have heard something about Ted Cruz taping his own response to the State of the Union and putting it on Youtube. But when folks checked it out, they found out, well, the Texas senator had run into a little glitch.


SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS: Today, median incomes have stagnated for over a decade.

Let me start over.

Tonight, America saw a powerful demonstration that it is time to move on beyond President Barack Obama.


KURTZ: You know something? Every television anchor in the business has done that. In fact, I once did that, and the whole tape, complete with the oops, that was awful, let's start over, aired on TV. Now Cruz clearly needs a better video editor on his staff. But those of us who make a living in front of the cameras need to cut the guy some slack.

Still to come, your top tweets, Bryant Gumbel unloads on the NRA, and a new political game show already drawing mockery. Buzzworthy is straight ahead.


KURTZ: Bryant Gumbel is an award-winning anchor who once ruled morning TV as co-host of The Today Show. Now he mostly talks sports as anchor of HBO's "Real Sports." But when the talk turned to guns during a Rolling Stone interview, he went off. "There are few things I hate more than the NRA," he said. "I mean truly. I think they're pigs. I think they don't care about human rights. I think they're a curse upon the American landscape."

Wow. NRA radio host Cam Edwards responded that NRA members value life enough that they want to protect themselves and their families. Whatever your views on gun control, Bryant Gumbel didn't exactly elevate the debate by calling its members pigs.

I find this a tad depressing. Google is now more trusted than the mainstream media. In a worldwide survey by Edelman (ph) PR, 64 percent say they trust online search engines like Google; 62 percent said traditional media, with social media lagging at 48 percent.

The trust factor for Google is even higher among millennials. The irony here is Google doesn't cover anything, it just aggregates reports that are mostly from the mainstream media as well as opinionated sources. So I guess what inspires confidence is you get a great diversity of sources. Google News links to these reports by algorithm, meaning no humans are involved. So we in the media are losing to a mathematical formula.

Here are your top tweets. Is the media's coverage of deflategate way overblown? Wayne L. "Yes, there are more important things going on in the world, like the Middle East than deflated footballs." Chris Martin (ph), "yes, especially when CNN interviews four people about it at once." Mean Detar (ph), "No, the Patriots must be held accountable. The media must expose all and hold all accountable." Faye, "Yes, it's the lead story every night. That's all I hear. I want news, not this crap." Hopefully we deflated that story a little bit.

CNN, which is edging away from straight news, is trying out a political game show, and if the debut episode hosted by Anderson Cooper works out, it could become a series. An idea that caught the eye of late night host Seth Meyers.


SETH MEYERS, COMEDIAN: It will be just like the other CNN shows, except the contestants will make wild guesses, instead of the news anchors.


KURTZ: That's a little unfair. News anchors don't make wild guesses. They engage in serious speculation, or seat of their pants analysis. Journalism from the gut. Oh, okay. Maybe a guess now and then. But only if there's lots of air time to fill. I guess.

Can I take a second to recommend to you today's New York Times magazine cover story? It is about Megyn Kelly, you see the spread there, "The Megyn Moment." It's a fair and balanced piece, and it explains what the Megyn moments are. They are Megyn Kelly surprising some of her guests. We saw this with her walk with Karl Rove, we saw this with Dick Cheney with very tough questioning. It's a very interesting read.

That is it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. Give our Facebook page a like. We post a lot of original content there. We make videos responding to your questions. So send in some questions by e-mail: Back here next Sunday morning, 11 and 5 o'clock Eastern with the latest buzz.

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