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Media Buzz

Cruz denounces Enquirer 'smear'; Apple's PR war against FBI; Hulk Hogan slams Gawker

This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," March 27, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the "Buzz Meter" this Sunday, the Republican contest heads straight into the gutter first by degenerating into a war over the wives with Donald Trump angry about a nude picture of his wife making a twitter threat to expose Ted Cruz's wife and the Senator lashing out.

SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't get angry often. But you mess with my wife, you mess with my kids that will do it every time. Donald, you're a snivelling coward and leave Heidi the hell alone.

KURTZ: And Cruz is also denouncing a "National Enquirer" story as garbage. Are the media wallowing in this sleazy stuff? The presidential campaign is rock by the bombs in Belgium shifting the focus to tough terror talk and finger pointing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump and Barack Obama have to understand one thing, that America does lead the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is extraordinary you have a -- the leading candidate in the Republican side saying torture first ask questions later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, I've been saying for years that President Obama strategy of containing ISIS is dangerous and puts the entire world at risk. And Hillary Clinton, the architect of the Libya mess doesn't seem to have a strategy either.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look at Ted Cruz talking about Orwellian presences in American neighborhoods where Muslims live it's the exact opposite thing we're supposed to do.

KURTZ: Is the press turning the tragedy into another ideological blame game? Plus, millions more in damages against Gawker for posting that sex tape of Hulk Hogan who slammed his adversary to the mob.

HULK HOGAN, AMERICAN PROFESSIONAL WRESTLER: I will be naked forever, you know, until my children's, children's children die because of the internet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: We'll talk about the impact on journalistic freedom with a Fox reporter who just interviewed Hulk. I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."

Melania Trump made an unwanted appearance in the campaign when the tiny anti-Trump pact make America awesome posted this on Facebook, a nude image from her modelling days warning that this could be America's next first lady unless people vote for Ted Cruz.

Trump responded with this tweet which we quickly deleted then restored after others found it. Wow, Senator Ted Cruz that is some low level ad you did using a picture of Melania in a GQ shoot. Be careful or I will spill the beans on your wife.

A text that Senator responded on tweeter at first saying Trump was being classless and would be a coward to attack his wife, Heidi and both of them responded to reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You probably know by now that most of the things that Donald Trump says have no basis in reality.

CRUZ: I don't get angry often. But you mess with my wife, you mess with my kids that will do it every time. Donald, you're a snivelling coward and leave Heidi the hell alone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: And then there were the unproven allegations in the National Enquirer which we'll get to in a moment. Joining us now and analyze the coverage this increasingly slimy campaign Gayle Trotter, a commentator who writes for The Daily Caller and The Hill; Ashley Parker, who covers Donald Trump for The New York Times and Julie Roginsky, a Fox News Contributor and a Co-Host of "Outnumbered."

Ashley, ordinarily I would say, wow, this is really lowering stuff. But with the two frontrunners slamming each other, how can journalists resist?

ASHLEY PARKER, NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER: Yes, exactly. I mean it became part of the discussion and they're going back-and-forth and I think it is a little salacious and a little fun. But it also sort of speaks...

KURTZ: You admit that it's fun?

PARKER: I admit that it's fun, not socially good for democracy but fun...

KURTZ: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

PARKER: ...and, you know, and it also sort of speaks to as Senator Cruz made a point that speaks to character and what voters are looking for and I was at a focus group in St. Louis a Republican base voters and among those who didn't love Donald Trump, one of the things they mentioned was it is wasn't substantive. It was stylistic. And this one of these things that helps voters make that stylistic impression of this is someone we want in the oval office or not.

KURTZ: So, Gayle which is the more important story among these competing teams for the press? Trump's bringing to the defense of his wife, blaming Cruz for $300 ad by the small independent pact that has nothing to do with the Cruz campaign or Cruz with a sound bite that we've seen 10,000 times calling Donald a snivelling coward in front of the cameras?

GAYLE TROTTER, THE DAILY CALLER CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I disagree with Ashley. I say this coverage is not fun and that it demonstrates asymmetrical warfare by Donald Trump. And you have those things that the media can be reporting on those three things -- those three different things...

KURTZ: So you're embarrassed by the coverage I would say?

TROTTER: I would say I'm just heartened by the coverage. And the media is treating this as a he said, he said. It's creating a false equivalence because Donald Trump does what no other candidates are willing to do. And he goes places that no other candidates are willing to go. And so in this case, the media covering it, like Cruz is doing the same thing as Trump is doing, when Cruz complimented Donald Trump's wife and as you noted, Donald Trump retweeted an insulting tweet -- picture of Heidi Cruz and made a commentary as well.

KURTZ: The side-by-law-side picture of Heidi Cruz...

TROTTER: Yes.

KURTZ: ...and Melania Trump. Julie, Trump said he might have to spill the beans on Heidi Cruz and there was speculation that this might have to do with period -- a decade ago when she was going through depression and strain in her marriage. That's been reported by "The New York Times" and others, so what did you make of that particular tactic?

JULIE ROGINSKY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR, CO-HOST OF "OUTNUMBERED: I mean, the tactic that Donald Trump once again is going in the gutter I think Gayle is actually right about the fact that this is not symmetrical. The media hasn't covering it symmetrically. The reality is that Ted Cruz had nothing to do with this ad but this pact did nothing more than put out a picture that Melania Trump posed for. It's not even from a picture of her...

KURTZ: Yes.

ROGINSKY: ...some naked picture like a Hulk Hogan situation that got hacked.

KURTZ: Yes. It's been on the internet.

ROGINSKY: It's been on the internet...

(CROSSTALK)

ROGINSKY: ...Donald trump himself seemed very proud of it.

KURTZ: Right.

ROGINSKY: He has a beautiful wife. She has ever the right to pose wherever she wants. Conversely, you've got Donald Trump, instead of coming out and saying, listen I'm proud of my wife. She's a beautiful woman. This is what she did in her career. I'm very proud of the fact that she made the cover of GQ proceed to go and attacked Heidi Cruz who is an innocent bystander in all of this. It reminds me when Osama Bin Laden attack with 9/11 and we went to Iraq (INAUDIBLE) nothing...

TROTTER: No, no, no, no.

ROGINSKY: ...one thing had nothing to do with the other.

(LAUGHTER)

ROGINSKY: Poor Heidi Cruz...

KURTZ: Yes.

ROGINSKY: ...poor Heidi Cruz ends up a victim in all of this. And the media has been covering it as a tit for tat as opposed to the fact that Donald Trump was clearly in the wrong and Ted Cruz certainly not a fan of his had nothing to do with this other than defending his wife as any husband should.

KURTZ: Right. Although, I think it's fair to say Cruz has seized on this to express his outrage, OK.

(Crosstalk)

KURTZ: Now, after that Trump tweet, Megyn Kelly of Fox tweeted, seriously, taking a shot at Donald Trump who has taken plenty of shots at her some though is unfair. But, Ashley the reporter story now, there's one in your paper, The New York Times Democratic strategy now is to portray Trump as an unabashed sexist. Washington Post, Trump's critics see the attack as the latest in a troubling pattern of reducing moment to the physical appearances and disparaging them in exceptionally personal ways and then Trump in his twitter response said the press is going out of its way to convince people I don't like or respect women when just the opposite is true.

PARKER: Well, I think when the media covers this and reports on what Donald Trump is doing, it's sort of exactly. It gets to a pattern, right and a pattern of character.

And as you said, when Donald Trump retweeted that tweet, you could argue (INAUDIBLE) it's him not just justifying Heidi Cruz and being unfair to her but also objectifying his wife.

And so is the media sort of reports on what's going on with Donald Trump and Megyn Kelly, what Donald Trump said about Carly Fiorina, what Donald Trump is now saying about Heidi Cruz and even his wife, then voters can sort of draw their conclusions and this is a pattern of behavior?

And typically when voters see a pattern, that's when it kind of sticks in the ether and makes an impression.

KURTZ: Right, of course Trump is now taking the position that is the press that is creating or embellishing this pattern.

Let me turn to this other matter now. We were not planning to touch this story about Ted Cruz and the "National Enquirer" not because the Enquirer hasn't done some good reporting in the past along with some high-profile areas but because this particular story right here offers no concrete evidence of Cruz supposedly allegedly having multiple affairs. But that's the key start to get media attention, the senator was quick to denounce it.

CRUZ: Let me be clear, this National Enquirer story is garbage. It is complete and utter lies. It is a tabloid smear. And it is a smear that has come from Donald Trump and his henchmen.

KURTZ: Now, we have the opposite problem. There is no evidence that Trump or his campaign was behind this story. Trump says in a statement he has no idea whether the piece is true, did not know about it, had absolutely nothing to do with it.

So, Gayle, the dilemma for the press here is whether to run with these unproven allegations that use words like rumors, quoting snitches, saying things like supposedly.

TROTTER: They shouldn't run with it. Because the story itself shows that the "National Enquirer" has a complete lack of evidence. Under the law, a public figure has to have a much higher standard to prove defamation. And that's why if you look at the article itself, it conceals the identity of the five women in this story. And so for the press to run with this, it shows that they are taking something that is not sourced, that does not have evidence and trying to insert it in the presidential campaign.

KURTZ: I think many news organizations, not all, were trying to ignore it. But then as we just played, Senator Cruz added the meeting with reporters not in response to a specific question Ashley brought it up, so how is it that or should that change the equation?

PARKER: I mean I think it makes it more complicated certainly. Because I think that, you know, these rumors have been around for awhile in Washington and a lot of media organization did nothing with them, didn't even try to report them out. They appear in the Enquirer and I think the morning begins (ph) and everyone is kind of thinking we're going to steer clear of this muck. You know, it's unproven. There's no names, there's you know, no name sources.

KURTZ: So, The New York Times is not planning to follow up...

PARKER: I...

KURTZ: ...as far as you know?

PARKER: ...I don't think it was something we were...

KURTZ: Yes.

PARKER: ...going to report on, no. But then when Senator Ted Cruz comes out and he brings it out unprompted, we do report on what the candidates say and he's now using it to attack Donald Trump. And again, that sale his character, so then it sort of becomes injected in the discussion.

Right, this is the flip side of what you were all saying in taking issue with Trump blaming Ted Cruz for the independent pacts picture. And this morning on ABC, Trump said he thinks that Cruz's campaign may have bought the rights to the picture and given it to this small pact. I don't see any evidence of that. But Cruz is making a very serious dirty tricks charge here against -- by blaming it on Trump that it seems to me that he doesn't have any evidence to back up.

ROGINSKY: He doesn't. And I'm not, Gayle is the lawyer here, but to me defamation goes both ways, right? He can potentially be defaming Donald Trump by saying that Donald Trump have planted the story but he has no evidence that he plant it although we also suspect that he probably did.

KURTZ: Wait, you all suspect? That's not good enough as a journalist standard.

ROGINSKY: Exactly right. Exactly right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

ROGINSKY: But look at what Donald Trump has done so brilliantly to the press and this is a great example this weekend. He did a very detailed story with Maggie Heberman and David Sanger of The New York Times where he talked about his vision for the country if he were president.

KURTZ: For over an hour and a half...

ROGINSKY: For over an hour and a half...

KURTZ: Yes.

ROGINSKY: ...full of detail that frankly we're head spinning to a lot of us. Nobody is really focused on that instead, what we're spending time talking about is talking about whether Ted Cruz may have had affairs with one to five women, whether this is a Hulk Hogan situation where somehow Melania Trump's picture got bought by him despite the fact that it's obviously in the public domain because it belongs to GQ or whoever it belongs to which she does work.

KURTZ: Yes.

ROGINSKY: And so this is why he is so brilliant at playing the press. We're not talking about substance. We're talking about what he do as president. We're talking about essentially what Hulk Hogan was talking about in his Gawker trials, incredible things.

KURTZ: You know what, by the way, the Enquirer denies being influenced by anybody under the -- in its reporters and editors in pursuing the story and you know, it is true that Trump is friendly with the CEO of the Enquirer's parent company, David Pecker and it is also true that Roger Stone who had been a kind of unofficial adviser to Trump is not anymore is the only person quoted, on-the-record, as Cruz point it out in this piece just saying while these rumors have been out there.

Well, that's not good enough I think for journalistic standards. You know, I've done a lot of reporting on the Enquirer over the years. Enquirer was right in the O.J. Simpson case and John Edwards having a love child and Tiger Woods' multiple mistresses sometimes it run a rumors hitting up story a way of getting sources to come out of the wood work.

It doesn't have the story nailed down but it hopes to get to a more definitive story. We'll come back to that but I want to play a moment -- now, this is before most of those organizations were acknowledging the Enquirer story where it was exploding on tweeter and online.

This is the moment with CNN and then with two guests, one was Adriana Cohen, who is a Boston Herald columnist who happens to support Donald Trump and the other guest was Amanda Carpenter who is a CNN Contributor who had worked until fairly recently for Ted Cruz. Look at what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADRIANA COHEN, BOSTON HERALD COLUMNIST: I would like Ted Cruz to issue a statement whether or not the "National Enquirer" story is true that he has had affairs with many women including you were named, Amanda. Will you denounce the story or will you confirm it?

(LAUGHTER)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Let's me just be very clear. It will come as no surprise for our viewers, CNN has no reporting on what you're talking about coming from the "National Enquirer", Amanda, go ahead.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What's out there is tabloid trash. If someone wants to comment on it, they can talk to my lawyer. It is categorically false. You should be ashamed for spreading this kind of smut.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Yes.

TROTTER: I'm just speechless thinking about CNN and Bolduan, the anchor allowing her to go on national television on a station like CNN and republish that defamation. I mean this is really shocking that she didn't cut off the discussion right away.

KURTZ: Yes. It's hard to react in a moment unsympathetic but Kate Bolduan should not have let it go on I mean then she had to give Amanda Carpenter...

TROTTER: Yes.

KURTZ: ...a chance to respond...

TROTTER: Absolutely.

KURTZ: ...and she did very forcefully. But it kind of made me cringe that this, you know, unsubstantiated allegation was then repeated to the face of a woman who is a CNN Contributor who happened to formally work for the Senator.

ROGINSKY: Yes, we're setting a precedent where somebody concern and somebody else in television and say when did you start beating your wife,  you have to respond to this kind of allegation I mean inexcusable. I don't -- I have a lot of sympathy for Kate Bolduan.

KURTZ: Yes.

ROGINSKY: I'm sure she didn't mean for this to happen...

KURTZ: And she didn't know it was coming.

ROGINSKY: ...and she cut it off.

KURTZ: Yes.

ROGINSKY: Adriana Cohen frankly owes this woman a humungous apology. But this is where we've gotten to in the cycle. This is what we're talking about. We're talking about -- accusing women of having affairs with each other is the same.

KURTZ: I can't argue with that. All right, let me get a break here. Ahead, Fox's interview with Hulk Hogan on his $140 million verdict against Gawker and that sex tape case but when we come back the bombings in Brussels and how they've changed the coverage of the 2016 campaign.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Hours after the terror attacks in Brussels, Donald Trump accepted an invitation that call on to "The Today Show," Hillary Clinton declined but then change her mind after the Trump interview and that kicked off a fierce debate among the pundits and the candidates.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID MUIR, HOST, "ABC WORLD NEWS TONIGHT": But it was what Donald Trump said about water boarding and else he would that had Hillary Clinton responding and quickly.

HALLIE JACKSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: For Hillary Clinton, a chance to prove her national security credentials. For Donald Trump, an opportunity to see more presidential one day after calling for controversial cuts to NATO...

ERIN BURNETT, HOST, CNN'S "OUTFRONT": Presidential Candidate, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz both pushing controversial plans to fight ISIS. Hillary Clinton says they're guilty of being bigots.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Gayle Trotter, have the Belgian bombings, what a tragedy, push the media and the candidates into a more serious debate about terrorism?

TROTTER: I would hope that that would be the case, but I don't think so. I think any time you have a terrorist attack in the west, we have wall-to- wall, 24/7 coverage of the attack because audiences want to know the details. They want to know what happened.

But as soon as that -- the details are released, the coverage dies down and then the press can't really come forward with any information that the public wants. Like they want to know how do we defeat the bad guys.

And do you -- does the press have any credible information about imminent threats? And the media doesn't come up with that, so then we don't get into the bigger debate about how do we handle this.

KURTZ: Well, at least until we all got diverted into the stuff we were talking about in the first segment, this was the dominant story for reporters covering the campaign, was it not?

PARKER: Yes, it was and I think -- not only that something we covered in terms of the event itself but also in terms of what the candidates were saying about it. But I think it also changed the lens through which we viewed what they were saying about it.

So, for instance, before the attacks, Donald Trump have unveiled five foreign policy advisers who are not particularly well-known in the foreign politic community. He made his comments about maybe...

TROTTER: Some of them are.

PARKER: Some, but getting out of NATO and then those...

KURTZ: Or at least adjusting the U.S. rule...

PARKER: Yes, yes adjusted. And then those comments are sort of viewed through in different lens after the attacks and that view, you mentioned the very long 100 minutes with "The New York Times" on foreign policy, I think, you know, we may have talked about other things but I do think it led our home page, it's on our front page...

KURTZ: Right.

PARKER: ...I think people are interested in reading that of this man could be commander-in-chief.

KURTZ: Are we in a predictable post attack environment now where conservative pundits are slamming Hillary Clinton on terror and the whole pundits have been asking Trump and Cruz?

ROGINSKY: We are and it's going to continue this way until this election is over and I fear it's going to continue this way even after the new president has sworn in because the building behind us is so completely...

KURTZ: Polarized.

ROGINSKY: ...completely polarized to the point...

KURTZ: Yes.

ROGINSKY: ...where there is nobody -- there's no working with anybody anymore. You know, I remembered being here on 9/11. I don't remember this kind of coverage after 9/11 where people are turning on each other, immediately turning on the president and turning them congress assign and blame. I fear this is the new normal for us not just in the press, not just in politics but really among the public at large.

KURTZ: Yes. That was the time when the country did come together.

ROGINSKY: Right.

KURTZ: All right, so Ashley, do you think the media have overplayed this story -- conservative criticism, let's put up some pictures here that President Obama stayed in Cuba after the Brussels bombing, didn't cut short his trip and went to a baseball game. The optics were not great...

PARKER: Yes, he is, you know, but the president got a lot of criticism in Conservative media for this. His response was that, you know, the goal of terrorism is sort of to disrupt our ordinary lives and he was not going to disrupt his life. It didn't seem to me like a huge story but it was certainly something where you had kind of that polarizing commentary...

KURTZ: Right.

PARKER: ...do you think -- kind of think what Conservatives are going to say versus what Liberals are going to say.

KURTZ: And Gayle, going on to Argentina and dancing then tango reluctantly with that woman, you also thought that was -- is that...

TROTTER: Unseemly.

KURTZ: ...controversy?

TROTTER: Yes, definitely. And definitely, the Conservative media covered this and I thought picked up by mainstream media as well. Because certainly those pictures of him with the Argentinian tango dancer were very dramatic contrast to the people bleeding in the streets of Brussels.

KURTZ: To me, the misstep was so briefly addressing the Belgian bombings and then going back to prepare the March leaving aside the fact that these are things you do when you visit these other countries. All right, Gayle Trotter, Ashley Parker, Julie Roginsky thanks very much for joining us this Sunday.

Up next, more on how the media are covering the Belgian bombing case and whether that story will soon fade and later, Charles Krauthammer on missing Donald Trump's appeal to Republicans and whether it's too late for Conservatives to stop him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: The awful news from Brussels broke in the early morning hours on Tuesday and the media quickly went to saturation coverage, joining us now from New York, Joe Concha, a columnist for Mediaite.

So, Joe, television news had devoted a lot of resources to this story with anchors like Lester Holt, Matt Lauer, Jeff Smith (ph) and others going to Brussels, how long will this focus last?

JOE CONCHA, MEDIAITE COLUMNIST: Howie, I think it will last fairly long time. Because what we're seeing here is the media is correctly using the Paris playbook. What does that mean? After Paris, yes, you covered the terror attacks. But there were raids. There were arrests, and there were confrontations during those arrests that led to compelling television and obviously good journalism.

So, I think the media has seen what happened in Paris in November and so we're going to keep our resources there for an indefinite period of time because of those reasons and unfortunately maybe another shoe will drop in term of another attack.

KURTZ: Right. Well, despite what the diversions that we talked about earlier in the program, Trump and Cruz and their wives and all that, do you feel like this is a moment -- one moment when the media actually turned serious and gave this kind of story, this kind of tragedy the attention that it deserves?

CONCHA: Yes, absolutely, Howie because the fear is very real. If you remember what the president said after San Bernardino, he said, I'm not watching enough cable news to understand the fear and anxiety that is out there.

And I can tell you, I -- we're out at LaGuardia Airport in New York on Wednesday and if you know that airport, the security line to go through security is about 20 feet from the main entrance way. And all I was doing personally was looking at the entranceway to see if anyone is walking in with a luggage carrier and one black glove on their left hand.

The tension was very real, 60 people standing in a soft target a day after an attack in Brussels. The fear is very real and it's a new reality that we live in and unfortunately, Howie it has nothing to do with cable news coverage or fear-monitoring by the media that I can tell you.

KURTZ: Oh, yes because that's supposed to be our next question, implicit in President Obama's remarks that were reported is a notion that cable news is whipping people up beyond a say rational response to the fear of terrorist but were not -- there are always interviews not just with the national security experts and the retired generals but with local police and local airport authorities and could this happen in our town? Do you think that has the cumulative effect of making people more scared?

CONCHA: I think it does, Howie because you look at the diversity of soft targets that have happened. In Paris, it was at a cafe outside of a soccer stadium at a rock concert hall; San Bernardino, at an office Christmas party; and then in Brussels, before the security's checkpoint at an airport and in a subway.

Think of it. If you're just a regular person, in New York or even a suburb like San Bernardino ISIS is showing it could attack anywhere any time...

KURTZ: So...

CONCHA: ...so, it's not cable news saying this is a problem. This is a problem -- it's reality.

KURTZ: Right. So, you feel it reflects the actual legitimate concerns of people that their town, cities, stadium could be next and not just overdramatizing by cable news just briefly?

CONCHA: I absolutely believe that, Howie. And we're seeing it and it happens not only in towns obviously San Bernardino and Brussels and Paris but even there were two attacks in Turkey this month that barely anybody is talking about. That's a NATO member. One happened in Istanbul which is a major American tourist attraction, 34 people killed by ISIS by a suicide bomber, barely any coverage of that. So what was happening strictly over there...

KURTZ: Yes.

CONCHA: ...being Baghdad or Damascus, this is now happening everywhere, I'm afraid from what we're seeing it's going to continue to happen for a long time.

KURTZ: All right, Joe Concha thanks very much for joining us this morning.

CONCHA: Thank you, Howie.

KURTZ: Coming up, Charles Krauthammer on why his war of words with Donald Trump turned so personal on both sides. Later, could the huge verdict against Gawker undermined press freedom, Fox's Diana Falzone who just interviewed Hulk Hogan.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Does the stop Trump movement have any chance of derailing the Donald and will his detractors in the media have much impact? I sat down with Charles Krauthammer, the syndicated columnist author and Fox News contributor here in studio one.

Charles Krauthammer, welcome.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Pleasure to be here.

KURTZ: Is it fair to say that for many months you misjudged Donald Trump's appeal to Republicans?

KRAUTHAMMER: Yes.

KURTZ: Why?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, because I found his appeal so unappealing...

(LAUGHTER)

KRAUTHAMMER: ...that I found it unfathomable that he would go under such a large constituency. I still remain mildly amazed by the phenomenon, but I no longer deny it.

KURTZ: Mildly amazed, not shocked and out of denial which is a good sign. I mean last August in the candidate casino a special report you had more money on Bush and Rubio. You put your first bets on Trump and Cruz.

Now, you've got $80 for Trump, $10 for Cruz. Interesting, when I interviewed Trump a couple of weeks ago in Palm Beach, he brought you up as he so often does when he talks about Fox News and he says you never have anything nice to say about him.

And he also said that some of the commentators he didn't necessarily say you, he feels have a kind of personal hatred for him.

KRAUTHAMMER: I think he feels that about just about everybody. If you ask him to evaluate anyone, remember at the end of the Maureen Dowd column. I think he was asked how do you feel about X, Y, Z, she went through all. And if you look at that, some of them are athletes or whatever. His answer is yes, so and so he likes me. Good guy. So and so. Oh, good friend. Good guy.

Everything is in relation to how they feel about him. So I'm sure he feels that -- I have -- I have absolutely no animus against him as a person. I have no reason to. Had he not become a presidential candidate, I mean I don't talk about him otherwise...

KURTZ: Sure.

KRAUTHAMMER: ...I just think he's animus debt and well obviously he's a good candidate and maybe he will win although I'd be surprised. I think he'd be very bad for the country...

(CROSSTALK)

KRAUTHAMMER: ...that's the only criteria by which I judge him.

KURTZ: For example, when he gave the speech to APAC, a balance support for Israel, you said, well, he's just uttering a necessary cliches. Does that not give you any -- you sound like you weren't giving him the benefit of the doubt politicians out of cliches all the time.

KRAUTHAMMER: Right. But I mean I would have said that about any of the other speeches. I didn't find any of them creative. It's clear that he doesn't know the Middle East very well.

I actually believe that when he said I'd be neutral, neutrality, that was not an intentional codeword. You know, the language of the Middle East is a host of code words. Even handedness, neutrality has a certain meaning.

So, of course, it was interpreted as anti-Israel which is what it means in the lexicon. I am sure that that was not his intent...

KURTZ: Right.

KRAUTHAMMER: ...he meant it as a layman. So, here's a guy that doesn't know the language. He is not fluent in the issues, didn't know Hamas from Hezbollah a few months ago clearly was reading speech read for him.

Now, you know, if you have a Ted Cruz speaking or Hillary Clinton who -- especially Hillary Clinton who has been immersed in these issues, I would have a different reaction. I thought he did very well with the speech.

KURTZ: Is the core of your opposition to Trump as opposed to say Ted Cruz who is a -- an aggressive Conservative, is the core of your opposition to Trump that you feel he's not really a Conservative?

KRAUTHAMMER: If it were only that, I think it would -- my opposition would be a lot less than it is. There are other candidates who are not that Conservative, take Rand Paul, he's a Libertarian, Conservative in some ways.

And, you know, he was not somebody I would have supported. But I hardly argued against his candidacy the way I have against Trump. It's also the matter of temperament which I don't have to spell out.

It is written all over him. It's written all over the stuff he's done with Cruz, Megyn Kelly with a whole list of things. And that kind of temperament I think is so inappropriate for a president.

KURTZ: And you don't have criticism approve -- you don't have criticism approve?

(CROSSTALK)

KRAUTHAMMER: ...in and of itself -- well, not in the sense that I see it in Trump. Cruz may not be the most likeable guy. But you don't elect somebody simply because you have a beer with him...

KURTZ: Let me ask you this because I want to get to another question. Here's...

KRAUTHAMMER: But the question is do you have judgment, does he have the wisdom, does he have the self-restraint to be in the oval office?

KURTZ: Here's the mainstream media tape right now. The Republican Party can either go along with Trump's nomination which would rupture the party or denying him the nomination at a contested convention which would rupture the party. Which is true -- are they both true?

KRAUTHAMMER: They could both be true, but I think it depends how they go into the convention. If Trump, is you know, a three foot putt away from the majority, say 100 seats, 50 seats, then I think there's a sense in which he deserved it or he got near to it. Technically not, I guess he could be stopped, but I think you could then justify the argument, it was smite. But if he's simply ahead of Cruz...

KURTZ: He's on the 16th hole of the golf course.

KRAUTHAMMER: Yes, on the 16th hole...

KURTZ: Yes.

KRAUTHAMMER: ...your head by two. It's not a gimme at that point. Then we all know famously Lincoln was not leading in the delegate when he was nominated for the presidency in 1860.

KURTZ: Last question, which will have a bigger impact on the campaign the bombings in Brussels and all of the terror issues that it raises or the spot going on between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump about their wives and now this National Enquirer story about Cruz and some of the more tabloid stuff?

KRAUTHAMMER: I would divide the answer in two. In the Primary's, I think it has been, will be terrorism. The Trump campaign took off like a rocket after the Paris attacks. It seemed to retroactively justify some of the scandalous stuff he said and the stuff that came after which is the barring of Muslims as...

(CROSSTALK)

KRAUTHAMMER: ...in general election, I think the wife stuff, the gutter stuff, the crazy stuff that's going to carry over. It's not going to affect Primary because people have -- they know who Trump is that they've been exposed to him now very heavily. But I think when you get in the general election when the Democrats are going to unload awful (ph) research, it will be a different story.

KURTZ: Charles Krauthammer thanks very much for joining us.

KRAUTHAMMER: My pleasure.

KURTZ: And on "MediaBuzz," the latest on Apple versus the FBI. Is the company now getting sympathetic coverage refusing to help the feds in a terror case?

But, first, how does a guy who kept talking about a sex tape with his best friend's wife win $140 million against Gawkers? Diana Falzone on her sits down with Hulk Hogan.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: The jury in the Hulk Hogan sex tape case with Gawker won another $25 million impunity damages this week, this is after a verdict that imposed a $115 million penalty in the former wrestler's lawsuit. Gawker founder, Nick Denton, said his appeal will focus on key evidence that was excluded by the judge and still defends his decision to post the video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel any remorse about posting that sex tape now?

NICK DENTON, GAWKER FOUNDER: No. You know what, I don't. We didn't post the sex tape. We posted nine seconds of sexual activity in an excerpt sort of much, much longer tape.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Hogan talked about the personal impact with Fox's, Diana Falzone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DIANA FALZONE, FOX NEWS.COM REPORTER: The judge and Gawker tried numerous times to get you to settle on arbitration behind closed doors. Why did you want this to go to trial?

HOGAN: It still makes me cower. You know when I leave my house and I meet people what do they think? Did they see the tape? What do the kids think? So, really it wasn't about. It was about this not ever happened to anybody else because I know how it affected me and so all I wanted was to let everyone know what Gawker is all about and what they do to destroy lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Joining us now from New York, here is Diana Falzone, entertainment reporter for FoxNews.com who has covered this case from the beginning. And Diana, Hulk Hogan who are talked about this sex tape with Howard Stern and others says he was fighting against invasion of privacy. He also got a lot of zillion dollars, so do you find that he was doing this in the name of cleaning up journalism?

FALZONE: I wasn't doing -- he wasn't doing it in the name of cleaning up journalism. I think he was doing it in the name of cleaning up his reputation. This was a man who could have settled behind closed doors.

In fact, Gawker and the judge was insisting on that for about 3-1/2 years but him and his lawyer said, no, we are going to vindicate Hulk Hogan's reputation.

So this was more about him and then in the long run it was about defending people's privacy. He was saying he was Terry Bollea which is his real name not Hulk Hogan in those private moments...

KURTZ: Right.

FALZONE: ...with Bubba the Love Sponge's then wife.

KURTZ: It is then wife, yes. OK, so the excluded evidence that Gawker says could have turned the tide here involved allegation that's Hogan's real motivation in filing this suit was to make sure that another tape didn't come out in which he had made racist comments. Here's what he said to you in your interview this week.

HOGAN: On top of, you know, the horrible decision I made morally at an all time low with the low mid-story (ph) that goes with it...

FALZONE: Right.

HOGAN: ...you know, if I could make people understand, you know, that that one moment doesn't define me. Also, all those people that really don't know me I'm not a racist.

KURTZ: Your thoughts on that exchange?

FALZONE: This man, when he came and sat down with me, he had bloodshot eyed. He looked like he was just going through the greatest match of his life. It's hard to know somebody's heart when it comes to racism and what their intent is. You can't really judge that but I will say this and this is very interesting.

The Hulk Hogan camp, his lawyers were able to exclude that racist rant from the trial. So that what makes sense (ph) talking about when they say key evidence was left out. But Hulk Hogan's legal camp did not want the jury to be poisoned by hearing that rant.

KURTZ: All right, now these massive awards are often knocked down on appeal but a lot of people are seeing this as a kind of co-muffins (ph) against Gawker which is we cast himself (ph) more recently is a political side, but which over the years has published a lot of mean spirit stuff about a lot of people's private lives.

FALZONE: Yes, they have.

KURTZ: So do you think some people were rooting for Hulk not because he's such a sympathetic figure, a guy sleeping with his best friend's wife, but because he was taken on Gawker?

FALZONE: I think that definitely has something to do with but the jury said that Gawker was very arrogant and remember Nick Denton has been unapologetic so is AJ Daulerio, one of the former Gawker editor, they like to cloak kind of -- kind of making this OK by using the freedom of speech. But when is the line drawn? There is a code of ethics in journalism and they really like to walk that line very closely.

KURTZ: I think this will have something of a chilling effect on the rest of the press, not worried that we're all in the business of posting sex tapes with what you are reporting on a celebrity online gossip in particular and you think the person might sue and you might get a jury that will award a big verdict, I think it could act as a deterrent. What do you think?

FALZONE: Considering that Gawker is unapologetic, there will always be sites that have questionable moral integrity. As long as there is social media and Smartphone, I think we will see more cases like Hulk Hogan in the future. But perhaps some of them will think before they go in and type something up but unfortunately I don't see much changing.

KURTZ: Well, we'll see about that. I do think it will a bit of a deterrent and perhaps that's needed. Diana Falzone, great to see you. Thanks for coming by.

FALZONE: Thank you, Howard.

KURTZ: After the break, a glowing time cover story on Apple, CEO Tim Cook for defying the FBI on hacking a terrorist iPhone which have now turns out may not be necessary.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: You've seen the negative headlines. The FBI has been painting Apple executives as the bad guys for refusing to create a technology that could unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists.

But this week the Justice Department did an about-face saying an unnamed third party providing information that could allow the feds to hack into the phone without Apple's help.

Joining us now, Shana Glenzer, a technology executive and commentator here in Washington. So, Apple is starting to get better press in this battle why is that -- how is Apple doing it?

SHANA GLENZER, TECHNOLOGY EXECUTIVE AND COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think out of this legal battle, Apple made some statements on its website but since then they have embarked on a media campaign that's really unprecedented in Apple's history...

KURTZ: Apple is usually so secretive and doesn't really talk to journalists very much.

GLENZER: They are very quiet. They just about their product and it's usually not their CEO talking about it. So, they have scored points with these multiple interviews and Tim Cook. Meanwhile, we saw the FBI backtracking their statement with the, you know, the delay in the hearing because the third party came forward about a potential solution. So, in this week, you know, Apple is certainly winning the media battle about this issue.

KURTZ: Well, as Wired Magazine pointed it out, Apple has been doing conference calls with journalists, providing backgrounds, inviting some reporters to the Washington Office and doing interview with ABC, David Muir and then there was this Time Magazine cover story on Tim Cook, lot of quotes from the Apple CEO on this including such things as when I think of civil liberties I think of the founding principles of this country. How sympathetic is this story Tim Cook and Apple?

GLENZER: They gave -- they gave Tim Cook a lot of room in the story to make his case and, you know, in one side I can see why this unprecedented access made a reporter very happy just to tell the story in way it has not been told before. Yet the public (ph) wanted to keep access to him in the future for future story but, you know, they -- he -- and the reporter did show some biased. He used language that Tim Cook said up. For example go to the west (ph) to describe the hack that the government requesting...

KURTZ: Government Operating System.

GLENZER: ...Government Operating System, so they started using his language throughout the course of the rest of the story and I felt that it was a bit biased.

KURTZ: Right. Well, you get a time cover story a lot of this is framing  the issue in your direction. I have seen a turn in the tone of the coverage, "New York Times" reporting that hackers would go to the government with word of being able to unlock an IPhone but would not go to Apple, why is that?

GLENZER: So, Apple has historically not done very much at anything to reward hackers for coming forward with the security flaws whereas other companies like Google or Microsoft -- Google pays $100,000 to hackers to reward them for finding these flaws. And Apple has just been very stubborn, they've dug their heels then and now they are going in the open market versus coming to Apple.

KURTZ: But isn't -- isn't that buying off the hackers, paying them off, is there anything unsafely about this?

GLENZER: I mean I think that it does feel unsavory. But they are getting -- what they want is monetary reward for what they're finding and it's what they do for a living and Apple is not giving it to them. They're going to open market where they're getting up to a million dollar for the security flaws they find from Apple.

KURTZ: Apple had a very tough situation here because it was really being portrayed not just as uncooperative with the federal investigation but unpatriotic, so it was a challenge to turn this around.

GLENZER: It was challenging but the way that they've engaged and also it helps the backtracking from the FBI, they have come out on top of certainly at least this week in this battle over privacy and security.

KURTZ: And you would say this lead to the FBI not so much in terms of its media portrayal?

GLENZER: Yes, the FBI...

KURTZ: ...it said that the only way they could do this with the terrorist's phone was to get help from Apple and now?

GLENZER: And now they got tracked because oh, there might -- wait, there might be another solution and they could be criticized across the media broadly for doing that.

KURTZ: All right, Shana Glenzer thanks very much for helping us follow this story...

GLENZER: Yes, thank you.

KURTZ: Still to come, a list of all the people and places that Donald Trump loves with one rather surprising name.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I love the Hispanics. I love the Saudis. I love Israel. I love the Evangelicals. I love the Mormons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Hey, now I want to say a few words about the passing of Garry Shandling, who put on the best satirical condition of a TV talk show in civilized history. The Larry Sanders Show featured an ego-centric insecure, thin skinned, oversexed, late night host who scored with his guest with lots of cameos by various A-listers. It was kind of a hall of nervous (ph) for the fake sincerity and nagging the row seats (ph) of Hollywood.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARRY SHANDLING, AMERICAN COMEDIAN: That was the time that (ph) I'm sweating like a pig.

ROBIN WILLIAMS, ACTOR: How am I really doing?

SHANDLING: You did great, man. Why do you think that? Come on, you're Robin Williams, for God's sake's...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: This was a ground breaking show back in the '90s and many comedians now paying tribute to Garry Shandling's influence on their careers.

Well, I've noticed that most of this Donald Trump events that the billionaire is always proclaiming his love for this or that group, or this of that set of people, or this of that state or country well, Jimmy Kimmel is on the case and the ABC Comedian rounded up a few examples.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": He spread so much love. We boiled it down and pieced it to together to make this powerful Donald Trump love bomb.

TRUMP: I love this country. I love the country. I love the old days. I love free trade. I love my company. I love building buildings. I love what I'm doing. I love hopping around. I love the way they twist and turn. I love NASCAR. I love you potatoes. We love people that fend (ph). I love that sign. I love to bring my people up. I love helping people. I love Howie Kurtz.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Wait. What am I doing in there? Oh, right, it was when he called on me at the Trump tower news conference a few months back and Trump generally thinks I've been fair to him. But believe me he tells me when he doesn't think I'm fair. When I showed up in a press this week, this new Pennsylvania avenue hotel, where we gave reporters a brief toy that was so crowded and chaotic, it's a shock no one was hurt, I was waving my hand and I could not get a question and politics alas, love can be so fleeting. Shana?

GLENZER: It turns out -- I guess politicians are a little fickle when it comes to their loving of journalists.

KURTZ: Kind of like women can be a little fickle.

(LAUGHTER)

GLENZER: I'm not going to touch that one.

KURTZ: You're not going to touch that one, yes. The bromances and the romances in politics and media rarely last.

Well, Happy Easter to you, and Happy Easter to all of you. That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz," I am a Howard Kurtz. Hope you like our Facebook page. We post a lot original content there. We post "YourBuzz" videos, so send me some questions about the media, mediabuzz@foxnews.com -- mediabuzz@foxnews.com.

We're back here next Sunday at 11 and then again at 5 Eastern. Tune in and check us out for the latest buzz.

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