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Media Buzz

South Carolina slugfest targets Donald Trump

This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," February 14, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On a buzz meter this Sunday, a South Carolina slugfest gets shaken up by the death of Antonin Scalia and President Obama's vow to replace him. The lead off question in last night's CBS debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS GOP DEBATE MODERATOR: Just to be clear on this, Mr. Trump, you're OK with the president nominating somebody?

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think he's going to do it whether I'm OK with it or not. I think it's up to Mitch McConnell and everybody else to stop it. It is called delay, delay, delay.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Donald Trump traded punches with Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush after his huge New Hampshire victory, which even the most hostile pundits couldn't deny.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: Just seven days ago, people were dancing on Donald Trump's grave. Everybody was calling him loser. A lot of media people were saying it was the end.

PETER JOHNSON, JR., FOX NEWS LEGAL ANALYST: Donald Trump, if it keeps up, is on his way to becoming the Republican presidential nominee.

RICH LOWRY, THE NATIONAL REVIEW : Look, let's give the devil his due. This was a crushing victory by Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

KURTZ: Bernie Sanders wants dismiss by the president's candidate and sure lapsed Hillary Clinton. What the pundits kept insisting was inevitable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I'm blown away by the Bernie Sanders win tonight.

EUGENE ROBINSON: This is not a good morning for Hillary Clinton, period. It simply isn't. She got creamed.

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL: Hillary Clinton no longer has the unbeatable campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: And so many subplots. Why are the journalistic Trump haters doubling down? The depressed unfairly savaged Marco Rubio over a lousy debate.

Plus, Trish Reagan on the press and the culture of New Hampshire and Mary Katharine Ham, on what she brought to ABC's republican debate as an unabashed conservative.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARY KATHARINE HAM, HOT AIR EDITOR AT LARGE: I mean, the camera came on me. I thought everyone at home, my family and friends are extremely nervous for me and I'm going to look so relaxed that they'll stop being nervous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: So, relaxed. I'm Howard Kurtz. And this is "MediaBuzz."

With Donald Trump now the clear GOP frontrunner, it's worth recalling how many journalist cavalierly dismiss his chances eight months ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think this is Donald Trump's biggest day and he will ignore from hence forth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Well, Trump trounced the other candidates in New Hampshire this week and his media haters were not exactly gracious.

New York's Daily News which called him dead clown walking after his second place finish Iowa came back with dawn of the brain dead blaming the state's mindless zombies.

And the Huffington Post have this red tide screamer, New Hampshire goes racist, sexist, and xenophobic. Arianna's web site sliming the state's voters.

With the action shifting to this Saturday's South Carolina primary with Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina dropping out, CBS as John Dickerson tried to pin down the candidates in last night's debates and there were fists to cuffs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICKERSON: In 2008, in an interview with Wolf Blitzer talking about President George Bush's conduct for the war, you said you were surprised the democratic leader Nancy Pelosi didn't try to impeach him. You said, quote, "Which personally I think would have been a wonderful thing to impeach."

TRUMP: First of all, I have to say, as a businessman, I get along with everybody.

JEB BUSH, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm sick and tired of him going after my family. My dad is the greatest man alive in my mind.

(APPLAUSE)

KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze that campaign coverage is Heide Przybyla, senior political correspondent at USA Today, Juleanna Glover, consultant and commentator who works in the White House for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney; and Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democratic Network.

So, I'm looking at some of the headlines about the debate, Heidi. Slate, "Donald Trump turned the GOP debate into a cage match." Politico, "Trump bludgeoned the nasty GOP debate." The Washington's Chris Cillizza, "Trump a loser."

Is it reflecting the fact that many in the media are just waiting for a chance to attack Donald Trump?

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, USA TODAY SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think about what the whole narrative has been coming out of all of these debates from the beginning. It's been Jeb going in there and trying but utterly failing to defend himself, and so this time we saw a totally different Jeb.

He is actually defending himself and going on the offense. New narrative. Everybody jumped all over that. And I don't know who is completely fair as well because just because Trump loses his cool doesn't necessarily mean that he loses it with his voters. His voters like that. That's been kind of his selling point from the beginning, is that he's angry, right?

KURTZ: Well, let's take a look at one of those angrier moments. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and we'll come back on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For most of his like, his policies have been very, very liberal. For most of his life, he has described himself as very pro-choice and as a supporter of partial birth abortion.

Right now, today, as a candidate, he supports federal taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. I disagree with him on that. That's a matter of principle and...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: You are the single biggest liar. You're probably worse than Jeb Bush. You are the single biggest liar.

(CROWD BOOING)

DICKERSON: All right.

TRUMP: This guy lied, let me just say it. This guy lied about Ben Carson when he took votes away from Ben Carson in Iowa, and he just continues.

(CROWD BOOING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: A lot of boos there from partisan crowd. Juleanna, it occurs to me this is not the first time Donald Trump has a debate where much of the press said he did terribly and then?

JULEANNA GLOVER, CONSULTANT AND COMMENTATOR: And then, well, first of all, let's make this clear. This is South Carolina. They're fighting over who's going to win South Carolina right now. Everybody knew, expectations going into South Carolina was this, was going to be a bloodbath.

All the various strategists made clear that it was going to get ugly. And it indeed last night. Interestingly enough, Trump said again, another fabrication talking about, no, he hadn't say he didn't support taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. He has done that so many times.

And what's interesting to me this is a show about media. There is not been a clear catalog yet, as to how many times Trump has been proven to be untruthful dead to right.

You've got China as suggesting to the New York Times that he would slap a 30 percent tax on tariff, 30 percent tariff. You have McCain calling him a loser. These are instances where I think can you go through and catalog these much more carefully and brightly and have it clearly understood that Trump has seriously challenged when it comes to being frank and honest.

KURTZ: What surprised me, Simon, was Trump went up talking about George W. Bush in 9/11, saying that Bush administration lied and knew that there was weapons of mass destruction. Certainly there were no weapons of mass destruction. But whether it was a lie is the subject of, you know, a decade or more has been playful to me. So, do you think the press is being a little harsh on Trump here?

SIMON ROSENBERG, NEW DEMOCRATIC NETWORK FOUNDER & PRESIDENT: Well, what's interesting as you pointed out, that after almost every debate, the press has said he's done a terrible job, he is boorish, he swears, you know, he is not fit to be president.

And then there is one poll last night that showed him, you know, coming in second place in terms of republican voters. Look, he's got a very strong core of 25 percent, 30 percent, 35 percent now in every state. There is a poll out today in South Carolina that has him over 40 percent.

And that, those folks have been staying with him every step of the way. The problem is that, you know, as Juleanna alluded to, is the medium -- the lane for the moderates, right, in the mainstream republicans has been so divided now that he continues to roll ahead.

So, he had a good night last night. I don't think anything derailed him from winning South Carolina last night.

KURTZ: And, of course, Trump is running against the media. He is running against National Review and sometimes he runs against Fox. So, the fact that various commentators and others are saying, you know, he's gone too far in this, that, or the other statement or debate often seems to roll off him.

PRZYZBYLA: It seems to roll off him. And every single time we've called it, it's been because he does something that's maybe offensive to the general election electorate. But this time I think why people are seeing this as different is because he made some talking points that went.

You know, Juleanna and I were talking about it beforehand, were actually democratic talking points arguably going in there and going so aggressively against the Bushes calling them liars in the war, and also defending Planned Parenthood.

I mean, I think he even saw himself, whoa, I went a little bit too far here. Most of the work they do is, you know, providing women's health services, but the abortion I'm really against that.

But by that point, he'd already been on the record defending Planned Parenthood. So, I think the difference here was that if he did step over the line and we see that in the polls, it wasn't because of his temperament, which is what we've all been calling it for. It's because he went over and veered into sounding more like a democrat.

KURTZ: Before I move on, what do you make of the Huffington Post, for example, saying "New Hampshire has gone racist and sexist?" Because the majority of the voters -- not majority but plurality voted for Donald Trump in this week's primary.

PRZYZBYLA: Well, Huffington Post has been on the record as, you know, there are chances that they're going to cover Donald Trump in a different way than the rest of the media. And the fact they, you know, until recently were covering him in the entertainment section.

KURTZ: Yes.

PRZYZBYLA: So, I'm not at all surprised by it. I think for the demographic, you know, that mostly reading The Huffington Post that's going to get a lot of clicks in it.

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: He's got a liberal audience. But I know blaming the voters seems to be going too far. I want to turn to Marco Rubio. Because after the previous debate in New Hampshire when he used the same scripted language and those exchanges for Chris Christie, he got a lot of bad press. He started to do a lot of interviews. And here's one he did with ABC's John Carl.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In a hindsight, you know, maybe I made a mistake. I shouldn't have done it that way. Because what did it is that moved me to a message that pivoted away from the question and kind of led to this perception that I tried to evade it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Juleanna, I underestimated the impact of that bad debate on Rubio. But on the other hand, he had three days of just being called every name in the book by much of the press. And how much did that hurt him?

GLOVER: I think this week it hurt very much. I think the debate itself that we just had last night. I think he did a pretty good job. But the coverage so far out of that debate has been Rubio didn't get tackled. Coming -- into going into that debate, Rubio needed to do some tackling. He didn't just need to sort of do a good job. He needed to go beyond and above that certainly.

KURTZ: Isn't it interesting, Simon, that Marco Rubio held a 45-minute press conference on his plane, he is giving a lot of interviews. That when these candidates get into trouble suddenly their accessibility to the journalists have fallen around opens up. Because then they need -- they feel like they need the press to get this message out?

ROSENBERG: Yes. Well, clearly, Rubio completely changed his strategy. He had a devastating day, you know, through that debate and his pre-plan. He could have won New Hampshire. I mean, he was on a trajectory to potentially win.

So, he really blew -- look, these debates have been very consequential in this election. I think in terms of media, right? These debates have played a major role, TV ads, haven't had a big role. I think one thing we have to learn and take away is that, you know, these debates really matter.

And Trump, for example, people make fun of Trump, but he's interesting. He's entertaining, right? That's part of politics. We can't dismiss that. These other politicians, many of them are boring, right? And so Trump is really been able to redefine I think the terms of a presidential candidate in a digital and media age.

PRZYBYLA: Rubio especially just because some of his strongest moments have been debates. Those have been I think the things that he's been praised for.

KURTZ: Yes. Has kind of elevated him from events.

PRZYBYLA: Yes. And so, for him to stumble in the debate...

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: I want to close by talking about the breaking news last night, the death of Antonin Scalia at 79, the Supreme Court Justice who is leader of the conservative wing of the court and was a major public figure.

I find it disturbing just following this on Twitter, you know, 20 minutes after we are learned that he had died this debate broke out about, you know, would President Obama get a chance to replace him? Would the republican control Senate block that? What are your thoughts about that?

PRZYBYLA: I thought where that certainly there's been public figures who've died in the age of social media, but none that would be this consequential and the context of such a heated presidential election.

And so, this really was a social media phenomenon. It wasn't necessarily the mainstream news organizations all of a sudden pushing out, you know, fully formed articles. It was people like David Axelrod saying "this is earth shattering." And so, that kind of gets the cavalry going.

And, yes, it was shocking that it would happen so quickly. I don't think we even know the cause of death yet. Usually at least you wait for that.

KURTZ: Yes. All kinds of decent air bill to reflect on his life, wouldn't you agree? This thing is just out the window. Your thoughts?

GLOVER: yes, exactly. I mean, what I found fascinating and sort of troubling about the slow leak out that he passed away was that there were local news affiliates that broke the news first.

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: San Antonio newspaper?

GLOVER: And the national media circled around that for probably a good half hour, 45 minutes trying to determine whether the local news outlets were right. We're talking about an ABC News affiliate in San Antonio and people weren't necessarily going to believe it. And now I'm beginning to wonder sort of unless it happens and AP reports it, it doesn't happen at all.

KURTZ: In terms of the -- that's a great point about who's trusted by other journalists. In terms of the political back and forth now on Mitch McConnell came out and said he's not going to vote in a nominee.

Can you tell me that if this was a republican president, wouldn't conservative commentary say, of course, he should get his nominee? And if this was a democratic controlled Senate, the liberal commentators they would take the other side. This just seems like a reflexive partisanship to me.

ROSENBERG: Well, in some ways, Howard, but you know, the truth is the controversial thing is what McConnell did, right? There is nothing controversial about the president saying I have an obligation to fill a vacancy of the Supreme Court. I mean, this is part of what happens.

It's been going on for hundreds of years. The controversial thing and the thing that caused the media storm last night and today, was Mitch McConnell not following a decent interval, jumping in with incredible politics last night...

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: Yes, but...

ROSENBERG: ... saying we're going to block this thing and we're not going to...

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: It was Harry Reid controlled the Senate and was not going to give George W. Bush a vote in his last year, would you be saying the same thing?

ROSENBERG: But that's so we didn't -- but that's not happened before. I mean, there is no precedent for what happened to Mitch McConnell last night in American history. I mean, Mitch McConnell, we voted in Ronald Reagan's last year in 97 to nothing to give him a final -- which Mitch McConnell voted for and participated with.

KURTZ: Right.

ROSENBERG: So, the controversial part, McConnell should have waited and should have allowed there to be a decent interval.

KURTZ: OK.

ROSENBERG: And I think he's the one who blew it last night.

KURTZ: Much more media coverage of this, I'm sure in the week ahead. And I'll have more to say about Antonin Scalia later in the program.

Ahead, with Hillary in trouble after New Hampshire, why did the media dismiss Bernie Sanders for so long? But when we come back, Trish Reagan on why the media go haywire over New Hampshire, her home state.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Having just return from the snows of New Hampshire, I can tell you there is nothing quite like what reporters and candidates go through in the first of the nation primary.

Joining me now from New York is Trish Regan who anchors The Intelligence Report on Fox Business and grew up in New Hampshire.

Trish, let's start with last night's CBS debate. You and Sandra Smith have moderated two presidential debates on FBN. How do you think CBS' John Dickerson did?

TRISH REGAN, FBN HOST: You know, I think it was challenging for him, Howie. I think that there were times where he might have been a little bit overwhelms. It's not easy.

I mean, you're trying to corral all these big personalities, these big egos. And with each and every debate, the stakes, Howie, they keep getting higher and higher and higher.

So, I think what we saw was a little bit of him trying to struggle to keep the things moving on. You got to keep moving to the next subject. It's part of your duty effectively to your viewer to not let them duke it out too long.

I mean, you know, a little bit of that is good, right? It's good some theater.

KURTZ: Right.

REGAN: But you want to make sure you keep moving the conversation forward.

KURTZ: Right. Well, that's the question. By the way, I thought Dickerson asked a very good questions with a lot of good research and details to pin the camp they stand. But I heard some people say, oh, he kind of lost control.

But if Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are going at it over who lied about this or that or Donald Trump and Jeb Bush are going at it, why not let that go on for a while because the audience gets to see these guys go toe to toe and how they handle the incoming.

REGAN: Yes. I mean, there's a certain part of that theater that you want. The danger is that, you know, you can get mired in all this mudslinging and it becomes a bit of a circus. And while you may want some circus because it's entertaining and maybe you'll get something out of it, you also want to make sure that you're hitting enough issues and that you're keeping things moving forward.

I mean, at some point, you know, the viewer is like OK, enough. It's a little too much. You know, and look, we say this all the time in cable news, you may have a series of guest that's come on and they start fighting and you got -- you got to know when to say enough is enough.

KURTZ: All right. I'm saying enough. We're going to move on. And there is no audience here to cheer and boo as there was at South Carolina debate.

GLOVER: Yes, there is a lot of that.

KURTZ: So, having grown up in New Hampshire, what is it about the state, its culture and that primary where it's just paradise for reporters this time of year?

REGAN: You know, one of the best things about New Hampshire is that it's just so small, right? So, you have an opportunity as a candidate, Howie, to get out and literally shake everyone's hand. You can make your way back and forth across the state. And this is what these candidates did. Kasich did this incredibly well. And that's why he got that second place showing.

KURTZ: Right.

REGAN: I mean, people in New Hampshire...

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: And what I love about it is the reporters, you can you get your rental car and you can drive between Nassau and Manchester and Concord and then get everything in 30 minutes and you can see these candidates up close.

REGAN: Yes. So, the reporters, it's wonderful because everything is within a short distance. And there's an accessibility I think in New Hampshire both from a journalist perspective and from an actual residents perspective that you don't have, Howie, in other places and in other races.

And so, that's part of what makes New Hampshire special. Also, as a journalist going out and talking to the people, I mean, this is one of the things that I enjoy so much because they take that responsibility of vetting these candidates very, very seriously.

So, they spent a lot of time looking at all the candidates and all the issues and they'll tell you because they're very frank, they are very frank New Englanders exactly how they feel.

KURTZ: Yes. They really don't have a problem. All right. Got about half a minute. The whole rational for a small and some unrepresentative state having the first primary after the Iowa caucuses is because of this sort of emphasis on retail campaigning.

But Donald Trump didn't do the thing at a lot of big town halls. He had big rallies, he had a television campaign. So, did that undercut it all, you think, that role that New Hampshire plays?

REGAN: You know, I think so to a certain extent it did. It's amazing how he was able to just fly into my little hometown. He had 5,000 people show up in Hampton, New Hampshire to win kind of school to hear him speak. That's a lot.

Five thousand anywhere in New Hampshire is a lot of people.

KURTZ: Yes.

REGAN: And he was able to hold these big rallies, get in, get out. It is a different style. But you know, this is a very different year, as you well know. And he's a different kind of candidate. And regardless of not being there and having the coffee down the street at Mrs. Smith's house, he still galvanized all of these voters there in New Hampshire.

KURTZ: Different year, a different candidate. And in New Hampshire at least a different outcome went in favor of Trump. Trish Regan, great to see you. Thanks for stopping by this Sunday.

REGAN: Good to see you, Howie. Any time.

KURTZ: Ahead, the media uproar over Gloria Stein and Madeleine Albright trying to guilt women into supporting Hillary. But up next, Chris Matthews slimes Ted Cruz. And the reporter who took dictation from a Hillary aid.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: In our media microscope, a major shift in campaign coverage since the New Hampshire primary. We have the New Analytics Company look at major mainstream outlets in the three days before Tuesday's primary.

And Donald Trump very much sharing the spotlight with his rivals. Here we see almost 6300 mentions for Trump but more than 4500 for Marco Rubio who had all that buzz coming out of Iowa. More than 2800 for Jeb Bush, that's a step up. Ted Cruz right behind with almost 2600, and John Kasich down here over 1400.

Now, look at Wednesday through Friday after the primary. Trump is huge again, more than 8,000 media mentions. That's more than twice as much as any other candidate. Cruz is next up with about 3200 media mentions. But Kasich rising to third place with over 3,000.

Lots of chatter after his second place showing in New Hampshire. Jeb is over here at 2700. And Rubio after the disappointing showing in New Hampshire, sinks to under 2500. The biggest changes in sentiment.

Look at this, positive in green, negative in red. Donald Trump was 57 percent in negative coverage in the run-up to primary. That's the best he's been in our data. But just to 64 percent negative as the other candidates started banging up on him.

Marco Rubio was at 72 percent negative before the primary. The press hammered him over his robotic debate performance. But he's improved since then 68 percent negative. And Jeb Bush, well, he was at 69 percent negative, again, before the primary. That now jumped to 76 percent negative as he is much more in the line of fire.

Chris Matthews loves to bash republicans. But on MSNBC the other day he got shockingly harsh towards Ted Cruz.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHERS, MSNBC HOST: There is a troll-like quality to Cruz. He operates below the level of human life.

SCARBOROUGH: OK, Chris. That's a real tough.

MATTHEWS: No, really.

SCARBOROUGH: You have -- you have not gotten sleep.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm thinking...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH: We are going -- we're going to try that again.

MATTHEWS: Am I not allowed to have an opinion?

SCARBOROUGH: Well, but not that opinion, no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Below the level of human life. That was too much even for Joe Scarborough. Matthews can be as passionate and as partisan as he wants, but he really needs to stay away from this kind of vitriol.

Another sad chapter in why people think the press is too close to Hillary. A former reporter for The Atlantic once took dictation from Hillary Clinton's long time spokesman while she was Secretary of State.

According to e-mails obtained by Gawker, Philippe Reines told journalist Marc Ambinder that he could get and early copy of her speech for the Council on Foreign Relations, a bit of mini scoop, if he described it on his own as muscular, reported the top U.S. Envoys will be seated in front of her and didn't say he was being blackmailed.

Ambinder followed those orders and described being the muscular address, letting a flack choose the adjectives, really? Ambinder told Gawker that the whole thing made him uncomfortable then and now. And for good reason.

Next on "MediaBuzz", Hillary Clinton manages to lose women in New Hampshire. What happened to that media coronation? And later, Mary Katharine Ham on a conservative commentator's role in a presidential debate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Bernie Sanders jumped into the race against Hillary Clinton. Amazing. Media treat him as a gob fly, a dark horse at CNN, a long shot said The New York Times, and Politico's take, dems to Bernie, fat chance.

Even as the socialist center was drawing big crowds and raising huge sums, most of the media he's on. One study found ABC's World News Tonight gave Donald Trump gave 81 minutes through the first 11 minutes months of last year, Bernie Sanders, 20 seconds. Then he practically tied Hillary in Iowa and decimated her in a New Hampshire landslide. The two face off days later in a PBS debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GWEN IFILL, PBS DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE MODERATOR: Given what you and Senator Sanders are proposing and in expand -- expanding government in almost every area of our lives, is it fair for Americans who fear government to fear you?

HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. But it is absolutely fair and necessary for Americans to vet both of our proposals.

JUDY WOODRUFF, PBS DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE MODERATOR: So, race relations would be better under a Sanders presidency than they've been?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Absolutely. Because what we will do is say instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires, we are going to create millions of jobs for low-income kids so that they're not hanging out on street corners.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: And we're back with the panel. Juleanna Glover, everyone in the media expected Hillary to lose New Hampshire. I'm not sure if many in the media expected her to lose female voters by 11 points. Has the press overestimated Hillary Clinton as a candidate?

GLOVER: No, but I think they certainly underestimated Bernie Sanders as a candidate. Bernie has been extraordinary. And as a republican, someone who is supporting Jeb Bush, watching how this is playing out is really, just collecting strength, quite frankly, for what this is going to look like in a general election. Both of them are looking imminently beatable come the fall.

KURTZ: Simon Rosenberg, I went to a rally in New Hampshire. Hillary, Bill, and Chelsea were there and she was pretty pumped up. The crowd was pumped up. Then she started to talk about tax incentives and different government programs and proposals. That sort of her message is about, you know, the government and all the nuances and Bernie is out there talking about revolution.

So, do you think the press needs to wake up to the Sanders phenomenon and take it more seriously? Because you still have people say, there is no way he'll win the nomination.

ROSENBERG: Right. And people are saying that about Trump on the republican side. Look, the thing that amazes me about Bernie is that the campaign is strong. They're raising money. They're doing savvy media things, right? This is not a gut fight campaign any longer. They're holding their own against the Clinton machine. It's kind of amazing to watch.

It's going to be hard now for the media though to cover the race to where they were, we're moving now into over 20 states. You know, there is only one more English language debate between March 15th on the democratic side.

So, the media is going to get challenged now I think in how they cover what is a really competitive race on the democratic side.

KURTZ: Heidi Przybyla, Hillary Clinton has done selected TV and news mostly on MSNBC. But she hasn't had a press conference with the reporters who traveled with her for two months, is that create tension with the press corps here? You spend a lot of time in her campaign.

Absolutely. Because, you know, that's -- it's a phenomenon just within our little world of the press because the outside world you see she's doing local media. She's taking a page from Trump and calling him into some of these shows.

But in terms of the, you know, little bubble that we all live in, these are people who travel with her day in and day out. They're sacrificing a lot of personal time. And it's hard not to, you know, to feel a little slighted if she's, you know, yelling at her and she won't take your questions.

And it's very different, I saw like when Bill Clinton comes out, granted he's not a candidate anymore. But like if you shout at him, he'll respond you to you. You know, he'll answer your questions.

But I think there is also a concern among the Clintons, you know, with Trump's kind of going there and kind of Bill Clinton's sexual history and some of the right-wing press. You never know who's going to be in a gaggle, right?

And they start yelling these questions and then everybody picks it up and it's kind of splashed against the headlines. So, I think the Clintons have an extra layer of like, just kind of like wanting to buffer themselves.

KURTZ: Looking back, with the media kind of short sided and deciding in advance that a 74-year-old democratic socialist Sander who wasn't even a democrat was not going to be a viable candidate. And what about, you know, Sanders wants free college and free health care, he's going to raise taxes on middle class, which he says will save on the insurance premiums, has there been enough exploration by the press of his positions?

GLOVER: You know, it's so funny listening to you and Simon talk, for every time you say the word Sanders you can insert the Trump and it's the same exact phenomenon.

KURTZ: You see it as a parallel universe?

GLOVER: Yes. It's utterly parallel universe. I mean, both of these are candidates from the outside. Neither of which have been exposed to the same amount of media scrutiny that a typical either republican or democrat more establishment candidate would be.

KURTZ: I would first tackle on that a little bit because as Trump became a phenomenon I think there had been are a lot of negative media stories and analysis of where he stands. And it doesn't -- it seems to just slide off him because his supporters don't care in the 1990s to get...

GLOVER: I fundamentally disagree.

KURTZ: Yes.

GLOVER: I mean, in the case of Trump, I mean, he's had four bankruptcies. I don't -- I've haven't seen in the front pages...

KURTZ: His companies have here.

GLOVER: Yes. I haven't seen the front page pieces on what those four bankruptcies meant in terms of the court filings and who ended up not getting paid. Also, we haven't looked specifically how many people have been fired by the man, you know, as he tried to save his own neck going through these bankruptcies and not used any of his own personal wealth to help ensure that people's lives who he employed were better off in the end.

KURTZ: But bringing it back to Bernie, it seemed to me that if everyone in the press thought that he might well win this democratic nomination, you have very intense, deep dive stuff. And then some people have obviously dipped in on all of the trillions of dollars of the spending that he is proposing and all of that.

I know you're a supporter of Hillary, but...

ROSENBERG: Yes.

KURTZ: ... they've got to be frustrated that the press is not doing, giving Sanders the sort of, you know, viable candidate scrutiny.

ROSENBERG: Well, there are two pieces of that to build in Juleanna's. One is that the campaigns, the republican campaigns has done a terrible job in their opposition research against Trump. Well, I mean, some of this the media doesn't do all this on their own. They get help from the campaigns.

The Clinton campaign never really -- I also think took Sanders seriously. They didn't see it as a serious race. They didn't do their upward report, they weren't leading reporters to certain stories. That's all changing now.

Bernie is under unbelievable scrutiny. There is been more rough stuff about him the last week. But there is also been good things about, you know, his civil rights history. I mean, we're learning more about him. Some of it is very positive, frankly. Some of it is though, is rough for him. But this is a very different stage. You're right. Very different stage in the democratic campaign.

KURTZ: And as you pointed, Simon, the DNC originally set six just debates, some of them on Saturday nights and holiday weekends because that's what Hillary wanted. Now she wants more debates because she's in a race of four, had quickly been added.

Let me ask about your reporting. Because it was Bill Clinton who took a whack at some of Sanders' supporters and some of the sexist things and misogynist things they say online, the co-called Bernie bros. When you were out there campaigning, did you run into any bros?

PRZYBYLA: I ran into people who were directly running head long into Bernie bros. And they were -- there was a big party gathering the first night that everyone was there in New Hampshire. And inside, you saw some of the atmospherics of the Bernie bros and it was just Bernie supporters in general booing some of the female guests.

But outside, it got really ugly. And I don't think a lot of people knew. And this this is why I think the Clintons at that particular time were so incensed, what was happening in terms of the online taunting came out into the streets. OK.

And some of these, it was all men getting in the face of Hillary supporters using some of these words that we've seen and that I won't repeat online. And so, it really did kind of come into, you know, vivid color outside the brand.

KURTZ: Let's censor that for now. Crazy panel on both sides. Juleanna Glover, Simon Rosenberg, thanks. Heidi, we'll see you in a few moments.

Coming up, Mary Katharine Ham on the pressure of joining ABC's presidential debate while taking her new baby. And later, the journalist who led the Hillary aid writes his story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: ABC made a late edition to this line-up for the last weekend's republican debate when the network brought in Mary Katharine Ham.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAM: Senator Cruz, on the campaign trail you promised voters a lot and fast. How do you intend to implement this aggressive agenda within your constitutional authority, especially given that it would require working with Congress and Washington players with whom you're happy to say you have a strained relationship?

Mr. Trump, Senator Cruz is known for opposing deals. You literally wrote the book on making them. Senator Cruz has mentioned that on the trail. What would you say to those conservatives who are concerned that a deal maker will just perpetuate the same deals in Washington and the way that things were now?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: I sat down earlier with the editor at large of Hot Air and Fox News contributor.

Mary Katharine Ham, welcome.

HAM: Thank you very much.

KURTZ: What were you trying to bring with your questions at that debate, that conventional moderators might lack?

HAM: Well, I think you're walking a lot of lines and I do not envy all these guys that have to moderate the full debate. I got my couple questions and I was trying to bring out a little bit of the philosophical divides among folks on the right. Certainly you got this populous strain and you got the ideological conservative strain, which I'm more a part of. And I wanted to talk about that.

For instance, I think a perfect example is Trump says I'm going to change Washington because I'm the consummate deal maker. Ted Cruz says, I don't make deals. And he picks on Trump for saying he'll make all the deals.

Well, what is the way to fix Washington? It is to do fewer deals or more? I think that's something that conservatives are wrestling with, that everybody in the GOP primary is wrestling with. And I want them to sort of tease that out a little bit.

KURTZ: Yes. I said I don't think the RNC should pressure news organizations into adding...

HAM: Right.

KURTZ: ... talking conservative, if they're going to pick somebody I'm glad it was you. Did you feel a little bit like stranger in a strange land?

HAM: It certainly a different experience. But I do think that it gave myself and the local anchor who were there, Josh McElveen, lots of room to run. There was not a ton of vetting of questions. They said, you know, these are the topics you like. We like the topics, too, and go for it.

And so, I really appreciated that. And I think that bringing those different perspectives in and then letting them have a little bit of leash I think is the way to go because you get to mix it up a bit.

KURTZ: So, our presidential candidates just this capable of financing or ducking questions from a conservative commentator was there or from network anchors?

HAM: Look, you're always prepared for that. That's one of the lines you're walking. I'm not looking to booby trap anybody, but I'm looking to get a little something different than we get on the stump. So, you want to add something that might bring out something different. They're still pretty good at it every time, right? And they'll take a turn.

And also, you don't want to be the guy jumping in and making it about you while they're doing their thing. You also don't want a stump speech. So, I think...

KURTZ: You don't want to debate them.

HAM: Exactly.

KURTZ: At the same time you don't want them to press for answer number 238 on the tape.

HAM: Exactly.

KURTZ: So, you try to craft the questions accordingly. Were you a little nervous? A pretty big stage.

HAM: He wasn't nervous at all, Howard. No, I actually -- when I -- when the camera came on me, my thought was everyone at home, my family and friends are extremely nervous for me. And I'm going to look so relaxed that they'll stop being nervous. So, I was working very hard to look not nervous.

KURTZ: I think you may have succeeded. As a southerner, let me ask you this question. One thing that popped up from the South Carolina primary is Donald Trump using certain profane words that we then dance around on television.

HAM: Yes.

KURTZ: Now he says he's going to stop that. Why should that matter? I mean, his fans love that stuff.

HAM: Well, I think it's the difference between candidates we've seen in the past and Donald Trump. He doesn't follow the normal political rules. He's running as a bit of a brand and that brand is non-PC and brash and throws out those kinds of words. I think you can be non-PC and not cuss.

And here's the thing. When do you it in New Hampshire, he didn't pay a price for it as he often doesn't pay a price for breaking customer a political rules. In South Carolina maybe it's slightly a different story.

Senator Rubio is going after him for that reason. We're southerners. I'm a southern woman. When we play beer pong at a tailgate, we wear dresses and heels. There's compartment at hand here. And I think people will react to it slightly differently there which is why he's decided to hang up the cussing hat for a bit.

KURTZ: What the heck, that's a good answer. Back to the debate for a moment. You had your new baby with you. How do you juggle that will?

HAM: Well, my mom came up with me. They flew my mom up. And she took her - - she had her backstage. Ironically, my mom was in the hall with me but saw none of the debate because she was watching the baby downstairs in a workout room.

And so, but it worked out really well. I was able to have her close by and that's something that is very cool to have an organization welcome a nursing mom of a newborn to a big event where that can potentially, you know, require a lot of juggling. It's a big deal. I also have a really easy baby, so, God bless her.

KURTZ: Easy baby mom to the rescue. Now, let me close with this. There is a lot of media attention about the tragedy in your life, your husband, Jake Brewer killed five months ago in a bike accident when he was out in a ride. A lot of people wondering how you can bounce back from that and how you could then handle the pressure of a presidential debate?

HAM: Well, I think when something like that happens, I've seen what I hope will be the worst thing. I've seen in my life this tragedy. And Jake would not want me to turn down opportunities. He wouldn't want me to sit around and be scared of life. And I've been determined not to do that for myself and as a model for my kids with a lot of help from people around me.

But I tell you what, when something like that has happened you to and you look at seven presidential candidates on the stage in front of you and you're in front of millions of people, there's some freedom in saying, like, what's the worst that could happen?

Like I've been through the fire. And so, I think there is strength in that and there is freedom in that. It also helps that I've been training against Bill O'Reilly every week for many years because there is nobody who is going to prepare you better for going toe to toe than that guy.

KURTZ: So, O'Reilly was your sparring partner for the big event?

HAM: Yes. I should have got him for debate prep.

KURTZ: It helps us to understand. Mary Katharine Ham, great to see you.

HAM: Thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: After the break, are women who don't vote for Hillary really going to hell?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: The media erupted with a new debate about feminism and politics after former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said this for try to rally support for Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: There is a special place in hell for women who don't help each other.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: And feminist icon Gloria Steinem fueling the flames by declaring that young working women - women working for Sanders - have an ulterior motive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLORIA STEINEM, FEMINIST: And when you're young you're thinking, you know, where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Where are the boys? All right. Heidi, Madeleine Albright apologized in New York Times op-ed on diplomatic women. I mean, what was it about those words that struck such a nerve particularly in younger women?

PRZYBYLA: Let me just say, I think this whole debate has exposed what is basically a feminism generation gap. And for Madeleine Albright, what I saw, and I think the guy said actually in terms of my age, right, in the middle of this gap. So, I hope I can explain both sides.

So, for Madeleine Albright I saw an older lady who had the signature line that she was out of the public eye for a while. She was resurrecting it for a few laughs and did not see the media storm hitting her.

For younger women, seeing this for the first time, they said this is -- this is a reprimand. And this is not only a reprimand but in terms of the Steinem comments, this is insulting my intelligence.

And since Hillary campaign, Hillary Clinton has built her whole campaign this time around running overtly on women's issues.

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: In a way she didn't last.

PRZYBYLA: In a way she didn't last time.

KURTZ: Yes. Right.

PRZYBYLA: They thought, OK, so this is basically they're coming out and saying what they really think which is that we should vote for her just because she's a woman. That's not what they were saying, OK?

KURTZ: Did you run into Albright?

PRZYBYLA: I did run into Albright in a greenroom. And this is a woman who had really legitimate reasons for coining that phrase, OK? And she has been through the mill. And she shared a little bit of that with me. And I think at that time really didn't see the harm in making a little quip at the end of her speech.

KURTZ: Right. I've seen in the liberal commentators criticize this because it is insulting to suggest that's the only thing women should consider. And she says that's not what she meant. But clearly, what not the moment of that comment.

All right. So, MSNBC put out a picture the other, they start some chatter showing all this political correspondents in this campaign and they were all women. Is it all whole different experience for you that we're so far beyond the year chronicle than the 1970's both boys on the bus.

PRZYBYLA: You know, I wasn't there for the boys on the bus, but I am here for the girls on the bus and I was there for the transition period, so to say. And I think it is a different experience absolutely.

Seeing that story just confirmed what I was -- what I was feeling kind of intuitively. And prior to that, they had done -- there had been a political story of just all the women covering Hillary Clinton's campaign. I juxtapose that with my days of covering the White House under George W. Bush where most of the pool, these are the reporters who travel all the time with the president were all men.

And it was a real handicap in my case that I just can't get myself interested in sports. There was always kind of sports analogies and nicknames and things like that. And so...

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: Locker room chatter.

PRZYBYLA: ... locker room chatter. And it's changed so dramatically just within a couple of cycles.

KURTZ: Is it unfair for people to say look at all these women covering Hillary. Are they going to give her some kind of a break?

PRZYBYLA: You know, that was some of the criticism and I was kind of shock to read it. That was underneath the picture of all of us women who are covering Hillary Clinton. And I was shocked because since the beginning of time it's been an all-male press corps covering male candidates.

And no one would ever think to level that kind of criticism. And certainly I can tell you quite genuinely that it was the first time that it occurred to me that we would give her preferential treatment especially considering the e-mail stories over the summer and how hard she was battered by the press.

KURTZ: Heidi Przybyla, thanks for bringing some gentle balance to our program.

Still to come, why journalists loved covering Antonin Scalia and he actually enjoyed their company.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you cantankerous?

ANTONIN SCALIA, FORMER U.S. SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: I don't know cantankerous. I express myself vividly. Those criticisms are criticisms of opinions not of my colleague.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: The press loved to cover Antonin Scalia, not just because he was the intellectual leader of the Supreme Court conservative wing. He was such good copy. Scalia who died yesterday was fierce, and colorful, and skillful in his opinions in descent. While so many judges write in dense language, Scalia wold go off against what he called legalistic argle-bargle.

He voted to uphold flag burning as we speak instead of he were king I would take scruffy beaded sandal wearing idiot who burn the flag and I would put them in jail. No wonder reporters love to quote him.

In the high court clear the way for same sex marriage last year, Scalia said giving such power to nine unelected lawyers doesn't deserve to be called a democracy. And I covered Scalia's confirmation hearings on a committee where Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden treat him with respect and the Senate approved him to zero. Something that would happen today.

But this conservative fire friend was also chummy with the left leaning media world. He was on the Georgetown Party circuit, happy to crack jokes and kick around issues with more of the state-types.

I last chatted with him and Katie Couric at last year's White House correspondent's dinner. He was Katie's guest and I just loved to be out there and be social. You know, I loved the spotlight and would have loved all the coverage of his passing. Antonin Scalia was 79.

Well, that's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz in Washington. We hope you enjoyed the program. Thanks for tuning in.

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