Donald Trump's massive media blitz; media mark Sanders surge

He keeps hitting rivals and the press


This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," August 16, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter from Los Angeles this Sunday, political anger rising as Donald Trump along with his supporters keeps ripping the media, including Fox News and his rivals while the pundits debate whether he's soaring or sinking.


DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Rand Paul, you have to understand, is a disaster in the polls.

Everybody that puts money up for Jeb Bush is like he's a puppet. He's totally controlled by these people.

It's been brutal, it's been brutal for Hillary. And I think at some point she perhaps not going to be able to run. She's going to have to end her campaign.

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Anger is not a sufficient qualification for President. This was a turning point in the beginning of the decline for Donald Trump.

ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: This is incredible what Donald Trump is doing. He has an army behind him.


KURTZ: Why does television news keep giving Trump endless air time for phone interviews? And why did the Presidential debate cause such a firestorm?

Hillary Clinton turns over her private email server in the face of an FBI investigation. Is the Trump phenomenon overshadowing her problems as well?


MIKE BARNICLE, JOURNALIST: Hillary Clinton's issue certainly involves the emails but in the larger sense, it involves what it regurgitates within the voting public about the Clintons that there's always something there with them.

ERIC BOLLING, HOST: I think she's done. I think these email scandals -- and they're going to find things on there that may or may not be top secret.


KURTZ: And the media suddenly fascinated by Bernie Sanders' big crowds, and more chatter that Joe Biden may jump into the race, even Al Gore. Well, that's not happening. Isn't this getting a little farfetched? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."

Television producers usually hate long phone interviews because, well, there's nothing for viewers to look at. But they are tossing out that rule for Donald Trump when the past seven days has called into four Sunday shows, the "Today Show," "Morning Joe," "Fox & Friends," Lou Dobbs, CNN's "New Day," along with an on camera sit-down with Sean Hannity. And even Hillary Clinton has gotten into the game.


HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And while what Donald Trump said about Megyn Kelly is outrageous, what the rest of the Republicans are saying about all women is also outrageous.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Hillary said your comments about women were offensive. What's your reaction to that?

TRUMP: Well, I think I'll do more for women. I cherish women. I think I'll do more for women than Hillary can ever do.


KURTZ: Despite media predictions that Trump would be damaged by the acrimonious aftermath of last weeks Fox debate, he's still confounding the pundits, still riding high in the polls prompting some Republican rivals to deflect media questions about Trump, while others are happy to whack him.


BOLLING: Senator, one of the lines that jumped out of your piece was "We don't need another bully. We don't need a bully."

TRUMP: You look at a guy like Rand Paul, he's failing in the polls, he's weak on the military, and he's pathetic on military. I mean here's a guy -- called me a year ago let's play golf. Can we go and play golf?


KURTZ: And Trump said he beat him at golf.

Well, joining us now here in Los Angeles, Rick Grenell, a Fox News Contributor and former Bush administration spokesman; in New York, Julie Roginsky, a Democratic strategist, also a Fox News contributor, and in Washington, Bob Cusack, editor in chief of The Hill.

So Trump in Iowa yesterday giving interviews on his airplane, on his helicopter. One of the airborne sessions was with NBC's Chuck Todd who asked him about his plan to go in and seize ISIS' oil. He asked how many ground troops that would involve, 25,000 perhaps. Trump deflected that question and then we had this exchange.


CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Who do you talk to for military advice right now?

TRUMP: Well, I watch the shows. I really see a lot of great -- when you watch your show and all of the other shows and you have the generals.


KURTZ: Rick Grenell, does that sort of answer or when Trump deflects policy questions, does the media really care about his policy positions?

RICHARD GRENELL, Fox NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think they should right now, it's a little bit of a circus atmosphere in that they are rushing to talk about Trump and the brand of Trump and the pushback that he keeps giving. And it's clearly good television because he attacks individuals, and so what I think Trump has to do is begin to talk about policy in specific tones, the fact that he's watching Meet the Press for some sort of national security advice or military information is really embarrassing. I think this is where Trump is going to begin to unravel.


KURTZ: I have heard pundits saying that now for weeks and weeks and he's not unraveling.

GRENELL: Well -- look, I think that he's still got time. It's still in the honeymoon phase. We're just getting to Iowa. The Iowa State Fair is a circus. So certainly we have time.

KURTZ: The circus is hard to dispute. This was a policy laden interview, Julie Roginsky on Meet the Press. Trump again said he would basically deport all 11 million illegal immigrants from this country and then bring them back but he's not going to break up the families. He doesn't talk about how much this would cost. But Chuck Todd tried. So are media here kind of surrendering to politics of personality?

JULIE ROGINSKY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: They're surrendering to politics of ratings. None of us call in to the show, right? He can call in because he brings in the ratings. And that's the bottom line for media, whether it's TV ratings or whether if he sells newspapers. So the media is surrendering to the fact that you have a celebrity running who attracts eyeballs to their brand and so therefore it's a symbiotic relationship which is good for both.

KURTZ: Bob Cusack, surrendering to the politics of ratings and clicks I would add, because Trump always generates controversy and traffic and he knows it.

BOB CUSACK, THE HILL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Yeah. He knows it and that's why reporters like to cover Trump because he gives them copy. He gives them ratings. He's interesting whatever you think of him. The helicopter ride yesterday, he goes after politicians in a way that politicians don't go after one another. So it's -- he's bringing in an audience that is just not there before. As an example, my 15 year old watched the debate. He has never watched any other debate but he watched because of Donald Trump.

KURTZ: Your 15 year old had plenty of company as about 24 million people watched that debate in Cleveland. Now, Trump also taking his shots at the media and the fact that he and Fox News have been at it since that debate in Cleveland, he's gotten an enormous amount of attention. Trump brought this up yesterday in Iowa. Let's take a look.


TRUMP: This last thing with Fox, I mean, I love Roger Ailes but all you have to do is ask Roger Ailes who won.


KURTZ: All right, there have been a lot of rumor stories taking around taking that Trump line that Fox News somehow gave in to Donald Trump. What I've been able to piece together is it was a classic truce. Neither side apologized. Nobody won. Nobody lost. People say he got an hour on Hannity show. By the way, 11 other Republican Presidential candidates have gotten a full hour show on Hannity this year. There was a difficult conversation, my sources saying on Monday when Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes told Trump in a phone conversation Ailes was not happy about the fact that Trump had gone on MSNBC and said again that Megyn Kelly should apologize to him for asking tough questions at that debate, and Ailes said if you want to go to war, we can go to war. Neither side wanted that war. It seemed like everybody was moving on until Friday. And it was on Friday, a couple days after Megyn Kelly left on a preplanned family vacation that Trump said in an interview that he possibly caused that vacation. That prompted a pretty tough statement from Fox News defending Megyn Kelly again, calling this a UFO conspiracy theory, saying Trump and his operatives were being wildly irresponsible and downright bizarre. Bob Cusack, does Trump hurt himself by continuing -- it's now nine, ten days after the debate to talk about Megyn Kelly?

CUSACK: Yeah. I think that he should move on. Like any good boss, Roger Ailes defends his employees. And you thought you had this truce and then Trump couldn't help himself. But reframe the whole debate, so I just think it's a distraction where he's not talking about things he wants to talk about like China, like the wall and Mexico, I think it would be best if he did not do that. I think he did well in the debate. But then his fight with Megyn Kelly was a bit of a distraction.

KURTZ: Some other Fox folks speaking out. Democratic Strategist and Fox News Contributor, Joe Trippi tweeted this. We have that we can put up. Maybe Trump wants to be President of a cable network. Everyone vacations in August. That's why I'm out here in L.A. Rick Grenell, your take?

GRENELL: Look, I think this is where Trump really begins to lose it. He has some great points about Washington being a problem and politicians being people that we can't relate to. But when you immediately start acting like you're on the Apprentice, while running for President of the United States, this is a problem. You look at how he would be viewed around the world with this type of attitude. You have to get people to follow you. This whole I won, you lost mentality is terrible and so juvenile that this is where people look at Trump and they say the entertainment is now going to stop because we have to get serious about electing a President.

KURTZ: Julie, there's a new Fox News poll out today still shows Trump with a pretty healthy lead, 25 points nationally among likely Republican voters. The next closest candidate is Ben Carson with 12 percent. It shows that he's down among women by 3 percent. We can see how significant that is. And then in the debate, the most people thought that Donald Trump won the debate, but also about a third or 30 percent thought that Trump lost the debate. So my question is -- moving aside from individual surveys, aren't the media now finally waking up to the fact that they underestimated Trump, that he is striking a cord, and there's a lot of anger out there, wasn't this a pretty big failure on the part of the press?

ROGINSKY: Yeah, you know the media especially the Beltway Media and New York Beltway Corridor takes itself very seriously, and this has shown all of us that the Presidential campaign has essentially devolved into a reality show. Donald Trump is nothing more than a reality star who has now taken his reality act to electing the leader of the free world, which is pathetic and I think the media did not want to acknowledge that. In fact, that's what the summer of 2015 is. I don't think that's what the summer of 2016 will be about, it's certainly not what the fall of 2016 will be about.

KURTZ: Wait a second, Julie. You say it's pathetic. Your side is loving this. Liberal commentators love that we're in the summer of Trump, and in fact they are trying to cast Donald Trump as the face of the Republican Party, saying he may be more blunt and brash but he -- I'm not buying that. That he represents what Republicans stand for.

ROGINSKY: There's no question whatsoever the Democrats are loving this. There's no question the Clinton campaign is loving this because it takes attention away from other issues. But I will say that from a press perspective, the press again continues to believe this is a serious enterprise and they don't understand what's become of the American public, which is that they have now started treating this campaign like a reality program, and in fact that's a sad statement as to what politics has devolved into in our country in 2015.

KURTZ: But why would it be sad, Bob Cusack, if in fact he is the Republican front runner, he is making all kinds of news, yes a lot of it is conflict and conflict sells. I think journalists -- you can be candid here don't want this to end any time soon.

CUSACK: Yeah -- no, I think there's no doubt about it. We'll never forget this summer. Whatever happens from this point on, but reporters are pressing Donald Trump on policy. You have to respect the fact that he is the front runner. That's why he's getting so much coverage because he is entertaining, but because he has this solid 20 percent. Whether that he can grow that to 30 or 40, I'm not so sure. But if you compare it to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump said this yesterday, Hillary Clinton is not doing a lot of national interviews. Donald Trump is doing interviews on a daily basis multiple times.

KURTZ: Hillary Clinton has done one national interview on CNN. We'll talk about that later. And look, the more the media criticizes Trump, dismiss him, ridicule him, and challenge him on policy, the better he seems to do because then we become a foil he hits back at journalists. All right, let me get a break here. Remember to send me a tweet @HowardKurtz. I'm sure a lot of opinions out there about this.

Ahead on Media Buzz from Los Angeles, is the press now talking up Bernie Sanders because it's fed up with Hillary Clinton? But when we come back, Hillary's email mess gets worse. So was the New York Times right all along?


KURTZ: Hillary Clinton's email mess hit the headlines this week with the discovery of top secret material in a couple of her private exchanges, pushing the story back on the network newscast.


DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS: The race for 2016 and the firestorm growing for Hillary Clinton tonight. Mrs. Clinton now reversing course, turning over that home server after insisting she would not.

LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS: Hillary Clinton's campaign is in damage control mode this evening as the FBI takes possession of her private email server.


KURTZ: Julie, the media giving Hillary Clinton a very tough time on this email story. But given the fact that she portrayed this as voluntarily turning over her server when the FBI already asked for it and insisted there was -- originally insisted there was no classified material on any of her email, isn't this coverage deserved?

ROGINSKY: It is deserved. And it's entirely self-inflicted by Hillary Clinton. First of all, it continues to be a puzzle to me as to why she acted the way she did with the server in the first place. Secondly, I'm incredibly puzzled as to why she's had the treatment of the media that she's had since her announcement, and so she has nobody to blame but herself for the problems that she's encountering with the media. When you shun the media, when you refuse to do interviews, when you treat the media as though they are there to coronate you and not to interview you, and you do something that you should not have done in the first place, which is put your public emails on a private server, you've got really nobody to blame but yourself when the firestorm erupts.

KURTZ: Right. In Iowa, Hillary Clinton made a joke about how she likes using Snapchat because the messages just disappear. But I don't think the joke is going to wish this story away. Rick Grenell, are the media drawing too much of a straight line however, between this obvious debacle over the private email and the problems that she's having in the polls with her Presidential campaign.

GRENELL: I don't think so. And I think you have to look at the media in two different ways. The serious national security media who are looking at the details of the server and what she did with classified information, only having one email account, and saying that she didn't send or receive any classified information, that is not accurate. You can't do your job as Secretary of State if you're not dealing in classified information. But political reporters are playing into the fact that Hillary Clinton is trying to throw this whole thing into politics. The comment about Snapchat yesterday and laughing and yucking it up is a way to give red meat to the liberals to say here they go again. They're just coming after me. This is all politics and she's going to try to deflect this. But serious journalists are going to have to look at the details. When the FBI gets involved, we have got a problem.

KURTZ: Her campaign also put out a lengthy statement calling this nonsense. At the very least we have a federal investigation of the handling of the private email. Bob Cusack, Hillary -- that Fox News poll I mentioned earlier just out today, she's got a 19-point national lead over Bernie Sanders in the poll, although that's down ten percent from where she was in a previous poll. So my question is, as serious a story as this is and it deserves a lot of coverage, it's been a little overshadowed I think by Trump, is the press overreacting by practically portraying Hillary's campaign as being in free-fall?

CUSACK: Well, political reporters love a race. There's no doubt about it. And there's more of a race on the Republican side than the Democratic side. But these negative headlines have certainly hurt her numbers and they're not going to stop any time soon. So that's why I think you have gotten lot of coverage of Bernie Sanders, and remember Bernie Sanders doing well in a poll leading her in New Hampshire, and then Hillary Clinton did not do well in Iowa, actually finished third in 2008. There are questions. And of course a lot of Democratic insiders say there's no way that Bernie Sanders is going to be the nominee but it's a very unpredictable year.

KURTZ: Right. Washington Post story today describing Hillary's campaign, particularly handling of the email fiasco as rigid, insular, tone deaf, some of the problems she had last time. And I think the press interest in Bernie Sanders is drawing these huge crowds -- we'll talk about that later is certainly related to Hillary's problems, the sinking poll numbers and all of that. Bob Cusack, in Washington, Julie Roginsky, in New York, and Rick Grenell, here in Los Angeles, thanks very much for joining us this Sunday.

Up next, what if virtually every pundit is wrong and Donald Trump will win the Republican nomination? Veteran Journalist Jeff Greenfield makes the argument.

And later, Meghan McCain on the post-debate fallout, and what happens when women are vilified online.


KURTZ: Virtually, all the political prognosticators are united on one point, Donald Trump's surge is fascinating but of course he won't be the Republican nominee. But a contrarian piece in Politico asked what if Trump wins? Joining us now from Washington is the author, veteran network anchor, Jeff Greenfield, now a contributor to Politico and the Daily Beast.

Jeff, maybe you revised your opinion but don't ruin the premise of the segment here. What if Trump wins? Why did you feel the need to write such a thing?

JEFF GREENFIELD, POLITICO AND THE DAILY BEAST CONTRIBUTOR: I have to say that the piece was not so much what if he wins, but when and under what circumstances do voters do highly unusual, unexpected things. And that's the point. When you look in the past, you can see certain parallels when Minnesota elected an ex-pro wrestler Jesse Ventura as a third party candidate for Governor, when California called its Governor, first time it had ever done that and put in Arnold Schwarzenegger, why did they do that? They did it for a couple reasons. There was a strong amount of discontent with things as usual, and they saw something unusual. They saw a power they didn't know they had. When Ventura got enough money to put on ads, when he qualified for the debates, they suddenly realized in Minnesota, enough of them, hey we can do this. When the recall of Governor Gray Davis actually made the ballot, thanks to a multimillionaire congressman who himself wanted to be governor, the voters said wait, we don't like this governor. We're ticked off at the electricity rates, and the auto licenses, we can do something about it. Not only that, my point is...

KURTZ: Ok, so you have all of these very smart political reporters and analysts and commentators, and bloviators, and they are united in the belief that Donald Trump is not going to be the Republican nominee. They know this history that you laid out as well as anybody. It's a problem that they don't talk to voters enough or tuned into the fact that the usual rules might be shattered in this cycle?

GREENFIELD: That's the key. For what it's worth, I don't think he's going to be the Republican nominee. But I think there is a plausible possibility, which I certainly didn't think when he first got into this. And that is because within the Republican Party, there is a strain that you can't call conservative because in a lot of ways Donald Trump isn't. A strain of outright anger, the conviction that the whole political process is corrupt so that all of the things that many of us, myself included, thought would kill Trump, turns out to be not above but a feature. He speaks off the top of his head. It's better than prepared speeches by people who are paid to do it. Does he fight back? Does he hit back at people or even instigate fights? Gee, a lot of people said I wish I had the power to say that to my boss or my family member or one-time friend. He says what I want to say. That's what a lot of us miss that had it had much more political potency. I still don't think it's going to lead to him being the nominee, but it's something we have to keep in mind.

KURTZ: Very visceral. What do you make of the whole dustup between Donald Trump and Fox News which got new life when Trump claimed credit for Megyn Kelly going on vacation despite the fact that this was a preplanned family vacation, and then Fox put out a very tough statement calling Trump's comments irresponsible?

GREENFIELD: It's fascinating. I should say at the outset that the same three Fox anchors that angered some of your viewers, they did same thing four years ago to the Republican candidates, as they should. And my feeling is that for some Fox viewers, its success comes by saying we're the people who will tell you what the rest of the world rule, we'll give you the way of the world that won't be distorted. We'll be the fair and balanced ones. But for some of Fox's viewers, I think they see Fox frankly as like home team announcers. They don't expect Fox people to be tough on Republicans. You are supposed to be tough on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. And the split between conservatives, many of whom -- apoplectic, read the Commentary Magazine, Weekly Standard, National View, they're the most vigorous critics of Trump and then you have other people who are watching Fox saying what are you doing to my team?

KURTZ: Right, got to wrap it up. But I'll tell you, having sat through the debate prep in Cleveland, Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier, and Chris Wallace are no home team announcers, they are tough on everybody. Appreciate your perspective, Jeff Greenfield. Thanks for joining us this Sunday.


KURTZ: Ahead from Los Angeles, one poll shows Bernie Sanders ahead of Hillary in New Hampshire. Is the press now feeling the burn?

But first, Rich Lowry says Trump is the biggest whiner in politics and the Donald pleads guilty. Lowry and Leslie Marshall will join us next.


KURTZ: Some of the harshest criticism of Donald Trump has come from conservative commentators. National Review editor Rich Lowry pronounced Donald the most fabulous whiner in all of American politics, writing that Trump acts like a spoiled child. CNN's Chris Cuomo put that question to the bombastic billionaire.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN: One of the columnists Rich Lowry says that you are the most fabulous whiner in the world.

TRUMP: Well, I think he's probably right. I am the most fabulous whiner. I do whine because I want to win. And I'm not happy if I'm not winning. I am a whiner. And I'm a whiner and I keep whining and whining until I win.


KURTZ: Joining us now from Stamford, Connecticut is Rich Lowry, and with us here in L.A. Leslie Marshall, Radio Talk Show Host, both are Fox News Contributors. Rich, no whining in this segment, but you would think Donald Trump would hate the column that you wrote in Politico. But that wasn't his reaction.

RICH LOWRY, NATIONAL REVIEW EDITOR: Let this be a lesson to all of us, Howie. We all need to whine more I guess. You never know quite what he's going to say. And my point was his complaints about the debate are really silly. It's an iron rule of these debates, if you're the candidate who is the highest in the polls, you're going to get more scrutiny, and you're going to get tough questions. And do we really believe if Jeb Bush had ever called a woman a pig that wouldn't come up in a debate? And Trump and his fans argue the question should have been more substantive. He got several policy questions and whiffed on every single one of them. So he's whining. Maybe he's whining to win but he's certainly whining.

KURTZ: Sometimes gets lost in the chatter about Megyn Kelly's questions is she was quoting Trump's previous words. Leslie, it's kind of hard for the media to embarrass this guy. Look at the way he handled that whining column.

LESLIE MARSHALL, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Very true. Unfortunately, whining is not going to be policy and get him to win. Rich, I think this is the first time we've agreed about something and that's the whining with regard to Donald Trump.

KURTZ: We have a consensus on the set.

LOWRY: I'll have to reconsider my views now.

MARSHALL: You know Donald Trump -- we're here in L.A., right? Donald Trump is so much that celebrity, swooping in on the big helicopter. This is what people are lining up for. This is what the media is showing up with the cameras rolling for. And he's eating it up. As long as you spell his name right, it seems to benefit him unfortunately. I think it's a sad statement in our political landscape right now.

KURTZ: Rich, you say in another column -- clearly not a Trump fan, I'm going to put you down in that category, that Trump is incoherent -- your word on such issues as immigration and de-funding Planned Parenthood. But if you haven't noticed, Republican voters who like him aren't particularly hung up on the specifics of his policy approach.

LOWRY: No. No one has benefited so much from media coverage and media attention as Donald Trump. It's really the starkest demonstration of the principle that there's no such thing as bad publicity that we've ever seen. He benefits from the negative coverage. He benefits from people saying he's going to be toast as they have repeatedly and been wrong because Republicans are just so sick of our P.C. culture and our press when there are these shaming campaigns against anyone who says something controversial, and usually the target slinks away, cries, apologizes, and Trump won't do that. So every time there is a negative story, every time there is a controversy, it benefits him at least among his fans.

KURTZ: Leslie, your side of the media tries to say that Trump embodies some of the ugliness of the Republican Party. But that doesn't wash in my view because he's so different than every other candidate, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, none of them are like Trump, for good and bad.

MARSHALL: Well -- look, I think the media has made Donald Trump number one. I mean, seriously. One of the reasons the media shows up is because they want their ratings, they want to sell their newspapers and they want people to read blogs and their columns.

KURTZ: Hold on. I don't think that gives Trump enough credit. Because I often hear the media are giving him this air time and this online coverage, therefore we are responsible for Trump leading the polls. Besides the fact that the viewers get a say, Trump has media skills that compel a lot of journalists to cover him and if some of the other candidates had that, they would probably get more coverage.

MARSHALL: Well, a lot of it has to do with name recognition, that's key in an election for anybody. When people vote, it's the number one reason that somebody says I'm going to vote for this person over that is name recognition. You certainly have that. And then we have celebrity. We saw that in here California with Arnold Schwarzenegger who had absolutely zero experience and became Governor of this state.

KURTZ: And got re-elected.

MARSHALL: Absolutely. But for -- when you talk about what Donald Trump is saying, I don't think it's all of what he's saying but how he's saying it. You said this very different than the other people running. He's a real shoot from the hip, non-P.C., anti-establishment, outside the beltway guy, and that's really working for him right now.

KURTZ: People seem to like that. Rich Lowry, you talked about whining and other candidates cry or issue statements. Trump doesn't do that. The way in which he picked a fight with Fox News after that Presidential debate in Cleveland and as I mentioned, has taken various shots now and then since then, although it's largely cooled off because of a truce, do you think that helps Trump among people who don't like the media, don't like Fox, or just like to see Trump take a club and whack people?

LOWRY: I think it's mostly the latter. I think as long as he's on offense, as long as he's throwing punches, as long as he's attacking, his fans like that. Howie, I don't know whether this is a conscious strategy on his part, but he's a genius at changing the subject. After those John McCain comments, what happens? He gets up on stage. He gives out Lindsey Graham's phone number and all of a sudden McCain comments had disappeared and we're all talking about Trump giving out the phone number. Same thing with the debate, I thought his debate performance subjectively in the polls -- the internals of the polls back this up was quite poor. But the conversation after the debate wasn't about his debate performance, it was about whether the questions were fair and about his feud with Megyn Kelly so he's kind of -- inadvertently or not a genius at this.

KURTZ: That was no accident. Let me show you, Leslie, a cover in the Week Magazine about the debate that shows Megyn Kelly practically trying to choke Donald Trump. We do have Bret Baier gnawing at his leg down below. Would Tim Russert or Ted Koppel after a tough debate performance -- tough questions I mean, be depicted like that, do you think there is anything sexist in this?

MARSHALL: Yeah I do. Quite frankly she was doing her job. And I think it was appropriate that the only female on the panel would ask this question. This is one of many tough questions you're going to get when you run for President, regardless of your party and regardless of how much money you have in your bank account like he likes to remind us constantly. This cover bothers me but I'm not surprised because we see that in not just American politics, in American media, but sexism is alive and well unfortunately in 2015.

KURTZ: All right stick around, guys. We'll have another no whining segment coming up.

The tabloid headline would be socialist Sanders surges. Is the press now big on Bernie?

And later, Meghan McCain on the Trump debate fallout, and how prominent women are often targeted for online abuse.


KURTZ: Bernie Sanders is getting all kinds of positive press as he continues to draw huge crowds, 27,000 here in Los Angeles the other day, 28,000 in Portland. That has turbocharged the news stories and sheer speculation that Joe Biden may now jump into the race to challenge Hillary Clinton. And Leslie Marshall, the media led by the Wall Street Journal reporting that the vacationing Vice President talking to advisers, sounding out about a possible run, still a long shot. Isn't the press trying to draft him?

MARSHALL: I think some people are trying to draft him. The press included. It would make it more exciting. I think it would actually help Senator Bernie Sanders and it would hurt Hillary, but at the end of the day, Hillary has a campaign that not just has money but a lot of time behind it, and the question really I think that they're looking at is can in two, three, four months at the most, the vice President accomplish and take a bite out of her with all of the years quite frankly she's been planning for this run?

KURTZ: Rich Lowry -- and I didn't get the memo that you're in New York. I thought you were still in Connecticut. Is the Biden chatter -- and there's been a lot of chatter, driven by elements of the press that now fear that Hillary Clinton could be a weak nominee?

LOWRY: Well, he's certainly getting a lot of favorable coverage. I think there are two overwhelming factors there. Obviously the tragic context of his son's death and then just the most engrained and deepest bias in the media outside of ideology just wants a horserace. So of course reporters want Biden in the race. And he's also an incredibly unguarded guy in contrast with Hillary Clinton. So it would be like Christmas every day for reporters if Biden actually ran, so all of them are rooting for it.

KURTZ: Rooting for Joe. Politico had a headline. Biden said to be considering one-term presidency. This was picked up everywhere. The person saying it is CNN Contributor Carl Bernstein. It's mostly his opinion although he talked to some people around Biden, he said some say yes, some say no, so not exactly a hardened fact. Speaking of a not hardened fact, Buzz Feed had a piece saying Al Gore wanting a run or at least people around him talking about the possibility that he might jump into the campaign, although Politico then knocked that down and now the Gore campaign has pretty much denied it, your thoughts, Leslie, on the media turning to the former V.P.?

MARSHALL: To Rich's point about the horserace and wanting somebody to scream malarkey because they're not getting good enough sound bites, even from Senator Sanders. This is malarkey, ok? Al Gore is not going to run. This is almost an opinion that became complete speculation that became rumor that everybody ran with including ABC News after Buzz Feed put it out.

KURTZ: Which is embarrassing, let me get Rich in for our final few seconds. I know you would love to see Al Gore run. But it does look like this was a media-driven fantasy.

LOWRY: Probably. And on this horserace thing, there is a horserace on the Democratic side. And it is driven by Bernie Sanders. And he was widely discounted initially including by people like me. He went around the media. Generated real enthusiasm among the grassroots and I still don't think the press is taking him seriously enough. He's a real threat to Hillary in Iowa and New Hampshire and perhaps beyond.

KURTZ: Well, I agree not taking him seriously enough. And I think there needs to be more media scrutiny of his policy positions which he lays out there. Very liberal policy positions by the socialist Senator from Vermont. All right, Rich Lowry, Leslie Marshall, thanks very much for stopping by.

After the break, Meghan McCain on Donald Trump and how far is too far when women are the targets.


KURTZ: Twitter and even Facebook can turn into rough neighborhoods for people who are under attack, as we saw after last week's Fox debate. But that's especially true for women. Joining us now is the woman with some experience on that front, Meghan McCain, a Premier Network's Radio Host and Fox News Contributor. So Donald Trump's post debate comments, particularly the personal ones about Megyn Kelly, sparked a huge argument about what you can say about female journalists, women in the public arena. What's your take?

MEGHAN MCCAIN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I don't think it's a hard thing to say that maybe we shouldn't be discussing women's menstrual cycles in the media. And I thought everything Donald Trump said about Megyn Kelly was incredibly misogynistic. I host a radio show, people called in and said that I was being too sensitive. I don't think we are.

KURTZ: Trump said you're all just being too P.C., too politically correct, and I understand what you said about the personal nature of it, but isn't he as a candidate entitled to criticize a journalist who has questioned him?

MCCAIN: I thought Megyn Kelly's questions were totally in the line of reasoning and in every way conceivable. And I think that he is not ready for primetime in the sense this is the kitchen. It's going to get really hot. You're running for President of the United States of America. It's going to get a lot dirtier, you're going to have to answer a lot tougher questions than Megyn Kelly asking him about misogynistic tweets. He's the most sensitive politician -- for calling him a politician I've ever encountered in my entire life, and I just don't get it.

KURTZ: Some of the stuff posted about Megyn and others online were so vile.

MCCAIN: So vial.

KURTZ: I don't even want to reference it. But I know that occasionally you've gone into controversies and you get whacked online. So I'm wondering if you think it's -- everybody in public life has to deal with the rough neighborhoods that particularly Twitter can become, but I wonder if you think it is worse for women.

MCCAIN: I definitely think its worse for women. I think though that if you get into this job, especially working in the media, it's just something you have to accept. I speak to a lot of college students, a lot of young girls, and it's an unfortunate thing that I have to bring up to them. If you want to be a pundit, if you want to talk about politics on television, your hair, your makeup, your weight, all these things that would never be caught talked about if you're a man, are going to be discussed. And people on Twitter are brutal.

KURTZ: People are always talking about my clothes. But do you think that drives some women away from...

MCCAIN: I do. I think it silences them.

KURTZ: Political combat or journalism?

MCCAIN: I think it silences young women because if you see Megyn Kelly doing her job in every sense of the word, just asking one tough question and all the things said about her afterwards. You're a woman watching that. You don't want to do this and I understand why because sometimes it's very, very difficult.

KURTZ: I showed this cover of the Week Magazine earlier, let's take a look at it, shows Megyn Kelly practically choking or tackling Donald Trump. Do you have a problem with this cover?

MCCAIN: Yes. This is ridiculous. I don't know what the Week is. Maybe they are trying to get some publicity.

KURTZ: It's a very well-read magazine and I guess you want to have a provocative cover.

MCCAIN: Maybe I'm just not reading the Week.

KURTZ: Would a male journalist have that kind of caricature?

MCCAIN: Of course not and I think they are trying to get publicity, and I just think there is no man that would ever be characterized that had way. You think about Michele Bachmann on the cover of Newsweek Magazine looking like a crazy person. There's a long history of things like this, having to do with women, especially conservative women in the media, and I think it's a really tasteless cover.

KURTZ: Bernie Sanders weighed in on the question of sexism recently having to do with another female candidate. Let's take a listen.


JOHN DICKERSON, CBS NEWS: Did those people though who are making a link between her emails and trustworthiness, are they mistaken? Are they giving in to gossip?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me be frank and I'm running against her. Some of it is sexist. I don't know that a man would be treated the same way that Hillary is.


KURTZ: So are...

MCCAIN: Really?

KURTZ: Are the attacks on Hillary Clinton also sexist?

MCCAIN: There are some attacks historically that have been sexist towards Hillary Clinton. Any woman in public office is going to have sexist attacks against her. The email leak I don't see that at all.

KURTZ: Email leak, Clinton Foundation, all these things are legitimate and any male candidate with the same set of circumstances would be roundly criticized.

MCCAIN: Exactly. This is the problem is that when people cry sexism too quickly over things that are completely legitimate, and then people don't take anything having to do with sexism or misogyny seriously. So I don't even know what Bernie Sanders is doing right there. I never really know what Bernie Sanders is doing.

KURTZ: Meghan McCain thanks for joining us here in L.A.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

KURTZ: Still to come, your top tweets. And if Stephen Colbert's first guess of his new CBS show is any indication, he could be back in the punditry game.


KURTZ: One advantage of taking the show on the road, besides missing some cues is checking out the local media. The Los Angeles Times has been covering a local heat wave, a massive drought, and signs of an El Nino that could devastate California, how L.A. may get back not one but two NFL teams, and Governor Jerry Brown barring this blue state from describing illegal immigrants as aliens. But the most striking is the 50th anniversary of the Watts Riots in this city, and the staffer's recollection of how bad the paper's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage was back in 1965. How the pronouncements of white officials were treated without skepticism, how rioters and Negroes came to be used almost interchangeably, how the Times set a black advertising salesman into the riots because it had no black report, and the guy later wound up on skid row. Racial violence is still a problem in the age of Ferguson and Baltimore, but at least the media have made some progress on the question of diversity.

All right, time for your top tweets. Are the media being fair or unfair to Hillary on the email story?

Jim Hoffman, the leading candidate for President is under criminal investigation by the FBI. Questioning her about it is mandatory.

Amy fried, unfair as the media don't explain how Clinton got emails not classified at the time, passes along un-sourced partisan attacks.

Chris James: Media, you included, hype everything in a 24/7 news cycle, called making news, not reporting it.

Finally, Stephen Colbert feeling anxious or so he told TV critics gathered here in L.A., not because he's taking over David Letterman's show next month, but because he wants to be on the air making Trump jokes now, reducing him to what he called dry Trumping. Colbert who played a cable blowhard on Comedy Central would do less politics on CBS, but his first guest will be in addition to George Clooney, Jeb Bush and he has another dream guest in mind.


STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: This is not an invitation, Mr. Trump. This is a dare. I dare you to come on the show.


KURTZ: And hey, Trump just might do it, he does everything else. Here's hoping the real Colbert is more balanced than his clownish character who ridiculed conservatives.

Well, that's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz" from Los Angeles. I'm Howard Kurtz. Thanks for joining us. We hope you like our Facebook page, we post a lot of original content there and we respond to your videos. We are back here -- I always give the Eastern time, we're back here next Sunday morning 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern, and I should say 8 a.m. Pacific and two in the afternoon here on the West Coast. Back here. See you then with the latest Buzz.

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