This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," June 28, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, as the Supreme Court makes same-sex marriage the law of the land, the media is in a celebratory mood.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT PELLEY, CBS NEWS: June 26th, 2015, will be remembered as the day same-sex marriage began to disappear from our national conversation. From now on, it's likely to be known just as marriage.
LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS: Across the country right now, wedding bells are ringing in Texas and Alabama and Georgia. Places where some people thought this day might never come.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: It's generations of gay and lesbian people in this country who never were able to live the full life that they deserved, that their other fellow citizens were able to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: How much has sympathetic coverage helped shift public opinion on this issue? And are some in the press portraying conservative opponents as bigots?
The Charleston Church shooting driving an emotional media debate from who is to blame from racist attack itself, to whether South Carolina's capital should take down the Confederate Flag.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN CAPEHART, JOURNALIST: The Confederacy was treasonous, the folks who fought on this behalf were traitors, and the Confederate Battle Flag is no better than a swastika.
GREG GUTFELD, FOX NEWS: A flag didn't kill those people. A ghoul did. But we now must care about this issue for the media is beating the drum. If you don't weigh in, especially Republicans, you're racist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: As promised, Ted Cruz punching back at the media for treating Republicans unfairly, and treating him as kind of crazy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS: Look, the mainstream media is not fair and impartial. They have served, I believe, as the Praetorian Guard protecting Barack Obama and his presidency. And I think no one is more ready for Hillary than the mainstream media.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: My exclusive sit-down with the Presidential Candidate. I'm Howard Kurtz, and this is "MediaBuzz."
President Obama hailed the Supreme Court's five, four ruling making gay marriage legal in all 50 states and boy, much of the media were right there with him. For example, MSNBC Anchor Thomas Roberts, who is gay, interviewing a steady parade of gay activists and celebrities.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS ROBERTS, MSNBC: It's so compassionate you to take on this charge and share your story, your marriage with your husband, but then also championing this so that other families can have dignity and respect.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN: When you hear the President say to you that your leadership has changed the country, what is that like?
JIM OBERGEFELL, SUPREME COURT PLAINTIFF: I can't even put it into words.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Even some conservative commentators were supportive of CNN's S.C. Cup telling her Republican Party to get with the program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
S.E. CUPP, CNN: Yeah, frankly it's hard to watch that and not get emotional. Those people there are not pariahs. They are patriots.
JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS: And then a harsh critic of President Obama and almost everything he's done. But I thought he was at his eloquent best, when he said when the legislature can't do it, the judges will in every age, expand personal liberty and that's the beauty of the Constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Voices of conservative critics were largely either overlooked or somewhat muffled.
Joining us now, Kathleen Parker, the Syndicated Columnist who just got back from the President in Charleston, Wes Lowery, a Reporter for the Washington Post, and Kirsten Powers, Fox News Analyst, and Author of the new book, the Silencing, how the left is killing free speech. And Kathleen, yesterday's New York Times front page, you can see it here, you can zoom in here, equal dignity and 12 pictures of gay couples kissing and embracing. So is the coverage of this landmark ruling fair to both sides?
KATHLEEN PARKER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I'm not surprised by the coverage. It's a huge landmark decision clearly. The fact that there are another 40 percent of Americans who are not in favor of this ruling, who are not happy about the outcome, I don't think that deserves the emphasis on the day of the ruling. I think it was appropriate that the media covered it extensively, and of course I'm a member of the media so I would have -- I would have treated it with that kind of headline and that kind of presentation I do believe. Now, where do we go from here is very important. How the media handles the questions that are remaining such as how do we protect religious liberty? What sort of things will be put in place to make sure that people are not persecuted essentially on the other side for not feeling that their faith permits them to support it in practical ways?
KURTZ: Right. Kirsten, I understand why people are celebrating and many people for many years thought it was unthinkable. But CNN for example, Anderson Cooper's show, two hours the story was heavily covered. I didn't see one dissenting viewpoint on there. At MSNBC was practically a day long party about this. And so do some journalists abandon objectivity on such a personal issue?
KIRSTEN POWERS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I'm more with what Kathleen's saying. I think on the day of the ruling -- and I have to say, I'll just put my bias out there. I support same-sex marriage and I think it was a historical day. And something that waited a long time to see happen, so perhaps that's my bias speaking there. I do think that we need to hear other voices. I don't think the people should be dismissed as homophobes for opposing this ruling, even if I disagree with them, and I think the court ruled correctly. I think that we do need to have a debate and recognize that there are people that have serious religious objections to same-sex marriage, and deserve to have religious liberties protected. And even to make their argument that the court didn't rule correctly. There were four justices who didn't agree with the majority opinion. And even though I'm on the other side from them, I think they are obviously smart people who have an argument to make.
KURTZ: I think the legal commentators gave attention to Scalia and the dissents by others, including (Inaudible) Roberts. Culturally, it just seemed like the media really embraced it. So from your point of view, Wes Lowery is this a civil rights victory, is this brown versus board of education, therefore harder to cover as one side says this, and the other side says that?
WESLEY LOWERY, THE WASHINGTON POST: You see media organizations that have made that decision. I think that is reflective in a lot of the coverage, for example, some of the media organizations changing their online avatars to being rainbow flags, or something reflective of the decision.
KURTZ: I'm glad you mentioned that. That includes the Huffington Post and also Buzz Feed. And Buzz Feed Editor-in-Chief, Ben Smith was quoted as saying, we changed it because there are not two sides to this issue. But for 40 percent of the country, there are two sides to the marriage issue.
LOWERY: Well, I think the media organization, for example in New York, laying out on the front page of The New York Times, and the Washington Post where I work, what you make front page not only for the readers tomorrow, but for the readers 50 years from now. And I think that a lot of people who are making decisions in these rooms can remember and are currently as we hit 50 years after civil rights, are being embarrassed by the fact when you pull up front page of The New York Times in the day after MLK was killed, the lead quote was from segregationist. And so people understand is that, sometimes -- you have to understand both the journalism you're creating for your current audience, and also the journalism you're creating for history. Maybe Bill Connor shouldn't be the lead quote in the story about MLK being assassinated. And maybe this is going to make you look ridiculous.
KURTZ: A great historical example.
PARKER: It is a day to acknowledge the ruling itself, as Kirsten said. It's not the day to say...
KURTZ: When the Supreme Court rules lets say, citizens united or something the media don't really agree with, then you don't see this heavy focus on the proponents.
PARKER: Well you don't. But I think what we're seeing too is not all media organizations are the same, clearly. There are certain media entities that have a specific point of view and there are very few old mainstream publications like our paper, The Post, that still try to take a more objective approach to the presentation of the news and, whereas Huffington Post, you know where they're going to go with that.
KURTZ: Sure, but that's in a different category, but the Harrisburg Patriot News...
PARKER: I read about that.
KURTZ: The editorial page editor says, we're going to all but restrict letters to the editor or op-eds from people who just screwed this decision. Because we don't want any homophobic -- and that again is now creating -- people who disagree with this. And that me to my other part of the question, for you Kirsten which is, at the beginning of 2012, President Obama was not in favor of same-sex marriage. Hillary Clinton also "evolved" on this. And do the media have a responsibility to point that out?
POWERS: They do, but they're not going to. This is one of the things that troubles people who are opponents of same- sex marriage. You only became a de facto bigot after Barack Obama switched sides. And then all of a sudden it was overnight, everybody who had that same view was a bigot. I get that people on the other side would say, well, we never really thought Barack Obama opposed same-sex marriage. So if we did, maybe we would have called him a bigot. And again, if you're going to look at it from perspective of the people who are laying out that front page, they do sincerely believe there is no other side to this argument, and it's the same as segregation and therefore they don't want to be you know, giving credence to that. And I would just encourage them to try meeting some people that are different than them, and they might find out that there are actually are some very lovely, sincere, caring people who are not bigots who oppose same-sex marriage.
PARKER: That's of course true. Everyone who opposes same-sex marriage is not a bigot. We can make that statement.
KURTZ: Some of you are too young to remember but in newsrooms in the '70s and '80s and even in the early '90s, a lot of gay journalists remained closeted, because it was too controversial.
KURTZ: Even in television, only in recent years have some anchors come out because it was seen as controversial. That, I'm glad, has changed. All right, let me get to the Confederate Flag, and the intense debate that followed the shootings in the Charleston Church. And Wes, this question about the Confederate Flag has flared up every few years. Why has the media embraced the story so forcefully this time?
LOWERY: I think the most interesting here was this became -- it was an avalanche. It was a snowball rolling down the hill. This is something that coughed up every four years, in every Presidential contest, because South Carolina is an early primary state, something that's always been discussed. But in this case, you had two different factors here. One, a tragedy, a massacre, this idea that anytime something -- whether it be 9/11, whether it be this tragedy, whether it be Sandy Hook, there is -- in some ways bipartisan consensus that we feel as if something should be done. There should be some uniting something. Not everyone agrees it should be the Confederate Flag in this case. But there is a feeling that something should be done. In this case also, with the conversation we've been having about race, for most of President Obama's second term, and incident after incident going back to Trayvon Martin and seemingly a constant flow of incidents, I think that we hit kind of a saturation point where we've been having this conversation. Even people who otherwise might not want to have a conversation but having this conversation and most people were willing to say, listen, maybe this is an antiquated conversation to be having. Even if I -- personally don't -- am not offended by this, I can understand why someone might be. And you're seeing a lot of Republicans now.
KURTZ: Let me go to Kathleen now. This is very personal to you. You're from South Carolina, you had family ancestors who fought for the confederacy.
PARKER: And also on the union side.
KURTZ: Fair and balanced family. And yet, you're an outspoken opponent of this flying of the Confederate Flag. So are you conflicted about this because of your heritage?
PARKER: I don't think so. Look, bottom line, there's reason enough to remove the flag on the basis that it offends, intimidates, causes fear, pain, suffering, unhappiness among our neighbors, our very own neighbors in South Carolina. It's on the state house grounds. It's public property. And it's just bad manners frankly to have a symbol like that is so offensive to so many -- and it's also offensive to whites, too. When I see a Confederate Flag on the back of a truck going down a rural road, I make sure I distance myself from that truck. I just don't want to get involved with whatever is going on.
KURTZ: I think a lot of the media came together after those horrifying murders in that Charleston Church. There was a lot of healing that went on. But I think television likes to find things to fight over. There was this broader debate about whether is there racism in society or was this just one crazy guy who embraced the Confederate Flag. You got into it a little bit with Bill O'Reilly on this very subject. Do you think the media are playing a unifying role here or divisive role as we debate this question of racism?
POWERS: There are people in media playing different roles. Certainly there are some people who are divisive. But I think overall, it's a conversation that we need to be having. Too many people really believe -- as Bill said that this is a fringe issue. I just don't think it's a fringe issue. With the Confederate Flag, people are saying that doesn't have anything to do with the shootings. Whether it had anything to do with the shootings or not, why is the flag there? If this is going to be the reason that we're going to talk about it, I think that's a perfectly time.
PARKER: The flag is a symbol of those murders because he photographed himself clutching that flag. Out of respect for those people...
POWERS: Even if that hadn't happened, I'm saying it's amazing to me that it took this long to actually have Republicans standing up and saying let's take the flag down.
PARKER: It's a base burning gesture on their part. So I'm glad to see so many being able to step forward.
KURTZ: We'll get to you Wes, on the other side. We've got a hard break coming up, if that's all right. It's already on television. Don't forget to send me a tweet. We want to know what you think about these issues, @howardkurtz on Twitter. When we come back, more on the coverage of this debate, including the media's treatment of Republican candidates who seem to be sidestepping that Confederate Flag question. And later, PBS postpones a series after admitting it made a huge error in handling Ben Affleck.
KURTZ: Journalists asking many Republican presidential candidates how they feel about the Confederate Flag. Here are some examples.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: I guess the question is should government be sanctioning a symbol that a large chunk of residents believe as a symbol of racism?
MIKE HUCKABEE, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it depends on which level of government. If the state government of South Carolina wishes to address an issue in their state, that's fine.
RICK SANTORUM, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I take this position that the Federal Government really has no role in determining what the...
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS: You're a candidate for president. Do you not have a position on this at all?
SANTORUM: I'm not a South Carolinian.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: There are many others. Wes Lowery, is it fair for the media to point out that most of these candidates are kind of sidestepping it?
LOWERY: I think so. If you're going to run for President of the United States, you're going to be asked about things happening in the United States. I think that in some ways that's sidestepping by the candidates. This is just a states issue, just a states issue. Listen, until this week, gay marriage was just a states issue, and many of these candidates were happily discussing it. I think that's important to ask these questions. And I will say, one of the reasons we don't have a clip of Hillary Clinton being asked this is because she's doing less media and less press. For someone like Huckabee or Santorum, who's out doing interviews every day...
KURTZ: That is a very fair point. She's come down against the Confederate Flag. You were in Charleston when President Obama delivered the eulogy at the church for reverend Clementa Pinckney. It was kind of remarkable because he ended up leading the congregation, and amazing grace. And I know you disagree with the President on many things, but do you think the coverage captured that moment and do you think that was a time when media coverage was able to come together in time of tragedy?
PARKER: Absolutely. The media coverage reflected what was happening on the ground, which is to say it was a very calm -- people stood in line starting at 2:00 in the morning to get into this arena where the funeral services were going to take place. By 11 o'clock, I was starting to see people pass out. A lot of people were dressed to go to a funeral. They were nicely dressed and standing out in that blistering heat. There was a little drum beat in Marion Square. I don't know who it was. I never saw the drummer. There was this metronomic pulse to the space.
PARKER: There was no decisiveness in Charleston.
KURTZ: Right. Coming back to Confederate Flag, Kirsten, Wes mentioned Hillary Clinton. Was her husband that put a Confederate Star on the Arkansas State Flag? So this also sounds like an issue -- like we were talking about with gay marriage where certain Democrats have evolved.
PARKER: Right. Honestly, I find this kind of stuff as getting a little tiring. What Bill Clinton did 25 years ago, I mean, what were we all doing 25 years ago? I mean, really. I think it's where we are today and I'm sure 25 years ago I was against the Confederate Flag, but I'm also not from the south. Where is Hillary Clinton today? Where is Bill Clinton today? The idea that somehow this is the Democrats flag which is something I keep seeing conservatives say, when its the Republicans who have blocked -- when the legislatures voted on whether to take the flag down, it's the Republicans who have said don't take it down. You can take that argument even as far back as 1962 when the flag went up under a Democratic governor.
KURTZ: Before we go, there was a lot of attention to a certain word that President Obama used during a racial discussion on a podcast called WTF. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Racism, we are not cured of clearly. And it's not just a matter of not being polite to saying [bleep] in public, that's not a measure of whether racism still exists or not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: At half a minute, we bleeped the N word. But so many people have worked so hard to eradicate that word from public discourse. And I was surprised the President used that word and kind of maybe obscured his larger point.
LOWERY: Of course. I do think in some ways, and I think the coverage of him using the word began to eclipse his larger point. I don't have any problems with him using that word in context. As adults, we have academic conversations sometimes where we have to talk like adults to each other. And sometimes that means saying things, document things that are unpleasant.
KURTZ: Thank you for a very adult conversation, Wes Lowery, Kirsten Powers, and Kathleen Parker. Ahead, Ted Cruz says the press portrays Republicans as stupid or evil or crazy. I pressed him on that. But up next, the MSNBC host who now admits he utterly distorted Bill O'Reilly's words.
KURTZ: PBS is postponing the next season of Finding Your Roots after an internal investigation involving Ben Affleck. He was featured last fall, and based on his objections, that episode made no reference to the fact that the embarrassed actor had a slave-owning ancestor. The internal probe said this violated PBS' standards and let Affleck have improper influence over the content. The program's Host, Henry Louis Gates has issued a statement of apology.
Roger Ailes has signed a multi-year deal to continue as CEO of Fox News, and the timing of the announcement is noteworthy, when the network's parent company, 21st Century Fox recently announced that Rupert Murdock would hand the CEO title to his son James, and assume the role of Executive Chairman, who's plenty of media chatter about what this might mean for Fox and for Ailes. Now that question has been put to rest and the top rated cable news network will remain under the man who created it back in 1996.
In this media fail, one of the worst things in television is selective editing. So here we had Bill O'Reilly agreeing with Juan Williams, that's its 100 percent legitimate to view the Confederate Flag as a symbol of hate but then adding "historical context."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know as well as I do that it represents to some bravery in the civil war because the confederates fought hard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Represents to some. But here's how MSNBC's Chris Hayes twisted his words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bill O'Reilly said it represents the bravery of confederates who fought in the civil war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: No, he didn't. After O'Reilly hammered him for distortion, Hayes backed down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC: We should not have attributed that view to him. Fair is fair. We got it wrong, and I apologize.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: And that was the right thing to do.
Ahead on Media Buzz, a CNN correspondent gets the boot for tweeting something awful about Donald Trump. But first, my exclusive sit down with Ted Cruz who says the media are in the tank for Hillary Clinton.
KURTZ: Ted Cruz has been rather aggressive in pushing back against the media in his presidential campaign. I sat down with the Senator here in Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Ted Cruz, welcome.
CRUZ: Thank you. Good to be with you.
KURTZ: So I hear a lot of pundits say -- you've heard this a million times, the knock on you is Ted Cruz, very conservative, too conservative to win.
CRUZ: People in Washington like saying that. It's interesting. The people, who keep saying that, are the people who keep getting their tails whipped. It's the consultants that keep running national campaigns and keep losing. I think the way we win -- I think 2016 is going to be an election like 1980. I think Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama have enormous similarities. And I believe the way we win is as Reagan said, to paint in bold colors and not pale pastels. We need a clear, meaningful distinction. The Washington consultants always say that the way to win is to go with a moderate establishment Republican -- and to go essentially with Democrat light.
KURTZ: Have you ever hired any Washington consultants? You only have Texas consultants?
CRUZ: Actually, to be honest our team is all grassroots activists, folks on the ground. We've issued the big name, fancy consultants because they keep doing the same thing, they're data and evidence free.
KURTZ: I've heard you say that the media stereotype Republicans as either being stupid or evil, but there's a new category for you which is crazy. That's a pretty heavy charge. Are you saying this is true of all journalists, many journalists, and most journalists?
CRUZ: It's true of an awful lot. Look, the mainstream media is not fair and impartial. They have served I believe as the Praetorian Guard protecting Barack Obama and this presidency. And I think no one is more ready for Hillary than the mainstream media.
KURTZ: Actually, the relationship between Hillary Clinton and the press corps has not been that great. But if that's true and you think most mainstream media give a tougher time to Republicans, then that would seem to be a pretty big disadvantage for you, and you spend a lot of time talking to these so called liberal outlets.
CRUZ: Oh sure. Look, the media will go after any Republican. It's one of the things where you see some Washington Republicans who think that the media are going to be friendly, are going to be nice. You have to understand these are folks by in large with a partisan agenda. And so you have to go and explain your views with a smile, but are willing to go and make the case when they come after you, because they will come after you. And there are too many Republicans who -- when the media comes after them they're not prepared.
KURTZ: Are you saying that up until now, Hillary Clinton has had an easy time from the press?
CRUZ: Absolutely. If any Republican did what she's doing right now, she doesn't take any press interviews and the press is basically pretty docile. If you look...
KURTZ: The press has investigated her on e-mail server, on Clinton Foundation, on speaking fees, I would say she's not gotten an easy ride. She may get an easier ride in the future.
CRUZ: So Howard, how many criminal investigations are ongoing into Hillary Clinton right now?
KURTZ: You can answer the question.
CRUZ: To the best of my knowledge none.
KURTZ: That's not the press' fault.
CRUZ: It absolutely is the press' fault. Let's invert this. Let's say a Republican were President, and let's say it was a Republican who had admitted to conduct that on its face violates federal law, and may well violate criminal statutes. The press would be in an outrage. Why hasn't the Department of Justice begun investigating? Look, she was the sitting Secretary of State, and she received millions of dollars from foreign nations, number one, directly into her foundation, and number two, even more troubling, millions of dollars from foreign nations paid to her husband and what was presumably their joint checking account, while she is sitting Secretary of State. Now, that would on its face seem to violate federal laws if not federal criminal laws, and what does it say number one, about how partisan the Obama Justice Department is that nobody thinks there's any prayer, either the Holder Justice Department, or the Lynch Justice Department would even begin to investigate if she violated the law. But also that the press is sitting quietly. If this were a Republican, every day on every Sunday show, there would be a special prosecutor watch. And yet the press quietly says it's just the Clintons being the Clintons.
KURTZ: Your problem is not just so-called liberal media. Wall Street Journal editorial page, very conservative page has been hostile to you, called you an opportunist, blames you for plunging Republican favorability, as the government been shut down. So you're getting it from both sides, Senator.
CRUZ: Oh look, there is no doubt that when you stand up and try to change Washington, you get hit from all directions. You get hit from Democrats. But you also get hit from Republicans. And I've said many times, I think the biggest divide we have politically is not between Republicans and Democrats. It's between career politicians in both parties and the American people.
KURTZ: A couple examples of you dealing with the press. For example, when you spoke in New Hampshire and there was a 3-year-old girl in the audience. Headlines were you said the world was on fire. She repeated it. You scared this little girl. But you -- did that bother you the way that was framed?
CRUZ: Oh look, it was silliness. And it's an example. You and I were talking earlier today about the difference between local press and national press. So that happened the week we launched the campaign. Liberty University we launched. Heidi and I go into barnstorming tour, we go to Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Every place we went was standing room only crowds. Local New Hampshire Press reported that the crowds coming out for us were much larger, and in many instances double the size of the other candidates, double Jeb Bush's, double Scott Walker's. Local reporters couldn't figure it out, but that was news that the energy and excitement we were seeing on the ground. Very same event, a national reporter was there and the headline that comes out of the identical event wasn't Cruz gets double the crowd other Republicans get. Instead, the headline was Cruz comes to New Hampshire, startles a child, and snubs a goat. It was so silly as to be self parroting.
KURTZ: Another example why you did an interview with Bill Burns and Mark Halperin, and he asked you your favorite Cuban food, your favorite Cuban music and he asked you to speak in Spanish. He later apologized. You said he didn't need to apologize, why?
CRUZ: Oh look, I like Mark. He came under a lot of criticism for that. I think he is one of the more fair minded journalists.
KURTZ: So there are fair minded journalists? You admit it.
CRUZ: I spoke relatively speaking. I said one of the more.
KURTZ: Press says Jeb Bush is the front runner. Do you buy that?
CRUZ: I think it is the press speaking through their vision. They look at moderate establishment Republicans and they say, gosh, they sound the most like me. They share the most values with me, a liberal reporter. So that seems very reasonable. You know what? People are fed up with Washington. We need leaders not who will simply manage the decline of this country and manage Washington and keep growing the leviathan, the beast that is Washington. We need leaders who will take on the Washington cartel, take on Democrats and Republicans and side with the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: More of my conversation with Ted Cruz in a moment. And later, has the conservative press turned on John Roberts for helping save Obamacare?
KURTZ: During our interview, I also asked Ted Cruz about a controversy that erupted when he was questioned by Kevin Steele, an Anchor for Texas Station KBMT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Senator, you had an exchange with a reporter in Beaumont, Texas, who asked you flat out, if you had an animosity towards against gay Americans. You pushed back on that pretty hard.
CRUZ: Well, we were talking about bias in the media. It was a good example where this fellow who was a local network reporter. He asked me initially about gay marriage. I told him I don't support gay marriage under the constitution, marriage is a question for the states. He asked me the question again, and I gave the answer again. He kept asking the question over and over again, and then it became, do you have an animosity towards gay Americans? And he asked that question something like six or seven times. It was apparently the only issue this reporter wanted to talk about. I was happy to answer it, and happy to answer it again and again. But he kept on asking it. And finally at some point, I said what is it about the left? I include the mainstream media in this that you're obsessed with sex, that it's the only thing that matters to you. And he kept firing back asking that question over and over and over again. I was talking at the time as it moved on, I began talking about foreign policy, I began talking about the need to stand up and fight and defeat radical Islamic terrorism. And he comes back immediately with, do you have animosity against gay Americans? When this guy asked the question six or seven times, I ended up responding by asking do you have an animosity towards Christians? And you know Howard, you're someone who studies the media. There is a reason for answering as I did. Now some people say well, why didn't you just say no? The answer should be an obvious no. And the reason is and you know this well. There's a trap in politics that when someone denies something, when Nixon says I'm not a crook, everyone says he's a crook.
KURTZ: That's the headline. Politicians deny charge, whether the charge is valid or not kind of gets lost in the lead.
CRUZ: Exactly. So I wasn't going to give him that attack headline. That question was designed to get me to deny it, so then he could run as the headline. He denies this.
KURTZ: Senator Cruz thanks very much for joining us.
CRUZ: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: That interview done before the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. And if you go to our new redesigned homepage, Foxnews.com/mediabuzz, we posting some other exerts from our interview with Senator Ted Cruz.
Ahead, we'll look at a truly awful A.P. photo of Senator Cruz. But coming up, a closer look at coverage of the Supreme Court, and John Roberts over the blockbuster rulings on gay marriage and Obamacare.
KURTZ: First came the dramatic Supreme Court ruling upholding government subsidies for Obamacare, but the media focusing heavily on its Author, John Roberts. The next day, the decision legalizing same-sex marriage during saturation coverage, and having special residents for gay journalists and commentators. Joining us now, are two Fox News Contributors, in Palm Springs California, Rick Grenell, a Former Spokesman for the Bush Administration and in New York, Democratic Strategist Julie Roginsky. Rick, you are a Republican. You're also a gay conservative. You're also a supporter of same-sex marriage. You worked for George W. Bush, who a little over ten years ago supported a constitutional amendment to ban same- sex marriage. Doesn't all this put you in an awkward position?
RICK GRENELL, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: No, look, I think calling someone a gay conservative is actually an irrelevant characterization. We don't call you the straight moderate interviewer. I think all of that is just designed to distract or minimize someone's opinion. Look, the focus here should be I think correctly on the fact that anyone who wants to participate in marriage makes marriage stronger. You look historically at all of the couples who are mixed race who wanted to participate in marriage. They were minimized, they were told that they couldn't do it. I think regardless of whether or not you are gay or straight, this is an important institution, its important debate. And the media have a responsibility to talk about the debate without minimizing people and their views.
KURTZ: I agree with that. Let me jump in here. You wrote on your website that debate in the Republican Party has been hijacked, you say by those who wish to dictate their belief onto others. That makes it sound like it's a faction. Every Republican presidential candidate, the tone has varied certainly has come out against the Supreme Court ruling. So hijacked or do you see this as a problem for the Republican Party?
GRENELL: First of all, that piece is actually on foxnews.com. And so I think it's really important just to highlight the consistent conservative philosophy. What I was trying to say, and I think a lot of people agree with, is that if you want to be a consistent conservative, if you want to be somebody who says government shouldn't be involved in our decisions, and if you want to be a consistent conservative by saying individual liberty and individual choices are what matters to Republicans, whether it's about school choice or taxes or property rights, it's very important to be consistent when it comes to gay marriage. This is a decision that each individual gets to choose. I get to choose who I get to marry. You don't get to choose who I get to marry.
KURTZ: I don't want to choose who you get to marry. Julie Roginsky, President Obama...
GRENELL: And I don't want to choose who you get to marry. So let's let every individual decide who they would marry. And government should stay out of it.
KURTZ: Julie, President Obama hailed the decision. Hillary Clinton hailed the decision. Do you think the press as well, by in large was rooting for this five, four decision legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states?
JULIE ROGINSKY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Certainly the liberal press was, and certainly I think even the mainstream press regardless of their ideology was, and certainly some conservative press was not. I just want to pause for a second and say to all my conservative friends, Rick Grenell wrote an absolutely amazing column that is on foxnews.com about the conservative cause. And I urge everyone to read it. But in terms of the press, look, this is one of those situations where I think this is not a political football as much as it is for a lot of people including me a civil rights victory. To the extent that your earlier guests talked about quoting Bull Connor in the New York Times, after Martin Luther King's death or even loving versus Virginia which is an incredible analogous case to this one, which in the 60's legalized interracial marriage. This is one of those that I think transcends politics and becomes a matter of...
KURTZ: Wait a minute. You say it's a civil rights victory, and I understand why you say that, but that kind of almost sounds like therefore it shouldn't be debated when still, 40 percent of the country is opposed or supports traditional marriage.
ROGINSKY: You can respect the views of those people, and certainly I respect their views on it. I have to vehemently disagree and vehemently stand by the fact that you had people in the 60's on loving versus Virginia was legalized, who drastically opposed interracial marriage, all the way I believe into the 90's. So just because you have a substantial minority or even majority of people disagreeing with something, doesn't mean that those of us who believe it's a civil rights issue can't continue to say this is a fundamental issue of freedom and again, a conservative value that Rick talked about, and that's what it is.
GRENELL: Can I jump in for a quick second? I think it's really important, you know, we can have our personal opinions, and I don't know how Julie feels. Bu I don't feel like I'm a journalist. I'm, you know, a commentator who has an opinion. I think it's really important that media organizations, including Fox and others, have a healthy debate. Journalism is really dying when it comes to these debates. Look, I'm on the same side of the Supreme Court on this decision, but I think the media coverage was atrocious. They have made fun of people, including members of my church and my family, who disagree with this decision, and they have made them seem like somehow they are not only bigots as Kirsten Powers has said, but even more than that, and I think you see news organizations across the board not having a healthy debate. Journalism is dying, and it's not just on this issue. It's on a variety of issues where...
KURTZ: I want to get to the Obamacare ruling in our remaining minute. And Julie, there's been a lot of criticism, very personal, against John Roberts for writing this Obamacare ruling. It's the second time he's kind of saved Obamacare, but he said when he was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice, that he would call balls and strikes. Why is this so personal?
ROGINSKY: Well, I guess it's personal because the very people who opposed Obamacare and oppose it had vehemently, are the same people who pushed for John Roberts to be confirmed and went to bat for him with the conservative movement, and believed that they were getting a conservative. And I think a lot of them feel that yet another Bush President, the first was father George Herbert Walker Bush, and the second is the son put a Supreme Court justice on that was supposed to be a conservative, but turned out be in their eyes anything but and I think that's why you're getting the backlash from conservative journalists and the conservative media against John Roberts.
GRENELL: I think it's different in that John Roberts' judicial philosophy has been random, and so we don't know where he stands anymore. He's been an inconsistent conservative and, so therefore, his writings have been very confusing.
KURTZ: All right, got to go. Rick Grenell, and Julie Roginsky, thanks very much for interesting debate.
ROGINSKY: Thank you.
KURTZ: Still to come, your top tweets, Univision's President compares Donald Trump to a mass murderer, and the British teenager who put one over on the New York Times.
KURTZ: A couple of big time media fails. CNN has dropped International Correspondent Karl Penhaul, for using Twitter to attack Donald Trump, as a racist idiot and taunting Trump's children, so much journalistic objectivity. This after Trump made those comments about how Mexico illegal immigrants include criminals and rapists and the he assumes some good people. And the President of Univision, Alberto Ciurana, now says he shouldn't have posted a picture of Trump side by side with the Charleston mass murderer, what an outrageous slur. But no apology on that one, the presidential candidate hitting back at the Spanish language network for abruptly dropping Trump's Miss USA Pageant, scheduled to air the week after next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Univision, I'm going to have to sue Univision now because I speak negatively about trade with Mexico, and I love Mexico. I love the Mexican people, I love them. They are great people, but Mexico is just taking our negotiators to lunch. Of course I have a signed contract. Five years they have to pay me almost $15 million.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: The folks at Univision certainly free to criticize Trump, but that amounted to political retribution. And yet another media fail, the A.P. shot itself in the foot this week carrying this photo of Ted Cruz at a second amendment event with a background poster that it makes it look like a gun is pointed at his head. The wire service said this and other images were not intended to portray the Senator in a negative light, but it made the A.P. look biased and insensitive. How did some editor not catch that, and say it shouldn't put out? And CNN made the same mistake during an interview with Mark Kelly, husband of Former Congresswoman and Gun Control Advocate Gabby Gifford's. Look at that. But some producer must have cringed the background was soon changed. Get a hold of this one. A British teenager hoaxing the New York Times into reporting online that the Charleston church killer was a fan of and blogged about the cartoon My Little Pony, according to fusion. Times Reporter, Francis Robles candidly telling USA Today, I was embarrassed, I embarrassed the paper, I embarrassed myself, and I feel devastated. How did this happen? I was writing in a desperate panic she said, at warp speed. All right, time for your top tweets, as the coverage of Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage had been fair? Michael Harp, you mean are the bigoted people getting their share of air time? I think so. Rick Dennis, not on Fox, all the same and what's going to happen to Christian businesses? Josh Hewitt, no, Hillary's victim really up has been an embarrassment and should be called out by more of the MSM. Enrico Acevado, are we required to be impartial on issues of equality or basic civil rights?
And now I spoke to Lester Holt the other day, the new NBC Anchor, and had a message for viewers as he took over the "Nightly News" in the wake of the scandal you all know about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLT: Your loyalty and viewership during a difficult time has been appreciated by all of us on this program. And I want to express my sincere thank to my friend and colleague, Brian Williams for his kind words of support.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Holt told me it was definitely a little scary to be filling in for Williams, who has now been demoted to MSNBC. Because what if the audience dries up overnight, and I'm the guy standing there. And while Lester takes pride in becoming the first black to serve as a solo anchor of a network evening newscast, he told me with so many stories about the first this and the first that, I pause and wonder if we're getting past that. With Holt acting like a journalist and not a flashy celebrity maybe we are. I almost didn't have time to talk about the CNN international correspondent who was covering gay rights, rally or parade in London, and looked at a flag and said that's the ISIS flag, except the flag showed images of what, how shall we describe this on Sunday, sex toys, a bit of an embarrassment for CNN jumping to conclusions.
That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. We hope you like our Facebook page. Check it out, give us a like, we post a lot of original content, video you don't see on the air. And be part of After the Buzz, e-mail us at what is the address now? Mediabuzz@foxnews.com. We'll respond to some of your questions online.
We're back here next Sunday morning at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET. Hope you'll join us for the latest buzz.
Content and Programming Copyright 2015 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2015 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.