Did the media sink Romney? Plus, a blizzard of scary talk

Negative coverage before he dropped out


This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," February 1, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, Mitt Romney hammered by the media for exploring a third presidential campaign, decides not to run again.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just had this sense that there wasn't momentum there. There wasn't a lot of they're there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's clear he wants to be the nominee, I think it's clear he didn't see a path to get the nomination.


KURTZ: Did the barrage of negative press helped push him out?

Sarah Palin, once so popular on the right, also getting pounded by Conservative pundits for suggesting she might run for president, and delivering a rambling speech in Iowa.


SARAH PALIN, AMERICAN POLITICIAN, COMMENTATOR & AUTHOR: The man can only ride you when your back is bent. So strengthen it, then the man can't ride you, America won't be taken for a ride.


KURTZ: Should the media take her seriously as a presidential contender. And we'll have a focus group on whether the 2016 coverage has been fair.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think you're getting an honest look at the politicians based on what you see in the media?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't, why not?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything is boiled down to sound bites and snippets, and then -- individual reporters or the stations' bias comes into play. If there's a candidate they don't like, they'll bury him.


KURTZ: Today's Super Bowl showdown taking place under the shadow of, yes, the deflategate. Are the charges of cheating by the New England Patriot become the dominant story line for the big game?

Plus, snow apocalypse high. Television goes haywire over a big storm taking aim at New York City.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White threatening storm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Winter storm, Juno.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ferocious blizzards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Epic, historic, record-breaking.



KURTZ: And point fingers when only New England gets wallop. What explains this blizzard of fear?

I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "Media Buzz."


KURTZ: If Mitt Romney was testing the waters for another president bid, the reaction in most of the media ranging from (inaudible) to outright hostility.


JONAH GOLDBERG, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE: I feel like I'm taking crazy pills a the idea of Mitt Romney running again. I think it's a terrible idea

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


KURTZ: Romney pulled the plug -- plug on Friday and while the pundits have various explanations, the consensus was that Mitt was smart to stay out that another campaign didn't make much sense.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS" ANCHOR: After much back and forth, two-time presidential candidate Mitt Romney decided not to run again. But candidly, it was a stretch for even loyal Republicans to picture Romney making a third try.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not going to be a good race for him. And it was going to hurt the party.

ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: Mitt Romney know he could never be a candidate for the middle class because of his history. Can't change who he is.


KURTZ: Joining us then to examine the impact of the unfavorable coverage on Romney and on Sarah Palin, Christina Bellantoni, editor-in-chief of Roll Call, Mercedes Schlapp, our U.S. News columnist, political consultant and former Bush White House spokeswoman, and Julie Roginsky, Democratic strategist and Fox News contributor.

Christina, the coverage of Romney was relentlessly negative, did the press play a role in shooting down that trial balloon?

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF ROLL CALL: I think this is self- inflicted wound. Sort of think about it like he climbed up a big ladder to then jump off under trampoline. He didn't need to climb the ladders so publically. Romney has been in politics for a very long time. He knew that every move he was making was going to get covered. And it's these fundraisers and the donors and the voters that are sort of signaling to him, actually they're interested in something different.

KURTZ: Well, I'm going to take issue with that because I think the press is to narrowly focused on these many donors want him to got to Jeb and this operative moved over. Romney got a taste in the media environment, a lot of it from Conservatives as we saw that there was not exactly a lot of enthusiasm for a third campaign.

MERCEDES SCHLAPP, FORMER BUSH WHITE HOUSE SPOKESWOMAN: That's right. And it started with Rush Limbaugh back in August of 2014 when Rush came out and basically said he cannot win the nominee in 2016. If he wasn't able to pull it off when it was a time when the President had huge disapproval ratings, the economy was plummeting and he couldn't win, believe me, he's not going to be able to win in 2016.

And then we saw the quire of these individuals coming out these opinion leaders, coming out like a Peggy Noonan who supported him in 2012, saying Mitt was yesterday. We need to look into to tomorrow. And.

KURTZ: So that (inaudible) you at all? The fact that someone -- people.


KURTZ: . like you already said, I'll, so to speak, were either saying don't run or making fun of him?

SCHLAPP: No. What was shocking that it was unanimous, I mean, everyone was all in agreement that he shouldn't be running. It wasn't going to be third was a charm, we know that for Mitt Romney, the problem is the candidate is himself. And it comes back to that exit poll (ph) where it say, "Does he care about the people? And did he relate to people?" And that's a fundamental problem, if you cannot connect to the voters, you can't win, and the opinion leaders were clear on saying that message.

KURTZ: But this time, he was going to be authentic or so the least.


KURTZ: All right. Now, it was all to easy, Julie, for the liberal commentaries. But some Conservatives too, to just sort of roll the tape and replay all the mistakes from last time, 47 percent, binders fill of women, I like being able to fire people, was that a factor too in reminding people what 2012 was like for the Romney.

JULIE ROGINSKY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST AND FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think Romney, I think you've nailed it. I mean how any time does somebody have to tell you they don't want to out with you, potentially you just take your morals (ph) and go home. I mean this like (inaudible), he had to understand.

KURTZ: Well, I like the romantic analogy there. You're saying.


KURTZ: There was a boyfriend who just wouldn't take no?

SCHLAPP: . a guy that keeps asking you out, you keep saying no and he ask you out again. You keep saying no, and then he says do you think there's a chance and you keeps saying no. There really is no chance, and that's what Mitt Romney was to the Republican Party. And also, not just the Republicans but to independents and Democrats as well.

You can't continue to reinvent yourself every single time and then expect to come back and win a primary election, you just can't. And he was -- this time, he was going to be authentic as you said. We don't even know what authenticity is to Mitt Romney anymore because I think he's so focused groups, he's so -- a creation of his consoles (ph) and of himself, but he has no authenticity to give, and that became very apparent everybody.

BELLANTONI: But in that is the press's fault. I mean part of this, like - - the people were getting on the phone with him and his top, you know, close advisors and saying there's not an appetite for this. For all those reasons and the primary reason is being.

KURTZ: Right. But do the press -- remember all those interviews where -- "Are you going to run? Are you going to run?" He would say, "No, no, no, no, no, no." And then would say, "We're done." The press was sort of anxious for him to get in until the moment he said he might, and then, you know, and the press turns on you.


BELLANTONI: It would have been great to cover.

ROGINSKY: He was reading the media televe (ph). He was looking at the televes (ph) and saying, "This is not going to work." When you have your own bait (ph), your own -- Conservative opinion writers going after you, your own political pundits, even people like myself going out there and saying, "Romney, it's not your time. We ready tried with you, it didn't work. We need to move on to the next generation," as he suggested as well, I think the press definitely had an influence on that.

KURTZ: So it will be Julie's analogy into the ground, you are a data of the.



KURTZ: But I have a question for you which is, you know, half an hour before this conference call on Friday when Romney told the supporters who then told the rest of us, big Daily Beast headline, "Mitt Romney running for president according to sources." How does a mistake like that get made?

BELLANTONI: Well, they're not the only ones. There were a couple of people that didn't quite get that far with their headlines.

KURTZ: The Beast went the hardest with it.

BELLANTONI: They sure did.

KURTZ: I'm going to say I think he's going to run, I expect to him to run.

BELLANTONI: This is one of the reasons why it's so difficult to cover a presidential campaign because in many cases, you might have one really good source who you really trust and that person might either be reading the televes (ph) wrong or have the wrong information. And it's a huge risk. And it's also doesn't help a single voter, it's totally inane.

KURTZ: The reason.

BELLANTONI: . covering what these guys stand for.

KURTZ: The reason it's a huge risk is that if you're right, then you got the story 20 minutes before he makes the announcement, nobody remembers. If you are wrong, it's Dewey defeats Truman.

BELLANTONI: Most people didn't learn that Mitt Romney wasn't running until they got home and watch their evening news. You know, in Washington, we all pay attention to this but like an average person, he doesn't care that much about who broke the story.

ROGINSKY: And that brings up a larger story, and this is a year out from a highlight (ph), does it really matter if Mitt Romney decides he's running or not right now?


ROGINSKY: It does. It does. It certainly does to your point, it does for people like. It does for people who cover this day in, day out. It does for people who are donating money, it does for people who are activists.

The average person is focused much more in the Super Bowl than whether Mitt Romney is running this weekend.


KURTZ: All right. We'll have to cut this segment short and go right to the Super Bowl segment. I -- I do want to get to Sarah Palin because, you know, it was last weekend when she gave that speech out in Iowa and it's a similar pattern here that you had Conservative commentators leading the charge. Just look at some of the things written by Conservative writers and columnists, disjointed, bizarre, sad, a tragedy.

Nationa -- Charlie Cook -- Charles Cook called it a slow and unseemly decent (ph) inter (inaudible). Let's take another look at her speech.


PALIN: Things must change for this -- our government. Look at it. It isn't too big to fail. It's too big to succeed. It's too big to succeed, so we can afford no retreads or nothing will change with the same people and same policies that got us into the status quo. Another Latin word, status quo, and it stands for "Man, the middle-class everyday Americans are really getting taken for a ride."


KURTZ: This isn't about one (inaudible) speech. This place is like national (inaudible) on Sarah Palin 2008 when she was the VP nominee. Now, kind of cutting her loose?

SCHLAPP: Yes. I think that it's taken the Conservative media a bit too long to realize the Sarah Palin problem quite frankly. She's been giving the same type of speeches for the last eight years which is, "Go after the left media, go after Obama," little on substance, little on solutions. And so I think that at that point when there was a time beforehand after the convention where she gave this wonderful speech and then you had the liberal media going, attacking her, saying these horrific comments about her and her family, that they came out and defended her. But then when she comes out this past weekend or last weekend.


SCHLAPP: . in Iowa, where they said to her -- where she says, "I'm seriously considering running," and then she gives a speech like she had cocktail party in Iowa, that doesn't work. I mean they've -- they're like -- this is not what we need. This is the same type of speeches that she's been giving forever and I think they're come to the reality of this.

KURTZ: Now, Palin, of course, is a Fox News contributor in this -- hasn't been talked about much on Fox but I said I take her seriously when she gave up her Fox contract like Mike Huckabee, like Ben Carson. Liberals, I think -- Liberal commentaries, Julie, I think are enjoying this because they've been critical on Sarah Palin all along and now kind of been in an "I told you' so mode.

ROGINSKY: I don't think anybody is enjoying because nobody took her seriously. Did anybody really think she was ever going to run for president? Never. She's never going to give up the reality show. She was never going to give up the money. This -- you know, people like her and Donald Trump go there to get publicity and to push their specific project, their reality shows. You don't go there for.


KURTZ: I mean I think she does need to be taken seriously in that -- in this sense. She's still has a very ardent following among some.

ROGINSKY: She does.

KURTZ: . of the segments of the Republican Party.

ROGINSKY: So does Donald Trump.

KURTZ: OK. But she also can raise money and endorsements matter. But, she did this tease in 2012 like I might run, I might run and I didn't take it seriously and then she didn't run. So, I guess the question for you is has she become more of a pop culture figure and political force?

BELLANTONI: She's long been a pop culture figure. And one of the thing -- one of the reasons I do what I do because politics is about choices. And I think part of the conservative backlash against that speech is that suddenly you saw her up against five, six, seven, actually qualified, actually articulate, actually seriously considering running and not just raising their speaking fees and trying to write the next book or get the next television show, where they realize, "Oh, actually the Republican Party has a lot of great choices here and we're going to decide between them and not this person that we all defended when we felt like she was being attacked in 2008"

KURTZ: And I'm in way defending the media mockery of Sarah Palin which I thought was unfair in 2008 and dragging her kids into it. And even more recently when a CNN anchor apologized for mocking Bristol Palin, she got into that brawl in Alaska. But at the same time, Palin often seems only interested in getting even with the media.

ROGINSKY: That's right.

KURTZ: . that she narrows her message to that.

SCHLAPP: Right. And she spent those first 10 minutes of that speech in Iowa basically talking about this left wing -- complaining about the left wing media. And so.

KURTZ: And then she went on Bill O'Reilly Show, and excuse me, O'Reilly took (inaudible) her and she went.

ROGINSKY: That's right.

KURTZ: . Sean Hannity Show and she complained about Fox.

SCHLAPP: Which -- it's so interesting, it almost feels like she can't take the criticism. I mean if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen, you know? It's like you go to just move on and she just really can't do it. I mean she's calling Fox a quasi Conservative outlet. It just doesn't work. So, I think she is in very tough position and she needs to figure out what her role is which is that of continuing to rally the base and not even consider a run for the president.

KURTZ: Right. A quick note, Boston Globe has a piece on Jeb Bush back when we went to Andover. And Bush, very shrewdly in my view, cooperate with the piece and said, yes, when he was a student, he smoked pot, he smoked ash, he denied a certain bullying incident that was related in the piece rather than sort of letting this develop, you know, get the story done with early.

All right. Stick around we got to get a break here. Remember, I read all the e-mails, so send them to and Twitter, we want to know what you think @HowardKurtz, we're going to ready your messages later.

And a live report from the Super Bowl, as the whole deflategate mess overshadowing the big game. But when we come back, an NBC reporter delivers a stunning slander against the Navy Seal who story is told in the firm American Sniper.


KURTZ: NBC Foreign Correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin left Joe Scarborough stunned the other day when the talk turned to the film American Sniper based on the life of Navy Seal Chris Kyle, and the reporter unloaded on Kyle.


AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: . some of what people have described as his racist tendencies toward Iraqis and Muslims as he was going on some of these, you know, killing sprees in Iraq on assignment. So I think there are issues.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, MORNING JOE: Wait a minute, killing sprees? Chris Kyle was going on killing sprees?


KURTZ: (inaudible) whatever one thinks of the movie and it's been a controversial movie, how does an NBC news reporter accuse a guy who's serving the United States Military of going on a killing spree?

SCHLAPP: I mean it's just incredibly offensive. To go after and basically criticize Chris Kyle, who is defending our country, who is killing terrorist to ensure that they don't kill other U.S. soldiers. I mean it's just -- you know, first one is he has no -- has no credible source at all. He just throws this out in an opinion, I mean that to me it just fundamentally wrong when it comes to journalism in the case of activity (ph).

KURTZ: If Mohyeldin was referring to Chris Kyle in his book, saying the Iraqis he killed was savages and some people have talked twist to that saying and saying at all Iraqis were savages, but still, I mean he was paid and his assignment was to go after the enemy who were going after United States.

ROGINSKY: Yes. I mean haven't seen the movie so I'm reluctant to talk about the movie itself but I will say.

KURTZ: (Inaudible) hate the movie. They want to say it's a terrible movie.

SCHLAPP: Correct. But I will say this, look, I suspect he wasn't just randomly made -- I don't think he was randomly standing in the street corner sniping at random people. I see whether they're probably target he was given, whether they were legitimate targets and legitimate terrorists or not, I think it's not his decision to make.

KURTZ: He was carrying out.

SCHLAPP: . he was carrying out orders. He was solider, right?

BELLANTONI: One of the reasons this is a terrific film and an important debate to have is because it brings out the really un-inherent ugly tensions of war, right? There are people that felt very strongly about something. We didn't really experience this as much other the anti-war movement.

KURTZ: Right.

BELLANTONI: . during the Bush presidency. And so it allows us to have this conversation and we have a country where there's freedom of speech and you can say I think that was despicable what you say about him, and you can have this conversation in America, that's a good thing and that's part of the point of what are soldiers are fighting for.

KURTZ: Another person who got into trouble on American Sniper is Howard Dean, the former Democratic presidential candidate turn MSNBC commentator. And he had said that all people going to see the movie are angry and some of them are Tea Party members. And then on Hard Ball, Dean had this to say.


HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I apologize to the veterans. I haven't seen the movie, and I think it was wrong. I talked to a lot of people about it. I make no apologies to all the thousands of right-wing nutjobs who have been twittering me with this nasty language.


KURTZ: You were sitting next to the Dean on the set.

BELLANTONI: That's me, yes.

KURTZ: What was your reaction?

BELLANTONI: Well, I hadn't seen his comments on Bill Maher, where essentially he said you were like an idiot or something. He said along those lines.


BELLANTONI: Yes, angry.


BELLANTONI: . if you were seeing movie. And -- so he said, "To start off. I really apologize. I don't do that very often."


BELLANTONI: But he said that he had gotten just, you know, hate and, you know, threat and all kinds of ugly conversation back but part of this is, you know, it's a film abut -- a dramatization of somebody's real life story.


BELLANTONI: . that they told through their own lens.

KURTZ: But as a piece of television.

BELLANTONI: You're taking it too seriously.

KURTZ: . got two seconds here. If you're going to say you're sorry, why then take a shot at right-wing nutjobs?

ROGINSKY: Well, I guess he probably got a lot of bad language directed at him.


ROGINSKY: Welcome to Twitter universe, governor. But all of us get that. . UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

ROGINSKY: . but look, my problem with this why criticize a movie that you haven't seen?

KURTZ: Right.

ROGINSKY: He said that, what came to that? I don't understand.

KURTZ: Right.

ROGINSKY: I'm not going to criticize that I haven't' seen it.

KURTZ: Just say you're sorry to everybody and move on. Julie Roginsky, Mercedes Schlapp, Christina Bellantoni, thanks for joining us this Sunday.

Up next, why did television go crazy over a big blizzard, but who's interest after it's buried New York City. And later we'll go the Super Bowl, and the media have turned the Patriots to the villains of Super Sunday.


KURTZ: If you were watching television during the run up to the winter storm heading for the Northeast this week, it sounded like the apocalypse, big, bad and ready to devastate New York City.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prepare for something worse than we have seen before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Northeast braces for a crippling winter storm.

ERIN BURNETT, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" HOST: Breaking news, an historic life threatening blizzard that could affect nearly 60 million people bringing the nations most populous city to a grinding halt.

MEGYN KELLY, "THE KELLY FILE" HOST: Breaking tonight, nearly 60 million Americans are hunkered down right now, waiting for the white hammer to fall. In the path of what is already turning into record breaking blizzard.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Don Lemon in the Blizzardmobile, CNN's Blizzardmobile, and we are out showing you what's happening in Manhattan live as it happens.

JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW" HOST: Blizzardmobile? Settle down Batman, it's a Ford Explorer.


KURTZ: But while the storm did 3 feet of snow across New England, New York City got about 6 inches which -- at which point they might even lose interest in their question about local officials had overreacted.

Joining us now for the Z Block, David Zurawik television and media Critic for the Baltimore Sun. So why did television go to DefCon One over a big winter storm in January.

DAVID ZURAWIK, BALTIMORE SUN MEDIA CRITIC: Well television love snow. I'll tell you why -- media love snow. Because as soon as you say there's a big storm coming, if you've have a blog or weather blog through the roof.


ZURAWIK: Grocery stores are making money, everybody gets ratings. They love it and, you know, I've seen it more in the last five, six years as the (inaudible) have become important that we see more and more warnings of huge storms coming that never come, and so these one's bearing down the New York, the media capital.

KURTZ: Well now, you know -- so because Manhatan is threatened, everybody was in a sort of an extra level of drama and interest would you say.

ZURAWIK: Oh absolutely.


ZURAWIK: Absolutely, you know, somebody tweeted it's because the media is full of narcissists. Of course, it's not a storm. You know what, people in Oklahoma have tornado story but -- I grew up in Wisconsin, you know, 2 feet of snow is like, OK we'll play hockey outside today, you know. But not in New York, it's the end of the world.

KURTZ: Now, and then afterwards, you know, I mean, you know, you have Boston and Connecticut and all those states in New England buried over as much as...


HOWARD KURTZ: . snow and everyone -- the headlines are all well, it's kind of a buzz.

ZURAWIK: Forget about it. That's them not us. So we're going about doing our business, fine. Now the other, Howie, is that they can defend it journalistically because you're suppose to give people information that they can use to make good decision about their life.

KURTZ: Yeah, 24 hours a day.

ZURAWIK: So even if you over state, you can't really be criticized too much.

KURTZ: It's just interesting but then there was this whole, OK the media orders (ph) were wrong and I'm not going to beat on them because forecasting is not an exact science. But then the New York politicians were criticized by the media for overreacting by shutting down the city. (inaudible) journalist said, "Gee maybe we overreacted a bit, too."

ZURAWIK: You know, of course they did. Of course point the finger at the politicians. Now you do have to say this kind of epic, bad images of leadership when you go, this could be the greatest story for the history of New York, I saw -- and are you kidding me.

KURTZ: All right. Let's switch this for you because we got a big game today. You wrote a column saying that you won't be watching the Super Bowl in NBC. And this is the first time you won't be watching the big game since the inaugural game in 1967 why?

ZURAWIK: Big deal. It's because of the way television has let itself becoming the last few years, owned by the NFL, and it's because of those lucrative prime time contracts like the one NBC has on Sunday nights. Hundred of millions of dollars in the cropper, not only now, Howie, won't they criticize the NFL, they now have become publicists for the NFL. And I saw that new in the playoff game between the Ravens and New England, when the camera showed Roger Goodell and Cris Collinsworth and Alan Michaels talked about his great integrity in handling the Ray Rice matter. Talked about the investigation million -- "millions" of pages of documents were examined that clear them. And at the end, paid for by the NFL. That's like something and he read a prepared statement like in the totalitarian government, like propaganda puppet dogs reading about their great leader. That was the moment when I said I can't watch this anymore. Look it's OK.

KURTZ: You were so turned off that you're going to deprive yourself of the game?

ZURAWIK: It's a big deal, it is -- look, but if something happens, it'll be online in four seconds.

KURTZ: Right.

ZURAWIK: I can watch -- I got a backup plan, Howie. But I have the -- and this is a small statement, it means nothing, it's inconsequencial. They'll probably get higher ratings than ever. But morally, after all these years, from 1967 of covering, I said this is too much this year, I really can't take it. Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth you do not have to pin for Roger Goodell in the NFL. Just broadcast the game.

KURTZ: Is that how you feel? (Inaudible). All right, David Zurawik, thanks very much for joining us with your strong opinions.

Coming up, Brian Kilmeade standing by in Arizona. Top assignment, right? To help us break down the Super Bowl hype. And later Donald Trump goes after Chuck Todd for daring to question his presidential ambitions.


ERIC SHAWN, FOX NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Live from America's News Headquarter, I'm Eric Shawn. Oil workers going on strike from coast to coast. They walked out after failing to reach an agreement on new contract early this morning.

It is their first major work stoppage since 1980. The United States Workers Union, which represents the workers, says, "The strike affects nine refineries in California, Washington and State Kansas and Kentucky but more could join in." A full strike would affect 64 percent of our nation's oil production.

And talk about a one-two punch, even as lot of people are continuing to dig out from the first blizzard of this year, another major storm is now moving in. It's already heading the midwest, expected it up to a foot of snow in some places.

Blizzard warnings posted in Chicago, then the storm is heading to the Northeast by tonight and there could be bad news for people planning to travel to those Super Bowl parties.

I'm Eric Shawn, I'll see you at the top of the hour with Arthur Neville. Now, back to Media Buzz and Howard Kurtz.

KURTZ: The usual media hype surrounding today's Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots has been almost entirely replaced by the fall out from deflategate.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft showing up at one news conference and saying the NFL owes his team an apology if no evidence confirms that the Patriots deflated the balls in the AFC Championship.


ROBERT KRAFT, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS OWNER: This would be in direct contrast to the public discourse, which has been driven by media leaks as opposed to actual data and facts.


KURTZ: Joining us now from outside the Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, Brian Kilmeade, a co-host of Fox & Friends, and from New York, Joe Concha, a columnist for Mediaite.

So Brian, it sounds like people are already having a good time. You're at the center of the sports universe. How much chatter is there about the Patriots deflating footballs?

BRIAN KILMEADE, CO-HOST OF FOX & FRIENDS: Well I'll tell you, the chatter on the street is not about that, there's mostly Seattle fans so far putting up my unscientific study. But I was thinking about how when you talk about this topic, we had sports fans watching this game, football fans, of course, moderate sports fans, yes.

The people that were not going to watch the Super Bowl were blitz with this locally and nationally on news channels and other outlets. This one's so far beyond sports. I actually think this quite possibly be the highest T.V.-rated games because of inflate-gate, wherever you stand -- deflategate, I should say. Wherever you stand on it, whoever -- whichever side you're on, you're taking about it. And you don't have to be Tom Brady's uncle to talk about it or related to Russell Wilson. Everybody was talking about it. We were talking about it every hour on Fox News, as with the other news channels.

KURTZ: Everybody is talking about it. It's a cultural phenomena, Joe Concha and I think that, you know, we've been talking to some women here, we're talking about Tom Brady and this girlfriend, Gisele Bundchen. So, this is the dominant storyline for the game, is it not?

JOE CONCHA, MEDIALITE.COM TV COLUMNIST: Absolutely, Howie. And they're married now. That Gisele is Mrs. Brady, so we should make that very clear.

Look, it is.

KURTZ: What a relief.

CONCHA: Terrific. By the way, yeah, if you look back on history, Howie, you know, a villain is always a good thing for television. Sports or otherwise. You have J.R. Ewing in 1980, he got shot, that's the most -- that was, at the time, the most watched television show of all time.

From a sport's perspective, 1994, Nancy Kerrigan, Tonya Harding. Harding hires a goon to take out Kerrigan's knee with a pipe. Couple of weeks later, they compete on a 4-hour tape delay in the Olympics in figure skating and more people watched that event on CBS than any of the 48 Super Bowls. So I agree with Brian. This will be the most watched Super Bowl easily, yes, because you have defending champ going up against the best team of this century. Yes, because you have the number one offense versus the number defense, but because you have two villains and particularly Tom Brady, the guy with the perfect life, with the perfect wife, that you can root against, Howie.

KURTZ: Not to mention Bill Belichick, Brian. But if that's the way the media have framed this, you know, is it really fair, I mean, are we at a situation now where the whole country, outside of Massachusetts is going to be rooting against the Patriots?

KILMEADE: Well I'm so good you brought that up because a lot of people think this is a media hype, and people are against the Patriots. The Patriots are dealing with -- dealing with what the Yankees had dealt with since the 20s. They are the most successful franchise around. And when you heard that's successful, people come after you, look around in Fox news and go Google us sometime, you'll see a fraction of the support we should be getting.

So they have been vilified. So having said that, you -- just when you think, well people just want to pound on them, then you guys like Troy Aikman saying I got a problem with this. You have Frank Tarkenton saying, "Listen, I think the New England Patriots are guilty of this." You have other people, important people in the game saying I got a problem with the special treatment the Patriots get how Bill Belichick always bends the rules and was caught doing something like that back in 2007.

So a track record goes within the game, and then pattern somewhat, along with the success of the -- sadly, most people are jealous of. They and the San Antonio Spurs, the most successful team in all of sports over the last 20 years.

CONCHA: He's right about that, Howie.

KURTZ: Joe, pick up on that because I think particularly in the case of Coach Bill Belichick, he doesn't -- he holds the media in great disdain and reporters don't like him. And so when this thing first started, I felt like, you know, there was a certain level of shouting forward or enjoyment, and the media pounding the Patriots over this scandal. I think it's overblown but it is something of a scandal.

CONCHA: Absolutely. Because -- and I think he's probably -- Bill Belichick will be blamed for the fog that's behind Brian's shot right now. Is the game in Arizona or Seattle but what's going on with that.

KILMEADE: It's unbelievable, yeah. The roof is closed on this, it's so foggy but go ahead.

CONCHA: Yeah. So, yeah, Belichick is somebody obviously who's been truculent with the media. Know who else has and it's been Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks just as bad as Belichick in terms of disdain for the media. So.

KURTZ: Since you're setting up my next question, Joe, let me jump in and want to play some of that. The Seattle Seahawks player Marshawn Lynch, not a big fan of answering questions in the press as we saw one of the many news converses. Let's roll up.


MARSHAWN LYNCH: Hey, I am just here so I don't get fined. So you all can sit here and ask all the questions you all want to. I'm here so I won't get fined. I'm here so I won't get fined. I'm just here so I won't get fined.


KURTZ: Joe, some people probably love that. But, you know, he gets paid about $7 million a year because there's television and journalist who make this into the national sport and obsession that it is.

CONCHA: It is. But now we have Twitter that athletes don't need the media to get to fans. They could actually go right to them. But I'm telling you right now. I am rooting for the Seattle Seahawks today. And I'll tell you why. Let's say Marshawn Lynch goes off for 130 yards and three touch downs and wins the MVP. And then that Disney camera merges behind him and that's where he's suppose to say like all the winners of the past, I'm going to Disney World.

Now what happens, Howie, does he not say anything? Does he say, "I'm just going to Disney World so I don't get fined." That is one thing to root for today because I want to see how he handles that aspect.

KURTZ: Let me go back to Arizona. All of the hype and the ads and the hoopla that surrounds the Super Bowl, does it overshadow the game itself at this point, Brian?

KILMEADE: A little bit but I would say this, you're looking at something here which makes it so sellable, which I believe is why you can't get scout ticket for anything less than $9,000 today. You got the two number one teams. Once the game starts, if there's no powers problem like there was in New Orleans, if there's no other issue that's beyond anyone's control, it is going to be about football.

What I find most interesting is the players say it sounds like any other game because of the breaks and the commercials. You know what the -- John Harbaugh told me the big thing that stands out -- he's coach of the Ravens is -- we have to feed our players almost a full lunch at half-time. They are starving to death because the half-time is too long, the pre-game is too long and these are big guys.

So I think it's more difficult from the players than anybody else.

KURTZ: Brian Kilmeade, enjoy the game. Joe Concha, thanks for joining us.

CONCHA: Thank you.

KURTZ: Ahead on Media Buzz. Al Jazeera English orders its journalists not to describe mass murderers as terrorist. But first, our focus group doesn't trust the media's coverage of Hillary and other 2016 contenders. We've got this inclusive footage.


KURTZ: Jeb Bush all about jumping into a presidential race against Hilary Clinton, how were the media treating the growing group of 2016 contenders? Frank Luntz put that question to a focus group.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I honestly don't think that the media even lets everyone know who is running. I think everyone here doesn't -- can't even name every candidate that's running for president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Plus it all depends on what network you're watching. If you're watching CNBC, it's going to be pro-Democratic, and if its Fox, it'll be pro-Republican.

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: How does the media cover Hilary Clinton? Do you think they treat her fairly?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you look at -- for the most part she is the media darling at the moment. They've already practically coronated her as the 2016 winner.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is not true. You know, they picture Hilary in bad lighting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would respectfully disagree. Mrs. Clinton gets a free ride.


KURTZ: I spoke with him earlier from Phoenix.


KURTZ: Frank Luntz, welcome.

LUNTZ: Thank you.

KURTZ: Let's start with the coverage of Hilary, we hear she's been coronated, no she's been showing in bad lighting. What do you make of such divergent views?

LUNTZ: A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest, that old Simon and Garfunkel song. If you like Hilary Clinton, you think that the press isn't giving her a fair shake. If you dislike her, you got a completely different point of view. The problem is that the public wants to be affirmed rather than informed. And that's always been the challenge for the media. And Howie, what's different with Hilary is that people they look at the camera angles, they look how she's dressed.

No other candidate do they take in to account what's going on outside of what she's saying and that's an asset to Mrs. Clinton. But it's also a liability.

KURTZ: So I hear people in your focus group saying, CNBC, probably MSNBC is pro-Democrat, Fox is pro-Republican. And you're saying it's in the eye of the beholder. But people tell pollsters they want the facts, they want fair and balanced coverage. But what I hear from you Frank is that if they have strong opinions about politics, it's not so much.

LUNTZ: Well what they say and what they actually respond to are two different things. But I'm going to give you some specifics. Two points, they want to see things side by side. So let me see what the candidates said four years ago and what the candidate is saying today. Or let me see what candidate A is saying about the issue, and then let see what candidate B is saying. You give me that side by side comparison and you're giving me substance, you're giving me ability to make a decision, do I trust them and do I agree with them.

That side by side coverage which is rarely done on any news network, it's rarely done in print. That's what the public is looking for and it's just not happening.

KURTZ: When you talk about -- when we heard one of your focus group people in that audience talk about everything is reduced to sound bites and snippets, in other words it's very superficial. But not everything but I think the media have to feel a little guilty here because we do get caught up in the flop of the day and the embarrassing sound bite gaff (ph) and that sort of thing.

LUNTZ: And in fact, polling which effects my profession, if I produce a poll that shows a long shot suddenly in the lead everyone's going to run to it, everyone's going to report it. And it's just one simple poll. I think you have to make a judgment what genuinely informs people? Either who's up and who's down or why they're up and they're down. But the danger is when the media taste a single snippet or a single polling results and then blows it out of proportion. It's the reason why the media has lower credibility total than at anytime in recent history.

And it's a lesson to them before 2016, get your act together now even before voters are paying attention.

KURTZ: Well I was going to say this really sounds like a flashing red light for those of us in the political coverage business going into what sure to be a very divisive and controversial and important campaign. But at the same time, you know, if every single thing that we put on the air could be weighed on a scale, some of your people would still say, "Oh they're giving Hilary a free ride." "Oh no, no, no, they're being very tough on Hilary or Mitt, or Jeb, or Rand."

LUNTZ: Some of this is the public's own fault because they don't pay attention until the last few weeks. Some of it is that they're just not sophisticated, so you don't know the issues. That person who said CNBC, they probably don't know the difference between CNBC and MSNBC. But in the end, we can only judge what we know based on what you tell us. So Howie, it's even more than a flashing red light. It is wake up, you have a responsibility. It's an awesome responsibility, but you gotta get it right.

It is better to air on the side of substance than style, it is better to give us a little bit more than a little bit less. And remember that in the end, whatever you give us is how we're going to decide how we're going to vote.

KURTZ: Good advice and strong responsibility for the media here heading in for this campaign. Frank Luntz, thanks very much for joining us.

LUNTZ: Thank you.

KURTZ: (inaudible) is going to the Super Bowl. After that break, Lance Amstrong shows no remorse for lying about his doping. And Donald Trump says maybe he should be the moderator of Meet the Press just to get rid of Chuck Todd. Our Video Verdict is next.


KURTZ: Donald Trump didn't exactly get rave abuse for his speech at last weekends Conservative (inaudible) in Iowa, but one pundit really got under his skin.


DONALD TRUMP, AMERICAN BUSINESSMAN, INVESTOR, TELEVISION PERSONALITY & AUTHOR: It can't be Mitt because Mitt ran and failed, he failed. The last thing we need is another Bush.

CHUCK TODD, "MEET THE PRESS" MODERATOR: Nobody's going to mistake Donald Trump for a presidential candidate, I don't think other than Donald Trump.


KURTZ: Then Donald struck back by ripping Chuck Todd on Twitter, "Word is that NBC News is firing sleepy eyes Chuck Todd in that his ratings on Meet the Press are setting record lows. He's a real loser." And Trump wasn't done, "So many people had told me I should host Meet the Press and replace the moron who is on now."

First of all, NBC is not firing Chuck Todd, and Donald only gets to fire people on the Apprentice. And the notion of the Donald hosting Meet the Press is more ludicrous than that of him running for president.

Look, we in the media all hope Trump jumps into the race because he's so entertaining. I love interviewing the guy, but Chuck's right, does anyone really think he is running.

Lance Armstrong lied to the world about the illegal substance that he took him winning seven Tour de France tittles. He lied to a plenty of journalist and he lied to me for claiming his innocence in two separate interviews. Now he's been asked about his cheating in a sit down with the BBC.


DAN ROAN, SPORTS EDITOR FOR BBC NEWS: When it comes to the doping, would you do it again?

LANCE ARMSTRONG, AMERICAN PROFESSIONAL CYCLIST: You know, if I was race in 2015, no, I wouldn't do it again. Because I don' think you have to do it again. If you take me back to 1995 when it was completely and totally pervasive, I would probably do it again. People don't like to hear that.


KURTZ: No remorse, no sense of shame. Armstrong seems to have no idea how many people he let down. And once we get on the Public Eye now, are just suppose to forget about his youthful transgressions. Any time his on television, the card (ph) under hi face should say, Lance Armstrong, Cheater.

Still to come your top tweets. Al Jazeera English tries to white wash the word terrorist. And Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel reunited for the Supper Bowl


KURTZ: Al Jazeera has tried to moderate it's image in this county by launching Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera American, hiring some big name journalists from CNN, NBC, PBS. But National Review has obtained a memo from the top Al Jazeera English executive telling us journalists not use journalists not to use such words as terrorists, Islamists and jihad because he writes one person's terrorists is another's freedom fighters -- really?

The butchers who behead hostages on camera, the creeps, the thugs who killed the staff of Charlie Hebdo? They're not fighters, they're cold blooded terrorists. And Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh is (inaudible) as the memo saying he's a mass murderer. Al Jazeera calls the criticism sublte McCarthyism and released this video.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't use the labels Islamist for example or extremist. We usually let the group's actions speak to themselves.


KURTZ: But journalists are suppose to make distinctions about what killers do, rather and sugarcoat the evil committed by terrorists.

Meanwhile, an Al Jazeera reporter on his way to freedom after more than a year behind bars in Egypt. Egyptian official say that Australian Peter Greste was put on a plane to Cyprus today. Gresti and two other journalists were arrested following the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi back in 2013 and originally sentenced to seven years in prison.

All right, your top tweet. Did the media help push Mitt Romney out of the race? Larry Kelly (ph), media gave more of a tap than a push. Desertions to job of money and staff were swift kicks, Jared Clark (ph), it's been reported many of his donors and former staff go along with Jeb, I think Romney saw the writing in the wall. Vicky Miller (ph), GOP's lack of moral and monetary support, Mitt has it right. Lets hope for fresh faces like Walker, Rubio, Carson, Cruz, et cetera. And Joe Aridando (ph), I think Trump helped him out of the race. Donald will like that since he's taking credit.

We'll there is one Super Bowl ad that caught my eye, playing of this 20- year old conversation on today's show, Katie Couric, Bryant Gumbel try to figure out this new thing called the internet and how those addresses work.




GUMBEL: That little mark with "A" and then the ring around it.


GUMBEL: See that's what I said. Katie said she thought it was about.

COURIC: Yeah. Or Around or about.

GUMBEL: But I've never heard it. I've never heard it said. I do always see the mark -- there is, At AM I mean what is internet anyway? What do you write to it like mail?

COURIC: There's Alison, can you explain what internet is

GUMBEL: What do you mean there's nothing under the hood.


KURTZ: Now Katie and Bryant reunited to help sell a new BMW electric car which is a tad unusual for journalists of their stature. But hey, their commercial was funny.

Well that's it for this edition of Media Buzz. I'm Howard Kurtz. We hope you like our Facebook page. We post a lot of original content there and videos and responses to your questions.

We're talking these weeks about blogger Andrew Sullivan, a pioneer in the business giving up daily blogging after 15 years, and what it means for the business. As for this program, we're back here next Sunday, 11 and 5 Eastern check as out with the latest buzz.

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