Trump's war of words; Carson's dust-up with Trump

Candidate hit for crack about Carly's face


This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," September 13, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, the campaign gloves come off. Donald Trump and his rivals are throwing punches and the media can't get enough.


ANDERSON COOPER: Tonight with breaking news in words like these, "Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?"

MARTHA MACCULLUM, FOX NEWS: Now the critics are pouncing on the Donald for this off-the-cuff slam against Carly.

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: He was quoted by the Rolling Stone reporter saying Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?

CARLY FIORINA, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not going to spend a single cycle wondering what Donald Trump means.

BEN CARSON, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I haven't heard it. I haven't seen it.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know Ben Carson. He was a doctor, perhaps an ok doctor by the way.


KURTZ: But is the press spending too much time on personal attacks? We'll ask Ben Carson, the surgeon turned presidential candidate who surged to second place about that and the way he's being covered, and Laura Ingraham on why many conservative commentators are calling a Trump a counterfeit Republican.

After months of avoiding the press and dismissing the email mess, Hillary Clinton finally apologizes.


HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I should have used two accounts, one for personal, one for work related emails. That was a mistake. I'm sorry about that. I take responsibility.


KURTZ: But as her aides promised a warmer and funnier Hillary, did she go far enough in her ABC sit down?

Plus, Stephen Colbert makes his CBS debut with Joe Biden, highly emotional Joe Biden, and lots of political humor.


STEPHEN COLBERT, 'THE LATE SHOW' HOST: I promise you just like the rest of the media, I will be covering all of the presidential candidates who are Donald Trump. That's right. Donald Trump is swearing off Oreos. He claims that Mexico is taking our economy and they're ripping it in two. And they're scraping out the creamy center.


KURTZ: Will the new "Late Show" host be a political force without the fake anchor stick? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."

It keeps on happening. Donald Trump delivers an attack. The pundits say he's gone too far and until now at least he goes up in the polls. This time the target was Carly Fiorina as Trump saw her face on a TV screen and said this in front of a Rolling Stone reporter.


KELLY: He was quoted by the Rolling Stone reporter as saying "Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that the face of our next President. I mean, she's a woman and I'm not supposed to say bad things but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?" Your reaction?

FIORINA: Honestly, Megyn, I'm not going to spend a single cycle wondering what Donald Trump means but maybe, just maybe, I'm getting under his skin a little bit because I am climbing in the polls.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN: First it was Rosie than it was Megyn, and now you got Carly Fiorina. They got you in Rolling Stone Magazine making fun of the way she looks. Why do you talk about how women look so much? You know it's not presidential.

TRUMP: I'm talking about persona.

CUOMO: You said look at that face. You said look at that face.

TRUMP: The fact is that Carly Fiorina has had a terrible past. She was fired viciously from Hewlett Packard.


KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage, Sharyl Attkisson, a former CBS correspondent who is launching a Sunday show called "Full Measure" on Sinclair Television Station; Steve Hayes, senior writer at the Weekly Standard a Fox News contributor, and Dana Milbank, columnist for the Washington Post. Sharyl, are the media justified in making such a huge story about Trump's comments about Carly Fiorina's face?

SHARYL ATTKISSON, 'FULL MEASURE' HOST: Well, people are interested for sure. But I would point out that when Trump is insulted quite horribly, nobody feels sorry for him and it's not the top of the whole segment asking how he feels about it. I think Carly Fiorina probably reacted the right way and did the right thing. But Trump supporters in bigger sense don't care. They think that his intention for insulting people is outweighed by the skill set they believe he has to do the important things.

KURTZ: So it's not the usual why won't he apologize drum beat that the media often play?

ATTKISSON: Well, they know that if they do drumbeat, he's just not going to play that game.

KURTZ: Are the media buying Trump's explanation, Steve that he was talking about her persona and not her looks?

STEVE HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, no. I would say the general problem is because it's preposterous. Of course he wasn't talking about her persona. He was talking about her looks very clearly, if you read the excerpt from the Rolling Stone article. I think you saw Chris Cuomo push him a little bit on that. So you really said this was about her face. He's not being asked to apologize in the way that I think other candidates would. And it's not disqualifying in the way that it might be for other candidates for the exactly the reason that Sharyl suggests. He's done this so many times before crossing lines that I think most people think shouldn't be crossed and it helps him.

KURTZ: Trump may not have planned this attack on Carly Fiorina but he did make these comments in front of a reporter. But again, you have the chorus of pundits saying this time he's gone too far, and yet this media criticism basically seems to help him.

DANA MILBANK, THE WASHINGTON POST: I do think something is changing now though. And I think you're seeing it in -- the beginning you see in the media coverage which is reflective of how the other candidates are treating Donald Trump right now. You see Jindal, you see Carson, you see Fiorina finally saying unacceptable. And it is unacceptable. It has nothing to do with ideology or politics. You can't talk about women that way.


KURTZ: Trump says he's doing some of this as an entertainer.

MILBANK: Well, he's doing it as an entertainer and we're greatly entertained in the media, and he has been very good for our business, although I don't think we should all be giving our money to him for raising our ad rates.

KURTZ: We'll come back to that. All right, Sharyl, so Ben Carson at a Q&A in California criticizing or questioning I should say Donald Trump's faith, and Trump -- we saw a little bit of come back well, he was an ok doctor and the guys world-class neurosurgeon, for the media, big story, medium story, not a story?

ATTKISSON: I think again anything that Trump says about them or things that they say about him, seems to be an interesting story to the public and to the media. But I still say for that core group of Trump supporters, they don't care. Even if they don't like the insults that are secondary to the big things that they're desperate to get done that they feel for whatever reason only Trump can do.

HAYES: Well, the core group of Trump supporters frankly often doesn't care about very basic things like facts and reason and logic, but Ben Carson...


KURTZ: Wait. Are you saying that Trump being at 32 percent in the latest poll is a function of -- chunk of the country that's so enamored of him that they don't really care about the substance?

HAYES: Yes, sometimes I think that's true. I think for large number of Trump supporters they just don't care. And it's not that they are so enamored of Donald Trump as they are angry about the establishment, Republican establishment, Washington establishment, media establishment here. And they don't care about anything else. Their argument is look at what the establishment has delivered. Our politics is a mess. The Republican Party is meek and cowardly and Donald Trump is challenging them. And even when he breaks these traditional conventions, he does it well.

MILBANK: Here's what Donald Trump gets right. He may be a bigot, he may be a misogynist but he gets the media culture that we thrive on, conflict above everything, above party, above ideology, and he is one big ball of conflict, insulting everybody, getting into fights with everybody all the time. So of course we cover the Carson/Trump fight or Fiorina/Trump fight. It's like a heavyweight fight. We are drawn to that sort of a back and forth.

KURTZ: These are ultimately food fights but they also -- I think there must be some voters out there who say what does this have to do whether I can keep my job, whether my wife is working two part-time jobs and all of that? It's not that candidates don't talk about that but it doesn't get anywhere near the oxygen that we're talking about.

ATTKISSON: Hearing this fight goes on, I'm telling you there's a core group of people that watches that and thinks the media is treating him unfairly playing the substitution game. I know people on this panel probably don't agree. But when Trump is -- it's said about him that he didn't read the bible because he's not in it, that's a pretty big insult but nobody went to Jindal and said are you going to apologize for that, because they feel Trump deserves it is. But you know they don't necessarily feel the other candidates deserve it when they get hit by insults.

KURTZ: And Steve, you're right when you talk about anger and not just the Washington political culture but media culture, which is one of the reasons I think -- when you or others criticize him, people say its media elite. What have they done for us lately? Let me play a soundbite -- talk about Trump picking fights. He sent a letter this week to CNN President Jeff Zucker. Of course, CNN hosting the second presidential debate this coming Wednesday. It kind of echoed what Trump had said in similar comments. Let's take a look at that now.


TRUMP: I should go to CNN. They're doing the next debate. And I should say to Jeff Zucker, a great guy, Jeff, I'm going to do the debate but I want $10 million for charity, American cancer society, aids research, we'll pick ten great. Otherwise I'm not going to the debate. And honestly, I think they would pay me.


KURTZ: No comment from CNN, which is being asked to cough up all of the profits because Trump says the ad rates have gone up 4,000 percent or something like that because of his participation.

ATTKISSON: Well, intentionally or not, one could say it's a reminder to the public that the media, which most of us like to think of us neutral observer is not always really that. They profit from the theater and they profit from the political campaign.

MILBANK: I love the whole notion here that he should be paid for generating headlines and readership so we should pay terrorists if there's a terrorist attack or the airline when they send an airplane down into the ocean. It would be an excellent precedent.

KURTZ: In fairness, he's not saying -- he's saying give me money but it would go to veteran groups of his choosing. Fox News asked him at the D.C. rally here the other day, where he spoke against the Iran deal -- against the Iran deal, well -- will you really not show up if CNN doesn't pay the money? And he said I have yet to make that determination. He said in a letter I refuse to brag but I'm responsible.


HAYES: This is actually -- I mean -- look, I think it was a gimmick. He's gotten more press about it. We're talking about it.

KURTZ: Driving another news cycle.

HAYES: But it's an interesting question for him because on one hand, Donald Trump is an ego maniac who thrives on nothing but attention, and skipping the debate would deprive him of some of that attention. He wouldn't be on a stage for all that. But of course, it would gain him more attention because that's all everybody would be talking about, the debate that night if he didn't show up people would be saying the front runner for the Republicans has decided not to come. So he wins either way. He just gets more attention.

KURTZ: When you call him an ego maniac, I detect dismissive -- he's not a serious candidate and eventually he will flame out. Is that fair?

HAYES: Yeah, he's not a serious candidate. I'm not saying he'll flame out. Look, I'm one predicting about Donald Trump. I thought he was going to flame out earlier. But let me say this. Let me say this. He's not proven himself a serious candidate. Even if you look at the substance of the answers he provides on the issues he knows the best, the economy, and jobs go and look at the answers he's provided. He says nothing of substance, nothing.

MILBANK: I disagree slightly with Steve. I think that he is being taken more seriously now because his opponents are taking him seriously. It's not that this is a little clown on the side and we're going to ignore him because he'll go away. I think he's starting to get that scrutiny.

KURTZ: He's starting to be more restrained both in his speeches and interviews because he sees that he has a shot to win this nomination. All right, one more thing I wan to get into this segment, and that is, extraordinary emotional interview that Joe Biden had with Stephen Colbert on his new CBS late show. This is just a little piece of it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two, they can look at the folks out there and say I promise you, you have my whole heart, my whole soul, my energy, and my passion to do this. And I would be lying if I said that I knew I was there.


KURTZ: As Biden grieves for his late son, even conservatives say this guy is very authentic and wears his emotions on his sleeve.

HAYES: I think he's always been authentic. I think this is both a positive for Joe Biden and a negative for Joe Biden. He says what he thinks. Other people have drawn comparisons to Donald Trump. He's sort of -- Donald Trump maybe with more ideas or with a stronger ideology. He hasn't flipped as much as Trump has.

KURTZ: Even though Biden is telling the world he's not there emotionally, the next day Politico has a story. Joe Biden insiders -- campaign taking shape, well, maybe but you need a candidate.

MILBANK: Politico had two stories within 45 minutes of each other. One saying he's about to run and the other say there is no way possible. But I've always been inclined to take Joe Biden at his word, because he's authentic and he's not saying he's getting ready to run.

KURTZ: Just briefly.

ATTKISSON: Well, I think he's going to run, could be completely wrong. And I think one of the biggest things he has going for him is that authenticity as we described and that likeability. Top Democrats spoke to me this week and said, what else does he have except four more years of Obama, who the Democrats say has been extremely unpopular. Well, that's what he has. He has that persona.

KURTZ: Venturing a prediction. Before we take a break, take a minute to talk about your new show, Full Measure which will debut on Sinclair Station on October 4th.

ATTKISSON: That's right, half hour of investigative reporting. We're not trying to duplicate the other Sunday shows. We'll be doing whistle blower stories, government accountability, watchdog reporting, corporate malfeasance, all the things that I think the public wants to see more of.

KURTZ: This is what you were trying to do at CBS?

ATTKISSON: Yes, exactly. What I did for many years, but what I had more trouble getting on the air the last couple years.

KURTZ: All right. Let me get a break here. Remember to send me a twitter message. Get on twitter and tweet me @HowardKurtz. What do you think about what we're talking about or the show or the media?

When we come back, Hillary Clinton finally manages to say she's sorry with ABC's David Muir. Is that enough for the media?

And later, we'll talk to Ben Carson about his surge in the polls and his apology for questioning Trump's faith.


KURTZ: It took Hillary Clinton a long time to move from dismissing the email fiasco to finally apologizing with ABC's David Muir.


ED HENRY, FOX NEWS: Did you wipe the server?

CLINTON: With a cloth or something? No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Is this an indication that this issue isn't going to go away for the remainder of your campaign.

CLINTON: Nobody talked to me about it other than you guys.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Are you sorry? Do you want to apologize to the American people for the choice you made?

CLINTON: Well, it wasn't the best choice. And I certainly have said that. I will continue to say that.

DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS: When voters were asked what is the first word that comes to mind when you think of Hillary Clinton, words like liar, dishonest, untrustworthy were at the top of the list, does this tell you that your original explanation about the private server that you did it to carry one phone out of convenience that this didn't sit well with the American people?

CLINTON: That was a mistake. I'm sorry about that. I take responsibility.


KURTZ: Steve Hayes, almost everyone in the media said Hillary had to apologize. She finally does. Many pundits say it wasn't enough. It wasn't sincere. She did it because of a focus group, your thoughts?

HAYES: It wasn't enough. It wasn't sincere. She did it because of a focus group. You know they broadcast this to the New York Times. They told the New York Times that she was going to be changing her approach to the campaign and get a more authentic Hillary. There was this focus group. A couple days later she apologizes. What I think is most interesting and I think this hasn't been highlighted enough in the reporting on this is she changed her tone. She didn't change the substance of her argument. She said I'm sorry. This was a mistake. That's a change of tone. There's some contrition there. She didn't say this wasn't allowed. She didn't change substance of any of her arguments or of her defense on that, which I think is an interesting point.

KURTZ: Since you put that New York article, headline, Hillary Clinton to show more humor and heart, aides say. Let me ask Dana Milbank. What do you make of officials, people that work for her on the record, announcing to the press another Hillary reinvention.

MILBANK: I suggest that she should fire anybody who is suggesting that sort of thing rather than saying, candidate, why didn't you go out there and be spontaneous. Let's go to the New York Times and say we're going to orchestrate things so she can appear to be spontaneous. That's a disastrous thing.

KURTZ: She'll be firing a lot of people -- everybody from the campaign manager on down.

MILBANK: It would appear that she might want to start again just being herself. I have to say I don't get this whole apology thing, I mean you apology to somebody when you have insulted them or you stepped on their toe. She didn't do a wrong to the American people in that way. It was a stupid thing that she did. She is handled it extremely badly. I don't get the whole media obsession with getting people to apologize. I don't see what that gets you.

KURTZ: Why don't you pick up on that?

ATTKISSON: I call it the apology culture. And I think like Dana says most Americans are sick of that. It doesn't mean anything to them. The apology -- A, doesn't change the deed, and B, most Americans don't find politician's apology's sincere. They think it's another way of saying I'm sorry I got caught or I'm sorry that my poll numbers went down because of what I did.

KURTZ: Well, I've been saying for a couple of months that Hillary needed to do more national television interviews as she once signaled after her kickoff at Roosevelt Island and talk about this. Instead she and her campaign appear to be in the bunker. And remember she said that -- we saw a bit of it there, there was a media-driven story, the campaign said it was nonsense, the campaign attacked the New York Times reporting, some discrepancies -- with some discrepancies that the FBI was looking into it. But now there's a full blown FBI investigation. So maybe there is something to apologize for.

ATTKISSON: And does the apology matter? Despite the fact that she may have apologized or she may say the people are confused, I think the bigger picture that's upsetting to her detractors and critics is the fact that she plotted and even planned to start a private server that would be off the grid where she would then filter things, and then to erase the things only when the Benghazi Committee was being formed but much later to wipe everything clean.

HAYES: I agree with Sharyl and Dana about the apology culture.


HAYES: But in this instance I think she really did have something to apologize for. A, because of what she did. She clearly set up this private server. It doesn't change anything other than the story. Now we're talking about the apology. So I agree with that. It doesn't change the story substantively. But I do think she has something to apologize for.


KURTZ: Does it help her now -- spontaneous Hillary Clinton to go on Ellen Degeneres' show to dance and Hillary saying I'm running for many reasons but one of them is that I'm a woman.

MILBANK: Sure, go on the late shows and go on the Ellen show, just stop telegraphing everything you're doing and stop changing and having a different flavor every week because no matter what you are, you appear inauthentic. Actually she can be funny, she can be warm so just let her do it.

KURTZ: Do it in front of cameras however. Dana Milbank, Steve Hayes, Sharyl Attkisson of Full Measure, thanks very much for stopping by this Sunday.

Ahead, Laura Ingraham on why so many of her fellow conservatives commentators are denouncing Donald Trump.

But up next, Joe Biden and Joe Biden among the lead-off guests for Stephen Colbert, what this tells us about the new late show.


KURTZ: Stephen Colbert made his Late Show debut this week, not just with the likes of George Clooney, but with Joe Biden and a highly emotional conversation with Joe Biden in the wake of his son's death.


VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: First of all, it's embarrassing this being about me. There are so many people, maybe some people in the audience, who have losses as severe as or worse than mine and didn't have the incredible support I have.

COLBERT: It's going to be emotional for a lot of people if you don't run. And sir, I just want to say that I think that your experience and your example of suffering and service is something that would be sorely missed in the race.


KURTZ: Joining us now from New York is Stephen Battaglio, Television and Media Writer for the Los Angeles Times. And Steve, does it help or possibly hurt Colbert that so much of his show in the first week has been about politics, Bush, Biden, a bit that he did about Trump.

STEPHEN BATTAGLIO, LOS ANGELES TIMES TV AND MEDIA WRITER: I think it helps. I think he was a political satirist on Comedy Central and he was very comfortable with politics. You're launching a new show. You're still trying to kind of figure out what it is. I thought the show was a bit uneven the first week. But this is a zone that he's very comfortable in, in talking about politics. The nation is certainly very interested in it. He will get a lot of attention doing these interviews, while he figures out what he wants this new show to be. And look, as you know, everybody is really engaged in this campaign and talking about this campaign. He made news every day because of these interviews.

KURTZ: Well, that doesn't hurt. Could he alienate part of the audience since Colbert obviously leans left? He was perfectly fair and polite to Jeb Bush but with that emotional Joe Biden, we saw him practically begging the Vice President to get into the race.

BATTAGLIO: No question. He's a liberal guy. I think what makes him different is that he's a man of faith. I think one reason why he got Joe Biden to agree with this interview is that they are both serious Catholics. You know most late-night hosts -- if you ask who they worship, they're going to say Johnny Carson before they say Jesus Christ. Stephen Colbert is really different. I think that gives him a certain dimension, and I think a lot of the audience that may not necessarily agree with him because of his politics will like that about him, they'll that there's something there that they can connect with just as Joe Biden connected with him.

KURTZ: I can't imagine any other late-night hosts having that serious and emotional conversation with a potential presidential candidate, Vice President of the United States. Of course Colbert himself lost part of his family including his father in a plane crash when he was ten years old and he brought that up and the two connected on that. The contrast with Jimmy Fallon, Trump did the Tonight Show Friday night, and Fallon dressed up as Trump and did a funny shtick, but it wasn't the same serious conversation. Which brings me to a different race, the ratings race, given what you have seen from this week, his humor, his focus on politics, can Colbert beat or be competitive with Jimmy Fallon and with Jimmy Kimmel?

BATTAGLIO: He had a very big first night because of all the promotion. Jimmy Fallon won the rest of the week and he had a very big night on Friday because of Donald Trump. I think that right now he has the audience that he had at comedy central, I think they followed him over. The question is you going to be able to broaden that out. Now let's remember, there hasn't been a lot of great lead-in in prime time shows in repeats and low rated summer programs. So he'll have a new fresh fall lineup that will promote it and will get more people to sample it, and I think that you do have to be different. I think that's one thing. He has to find a place here. You don't have to be number one to be a very successful businessman.

KURTZ: Right. I have got to go but you're right, why do the same act as everyone else. Stephen Battaglio, good to see you this Sunday. Thanks for coming by.

Ahead, Laura Ingraham on why some conservative commentators are giving Donald Trump a harder time than the liberal crowd.

But first, my conversation with Ben Carson about the media, his faith and his verbal fisticuffs with Donald Trump.


KURTZ: Ben Carson did something usual the other day. He threw a hard jab when a reporter asked what differentiates him from Donald Trump.


CARSON: I don't in any way deny my faith in God. And I think that probably is a big differential.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Can you expand on that? You don't believe his faith is sincere when he's made comments about it?

CARSON: I haven't heard it. I haven't seen it.

TRUMP: Frankly he looks like he -- he makes Bush like the energizer bunny. Who is he to question my faith when I -- he doesn't even know me. I met him a few times. But I don't know Ben Carson. He was a doctor, perhaps an ok doctor by the way.


KURTZ: I spoke to the Doctor earlier from St. Louis.


KURTZ: Ben Carson, welcome.

CARSON: Thank you.

KURTZ: After your dust up with Donald Trump -- and we're not going to re- litigate it here, you told the Washington Post the media frequently want to goad people into wars, into gladiator fights. Are you saying that's what happened here because it was your words of course that were replayed again and again?

CARSON: I shouldn't have taken the bait. In fact, they asked two, three, four times -- you know what's the difference? And you know I should have just let it go.

KURTZ: Just one follow-up on this after you did question Donald Trump's faith. You -- talked to the Washington Post and you apologized and you said if he took it as a personal attack you were sorry. Most candidates try to avoid apologizing. Isn't a campaign about contrasts?

CARSON: Well, you know if I did something wrong, I will always admit it. And that was an arena that I really shouldn't have gone into. Certainly should never question someone's faith. That's between them and God.

KURTZ: I think a lot of people find that refreshing, saying that you did something wrong and you are sorry. You have said that the press in covering this campaign has distorted things at times against Republicans since you're going to get more media scrutiny now that you're rising in the polls, will this a big obstacle for you?

CARSON: I don't think so. You know I'm perfectly happy to face intense scrutiny. The good thing is there are no skeletons for anybody to find, and all I have to do is continue to tell the truth. I don't have to try to remember what I said three months ago. And it really takes a lot of the stress out of it.

KURTZ: Telling the truth certainly is easier. Now you were in Ferguson on Friday talking about race relations. You wrote in USA Today that the Democratic Party shouldn't tell black people they need government to feed and clothe and house them, and that the Republican Party has ignored black people for too long. So is the GOP part of the problem?

CARSON: There's no question that the GOP has a very excellent opportunity by paying attention to some of the communities that they have neglected, and informing them about the history of the GOP. And in fact, a party that was formed as a party that worked hard to get gun rights for freed men, a party that pushed civil rights and voting rights and many luminary figures in the black community has been members of the Republican Party. A party that should push for hard work and self-reliance and mechanisms for removing oneself from a state of dependency to becoming a part of the fabric of America.

KURTZ: Right. You have tried to deemphasize race. You said in Ferguson that a lot of people see things through racial eyes, but it doesn't have to be that way. That's a great aspiration. But you're running for the nomination of a party that has between one and seven percent of the black vote in the last four presidential elections. How much can you do to change that?

CARSON: Well, you know I believe that black people just like any other people in our country are listening. They are looking for solutions. And they're not going to just blindly follow someone because they say do I what tell you to do. So I believe that if we actually pay attention to them and we actually explain to them the mechanisms whereby we're going to get business and industry and academia and Wall Street and churches and community groups to invest in people, recognizing that for every person that we can keep from going down the wrong pathway, that's one more productive member of society who may discover a new energy source or a cure for cancer.

KURTZ: Dr. Carson, you made mistakes in early interviews in this campaign. You likened ObamaCare to slavery, you talked about homosexuality being a choice because you said some men went into prison and came out gay. And then you stopped doing that. Why did you tone down your rhetorical approach?

CARSON: Because I discovered that people were not able to hear what I was actually saying. They would hone in on key phrases and these would be things that would be hyped by various people. They would never actually be able to hear what I was saying. So I learned how to get my message across without the hyperbole.


KURTZ: More of my conversation with Ben Carson after a quick break.


KURTZ: My conversation with Ben Carson soon turned to religion.


KURTZ: Let's talk a little bit about your faith. You told me a while back that you felt called to run -- that you were going to retire to your nice home in Florida and that you said to God if you'll open the doors, I will walk through them. Have you always been this way and do you worry at all that this might be a bit off-putting to people who don't have a deep religious faith.

CARSON: Well, you know I believe everybody is entitled to the beliefs that they want to have. And that's why the first amendment is so important, freedom of religion. People who say that religion has nothing to do with their life probably don't know exactly what religion is. You know, just because you don't necessarily believe in God or Jesus doesn't mean that you don't have a religion. Even atheism is a religion. You have something that you believe in without complete evidence that it exists, and it does inform who you are and informs how you think and how you relate to other people. And we need to always protect freedom of religion.

KURTZ: And as a non-politician and as a longtime pediatric neurosurgeon, you have a special appeal in this campaign and you have risen to second place in most polls, but no one has ever won a competitive primary without throwing some punches and counterpunching when they're attacked. Now you're kind of a soft-spoken guy. Do you have to do that? Are you willing to do that?

CARSON: I don't feel any need to really get into the mud to get into the wrestling match. What I do feel a need to do is to talk about the actual issues. Talk about the actual solutions, because I believe our country is actually in a lot of trouble. I believe that's the only reason that I have gotten into this race. That's the only reason that a person like me would even gain traction, because there are enough people who recognize that it is in fact the case. And that we're not necessarily looking for traditional politics. We're looking for people who have a history of solving complex problems, and of utilizing the resources and the people around them in order to get that done.

KURTZ: Just briefly, is it hard to get attention for talking about the issues given all of the media static out there about the flap of the day?

CARSON: It does become difficult sometimes when dealing with the media. But that's one of the reasons that I spend a lot of time out there amongst the people. And I've been out there amongst the people for many years actually. It's been a tremendous advantage to me because people had an opportunity to hear me in person, and to see who I really am as opposed to who I'm portrayed as by some people who perhaps have different motives.

KURTZ: Dr. Ben Carson thanks very much for joining us.

CARSON: Always a pleasure. Thank you.


KURTZ: Coming up, Laura Ingraham on why talk radio is a more sympathetic venue for Donald Trump than the conservative media elite, and later David Gregory breaks his silence about being ousted at Meet the Press.


KURTZ: Donald Trump may be under attack by big-time conservative commentators, but he gets a more sympathetic hearing on talk radio. I sat down with Laura Ingraham, a Syndicated Radio Host, Fox News Contributor, and Founder of the new website Lifezet here in Studio One.


KURTZ: Laura Ingraham, Welcome. You've had Donald Trump on your show. Is he getting a better reception on talk radio than in the rest of the conservative media?

LAURA INGRAHAM, SYNDICATED RADIO HOST: When he came on my show after the Fox Debate, I think it like -- what's up with these late-night tweets. How is this helpful? It was the fox truce called after that. I'm going to ask all of the guy's tough questions. And I can't speak for other radio hosts. I know we had name that terrorist question from another radio host. So every host does things differently. I think talk radio has been the people's medium. We've taken on immigration and trade and a lot of us for many years and gone back to the Bush administration in 2007. So these issues that Trump is talking about, Santorum is talking about, Huckabee is talking about, we are hitting. We have been hitting. To that extent, yeah, he steps in it and we're on it.

KURTZ: Let's talk about some other voices on the right. Charles Krauthammer says the conservatives should be alarmed at what Trump is doing to the GOP. George Will calls him a counterfeit Republican. Jonah Goldberg says conservative voters are throwing away the cause and have peaked. What do you make of this?

INGRAHAM: I like all those boys. But as Craig Shirley, Reagan Biographer mentioned on my show recently, usually Krauthammer and George Will -- I think in the `70s there was some criticisms of Ronald Reagan and he was challenging the establishment back then, and before everybody says Trump is Reagan, he is challenging the establishment and that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I don't know where Trump will go, but the idea that some internecine warfare among conservatives is going to matter to most people, it's not. Most people want to know is my life going to get better. Why are we dealing all these deals where we get completely hosed by China and all these other nations that are cheating, and why are we allowing millions people into the country when we have millions of underprivileged people without work and homeless about 300 yards from the studio right now.

KURTZ: You don't think it hurts, or does it in some ways help that Trump is under media attack even from people who are on the right who don't see him running as a movement conservative?

INGRAHAM: I think people have to be honest brokers about this. Where are the middle class today, the middle income earners in this country haven't gotten a raise in about 16 or 17 years, and that pre-dates, of course, the Obama administration, so I think until people realize there's a lot of bad feelings about you know, second Bush term and what happened there, I think they are just going to you know, keep kind of banging their heads against the wall against Trump. This is really not about Trump. This is about the Republican establishment failing most of those middle income workers who put all their hopes in the Republican Party, so if they cleaned up their own house over at the GOP, Trump probably wouldn't be as big as he is now or might not even be a factor at all.

KURTZ: Now I wrote a column the other day saying Trump was becoming more of a politician, and I meant it in a positive sense. Being a little more restrained and throwing fewer bombs. And then Rolling Stone piece comes out and he says Carly Fiorina, look at that face, who would vote for that face? Does that undermine him because it gets so much media attention?

INGRAHAM: It gets media attention of course, because people don't want to talk about the two issues that he's really talking about, his trade work for the United States and his immigration and that positive -- what is it going to mean we've taken in 10,000...


INGRAHAM: I'd say to whether it's Jeb Bush, putting in kind on anemic performance on Colbert or Marco Rubio -- not doing the best he can on some issues, don't give your critics more ammunition if you can avoid it. So why bother? I think Donald Trump could probably say a lot of things about the other candidates that would be true but would not be disrespectful and, you know, he's kind of a shoot from the hip kind of guy.

KURTZ: I've noticed.

INGRAHAM: That serves him well. I certainly wouldn't given him a lot of advice he's probably taken just on his own and it's done really well for him. But I think in the end if people think he's going to make their life better and they're going to have more money in their pocket, I think you know, he can go pretty far with this.

KURTZ: It cuts through all the spit ball fights.

You recently launched a website called Lifezet, and I've been reading it, it's not just politics. I've seen stories on happy and holy marriages and watermelon recipes, what's the concept?

INGRAHAM: It's a lifestyle site for the rest us. So politics is a very small part of most people's lives and we don't want to believe that here. But it's a very small sideline to most people. Most people are worried about taking care of their aging parents, they're worried about dementia risks, how to get their kids into a school. What if their kid has anxiety in math class, like how to deal with this stuff? We try to explain all these complicated challenging things that we all face in our lives and make it really fun. So we're making from parenting to faith to pop culture and to health and politics, trying to explain it and make it fun in a reason visual experience for people.

KURTZ: A section for moms -- aimed a little bit more at women.

INGRAHAM: A little bit more at women. We'll have a dad set ultimately. But it's all parenting. But as a mother of three young children, Howie, you have young kids, you're always trying to keep up, and I kind of channel my own you know, challenges into the site and we have lots of great contributors. It's a big team, so I'm kind of the overseer, but it's a big team and we're having a great time so far, we're doing well so far.

KURTZ: Equal time for dads.

INGRAHAM: Don't worry, Howie. You'll be the first feature.

KURTZ: Laura Ingraham thanks very much for stopping by.


KURTZ: Still to come, your top tweets of course, and this disgusting move by a journalist covering the Syrian refugee. Why isn't an anti-Scott Walker reporter covering his campaign and David Gregory speaks out about being dumped by NBC.


KURTZ: I'm buzzed off about this. One of the lowest things I've ever seen in journalism in covering the heartbreaking surge of Syrian refugees trying to flee the country. A camera woman for a Hungarian station N1TV became part of the story. Watch.



KURTZ: That's right. Petra Laszlo actually tripped a man carrying a child and running away from the police. Why? To create more drama and one journalist posted a photo of Laszlo tripping a child refugee. Laszlo apologized by claiming she was trying to defend herself but come on. The station has now fired her for her awful conduct as a human being.

And this media fail, Madeline Bair, a reporter who covers Scott Walker for USA Today signed a petition in 2011 to recall the governor from office. A publisher of another Gannett paper in Appleton, Wisconsin where she's based had called that a violation of ethical standards. A Gannett executive told the American Mirror that Bair's coverage was fair and she had told the company about the petition. So what, she ought to be taken off the beat.

Your top tweets. Did the media spend too much time on Trump versus Carly's face, Trump versus Ben Carson on faith?

Iowan Politics, you can't help it. You need Trump as much as he needs you. He said I have to keep saying things so they will keep covering me, haven't seen that.

Conservatorium Prop, they spend too much time on Trump period. His bombastic comments are shining objects to capture the media's attention.

Jeffrey H. McLaughlin, are any of the candidates debating complicated cultural issues, not the media's fault and Americans love a food fight.

Ivan, kudos for navigating the treacherous waters between the two Trump haters, partisan hacks on our panel and Sharyl Attkisson a brilliant journalist.

All right, NBC let David Gregory twist in the wind for months before dumping him as moderator of "Meet the Press." Gregory is now out with a memoir, and he talks about why NBC executives never let him say good-bye.


DAVID GREGORY: NBC was concerned if they let me have a last show to thank the audience that I was going to somehow go after them and you know...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They called it an Ann Curry moment.

GREGORY: The Today Show and they wanted to avoid that. That was never going to happen so they -- they leaked the fact that -- that they made a decision for me to go.


KURTZ: Of course, the reference to Ann Curry's painfully teary farewell when Today Show dropped her. The executives have the right to replace a guy who wasn't delivering the ratings but their treatment of Gregory was pretty shabby.

That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. Thanks for watching. We hope you will like our Facebook page, we post a lot of original content there. I respond often on video to your questions about the media. We are back here next Sunday at 11:00 and 5:00 p.m. Eastern with the latest Buzz.

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