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Media Buzz

Hillary Clinton spars with the press; The Benghazi document dump

This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," May 24, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, MEDIA BUZZ HOST:  On the "Media Buzz" this Sunday, Hillary Clinton finally makes a few minutes for reporters but they fail to pin her down on subjects ranging from the Clinton foundation, to her private e-mail to her personal wealth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Was there conflict of interest in your giving paid speeches into the run-up of your announcement that you're running for President?  

HILLARY CLINTON, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIATE:  The answer to the question is no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  Why was it so easy for her to finesse the questions?  And what about that Friday document dubbed of her Benghazi e-mails that was first leaked to "The New York Times"?

As Isis rousts the Iraqi army and captures Ramadi, much of the media debate focusing on finger pointing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And the brutal truth is that the Obama administration and the entire world have allowed the Isis savages to gain power and murder thousands of innocent people, thousands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How do you deal with the fact that most of leadership of Isis today is people that were thrown out of the Iraqi military by U.S.
policy?  How do you live with that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  But is this blame the other side approach doing any good as Isis grows stronger?  ABC keeping its $100 million man, George Stephanopoulos, in charge of its campaign coverage despite his failure to disclose those Clinton foundation donations but with suspended Anchor Brian Williams fighting for his NBC job, is the media increasingly coming under an ethical cloud.

Plus, a Liberal getting heat for ripping the left for squashing free speech, why is Kirsten Powers taking on her own side?  We'll ask her.  I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "Media Buzz."

It had been 28 days since Hillary Clinton took questions from media prompting Fox's Ed Henry to interrupt her event in Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON:  Wait. Yes -- maybe when I finish talking to the people here.  How's that?

I might.  I'll have to ponder it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  But the Former Secretary of State did break her silence fielding questions from five reporters in less than five minutes, such as this one on foreign government donations on the Clinton foundation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Your opponents say that the foreign donations and the private e-mails are examples of the Clintons having one set of rules for themselves and another set of rules for everyone else.  Do they have a point?

HILLARY CLINTON:  I am so proud of the foundation.  I'm proud of the work that it has done and that it is doing and I'll let the American people make their own judgment about that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  And the week ended with reporters plowing through her private e- mails on Benghazi after the State Department made them public.  Joining us now to examine the coverage, Chris Stirewalt, Fox's Digital Politics Editor, Susan Ferrechio, Chief Congressional Correspondent for the Washington Examiner and Mara Liasson of National Public Radio, a Fox News Contributor.  Chris Stirewalt, does it now look like, great god almighty, at long last, Hillary Clinton will be engaging the press?

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS DIGITAL POLITICS EDITOR:  No.  She won't and she doesn't have to.  These are the wages being paid to the political press corps for letting the Obama administration get away with a bunch of hogwash for the last seven years where they are going to tweet it and live stream it and talk to the woman who eats fruit loops in the bath tub and all of that garbage that they did and complained, it's Nixonian (ph), and it's abusive.  They went right along with it and this press corps apparently is going to continue to cover Hillary Clinton as if she were not smashing a grapefruit in their face every day.

KURTZ:  I love the way how you tie GloZell Green the bath tub lady, friend of Hillary Clinton.

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ:  All right, well Chris says she doesn't have to talk to the press but let's look at when she did talk to the press.  She took a few questions on Monday and two or three more on Friday.  Did reporters do their job when it came to pinning her down?

SUSAN FERRECHIO, WASHINGTON EXAMINER:  How much of a job can they do if they don't have access to her?  That's the problem.  I was thrilled that Ed yelled out a question and forced her, basically, to deal with the press in front of the constituents and the cameras.  I think what Secretary Clinton is doing is she is talking to passed the media though.  And Chris touched upon that.  She was talking to the cameras, look at footage that got on the evening news, she sounded positive, she sounded jovial about the whole -- she was making light of the fact that the press never gets a chance with her and, you're right, she can talk past this now because of social media and other ways, youtube, to get at constituents, potential voters.

KURTZ:  When there are just a few minutes is not really any chance for follow ups.  It is very easy to say well I'm so proud of the Clinton Foundation for it and basically ducked the questions.  On Friday, one reporter asked, what is your vision for Iraq?  Ok, like anybody who asked that should be sent back to journalism school, because it's just an invitation to recite talking points.  But my question for you Mara is do you agree that the media basically sort of pressured her into at least answering a few questions with the constant drumbeat of she's avoiding us, she's in the bunker, and she won't engage?

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO:  Yeah.  I think the media was right to insist that she talk to them and eventually she did because she had to.  
She couldn't go forever and ever without talking to the press and, five minutes, what can you get down in five minutes?  She's very practiced as is everyone running for President.  She knows how to stick to her talking points and not give a whole lot.  She's in a unique position.  She's virtually unopposed, she doesn't have to give long, searching interviews because she's not feeling any pressure from anybody else.

KURTZ:  I'm sure some people think this is just whining by journalists who always want more access from any candidate.  I'm not sure I buy the notion that she doesn't have to because, yes, she's going to get the apparent nomination even if she goes away for a year but I think it's really important for a candidate, including Hillary Clinton, to be seen as taking on questions, engaging the issues when Jeb Bush is doing it, when all of the Republican candidates are doing it, doesn't she pay some price if she is seen as just having antiseptic campaign with scripted events?

STIREWALT:  Depending on what Republicans do, I doubt that it will work in the long run.  I think Mara's exactly right.  She can get through this primary because there isn't a primary so far.  In the long run, she's going to get herself into trouble but it isn't whining by the press.  What it is, it's consequential.  In this case, as we with the e-mails that were released, the questions here are enormous.  It's not that she doesn't want to answer these questions.  She cannot answer the question.  Sidney Blumenthal's involvement in profiteering in Libya on her Libya policy while paid by the foundation and holy crokanoe it's not that she doesn't want to answer it, there is no answer.

KURTZ:  I'm glad you mentioned that because it says you know, for the sound bites, Sidney Blumenthal, of course old Hillary pal, former Clinton Whitehouse aid, barred from being hired at the State Department by the Obama administration, and yet has this back channel peppers Hillary Clinton with all kinds of e-mails on Libya while he is trying to do business in Libya with business associates.  That came up at the brief Monday press avail, I guess you'd call it.  Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Can you explain your relationship as Secretary of State with Sidney Blumenthal?  There's a report out this morning that you exchanged several e-mails.

HILLARY CLINTON:  I have many, many old friends and I always think that it's important when you get into politics to have friends you had before you were in politics and to understand what is on their minds and he's been a friend of mine for a long time.  He sent me unsolicited e-mails which I passed on, in some instances, and I think that's just part of the give and take.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  Can you explain your relationship with Sidney Blumenthal?  The question didn't even include Libya.

FERRECHIO:  No.

KURTZ:  There was no attempt to sort of press her on the specifics.  It's difficult on the road, on the fly, but still.

FERRECHIO:  On the road, on the fly, there's no time.  But the thing is, the media can still do its due diligence and be looking at this even if they can't corner her and get a long interview with her about this.  
There's not been a lot of in-depth coverage.  The question is, as these e- mails come out piecemeal as we hear they're going to overtime, is the media going to keep looking into the e-mails that come out or are they going to drop this?  Is it going to become an old story?  Is the media going to essentially give her a pass on all of this over the long haul?  That's a huge question.  

KURTZ:  I don't think they are going to give her a pass.  I do think some of this when you get into the Benghazi timelines and Blumenthal's role, it's complicated.

FERRECHIO:  It's murky.  The press can't get into it because we're in this
140 character kind of world of reporting now.

KURTZ:  By the way, those private e-mails from Blumenthal to Secretary of State Clinton, that story was broken by "New York Times" and it's also broke the private e-mail story which also worked in the Clinton Foundation story so what happened to the liberal media giving Hillary soft treatment?

STIREWALT:  The "New York Times" is doing yeoman's work here.  Amy Chelsik and others are doing a great job of covering Hillary Clinton and basically treating her as a hostile witness because that's what she is.  And they are doing a great job.  Also, I think the decision, whoever's decision it was to leak to "The Times" in advance so it wouldn't just be a Friday afternoon news dump and go to the bottom of the sea was pretty good.

KURTZ:  Treating her as a hostile witness?

LIASSON:  I think.  What the Clinton campaign wants to avoid is what happened last time where there was so much hostility between the campaign and the press, it was just toxic.  Now I think it's incumbent upon her if she wants to have a successful campaign that she was accessible.  Don't forget, voters look at you and judge you as to whether you look authentic and real or whether you look like you're ducking every question.  Jeb Bush is making an actual point out of this, kind of showcasing his ability to take questions from anybody and not get ruffled, at least from ordinary people.  Sometimes he gets ruffled...

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ:  Yeah.  The contrast with Jeb Bush who takes questions from reporters at almost every stop or at least almost every day is really striking.  What about the Friday document by the State Department on Hillary e-mails on Benghazi?  Susan used the word murky.  Some people saying well, it wasn't really covered, well of course a lot of people have tuned out for the holiday weekend but it was covered.

FERRECHIO:  It was covered, it was hard to find...

KURTZ:  Was it covered as a bombshell story?

FERRECHIO:  Well, I didn't find a bombshell in there.  Maybe somebody else did.  I didn't find any smoking gun in there and I don't know if somebody will.

KURTZ:  Let me move on to what I time to be a fascinating exchange with Senator Ted Cruz and of course is running for President with a Texas reporter for station KBMT and the subject was gay marriage, which Republicans often get asked about a lot and obviously public opinion is shifting on gay marriage, Ireland yesterday approving a gay marriage referendum.  If we can put it up on the screen, this Kevin Steele says, "Do you have a personal animosity against gay Americans?"  Senator Cruz says, "Let me ask a question.  Is there something about the left and I'm going to put the media in this category, that's obsessed with sex?  Why is it that the only question you wanted to ask concerns homosexuals?  Ok, you can ask those questions over and over again, I recognize that you're reading questions from MSNBC."  Reporter asked again, "Do you have a personal animosity against gay Americans?"

Cruz says, "Do you have a personal animosity against Christians, sir?"  Was the question out of line and what do you make of Cruz' response?

STIREWALT:  I mean you're allowed to ask any foolish question you want.  I would say it would be fairly foolish to say of a person who has said on the record one bazillion times that he has no personal animosity towards gay Americans that sounds like -- talk about hostile kind of question.  That's a hostile question. But I think Cruz profits from it.  The reporter gave Cruz an opportunity to swing harder than he usually would and say, why are you such a weirdo?  Why are you creepy?

KURTZ:  The senator went on to say -- talking about how he thinks that MSNBC is setting the template here.  Very few viewers are radical and extreme partisan outlet.  The only thing that surprised me is that Cruz is not a guy who seems to complain about his media coverage.  He knows a lot of reporters don't like him or what he stands for.  What did you make of that whole exchange?

FERRECHIO:  I thought it really highlighted the focus that the media makes on social issues along these campaigns.  I saw this with Rick Santorum when he was running for President three years ago.

KURTZ:  He used to complain a lot about not exclusively but predominantly about social issues in a way that some of his GOP rivals were not.

FERRECHIO:  I think the same thing will happen with Ted Cruz.  He also said in that exchange, why are we not talking about foreign policy.  The frustration is that the media is focusing on these particular candidates, on their Achilles heel issues, like gay marriage or abortion, and excluding stuff of substance that those candidates would prefer talking about.

LIASSON:  I think for Ted Cruz, who is focused on the primary only, this is probably a good tactic.  It's always good to bash the liberal media.  But I don't know, over the long term, if that's a fruitful strategy.  At some point you have to answer the question.  But for him, at right now, where he is in the polls this is fine.

FERRECHIO:  If he answered the question, they would still keep asking.

STIREWALT:  He let Mark Halperin off the hook for his racist interview.

(CROSSTALK)

STIREWALT:  But Cruz said, no problem, Mark, its ok, we all have a bad day.

KURTZ:  Right.  If you missed it, it's at Bloomberg's Mark Halperin who asked Senator Cruz a series of condescending questions about his Hispanic culture, asked him to speak Spanish, what your favorite Cuban food, knowing well full that Ted Cruz doesn't claim to be fluent in Spanish and did not grow up in Cuba.  Let me get a break here.  Remember to send me a tweet @howardkurtz, comment on the show, the media, and the coverage of the campaign.

Ahead, is ABC is paying George Stephanopoulos more than $100 million, does that explain why the network still backs him over the Clinton foundation mess.

When we come back, that fall of Ramadi prompts plenty of media hammering over Isis, but is this the same old partisan debate?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ:  The fall of Ramadi this week is a huge setback on the war on terrorism.  Iraqi soldiers wound up fleeing the forces of Isis.  While there have been some good reporting on this turning point, some pundits are framing it as a question of which President to blame.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, HANNITY HOST:  President Obama and Hillary Clinton are responsible for the biggest betrayal of American troops since Vietnam.

AL SHARPTON, POLITICS NATION HOST:  The rise of Isis is a very real consequence from the U.S. Invasion of Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  Susan, I feel like I'm back in 2003.  Are there too much partisan points scoring here?

FERRECHIO:  Yes.  And I think part of the reason is -- first of all, it plays to everybody's -- whoever their -- Chris Matthews' viewers and Sean Hannity viewers to blame Obama or Bush.

KURTZ:  They are playing to their base?

FERRECHIO:  Of course.  But there's nothing to cover in terms of what to do next.  And that's because -- and what is missing here is the coverage of how Congress and the White House are unable and unwilling to come up with a real strategy for dealing with the crisis in the Middle East.  There's nothing to write about but there's also very little coverage other than the fact that they are not coming up with a plan.

KURTZ:  "The New York Times" does have a story today asking Republican President what you would do about Isis and getting somewhat a vague response in many instances but that's precisely my point, which is, it's so easy to rerun the Obama versus Bush debate, it is so much more difficult and complicated and there are really no great options to talk about what do we do now, short of sending in ground troops, which is in the exception of Lindsey Graham and a couple others,, most politicians want to avoid that option too because it's not popular.

LIASSON:  And there has been -- I did a story on this not long ago, and "The New York Times" today when you listen to Republicans, they are going to be tougher, they're going to kill more bad guys, and they wouldn't have let this happen.  But when actually kind of scratched the surface what would they do, pretty much the same thing that Obama has done but they would have done it earlier.  Maybe they would put advisors and more forwards positions but there's not a huge shift of strategy with the exception as you said of Lindsey Graham who is willing to put in ground troops.

STIREWALT:  I think the Republicans' point of view -- it's not very politic to say but kill them in much larger volumes with many more bombs.  We're doing a limited number of missions, dropping very few munitions compared to similar conflicts in the past and the Republicans field say, smoke them.  
Put the b-52s in the air and get serious about this.

KURTZ:  We'll come back to the cable segments.  I've been watching Chris Matthews, as an example from MSNBC for two weeks and he's just going haywire, over Dick Cheney as he calls him and just fighting again about
this is all Bush's fault.   And then I've heard a lot of conservatives say,
well, if Obama hadn't withdrawn the last 10,000 troops although there was an agreement negotiated by Bush, he didn't want to keep the troops and it just seems like it is so much easier to look at the past than to deal with the present.

STIREWALT:  We have a system that's based on conflict between two parties to solve problems.  And I'm ok with that.  And the two parties disagree about whose fault it is and which way forward.  That's why we have elections.  The real question here is for the Republicans and Democrats alike, was it worth it?  The 4500 dead, was it worth it?  The tens and thousands with traumatic injuries to their bodies and their brains, was it worth it?  And they don't want to answer that question because the answer is it depends on what we do now.

KURTZ:  And this is an outgrowth of the now famous Jeb Bush, if you knew what you know now which you didn't know then would you invaded with Megyn Kelly and then Marco Rubio stumbling a bit over the same question with Chris Wallace.  I have some people, e-mailing and tweeting and saying this is a gotcha question.  No, it's not, maybe a hypothetical but it's not a gotcha question.  

FERRECHIO:  You'll never know how they would act in the past to determine how may act -- it's very important for reporters to ask that question.  The story is not being covered, I will argue, is that the parallelization of the White House and Congress and the inaction about coming with a plan that works going forward.  They both have gotten silent on this because its political kryptonite and they don't want to touch it.

KURTZ:  It's so much easier to go to the default setting of the media which is blame the other guy.  Mara Liasson, Susan Ferrechio, and Chris Stirewalt, thanks very much for stopping by this Sunday.

Ahead, the left accused of squelching free speech by life-long Liberal Kirsten Powers, we'll talk to her.

And up next, the top anchors at ABC and NBC, both under an ethical cloud.  
What are the problems of George Stephanopoulos and Brian Williams tell us about TV news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ:  Maybe now we know why ABC has staunchly defended George Stephanopoulos despite his failure to disclose that $75,000 in donations to the Clinton Foundation.  A New York Post reports that the network is paying the anchor more than 100 million.  This, despite ABC's Chief Anchor admitting he screwed up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR:  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:  But at MSNBC which totally ignored the story on the day it broke, Morning co-host Mika BrzezinskI has a different view.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC HOST:  He worked on the Clinton campaign.  He worked tirelessly to elect Bill Clinton.  He served under Bill Clinton.  Who would be so surprised that he has ties to the Clintons?  Everybody on television has biases.  I think the important thing here and what was lost here was the lack of transparency.  We all have to be -- look at Joe and me, totally different world views, totally different ideology.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  Joining us now for the ZBlock is David Zurawik, Television and media critic for the Baltimore Sun.  I thought I was one of the toughest critics out there on this subject but you wrote, "George Stephanopoulos is dead to me."

DAVID ZURAWIK, BALTIMORE SUN MEDIA CRITIC:  Well, Howie, here is what is upsetting.  First of all, when we have to go to Mika Braginsky for moral clarity on media news, we're all in trouble.  

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ:  She said just be transparent about -- but this is what she and Joe Scarborough is not anchors, news anchors.

ZURAWIK:  That's what I'm saying, she's clearer than these guys about it.  
She has a clear view.  This is the upsetting thing about Stephanopoulos.  
He says I should have gone the extra mile.  No, you should have gone the first mile, for god's sakes, and disclosed this thing.  It's so obvious.

KURTZ:  And not donated in the first place to the family foundation of your ex-boss.

ZURAWIK:  But if you did, you should have told your viewers.  You should have been square with them.  That's what is so maddening about this.  This is a guy who's supposed to be so smart and I sat here with you and said how smart I think he is.  And yet he's so ignorant about this that he can say it was a matter of pub electric record.  By the way, it wasn't a matter of public record unless they disclosed it and there were some things that the Clinton's didn't disclose in this so this outrageous.  

Now, where I'm at and where I think the real problem lies, Howie, is, you're right, in asking about that salary, it's totally about him.  When I say dead to me, I think in a political commentator, political reporter/anchor, he's dead to me.  I don't want to hear what he has to say to me anymore.  I'm 2016 election.  I think he's so poisoned.  Any belief I would have in his work -- and people are saying, oh, Zurawik, you're wrong.  
He's going to err on the other side.  I don't care.  That's not the way it's done.

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ:  I can't verify this $105 million over seven years, but even if it's two-thirds or half of that, to me I think ABC's problem to Stephanopoulos is too big to fail.  On the reaction, 46 percent of the new (Inaudible) polls say they want Stephanopoulos banned from campaign coverage.  He pulls out of the Republican Presidential debate, it will be carried by ABC but then how can he leave the network's 2016 coverage, interview Presidential candidates, especially including Hillary Clinton?

ZURAWIK:  Howie, that's exactly my point.  If ABC news wanted to behave ethically on this and not lose him, they should have said, you're out of the 2016 campaign.  We can't have you as the face of our coverage.

KURTZ:  How do you even do that when the guy is the co-anchor of "Good Morning America" and politics is going to come up everyday?

ZURAWIK:  Then they have to shift it and let the other anchor or somebody else or put a reporter out there on the desk and let him read those nice things where they do to videos where like a lion chases a car because that's what George's career has come to if he can't quit being a Clinton partisan.  Howie by the way, you know that's exactly what it looks like is.  
I'm angry I said in the piece you pointed, I'm angry because I gave him the benefit of the doubt for years.  You know, I said this guy can do it, Diane Sawyer became a fair journalist I think, why can't he.  And he just showed his stripes.

KURTZ:  He worked very hard for 18 years I think to establish himself as a journalist and unfortunately I think he undid some of that.  Let me get into this, you've got ABC Chief Anchor apologizing, you've got Brian Williams at NBC on suspension fighting for his job, probably decision would be made in the coming weeks whether he gets to come back.  What do these and other episodes do to public confidence in television news?

ZURAWIK:  Howie, I think it's awful.  I think the same people, who are angry, you know, you use the term "too big to fail."  In 2008, there's a lot of bitterness, distrust, pessimism, I think, even despair in America because of what happened in 2008 and nobody on Wall Street was punished in a meaningful way.  Too big to fail, now we look at these anchormen who behave -- it is ethics 101.  There's no gray area.  What they did was so bad they should be punished.  If they are not punished, people look at those networks news institutions and say the same thing.  It's all rigged.  
The rich people get away with everything.  They are not on my side.  They are playing for this or that.  They are part of the 1 percent.  Why should I trust them?  Now, if somebody else comes along in news and convinces the audience that they are getting them the straight stuff, they are going to kill ABC news this year.

KURTZ:  I would argue it doesn't just hurt ABC, it doesn't just hurt NBC, and it hurts all of us because they look at us as a bunch of insiders who are too cozy with politicians and maybe make too much money.  We'll see you in a bit David.

Coming up next, some on the left trying to squash free speech, that charge not coming from a right winger but from Fox's Kirsten Powers.  She's next.

And later, why are the critics giving David Letterman so many wet kisses as he bows out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ:  The title makes it sound like an attack from the right but it's written by a life long Liberal.  Kirsten Powers' new book is called "The
Silencing: How the left is killing free speech."  I sat down with her here in studio 1.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  Kirsten Powers, welcome.

KIRSTEN POWERS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  Good to be here.

KURTZ:  Does it pain you as somebody who spent a lot of time in Democratic politics to be attacking the illiberal left, are you resigning from the left?

POWERS:  No, because I do make a distinction between what I call the illiberal left and what I would consider just your average Democrat or another liberal who -- I may share the policy views of many of the liberal left.  I don't share the view that it's -- that you should silence people who disagree with you.  That's where I make the distinction.

KURTZ:  But some of your friends and allies cannot be happy.  You've written a book on "The attempt to silence descent from the Liberal world view".

POWERS:  Yes, there are people that are unhappy but I have to say most of the people that are making the criticisms have not read the book.  It's quite clear by the accusations that they're making they're saying, oh this is a book about how conservatives are being silenced.  It's actually not a book about how conservatives are being silenced, Conservatives are some of the people, and evangelicals are some of them.  A lot of the people that I profiled in the book that I interview are liberals who themselves have been experiencing silence or liberals are very concerned about what they consider the silencing going on there are politically agnostic people, they're not even people who are trying to get into the political debate.

KURTZ:  Is this hard for you?  You're taking on your own tribe.

POWERS:  Yeah, as you know Howie, I typically I try to call it the way I see it.  Did I think twice about writing this book?  Absolutely but when I really looked at the overwhelming evidence, what I saw was a very serious cultural trend that I think is very damaging to the country and I think it's illiberal and I think somebody needs to say something about it.

KURTZ:  Some media outlets are not going to have you on let's talk about it.

POWERS:  I have not been invited on a variety of media outlets.

KURTZ:  Now liberals sometimes challenge you just for being a part of Fox News.  You mentioned in the book, Gloria Steinem and others, what do they say?

POWERS:  I recall a conversation with Gloria Steinem where we were at an event and she basically just leaned over and said, you know, why do you go on Fox News?  And I don't remember what my answer was but she just said it's coming at such a great cost.  And I said, you know, I disagree.  I think you should go on.  I think people should get the whole picture of you and not just the stereotype.

KURTZ:  And you wrote about the lefts war on Fox News and the media writing about Fox Babes, a Huffington Post headline, Megyn Kelly, attractive looking blond anchorwoman leads the pact at Fox News.  What do you make of that?

POWERS:  What's interesting about that is they were linking to a "New York Times" profile about Megyn Kelly that did not in any way make that case about her.

KURTZ:  Very positive.

POWERS:  It was a very positive profile about her as a journalist.  The fact that they took a quote out of the entire very positive profile shows that is what they are reducing her to.  I don't think there's anything wrong saying women are attractive.  I have no problem with that.  It's when people try to use that as a sort of dehumanizing tactic to just dismiss somebody.  And that's what I talk about with the liberal left that you see them doing with women that they disagree with that they don't like.

KURTZ:  You said that years ago, you kind of fell in to this trap that you originally saw conservatives and religious people as stereotypes and you talk in the book about what happened when George W. Bush nominated his White House lawyer Harriet Miers to the supreme court and you thought?

POWERS:  I had this conversation with somebody at Fox News and I said -- it wasn't that great that he chose a woman?  And I said she doesn't really count as a woman choice because she's conservative and she's an evangelical.  And I'm very embarrassed to admit that now but that's a very commonplace view and I chronicle along with what I call the illiberal feminist which is people who say they care about misogyny and dehumanizing and dismissing women while at the same time saying that a conservative woman is not actually a real woman.

KURTZ:  Some might say for a liberal to write about how the left is killing free speech, and you have a lot of examples in the book, does that mean that you've become more conservative a little bit while at Fox or trying to fit in more at Fox?

POWERS:  No because it's not about ideology or policy or whether you're a Democrat or not.  It's about the fact that there are a group of people, like I said, I may agree with on policies.  I just don't agree with them on how they're stifling free speech.  So it is purely about trying to encourage a robust debate and calling out people who I just don't consider
-- first of all, they are not the majority.  This is a very minority kind of mob situation where they have a lot of influence.

KURTZ:  Or either high profile or activists and we say have outside influence.  It sounds to me like you're trying to say oh there is just a group over there but it also sounds like you make the case that this mindset, not only do I disagree with what you say but I don't want you coming to my campus to say it has infected...

POWERS:  No.  It's absolutely very influential people and what I'm saying is that if you talk to most Democrats, just find a Democrat on the street and tell them about this or even a liberal and tell them about the situation, the things I'm talking about in my book, they would say, I'm not ok with that.  I don't think that that's ok.  On these campuses you will see, it'll just be a handful of people who will get upset about something and make so much noise and then everybody sort of caves to this because they don't want to be seen as allowing somebody on campus who is creating -
- making it unsafe for other students even though most students probably wanted to hear that person and that's what you see in a lot of the interviews that I do.  That most people are saying we actually can handle this.

KURTZ:  All right.  Well the book is already on "The New York Times" best seller list, obviously there's an audience for what you're saying even though you're taken somebody -- Kirsten Powers, thanks very much for sitting down with us.

POWERS:  Thanks, Howie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  Ahead on "Media Buzz," Anderson Cooper tries to correct a falsehood and ends up on his own "Ridicu-list."

But straight ahead, James Rosen on the challenge of pouring over Hillary's Benghazi e-mails and how they were leaked.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ:  Journalists have finally gotten a look at some of Hillary Clinton's private e-mails, those having to do with Benghazi after State Department officials released them Friday afternoon.  I checked in with James Rosen, Fox's Chief Washington Correspondent at the State Department.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  James Rosen, welcome.

JAMES ROSEN, FOX NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT:  Thanks, Howie.  Good to be with you.

KURTZ:  About a third of these Hillary Clinton e-mails on Benghazi had been leaked to the "New York Times" today earlier.  Did that blunt the coverage of the State Department release, made it seem a little less newsworthy?

ROSEN:  To some extent it did because of some of the details, perhaps some of the most sensational details if we can call any of them sensational appeared yesterday and were widely reported by "The New York Times" and other outlets and so perhaps there have been some speculation that perhaps it wasn't the Benghazi committee that leaked the documents to "The New York Times," as many people have suggested, but rather the Clinton team to lessen so as to blunt the impact.  Of course, there's no better way to blunt the impact of the documents than by dumping them out on a Friday, as you well know.

KURTZ:  On a Friday Memorial Day Weekend.  What was it like for you as a reporter given the magnitude of this document done to spend Friday plowing through these e-mails?

ROSEN:  Well, it was tough.  Because you had 296 e-mails to try and get through, they were released at 12:30 p.m. sharp on Friday eastern time.  
And so you had all of these reporters, hundreds of reporters assaulting this website trying to get at them and trying to discern little interesting nuggets.

KURTZ:  Assaulting this website, you make it sound like the landing at Normandy.

ROSEN:  Well, the pressure was on, for sure.  Another interesting fact is that as I on Friday was uploading little interesting nuggets that I was taking out of the documents occasionally on twitter, you even had interaction between reporters.  I was the first to break the fact that the documents revealed that three days after the Benghazi attacks, Hillary Clinton slept through an appointment where she was supposed to receive the President's daily brief, it's the most sensitive classified intelligence document that the intelligence community produces and alerted her staff to this fact by typing out an e-mail at 10:43 in the morning saying, I just woke up, so I missed Dan, Dan was the aid with the Presidential daily brief.  I reported this and Josh Gerstein of Politico tweeted me back to say well, that was a Saturday.  I don't think it mattered much but it's interesting the interaction among the media as the story was unfolding.

KURTZ:  I love that, a little bit of color.  So Benghazi has been pretty heavily investigated.  Is it possible that media expectations that there would be some kind of smoking gun, e-mail, perhaps inflated a bit too high?

ROSEN:  I'm not sure that there really ever was such an expectation on the part of the news media, Howie, principally because we learned on March the 3rd of this year, that Hillary Clinton maintained all of her e-mails on a private and that she had deleted roughly half of them because she, of her own accord and by herself, had determined that roughly half of them were personal in nature.

KURTZ:  Sure.

ROSEN:  So the working supposition of the media has been that whatever we would see might have been subjected to that same kind of sanitizing process.

KURTZ:  Before I let you go, you're a big twitter aficionado.  President Obama joining twitter this week, quickly got 2 million followers I'm sure it's more than that by now.  Tweeting under his own name is this serious strategy to engage with the folks or is it kind of a stunt?

ROSEN:  Well, I would be remiss if I didn't begin my answer Howie by alerting your viewers to the fact that you can all follow me on twitter @jamesrosenfnc.  It has to be done.  It has to be done.  As for @potus which is the President's new twitter handle, he previously has been on twitter as @barackobama that was a campaign handle.  Very quickly, this engendered a comment from Former President Clinton, just wondering he said hashtag, asking for a friend if the @potus handle will stay with whomever becomes President.  I think it's not going to make that much of a difference in terms of the communication strategy of the White House but it follows a long lineage dating back you might say to Richard Nixon playing the piano on the Jack Par show, throughout all points in the last 50, 60 years, politicians have been rushing to make use of the latest means of communication and often it's informal and outside of what we conventionally think of as political.

KURTZ:  Exactly, one sad note is that a lot of tweets and reactions to the President were violent and racist in nature reminding us that tweeter can also be a very rough neighborhood.  James Rosen thanks for joining us from the State Department.

ROSEN:  Thank you, Howie.

KURTZ:  After the break, David Letterman getting a standing ovation from the media as he signs off but what of his impact on the culture wasn't all that positive?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ:  The critics have just showered David Letterman with praise, way over the top on in my view during the run-up to his final CBS show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN:  I'll be honest to you.  It's beginning to look like I'm not going to get The Tonight Show.  I want to thank the folks at home.  
People come up to me all the time and they say Dave, I've been watching you since your morning show and I always say have you thought about a complete psychological workout?  The people who watch this show, there's nothing I can do to ever repay you.  Thank you for everything.  You've given me everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  Baltimore Sun's David Zurawik is back with us.  You say Letterman is a brilliant performer but that he infected the culture with irony and snark, which to you is like something of a disease.

ZURAWIK:  Well it is a disease, you know young people that's all we have is irony and snark and we believe in nothing.  Earnestness is mocked, seriousness of purpose is mocked.  I really do I think it's a really kind of cultural malaise and I think he's part of it.  To blame David Letterman for it would be ridiculous.  

(CROSSTALK)

ZURAWIK:  You'll find a way Howie I know you.  It's all they have.  You know, look at social media.  It's filled with it.

KURTZ:  You also say that the Letterman show which obviously went through a lot of changes from the 80's to the current version that ended this week.  
Giving baby boomer men a way to be silly or stupid and think they were cool.

ZURAWIK:  You know well that's not so bad.  I can live with that.  We all love our pets but I'll tell you what really troubled me about Letterman, he really led the charge in this.  Politicians being able to bypass the press and go to the late night couch and talk directly to the people.  I think that's a really bad development.  You know, it started on Arsenio Hall in
92 with Clinton on the sax phone.  But he is the guy that pushed that.  

KURTZ:  I disagree with you on this.  Because yes, they all do it now, and the current crop does it.  But with Letterman who's unabashedly liberal, he could have an intelligent political conversation with a John McCain or a George W. Bush or a Bill Clinton, and I think that the current crop, they're talented guys but Jimmy Fallon slow jams the news.  They're not having those kinds of conversations.  Nobody wants to do that...

(CROSSTALK)

ZURAWIK:  So he did it better than them Howie.  I'll grant you that and had a more intelligent conversation but this is what we're left with now.  But also with that, I think in one sense it places the political discourse in an entertainment box instead of in the serious box of public affairs.  Also it keeps unruly nasty reporters, honest reporters from asking hard questions.

KURTZ:  Right but it also lets politicians communicate with people who are not regular watchers of Sunday shows, don't watch a lot of news.  You have to go where the people are.  I mean I don't think -- you're hanging a lot on Letterman's name.

ZURAWIK:  I'm not saying it's all Letterman but he made that successful.

KURTZ:  You should stay off and only talk to news anchors.  I got you silent for a second.  I think Letterman is a very talented guy.  I think he's been a tad over praised when you consider for over these years he was number two to Jay Leno but the media elite, loved him, the liberal elite loved him, they kind of looked down on Leno.

ZURAWIK:  Absolutely.  That was a result of this narrative after he didn't get The Tonight Show, that Dave is the hip, edgy, daring guy.  Jay is the corporate hack who just only says whatever is safe.  You know what?  David Letterman is as much of a corporate hack.  Anybody who gets a network talk show is not a radical.  You know what I'm saying?  You're not going to take on capitalism and get a network nighttime talk show.  That's the way it works.  That was the difference.  Everybody did it.  All the baby boomer male critics, and we were part of the time when all the critics were baby boomer men bought into that and they loved Dave, they mocked Jay.  I think it was really unfair.  I really do.

KURTZ:  It was not emotional finale but then again, Dave is not a weepy guy. You're not holding back.  David Zurawik thanks again for joining us.  
Still to come your top tweets, TLC cancels a program over a sex scandal and Anderson Cooper tweets his way into embarrassment.  Buzz worthy is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ:  What a tragedy.  After the magazine In Touch reported allegations that Josh Duggar as a teenager molested a number of young girls.  TLC promptly yanked his reality show, 19 kids and counting.  Duggar apologized for having acting inexcusably and resigned from the conservative Family Research Council.  Now MSNBC, the Washington Post, and others pointing out that Duggar had posed for pictures with some Republican Presidential candidates.  Well obviously didn't know about this.  This is not a time for piling on.  TLC did the right thing in saying it's deeply saddened and troubled by this heartbreaking situation.  Check out our digital down load on our homepage.  This week we're looking at snap chat, once a phone app for teens taking naughty selfies now getting into the political coverage business with some big name media partners.  Your top tweets Should Hillary Clinton answer more questions from the press or does it not matter?  

TWEET:  If it doesn't matter for her campaign, then how will it matter if she's elected?  The media has done little to access Obama.

TWEET:  Responding to questions to media only matters if the answers are truthful and factual.

TWEET:  She's brilliant.  She can make the media cover her and almost say nothing, no media asking stupid questions can't screw up.

KURTZ:  When I see false stuff about me on Twitter which happens often, well I usually just let it go but Anderson Cooper couldn't believe he was quoted as saying at an NYU commencement speech that graduating is a bigger deal than scoring a hole in one in gold, especially since he never gave a speech at NYU.  So the CNN Anchor tweeted at the source, ClickHole did you make this stuff up?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That's when everyone on planet earth helpfully pointed out that ClickHole is a comedy site run by the same satirical geniuses who produce the onion.  Some people say the name of the site, ClickHole should have been my first clue.  Yeah I know, it should have, shouldn't it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  Well at least he got a clue.  Good for Anderson for laughing at his additional cluelesness.  That's it for this edition of Media Buzz.  I'm Howard Kurtz.  Let me take a minute to wish you all a happy, healthy memorial day, especially those who have served, nice to get a break from the work a day week.  Remember that you can always check out our Facebook page.  We hope you like the page, we post a lot of original content there.  
E-mail us at mediabuzz@foxnew.com, questions about the media, I will respond online and maybe even here.  You can also check out our pod cast there. We are back next Sunday morning, 11 and 5 eastern with the latest buzz.

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