This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," May 17, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, George Stephanopoulos under fire for donating $75,000 thousand to the Clinton foundation and failing to disclose it to viewers or his ABC news bosses, even when conducting a skeptical interview with the author of the book, ripping that very foundation. Now the anchor has apologized.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: As you know, the Clinton campaign says you shouldn't produced a shred of evidence that there was any official actions as Secretary that supported the interest of donors. We've done investigative work here at ABC News, found no proof of any kind of direct action.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I should have gone the extra mile to avoid even the appearance of a conflict. I apologize to all of you for failing to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: How deeply has the former Clinton White House aide hurt his own credibility, especially as he covers Hillary Clinton's Presidential campaign?
Jeb Bush kicks up a storm by defending his brother's invasion of Iraq and ignoring the key part of Megyn Kelly's question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: On the subject of Iraq, obviously very controversial, knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?
JEB BUSH, FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I would have, and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody, and so was almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: How did the Former Governor bobble that question about what we know now, and will the media keeps pressing him to disavow his brother's policies?
President Obama says the media needs to do a better reporting job on issues like poverty to help him change the minds of Republican leaders and takes a swipe at Fox News. Brit Hume weighs in on the President's criticism.
Plus, David Letterman about to hang it up with an all-star parade of guests.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST OF 'LATE NIGHT': At one point, we discussed that maybe it's easier for a man or a woman to be more effective out of office actually than when they are...
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: Well, you're about to find out.
LETTERMAN: My god, I take that as a challenge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: How did Dave transform late-night TV? What about his liberal leanings? And can Stephen Colbert hang on to the CBS audience? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."
George Stephanopoulos burst on to the national scene as a top White House and campaign adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton, later joined ABC news as a liberal commentator, and by the time Hillary made her first White House run, he was interviewing her as an ABC anchor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Looking back on the 1990s, would the Clinton administration and you've came out against free trade agreements now, but the Clinton administration didn't do enough to address the downside of globalization.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Now, you remember this, because George did work in that '92 campaign, and George and I actually were against NAFTA. I'm talking about him in his previous life, before he was an objective journalist and doesn't have opinions about such matters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: But now as co-anchor of "Good Morning America" and host of "This Week," Stephanopoulos, failing to disclose his $75,000 thousand in donations to the Clinton foundation, even as he covered the political uproar over his finances and talked about his donors on "The Daily Show."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And what you get is access and you get the influence that comes with access, and that's got to shape the thinking of politicians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: He initially offered a narrow written apology, but on Friday he expanded it on "EMA."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Those donations were a matter of public record, but I should have made additional disclosures on-air when we covered the foundation. And I now believe that directing personal donations to that foundation was a mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Stephanopoulos repeating that apology on "This Week" on this Sunday. Joining us now, Nina Easton, Senior Editor of "Fortune" and a Fox News contributor, Mercedes Schlapp, columnist for US News, political consultant and a former Bush White House official and Dana Milbank, columnist for "the Washington Post." Nina, how severe a blow is this to George Stephanopoulos and his credibility?
NINA EASTON, FORTUNE SENIOR EDITOR: It's an incredibly severe blow. And I think what makes this especially egregious, it wasn't like he was doing an interview just with Hillary Clinton, he was doing -- reporting on the foundation that he had given $75,000 thousand to. He was calling Peter Schweitzer on his partisan ties, at a time when he had partisan ties, clearly, if he's giving -- still giving money to the Clintons or still has ties to the Clintons. And then going on with Jon Stewart, and not disclosing. I mean, disclosing it, by the way, on that last bit, where he apologizes, disclosing it would have completely undermined any credibility he had to even report on this story.
KURTZ: Right, but at least he would have disclosed it, and not withheld it. Mercy, can Republicans trust George Stephanopoulos, to be fair?
MERCEDES SCHLAPP, FORMER BUSH WHITEHOUSE SPOKESPERSON: It's interesting, because Senator Marco Rubio this morning on Fox with Chris Wallace basically said, you know, I've always viewed him as a fair, credible journalist. But when you're looking at, especially the conservatives on the right, they're saying, this is questionable. I mean, you go back to the 2012 --
KURTZ: Do you think it's questionable?
SCHLAPP: Absolutely! You worry about the fact that, will he be able to even give Hillary Clinton a fair interview, an objective interview? You know, it makes everyone very concerned on the right. You're starting to see these stories pop up on "National Review." Rush Limbaugh even talked about it, about him, that he was never a journalist in the first place. So it does impact, I think, George, especially for this particular Presidential cycle where Hillary Clinton is running.
KURTZ: I don't think it's fair to say he's never been a journalist in the first place. I think he's worked hard in 18 years to put his partisan past behind him. This brings it up again. He's dropped out of moderating ABC's Republican Presidential debate. The truth was that ABC was losing that debate because of this controversy. But if he can't do that, Dana Milbank then how can he interview Presidential candidates and things like that?
DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Well he's created a real problem for himself and it's just a stupid self-inflicted wound here, precisely because he's labored for 15 or more years, just to get into a position where people were giving him -- I mean, I remember, you know, when he was first joining ABC, I saw him at one of these events out here in Iowa, and I was joking about, you're going to be a journalist? He didn't think it was funny at all. But sure enough, he really proved that he could be accepted by all sides. And that's why the idea of the contribution itself discredits him, and it's not to a campaign, but the fact that he's giving money to the foundation, the fact that a TV journalist like you Howie makes so much money that they can give this much away is a further outrage.
KURTZ: I'm up in the stratosphere with Stephanopoulos. But, you know, ABC told me that he is in violations of his policies, but, it's OK, it was just an honest mistake, we forgive him because he apologized. By the way, the Clinton foundation does some good work around the world. Many media companies, including news corp., the sister company of Fox News have given major donations, but they're not George Stephanopoulos, former Clinton aide, who has this problem.
EASTON: You know if you wanted, he cares about aids in Africa. There is lots of other less --
KURTZ: Any other charity in the world.
EASTON: And the other important thing Howie is the timing of these donations, 2012, 2013, 2014, as Hillary's revving up her campaign. And as he said, on -- to Jon Stewart, if you're giving that money, are you expecting some access --
KURTZ: Right, right. But let me ask you about the way the story broke because the Conservative website, Washington Free Beacon got this scoop, did the responsible thing called ABC for comment, and rather than commenting, ABC corporate with Politico in hopes of getting a more sympathetic story. What message did that send to other news outlets about whether you just throw something up online whether you do the right thing first and ask for comment?
SCHLAPP: And I think they were clearly cherry-picking outlets. Again, it also goes to this, what Mercedes referred to as this distrust of a conservative outlets and conservative commentators have had about George Stephanopoulos. And I mean, he needs to go the extra mile to have credibility, particularly covering this election.
KURTZ: You know, I'm not somebody who shouts liberal bias every five minutes, but the day that this broke, which was Thursday, there were zero stories about this on MSNBC and one segment all day on CNN. If this had been the equivalent of a conservative journalist with a conservative past, those networks would have been all over it. My question to you, ABC telling me, George Stephanopoulos, despite bowing out of the debate, will continue to lead its 2016 campaign coverage. Isn't there a shadow over that coverage now, or will this blow over?
SCHLAPP: They're making, I think, a mistake. Primarily because Hillary Clinton is the -- will be, most likely the democratic candidate, and so I think for George, it would just represent a problem, when you are the lead political correspondent and really providing that objective analysis, especially the fact when you saw that interview with Peter Schweitzer, it was very clear that his questions, it was almost like the talking points out of the Clinton campaign, where even Peter felt attacked from George.
So, again, it really hurt him incredibly. Going back to Nina's point, you're talking 2012, 2013, they were clearly revving up for this campaign, and there was clearly the idea the foundation was serving as a bit of a super Pac for Hillary.
KURTZ: You know I've been very tough on Stephanopoulos this week. I like George. He's a savvy guy. I dealt with him when he was a White House spinner and campaign agent in '92. So like you, I've watched him try to make this transition. But it's not just the fact that Hillary is all but the certain democratic nominee. Any Republican Presidential candidate, who goes on, seems to me now if he does an aggressive but fair interview, people will say, it's because he's in the tank for the Clintons, or -- people watching will see him fairly or unfairly through a different lens.
MILBANK: Yes and what he's going to have to do I think is being particularly tough on Hillary Clinton now, sort of like a makeup call that the ref has to do in football. And I think he's going to have to overcompensate now. If anybody should be disappointed about the whole Stephanopoulos scandal, it's Hillary Clinton.
KURTZ: You're saying he's going to have to bend over backwards. But do you think that he successfully made the transition and now has...
MILBANK: That's why it's so inexplicable, because I think nobody was really questioning his integrity before this. He finally made...
KURTZ: Well, nobody?
MILBANK: But people on your side --
EASTON: When I was working at the White House --
KURTZ: The Bush White House.
EASTON: The bush White House, it was clear that they thought that Stephanopoulos would be fair. It's kind of what Senator Marco Rubio described this morning. But with that being said, now that we've seen the link to the foundation, the interview with Schweitzer, it's all about again, looking at what the steps that he took, it brings to light the fact that Republicans are going to be concerned. They do not want him to be involved, obviously. Not only if the debates, but, really, are they going to accept an interview from him being so closely linked to the foundation.
KURTZ: The shadow I talked about, right let me make the turn to Jeb Bush, four different statements about Iraq, over four days, all beginning with this interview with Megyn Kelly on Fox.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: You don't think it was a mistake?
BUSH: In retrospect, the intelligence that everybody saw, that the world saw, not just the United States was faulty.
By the way, guess who thinks that those mistakes took place as well, George W. Bush.
KELLY: Your brother.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: So Dana Milbank, the Former Governor of Florida went from that interview to telling Sean Hannity that he'd misheard, misunderstood the question, but he wouldn't answer the question, it was hypothetical to saying it was an insult to the troops who served in Iraq to talk about it to saying that I wouldn't have invaded Iraq in 2003, and then says yes it was a mistake the way he handled it. The media sort of demand consistency on these things, don't they?
MILBANK: Or at least not having five different answers in three days.
KURTZ: One or two is OK, maybe three?
MILBANK: Maybe once. The problem is, he -- he had an easy out. He started to say, the next day, I misunderstood the question. Fine, get out of jail free, you're done! And he wouldn't do it. And I think the irony here, he set out saying, he's his own man and he's not going to be like his brother, and he proved it, because his brother would say one thing and stick to it. And younger brother, Jeb, has now said five things in three days.
KURTZ: Is the media criticism justified here? It's been really harsh, as he has kind of fumbled around.
SCHLAPP: Unfortunately, Jeb Bush carries the burden of his brother and his brother's legacy. So again I think it's been very tough on Jeb Bush. But a lesson for Jeb Bush, he's got to learn to lesson to the questions and also not be on auto pilot in terms of answering these questions.
KURTZ: That was my feeling, whether he heard the "Knowing What We Know Now" or he was so anxious to give the scripted talking point that he sort of blew past it, but the level of media criticism here is so intense, and I'm wondering whether you think this has been overblown at all.
SCHLAPP: I don't, actually. And I say that while acknowledging that the media has a very short-term memory about Iraq and the fact that democrats like Hillary Clinton supported going in and media outlets like "The New York Times" contributed to it. So, that said, this was a perfectly legitimate question for Megyn Kelly, for example, to be raising, and it was a perfectly legitimate reaction by the press to say, you know, he stumbled for -- you know, for days before -- it was not an unexpected question. You should know what you're going to say.
KURTZ: He had a year to prepare for this question. But is it -- I have a few seconds here. Is it also that the press is trying to find some daylight between Jeb Bush and George W. Bush or hang the Bush Presidency around his candidacy.
EASTON: It's a reality of covering Jeb Bush is George Bush and you just have to be ready for that if you're a so-called front-running candidate.
KURTZ: We're going to continue this discussion on the other side.
Remember to send me a tweet, tell us what you think about this show or the issues we're talking about here, Stephanopoulos, Jeb, @howardkurtz or you can e-mail us, email@example.com.
When we come back -- first of all, when we come back, are the media going overboard in predicting doom and gloom for Jeb, and later, Brit Hume on President Obama complaining that the media and Fox News do a lousy job of covering these issues.
KURTZ: We know Jeb Bush's terrible week in the media. Mercy, we've gone from in the media, he botched the Iraq question repeatedly, to, he's a terrible candidate, and to some pundits saying there's no way he can win the nomination, possible overreaction here?
SCHLAPP: I think so. I mean, he's raising a lot of money. People do have
-- you look at, for example, a lot of the political operatives who have joined his team, the grassroots...
KURTZ: I want to push back on that. Because I think the press always underestimates, you have to raise a lot of money in modern politics, but the press always equates raising lots and lots of money with success, and if you can't answer a question that's so predictable, then you can raise $1 billion --
SCHLAPP: Again, that question is -- for him, again I think he misunderstood the question, he made it very clear. I think it took him a little long to clarify the question.
KURTZ: A little long, a week.
SCHLAPP: Well, you know, several days. It's interesting, he came back in Iowa just yesterday and said, I had a great answer, but it was for the wrong question. So he played it off and at the end what these grassroots activists are looking for and these primary voters are going to be on issues like common core.
MILBANK: This is going to happen over and over again. And I think what it is Jeb Bush is this big pinata, as the sort of nominal front-runner, at least in terms of money, and in the media, we want the best race possible.
So we're going to keep going after that guy, the way the media would go after Hillary, if there were somebody viable working against her.
KURTZ: Or if she let reporters within 20 yards.
MILBANK: Yes. And she would have to do that if she, in fact, had a competitive race going on. But, no, I think that is what we're going to see.
EASTON: The media had a huge role in building up Jeb Bush.
KURTZ: That was the question I was going to ask you. He's the front- runner because we say so.
EASTON: He's got this staffer and that staffer and this money and he's locked up these donors and a big piece about how he's outbidding Marco Rubio in Florida. You and I were talking about that. The media has done a lot to make him the front-runner.
KURTZ: I will say this for Jeb Bush, in contrast to the democratic front- runner, he is answering a lot of questions, and he's doing interviews.
Now, he's stumbling and maybe he's out of practice and maybe he's not used to the sort of twitter pace of discourse, but he is not hiding from the press.
SCHLAPP: This is a dress rehearsal. As we all know...
KURTZ: No, no, he doesn't get a dress rehearsal, because he is a Bush. He is on Broadway.
SCHLAPP: I know. But the American -- the voters themselves are not necessarily paying attention to what's going on, other than what's happening in Iowa and New Hampshire.
SCHLAPP: Exactly, exactly.
MILBANK: To be sure that in a week or two, we're going to be on to a completely different scandal that none of us can predict right now.
EASTON: It's been a long time since he's been on a campaign trail, over a decade. So, you know, you can...
KURTZ: And that is starting to show. And I think some on the left in the media are using this whole thing as a chance to re-litigate Iraq and to talk about the anger that many of them felt about George W. Bush's decision. Of course, other Republican candidates jumping in and saying, yes it's now clear, if you knew now, you would not have invaded. I hope to get to President Obama committing this horrible sexist slight by calling Senator Warren Elizabeth, but we are out of time.
MILBANK: That's a shame, Howard.
EASTON: Does that speak to you?
KURTZ: No, I think it's a complete and total non-issue.
EASTON: I remember Senator Boxer getting upset because the Brigadier General called her ma'am instead of Senator. Remember that?
KURTZ: She also called her politician, was I guess was an insult. Dana Milbank, Mercedes Schlapp, and Nina Easton thanks very much for joining us.
Up next, Verizon gobbles up AOL and "The Huffington Post" and Facebook cuts a deal with "The New York Times," NBC, others. Are they giving away too much to Mark Zuckerberg?
And later, the Bloomberg anchor who seemed to mock Ted Cruz's Hispanic heritage. This will make you cringe.
KURTZ: Big week on the digital front, as Verizon swallows AOL, including the "Huffington Post," and Facebook launches a partnership with the likes of "The New York Times," NBC, the Atlantic, Buzz Feed, and National Geographic publishing some articles directly on the social network rather than directing traffic to the websites of these news outlets. Joining us now to talk about it from San Francisco, Sarah Lacy, Editor-in-Chief of the techsite Pandodaily. So first of all, what do you make of the kinds of stories that these news organizations are putting on Facebook to be read on Facebook.
SARAH LACY, PANDODAILY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: It's so interesting, this leaks and everyone thought it was the end of journalism and everybody thought it was big, bad Facebook. And both sides the media outlets and Facebook really, really tripped over themselves to make it look like none of those doomsday scenarios were coming true. So on the Facebook side, they gave up huge concessions to the media publishers, to look like, hey, and we're just trying to get more people to read your stuff at a quicker load time, nothing else, and nothing to see here. And on the publisher side, they wanted their readers to know that they weren't all going to be mystical's and quizzes. "The New York Times," "National Geographic," all of these publications put out very long, very capital J journalist pieces with the exception of Buzz Feed to say, look, we haven't changed at all. The thing everyone knows watching this, we've got to look a lot longer than a weak to see if all of the fears of all of these agreements is really going to come true.
KURTZ: I'm still skeptical because I think this is a chance for Mark Zuckerberg to turn Facebook into the world's most important news site which is fine for Facebook but the thing is you know, if you're "The New York Times" or a lesser publication and people reading your stories on Facebook, they never come to your site, yes, you get some mad revenue and yes, you get some recognition, but Facebook down the line could change the terms and make it a lot more onerous and everybody's going to be trapped in Zuckerberg's world.
LACY: And Facebook will change the terms. That's the one thing we know they will do. They iterate on their terms and their fees constantly and everything else constantly. This is why Facebook was comfortable giving up so much concessions to these guys going into it, because now that they have this group of publishers, they can strong arm all the other big publishers into coming in, because they're going to use the fact that users see these stories quicker, so it's more user friendly to promote them in the news feed, other than everyone else, and everyone else who relies on Facebook for traffic is going to have to follow suit and Facebook is going to change the rules. And it's not that Facebook is an evil company, but they're not a journalism company. They have this weird thing where they don't share the ethics of journalism companies in terms of, you know, fact checking, making sure something is in the public interest, making sure it's the truth, but they have the weird moralistic, puritanical strain, where they don't want certain images being showed on their site. If these publications don't think long-term, Facebook is going to essentially be a de facto editor controlling what people see or don't, they're dreaming.
KURTZ: So brief answers to get to another topic, would you -- you run Pandodaily, would you make a deal with Facebook?
LACY: Like I said, you know, we don't rely -- we're not a big mass media publication. We speak to a very small, very intelligent audience that we think really, you know, moves money around tech and controls the world. So we don't rely on huge social stream and we don't rely on this fire hose coming...
KURTZ: You're doing your own thing.
LACY: We might experiment with it in terms of some of our videos, but I wouldn't bet my business on it.
KURTZ: So Verizon buying AOL, which includes "The Huffington Post," $4 billion deal. I'm reading all these business writers praising this for the synergy and the vision of a phone company, buying a once glorious digital company, I'm thinking, what, this doesn't make any sense, and you wrote it. What do you think of the coverage of this takeover?
LACY: It was bizarre. I think every once in a while in the financial press, we have these (Inaudible) moments where people come out and say all this stuff and the deal is so weird that financial reporters and tech reporters frequently have to feel like, oh, well, I get it, I get it. So they just keep repeating what the company said. But you've got to step back and say, OK, either I'm an idiot or you're all lying, because none of this made sense. Everyone kept saying this is about you know, this is about mobile video, mobile video, as if Verizon woke up one day and thought, we need to dominate mobile video, get us AOL. No one thinks AOL when you think mobile video.
KURTZ: Nobody. We've got to go.
LACY: It's ad technology. It's absurd.
KURTZ: We've got to go. We've got to go.
LACY: -- will be as big as Google.
KURTZ: You know what you've also got a lot of press for, AOL being bought by Time Warner, the worst corporate merger of all-time. Sarah Lacy thanks very much for joining us.
LACY: All time.
KURTZ: See you later. Ahead, David Letterman hanging it up, an amazing career, but was it marred by that sex scandal. But first, President Obama says he needs better media reporting to change the minds of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell. Brit Hume has some thoughts on that.
President Obama assumed the role of media critic at a Georgetown conference on poverty, making clear he wants a different kind of journalism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And so, if we're going to change how John Boehner and Mitch McConnell think, we're going to have to change how our body politics thinks which means we're going to have to change how the media reports on these issues. And that's a hard process, because, that requires a much broader conversation than typically we have on the nightly news.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us now is Brit Hume, Fox's senior political analyst. Let's start with a broad discussion. The President says we need better and deeper reporting on issues like poverty and the economy. Haven't media critics have been saying that for years?
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITIICAL ANALYST: For as long as I can remember, and I've been in this business almost 50 years, but we're news medium, right? And when all hell breaks loose in the inner city, as it has recently in Baltimore, you're going to get related coverage.
KURTZ: Everybody parachutes in.
HUME: That's right.
KURTZ: Everybody says what we are going to do about urban poverty and racial tensions.
HUME: And that triggers discussion segments to some length on chat shows and elsewhere.
KURTZ: And then we all move on and a train crashes and we cover that.
HUME: That's right. That's what we do. That's the nature of the news business. And he's not the first President or the first person to lament that, but we're not in the business of convening seminars for the purpose of advancing the President's agenda on this or that issue, when they're not particularly in the news.
KURTZ: Well, that brings me to that odd phraseology, when President Obama says he wants a different kind of reporting, so he can change the minds of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell. What does that say to you?
HUME: Well, first of all, a big part of the job of a President is to find a way to work with people who disagree with him and to try to get something done. He's especially bad at this. I think he thinks their opinions are crazy and make no sense and therefore, there's no use trying to persuade them. The news media will try to change the atmosphere on the coverage.
Well, some Presidents have the ability to even do that. Ronald Reagan arguably was able to do that occasionally, but not very often. It's hard to do, as he suggests, but -- I also think that he has a particular viewpoint on these issues where you never hear him suggest that the people who live in these terrible conditions are any way responsible for that by the choices they make.
KURTZ: I don't think that's entirely fair, because the President has talked about fatherless families and...
HUME: Yes, he does.
KURTZ: -- and the black culture.
HUME: Yes, but he speaks of it as if -- on the one hand, what he says is, these conditions, these conditions, fatherless families, broken homes, and the rest of it are a result of poverty and the conditions and not a cause of it. On the other hand, he'll turn around, and he did it in this presentation at Georgetown, and talked about how the statistics on poverty are wrong, because it doesn't include -- they don't include an array of benefits. On the one hand he's saying, poverty's not all that bad, and on the other hand he's saying, it's the cause of all these broken families.
So, you know, his own message is full of self-contradiction.
KURTZ: One thing I think we'd agree on is that it's an important debate.
And I would add the media have done lots of substantiative reporting on Obamacare, the V.A., and the Secret Service scandal that the administration hasn't liked. And also at the same time, the President not giving the press as much access as previous administrations have done. So we also have in this speech, where he's making a bipartisan appeal, the President had a few words to say about Fox News, take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And I think the effort to suggest that the poor are sponges, leeches, don't want to work, are lazy, you know, are undeserving, got traction. I have to say, if you watch Fox News on a regular basis, it is a constant menu, they will find, like, folks who make me mad. I don't know where they find them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: So then Jon Stewart and others followed up with clips of certain Fox hosts and guests saying government programs make the poor lazy, the poor aren't that poor, because they have computers and cell phones these days. And I guess the President sees that as heartless. What do you think of him dragging Fox in when he's doing this sort of bipartisan conference?
HUME: Well, first of all, the idea that -- first of all, I think there are more people of the kind that he says we point out than is willing to admit.
The second thing is...
KURTZ: By which you mean, people who don't particularly want to work?
HUME: People who don't particularly want to work or who are badly affected by welfare dependence and the rest of it or their dependence on government largess. But I don't think we spend a constant -- we have a constant menu, as he put it, of that sort of thing. You know, O'Reilly does segments, some of them tongue in cheek, with Jesse Waters where he goes out and finds people who say, you know, this is great, I'm living off the government and eating like a king and so on. I just don't think that we do that. So his obsession with our coverage of seems to me, to be misplaced. But it gets back to this, the idea that the people in these situations are simply victims. That's an idea that is deeply held with him. And he doesn't look at the other side of the argument. He won't, he's not interested in it and he doesn't believe it.
KURTZ: There is another side of the argument and there should be a debate about that and I think we should agree on that. Let me move you to George Stephanopoulos, because you spent 23 years at ABC and I think there's a consensus that Stephanopoulos made an egregious error here by donating to the Clinton foundation, not disclosing it, while covering the Clinton foundation controversies. What about ABC news, which tells me that he was in violation of its policies, but he'll still lead the campaign coverage in
2016 and just said, oh, it's an honest mistake.
HUME: Well, they've got a lot invested in him. And ABC news, like the other major networks is gradually, slowly, but inevitably turning out the lights and they don't have, you know, the kind of stars that used to populate the benches at those networks. So they have a lot invested in him and there's a reason why they want to keep him going, just like at NBC, it didn't want to see what happened to Brian Williams happen. I don't believe know that this early endorsement and no punishment, to speak of, are going to work, though. Because not only did he contribute to the foundation without disclosing it, he was also active in participating in the foundation's events. He needed to sever his ties to the Clintons...
KURTZ: All the more so, because of his history...
HUME: Because he's their spokesperson and so on. And in this campaign with her at the center of it, at this stage, for him to be, look like he has remaining ties to them, and as part of their group, is damaging to his credibility and you're hearing it everywhere. And I think ABC news may have to take some further steps to overcome this problem.
KURTZ: We will see. This story is not going to go away, in my view. Brit Hume, thanks very much for stopping by this Sunday.
Ahead, Bill Cosby finally asked on camera about the tidal wave of sexual assault allegations, one of the strangest interviews you've ever seen.
And coming up, David Letterman calling it quits on CBS, is his era of late- night TV now over and done with?
KURTZ: David Letterman was a quirky presence on NBC at 12:30 at night.
And after losing out on "The Tonight Show" to Jay Leno, went up against him for CBS with the "Late Show" that was number two in the ratings, but that fans found edgier and more satiric. As he steps down this week, some big names have been paying tribute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LETTERMAN: What will you do when you're not President?
OBAMA: Well, I was thinking you and me we could play some dominos together and...
LETTERMAN: Dominos! All right!
HOWARD STERN, RADIO HOST: Come here, come here! No, come here! Come here and hug!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: I spoke earlier with "The Hollywood Reporter's" Marissa Guthrie in New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Marissa Guthrie, welcome.
MARISSA GUTHRIE, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER TV EDITOR: Thank you.
KURTZ: How much did David Letterman, going back to the 80s change late- night TV, and as he himself has suggested did that approach grow a bit stale in recent years?
GUTHRIE: Well, before Letterman, it's hard for some people to remember, but before Letterman, all of these late-night shows were sort of pandering to Hollywood and celebrity. And Dave came along and he sort of stuck a pin in that helium balloon and blew that up and made fun of celebrities and Hollywood. And he would -- he is notorious for having these actors on and not really, you know, letting them get away with coming there and just like spinning their tired old story. He actually interviewed them and so a lot of them were afraid to go on, as a result.
KURTZ: Well a lot of people now are sticking pins in different celebrity guests. But looking at his political interviews, whether it was Barack Obama or John McCain or that tasteless joke he told about one of Sarah Palin's kids, particularly, recently, he has not done much to hide his liberal views.
GUTHRIE: No. I think -- I mean, I think that's been clear for a long time.
You know, which side of the aisle he came down on. And if it wasn't clear, it certainly became clear with that notorious interview with John McCain, in the run-up to the election, where John McCain cancelled because he said he had to get back to Washington, but then he appeared on a news program and David Letterman sort of called him out, and he was really, really hard on John McCain.
KURTZ: I loved his feud with jay leno, for example, but was he also damaged -- a lot of people are singing his praises, and understandably, he's had a great career, but was he also damaged by having sex with women who worked with him on show. He recently told "The New York Times," would have been a good reason to fire me.
GUTHRIE: Yes. And other people probably would have been fired for something like that. I think Dave -- the thing that he did a lot was sort of bring the audience into his psyche, as it were, and he did the same thing with that episode, when it all came out, because of the extortion plot. He had to admit that he slept with women who worked on the show, that he was essentially their boss. And just went on and sort of made fun of it and made fun of himself. And then everyone sort of said OK, yawn, and that were it.
KURTZ: Just a comedian and all that. Now, "The New York Times" says, a lot of late-night shows now are designed with lots of bits and skits, to generate clips that people increasingly watch online. So is the Letterman era of having a more of a general variety show that you watch for a whole hour, is that kind of fading now?
GUTHRIE: Oh, I think, definitely. And I think, you know, in some of the interviews that Dave has done recently, you know, leading up to his last show this week, he has talked about how the genre has changed and it is so much about the viral video, and what can you do on the show that's going to go viral? And a lot of guests, a lot of viewers do not watch the show on linear television. They watch the bits that are posted on youtube or posted on the network websites.
KURTZ: I'm really hoping that this segment goes viral. I have about a half a minute, Stephen Colbert taking over, shedding his buffoonish persona from comedy central. Can he hold that audience?
GUTHRIE: Yeah, I think so. I mean, I think a lot of people forgot or didn't know that Stephen Colbert was a very talented stand-up, a very talented mimic, very talented impressionist, because he's been doing the same character for 14 years. And so I think he'll have no problems sliding right into that time slot.
KURTZ: When he starts, we'll have you back and give him a report card.
Marissa Guthrie, thank you very much for stopping by.
GUTHRIE: Thank you.
KURTZ: After the break, Bloomberg's Mark Halperin asks Ted Cruz about his favorite Cuban food and music. You've got to see this.
And CNN grills Seymour Hirsch over his charge of the administration's description of Osama Bin Laden's death is a fraud. Our video verdict is next.
KURTZ: Time now for our video verdict. Veteran political analyst Mark Halperin co-author of the best-selling book, "Game Change" conducted an interview with Ted Cruz on his Bloomberg show that set the Internet ablaze, the questions focusing on the Texas Senator's comfort with Hispanic culture.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK HALPERIN, BLOOMBERG: So you got a favorite Cuban food -- Cuban dish?
TED CRUZ, 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I grew up eating Cuban food all the time.
HALPERIN: What's your favorite dish?
CRUZ: Peccadillo, I grew up eating all the time. We had plantains and beans and rice.
HALPERIN: You like Cuban music, a favorite Cuban singer?
CRUZ: I have to admit in that, I'm much more of a Texan. I tend to listen to -- that's in country music more than Cuban music.
HALPERIN: I'd like you to do it if you would in Espanol.
CRUZ: I'm going to stick to English but I appreciate the invitation, Senor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Mark Halperin's a smart guy. Just went loco on this. His questions reeked of condescension, he obviously was trying to expose Cruz's fake Hispanic especially when he asked him to speak in Spanish knowing full well the Senator -- makes no secret in fact that he's not fluent. Halperin was right to apologize for his tone and inappropriate questions and Ted Cruz is pretty savvy in graciously accepting the apology rather than whining about the media treat him.
Seymour Hirsch's latest investigation which his own magazine the New Yorker turned down along with the Washington Post is based on mostly shadowing of resources, a veteran reporter makes a sensational charge in the London review of books that the Pakistanis knew where Osama Bin Laden was hiding, lead the Navy Seals to the mass murderer and obliterated his body. How did CNN handle giving Hirsch a platform?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN: The basic headline here is Pakistan knew where he was.
They were keeping him there and one of their own turned him over essentially to the U.S. Why do you believe that story, especially leaning so heavily on just one anonymous source?
SEYMOUR HERSH, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Well, I don't think that's correct to say one anonymous source. The story says clearly that I was able to vet and verify information with others in the community.
CUOMO: I'm just saying you've made a big wager here with a pedigree that extends many years.
HERSH: Excuse me, Excuse me. That's your definition. This is not a wager.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Chris Cuomo was skeptical and appropriately so. Seymour Hirsch had an amazing career. This story reads like a wild conspiracy theory. It is based largely on two ex-intelligence officials. One of them anonymous didn't seem to have firsthand knowledge of this. To believe this story you'd have to believe that the President, top military leaders, Seal Team Six, foreign leaders, and all of them are lying about what happened when Osama Bin Laden was killed. Still to come, your top tweets, the tabloid war with Tom Brady's suspension and Bill Cosby's strange and rambling response to all those sexual assault allegations.
KURTZ: Sports pundits have spent the week debating whether the NFL was too harsh on suspending Tom Brady for four games over deflate gate, the Patriots' quarterback now appealing. In a reminder that all media are local, the New York Post went with a less than flattering ball busted. The hometown Boston Herald, NFL air heads, punishment doesn't fit the crime.
Here are your top tweets. Should ABC punish George Stephanopoulos for not disclosing his Clinton Foundation donations?
TWEET: ABC doesn't need to punish him as long as viewers know that he's not an impartial observer.
TWEET: ABC Hired Stephanopoulos as a political hack. You thing they would punish him for being a political hack?
TWEET: Any story he does involving election would give the appearance of bias. He should be pulled from all election coverage.
TWEET: ABC has also blamed for allowing the arrogant assumption of immunity from journalistic ethics and the attempted cover up.
TWEET: Also got one here from Neil Curry on the Jeb Bush segment. Not a Bush fan but the media were very mean spirited and petty regarding Jeb Bush this week, not impressed.
All right, it looked like Bill Cosby might finally break his silence on "Good Morning, America" but the more than 30 women accusing him of sexual assault and then this happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL COSBY, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: The point is OK, listen to me carefully. I'm telling you where the road is out. Now, you want to go here or you want to be concerned about who's giving you the message?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you concerned at all that given the allegations that that may overshadow your message?
COSBY: I have been in this business 52 years, and -- I've never seen anything like this. And reality is the situation. And I -- I can't speak.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: One of the strangest television moments I've ever seen. As someone who grew up listening to Cosby's albums and laughing with him, I have to say really Bill? Is that the best you can do, because you owe us an actual response to those awful allegations.
That's it for this edition of Media Buzz. I'm Howard Kurtz. We hope you like our Facebook page. Go to the page, give us a like, we post a lot of original content there. You can be part of your buzz. Send us an email with immediate questions, not a political speech.
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