Media furor over Trump insults; Obama snaps at CBS reporter

Donald rips Arianna Huffington, John McCain


This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," July 19, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, Donald Trump punches back at his critics by mocking John McCain's status as a war hero, and Arianna Huffington's divorce. Will the versioning media backlash hurt his candidacy?

President Obama unveils a deal with Iran and the pundits immediately go nuclear, Conservatives denouncing the agreement, Liberals defending it.
Both sides using highly charged rhetoric.


ERIC BOLLING, FOX NEWS: I'm still trying to figure out what we get. No one outlined what we get. What they get, they get a bomb. They have a pathway to the bomb.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: If this works no war with Iran. And it also means no nuclear bomb in Iran, and it means this President would have achieved the only diplomatic world-transforming achievement big enough to make us forget all about him, also ending 50 years of cartoonishly-failed and ridiculous U.S. policy towards Cuba, which he also did.


KURTZ: Is this media polarization shedding more heat than light. And why did the President go after CBS' Major Garrett for asking a tough question?

Mike Huckabee on being pigeon hold as a social issues guy, jobs, gay marriage, and why he won't talk about Trump, and dealing with the media.


MIKE HUCKABEE, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Nobody should be President if they're unwilling to answer the questions. Media should say we're not going to cover any candidate who is so pretentious as to think that they can script their campaign like it's a Hollywood sitcom.


KURTZ: My sit down with the Former Governor.

The New York Times discovers Bill Cosby admitting under oath that he pursued sex with numerous women using drugs in the process, and paid two of them money to keep them happy. Does this end the media debate once and for all?

Plus, Campbell Brown, the Former NBC and CNN Anchor launch a website to push education reform, and holding a forum next month with presidential candidates. But is this journalism or raw advocacy? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is Media Buzz.

A major media furor building this weekend against Donald Trump first after the Huffington Post declared that Trump is such a side show, he'll no longer be covered his politics section, but in entertainment along with the Kardashians and so forth. Trump fired a highly personal tweet at Arianna Huffington, calling her unattractive and saying I full understand why her husband left her for a man. And after John McCain said Trump is firing up the crazies, Trump at a forum yesterday mocked the Senator's time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.


DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He hit me. He's not a war hero. He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured.


KURTZ: Joining us now, James Rosen, Fox News' Chief Washington Correspondent, Matt Lewis, Senior Contributor at the Daily Caller, and Julie Roginsky, a Democratic Strategist and Fox News Contributor. James, Trump has always thrived in New York with this kind of insulting style that generates a lot of headlines. Now he's a Presidential Candidate. Are the media concluding that the Donald is simply going too far again and again?

JAMES ROSEN, FOX NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all I don't know the fitness that Donald Trump possesses to be commenting on other people's heroism. The most lethal foe that he has ever faced in his own life I think was Rosie O'Donnell. And I think that Donald Trump in general now that he's an actual candidate and he's filed with the FEC and all this, he taxes to its limits the pretense to objectivity in the old sort of A.P. style book way. That's not to say he should be relegated to the entertainment section as Huffington Post is. But you cannot simply report on Donald Trump the way you did George McGovern or Walter Mendel or anybody else. He is a singular figure. And to just describe him as businessman Donald Trump said x, y and z on Thursday or Presidential Candidate Donald Trump somehow doesn't do him justice as a subject.

KURTZ: All right. I think we have to watch our words, you know journalists criticize that politician go too far. Dana Milbank on this program last week called Trump was called a rotten pig, and I thought that was well over the line. But does it matter that Trump -- as he sees as punching back so Huffington Post kind of does this stunt. We'll cover him but we'll stick him in the entertainment section, and then -- but then that highly derogatory tweet going after Arianna's divorce 15 or so years ago, what do you make of that?

MATT LEWIS, THE DAILY CALLER SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look, I think this is part of the media environment that's sadly Donald Trump is not entirely responsible for. We cover politicians like they're celebrities, it's almost a lot of political coverage is like TMZ. Should we be surprised that somebody who talks like that is actually not just getting attention, but also first or second place in a lot of these early polls?

KURTZ: Do you blame the media culture? You think that we're enabling this or that Trump is exploiting a ruckus environment that already exists?

LEWIS: Absolutely. I think this is like -- what's the Mike Judge movie -- Idiocracy where eventually a wrestler -- professional wrestler becomes president. Sadly a lot of the trends are leading that way and you have serious politicians like John Kasich, Bobby Jindal -- may not even make it into the debate.

KURTZ: Right. Does it matter that other Republican candidates now denouncing Donald Trump, the RNC putting out a statement saying McCain is an American hero and there's no place in our party or country for comments that disparage those who served honorably. And if you want to get a sense of the press reaction, here's the New York Post cover, Trump is toast, Don Voyage.

JULIE ROGINSKY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know to Matt's point, don't hate the player, hate the game, right? I mean he is playing exactly into the press' hands. The press doesn't need to cover him with this kind of insanity. But it's a mutually beneficial relationship. He sells papers as we just saw. And they help his brand. And so to some extent would you blame Donald Trump for doing what he's doing? No he's a showman. He's not a real legitimate candidate but he is number one and numbers two, we have to cover him.

KURTZ: Is he a showman, yes. Do you want to call him ridiculous, even a side show, that's fair comment I think. But you just said he's not a legitimate candidate. Why does the press insist on this -- not just the Huffington Post, why does press say we don't take him seriously? So what if he seems to have touched a nerve among a lot of Republican voters?

LEWIS: Well, I think that the problem is when you say things like that it come across as elitist.

KURTZ: Because it is.

LEWIS: Well, the grassroots conservatives out there are saying see the game is rigged. Finally someone comes along who is saying it, telling us like it is, saying it like it is, and taking on the media.

KURTZ: But you seem to be going out of your way not to criticize Donald Trump for the McCain comment, by talking about the larger media culture.

LEWIS: I'm more than happy to criticize him for the McCain comments. I think they were horrible. And I think you know -- as my colleague Jamie Weinstein pointed on Twitter and others have, McCain wasn't a hero because he was taken prisoner. He was a hero because he refused early release because that would have been a propaganda victory for North Vietnam. And so I think what Donald Trump said is horrible, absolutely.

KURTZ: Yeah, he wasn't just shot down. He was tortured. His bones were broken. He still has difficulty raising his arms above his head. It's not just that the guy was shot down. I wonder whether or not the tone is changing. Because I think the media secretly loved that the fact Trump is in the race, because he's good copy, he sells papers, he's good for ratings, and he's good for clicks. And you know when he called McCain a dummy earlier -- and by the way McCain started this by saying Trump was firing up the crazies. You know we all kind of wallow in it. But there's something about the McCain comments now that I think has turned the coverage particularly negative.

ROSEN: Well, I think for Donald Trump when he was making pretty unambiguously xenophobic remarks about Mexico, there has always in American politics been some short-term mileage to be derived from that kind of comment. There is very little mileage to be derived from disparaging John McCain's war record. I would say though that -- to the question of whether we take him seriously as a presidential candidate, those who are most obliged to do so are the other Republican candidates, particularly those from whose bucket of voters we might expect Donald Trump might steal some votes.

KURTZ: Right. All right, President Obama held a lengthy news conference this week to defend his nuclear deal with Iran, and the thing that got the most attention was this exchange -- we'll show it to you right now between CBS Correspondent Major Garrett and the President.


MAJOR GARRETT, CBS NEWS: Can you tell the country, sir, why you are content with all of the fanfare around this deal to leave the conscious of this nation, the strength of this nation unaccounted for in relation to these four Americans?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The notion that I am content as I celebrate with American citizens languishing in Iranian jails, Major, that's nonsense, and you should know better.


KURTZ: You're a former colleague of Major Garrett here at Fox News. A lot of journalists saying that question -- the wording went over the line.
What's your take?

ROSEN: First of all, I've known Major a long time. I think he's an excellent reporter and I consider him a friend. I have told him in this instance that I thought the framing of his question erred too much on the side of provocative. However, I also told him and I think it's true that the President succumbed to the bait in a sense and he should not have. No one could remember in modern presidential history, a president of the United States scolding, rebuking a reporter in a briefing setting like this. The closest analog perhaps is back to 1974, when Dan Rather of also CBS asked Richard Nixon a question, there were boos and cheers and Nixon said are you running for something, Mr. Rather, and Rather famously said no sir, Mr. President, are you? I think that the President could simply have said something like, Major, there was so much that was objectionable about the framing of your question, time does not permit us here to go into it.

KURTZ: Finally, an important question on how we made this deal with Iran and yet, four Americans including a Washington Post reporter are still being held there. But when you said are you content, it seemed provocative, your take?

LEWIS: Yeah I mean, he sort of personalized the question and that was awkward. It's a very legitimate to ask how can you cut this deal and be celebrating when we have these hostages. But look, to me the most interesting part of this story is you have a journalist asking a tough question of a politician about a journalist who is being held captive and other journalists side with the President. And I think that some potential bias there.

KURTZ: Julie, let me play for you Major Garrett's response when he was asked about the exchange on CBS this morning.


GARRETT: The President believed I was suggesting he was content with the Americans captivity. That's wasn't the basis of my question. It wasn't my intent. Personally Charlie, I have done some soul searching about it on whether I've been aggressive enough as a reporter on behalf of hostages, who are Americans held overseas.


KURTZ: By responding with that personal slap, President Obama may have given that question 1,000 times more attention than it would have received otherwise.

ROGINSKY: He did, but I have never actually seen Barack Obama that upset.
I don't recall a time where I have seen that anger come through. So obviously it's a very personal question for him. I think Major Garrett should have walked it back and I think he should've taken the opportunity to say I overstepped my bounds. Because I think he did. And I also want to be clear, the President did answer the question that was asked after abrading Major Garrett. I mean nobody remembers the part where he answered the question, all they remember is the part where he went after Major Garrett. That may have been the President's miscalculation.

KURTZ: In terms of the overall coverage of the Iran deal, and you conservatives who have been criticizing this deal before it was made, and I wonder what they -- if there was any deal they would have approved, liberals kind of defending it but with caveats, it depends on the Iranian chief and so forth. You spent two weeks in Vienna as this was being negotiated, covering the John Kerry team. Do you think the coverage has matched what you saw?

ROSEN: Well, first I would that there is one deal that conservatives probably would have welcomed, and that would have been one that matched the terms that the President and his aides were laying out two years, ago which called for dismantlement of the Iranian nuclear apparatus. That didn't happen. In terms of coverage, I think if you were following this closely, you had a pretty good idea of what was being discussed in the negotiating room behind closed doors.

KURTZ: From the Americans?

ROSEN: From American press.

KURTZ: No, I'm saying from the American sources?

ROSEN: The reason you had that good idea of what was propping up in negotiations at one point or another, was because the other multi-lateral parties to this, Britain, France, Germany, and so on are a lot more talkative than the Americans, and so they would tell the American reporters what's going on, and then we would rush to the American side to have them clam up on us.

KURTZ: All right. Let me get a break here, remember to ask a question on Twitter, @HowardKurtz, or make a comment. We'll read some of those later.
When we come back, the New York Times obtaining a deposition in which Bill Cosby admits to many of the sexual misconduct accusations against him.
This is a bombshell.

And later, Mike Huckabee's take on why he's getting so much less media attention than that Donald guy.



OBAMA: To give a woman or a man for that matter without his or her knowledge a drug, and then have sex with that person without consent, that's rape.


KURTZ: President Obama talking about Bill Cosby. We learned this morning from the New York Times that Cosby admitted in a decade old deposition that he systematically seduced a number of young women that drugs were involved, that he paid the woman who brought the suit, money to make sure she stayed quiet, even asking her to tell her worried mother that she had achieved sexual satisfaction with him. And Matt Lewis some thought the media went too far by giving a pretty big platform to the well over 30 women who accused Cosby of sexual assault and rape years ago. Does that decision look very different now?

LEWIS: Yeah. It looks like the right thing to do in hindsight and the facts seem to verify that. Maybe they were too late. The media should have been more aggressive.

KURTZ: For years this was sort of...

LEWIS: It's understandable why. Because we confuse Cliff Huxtable for Bill Cosby and this is a guy who had this positive portrayal of a black family, heroic man in many ways. And sadly now with the Atticus finch thing happening, where are the heroes?

KURTZ: It's tragic. But Julie does this deposition -- now that we have the full thing, settle the media debate once and for all? Is this a conviction of Bill Cosby in the court of public opinion?

ROGINSKY: Oh, I think the conviction of Bill Cosby in the court of public opinion happened two, three months ago -- the comedian went out and said -- he was telling black men to pull their pants up, how about you pull your pants up Bill Cosby? And all of a sudden these women started coming out of the woodwork.

KURTZ: Some people were saying it's too late. Why should we believe them?

ROGINSKY: Well you know, 1, 2, 3, 10, 15, none of whom are related to each other, you know, you're innocent until proven guilty in the court of law, but not in the court of public opinion. And I think Bill Cosby was by most people -- not Whoopi Goldberg, but by most people was convicted a long time ago because so much of the circumstantial evidence. Not legally but de facto came out to light.

KURTZ: The presidential answer we saw was a response to a question by Radio Reporter April Ryan at that news conference that was almost predominantly -- that was predominantly devoted to Iran. Anything wrong with her asking an off topic question about rescinding Cosby's Presidential Medal of Freedom, which Barak Obama said we do not plan...

ROSEN: Well, she asked about the President's criminal justice reforms and so forth. But no, I don't think that -- it's quite all right for someone who is holding a news conference to say I'm only going to take questions on subject x, it's also quite all right for the reporters say -- actually I'd like to ask about y, and so I didn't have a problem with that. Where Bill Cosby is concerned and where this deposition is concerned, the question raised for the media covering Bill Cosby going forward is how do you -- what shorthand descriptor do you use for him? Do you say comedian Bill Cosby and comedian and admitted rapists, Bill Cosby? I don't you'll see that second formulation. But it's a question that editors are going to be wrestling with us.

KURTZ: I think a lot of people have really grappled with this because so many people including myself like Cosby, and respect his role as a trailblazing racial figure on television, going back to the comedy albums and -- no comment now from the Cosby camp now that his own words are finally hanging him. By the way, the reason that question was asked or part of it is there was a petition drive by the sexual awareness group, PAVE, whose spokeswoman Cosby accuser Barbara Bowman, I interviewed on this program last week, and I was glad to have that interview. I mistakenly said that she gave a deposition but what happened was the case was settled before she was able to testify. Julie Roginsky, Matt Lewis, and James Rosen, thanks very much for joining us this Sunday.

After the break, a bizarre spat between anchors over just how much money NBC paid Donald Trump, and Mike Huckabee coming up in moments. Then why did the New York Times rain on Serena Williams' parade by devoting an article to what it called her bulky, less than feminine physique.


KURTZ: Donald Trump told me in our interview a couple weeks back that he understated his net worth. And this week he filed a disclosure saying he's worth more over $10 billion to be exact, and here's an eye-popping figure, over 14 years of the Apprentice says Trump, NBC paid him $213 million.
That touched off a bizarre and very heated argument between two MSNBC Hosts, Joe Scarborough, and Lawrence O'Donnell, who has experience has a Producer on NBC's the West Wing. Here's how it went down.


JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: And if you look and see what his salary is from NBC...

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC: That's a complete total lie. Let me explain something to you, Donald Trump didn't even make $1 million for his first year.

SCARBOROUGH: You are so out of bounds saying that Donald Trump makes
$1 million on one of the most successful prime time shows. It's hilarious.

O'DONNELL: This has been a declining show. It had two good years at the beginning. It's been declining ever since.

SCARBOROUGH: You can keep rambling and being condescending as you want, Lawrence.


KURTZ: And that got ugly. You they were arguing about Iranian nukes, but this wasn't just television stick, Morning Joe, took a shot a O'Donnell's
10 p.m. show, saying maybe such screaming happens in prime time television but we don't do it here. And O'Donnell took the Twitter writing: Note to Morning Joe, try to reserve all your inaccurate descriptions of what I said to what I'm actually still on your set to correct you.

But wait, the story gets even weirder, Trump himself called in during a break and offered to bet O'Donnell a year's salary that his Apprentice numbers were accurate. O'Donnell delivered his answer that night.


O'DONNELL: So no, Donald there won't be any bet because I would never bet about anything. I might be wrong. I have never said I know exactly how much Donald Trump made for the entire series. I don't know.
Now, I am really sorry that I wasted the time that should have been focused on what April Ryan had to say.


KURTZ: I'm glad Lawrence calmed down and chose to apologize. Bottom line, media still buzzing about Trump again, by the way Trump called into ABC and to Fox this morning about the John McCain comments, he does say, yes McCain was a war hero but doesn't take back the comments, he doesn't back off, he doesn't retreat. He refused several questions and opportunities to apologize. All right, ahead on Media Buzz, Former NBC Anchor Campbell Brown says there aren't two sides to every story, and that's why she's becoming an advocate.

But first, Former Governor Mike Huckabee on whether the press is pigeon holing him as the social issues candidate.


KURTZ: Mike Huckabee was the surprise story of the 2008 campaign, after largely being written off by the press. Now the Former Arkansas Governor after a stint at Fox News is mounting his second White House campaign. I sat down with him here in Washington.


KURTZ: Mike Huckabee, welcome.

MIKE HUCKABEE, 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Howard, great to be here.

KURTZ: You talk about how you've been working since you were 14, and you talk to people in kitchens when you're out in the campaign, you've worked some jobs yourself like chick filet, but do the media pigeon hole you as a social issues candidate?

HUCKABEE: Well, I think they may try to. The people who hear me talk know that's not true, because it's not the issues that I focus on when I'm out there on the campaign trail. I don't feel like I have to prove my bonafides on the issues of -- maybe sanctity of life or same-sex marriage or any of those issues, because people know that I've been pretty clear, pretty bold, and pretty consistent. So I spent most of my time talking about the issues of bringing a real sense of economic empowerment to people who have just been beaten down by a system that makes it really hard to climb up the ladder through the middle class.

KURTZ: But same sex marriage we've seen to be a prominent exception to that, because after the Supreme Court ruling, you said I will not acquiesce to an imperial court, you said we must reject judicial tyranny. I know you talked about having branches of government, but it sounded to some people like you're just not going to accept the ruling by the high court.

HUCKABEE: Well, I think what all of us should do is accept the constitutional form of government that has three branches equal to each other, and the court can't make a law. Congress has to make a law. The President has to sign it. It has to be enforced by the President. The courts can interpret a law, they can declare something to be unconstitutional, but they don't get the power to write what constitutional law is.

KURTZ: So you don't feel that all of the states now have an obligation -- a legal obligation to follow the Supreme Court ruling and grant marriage licenses to people of the same-sex.

HUCKABEE: Well, it depends if their legislature enable that to happen. In a lot of states you don't have the language written into the statutory authority of that state to carry those things out. And until someone has decided in the other two branches that's in fact the correct interpretation of the constitution, if you let the judicial branch have carte blanch and let them just decide something, in this case a very political ruling, not really a legal one, and that's coming from the four descending opinions that were brutal in their assessment of this, then what you have is the practice of judicial supremacy.

KURTZ: In 2008, and I wrote about this at the time, you got almost no attention from mainstream press right up until shortly before Iowa caucus, which you of course won. This time around and it seems like you're not getting as much attention. More crowded field sure, but do you see a pattern?

HUCKABEE: Well, I think there is a certain media narrative. The media decides this guy is -- for reasons that don't necessarily make sense to the voter and certainly not to the candidates. But look, its way it is. I can complain about it. But the best thing to do is to go out and win, because when you start winning, then it's hard to be ignored.

KURTZ: Another thing you have done is to go out and do a lot of interviews, in contrast to for example Hillary Clinton who has done one national TV interview so far. Do you think it's important for candidates to sit down in these kinds of sessions?

HUCKABEE: You know, Howard, I think if person -- nobody should be President if they're unwilling to answer the questions and not just the press questions. I think you have to go out there and take unfiltered questions from unemployed truck drivers and from housewives and from people who have been hit by Obamacare, or maybe somebody who lost their job as a welder. These are real people that you're asking to give you the highest office in the land. And I think this phony let's get a group of carefully selected people to ask pre-selected questions that ought to be rejected out of hand. I think the best thing, media should say we're not going to cover any candidate who is so pretentious as to think that they can script their campaign like it's a Hollywood sitcom.

KURTZ: Anti-trust violation if we all got together and decided that. It's not just the liberal media narrative about you. You get criticism. The National Review says you're running a vanity campaign, it doesn't like the fact that you about protecting entitlement programs, talk too much about poverty and you sound like a Liberal.

HUCKABEE: The funnies thing when someone says a vanity campaign, I don't think Huckabee's serious, I think he's doing this because he wants to get a television show, he wants a book deal, and he wants to help his speeches.
And I'm thinking are you people nuts? I had a television show, I had a book deal, and I was doing all of the speeches I could possibly squeeze into my calendar. I walked away from an incredibly healthy income in order to run for President, because I really believe that this country needs experienced leadership, but not just the kind of blind partisan, I'll do what the party expects me to do, but leadership that says let's let the rising tide float the boats of all Americans. That's the kind of background that I had as a Governor in Arkansas. I'm convinced it's the kind of leadership that America needs right now.

KURTZ: You had a show here on Fox. I know your profile compared to when you ran the first time. But do you like journalists personally? Do you think they've been fair to you?

HUCKABEE: Over all they have. Look, take 100 and I could find ten or a dozen that probably weren't really fair. That's life. There are some voters out there that don't like me either. My gosh Howard, there are some people in my own family that don't like me on any given day.

KURTZ: As long as we're honest about it.

HUCKABEE: That's part of the process. I've always said if you can't stand the sight of your own blood then for heaven's sakes don't run for public office. This is a brutal experience and it's not for the faint of heart.

KURTZ: In every interview lately people ask you what about Donald Trump?
You say he doesn't need any more publicity, but given the extent to which Trump right now is kind of dominating the campaign debate and media debate and maybe that's on us, don't you have to kind of get in the rhetorical arena with him?

HUCKABEE: No, I absolutely do not. He has a campaign. I have a campaign.
This is like Olympic swimming. Everyone has a lane. If you want to win in the Olympics, you better swim in your own lane. You get in someone else's lane, both of you are disqualified. The last thing I need to do is to worry about what Donald Trump, or Jeb Bush, or Marco Rubio, or Rick Santorum or anybody else is saying, because honestly, it doesn't affect what I'm going to say, it doesn't drive my message, and I'm not going to change my message because somebody else is saying either different than me or maybe saying something they stole from me, which by the way there are a few of those lines out there too.

KURTZ: Political plagiarism. I'm shocked. Let me go back to one your greatest hits, at one point you kind of took on Beyonce for saying she was too sexually suggestive, and Jay-Z is a pimp for exploiting his wife as a sex object. When you were asked about it, you said well that's just half a page in my book. By putting it in there, you knew that would draw a lot of attention.

HUCKABEE: Actually I didn't. Honestly, there were things in that book that I thought were going to be controversial and I made a list of eight or nine things that I thought were really going to blow up and be controversial. Amazingly, those did not turn out to be the controversial points. The brief reference to Beyonce, it never occurred to me that that was going such a media firestorm.

KURTZ: You were Governor for 10 1/2 years. At that time overwhelming Democratic legislature, and yet the media are so focused these days on what's hot now, the latest rhetoric and you respond to this, can you respond to that, but I wonder if that message of what you did and what you think you accomplished in Arkansas, can you even get through the static.

HUCKABEE: At some point it will, because people ultimately are hiring somebody to be President. And I think when you hire somebody, maybe the first thing that gets your attention will be the more outrageous things, the sexy things if you will. But then when you really get to the point of saying ok, we have to make the decision, who do we hire? You really want to know, can this person do the job? Has this person ever done a job like this before? Does this person have the capacity to lead?

KURTZ: Do you miss having a TV show?

HUCKABEE: I do. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I'll tell you how I tell people, I said I've been a candidate for office that's really hard work. I've held office and governed a challenging state that was amazingly hard work. Then I spent the last 6 1/2 years talking about people who run for office and held office and to be honest with you, that was the easiest job I ever had, and it paid better than anything I've ever done in my life. I loved it. I miss it. If I was doing what was comfortable and what was lucrative, I would have stayed. But I really feel like our country is in trouble. I have five grandkids now. And I don't want to be one of those guys that ended up with a comfortable life for myself at the expense of my grandkids.

KURTZ: Mike Huckabee thanks very much for joining us.

HUCKABEE: Thank you, Howard.


KURTZ: TV, the easiest job he ever had. After the break, Campbell Brown has Presidential Contenders like Jeb Bush lined up to talk about education reform now that she made the leap from TV Anchor to Advocate, and later, the New York Times getting whacked for asking people tennis players about the shape of their bodies.


KURTZ: Campbell Brown seemed fed up with television when she quit after a 15-year career with NBC and CNN. She's just launched a new site to push education reform, called the 74 But is it news? I spoke to her earlier from New York.


KURTZ: Campbell Brown, welcome.

CAMPBELL BROWN, FORMER NETWORK ANCHOR: Hey it's great to be here. It's good to see you. I wish it was in person.

KURTZ: Me too. Let's start with your decision five years ago to leave a prime time CNN show, you said that you just couldn't compete in the ratings against Bill O'Reilly and at the time Keith Altman, was that frustrating for you?

BROWN: Of course it was. Life is an evolution. And I think my career in television certainly was. And I loved very much being a reporter. And what I struggled with when I became an anchor and certainly when I was doing the show at CNN was how ratings driven it was, and how it's almost impossible not to get caught up in that. And I remember my staff looking at the ratings every day when they came out at 4:00 and being either demoralized or so excited based on that number. And it's almost impossible for that number sometimes to not drive editorial decisions and that was frustrating. That took the joy out of doing journalism.

KURTZ: And do you thank that produced a very polarized environment in cable news?

BROWN: Well, I think it pushes you to do things that aren't very worthwhile or beneficial more generally. We end up covering a lot more celebrity scandal or crime than is necessary or we should be, because it gets a pop. It makes ratings go up. The shouting matches always give you a boost. So people drive us toward more confrontational style interviews and you don't get the opportunity to be as thoughtful.

KURTZ: In that case, let me shout at you, let me shout this next question at you. You spent much of your career at NBC, you were the top substitute on NBC Nightly News, and do you think the network was tarnished by the whole Brian Williams mess?

BROWN: Well look, I have so many friends there because I worked there for
11 years, and so it was heartbreaking for me to talk to them because it was so hard what they were going through. But, no, over the long run there are great journalists there. Lester Holt who has taken over Nightly News with my co-anchor on Weekend Today for a very long time, he's an outstanding journalist and a dear, dear friend and an amazing person. And so putting him in that role I think will quiet things down and stabilize the ship so to speak. They couldn't have made a better choice. And so I think people are moving on already.

KURTZ: Now that you've dotted into education reform, you've started this website, do you feel liberated from the constraints of journalism?


KURTZ: How does that feel, Campbell?

BROWN: It feels great. And I think more people should try it. I've been having this debate with a lot of people around this new role I've taken because prior to launching the 74, I was working more on the advocacy side around education issues. And so I get asked a lot are you an advocate now or a journalist? I have found having come from that old school journalism background where I was hired by Tim Russert and mentored by Tom Brokaw, and we were very much at the mindset that there are two sides to every story and the reporter's role is potentially to play referee, whereas now, I feel like journalism, we lost a lot of credibility with the audience over the years. And they don't really believe that we can be truly objective. And I frankly don't believe that's really possible. We all come to every story with our own life experience which creates a certain bias for us all, and maybe it's better to be honest about your bias and your positions and the opinions you have when you go into a story and if we were, I think that could go a long way to restoring our credibility with the audience who doesn't buy the objectively line anyway.

KURTZ: Well, I mean one of the stories on your website and you were hiring journalists for this site, no one knows how Hillary Clinton will govern on education. The American Federation of Teachers is endorsing her anyway and you have clashed with the teachers union. But you also write that you've learned -- you say I've learned that not every story has two sides. Is that really true or is that more of an advocate's point of view?

BROWN: No. I'll give you an example. It was a story that bought me into education as an issue that I became very passionate about in the first place. And it was a story read in the Daily News about 14 teachers who had found guilty of sexual misconduct with kids who kept their jobs. Who could argue that that's a good thing? And that exists, that problem, because of a law on the books in New York that protects teachers and prevents them from being removed from the classroom. In my mind, that's crazy and it's impossible for anyone to argue that that's ok. And yet when I wrote something about that or spoke up about it, there's a special interest group with a lot of power in this country and they went crazy. Sometimes in journalism we defer and we're afraid to take positions when we see situations like that, and I think that false equivalency really hurts us in our credibility and that when there's a clear moral issue at stake, we should speak out about it, especially when it involves children.

KURTZ: Well, you're certainly speaking out now and a lot of people think journalists should be more open about their bias, and now you have the opportunity to push your cause. Campbell Brown, thanks very much for joining us.

BROWN: It's great to be here. Good to see you.


KURTZ: Campbell Brown. Coming up, does the New York Times have a problem with Serena Williams and other female tennis stars for not looking feminine enough?


KURTZ: The day before Serena Williams won Wimbledon, the New York Times ran a piece focusing on her large biceps and mold-breaking muscular frame, in contrast to say the somewhat skinny Maria Sharapova and suggesting that, "Perceived ideal feminine body type can seem at odds with the best physique for tennis success." This was a job for Tamara Holder, Fox News Contributor and Host of Fox's online show Sports Court from New York.


KURTZ: Tamara Holder, welcome.

TAMARA HOLDER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks for having me, Howie.

KURTZ: I say here's my opening serve, should the New York Times have published this piece questioning whether muscular tennis players like Serena are in odds with the feminine body image?

HOLDER: Well, look it's free speech. The New York Times can post whatever they want, but it's a little ridiculous because -- I don't know, I think we're in 2015, and women have rights and they can have as muscular arms as they want, or be as thin as they want. It's pretty -- I don't know, just tragic of this newspaper that's read by millions of people to target Serena and her buff arms as if it's something so bad.

KURTZ: Right. And one of the things I liked about the piece is that Serena Williams and other players were interviewed, Serena saying that she's now comfortable with her physique and another player Andrea Petkovic says doesn't like some of the arm-bulging pictures of herself because I just feel unfeminine she says. So I guess some professional female athletes are somewhat conflicted on this question.

HOLDER: Well, look people don't like Kim Kardashian's bulging buttocks, and yet she sells millions of books, she is one of the most photographed, and admired beautiful women on the planet.

KURTZ: She's on the cover of Rolling Stone.

HOLDER: Right, right. At the end of the day -- and I believe her large breasts, bulging breasts, if you will are what is out there. So bulging body parts on women is actually a really good thing, and last I checked, men really like that. I don't think that there's anything wrong. You know these European tennis players who are making these comments like Agnieszka Radwanska says that she wants to be thin and she wants to look like a woman. Well, that's great but you're not number one in the world, so maybe you should pump some iron, I don't know.

KURTZ: Yeah well that's the thing is I understand this kind of piece is a good talker but these are athletes who are supposed to be trying to win championships, not be professional models, right?

HOLDER: Right and a lot of it is you have genetics on one hand, and then you also have training style on the other hand, and what works for you.
There are plenty of people who are built very slimly and, you know, Serena also is -- Serena's arms are compared to Michelle Obama's, Michelle Obama isn't an athlete and is known for beautiful arms.

KURTZ: Let me just in the brief time we have left. You're not shy of posting pictures of yourself on instagram in a sports bra or bikini. Do you think the media is too hung up on this question of how much skin that female athletes or celebrities or journalists show?

HOLDER: I don't know if it's the media or if it's people, the right wing, who get so upset about how much a woman shows. At the end of the day sex sells. Different body styles for different people, and, you know, I think women are beautiful. We should embrace our curves, and the more curves the merrier.

KURTZ: Tamara Holder embracing her curves. Thanks so much for swatting it around with us today.

HOLDER: Thank you.


KURTZ: Still to come, your top tweets. My take on why the media are now savaging Donald Trump and Gawker does something extremely rare, spiking a sex story after an outcry.


KURTZ: The gossipy website Gawker facing a storm of criticism has taken down a major news story for the first time not tied to legal or factual reasons. Gawker had reported that a top media executive, who I won't name, brother of a former Obama administration official, had agreed to pay a gay porn star 2,500 for an encounter before backing out. Founder Nick Denton says the point of the story was not in my view sufficient to offset the embarrassment to the subject and his family, a candid admission and a blow against pointless salaciousness.

All right time for your top tweets, was Major Garrett or President Obama over the line on that question about being content with American hostages remaining in Iran?

Mama for Obama 1, Major Garrett was way over the line, insulting and disrespectful in an attempt to be provocative, made himself the story.

Gary R, it was fair question. This is what happens when you have a president who isn't used to be being challenged by the media.

David B. Cohen: Neither was over the line. Garrett was right to ask the question and POTUS had the right to act indignant.

Finally, the art of the insult has always worked for Donald Trump, a product of New York's tabloid culture. If he's picking on Rosie O'Donnell or Jerry Seinfeld, the Donald grabs headlines, everybody gets the game.
But now that he's a Presidential Candidate, Trump is often is his own worst enemy. It's one thing to say Rick Perry should get new glasses, another to make light of the captivity of John McCain who was tortured as a Vietnam POW. Now the media have been embarrassingly dismissive of Trump as he shot to the top of the polls, but this kind of misfire gives ammunition to the pundits who view Trump as an unguided missile, and one who never apologizes.

Today at least, the journalists are really turning on Trump and poking them in the eye isn't going to solve the Donald's problem. That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. Thanks for watching. We hope you'll go to our Facebook page, and give us a like. We'll post a lot of original content there and we respond to your Buzz. Send me an e-mail at We are back here next Sunday as we are every Sunday, 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern, with the latest Buzz.

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