Media hail Hillary Clinton victory; candidates cry bias

Pundits say she routed Sanders


This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," September 14, 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 are gushing about Hillary Clinton for the first time in seven months, declaring her the huge winner over Bernie Sanders in the CNN debate, one in which Bernie helped her at a crucial moment.


BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the Secretary is right. And that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.


VAN JONES, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Hillary Clinton was Beyonce. She was flawless.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: This was the best day of the campaign for her. She was confident, she was forceful, she was prepared without seeing overly prepared, and she even seemed authentic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said which one of them could be president, I thought it was Hillary Clinton by a long shot.

NICOLE WALLACE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I thought she did everything she had to do last night.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS: Hillary Clinton was the clear winner of the Democratic debate this week.


KURTZ: Is the press back on the Hillary inevitability band wagon, diminishing the Sanders surge, and why have the pundits stopped clamoring for Joe Biden to jump and started saying it's too late?

Donald Trump rips the media as dishonest. Ben Carson likens journalists to used car salesmen. Is the press really that unfair? Republican candidates' Brit Hume weighs in on that.

And on CNBC officials caving to the Donald's demand that they not stretch the next debate to three hours.

Plus, the Robert Redford movie that attempts to salvage Dan Rather's reputation after a career-ending blunder is out. Is it the kind of whitewash that I predicted? We'll have a review. I'm Howard Kurtz, and this is "MediaBuzz."

If Hillary Clinton was as big a winner in Las Vegas as most of the commentators on the left and the right are saying, it wasn't because CNN's Anderson Cooper was tossing out easy questions.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: You're against same-sex marriage, now you're for it, you defended President Obama's immigration policies, now you say their too harsh, you supported his trade deal dozens of times, you even called it the gold standard, now suddenly last week you're against it. Will you say anything to get elected?

CLINTON: Well, actually I've been very consistent.

COOPER: Senator Sanders, a poll says half the country would not put a socialist in the White House, you call yourself a Democratic socialist. How can any kind of socialist win a general election in the United States?

SANDERS: We're going to win, because we're going to explain what Democratic socialism is.


KURTZ: The two top Democrats mixed it up a bit. But on Hillary's greatest vulnerability, Bernie had a message for the press.


SANDERS: Anderson, let me say something about the media as well. I go around the country, talk to a lot of people, middle class in this country is collapsing. Enough of the emails, let's talk about the real issues facing America.


KURTZ: So it's just one debate changing the media's view of the Former Secretary of State? Joining us now Mercedes Schlapp, a U.S. News Columnist, Political Strategist, and former spokeswoman for George W. Bush.

Andrea McCarren, a Reporter from Washington WUSA TV, and a Former White House Correspondent for ABC and NBC, and Jackie Kucinich, Deputy Politics Editor at the Daily Beast.

By every measure, Hillary Clinton won that debate, but the coverage afterwards, all praising her to the skies, do you think it has been a little over the top?

MERCEDES SCHLAPP, FORMER SPOKESWOMAN FOR GEORGE W. BUSH: I think the media was definitely being -- the vast majority of the media was definitely being the cheerleader for Hillary Clinton. Because what is interesting is when you look at the social media, the online presence, it was Bernie Sanders who won. But all of D.C. insiders, the pundits out there, they were basically saying...

KURTZ: Are you saying they're wrong?

SCHLAPP: I think she had a very strong performance. The question is does that translate down to what the grassroots are saying, which is an interesting area.

KURTZ: Are you surprised, Andrea, that a press corps that's been basically kicking Hillary Clinton around over seven months over the emails, she's not a good candidate, now singing her praises?

ANDREA MCCARREN, WASHINGTON WUSA TV: I'm not surprised at all, but she was so vulnerable going into this debate, meaning she had been battered by the media for seven months, and so there were very low expectations. And I also think America loves a comeback.

KURTZ: Jackie Kucinich, do you liken Hillary Clinton to the warrior queen in Game of Thrones -- I guess that's high praise. But I want to turn to Bernie Sanders before I ask you the question, let's look at him at the debate.


LARRY DAVID AS BERNIE SANDERS: We're doomed. We need a revolution. Millions of people on the streets, and we've got to do something, and we've got to do it now.


KURTZ: All right, that was Larry David on Saturday Night Live, but Bernie Sanders fans were certainly enthusiastic especially on social media. Do you think as Mercedes suggests that the mainstream press could be underestimating his performance?

JACKIE KUCINICH, DEPUTY POLITICS EDITOR AT THE DAILY BEAST: Perhaps, but I would also argue if you watch the Presidential debates in 2012 and looked on social media, Rand Paul won every single one of those debates, because his people were very, very vocal, so you do have to take some of that with a grain of salt and say it's not all the grassroots, because if you got a very excited base, sometimes they tend to permeate a lot of that space more so than reality.

KURTZ: It's hardly a scientific public opinion poll. Andrea, how did Anderson Cooper do in terms of the questions that he asked and the way he managed that debate.

MCCARREN: Personally, I think Anderson Cooper did a terrific job. He was impeccably well-prepared, he asked tough questions, he was not shy about asking follow up questions, and in many cases people thought Anderson Cooper may have won that debate. However, in fairness to the previous moderators, it's a lot easier to handle questions among five candidates, as opposed to 11 or 10.

KURTZ: But was it a little weird to have also on the side CNN Anchor Don Lemon, African-American Anchor asking a question or two about Facebook queries about race, and Juan Carlos Lopez of CNN Espanol asking a question about immigration.

SCHLAPP: As a Hispanic it's incredibly offensive. I know Juan Carlos Lopez, he can talk about any issue from domestic to foreign policy. He himself could have been the moderator for that debate, and the fact is they had him asking the immigration question, had Don Lemon asking the African- American question, I know you want to showcase your hosts, but really do we want to just pigeonhole them in these categories, I think it's really unfortunate.

KURTZ: And what about the fact that Anderson Cooper waited roughly an hour before asking what turned out to be two questions about Hillary and her emails, not even broadening to do you have a problem -- poll showed many people don't view you as honest and trustworthy.

SCHLAPP: Again, I think it was very disappointing from CNN's standpoint that they didn't address the email issue earlier on the first hour is incredibly important, that's when the viewers are really tuning in. And guess what? That has been the topic of what the media has been covering for the past seven or eight months. So I think again they should have asked that question earlier on and they should have asked more specific questions on how you will pay for the free stuff that you all Democrats are proposing.

MCCARREN: What was lost in that whole email exchange with Bernie Sanders is that he was taking a jab at the media for focusing on that, but the sound bite you see again and again and again is America's sick of those damn emails.

KURTZ: I knew at that moment that would be the sound bite. He was scolding the media, but he was also giving Hillary a political get out of jail free card. But what strikes me, Jackie, it doesn't make the issue go away. Hillary Clinton will still by testifying this coming week before the House Benghazi Committee, and there are still -- it's almost outside her control now with an FBI investigation and multiple layers of scrutiny.

KUCINICH: These debates don't exist in a vacuum. Just because Hillary Clinton did well in this debate, it doesn't mean it's an endorsement, it doesn't mean she's going to do well in the next debate, and she also -- we wrote this in our piece, she's not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination. She does have this Benghazi issue, she's got another tranche of emails coming out at the end of this month, because they release them every single month. Drip, drip, drip, and that's not going away. So you know wait the next day, I'm sure the story might be different.

KURTZ: Andrea, there has been a lot of analysis about this strategy, so Hillary Clinton seeming to move to the left to match Bernie Sanders on bashing Wall street, on trade, on keystone pipeline, on gun control, I didn't hear much in the media about whether the whole Democratic Party has encapsulated into this debate has moved to the left.

MCCARREN: I don't think so, but keep in mind that Hillary Clinton has a very long way to go left to match Bernie Sanders. She did try to lure in some of his supporters, but I don't know if that element was effective.

KURTZ: Mercy, when there's a Republican debate, part of the analysis, especially now is while these candidates have really lurched to the right on immigration, taxing the rich -- well, not being against that -- I should say, abortion, so is there a different way that the media view Democrats who are clearly trying to appeal to the more populous constituency?

SCHLAPP: Well, I think the media is so intrigued by the Democratic socialist who is now running. The mere fact that they asked a question who up there you know is against capitalism. That is something we never could have imagined years ago. And so I think there's a sense that the media definitely loves to push on the fact that Republican are far right on issues like immigration, however, on the Democrats side, I think they praise this idea of more government, more involvement, again going back to the free college tuition. They don't necessarily critique their policies or say how much is this going to cost?

MCCARREN: And keep in mind this was a Trump-less debate. There needed to been some type of energy, some type of charisma injected into it, so I think the tenor of this debate was very different from the previous.


SCHLAPP: Republicans have very deep divisions on some key issues, and you don't see that, it's around the margins when it comes to a lot of Democratic policies.

KURTZ: Maybe, Jackie, by the way the debate got almost 16 million viewers, by previous standards we would say that's amazing, even though not at the Trump level of 23 or 24 million. But did the press go easy on Hillary on this question of flip flops? Anderson Cooper certainly asked about it, she talked about her evolving positions for example on -- that wasn't her stronger answer.

KUCINICH: It wasn't her stronger answer. You have to look at the debate in its whole entirety. I can only speak for what we did. But in general, yes, there was some high praise for Hillary for this debate, maybe it was over the top in some corners and maybe broadly, but again, I would say keep watching.

KURTZ: Well, one more factor -- and I'm bringing this up because you all were talking about it in the makeup room. Let's take a look at Hillary Clinton and certain questions that she got asked having to do with gender.


COOPER: Secretary Clinton, how would you not be a third term of President Obama?

CLINTON: Well, I think that's pretty obvious. I think being the first woman President would be quite a change. I can't think of anything more of an outsider than electing the first woman President.


KURTZ: She kept bringing it up. It is pretty obvious from her standing on the stage and not dressed like the other guys.

SCHLAPP: And it's the only way that she's differentiating herself from President Obama. Being President Obama's former Secretary of State, there shouldn't be a lot of difference there, and she trying to separate herself, and using gender, I think just boggles my mind.

KURTZ: She certainly played it down in 2008, and this year she is playing it up.

KUCINICH: Absolutely. I'm sure she's looking at the women voters who will determine who will be President at the end of the day, and she wants to get them in her corner.

KURTZ: All right, remember to send me a message on twitter @HowardKurtz, we'll include some of these later in the show. When we come back, remember when the press was clamoring everyday for Joe Biden to run, boy, that has changed in the blink of an eye.

And later, Brit Hume on the candidates and their increasingly loud complaints about media bias.


KURTZ: Well, the coverage has really turned on Joe Biden. Andrea, all those breathless reports, certainly before the debate, he's going to make a decision in the next hour. How does it look now?

MCCARREN: For a non-candidate who has not spent a cent on advertising, he's just getting a constant gift about it. I get with the debate that hyping up, you know, there's a podium that's empty backstage, that was all part of it to gin up interest. It may have paid off. I believe the only person who knows is Joe Biden who is going to run for the Presidency is Joe Biden and possibly his wife.

KURTZ: He may not know right now, but you look at the headlines in -- Washington Post, Biden faces a complicated path, New York Times, skepticism that will find a foot hole, John Carlin says his moment has passed. The media were begging him to get into the race and now...

SCHLAPP: The media wants a horse race.

KURTZ: Now everyone is saying it's too late.

SCHLAPP: After this strong performance by Clinton, the media just jumped on and basically said this love affair is over with Biden. But that lasted for about 48 hours because now they're back saying, wait a second, he might jump in again.


SCHLAPP: It should feel like a time clock where...


KURTZ: It sounds like a high school romance. They wanted Joe and Joe wouldn't date them, and now they're going to move on someone else.

KUCINICH: We're running out of things to say, we're waiting for Joe, we're waiting for Joe. That's what I'm saying. Well, maybe he won't run. And so changing the narrative like that -- but I have a feeling that we're going to know soon whether or not we will have Joe to kick around.

KURTZ: There are filing deadlines coming up.

KUCINICH: That's the thing. That's actually hard deadlines that he's going to have to make or break.

SCHLAPP: And when you read the stories, like the USA Today, they had -- literally one of the first quotes was there is no path for Joe Biden.


SCHLAPP: In USA Today, so basically the idea of say Biden's prospects may dim after Clinton's performance, and that first quote that was listed in the first couple three lines...


KURTZ: But the press is so fickle.

MCCARREN: But at the same time we all understand that Joe Biden is the only person who can change the political landscape for the Democrats right now. So we need that in this election.

KUCINICH: Even that is questionable how much of the landscape he's going to actually change. He may get a bump if he gets in, but still only around 11 percent.

KURTZ: We want a race -- also reflects the journalists don't believe that Bernie Sanders -- even though he's had a pretty extraordinary few months, but then Biden's close pal Ted Coffin put out a memo obviously designed to be linked to the media saying he's going to run with heart and that's kicked up the speculation machine again.

SCHLAPP: That's right. And the media's kind of saying we might still have a crush on Joe Biden, but everyone is just waiting, so I think this is a waiting game.

KURTZ: We're so easy, and you put out one memo.


MCCARREN: But had Bernie Sanders not completely shut down her greatest vulnerability in that debate, maybe he would have announced by now.

KURTZ: And probably Larry David wouldn't have been on Saturday Night Live.


KURTZ: All right, Jackie Kucinich, Andrea McCarren, Mercy Schlapp, we'll see you in a bit. Ahead, the Robert Redford film about Dan Rather's biggest blunder is out, is it the whitewash that some of us predicted, but first President Obama in a contentious interview on 60 Minutes, and the New York Times reporter who seemingly insulted Jeb Bush.


KURTZ: Steve Croft has been Barack Obama's go-to guy ever since he was a candidate, and some of those "60 Minutes" sit-downs were a little on the soft side in the past, like this golden oldie from 2013.


STEVE CROFT, CBS NEWS: How would you characterize your relationship right now?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I consider her a strong friend.

CLINTON: Very warm, close.


KURTZ: But last week, Croft was very aggressive in taking on President Obama, the main subject was Syria, and the veteran CBS Newsman zeroed in on a program to train and equip the so-called moderate Syrian rebels that even the administration has now abandoned as a failure.


CROFT: I know you don't want to talk about this, but I want to talk about this program, because it would seem to show -- if you expect 5,000 and you get five, it shows that somebody some place along the line made some sort of serious calculation.

OBAMA: Steve, let me just say this...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an embarrassment. I feel like I'm being filibustered, Mr. President.

OBAMA: No, no, no.


KURTZ: Croft also pressed the President on Russia's military intervention in Syria.


OBAMA: And today rather being able to count on their support and maintain the base on Syria, which they had for a long time, Mr. Putin now is devoting his own troops, his own military, just to barely hold together by a thread his sole ally.

CROFT: He's challenging your leadership, Mr. President.

OBAMA: No, no.


KURTZ: Croft who also got the President to say Hillary's private email use was a mistake was right to poke and prod, and interrupt because let's face it Obama does have a tendency to filibuster. Now it's easier to be rough on a President in his seventh year, but what Steve Croft did is what all journalists should try to do when interviewing politicians of either party, hold them accountable.

Now this media fail Philip B. Richardson, a blogger and producer of the New York Times apparently not a fan of Jeb Bush. Richardson dropped the F-bomb in a tweet saying blank you, Jeb Bush, for telling poor people they need stronger families to not be poor. Poverty weakens families. Richardson has deleted his taunting tweet, which the Times called inappropriate? Inappropriate, it's a case study in liberal bias.

Coming up, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and even Hillary Clinton all ticked off at the press. Brit Hume with an in-depth look at that.

And later, the media and the finger pointing over Hillary and Benghazi.


KURTZ: It's hardly shocking when presidential candidates carp about their press coverage, but those complaints are especially vociferous this year, as we saw in my sit-down last week with Donald Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They don't want to cover me accurately. I see such dishonesty. They have a couple of sites like Politico, it's totally dishonest, and they will say things that are unbelievably wrong, purposely.

BEN CARSON, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's only one business in America that's protected by the constitution, and that is the press. When they become partisan, which they are, they distort the system. When news media pick one word or one phrase and they run with it and they try to characterize people like that, I've got to tell you guys, that's why people don't trust you anymore. I mean, you're down there with used car salesmen.


KURTZ: Joining us now is Brit Hume, Fox's Senior Political Analyst and a chronicle of many presidential campaigns. All right, let's start with Donald Trump, he says -- he said to me last week much of the media are dishonest and unfair to him. He talks about polls. He talks about crowds. And he uses twitter to hit back at specific commentators, and host and anchors -- some of them on Fox. Does he have a legitimate beef?

BRIT HUME, FOX SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think he does, but there are two sides to the coin with him. I think some of the coverage of him has been something to complain about, you know, words used sort of out of context to portray him as having said something more extreme than he intended, but the other side of that is, he's got a volume of coverage that is unprecedented in my experience. I have never seen anything like it. It has subsided a bit now...

KURTZ: But it's still a tsunami.


HUME: It's enormous. There were periods of time back in August in particular when he was going to make a speech and he would take a few questions ahead of time. When cable networks would take the questions which would go on for quite a while, and then they take the whole speech live, without commercial interruption, nobody has ever gotten coverage like that. And of course, it was a huge bonanza for him. Now he knows how to be colorful and he knows how to get a rating. As long as that's true -- the temptation to cover him is going to be there.

KURTZ: I think some commentators early on, quite openly dismissed him, didn't take him seriously, mocked him, diminished him, but many of them have had to walk that back. In fact, our colleague Chris Wallace did a fine interview with him on Fox News Sunday said afterwards and you were on the show, saying I am beginning to believe that Donald Trump can be elected President of the United States. That's a change.

HUME: I thought that was a particularly striking comment from Chris. I'm at the point where I see he could become the nominee of the Republican Party. It seems to me that getting what you would need to become President, it's not just Republicans or Republicans sympathizers voting in the primary -- that's a tall order.

KURTZ: But just to say that you could see...


KURTZ: That's a sea change.

HUME: Huge.

KURTZ: All right, we just saw Ben Carson. He's really gotten it into the press lately, over his answer on whether he would advocate a Muslim President, or faced with a mass shooter, and then got into what Jews could have done if they were armed in Nazi, Germany, and he believes the press is unfair. Does he have a point?

HUME: I thought some of the reactions to his statements were bordering on hysterical, you know, I see long articles being written that say, no, actually the guns would not have helped the Jews, and there will be some sort of social science study or something that would suggest that. So I think he's got a legitimate beef there, but this is true too, if this is the NFL, you get hit harder into this level, and you have to be able to take it and you have to be able to anticipate it, and you have to be very careful how you phrase things or these things will happen to you. That doesn't make it fair or right, but that's the plays field you're on, and the smart, enabled politicians are ready for that.

KURTZ: Right. That's certainly what Ted Cruz has set for a long time. He doesn't expect the media to be fair to Republicans. He believes the GOP are portrayed as sets stupid or evil, here's what he said to me a while back.


TED CRUZ, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, the mainstream media is not fair and impartial. They have served, as I believe, as the Praetorian Guard protecting Barack Obama in this Presidency. And I think no one is more ready for Hillary than the mainstream media.


KURTZ: But is that an overstatement, all of the mainstream media...

HUME: That's exactly what I was thinking when he just said. Yeah, a lot of mainstream media are biased. When it gets down to it in the fall campaign, we will see this, the Democratic nominee, whoever that may be is going to get more favorable coverage, or much less unfavorable coverage than the Republican nominee. That has been true for as long as I can remember and it will be true here.

KURTZ: All right. The CNBC debate is coming up. And both Donald Trump and Ben Carson -- though Trump was a bit more public about it, said we aren't showing up if it's going to be three hours. First, let's deal with the substance out of the Trump/Carson complaint, is this an effort by -- was this an effort by a network to just sell more ads at jacked-up rates?

HUME: Perhaps. You know if you've got a good piece of programming on and you know people are going to watch, you're not going to cut it short. There's precedent for it. The last debate was three hours. So I don't fault them for trying, and the question is whether two candidates should be able to dictate the length of the debates.

KURTZ: Well, you anticipated my second question. With a compromise about opening statements and how it will only be two hours, as originally planned. Does Trump show the art of the deal here, in basically saying he's going to take hi marbles and not show up? I never had any doubt they would work it out, put it puts CNBC in a pretty defensive position.

HUME: I think it does, and I think that is the art of the deal at work. He knew he had the leverage, because he's the guy that gets the ratings, Carson to some extent the same thing. They had -- you know, they had the leverage and they used it. It is a bit of an irony to think of Donald Trump who says that Jeb Bush lacks energy to say he doesn't want a three- hour debate because it's too long.

KURTZ: Also he could stand up there for 12 hours, but the viewers shouldn't have to sit through it.

HUME: He was doing it for the viewers. That's what it was.

KURTZ: You're impressed.

HUME: Of course.

KURTZ: Brit Hume thanks very much for stopping by this Sunday.

Next on "MediaBuzz," the press plays up those who say the House Benghazi investigation is politically-motivated, as Hillary Clinton prepares to testify, and later, why Playboy is facing the naked truth and going PG13.


KURTZ: With Hillary Clinton set to testify this week before the House Benghazi Committee, the media are pouncing on some dissenting voices. First, of course, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the panel had succeeded in knocking down her polls. Now another Republican congressman makes that point in a radio interview.


RICHARD HANNAH, NEW YORK: This may not be political correct, but I -- I think that there is a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people, an individual, Hillary Clinton.


KURTZ: That was Congressman Richard Hannah. And Clinton seized on such admissions at the Las Vegas debate.


CLINTON: But let's just take a minute here and point out that this committee is basically an arm of the Republican National Committee, it is a partisan vehicle as admitted by the House Republican Majority Leader Mr. McCarthy, to drive down my poll numbers.


KURTZ: Joining us now from New York to examine the coverage Rich Lowry, editor of National Review and Democratic strategist Julie Roginsky -- both are Fox News contributors. Rich Lowry, the media have played up these descending voices, and can't they legitimately say these are two Republican members of Congress, one intentionally -- inadvertently, painting the committee as anti-Hillary Clinton.

RICH LOWRY, EDITOR OF NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, Republicans have certainly given the press the material to run with this narrative. I do think it's kind of gotcha coverage. It's clear what McCarthy meant, even if he misspoke which is that this committee has uncovered really a consequential thing about Hillary Clinton, her private server, her email, and that has driven down her poll numbers, not the committee itself. Howie, if Republican investigative committees had the power to drive down Hillary Clinton's poll numbers, she would have been at zero a very long time ago.

But you can feel the narrative turning. And if she puts in a strong performance this week, you'll have a lot of the media saying she's turned the corner on this, and the Clinton press strategy will be to say its old news.

KURTZ: We saw that of that, Julie, on Friday when long time Hillary aide Huma Abedin testified before the committee. So does Rich have a point, the tone of the coverage is changing, but if she has a rough time before that committee, it may not be pleasant and the media will have to reflect that?

JULIE ROGINSKY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It's very interesting, the Benghazi investigation to me has always been an avatar for whatever your feelings are about Hillary Clinton and to those people in the press who think that she's been scapegoating. This gives Representative Hannah's views and certainly McCarthy's views have given people the perception to say this is all a witch-hunt. If you believe Hillary Clinton is guilty and has blood on her hands, which a lot of people on the right wing blogosphere certainly do in other places, then you think that they're doing God's work and Trey Gowdy is the best thing since sliced bread, but at the end of the day this to me is something where people go to their corners on it.

There is nothing being broken here. If your views of Hillary Clinton are that Hillary Clinton is guilty, you think Trey Gowdy is doing -- this is a witch-hunt then the press is certainly allowed people like McCarthy and Hannah to give them the excuse that they need to say this is a witch-hunt and has been all along.

KURTZ: So the media -- Rich, you also have the fired staffer from the committee telling CNN that he wanted the objective, look at the attacks, but Trey Gowdy, the chairman says he was fired for cause, including -- but did that also help what was said was fodder for the media...

LOWRY: It's clearly helping drive that narrative. But I wouldn't take a disgruntled employee who was fired, I wouldn't take his word for anything. And it's certainly right that you about Benghazi depend a lot on where you sit. But I think Trey Gowdy deserves to be examined and evaluated on the merits. What actually has he done that has been so wholly partisan and awful? It seems pretty clear to me he's doing all he can to be a professional and to be above board. And I think the big takeaway, Howie, is that the Benghazi Committee's media representation at the end of the day is kind of beside the point.

The key question whether the story will have momentum is what kind of classified material is in her emails, were her emails compromised by foreign intelligence? What does the FBI conclude about the lawfulness? The New York Times can shoot Trey Gowdy at noon, and if the answers to those questions are bad for Hillary Clinton, this is still going to be a really significant story.

KURTZ: Isn't it true, Julie, that one of the reasons that media have pounced on those who now say that this is a partisan agreement, and I agree, we have to look at what Trey Gowdy actually has done and does do to make a proper evaluation -- is because they are sick of Benghazi, they think the whole thing was trumped up, but they believe deep down, you know, this is a very important event, four Americans dead, but the political aftermath has been excessively partisan.

ROGINSKY: Well, this is what -- Gowdy's committee is what the sixth to investigate this? So at the end of the day again, Trey Gowdy comes up with something significant. And I will say the emails were significant, but they have nothing to do with Benghazi itself. And I think the tragedy of four Americans dying is outweighed in some parts of the right-wing blogosphere as I said before, by the fact that Hillary Clinton has blood on her hands, which to me nobody has been able to connect the two. There was a tragedy that happened, but you can't go out there and say with any credibility that Hillary Clinton was responsible for their deaths. And I think that's where people overplay their hands -- especially those who want to see her go down.

KURTZ: A quick answer, Rich. Trey Gowdy responded to the comments by Republican Congressman Hannah by saying that was unfortunate, and he doesn't know what we're doing, but the guy is a member of the committee. Do you think the explanation is going to fly?

LOWRY: I don't think he's a member of the committee, Hannah?


LOWRY: And you look at his comment as contradictory. It says well, we're going after specific people but there are important things that we need to get to the bottom of. So which is it? You know some of the media coverage says, well, the committee has really revealed nothing, except for Hillary's email, which is an enormous story. Also, we wouldn't know the way that Sydney Blumenthal so all these things are consequential and worthy of debate.

KURTZ: I'm going to predict we will revisit this issue next Sunday. Thanks very much, Julie Roginsky, Rick Lowery.

After the break, Dan Rather sees the new Robert Redford movie Truth as vindication for the mistakes that cost him his job, our review in a moment.


KURTZ: The Robert Redford movie Truth is out, and as we've been telling you it cast Dan Rather and his producer in an extremely positive light for a discredited story a decade ago that ended their careers at CBS.


ELISABETH MOSS AS LUCY SCOTT: The president of the United States may have gone AWOL from the military.

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

REDFORD: Here's to a great story.

REDFORD: Somebody has to confirm those memos.

ANDREW MCFARLANE AS DICK HIBEY: This is this isn't a trial. This is a hunt.


KURTZ: And joining us now from the Z-Block is David Zurawik, Television and Media Critic for the Baltimore Sun. I was fired up about this movie because I did a lot of investigative reporting at the time, and I think this one of the biggest journalistic embarrassments of all time. What's your review of the movie?

DAVID ZURAWIK, BALTIMORE SUN: I'm upset about the movie. I wanted to not be upset. You and I went head on this as reporters, so we are both deeply steeped into this movie so I was just as excited about it. Here is what troubles me, I think there's an easy way to get through -- all the ideology of this is that this was simply really bad journalism. Right there when Dan Rather -- that little clip when he says we need somebody to confirm those memos, that's what they didn't do. But the movie has him saying do it, and they didn't.

KURTZ: And the memos of course supposedly written 30 years earlier about George W. Bush supposedly being able to Texas Air and National Guard. Why would Robert Redford who played in one of the great newspaper movies of all time, based on a book by Mary Maipz who was fired as a producer over this very story and of course, Rather ultimately lost his anchor job.

ZURAWIK: I have no idea why Robert Redford does it. But when you have Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett, this is not a cartoon movie. This is a serious production. And Redford is the power of the movie. Here's the scene that really got me. At the end everybody is caving on this and Dan Rather is making all these speeches about how the business changes. He says I was there the day they found out they could make money with news and that's all the reason and CBS is all a bunch of cowards. And they show him at the end in profile looking off in the hero against the sky heroic shot invoking Bob Woodward, it's Dan Rather as the western hero after the west is closed and the cattlemen and money interests have taken over.

That's what made me mad. It wasn't heroic what he did in this. It was bad journalism. For my part, I don't think he was that involved in it. I think it was Mary driving this bus.

KURTZ: And she in one of the interviews she's done about the movie, we did bungle a bit but we were in the journalistic range of bungle.

ZURAWIK: Outrageous. In her book, she said, when I saw the bloggers start to attack this, I was looking at the -- very ideological response. And both Rather and James Vanderbilt the director who were at a screening here in Washington and in a Q&A afterwards, said they stayed very true to her book. She's the source of the story so what do you think you're going to get.

KURTZ: I think for a lot of people who don't remember the details, some will go to this movie and think CBS was a craven corporation that refused for political reasons to stand by Dan Rather when in fact it was horrible as an independent investigation later showed. Is it sad that Dan Rather 83 years old is still clinging to this discredited story saying this story is true even though he couldn't confirm the documents?

ZURAWIK: Howie, I knew Rather well before 2004. I don't know if we've spoken since. I felt a little sad watching him in this Q&A, especially when somebody said, if -- he's saying they got it right. If they got it right, why did you apologize for it on the air? He said I only apologized for the documents. Look at the transcript. I did look at the transcript and he apologized for the story. Now he's recanting and telling another version of events.

KURTZ: That is revisionist history. David Zurawik thanks very much for joining us this Sunday. Still to come, your top tweets, why Playboy is having its women cover up, and what happens when anchors talk trash about their producers.


KURTZ: Wayne Simmons is a federal contractor who billed himself as a former 27-year CIA operative was charged this week with fraud and lying to the government about his nonexistent CIA background. Now Simmons has appeared dozens of times as a guest on Fox News which was fooled along with everybody else. One anchor Neil Cavuto really stepped up to the plate, calling a rare but very big slip up.


NEIL CAVUTO, YOUR WORLD ANCHOR: But the responsibility to check out who comes on this show ultimately lies with me. After all, it's my name on it. I'm in charge of it. I decide who comes on it. If in so doing I wasn't thorough enough or followed up enough, it's on me. And I apologize.


KURTZ: Good for Neil Cavuto for personally taking responsibility. But some media folks are practically depicting Simmons, who hasn't been on the network since March as a Fox employee. New York's Daily News, Fox News Commentator lied about career with the CIA. Jezebel, Fox Contributor arrested for totally inventing CIA past. That's wrong and website ran a correction. Simmons has never been a Fox News Contributor, he's never has been paid a dime. He was a guest whose alleged fabrications cost him or got him a plat norm that he did not deserve.

All right, time for your tweets, should CNBC have dropped plans for three hour debate after Trump and Carson say they wouldn't come otherwise? Ed, yes, CNBC tried to force their way, it backfired, debates are about us understanding candidates' positions, not CNBC ratings. Trump, no, they should have gone on without Trump and Carson even though no one would have watched. Robert Jones, yes, less time for CNBC to ask questions with the purpose of trying to get the candidates to attack each other, smart move, GOP.

Talk about the end of an era. As you've undoubtedly heard, Playboy which introduced generations of teenage boys to the female form, which put Marilyn Monroe on its first cover in 1953 will no longer run pictures of fully naked women. That's right, the magazine that pushed the boundaries of sexual culture is now too tame.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The magazine known for showing so much is about to show a lot less.

HUGH HEFNER, PLAYBOY: I don't think that any other magazine in the 20th century had more influence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After 62 years of sexy centerfolds and unclothed celebrities, from Marilyn to Madonna, starting in the 1950s, the iconic Hef fired the first shot in the sexual revolution for hetero men at least in his groundbreaking magazine showing women unclothed and unashamed, some unknown, some famous, some looking to become famous once more.

HEFNER: I believe that embracing sexuality is a part of what it means to be free.


KURTZ: The founder Hugh Hefner agreeing that the internet is so washed in ex-rated material that publishing news, well, just doesn't make it anymore, it's become passe. Playboy, who has also done some good journalism has seen circulation fall from 5.5 million to 800,000. With its rich history, it's deeply embedded in our culture. What do you think, Mercy?

SCHLAPP: Wow, I think times have changed, Howie. What we're seeing is I remember when I was younger being a catholic school girl going to the bookstore and looking at Playboy all covered up, taboo back then. Now people can go online to see nude pictures, and guess what, Playboy, they're trying to go with the changing times, move towards more investigative reporting I think that is.

KURTZ: Now I can say I just read it for the articles. That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. We hope you'll like our Facebook page, we post a lot of original content there. And you can write to us,, send us media questions and commentary and I might respond. We are back here next Sunday morning 11:00 and again at 5:00 Eastern with the latest buzz.

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