Bill O'Reilly vs. Mother Jones

Fox host calls David Corn a 'liar'


This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," February 22, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, we'll talk to Bill O'Reilly about questions stemming from Mother Jones' magazine article, questioning his war reporting more than three decades ago. A piece of O'Reilly denounced on "The Factor."


BILL O'REILLY, 'THE O'REILLY FACTOR' HOST: This man, 56-year-old David Corn works for the Far Left Magazine, Mother Jones smeared me yesterday, your correspondent yesterday, saying I fabricated some war reporting. And so I have to deal with this garbage tonight.


KURTZ: But Corn is standing by the piece. And now former CBS newsman, Eric Aimburg is joining the critics. We'll take a close look at what happened.

President Obama, taking on his media critics who can't understand why he won't speak frankly about Islamic terrorism, and Eric Holder hitting back at a certain cable network.


ERIC HOLDER, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: We spend more time, more time talking about what you call it, as opposed to what do you do about it, you know. I mean really, if Fox didn't talk about this, they would have nothing else to talk about.


KURTZ: Is holder just blaming the messenger? And Rudy Giuliani mounting a media blitz after political fact him saying President Obama doesn't love this country and being pressed by Megyn Kelly.


MEGYN KELLY, 'THE KELLY FILE' HOST: Mr. Mayor, do you want to apologize for your comment?

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR: Not at all, I want to repeat it.


KURTZ: Is the press being fair to the former mayor? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."

Bill O'Reilly hit back hard against the Mother Jones piece challenging his war reporting. MSNBC contributor, David Corn writing in the liberal magazine that the Fox News host had suggested he was in the Falkland Islands covering the 1982 are war between Britain and Argentina.


O'REILLY: Basically David Corn, a liar, says I exaggerated situations in the Falkland's War and the Salvadoran War.


KURTZ: O'Reilly says he's always made clear that as a CBS correspondent, he covered a violent protest in Argentina in the war's aftermath.


O'REILLY: I was there on the street with my camera crews. The violence was horrific as Argentine soldiers fired into the crowd who were responding with violence acts of their own. My video of the combat led "The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather" that evening. I never said I was on the Falkland Islands as Corn purports. I said I covered the Falklands War, which I did.


KURTZ: David Corn responded to the Huffington Post.


DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Bill O'Reilly, in the aftermath of the article going up yesterday, just gets out there and calls me a liar and says that he didn't say what he said, and accusing me pedaling garbage and swill and not really responding to the issue.


KURTZ: And joining me now by phone is the aforementioned, Bill O'Reilly.

Bill, let's start with the latest developments: Former CBS correspondent Eric Aimburg, who was in Argentina at the time, taking you on you in a Facebook posting. He says by calling you a bloviator, hope that didn't hurt your feelings. He says though, that O'Reilly has been correct in describing the situation in Buenos Aires as somewhat dicey for reporters. We'll get into the details in a moment. But then he goes on to say, this was a pretty tame riot, your reaction?

O'REILLY: It's absurd. I mean, it might have been tame for him because I don't know if he was there. I asked him to come on the program, "The Factor" tomorrow night. He turned us down.

KURTZ: He says he was there --

O'REILLY: But he's running over to CNN, but he can't come on to my program. See, I don't know if Eric Aimburg was there, and by the way, all of CBS correspondents that were there, five, were sent to cover the Falklands War. That's what we were told; you're going to Argentina to cover the Falklands War, OK? So that everybody should know. That was the description of what our job was to be.

So Eric Aimburg he's calling the riot that happened after the Argentine surrendered to the British, a quote, relatively tame riot. This is the article written by Richard Meislin, on June 15, 1982. And I'm quoting: "Policemen firing tear gas tonight disbursed thousands of angry Argentines who had marched in front the Presidential Palace to condemn the government surrendering to the British on the Falkland Islands. As the crowd chanted increasingly bitter invective at the government before the speech reflecting sorrow, anger and disbelief of the public here over the loss, police in riot gear moved in firing tear gas canisters and roaring through the Plaza de Mayo on motorcycles. Hundreds fled to the side streets shouting obscenities as the police fired acrid gas, others ripped down wooden street signs, set them afire in the plaza, fires appeared in several nearby intersections as demonstrators threw wastebaskets into them and set them ablaze to slow the police. One large gray van pulled into an intersection a block from the plaza, police then emerged, seizing anyone they could. One policeman pulled a pistol firing five shots. Leaders of the ten political parties in a statement tonight denounced the police's brutal repressors and a flagrant violation of the public faith. Several demonstrators reported that they had been injured along with two reporters at least. Local news agencies said three buses have been set ablaze by demonstrators and another one fired upon. The demonstration of national outrage was a type seldom seen since the military took power in 1976."

That's the New York Times!

KURTZ: Right, exactly. But now Aimburg says, he's suspicious that there was actually gunfire, you obviously --


O'REILLY: Wait, wait, wait, and wait. He's suspicious of the New York Times then. OK? Not me. He's suspicious of the New York Times. They reported that.

KURTZ: Now, you have said in describing this episode in Buenos Aires, that your photographer was run down, hit in the head, he was bleeding. The army was chasing you guys. Aimburg said I never heard of any injuries to the photographer.

O'REILLY: Because don't think he was there. I don't think he knows what happened and I'll tell you why, I left the hotel, Aimburg was still in the hotel, the Sheraton. I came back, running back with video for the Rather broadcast that night and Aimburg was in the hotel. So if he were this in the plaza de Mayo, OK, where was the video? Why did I have to run it up to the feed point and send it to New York? So I don't even know if he was even there. I'd like everybody to ask him, were you there? Because his reputation, his nickname was "Room Service Eric." That he never left the hotel.

KURTZ: One more point from the Aimburg Facebook posting. He says you violated the bureau chief's orders by having your camera turn on the lights to shoot some footage, that footage of course later used by CBS News.

O'REILLY: Totally absurd. I was there in the daytime. No order was given to me about anything. We turned on a light one time so I could do a stand up with people falling all over around me on a side street. It lasted for about 30 seconds. I didn't know of any order or anything like that. I was working. OK? I was working this whole situation. I mean, this is such a smear, it is unbelievable.

I went to Montevideo on 6/13 -- June 13, Montevideo, Uruguay, OK -- and I covered the casualties coming back from the HMS Herald which was destroyed by the Argentine air force. I didn't see Eric Aimburg there, OK?

KURTZ: So do you believe that this criticism is from your former CBS colleague is personal?

O'REILLY: Yeah, because in 1998, I laced him for big footing. Why don't you tell the audience what big footing is, Howard?

KURTZ: Big footing is when a journalist such as yourself, you were not then the Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, who is covering a story and another better known journalist comes in and basically does -- either writes the article, does the stand up, I guess in your case, and you complained about this in a book, Bob Schieffer came in and you left CBS afterwards. I guess you felt big footed.

O'REILLY: That's right. So this has been in place since 1998. Now, you're a newspaper reporter formally, correct?

KURTZ: Correct.

O'REILLY: If you write an article and send it in and another reporter puts their name on the article, what is that called? Begins with a P.


KURTZ: I've always called it big footing and you're not happy if that happens.

O'REILLY: What is it called in print? It begins with a P.

KURTZ: I'll let you tell me.

O'REILLY: Plagiarism.

KURTZ: Oh, but if it's your a colleague and you're working together --

O'REILLY: No, I wasn't working with these guys. I got the video; my crews were magnificent by the way. And Roberto Marino got hurt, OK? And we tended to Roberto, but he was a tough guy and, you know, I left him to run the video back to the bureau. And then I went back. And subsequently he was OK. But he got knocked down, all right? And we had to get him out so that he didn't get any more damage. But they did a fabulous job.

This is such a smear and it's a coordinated smear. Do you know that Eric Aimburg was written about by Bernie Goldberg in his book, "Bias," as one of the worst correspondents on CBS News, and Bernie goes into how he smeared Steve Forbes. Did you know that?

KURTZ: I've read the book; I know there's animosity there. I know Bernie Goldberg, obviosuly, is part of your programs so again...

KURTZ: Part of my program? He was working at CBS then, Howard.

KURTZ: No of course. I'm saying that he is now a Fox News contributor.

O'REILLY: It doesn't matter. He wrote that book far before he was on Fox, Bernie did.

KURTZ: I understand, after when he left CBS.

Let me get you to the bottom line here, because seems to me in my analysis of this that the Mother Jones piece ultimately if you boil it down comes down to this semantic question: You have said you covered a combat situation in Argentina during the Falklands War. You've said that the warzones of the Falklands conflict in Argentina, looking back, you think, wish you had worded it differently?

O'REILLY: No. When you have soldiers and military police firing into the crowd as the New York Times reports, and you have people injured and hurt and you're in the middle of that, that's a definition, all right? This is splitting hairs, trying anything they can to bring down me because of the Brian Williams situation, that's exactly what it is. This liar Corn wrote in his original piece that I hammered Brian Williams. Is that true, Howard?

KURTZ: No, I know for a fact that's not true because I was "The Factor" with you the first night of the Brian Williams story and you stayed away from criticizing him.


O'REILLY: You know for a fact it isn't true. And everybody who saw me on "Kimmel" or on Fox News knows it isn't true. So why does David Corn have any credibility at all? Why?

KURTZ: You're saying that...

O'REILLY: No, why does he have any credibility anywhere if he lied in his article about something that demonstrable, why would anybody -- CNN or anybody else -- take anything else he says seriously? Why?

KURTZ: Well, Corn has been a Washington reporter for a long time and some people respect his work.

O'REILLY: Who? Name one. You can't. He is a hatchet man. You know he is. He's an apparatchik from the far left and all of this is driven, Stelter at CNN? You don't get more far left than this guy. Former New York Times guy, Google him in Fox News, Google him, just over the years.

Look, final word, Howard, these guys want to come after me, I'm here. Anybody who says my reporting in Argentina was erroneous, they can come on tomorrow night. I got calls into Dan Rather; I got calls in to all the CBS brass at the time.

I'm going to get the video; CBS I think is gonna give it to us tomorrow, so the people can see for themselves. They can see it. I want everybody to read the New York Times article by [Meislin], it's up. You can get it.

KURTZ: I have to get to a break, don't go away. When we come back, more on this controversy as we get reaction from David Zurawik, and later, Scott Walker complains about gotcha journalism after ducking a Washington Post question on whether he believes president Obama is a Christian.


KURTZ: Bill O'Reilly is still on the phone. And joining us now on this controversy is David Zurawik, television and media critic for the Baltimore Sun.

You just heard Mr. O'Reilly defend himself; you've read what former CBS correspondent Eric Aimburg wrote about what happened in Buenos Aires on Facebook, your thought?

DAVID ZURAWIK, THE BALTIMORE SUN TELEVISION AND MEDIA CRITIC: Well I though Bill's -- well look, "Room Service Eric"? This is a really fierce battle now. This is culture war stuff going back and forth. That was one of the questions, that were one of the things that made me hesitant when this story first came out Thursday night, was the source of it, it was Mother Jones and the most prominent person on Fox TV. So immediately you had this ideological component to it, which made me wary of it. You didn't have that, that's one of the many ways this is not the Brian Williams story -- you didn't have that with Brian Williams. Stars and Stripes, I didn't see any ideological...

KURTZ: Well that's a good point. Let me just tell our audience, David Corn used to be a contributor at Fox. He was not renewed, he's now at MSNBC. He's an unabashedly liberal journalist who obtained that Mick Romney 47 percent video during the last campaign. But the headline of that Mother Jones piece was, "Bill O'Reilly has his own Brian Williams problem." Was that headline, the tone of the piece in your view, objective, was it fair?

ZURAWIK: Two things. One, I understand the impulse in the clutter of media to try to simplify stories, you know. Because Brian Williams was such a big story, trying to link this to this. I don't think it was warranted in this sense. I'll give you another way it's not warranted. Brian Williams was in charge of a nightly newscast seen by 9 million. Theoretically, as managing editor and anchor, he decided what went into that newscast. That's a position journalistic, tremendous journalistic responsibility. Bill O'Reilly is the most popular person on cable news TV, but it's a night time show that has a very different agenda and no one, in cable TV -- CNN, MSNBC, Fox -- says these are journalistic entities so there's a difference right there.

KURTZ: Bill do you agree with Eric's assessment that this has kind of morphed into a culture war?

O'REILLY: From the very beginning, I said this was a political hit piece. But I want to make it clear it to David Zurawik as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun, that what you wrote last night about Eric Aimburg, you want to hear more right David, is that right?

ZURAWIK: I want to...


O'REILLY: I want to hear more, too.

ZURAWIK: Bill, let me answer. What I want to do is be able to talk to him. I want to asks him questions.

O'REILLY: And here's what you ask him: Were you there in the Plaza de Mayo? Because I didn't see him and as I told Howard, when I left the hotel, he was in the hotel, when I got back, he was in the hotel and didn't have any video until I showed up.


O'REILLY: So if you were there, what the hell were you doing? And then you can ask him about big footing. And how he stayed in the hotel and the correspondents who went out and put themselves at risk had to come back and he took all their video and put his name on it. That's plagiarism. And they did that crap all the time.

And here's a final thing, David: Anybody challenging my reporting down there, have them come on. How come Eric Aimburg's not on with me? How come? He's on CNN, why wouldn't he come up against me?

KURTZ: Let me jump in David and ask you this, because CNN has been doing a lot with this story about MSNBC hasn't touched, the broadcast networks haven't touched it. Do you think this is getting traction as a story or do you think it's because it comes down, there is no dispute that Bill O'Reilly was in Argentina that it fades after a couple days?

ZURAWIK: I thought -- if you had asked me this Friday night, I would have said it was definitely down trending, it was not getting traction. As a matter of fact, I've been trying to find it on Twitter. I think it only trended for a brief moment and that was when it was announced that Bill O'Reilly was going to take it on on his show. I think now with the back and forth, it does -- because don't forget, this is 33 years ago. But these are big names involved now, and they're questioning each other's memories.

Look, Bill O'Reilly's strategy is pure Bill O'Reilly, you know. But it's going to -- and I think they will be studying this in strategic communications and PR courses.

KURTZ: Well let me give Bill the final word because I've got half a minute. Do you think by responding so aggressively and I understand why you want to defend your reputation --


O'REILLY: No, absolutely, they're trying to impugn my career; they're trying to smear me. They're trying to smear me and impugn my career. Nobody's going to do that. OK? And if anybody contradicts what I have said about my reportage, they need to come on my program and look me in the eye. Eric Aimburg is a coward. OK? He's a coward. He could come on and he could say hey Bill, you know this didn't happen, I was there, I saw this. I want David, and I want you, Howie, to call up Aimburg and ask him if he was there. OK some I'd like to know if he was there, and if he was why he had no video.

KURTZ: I would welcome the chance to talk to him.

O'REILLY: Right and I know you got to run. We'll have more on this. We're trying to get Rather, trying to get the president of CBS News at the time, Van Gordon Sauter and we will have the video, they're telling me we will it, the video I shot, that my guys shot. We should have it all tomorrow on "The Factor."

KURTZ: Clearly the story is not over. Bill O'Reilly thanks for calling in. Thanks for stopping by.

O'REILLY: Thank you.

KURTZ: And we'll look at whether the networks gave both sides of the debate in their coverage of the president's legal setback on his immigration executive order. But up next, James Rosen weighs in on the fewer of the administration's spokeswoman Marie Harf talking about the root causes behind ISIS.


KURTZ: A lot of tweets as you might expect about Bill O'Reilly, send me some more at Howard Kurtz. State department's spokeswoman, Marie Harf touched off a fewer the other day when Hardball's Chris Matthews asked her about ISIS.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, HARDBALL HOST: How do we win, how do we stop this? Are we killing enough of them?

MARIE HARF, US STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We're killing a lot of them and we're gonna keep killing more of them but we cannot win this war by killing them. We cannot kill our way out of this war.


KURTZ: Harf later said her comments may have been too nuanced for her critics. Marie Harf works in ten with Jen Psaki who was just promoted to White House communications director and is also accustomed to tangling with the press core. I sat down earlier with James Rosen, Fox's chief Washington correspondent.


KURTZ: James Rosen, Welcome.


KURTZ: With Jen Psaki now taking over the White House communications, how can you deal with her regularly? How are her relationships with reporters?

ROSEN: I think by and large pretty well amongst the state department press corps that's been there over the past couple of years. I think she's well regarded. She and Marie Harf knew their brief. I of course as a Fox news reporter wasn't getting the authorized leaks that some other reporters might have.

KURTZ: I was gonna ask you, it's no secret that Fox news is not the most popular outlet in the administration. So when you dealt with them, any particular edge or blow back?

ROSEN: No, I think we got along pretty well given all circumstances.

KURTZ: Any area in which you fault them, with Bill O'Reilly, for example?

ROSEN: Sure, there was that time where Jen and Maria ascribed sexism to bill O'Reilly. I thought that was way out of line. I didn't think there was any basis for it. I think on some occasions, the hash tag diplomacy where they're photographed holding up signs and giving a thumbs up while smiling about fairly serious matters like Ukraine I think might not have been well advised, but by in large, I think they both command the respect of the press corps here in town.

KURTZ: Now the controversy over Marie Harf's comments on ISIS and root causes, and we can't win the war militarily, some pundits saying as you know, monumentally dumb and this is jobs for a Jehadists, your take.

ROSEN: I think that this all mostly emanates from Marie's interview with Chris Matthews. And I think Chris Matthews led the charge in taking her remarks out of context, he immediately started to acquaint it to the effort to combat juvenile delinquency in American cities in the 1950's. I think Marie's point was eminently sensible, which you are having this cohort of 100 million people in the Middle East under the age of 30, that's the first time we've had that demographic cohort that large. And the question sensibly put is, what is going to take up the days of those people. Is it economic opportunity or something else? Obviously it's a long term effort.

KURTZ: What she said is rather unremarkable. She makes the point that George W. Bush, Colin Powell at various points, have talked about poverty as a tool in combating terrorism or why people become terrorists. Why has it been so explosive?

ROSEN: Well, we live in a different age than the Bush-Cheney era at this point with social media. Frankly, it won't please my twitter followers to hear me say it, but I've been dismayed by the treatment of Marie and Jen on twitter and other social media. They are routinely not only vilified, but really derided and mocked and intimately personal ways that I think bespeak a certain amount of sexism.

KURTZ: You do think those attacks when they get very personal are sexist?

ROSEN: Let's put this way, I don't think the same kinds of attacks would have been directed at male press secretaries in previous eras or this era. We didn't see Ari Fleischer photo shopped looking like he's serving French fries at the mall or people referring to them as valley girls and so forth. I think its offensive, and I don't think it's warranted.

KURTZ: Let's get specific because I've been reading pieces in this national view for example. One article comparing Marie Harf and Jen Psaki to you Lucy and Ethel on the old "I Love Lucy" show. And another piece said Marie Harf is a cretinous misfit. And Jen Psaki is pippy long stocking. And then, who was Rudy Giuliani, talking about Marie Harf the other day, take a listen.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: When you listen to her, I swear to god, you think you're listening to a Saturday night live parody of a person who should be a press secretary.


KURTZ: What do you make of that personal mockery?

ROSEN: Again, I think it's not well placed. I think these are two professionals. Marie has experience at CIA, Jen Psaki didn't exactly have the typical brief to do state department spokesman's job, she didn't have experience in foreign policy perse, but she'd been around high level political players. And why are we comparing her to pippy long stocking, because there is a commonalty of red hair? That's the only real reason I would see for that being done. And I don't think it speaks well of Kevin Williamson, of National Review who I otherwise respect.

KURTZ: Back to the comments about ISIS. She repeats this with (Inaudible) on CNN. She came back and said; well maybe what she was saying is too nuanced for her critics that struck me as a way to enflame your critics even more.

ROSEN: Yeah well, right. Anything that I do wrong and that you criticize must be a reflection of how erudite or nuanced I am in contrast...

KURTZ: And you're not.

ROSEN: Right. But she was in for some sledding this week, Marie Harf. It will be interesting to see what role is accorded her by the state department, by the Obama administration, now that Jen Psaki is moving over to the White House as communications director.

KURTZ: James Rosen, trying his best to provoke these people into making news, not the always succeeding. Thanks very much.

ROSEN: Thank you, Howie.

KURTZ: Tweets about O'Reilly still pouring in, pro and con. Ahead on Media Buzz, Eric Holder takes a swipe at Fox in defending the administration's refusal to talk about Islamic terrorism, seriously. And after the break, Rudy Giuliani doing damage control on TV after questioning the president's love of America, did the media blitz make things worse


KURTZ: Rudy Giuliani launched a media blitz after Politico quoted him as telling a private dinner that "I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe the president loves America". At first on Fox and Friends and Bloomberg TV, the former mayor seemed to be trying to walk it back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you mean by that?

GIULIANI: First of all, I'm not questioning his patriotism; he's a patriot I'm sure. I shouldn't say that the president does or does not love anything or anyone, I don't know. I'm not a psychiatrist and he doesn't have one and he doesn't need one.


KURTZ: But then when confronted by Megyn Kelly, Giuliani doubled down.


KELLY: Mr. Mayor, do you want to apologize for your comment?

GIULIANI: Not at all, I want to repeat it. The reality is, from all that I can see of this president, all that I've heard of him, he apologizes for America. He criticizes America.

KELLY: A lot of liberals don't believe in American exceptionalism, but it doesn't mean they don't love America.

GIULIANI: I don't feel it. I don't feel it. I don't feel this love of America.


KURTZ: Joining us how, Sharyl Attkison, the former CBS news correspondent and author of the best selling book Stonewalled. Steve Hayes, senior writer for the weekly standard and a Fox News contributor, and Juan Williams, Fox News analyst and a columnist for the Hill. You saw some of those interviews and the way Rudy's tone kind of changed. What do you think of the way the media have handled and made this into a mega story?

SHARYL ATTKISON, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: I think they have the right to do that, I think there are legitimate questions to be asked on all sides. As a media person, the question I ask playing my typical substitution game is, did the media ask the same sort of questions with the same vigor with president Obama then candidate suggested that president bush was unpatriotic for presiding over an increase of 4 trillion in the debt, did the media also pursue with the same sort of vigor whether candidate Obama wished to apologize and so on. I don't know the answer to the question because I didn't cover it back then, but that's what I'm interested in.

KURTZ: Steve, liberal pundits have been bashing Rudy for crossing the line here and challenging Obama's motivations, somewhat say, patriotism. Conservative commentators have been tepid rather than rallying behind him were just saying what others said is equally bad or worse, your thoughts.

STEVE HAYES, WEEKLY STANDARD SENIOR WRITER: I think it depends. Rudy Giuliani said there is no question he's speaking for a chunk of the republican base as a conservative base. There are easy ways to handle that because he's a republican presidential candidate who've been asked about this and handled it obviously in very different ways. Some of them sort of not backing off or totally not disagreeing with Giuliani...

KURTZ: Do you see the media as giving the proper play to pretty incendiary comments by an incredibly famous political figure, or do you think it's being...

HAYES: How long has it been since he's been in office? Almost 15 years.

KURTZ: But he's America's mayor.

HAYES: I think it's a story. I think it's a one day story, maybe a two day story. Is it a five or six day story? It's not like there is no other news out there. You've got these Iranian negotiations, you got Obama, and the 800,000 people with Obama care, there are so many other things that journalists could be focusing on. This much attention to this question seems to be...

KURTZ: What got less attention and what was quoted by Politico was this quote from Rudy, he wasn't brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country. So why has this touched a media nerve?

JUAN WILLIAMS, THE HILL COLUMNIST: That's a big nerve because I think it's divisive. I think that it plays to the idea that if you were not brought up in a certain way and have certain values and taught certain values. And he says that, if you are not brought up in a way that you are taught that love of America is a requirement, and then you can't be truly a patriot. I was like what is that about? I don't know what that means, because you can be brought up in all kinds of ways. You can be brought up as Obama was at times in Indonesia, come back and still love your country. You can be gay and love your country. You can be different and of course then, it goes without saying, race is just an explosive issue.

KURTZ: And speaking of race, I'm not bringing race in to it, I don't think what he said was racist. Certainly questionable for a political figure to say about the president, but New York Times interview, Giuliani boarded up and he calls an implication to jokes since Obama was brought up by a white mother, white grandfather, went to white schools and most of this he learned from white people so I guess Juan's right, race is forming the backdrop here.   ATTKISON: Well, the president doesn't hesitate to talk about the race of his parents and family members. So depending on the context, it can be perfectly legitimate to discuss. I'm not sure whether that impacts one way or another in this controversy.

KURTZ: Let me move now to the question that has been debated on Fox a lot, and we talked about it on the show, and that is whether the president and his administration should talk about Islamic terrorists. We'll talk more about the president's take on the other side. But Eric Holder coming out and taking a swipe at this network saying Fox didn't talk about this, Fox wouldn't have anything to talk about. Surprise you that he would turn this into an anti-Fox argument?

HAYES: The sun rose this morning, I had a cup of coffee, Eric Holder takes a shot at Fox. This is what Eric Holder does. He's trying to shift the blame. He wants to pretend like Fox News is the only one who believes this -- people on Fox News. I do find it funny that he labels Fox news in general as the problem, as if there aren't different views on Fox News. I think the administration wants to pretend that this is just a Fox versus the administration problem when in reality they're getting questions from a lot of different people, and different media outlets. You've seen in the press briefings with Josh Earnest, questions about why they're so insistent on avoiding Islam.

KURTZ: It has gotten a lot of attention on Fox. The New York Times did a story on it the other day. It is more than just a Fox News story, agreed?

WILLIAMS: I agree. I think Fox has a preoccupation with it, if that's what you're asking but it's also true that CNN, MSNBC has done it and the New York Times has done it and if you look at polls, that's what I do as a political analyst...

KURTZ: What is the nature of the preoccupation in your view?

WILLIAMS: The preoccupation is we hit it time and time again. We go back to it as a key element I think of the rights criticism of as the criticism of President Obama is the failure to use that language. And then it becomes as semantic battle when it suggests something larger but it's never quite said. But I think that the idea that all these liberal media organizations have said it confirms Fox is on to something and I'll say one more thing, the polls...

KURTZ: You'll say one more thing at the other side of the break, because I have to get a commercial in here, but we'll continue the conversation and the president responding to the pundits and about the way he talks about terrorism. And later, Scott Walker tells the Washington Post he doesn't know whether president Obama is a Christian. Is that a fair question?


KURTZ: President Obama used his conference on violent extremism this week to respond to the media over his choice of language in describing terrorism.


BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: There has been a fair amount of debate in the press and among pundits about the words we use to describe and frame this challenge. We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.


KURTZ: Steve Hayes, the president specifically addressing the pundits. Not like Eric Holder said it was just a Fox thing; the president may disagree with his reasoning felt the need to explain himself on this linguistic issue.

HAYES: I think he should explain himself. Go back to his statement on national television, the primetime address, September 10th where he said ISIL is not Islamic, there's nothing Islamic about ISIL. A lot of people disagree with that, certainly foremost among those, the people fighting on behalf of ISIL. I think it's worth having a debate about the extent to which Islam is playing a role and what's happening. I think reporters have an obligation to cover it that way.

KURTZ: Is the press sort of forced or prompted the president to not just use the terms but to explain, he devoted a good part of that speech to explaining why he does not want to use the term Islamic Terrorism.

WILLIAMS: Right and he see to explain it. I think he needs to do a better job of explaining it and I was gonna say before the break that if you look at the polls right now, the American people, in other words, absent any ideological take by the media, the American people say they want the president to do more to fight ISIL and they want him to talk about whether or not this is an Islamic threat. So that's coming from a genuine place Howie. And I would say this, the president has to exercise some restraint because we do not want as Americans, to say we're at war with Islam and with every country that has a Muslim majority. That's not in our best interests.

KURTZ: Interesting that Bill O'Reilly on Fox, says we're in a holy war. Ed Schultz on MSNBC says we're in a religious war, where people are not on the same side of the spectrum. I want to hold up this New York post cover, the day after the president's speech that we showed; I think I'll put it up here. Blindfolded Obama says Islamic terror? I just don't see it. Even with this sort of artistic liberty, does that strike you as a fair cover?

ATTKISON: I think it is a fair question to ask by a publication like that asks those sorts of questions but I think Juan is right...-

KURTZ: That he doesn't see Islamic terrorism?


ATTKISON: He doesn't see it as Islamic terrorism because he doesn't see the terrorists as being of the Islamic faith. And not the even the president has the power to make something be a terrorist act or not by the term that he uses. That's not what is important. The two issues I see are, number one, is he affecting a strategy based on whatever it is that leads them to avoid use of this "I" word that he doesn't want to use and secondly as leader, I think you have to be careful about sending a message to people who work with you, your advisers, that there are certain things that you wont touch, and don't want to hear, you might not hear the truth from them or they might not be encouraged to tell you what is really going on.

HAYES: Is he quick to invoke Islam when Muslims are victims as he did in the shootings? And quick to eliminate any discussion of Islam when Muslims...


KURTZ: When you had the 21 Catholic Christians killed, the Egyptians, initial White House statement didn't talk about Christians and it was the random killings in the Paris kosher deli, which the White House let it walked that back.

ATTKISON: This is not involving president Obama and the current controversy but years ago when there were Christians bombing abortion clinics; I don't think there was hesitation on the part of the news media and others to say it was Christians who were doing so they believe in regards to their faith, or what they believe faithfully.

KURTZ: You see that as a double standard, I got to go. Coming up, stick around. Scott Walker tells the Washington Post he doesn't know whether president Obama is a Christian and he might have blamed the media for making that a controversy. And later, we turn our media microscope on the coverage of illegal immigration.


KURTZ: We're back with the panel. Washington reporter asked Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, is the president a Christian? Walker says I don't know. Told him the president talked about openly about being a Christian, Walker says well, I haven't discussed it with Obama and the spokesman calls the reporter back and he says of course he believes Obama is a Christian, Juan Williams, anything wrong with asking those questions?

WILLIAMS: No. Because what we're talking about here is the far left and far right divide, it all becomes a culture wars issue, and we know about questions like, are he a Christian, and are he a Muslim, all the rest.


WILLIAMS: Right. Or you could attack it farther and say what about evolution and shots to get your children immunized and I think it's important at this point to simply say to the district, left and right elements in this society, we're done with this talk but you don't see I think now, a number of republican politicians saying, you know what, I'm not going to pander to anybody. I'm just going to tell you the truth.

KURTZ: Steve, Governor Walker then sort of punches back on twitter and says, enough with the media's gotcha game. Is that a gotcha question?

HAYES: You know what; he punched back in the interview. I think if you like at the entire part of the interview that the Washington Post published, the actual news there was Scott Walker taking on that line of questioning. He said I'm not going to concern myself with this trivial stuff that you are talking about. Said I don't know, it was the same response that he gave when he talked about Rudy Giuliani, there's a huge double standard.


HAYES: He's made it clear he doesn't want to engage in this kind of discussion. Maybe he won't be able to pull that off but there's a huge double standard and what's interesting over the weekend, is that two of the mainstream media journalists have admitted this double standard. Ed O'Keefe from the Washington Post said it yesterday on MSNBC and George Stephanopoulos today this week said there is a huge double standard. Republicans are asked about these things far more than democrats. I think the answer for that, the explanation, is obvious.

Journalists, this is the ideological spectrum here, journalists are mostly over hear, so things that strike -- when a republican or conservative says something that might be an outlier, that might speak to the republican base, it strikes journalists as outrageous in a way that it does as if it comes from the left.

KURTZ: Of course, Sharyl if Governor Walker said, of course he's a Christian, then there's no controversy.

ATTKISON: Well that's true. If that was a gotcha question, then that was a pretty mild gotcha question, he'd better be prepared for a lot tougher questions than that. But I think Steve's right that this was something that, it tells a lot the way he answered the question and the way that the media reacted to it, does tell a lot about the atmosphere but that's part of the game.

KURTZ: That's the thing, whether you think it's a fair question or not, Scott Walker seems to have the (Inaudible), all politicians want to do that, whether it's evolution or what so-and-so said, you've got to have a way to hit that pitch.

ATTKISON: More interesting to me is the fact that his press person called to amend what he said afterwards. That tells you a lot about a candidate and campaign that maybe he answered honestly the first time and then thought better of it, who knows?

KURTZ: Steve Hayes, Juan Williams, thanks very much for joining us today.

Still to come, a judge blocks president Obama's unilateral order of immigration. How did the NBC, CBS, and ABC handle that?


KURTZ: Time now for our media microscope. Let's look at the network newscasts, after a federal judge in Texas blocked president Obama's executive order of immigration order from taking effect. A short report on ABC's world news tonight, never quite explained the reasoning of Judge Andrew Hanen, had included just one soundbite from the president.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A Texas judge blocking the president's executive order that would have offered protection and work permits for up to 5 million undocumented immigrants here in the US, late today, the president shooting back.

OBAMA: We should not be tearing some mom away from her child when the child has been born here and that mom's been living here for the last ten years.


KURTZ: CBS evening news also included just the presidential soundbite but balanced that by devoting time to the judge's ruling and argument made by republicans.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tomorrow was supposed to be a historic day for millions of illegal immigrants.

Hanen said the president had over reached and that the policy would have burdened states with, quote, several million dollars in mandatory costs.


A piece on NBC nightly news began with the impact on those who were here illegally.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tonight, Andrea (Inaudible) is devastated, worried that her dream of working for the FBI may not come true.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were so ready for it and today it just crashed us, you know?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Texas, Alfredo Garcia's future plan, a PHD program at Notre Dame is at stake. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the possibilities that I have in the future just banished.


KURTZ: Sharyl what's your take?

ATTKISON: Well on this issue, like some issues in the news media, it's almost as if some of them feel there's only one side to the story, the legitimate side and everyone else who maybe mistaken. It's pretty extraordinary that when you consider a majority of states are fighting this executive order. There wasn't any sense of that in the stories and certainly was no emotional argument given to the other side that feels like it's overburdened, what could happen inside their state.

KURTZ: NBC did have a short soundbite from the republican governor of Texas but when you talk about emotion I think that's the key if you frame the story about those who are impacted and that's part of the story, have you in some way tilted the playing field?

ATTKISON: I think so. Over time sometimes there could be stories on the other side so maybe not every story leans that way but I think you would be hard-pressed to find an emotional argument, having been presented on the other side of this controversy by most in the media.

KURTZ: Right, thanks Sharyl. Of course, there is time constraints on these pieces but still, (Inaudible) is important. 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 and videos, and email us, and I read them all, try to respond to you We're back here next Sunday morning, you know this by now 11 and 5 eastern, back here in Washington with the latest buzz.

Content and Programming Copyright 2015 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2015 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.