'Stuff happens': Jeb rips media; Rand Paul pushes back

Media bashing candidate for part of his response to horrifying campus shooting in Oregon


This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," October 4, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, the media bashing Jeb Bush for part of his response to the horrifying campus shootings in Oregon.


JEB BUSH, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Stuff happens. There's always a crisis. The impulse is always to do something, and it's not necessarily the right thing to do.


KURTZ: But his campaign accuses the press of dishonest distortion. Is that true?

Vladimir Putin's air in Syria strikes trigger an international crisis and roils the presidential campaign. But has the media blamed President Obama and Hillary Clinton, are they also pressing the Republicans for answers?

Rand Paul being written off by many pundits hits back at Ted Cruz, at Donald Trump, and at the media for downgrading his chances.


SEN. RAND PAUL, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the rumors of my demise are somewhat exaggerated, to say the least.


KURTZ: My sit-down with the Senator on whether he can revive his struggling Presidential campaign.

Robert Redford coming out with a new movie sympathetic to Dan Rather and his discredited story about George W. Bush and the National Guard.


ROBERT REDFORD AS DAN RATHER: Tonight, we have new information on the president's military service.

Here's to a great story.


KURTZ: Will the film gloss over the massive mistakes made by Rather and CBS?

Plus, Hillary Clinton does "Saturday Night Live."


HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm just an ordinary citizen who believes the Keystone pipeline will destroy our environment.


KATE MCKINNON AS HILLARY CLINTON: I agree with you there. It did take me a long time to decide that, but I am against it.


CLINTON: You know, there's nothing wrong with taking your time.


KURTZ: Will that help her shake off all the bad press? I'm Howard Kurtz, and this is "MediaBuzz."

Jeb Bush is hitting back hard at the media after a reporter asked him to respond to the college massacre in Oregon that prompted President Obama to renew his call for tighter gun control. Here's the fuller context of what the Former Florida Governor said and how some media outlets are seizing on just two words.


BUSH: It's very sad to see, but I resist the notion -- and I had this challenge as Governor, because we had -- look, stuff happens, there's always a crisis. And the impulse is always to do something, and it's not necessarily the right thing to do.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC: For the second time in two days, the President goes all in on gun safety, as Jeb Bush shrugs his shoulders.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC: They have nothing to say. That's why I think Bush made -- basically told us what they really think. This is the price of doing business. Stuff happens, get used to it.


KURTZ: The Bush campaign announcing this, it is sad and beyond craven that liberal Democrats aided and abetted by some of the national media, would dishonestly take Governor Bush's comments out of context. Joining us now Chris Stirewalt, Fox News Digital Politics Editor, Carol Lee, White House Correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, and Joe Trippi, a Democratic Strategist and Fox News Contributor, Chris, is Jeb Bush right, that this was a media distortion?

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS DIGITAL POLITICS EDITOR: Yes and no. Taken in the larger context, yes, even the other comments outside of what we just heard, where obviously he is being sympathetic, and then he's trying to shorthand at the end. It was a mistake...

KURTZ: It was a mistake -- I've watched this thing five times. Even in the full context it comes off as a little tone deaf.

STIREWALT: Shorthand when -- and this is an issue that for Bush is not just a problem for a potential general electorate, but also -- because Republicans are concerned about the persecution of Christians, since that is attached to this and the idea of martyrdom, Bush should have been kinder.

KURTZ: Carol, this reminds me of a long list of examples of politicians who complain media take them out of context when they said something that boomeranged on them.

LEE: It reminded me of when President Obama during the 2012 election said if you have a business, you didn't build that. And Republicans seized on that, and the job of the media is to put it into context and to you know, not just use the one clip or a phrase, but to explain more broadly. But Jeb Bush has this problem. He said the phrase earlier about how people need to work longer hours. That was also taken out of context. And gives his position in this race, he can't afford these mistakes.

KURTZ: And Mitt Romney did this a lot. Now the newspapers have given the full count. Some TV folks have made it more concise, but Joe Trippi, Jeb Bush is entitled to his view that new gun control laws aren't need or wouldn't be effective. Most Republican candidates agree with that, but is this a sad and craven act by the media, as he says?

JOE TRIPPI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: No, look, you cannot say things like this, and then -- it's like gambling in the casino. If you can't make the mistake and sort of serve that up and not expect your opponents and the press and, by the way, social media to go crazy with it, I saw this, I tweeted immediately I think stuff happens is going to trend. I was wrong about that. It went everywhere. Now you've got social media driving that, you know, that it was tone-deaf or whatever, and now he's stuck in it. And you're right, it's happened over and over again with Jeb Bush. I think he's really hurt his candidacy, because he's not careful about the language he's using.

On the other hand, we're in a year where people don't want anybody to be careful about the language. Had Trump said something like this, very interesting, would the media -- I'm sure the media would have jumped all over it, and his opponents, but I think...

KURTZ: Coverage would have been to laugh it off.


KURTZ: All right. Russia stunning the United States and the world by beginning air strikes in Syria, supposedly -- let me give you just a little sample of the sort of polarizing commentary we've had on both of left and the right.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: When Bashir Al Assad crossed that line, the president did nothing. No wonder Vladimir Putin and others feel like they can walk all over the United States.

HAYES: Vladimir Putin justified today his military actions saying, "The only way to fight international terrorism is to act preventively," sounds oddly familiar. No wonder conservatives in America can barely disguise their jealous admiration Putin's strong man routine.


KURTZ: Chris?

STIREWALT: That's awesome. I would guess I would say when the chief spokesperson for the White House said that the Russians will be no more successful with the military solution in Syria than we were in Iraq, we sort of have reached peak stupidity on foreign policy. We have reached a space where every foreign policy question has to be relentlessly politicized, has to be ground down into nothing.

KURTZ: There's a lot of criticism of President Obama, understandably so, but are journalists also pressing the Republicans on what they would do instead?

STIREWALT: Certainly it's appropriate they should, and certainly been a problem for Trump, certainly been a problem for Jeb Bush. It's been to the advantage of others. What I'm saying is when you talk about that kind of horse hockey, or you have the chief spokesman for the White House defending themselves on the ground of Bush lost a war, or we lost a war or whatever, we're in a real garbage space.

KURTZ: Journalists tend to have short memories. And I don't see a lot of reporters pointing out that just a couple years ago that Obama was moving towards air strikes in Syria after the Syrian regime used chemical weapons. There was very little support in Congress, especially among Republicans, for military action.

LEE: There was very little support and the White House knew that and they knew they weren't going to win on that.

KURTZ: So they negotiated a solution with Assad.

LEE: What he was looking to do at the time was a very specific thing, which is go after the chemical weapons, not -- you know, try to change -- solve the civil war in Syria through air strikes. Now what you've seen is the dynamics have significantly shifted. You have the Islamic state taking over vast parts of Syria. Russia is now moving in. There are complete failures of different aspects of the administration's strategy. All of this is happening around the same time, and I think the press coverage has been pretty consistent in the sense that the narrative is that the President is being dragged into something that he reluctantly doesn't want to do, and that's -- you're seeing that continue.

KURTZ: Here's what strikes me. I don't see liberal commentators, Joe, defending President Obama on this. They're criticizing the Republicans or changing the subject to Bush's invasion of Iraq.

TRIPPI: Look, that's going to happen. What are you going to say about a situation in which there is no good solution, right? I think the one thing, the coverage has been sort of off on is sort of allowing the Russians are filling the vacuum that America left or something. The reality is Syria is their last place in the region, and they've been there forever. They have should have been have been -- it's not in the context - - I understand in Iraq you can make that, we left and there was a vacuum and ISIS filled it, and all that, but the Russia thing just doesn't make any sense. I don't see any real coverage that makes clear the context...

KURTZ: You mentioned Donald Trump earlier. Let me ask you, Chris, when Donald Trump told Bill O'Reilly that he would be happy to let Putin own Syria, because he views it as a quagmire, much of the pundit class gasped. Could that play very differently with voters?

STIREWALT: Well, could play very differently with the libertarian wing and the Republican Party, Rand Paul's voters. You're not supposed to actually say the thing. You're supposed to say maybe we shouldn't be the policeman of the world, you're not supposed to fill in the next part and say in which a kleptocratic strongman from Russia will come in and dominate and change the whole dynamics of the region... KURTZ: But Trump comes out and says it.

STIREWALT: Trump comes out and says the actual words.

KURTZ: And many Americans are tired of war and our intervention.

STIREWALT: But I don't think they're tired of the United States being cloudy and influential in the region.

KURTZ: Is this the 3:00 a.m. call, Joe, in the sense that now there's a commander in chief test, where foreign policy has kind of receded recently?

TRIPPI: Yeah, I don't think there's any doubt about that. The question is does that last? Again, almost always our Presidential politics is driven by the economy, and so yes, it's definitely put it there, you know, front burner, and this may be where Trump gets into trouble, because I'm not sure that some of the things he's saying are going to help him.

KURTZ: Speaking of Donald Trump, he's on the cover of the New York Times Magazine today, a big profile at the top of the piece, initially I dismissed him as a nativist clown, and I was way too serious and high- minded, so I decided not to write about him, and I felt proud and honorable about my decision. Now he has thousands of the worlds. Does that capture the earlier media mindset about the Donald?

LEE: Well, I think the media often thinking that -- or people think that media is setting the tone. And oftentimes the voters are telling us what the story is. That's exactly what's happen with Donald Trump. A lot of people thought it was silly season, and the voters are saying, no, we're taking a really hard look at him, and he's trending for a lot of reasons, and he's getting support and so you're forced to write about him...

KURTZ: Shorter version of that, a lot of journalists were just wrong.

All right, don't forget to send me a tweet @HowardKurtz, weigh in on the topic, weigh in on the on the media coverage.

Ahead, is Robert Redford trying to salvage Dan Rather's reputation with his new movie.

But when we come back, President Obama rushes to make the horrifying mass shooting in Oregon political, that's his word, and the media following his lead.


KURTZ: President Obama responded to the latest mass shooting -- the awful massacre of nine people on a college campus in Roseburg, Oregon with a passionate speech about often this is happening, and his failed push for some kind of gun control measures, and the pundits, of course, quickly chose sides.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine, my response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it. We've become numb to this. And of course what is also routine is that somebody somewhere will comment and says Obama politicized this issue. This is something we should politicize.

HANNITY: I have said with all of these shootings, I was really disgusted with the president's comments tonight, his race to politicize this.

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSBC: The president feared routine in this. He fears exactly what I fear when one of these things happen is how do we come on and treat this as something that is not routine even though it has tragically become routine.


KURTZ: Carol, has the coverage become routine? Have we become inured to this?

LEE: There are elements that are routine, and largely that's because -- what you're covering is routine. The Republicans come out and say the government is not the answer Democrats say we need more gun regulations, voters are not yet making this test for politicians...

KURTZ: What about the horror of all these innocent people being killed by the mass shooters. Does that become routine as well? I fear it has.

LEE: Yes, it has in a lot of ways but until something changes in the dynamic in the national debate, you're not going to get a change in the way it's covered.

KURTZ: I don't have to accuse President Obama of being -- politicizing the issue. He is entitled to push for gun control measures and the media happy to jump on this. But my problem is with the timing, doing it on the day that it happened when bodies are still being carried, when people being taken to the hospital when the shooter hadn't been identified, to it then - - real problem.

STIREWALT: It's gross, but here's the larger problem. Nothing the President is proposing would have prevented this and the coverage and the discussion of all of this suggests that somehow there's a piece of legislation, some bill that exists that the Republicans have absolutely we will not pass this legislation that would have addressed this or that would have addressed Sandy Hook, and the mistake that the President continues to make -- a mistake that the press continue toss make is to propose things that are related to guns and the regulation of them, but not to the problem at hand. So then they are surprised when people go, no, why would we do that? And that's the problem.

KURTZ: I think one of the reasons for media fatigue on this issue is the President is proposing some action, at least on background checks. Yet everybody knows nothing is going to happen because Congress is absolutely deadlocked on this issue.

TRIPPI: That's right and that's why you do it when everybody is paying attention.

KURTZ: You know have no discomfort the President talking about control...

TRIPPI: There's a big question, what about the 40 people who are shot in Chicago. The problem is you don't see 24 hour coverage on CNN, Fox, and MSNBC any of those troubles. So when suddenly look, the same day probably 30, 40, 50 million people are tuning in the...


KURTZ: The Sheriff in Oregon, John Hanlin said -- urged the media not to report the shooter's name, not to keep showing his picture, which would glorify his horrific actions. I'm torn on this but I do worry that we are giving some of these psychopaths what they want.

STIREWALT: Once is enough. Say his name, show his picture, shut up about him.

LEE: I'm torn about it, too. I don't know the precise answer. I think it's legitimate to know who the shooter is.

KURTZ: Of course we have to report who the shooter is initially. For me the third, fourth -- I don't care, these are sick people taking innocent lives and I don't want to reward them.

TRIPPI: I agree, but in the end, in the social media age that we are living in, people are going to find that information. It's going to be out there.


TRIPPI: There are outlets for people who are...


KURTZ: Television doesn't have to make this constant refrain because it's out there. Anybody with a computer can get it.

TRIPPI: Absolutely.

KURTZ: All right. Good note to end on. Joe Trippi, Carol Lee, Chris Stirewalt, thanks very much for joining us this Sunday.

Ahead on "MediaBuzz," my interview with Rand Paul on his beef with Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and the coverage of his campaign, but first, Robert Redford's new film is called Truth. But will it tell the truth about Dan Rather and the discredited story on George W. Bush and the National Guard?


KURTZ: Dan Rather is understandably excited about Robert Redford's new movie Truth in which the legendary actor portrays him, but will this film tell the truth about Rather's biggest debacle, the scandal that cost him his anchor job at CBS. Sony declined to make an advanced screening but it's clear that this paints Rather and his producer Mary Mates played by Kate Blanchett as heroes.


REDFORD: Tonight we have new information on the president's military service.

Here's to a great story.


KURTZ: I covered every aspect of this infamous story back in 2004, when Rather on the now defunct 30 Minutes accused President Bush of having gone AWOL on the National Guard. Rather now say this movie vindicates his view that the story was in fact true, but based on a book producer, Mary Mates who CBS fired after retracting the story.


CATE BLANCHETT AS MARY MAPES: They do not get to do this. They do not get to smack us just for asking the question.

REDFORD: Somebody has to confirm the memos.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: This isn't a trial. This is a hunt.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We're talking about you bringing your politics into your report.

BLANCHETT: I did nothing of the kind. Our story was about whether the president fulfilled his service. Nobody wants to talk about that. They want to talk about fonts and forgeries.


KURTZ: So here are the facts. The story was based heavily on memos said to have been written in the 1970s by Bush's late squadron commander, but when outsiders set the type written documents looked like they are done on a computer with Microsoft words, two of CBS' own experts told me they had warned about red flags that the papers might not be authentic, and a key source for the story deliberately misled CBS about how he got the documents.



DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS: You lied to us.

RATHER: Why would I or anyone mislead us about something else?


KURTZ: Another key source, the supervisor for Bush's ex commander said he was, "misled by CBS and believes the documents are forgeries," all of which led to this moment on the CBS Evening News.


RATHER: The failure of CBS News to do just that, to properly fully scrutinize the documents and their source led to our airing the documents when we should not have done so. It was a mistake. CBS News deeply regrets it. Also, I want to say personally and directly, I'm sorry.


KURTZ: An outside investigation commissioned by CBS found the story deeply flawed, rushed to air because of a "myopic zeal," and said the key source had an anti-Bush political agenda. Network President Les Moonvez called the whole affair a black eye for CBS. Rather was forced out of the anchor chair and then let go by 60 Minutes. He later filed a $70 million breach of contract suit against CBS, claiming that the parent company Viacom caved to pressure from the Bush administration and he lost. The whole fiasco was a sad ending to Rather's large and colorful career. He has every right to argue that this was political and corporate interference with truth telling investigative journalism. But I hope Robert Redford's movie doesn't whitewash what was a textbook study in journalistic malpractice.

After the break, many pundits are writing off Rand Paul's Presidential campaign. He'll talk about that and more in our interview.

And later, can obscure comic Trevor Noah really fill Jon Stewart's shoes?


KURTZ: The media may be downgrading Rand Paul's chances in 2016 based on sagging polls and anemic fund raising, but he hasn't lost any of his feistiness. I spoke to the Presidential candidate here in Washington.


KURTZ: Rand Paul, welcome.

PAUL: Thank you.

KURTZ: In this week's battle in the Senate over a government shutdown and de-funding Planned Parenthood, you went after your rival Ted Cruz, you said he's pretty much done in the Senate. What do you mean?

PAUL: I wouldn't call it going after. I was asked a question about different styles. I think we do have different styles. My style is when I disagree with someone, not to call them a name or be very inflammatory. I can be strong in what I believe in, and I'm willing to stand up for that, but even Harry Reid, who is on the opposite side from me have pretty good relations with him, even though he's a Democrat. And I wouldn't call him a liar or dishonest, because I don't think that furthers the debate, even with people you disagree with.

KURTZ: As you know -- and as was dramatized by John Boehner's resignation, there was a strong hard-line faction in the house if you're not willing to potentially close down the government over de-funding Planned Parenthood, close down the government over getting rid of Obamacare, you're a squish, you're a rhino, and you're not fighting for principles, your thoughts.

PAUL: Well, I do think that we should exert the power of the purse. I am one who says we haven't been doing enough, and that we control the house and the Senate. And Frankly I've been traveling the country and yes, conservatives and Republicans are very unhappy that we're not controlling the power of the purse. Many in Washington will say we don't have the votes, 60 votes to de-fund things. I say that's kind of backwards. If you let the spending expire, then to restart spending, take 60 votes...

KURTZ: You've been mixing it up with Donald Trump, who tweeted prediction -- Rand Paul's been driven out of the race by my statements about him, he will announce soon, 1 percent. The gentleman from Kentucky has the floor.

PAUL: I think the rumors of my demise are somewhat exaggerated, to say the least, and we're doing quite well actually. We run a tight ship around here and we plan being in for the long haul. And I think ultimately celebrity will filter out of this.

KURTZ: You called Donald Trump a clown.

PAUL: Yeah I think there are some clownish things he has said. I think also really what's probably more important is that I just don't believe he's a true conservative. I think that being for higher taxes, being for single payer health system, those aren't conservative notions. He was for the bank bailouts. He was also for President Obama's government stimulus package, but probably the biggest issue that makes me think that Trump is a fake conservative is that he's for using government's eminent domain to take property from small property owners and give it to big corporations like his. He's actually personally profited by having the government do his dirty work of taking people's property. There's nothing conservative about that.

KURTZ: How do you come at the growing view in the media that your campaign is really struggling?

PAUL: Well, I think one way is to look how well we do against Hillary Clinton. When you look at polls, we are not doing as well as some of the polls, but if you look at how well we do against the Democrats, we do much better that actually many people in the Republican Party. We actually lead Hillary Clinton in five states that were won by President Obama. What does that show? It shows we have the ability to attract independents, Democrats, and people that you need to come to your party if you think you're going to be able to win these battleground states.

KURTZ: Time Magazine once called you the most interesting man in politics. Lately the headlines have not been so great.

PAUL: I think I still I am the most interesting man in politics.  

KURTZ: But it's hard for you to break through in an -- that's dominated by Trump and others.

PAUL: The mood of people I think changes. But to me I'm exactly the same as I have always been. I talked about the same things, limited government, the constitution, privacy, the bill of rights, and I continue to see our crowds grow bigger and bigger. If I weren't reading the so-called pundits and I were traveling the country as I am, every day I see bigger crowds, every day I see more enthusiasm.

KURTZ: One complaint is when you started out with a deep skepticism of U.S. military intervention overseas.

PAUL: Still do have that.

KURTZ: Let's talk about that because with the growing threat from ISIS and now Russia starting air strikes in Syria this week are you still skeptical about greater U.S. involvement in Syria?

PAUL: Our founding fathers wanted it to be difficult to go to war. They gave the power to initiate war to Congress. And one of my complaints for a long time has been that the President is sort of taking over that power. It's not his power under the constitution. The first thing we should do, should we be in Syria? Should we be in Iraq? There needs to be a vote in Congress.

KURTZ: What's Rand Paul's answer?

PAUL: Well, what I would say I don't want boots on the ground to be U.S. boots on the ground. We've had an Iraq war, and frankly I think it was a mistake. In fact, I think every time that we have toppled a secular dictator in the Middle East, we've gotten chaos, the rise of radical Islam and actually made it more dangerous for us. I think that Hillary's war in Libya has actually made it less safe for us. The same goes though for Assad. We have many people, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and some Republicans want to topple Assad, and I think it would be a mistake to topple Assad frankly because I think that would allow a power vacuum for ISIS to move into.

KURTZ: CNBC just announced a three percent threshold for its debate which would you and some others in danger of not making the primetime stage. Do you think that is a fair approach by CNBC?

PAUL: Interestingly, we looked at the criteria pretty closely because it affects us and it actually looks like it would include us. We see nothing about the criteria that they have put forward that wouldn't include us.

KURTZ: Senator Paul thanks very much for joining us.

PAUL: Thank you.


KURTZ: The Kentucky Senator has slipped below three percent in a couple recent polls so will have to reverse that trend.

Coming up, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Jeb bush, Ben Carson all sitting down for a high-profile TV interviews. We'll have a score card.

And later, the media are all over his Donald Trump's wife Melania, with lots of descriptions of her sexuality and modeling career. Give me a break.


KURTZ: The top Presidential candidates sitting down for a spate of high- stakes interviews, time to flip the script and look at how the anchors are doing in pinning down the politicians. Joining us now for our video verdict is David Zurawik, Television and Media Critic for the Baltimore Sun. Well, Donald Trump has been all over the airwaves this week, including a CNN interview with Don Lemon.


DON LEMON, CNN But I'm just concerned if I ask you this question, if you answer directly. Do you think you are homophobic?

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I think I'm a very nice person. I love people. And I have to tell you, when you look at those polls and -- it's across the board.

LEMON: So you think your appeal to African-Americans, some people may perceive you as racist. Answer that.

TRUMP: So I just did a speech for the African-American Chamber of Commerce in South Carolina. And they just wrote the most beautiful letter I think I have received in a long time saying how unfairly I got treated by the press.


KURTZ: Homophobic, perceived as a fair question?

DAVID ZURAWIK, THE BALTIMORE SUN: Howie, that question, that exchange, if it proves nothing else, it proves that you can ask Donald Trump the most outrageous question in the world, and he will deflect it and steamroller you which is what he did in that interview. Those questions are legitimate questions, but not asked in that manner. There's a way you build to that kind of question, and Lemon really with that choppy -- you can feel the uncertainty in his question, with the choppiness, and the mixed motives in his head come through from that -- really a bad to go at that.

KURTZ: I didn't like some people say you're racist. All right, Jeb Bush now raising his TV profile a bit, he sat down with Matt Lauer on the "Today Show."


MATT LAUER, 'TODAY SHOW': Clearly your resume and your pedigree are perfect for the job of President.

BUSH: Thanks, Matt.

LAUER: You come from a family of long history of public service. Your dad was President, your brother was President, and I don't mean to be funny about this. And after several months in the race you're losing in the polls to the host of Celebrity Apprentice. How do you get your arms around that?

BUSH: It doesn't matter to me in October because when we get closer to February, people are going to know, does he care about me? Does he have ideas to lift me up?


ZURAWIK: That's the interviewer as narcissist. Aren't I rhetorically clever, he's so clever with that question, and he sets him up. You guys didn't have it in the bite, but actually poor Jeb Bush bites on it about half way through and says thank you, and it's really embarrassing. I don't ever feel any sympathy when a candidate says gotcha question, but that was needlessly gotcha question to show his gullibility, and Lauer couldn't let it go.

KURTZ: We disagree on that. I thought the question was perfectly fine.

ZURAWIK: Because you're an interviewer.

KURTZ: Ben Carson has been grilled about his initial comments about not advocating a Muslim President, a whole series of programs including by Martha Radish on ABC's This Week.


MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS: Do you stand by that now?


RADDATZ: I'm reading the transcript, Dr. Carson. That's exactly what you said.

CARSON: Read the paragraph before that, where I said anybody, it doesn't matter their religious background, if they accept American values and principles and are willing to subjugate their religious beliefs to our constitution, I have no problem with them. Why do you guys always leave that part out, I wonder?

RADDATZ: I don't think we do, Dr. Carson. It was quite clear. "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation."


ZURAWIK: This is the fascinating one. My reaction, at first, I thought she was hostile. I thought she was harsh, no, and then I realized that's the tone a journalistic interviewer should take. Ben Carson does that, he says that's not what I said, and she said, no, it's in the transcript. Then he said why don't you guys do this? She said, no, we do, do that, good for her. We have become so used to the schmooze-pants, late-night host interviewed Jimmy Fallon that we now think that's harsh. We're amusing ourselves and that she has the right journalistic tone and we've lost it.

KURTZ: You're such a great guy, Zurawik, all right, enough schmoozing.

Hillary Clinton finally on the Sunday circuit, and Chuck Todd pressed her about her email mess on Meet the Press.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I guess what I'm trying to figure out is if you said in March -- that the email system began in March of '09, and yet we have the same email address popping up in January.

CLINTON: There was a transition period. I wasn't that focused on my email account to be clear here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me stop you here. You seemed to be -- to put an email server at your house, it's a complicated thing.

CLINTON: Yeah, but it was already there.


KURTZ: Chuck Todd didn't give up on that.

ZURAWIK: That's Chuck Todd as Lieutenant Colombo. At first I thought he was so deferential, but it was very effective interviewing. He caught her in changing her story over time, especially with the emails when she said I wasn't involved in the review, and then we found out earlier she was. That's very good. He was gentle, but he got good stuff out of her.

KURTZ: The question is -- all right, stick around because next on "MediaBuzz", Hillary does SNL. Does scripted humor help her appear unscripted?

And Trevor Noah tries to do the Daily Show, our review in just a moment.


KURTZ: Hillary Clinton's aides told reporters she would be showcasing a warmer and funnier side. Maybe that's why she ended up playing a bartender last night on "Saturday Night Live."


MCKINNON: All anyone wants to talk about is Donald Trump?

CLINTON: Donald Trump? Isn't he the one like, oh, you're all losers.

MCKINNON: I guess I should get going. This has been so nice. You are really easy to talk to, Bill.

CLINTON: You know thanks. That's the first time I've ever heard that.


KURTZ: David Zurawik, did SNL pull it off and does this help Hillary?

ZURAWIK: You actually showed Hillary's -- SNL treated her gently last night, very gently. If you saw Kate McKinnon, the other woman in it who's brilliant, in April when Hillary Clinton announced with that video, the night before McKinnon shredded it, deconstructed, and blew it up. So she had no choice but to go on SNL and try to be inside the joke rather than the butt of it. And I think in that sense it's successful. But I am really amazed at how gently they treated her. That was surprising. They were pretty hard on the Republicans and Bernie Sanders last night.

KURTZ: That's why I thought it wasn't that funny because they weren't making any serious fun of Hillary Clinton. That's what you were expecting when you go on that show, but obviously it helps Hilly Clinton. Even Donald Trump said. All right, Trevor Noah is the new Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. This was his first week. Take a look at his debut.


TREVOR NOAH, 'DAILY SHOW': Jon Stewart was more than a late night host. He was in many ways our political dad. And it's weird because dad has left. And now it feels like the family has a new step dad. And he's black, which is not ideal.


KURTZ: I know you've mixed it up with Jon Stewart, but he was a cultural force. Can Trevor Noah fill that chair?

ZURAWIK: I think he's not going to fill the chair the way Jon Stewart did. Already after one week, who could be as politically engaged and passionate as Stewart? Whether you agreed with him or not, you felt he actually knew what went on in Congress in 1948. You know what I'm saying? He loved this stuff. He was the c-span. This is a guy who would watch c-span on a Sunday night. Trevor Noah, how could he possibly have that kind of American political background? I think Trevor Noah has grace. He has energy. He is a funny guy. He may make them actually younger in that audience. I think the first night they were down six years already in terms of demographic.

KURTZ: To me, Trevor Noah was charming. He delivered the scripted lines well, but watching his interview, for example, with Chris Christie, I don't think as a South African he has much of a feel for American politics or the confidence to express it. So the question seemed to me to be not -- he wasn't -- you didn't have a sense he had a world view he's delivering a take and maybe it's unfair after one week. But I think that was the key to the show's success. Stewart really cared even if you hated what he shared.

ZURAWIK: The opening night thing he did on Boehner, it was reading a script, not coming from within. Maybe people have said you want the ideology of Jon Stewart back? Here's a guy without an ideology. Give him a break.

KURTZ: Right. It's a comedy show. If he's funny, they have a great set of writers. Is it important to have a world view, because that's what made the Daily Show special, was that Jon Stewart's humor was fueled by his anger about what was going on in politics.

ZURAWIK: I totally agree, Howie. Trevor Noah probably won't do a piece blasting us tomorrow like Jon.


KURTZ: It's only been a week so we'll give him a chance. David Zurawik thanks very much for stopping by and pulling out your critics out this Sunday.

Still to come, your top tweets, and the media are suddenly leering over another Trump, the Donald's wife Melania, what is up with that?


KURTZ: I'm buzzed off about this one. Two top Army generals talked about how to suppress a New York Times piece on a very serious topic, concussions from mandatory boxing classes at West Point by plotting to get USA Today or the Wall Street Journal to write about a more favorable study on army concussions. The brass involved according to a meeting summary obtained by the Times is Army General Surgeon Lieutenant General Patricia Horoho, and the West Point Supervisor Lieutenant General Robert Kazlan Jr. They spoke of deliberately delaying a response to the Times' freedom of information request while pushing the sympathetic version elsewhere which didn't work. Both generals say the summary misinterpreted their remarks, but it's pretty clear that these army officers paid by the taxpayers were trying to muffle a negative story on concussions and that just makes my head hurt.

All right, time for your top tweets. Should TV news name the Oregon gunman and keep showing his picture? Sports TV metaphor, don't show nuts jumping on the field and it reduces the problem. Don't understand no naming attitude. Do anonymous killers make us safer? It will be better to enact strict gun control laws. Palm Claykum, will there ever be a serious conversation about this country's gun laws? Demagogue-free, no, it only hurts the family and his too for that matter. God bless all those affected by this tragedy. Amen.

Well, Donald Trump's wife, Melania has given her first interview to People Magazine and the cover photo of the Trump clan is an absolute gift in reminding voters that he's the father of five kids. But suddenly the media are mad for Melania who made a rare appearance three years ago on Fox.


MELANIA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMPS WIFE: Everybody has their own views. Everybody has their own opinions. And my husband has many millions and millions of followers.


TRUMP: And opinions. And a lot of people agree with my husband. Some people don't. And that's where we stand. It will always be that way. Agree to disagree.


KURTZ: New York Times has a huge profile that says if not for the Donald's candidacy, she'd be just another trophy spouse, seriously? The Times deleted a tweet from the candidate's wife with a close-up photo of her in a skimpy bikini bottom. What was that doing in the story in the first place? And here's a front page Washington Post profile that describes her posing naked 15 years ago -- for British G.Q., the icy blue green eyes, plump pout lips, lying seductively on a fluffy fur on Trump's private jet, wearing a sparkly necklace and not a stitch of clothing. Look, I get it writing about a former model is far more scintillating than covering most candidates spouses. But Melania Trump is by all accounts a nonpolitical person, a devoted mother, a savvy entrepreneur, can we please cool it a little bit with the heavy breathing?

That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz". I'm Howard Kurtz. We hope you'll go to our Facebook page. Give us a like. We post a lot of original content there. We have your buzz video responding to your questions. You can email us at, ask a question about the media, no political speeches. I read them all. We're back here next Sunday 11:00 and 5:00 Eastern. We'll see you then with the latest buzz.

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