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Media Buzz

Team Hillary targets media; Lester Holt keeps NBC on top

This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," March 15, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, Hillary Clinton finally meets the press as her private e-mail controversy explodes and most of the pundits pan her performance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Were you ever specifically briefed on the security simply cases of using your own e-mail server and using your personal address to e-mail with the president?

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I did not e-mail any classified material to anyone on my e-mail.

RON FOURNIER, COLUMNIST, NATIONAL JOURNAL: I have never seen her look as un-presidential as she did at that news conference.

JULIE ROGINSKY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I was completely disappointed in the press conference.
She has to do a lot better than that.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: The Hillary news conference coming one day after her camp sent out James Carville to attack the media.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Do you remember Whitewater? Do you remember file-gate? Do you remember travel-gate? Do you remember pardon-gate? Do you remember Benghazi? This is just the same stuff that we go through. The times hits get something from right-wing talking points. They have to walk the story back.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: How the Hillary forces are now blaming the whole mess on media hostility.

Two policemen shot in Ferguson and some blaming the president, the attorney general and media. Is this guilt by association?

New York's daily news brands Republican senators traitors who are opposing a new deal in a letter to Iran's leaders. Is the headline scandalously unfair?

Plus Lester Holt keeping NBC's nightly newscast in first place with Brian Williams out on suspension, does it really matter who sits in the anchor chair?

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

It took eight long days for Hillary Clinton to finally face the press about exclusively using private e-mail as secretary of state and the reporters' questions were direct and sometimes deflected.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Madame Secretary, state department rules at the time you were secretary were perfectly clear that if a state department employee was going to be using private e-mail, that employee need to turn those e-mails over to the state department to be preserved on government computers. Why did you not to that?

CLINTON: First, the laws and regulations in effect when I was secretary of state allowed me to use my e-mail for work. That is undisputed.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Mainstream media reviews were almost all negative, perhaps exemplified by this New York post cover, "Deleter of the Free World."
Conservative pundits not surprisingly ripped Hillary's explanation that she was one phone and one private server for her convenience.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC BOLLING, THE FIVE CO-HOST: Convenience? Are you kidding me? Any 10th grader could set up multiple e-mail accounts on a single handheld device.
Does she think the American people are that stupid?

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: A few liberal commentators defended the former first lady, but many were skeptical and even sharply critical.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HARDBALL HOST: Secretary Clinton did everything right today but deal with the problem. She basically said trust me, trust her not to have deleted e-mails dealing with policy, politics or whatever.

ED SCHULTZ, THE ED SHOW HOST: Hillary Clinton did exactly what I think she had to do, address using her personal e-mail while secretary of state for the first time. I think Hillary Clinton met the test. Cleared the beach and answered a lot of questions.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Joining us now to examine the media's role in driving this controversy, Kathleen Parker, syndicated columnist and Pulitzer prize winner, Christina Bellantoni, editor and chief of Roll Call and Joe Trippi, Democratic strategist and a Fox News contributor. Kathleen Parker, 98 percent according to my scientific survey of the assessments I've seen of Hillary's press were negative including you, including the Maureen Dowd this morning of the New York Times, many big newspapers, and liberal commentators. Why is it that almost no one in the press seems to be giving her the benefit of the doubt?

KATHLEEN PARKER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, she was not completely forthcoming. It was clear that she had her four points she was going to get through. She didn't allow a whole lot of questions; I think there maybe four of those. So it wasn't exactly a complete act of transparency. And I think the media are certainly well aware of that. But also the media come to this episode really; the next in the series of Clinton and company, with a great memory and that is that the Clintons have always been a little bit too secretive, a little bit un-transparent. Even though you could find a lot of reasons to understand that even justify it and explain it, it doesn't work with the media because that's what we do. We ask the questions, we need the answers.

KURTZ: Last week you sat next to Hillary at an event. Was she famously wary?

PARKER: Oh my gosh not at all. She could not have been more charming, warm and appropriately flattering. She's a very gracious person in person.

KURTZ: Christina, one problem with Hillary Clinton's answers is in addition to it raising more questions is that the questions she didn't like, she just deflected, she didn't answer them.

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, ROLL CALL EDITOR IN CHIEF: Her attitude in this press conference was very much irritation with the press and in some ways that highlighted the circus that this has become. I thought about bringing a prop to the show today but I wasn't sure how it would look on camera, one of those wind up cars that you pull back and then let go. And that's exactly what the press has been ready to do, she's not officially a candidate yet even though we've known she's gonna run for years now.

KURTZ: When you say circus sounds like you're suggesting some media behavior has been a little clownish?

BELLANTONI: Sure, but it is a frenzy and it is in part because of history's secrecy, there are things the press wants to be digging on you here all the time from my colleagues in the media and people are bored with the story.
They know everything their ever gonna know about Hillary and Bill Clinton and here is something they don't know. So now there is new chum in the water.

KURTZ: One of the questions she deflected for example was about the foreign government donations through the Clinton foundation while she was secretary of state. She just didn't answer, Joe, you have the AP and Gawker suing for these records now. Press picking apart her answers. But some pundits also saying she didn't seem likeable. So how much of this is just chip on the shoulder territory toward Hillary Clinton?

JOE TRIPPI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I don't know. Look, this is self- inflicted. She could have made a different choice. She said as much. And so every one these candidates, assuming she is, every one of them will go through this. This is the gauntlet. They are all going to be questioned about something that they made a bad judgment on or made a bad choice on.

KURTZ: Perfectly legitimate in your view?

TRIPPI: Absolutely. The same questions -- I mean on different subjects maybe, but on everybody else. And if you can't make it through it, if what some of the pundits were saying about she wasn't personal -- we've seen those charges against her before. She actually came back from those kinds of things in New Hampshire in 2008.

KURTZ: What fascinates me is the way this is now turning in to an attack on the press by Hillary Clinton's allies, Bill Maher the other day complaining about the stupid infantile press. Here is Rachel Maddow on her MSNBC show, let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RACHEL MADDOW, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW HOST: The media noise and static and nonsense around her is so loud, it's very hard to have effective reporting that people might actually care about what she'd be like as a national leader.
I've seen the scrum this week and a lot of the stupidity in the coverage around this issue. I worry about whether or not we'll be well served by belt way press core that doesn't know how to talk about either Bill or Hillary Clinton.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Nonsense, stupidity. That kind of suggests it's almost a non-story.

PARKER: Speaking of convenience, blame the media, right? I'm not one to always defend the media by any means, but this is a problem. It may not be an insurmountable problem, but you'll always have the questions about what about those deleted emails, what was in them and who decided -- you know they did it with key words. They typed in key words to identify e-mails that seemed to pertain to state department business. What were those key words and what key words were left out? Was Benghazi a key word? Who knows?

KURTZ: It all depends on the meaning of the word key word. It is a media frenzy, the question is whether it's justified. We saw earlier Christina, James Carville making these wild charges against the New York Times, walking back the story that is absolutely not true, criticism that the original story could have been more specific about the regulations involved, spreading right wing talking points. Is that a fair charge?

BELLANTONI: This is not a new charge. I've had those charges leveled at me by people that work at every level of campaign on both sides, whether it's spreading a certain side's talking point, because that's an easy attack on the press when it's not something you like. This is an issue that people deserve to know information that was deleted; they deserve to know things that have to do with her government work. In the end, we're not gonna get the entire picture and these questions deserve to be asked. But is the press irresponsible sometimes, is this an infantile game? Sure. A lot of times, and I think most of the reporters that are out there covering the presidential campaign want to have important substantive work out there and there are many doing that is difficult in the media environment, difficult when you have campaigns that don't want to talk to you. You end up chasing the story of the day.

KURTZ: NBC's Andrea Mitchell did push back against Carville in that interview for saying some of those things but...

BELLANTONI: And I have to say I don't think it's helpful to Hillary Clinton to have these faces come forward yet again, you know, Carville and Bagala has said something. I know -- I like them, i'm not criticizing them, but it just brings back the old...

KURTZ: Like the scandal crew from the '90s.

BELLANTONI: Exactly.

And I'm saying this for you, Trippi. Democratic Senator, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island telling the New York Times that journalists are pursuing a ridiculous story and won't indulge their bizarre fetish by commenting on it.

TRIPPI: I just think that that's not gonna make it as a comeback on this stuff. She has to go through this. One thing I think that I really do fault the press on is this inability to explain to people that we're never going to -- you're never going to be able to get to the facts on this because of the way -- the rules and policies, everything in practice that people participate this government, it's so behind the times in terms of technology. We used to be able to -- you couldn't call anybody on a government phone. These guys would get up and walk across the street. Guess what? It's all here now. And on this is a private account and a public account. And if what she was doing...

KURTZ: You're saying it's for the press to...

TRIPPI: She's e-mailing on a personal account to another person's personal account. That was never going to be on a government server. We don't own that part of the server. It doesn't work that way.

KURTZ: But come back to this bizarre fetish charge. It makes it sound like journalists are into whips and chains and stuff when it comes to Hillary.

BELLANTONI: Well, the Clintons are always going to be news, and Hillary Clinton will is, let's face it, she's running for president of the United States. She was secretary of state. And I can from my personal point of view; I'd love to have a personal server and I want absolute privacy. I don't want anyone to know what I'm thinking ever, but I wasn't secretary of state and I'm not running for president and you just simply -- the media has to pursue this story. Does it have to be chum in the water?

KURTZ: We do have one volume that is usually too loud. But how much does this have on do with the wounds of whitewater and the view in the media, consensus that formed in the '90s that she was secretive and cutting corners and whether now that furthers the portrait?

PARKER: We all know when something touches on an issue that voters already think about you, it's more effective. That's one thing that happened to Mitt Romney with the 47 percent comments; he was already viewed as possibly out of touch so this is an issue. People know the Clintons have been secretive along their history. But at the same time, a whole new crop of voters is coming up, people that weren't even born when white water was going on. Of course that will all get resurfaced again, but that's not how people vote.

KURTZ: Before we go, the conventional wisdom is the mainstream media are unfair to Republicans. Clinton is a liberal Democrat and she seems to have most of the press aligned against her. Isn't that a little bizarre?

TRIPPI: No. My own read is the press is unfair to most of the candidates and everyone. Take out the word most. They're unfair to everybody.

KURTZ: This is part of running for president, or governor or mayor.

TRIPPI: Every one of the Republicans is going to go through it. Martin O'Malley and any Democrats that enter the race will go through it. And either you survive it or you're lying on the battlefield and somebody carries you off.

PARKER: And that is part of the process. Is this a test always test to see how do you respond to tension and conflict.

KURTZ: And even if that tension and inquisition is unfair, it again is a marathon that you have to be able to overcome if you're going to reach higher office. Good time magazine cover story. Hillary Clinton, I think portrayed as a she devil because I know we have it coming here, her silhouette, that was her horns. Time Magazine says just a coincidence. I think somebody might have seen that in advance. When we come back, two police officers shot in Ferguson and some pundits are blaming the president, others pointing fingers at the media. Does that go too far? And later, was the New York Times guilty of deliberately pushing George W. Bush out of the picture at the 50th anniversary march in Selma?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: It was a tragedy when an unknown assailant shot and wounded two officers outside Ferguson police headquarters, but it didn't take long for some pundits to assign blame to Eric Holder and President Obama, to the protestors, and to the media.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREG GUTFELD, THE FIVE CO-HOST: So I'm not going to indict the White House or the administration, I'm not gonna do what they do, but we should indict the salivating race crazed media who ginned up this and spread the virus and division that allowed an atmosphere for this to happen.

LOU DOBBS, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT HOST: To among those I believe who deserve blame are the attorney general and the president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All those protesters do not want dead cops. I think what you did was perhaps lump them all together and obey with a little hand fisted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A problem with the media coverage has been we have this isolated incident where police officers are shot. This is and ongoing phenomena.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: What do you make of some of the media scoring points by saying it's your fault, it's his fault, and it's the race crazed media's fault?

BELLANTONI: You saw the facts when officers were shot in New York, as well.
You can say anybody is inciting this sort of feeling.

KURTZ: You have a lot on your hands because you said...

BELLANTONI: But at the same time the media covers things that have interest, I will say not so much at roll call because we're covering congress, although we have covered a little of the congressional reaction, influence has been so much interest in this globally. People wanting to understand what is happening in Ferguson, what is happening with police violence, what is happening with responsive police violence in tragedies like this? It is getting enormous traffic for news outlets all over the world.

KURTZ: It's true Kathleen that much of the media did play a divisive role in the Michael Brown shooting by adopting the hands up don't shoot narrative as if were a fact when we didn't have all the facts. It turned out not to be true. But does that mean whoever they did that bear responsibility months later when some thugs shoot a couple of cops?

PARKER: First of all, we don't know who shot the cops. It could be someone from outside. It could be someone trying to enhance this terrible situation. The media will always be blamed for their part in any incident.
And it's deserved because the media changes the dynamic of whatever they intend to, but not to blame them for what happens. In other words, the presence of media changes, it creates drama.

KURTZ: Were side to the disturbances. We didn't cause them but we certainly provided a huge spotlight...

PARKER: People get carried away with the drama. And nothing we can do about that. We'll cover the news.

KURTZ: Eric Holder led an investigation exonerated officer Darren Wilson in Michael Brown's shooting in civil rights charges, but he also issued a report documenting pretty awful pattern and practice of racism. And he denounced the latest shootings by being done by some damn punk and now critics tying this to Eric Holder, President Obama because he went to Jimmy Kimmel and he very briefly talked about the criminals who did this.

TRIPPI: Pundits get to assign blame and not wait for the process to end.
It's a free shot. So we didn't know who this. Hopefully they catch who did this. There is a trial. Then you can get to blame the right people. Did twitter have something to do with this, all those comments? It may not have had anything to do with any of the media coverage or anything else. We don't know yet.

KURTZ: What bothers me is the state of rhetoric where every time there is some kind of shooting, and especially on cable because it's good for ratings to take sides, if some crazy by commits a crime, if he can be linked to the right, left, environmental movement, it almost is a way of kind of merchandising the tragedy.

PARKER: Yes but Howard, consider too, that when the media be present again, they will ask anybody on the street what did you see, what did do you think. And that becomes part of the story.

KURTZ: The media do play, have played in Trayvon Martin and Ferguson have played racially divisive role. But to say it's yours fault strikes me...

PARKER: The shooting after the Boston marathon -- or the media contributed to that, as well and if not for the same reason, this is one of the things that we do.

KURTZ: I do think we should be held accountable for the way we turn these things into national soap operas, it does trouble me though when people say it's your fault. Kathleen Parker, Christina Bellantoni, Joe Trippi, thanks for stopping by this Sunday. Ahead, do the Republican senators deserve to be called Traitors as a New York tabloid put it? But up next, a new pole says the most trusted name in news is Fox News. We'll take a close look at media credibility.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Fox News is the most trusted television news operation, the choice of 29 percent of the new Quinnipiac pole, CNN was next at 22 percent, NBC and CBS each had 10 percent, ABC 8 percent. And bringing up the rear was MSNBC with 7 percent. Not surprisingly, fox nominated among Republicans, did poorly among Democrats, but also the most trusted among independents with 25 percent. Joining us now to examine the question of media credibility for the ZBLOCK, David Zurawik, television and media critic for the Baltimore Sun, so the fox haters are not happy, but that's what the numbers show.

DAVID ZURAWIK, BALTIMORE SUN MEDIA CRITIC: Well, and this isn't the first study that did this. Part of this is that fox has a very large audience overall. Last month, it was the number one prime time cable news channel overall of them.

KURTZ: Not just news.

ZURAWIK: Yeah, over AMC, ESPN, all of them. So that's a big audience so it's bringing a bigger audience in the tent. And in fairness in some ways, some of the other channels split audience in a way. If you're a conservative or Republican, I don't think there is necessarily a lack for you out there outside of fox in a way especially when you get to the opinion shows in the evening. So that helps, as well. You look at other aspects of this Howie, we had the Netanyahu speech this month, and we had the Hillary Clinton e-mail thing you just talked about. Fox overwhelmingly was the most watched network for those news events, as well. It was 3 to 1 over CNN for the Netanyahu speech.

KURTZ: Ideology or commentary. But CNN did better than the broadcast networks based on reporting. But what does it say that the broadcast networks are so low in this poll? Is it because people don't rely on them for news that much anymore?

ZURAWIK: That's what is most troubling. You tend to look at these cable ratings. But how could the networks have so given up this franchise of news that they're now judged that poorly or have that little credibility with the audience? And I think -- honestly, we've talked about it before, but I think it's an over-commitment to money programming. We're they ever going to break into prime time because it will cost you $5. We don't care how big the story is.

KURTZ: MSNBC finished last. I joked on Megyn Kelly's show the other night that MSNBC has become 500 liberals and Joe Scarborough, meaning I don't see a lot of dissent on that channel most of the time. What does that number reflect besides low ratings?

ZURAWIK: MSNBC tried to do fox from the left. It's been a disaster. MSNBC is in chaos. It's an embarrassment. Everybody says what is the chairman of MSNBC going to do with Brian Williams, no, what is he going to do with MSNBC? He's got 24 hours a day of mess over there. It's un-watchable. And I've been saying this for years about MSNBC. They took a really wrong turn; Phil Griffin the president over there took a really bad turn in trying to go hardcore etiology. They didn't know how to do it and they have lost the news credibility and I think it hurts the NBC brand, as well.

KURTZ: You mentioned NBC nightly news, Lester Holt filling in. Brian Williams out on suspension and he's kept nightly news in first place nearly
10 million viewers during this time. Does that suggest that it doesn't matter all that much who sits in the anchor chair that people come to in nightly newscast for other reasons as well?

ZURAWIK: I think we've seen the down sizing of the network anchor person for quite a while going on now.

KURTZ: The era of the anchor monster is receding.

ZURAWIK: From the corporate point of view, the anchor monster salary is receding too because the evening news doesn't have the kind of financial cloud it did. Spend your money on the morning show don't spend it on the evening show.

KURTZ: We have Katie Couric and now it is Scott Pelley. So why does it say about Brian Williams' future since technically he is just out for six months because of the false story he told about being shot down in Iraq?

ZURAWIK: I don't know why you would bring Brian Williams back. Lester Holt is holding the overall audience. He's a hard working guy who has earned this spot. He's a steady guy. He brings none of the baggage that Brian Williams -- you bring him back in six months, you don't know how much animosity there is going to be to a person who has lied repeatedly. And you don't know what it's done to your credibility. Lester Holt is an easy guy to root for to Americans because he has earned this job and he's the opposite of Brian Williams. He's not a hot dog. He attracts no attention to himself. By the way, Andrew Tyndall's study shows the first ten minutes is all correspondents.

KURTZ: Not a hot dog unlike some at this table. Thanks very much. Ahead, Bill Cosby breaks his silence sort of with a bizarre video. And coming up, some denouncing GOP senators trying to derail a nuclear deal with Iran, is it fair to call them traitors?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: When 47 Republican senators took the highly unorthodox step of writing an open letter to Iran's leaders in an attempt to derail the administration's nuclear negotiations, President Obama and the Democrats were highly critical, but not as critical as The Daily News. The New York tabloid's running a screaming headline branding the GOP lawmakers "Traitors." Tom Cotton defended the move to Megyn Kelly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGYN KELLY, HOST OF THE KELLY FILE: It's not just Howard Dean or Vice President Biden. The Wall Street Journal calling you out saying this is not helpful.

SEN. TOM COTTON, R-ARK.: On the contrary Megyn, I think that this debate we're having is incredibly important and helpful to raising just what a bad deal President Obama is about to make with Iran.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KURSZ: Joining us now to examine the coverage in Palm Springs, California, Ric Grenell, a Fox News contributor former foreign policy spokesman for the Bush administration. In New York, Julie Roginsky, a Democratic strategist and also a Fox News contributor, Ric, right down the middle with the first question, what did you make of that Traitors headline?

RICHARD GRENELL, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think some responsible national security reporters criticized the tactic. You saw the wall street journal talking about whether or not it was helpful or hurtful to the policy. I think that is very legitimate and we saw reporters so both sides. But you had political type reporters who don't understand national security, saying things like unprecedented or calling traitors. Michael Crowley on Tuesday had a good piece on Politico, which showed how Democrats have consistently undercut GOP foreign policy when GOP was in the White House. So any reporter saying it was unprecedented or unique or highly unusual doesn't understand foreign policy. So we push them into the political mainstream media reporters. And they're being silly. P.

KURTZ: We'll come back to the history. But Julie, we had not just the daily news headline, but the liberal Huffington post consistently calling these GOP senators saboteurs.

JULIE ROGINSKY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Only thing they sabotaged was their own agenda because you have -- you will potentially get a veto-proof majority in the senate for their very same bill that they've included Bob Corker has been pushing. And so they're sabotaging their own chairman.

KURTZ: Would you agree some of the language has gone too far, Traitors?

ROGINSKY: I agree that's ridiculous. They're not traitors. They're not saboteurs to America. Up to tone down the rhetoric. There are legitimate reasons to oppose what they did, but they're not traitors, just misguided.

KURTZ: Ric, you don't say this is not controversial and it shouldn't be intensely covered right?

GRENELL: No, I think national security reporters should be on the front page of the paper talking about whether or not this is a good move. If you want to talk about the policy reporters should focus on the fact that we only have 100 senators, they are in charge of trying to stop bad policy.
But the idea of putting political reporters on a story like this, political reporters over the last years have ruined foreign policy maneuvers, especially the Iran policy. They just don't understand it. So I think editors need to get rid of the political reporters who just make hay of everything.

KURTZ: I assume by get rid of them, you don't mean ship them out somewhere.

GRENELL: Push them to B-21.

KURTZ: Okay, well there are certainly a lot of them. If the same senators had done it as an op-ed piece and not address to Iran's leaders, would it have been as explosive as it turned out to be?

ROGINSKY: I think it would have gotten -- you put this if the op-ed pages, of the New York Times, of course it would have gotten attention. The 47 senators said what they said; they just shouldn't have said it to the ayatollahs in Iran. There's no reason to be communicating politically with people in Iran when you can to it just as effectively communicating it to the American people.

KURTZ: Let's me come back to Ric on the question of the past. Because there were a lot of pundits who were supportive of what the Republican senators did, but were upset back in 2007 when Nancy Pelosi the house speaker, went to Syria, met with about a Bashar al-Assad over the objections of the Bush administration was trying to isolate al-Assad. I don't have to guess your position, you've accused Pelosi of giving aid and comfort to Assad and so some people saying this is inconsistent whether you like or don't like the President in office.

GRENELL: I don't think so at all. The Logan act which will a lot of people talk about talks about unauthorized negotiation, that's a violation of the Logan act. I would argue Howie, that sitting in front of a dictator like Assad is much more of a negotiation than a letter which is a one way communication.

KURTZ: All right. Julie, I think that it's fair to say that Pelosi maintains this is bipartisan because some Republican congressmen also met with Assad. But it is interesting that some of the people in the commentary business who were outraged by one are not outraged by the other when you flip the party affiliation.

ROGINSKY: I agree with you, and I think we have one president at a time and that person, whether you like the president or not, it's the person that should take the lead on negotiating with foreign powers. Ultimately Nixon to China was an executive action and a lot of people opposed it, but at the end of the day, he was the president. He had the ability to do that. And so Nancy Pelosi should not have sat with Assad and I don't think these Republicans should have sent that letter. And I think you see some regret on part of the people John McCain who understand too late this is something they should not have done. The president is the president for the next two years and he should be the one trying negotiating or not negotiating with the foreign power.

KURTZ: Underlying issue is certainly important and maybe we ought to hear more from the national security reporters. All right. Julie Roginsky, Ric Grenell thanks very much for joining us.

After the break, a reporter who has known Hillary Clinton since her days in Arkansas weighs in on why she's so frustrating to cover.

And later, a website that found a way to combine Hillary e-mail stories with pictures of, yes, scantily clad women.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN 'SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE' VIDEO CLIP)

KATE MCKINNON AS HILLARY CLINTON: I wasn't born yesterday. I was born 67 years ago and I have been planning on being president ever since. There will be no mistakes in my rise to the top if I decide to run. Who knows? Who knows? I might not.

(LAUGHTER)

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: That still makes me laugh every time. Why are the media taking such a dim view of the former first lady? Joining us now is Ron Fournier, the National Journal columnist who has covered her since she was Arkansas first lady when he was an AP reporter in Little Rock. Ron, you've been very tough on Hillary on the e-mail controversy, even said she should consider to the running. At the same time, you seem to have warm feelings for her dating about to being your days in Arkansas. What gives?

RON FOURNIER, NATIONAL JOURNAL: It's hard not to have warm feelings for her. She's very likeable, very funny, and very warm. I've always said if I had the choice of having dinner or drink with a Clinton, by far it would be Hillary over Bill Clinton.

KURTZ: Did you spend a lot of time with her in your years in Little Rock?

FOURNIER: Yeah she used to like walking around downtown occasionally I've fallen with her and take a walk with her, saw her all the time at the state capitol. We weren't best buddies, but she's someone I have a sense of as a person. Let's give her the benefit of the doubt. When she started out in Arkansas, she was two things that were hard to be in the late 70's in Arkansas. She was a woman and Yankee. It was kind of tough. She gave up her maiden name because it became a political issue. That has to kind of burn you. She got beat up when she did the education standards in the early '80s. They were successful; about you shall carry some scars. She gained a lot of respect even among the old bulls in legislature, but a lot of scars.

KURTS: Since you had this personal relationship as time went on, were there times when she got angry with you when your relationship became a little bit more confrontational?

FOURNIER: People have gotten mad at me, but she's never been anything other than kind to me. And I'll give you an example. One of the lowest days of her political career was the night she gave the speech in 2008 for Barack Obama. That night, the night after her speech, I'm in the bar of her hotel talking to one of her aides. And they say why you don't come upstairs. Come up to the suite. So I go upstairs and here I'm in this Clinton party and the first people I see are the first lady and Chelsea. Chelsea was someone I could never talk to, never felt like I had the reason to talk to. And I wrote them really hard in the 2008 primary, including the former president.

KURTZ: So how did she treat you?

FOURNIER: How you doing, asked about my kids by name, we didn't talk politics, we talked -- off the record it was really interesting small talk for half an hour. By the way, over her shoulder, I see this nose and gray hair and glasses and I couldn't figure out what he was doing. After about half an hour, I excused myself from the senator who again could the not have been more gracious and I go around and there is Bill Clinton in the middle of this big party, this post-speech party, had a big old desk that they had put in the middle of the suite and he's handwriting his address for the next night.

KURTZ: Interesting. So is she justified in your view? In having this deep rooted suspicion of the media? I heard a lot of people say she's very charming and private, at least in public she seems to view our ilk with distain -- maybe not you because...

FOURNIER: It's a complicated answer because politics is complicated. Yes she has every right to be distained for us. I've written some nasty stuff about her, I'm very tough on her; everybody in the media is tough on her because she wants to be president of the United States. So she has reason to be upset. But I gave you reason why is she hates the media and they're all justified. But if she wants to be president of the United States, if she wants to be as good as she can be, if she wants to bring this country to where it needs to be especially in an era of modern communications, in a new way of communicating with another, she has to be better than us. She has to rise above it.

KURTZ: Just quickly, most politicians court and try to charm the media -- Bill Clinton famously, and she doesn't do that except behind the scenes.

FOURNIER: She's capable of doing it even on the record. She's capable of doing it. As first lady, she was very good at schmoozing the media. Only reason you want to schmooze the media is for us to give you the benefit of the doubt. And that's what she's lost with the press.

KURTZ: I think that's a note to end on. Ron Fournier thanks for stopping by this Sunday. Ahead on Media Buzz, the New York Times act unethically in featuring President Obama but not former President Bush, and the final chapter for Nancy Snyderman after she broke the rules during the Ebola roar.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Dr. Nancy Snyderman is now paying for a very bad mistake she made a few months ago when she violated a self imposed quarantine during the Ebola crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY SNYDERMAN, FORMER NBC NEWS CHIEF MEDICAL EDITOR: I'm very sorry for not only scaring my community and the country but adding to the confusion of terms that came as fast and furious as the news of Ebola did.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: She's resigning as the NBC chief medical editor and she didn't pretend the two events are unrelated saying, covering the Ebola epidemic last fall in Liberia and then becoming a part of the story upon my return to the US contributed to my decision. But now is the time to return to academic medicine. Her blunder made her position in NBC untenable but we shouldn't forget she took the risk of going to Liberia to help victims there.

New York Times drew all kinds of flack for its front page photo on the 50th anniversary of that march in Selma featuring President Obama and his family, Congressman John Lewis and others since the other honored guest George W. Bush was nowhere to be seen the times must have cropped the picture.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Critics once again are accusing The New York Times of having a liberal bias. The paper cropped President George W. Bush and his wife Laura out of the front page picture from the Selma Alabama anniversary march over the weekend.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Conservative websites are all over the flap. Even foreign papers talk about it. That's not what happened. Times photographer dug mills telling his paper there was no cropping. That's how he shot the picture. At the same moment he took a wider shot with another camera. He thought it was unusable because Bush was overexposed in the sun. This was a great bipartisan moment and the Times should have found a way to include the former president with the first African-American president and the news story should have mentioned Bush before the 11th paragraph. Still to come I hope you've been tweeting. Bill Cosby in his pajamas I know it's weird and how one website managed to merge Hillary Clinton and some bikini babes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: It sounds like big news. Bill Cosby breaks silence but then ABC was the first to report this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now to Bill Cosby speaking out this morning his first video message to fans since the all those sexual assault allegations him.

BILL COSBY, COMEDIAN: Yes. I'm going to be in West Virginia capital music hall. You know I'll be hilarious, can't wait.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: No mention of the 30 women who have accused him of drugging, assaulting and raping them. I think he is finished on television.

On last week's program, The Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky criticized the New York Times story back in 1992 that broke the Whitewater scandal, saying it has been documented to most people's satisfaction that many of the details in the story didn't hold up. Well, the author, investigative reporter Jeff Gerth, got in touch to say the article -- which said the Clintons bought land in Arkansas with the owner of a state-regulated savings and loan that failed, and that Hillary Clinton and her firm represented the S&L -- was 100 percent accurate and the Clintons never asked for a correction. Gerth is right, and it's hardly his fault that Whitewater came to stand for many spinoff allegations.

Your top tweets: Is the Hillary email controversy an important story or media obsession, important story from the beginning if we're supposed to care about Scott Walker being bored as a freshman.

Don't think anyone else really cares about this.

Derek Hunter after a week and a half with very new questions you're asking if it's an obsession? It's their job.

In our press picks this award for Click Bait: The Daily Caller gets a nod for this salacious side bar headline: "It's OK, Hillary, these hot models use their personal e-mails too" followed by a slide show of hot models in very skimpy bikinis. That is such a shameless stretch and it probably worked.

That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz; we hope you'll like our Facebook page. You can always follow me on Twitter and send us an e-mail mediabuzz@foxnews.com. I read all the e-mails. Enjoy hearing from you. We're back here next Sunday morning, 11 and 5 eastern, with the latest buzz.

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