This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," April 3, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the buzzmeter this Sunday, the press hammering Donald Trump for weeks over his comments about women, now seizing on his stumbles on abortion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I was asked as a hypothetical -- hypothetically -- hypothetically, the laws are set now on abortion and that's the way they're going to remain until they change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Many commentators also bashing the billionaire for defending his campaign manager against a legal charge of grabbing reporter Michelle Fields.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
TRUMP: I'm not a lawyer. She said she had a bruise on her arm. I mean to me, if you're going to get squeezed, would you think that she would have yelled out or screamed or something?
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: I got to be honest, I looked at this tape at least 100 times today to try and see, and I have her original statement here that she was "jolted backwards and somebody grabbed me tightly by the arm, yanked me down. I almost fell to the ground." Now, I'm showing the tape. I don't see that.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Now that we have this huge tape, the argument from the Trump camp that is no longer that the campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, never touched the reporter Michelle Fields. Now, their argument is "hey, the touching wasn't that bad."
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: With two days until Wisconsin's primary, are the pundits finally getting payback against Trump? And, with all the tabloid charges and countercharges, are media covering the campaign's dissent into the gutter or helping to push it there?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
KENNEDY, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK: I think there's something really compelling when you have people who are seeking that much power and who can really affect your daily life, when there are tabloid accusations made about them because usually, you know, when we talk about tabloids, we're talking about distraction.
ANDREA TANTAROS, FOX NEWS: I think it points to a culture that's pretty coarsened and pretty eroded. And this political season is reflective of that, Howie.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: My conversation with the ladies of Outnumbered. Plus, more negative headlines for Hillary Clinton in the e-mail probe and Bernie Sanders on a winning streak. Is the press again treating this as a real contest? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."
The coverage of Donald Trump heard harshly negative this week after Florida police filed a misdemeanor battery charge against his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, for grabbing Michelle Fields. The campaign says Lewandowski is completely innocent. But the story has been fueled by a new security video and Trump's criticism of the former Breitbart reporter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Look what she says. Michelle fields --- and who by the way, she's not a baby, okay -- in her own words, exactly, I was jolted backwards. Well, she wasn't. I mean she is standing there. Someone had grabbed me tightly by the arm. Tightly, and yanked me down. She wasn't yanked down. She didn't even have any expression.
ANDERSOON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It doesn't concern you that initially (INAUDBLE) he said I never touched her? And that turns out not to be true.
TRUMP: He admitted. I don't think he knew her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Well, the next day, MSNBC's Chris Matthews pressed Trump on his pro- life stance and there was this eye popping exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no as a principle?
TRUMP: The answer is that -- there has to be some form of punishment.
MATTHEWS: For the woman.
TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form.
MATTHEWS: Sentenced 10 years, what? (ph)
TRUMP: I don't know. That I don't know.
MATTHEWS: But why not?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: The campaign was still cleaning that up when Trump said this in an interview that aired today with CBS's John Dickerson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: What I was asked as a hypothetical -- hypothetically. Hypothetically. The laws are set now on abortion and that's the way they're going to remain until they change.
JOHN DICKERSON, CBS NEWS: There are a lot of laws you want to change. You've talked about them and everything from libel and torture. Anything you want to change ...
TRUMP: At this moment, the laws are set and I think we have to leave it that way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: The Trump camp also rushing to clarify that statement. Joining us now to analyze the coverage is Amy Holmes, news anchor at The Blaze, Kirsten Powers, our Fox News analyst and columnist for USA Today, and Susan Ferrechio, chief congressional correspondent for The Washington Examiner.
Amy, that exchange between Donald Trump and Chris Matthews on abortion, if it were illegal, then women should be punished and he basically retracted that quickly. It's been an explosion of media coverage. It's been an explosion of media coverage around that. Is that fair?
AMY HOLMES, THE BLAZE: I think it is fair and I have to give Chris Matthews credit for really pressing Donald Trump on the question. I've interviewed Donald Trump in the past and it can be very hard to get him off his talking points. But I think as we're learning in the political arena that Donald Trump doesn't seem to have very many considered thoughts and Chris Matthews exposed that.
KURTZ: Chris Matthews is a very good interviewer when he's talking to Republicans -- Hillary Clinton, not so much. And so now the Trump campaign said that when Trump -- when the candidate said that the laws will stay the same, it means until he is president and can start appointing pro-life judges. But the whole media narrative here Kirsten, that Trump, you know, yes he misspoke, but that he is hostile to women. This is a huge mess for the GOP. Is the press taking that a little too far?
KIRSTEN POWERS, FOX NEWS ANALYST: I think he's giving them a lot to work with. And it's true that he is very critical and says terrible things about everybody. So -- men and women -- that is absolutely a true statement. But the re-tweeting of that picture of Ted Cruz's wife which he now has, to Maureen Dowd he said he regrets doing, that is different than what he's been doing to the men because that really was something basically sort of saying, look, this woman, she is not as pretty as my wife. And that is something I think a lot of women look at and feel like, okay that's sexist, right? I mean that's somebody who's got an issue with women. So --
KURTZ: Reminds them of ex-boyfriends they don't like?
POWERS: Well, I just think it's basically makes most women feel like, oh, our most important quality is how we look and you're basically saying -- it just not a nice thing to do and it seems sexist and so we put that in that category. The comments about the abortion stuff as well, I mean, I'm pro- life, but that -- that's way too -- many bridges too far to say something like that. And it's odd that he would say something like that and not realize how explosive it is.
KURTZ: I thought the question by Chris Matthews was perfectly fair Susan, but just not fed a criticism on both sides. Pro-life groups and Pro-choice groups hammering Trump on this issue. But he's had this other media narrative that he hasn't quite thought through the issues.
SUSAN FERRECHIO, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: That was the most important part of that exchange. Look, the media love to play gotcha with Republican candidates when it comes to social issues like abortion. Chris Matthews just did it in 2012, George Stephanopoulos did it with Mitt Romney in a debate where he talked about over turning a 50 year-old thing that prevented states from banning contraceptives. Those are ridiculous questions and I think Matthews kind of took Trump down the same path, talking about punishment for abortion.
Trump probably -- never even crossed his mind. But what it did, as you say, that raises the issue of how -- when he is going to start studying important issues to conservatives, to the Republican parties, for the country? He comes totally unprepared. He speaks off the cuff. He has to make coarse corrections. What does it say about him as a candidate or somebody who wants to actually be president?
KURTZ: Let's go back to the column with Maureen Dowd in The New York Times. Now, Trump told me last time I spoke to him that he really likes Maureen Dowd even though she can be very tough on him. She gets him, he says. And so he admitted to her he made a mistake. He used that word mistake in re-tweeting this picture of Senator Cruz's wife, Heidi in unflattering photo compared to Melania. And then defaulted to he attacks men more often than women and is tougher on men than women. What did you make of that column?
HOLMES: Well, I think that Donald Trump there has a pattern of attacking women based on their appearance. Just ask Rosie O'Donnell. Now, he's been attacking her for years. But getting to your point about how the media is much more personal and much more aggressive with Republicans on social issues than Democrats, I found you want to talk about getting into the gutter for Miss Dowd to be asking Donald Trump if he knew or dated any women who had an abortion, for someone who is supposedly a pro-choicer, that's about a right to privacy and if that woman she's implicating another woman for him to expose her as possibly someone who sought an abortion.
I thought that was completely obnoxious and certainly not the type of question that pro-choicers ever get. Have you known someone who had this procedure and what have been the effects on them?
POWERS: Yes, I bet it would be different because if the person is pro- choice, it's different. The point is, have you ever -- you're pro-life and if you've ever been complicit in an abortion, then that does kind of raise some questions about your belief system. I mean if you're really pro-life. I think that whereas a person is pro-choice, they would say, yes, someone's had an abortion.
KURTZ: It's consistent.
HOLMES: No, but it's a question of does this -- has this policy affected and influenced someone that you know? I thought it was inappropriate and that woman deserves privacy.
KURTZ: In his interview with Fox News Sunday Chris Wallace, the first question from Chris was, are new in a process of blowing your campaign? So, look, it's been a very bad week for Donald Trump mostly because of his own missteps. But, is there a sense of payback in the media which have tried again and again and again to "expose" Donald Trump to check his missteps, his misstatements, factual matters, to no avail, but now maybe there is a sense that he's on the defensive.
POWERS: I think they would do what they're doing to him to any Republican candidate. I just can't imagine ...
KURTZ: But not to any Democratic candidate?
POWERS: Maybe they would. It would have to be somebody they didn't like, I guess. But the point is, if somebody did, you know -- look, you can get into what happened in the Michelle Fields situation. But the bottom line is Corey Lewandowski should have apologized. Whether her story was accurate or not, what he did was inappropriate and he should have just said, "You know what, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you." You know, it won't happen again. Ask for forgiveness and I think that's the kind of thing the media will be covering and probably we will be covering frankly if it was a Democrat.
KURTZ: It seems to me the video show that what happened was certainly more than Corey Lewandowski said. He obviously did touch her and grab her and in my view, less than what Michelle Fields said about, you know, almost being thrown to the ground, it didn't seem to be the case. But more importantly Corey Lewandowski is what Donald Trump said about Michelle Fields and whether that fueled again the media's narrative that he can be difficult or hostile towards women.
FERRECHIO: Yes, I mean I'm a reporter who is -- has been in so many of these scrums. I spend most of my career stuck a big crowd, trying to get my microphone in there so I can hear so, never, never has anyone ever laid a hand on me. I can't -- that's the -- you draw the line there. He should not have touched her. It doesn't matter if she fell or did not fall or had bruises or did.
The fact he grabbed her arm, that's where i stand on that part of it. The fact that he grabbed her arm so, that's where I stand on that part of it, but I think this is an issue not about gender. It's an issue about the press. You don't touch the press. You don't handle the press. And to turn this into an attack against women, does anyone think it was a male reporter who did that that Corey Lewandowski wouldn't have done the exact same thing?
It's just how they're bullying everybody. They're bullying the press. And I think that's the big issue here. And the media has a right to be angry about that and to really question the Trump campaign and they should be questioning him more about it.
HOLMES: And in defense of the press's coverage of this, Donald Trump is giving this more legs. He was the one who sat there on CNN in the town hall going on for 20 minutes trying to litigate this case into defend of Corey Lewandowski and I just have to point out, in the same week that he says that women should be punished, he says that Corey Lewandowski should be defended for putting his hands on women? I mean, I think that Donald Trump has dug his own grave.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's putting his hands on anybody.
KURTZ: On that point, look, the story was fading until the legal charge was brought and the Democrat -- the prosecutor down in Florida is a Democrat. But leaving that aside, there were 16 conservative female commentators who signed a petition urging Donald Trump to fire Corey Lewandowski over this incident. They included Fox News contributors Katy Pavlich, Megan McCain, Dana Loesch, CNN contributors S.E. Cupp and Mary Katherine Ham not with CNN. Greta Van Susteren took issue with that. Let's take a brief look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS: Lewandowski hasn't even had a trial and they're calling for his head. Yes, they've tried and convicted him. And second, each of these women has now shot herself in the foot. It may be a hard sell for each of these women now covering this election to say she's fair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POWERS: I don't know about that.
KURTZ: They're all commentators.
KURTZ: So, they're entitled to their opinion.
POWERS: Yeah, and I don't think this is an issue. It's not like an ideological issue. This is an issue which I think we're on agreement on, which is he shouldn't have grabbed her. You know, and the fact that -- and then to not apologize for it but then to engage in character assassination. Now it's fair for them to say that what she said was not quite accurate. But nonetheless, something bad did happen. And they should have just apologized for it.
KURTZ: Well, you're a commentator. When you sign a petition and you say somebody should be fired, is that stepping out of the role of analysts who may or may not like Trump? Is it becoming a little bit more (INAUDIBLE)
HOLMES: Well, there is a line there, right, with commentators, which is are you saying what is happening or what ought to be happening? Are you being an analyst of events or an advocate for a position, and I think that gets blurred constantly when it comes to commentary.
POWERS: I know I wouldn't sign -- I wouldn't have signed on to a letter like that even if I agree with what they're saying.
FERRECHIO: It would have been better if they had a press group, press organizations send something out about, you don't stick your hands on the press like. You don't -- just the other day in front if the Turkish Embassy, the Secret Service telling the Turkish, you know, protection, saying this is America. You don't grab the press. You don't kick the press. It's important.
KURTZ: The reason all this really matters is that we're two days before the Wisconsin primary. Ted Cruz has a 10 point lead according to several polls. If Donald Trump loses Wisconsin, all these criticisms and media about his candidacy are going to be on steroids. And then it's another two weeks until the New York primary. All right, let me get a break. When we come back, we'll get the Trump point of view with campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pearson. And later, exploring this increasingly tabloid campaign with a panel of Outnumbered.
KURTZ: All these negative stories swirl around Donald Trump, joining us live from Dallas to respond is his campaign spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson. And Katrina, do you believe the media are now pushing a narrative, pushing a theme that Donald Trump is hostile to women?
KATRINA PIERSON, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SPOKESWOMAN: You know what, Howie, absolutely. But I think we've always known particularly as Republicans, going up against the assumed nominee on the Democrat side, Hillary Clinton, this is exactly the narrative they were going to try to push regardless. I mean, I think they're starting early because they know that Mr. Trump is on a trajectory to win the nomination despite what everyone is saying in D.C. and in the beltway about receiving the delegates.
Mr. Trump's support is committed at about 80 percent now, and if he can just maintains his current support moving forward, he will lock up the nomination before the convention.
KURTZ: Okay, but do you see this as sort of bias against republicans or do you see a particular effort by the press to sort of slow Trump down or take him down after eight months of pretty contentious relationships -- pretty contentious relations between Donald Trump and the media?
PEARSON: Well, there is definitely a huge media bias here and it's actually the Republican Establishment and the #NeverTrump folks who are actually helping the media in this process not understanding that the same thing is going to happen no matter who the Republican nominee is. But just to give you an example, we have seen questions asked to Republican candidates that are never asked to Democratic candidates.
For example in the Chris Matthews interview. When was the last time someone sat Hillary Clinton down and asked her about hypothetical positions on particular states of abortion? You just don't see that. But on top of that, you do see --- go ahead.
KURTZ: Speaking of that interview, since you brought it up, Trump now says, you now say that he misspoke when he answered the hypothetical question if abortion were illegal, would -- should women be punished and then, of course, the campaign clarified that. Do you think the press is refusing to accept the clarification and keeps just sort of repeating what he said?
PEARSON: There's absolutely no question. But I think it's a little bit worse than that, Howie, because they're not even discussing the context of this question because it was hypothetical. Abortion is legal in this country and that's not the context that it was being discussed in.
And I've seen on other networks, CNN and MSNBC specifically, when they're talking about this or even in the headlines. They're saying that Mr. Trump said in the interview that he just wanted women to be punished for just an abortion, period. So the entire context is being left out. They're reporting that Mr. Trump wants for a ban on abortion.
KURTZ: At the same time, Donald Trump has said a couple times now, that this was a convoluted exchange with Matthews, fair enough, but that MSNBC cut out part of it and MSBC is absolutely not true that this aired -- the exchange on this aired just as it happened.
PEARSON: Well, yes. The portion that we're talking about being cut, and you can go check the tapes whether it's MSNBC or CNN for that matter, is the actual reporting of that interview. Not the interview itself because they are cutting out the context of the proposed hypothetical ban on abortion and that's the part that they're running. They're not running the entire context. They've cut it out to make it look like Donald Trump just simply wanted to punish women for an abortion and that's just not the case.
KURTZ: I see. So we'd see the later reporting on it...
PEARSON: The reporting.
KURTZ: Just briefly on the dustup between Corey Lewandowski and Michelle Fields, regardless who is right and wrong, would it have been better if Trump in particular were more gracious toward a reporter who felt aggrieved over this incident?
PEARSON: You know, I'm not really sure. We can say that in hindsight, but I also know that this is another anti-Trump group that pushed this narrative on Twitter. You know, we have to remind people that this is not something that happened and was immediately reported. This took days after a discussion and after a narrative was created on Twitter for this woman to go and file charges against the campaign manager. So this is just another orchestrated attack to try to continue to push that narrative.
KURTZ: Kat, I've got a half minute. What about the notion that at a time when Donald Trump had this big lead and should be trying to unify the party that he keeps punching or counter punching as he would say using Twitter and still sort of trafficking in the kind of insults that one might say got him to where he is, but maybe is not the right tone for somebody who is the Republican front-runner?
PEARSON: Well, Mr. Trump is Mr. Trump. He's not politically correct and it is one of the biggest drivers of the campaign. He does call it like he sees it. And, you know, I think moving forward, he's going to continue to make those decisions. And at the same time, you know, he's been attacked from 16 sides of Sunday from the media, from the opposition, you name it, Howie. He is fighting back against everyone. So, to sit back and assume that we, the campaign, is supposed to take incoming from all sides and not respond, that's just not going to happen.
KURTZ: Certainly wasn't suggesting that. Good to see you this Sunday, Katrina Pierson ...
PEARSON: Good to be here.
KURTZ: Thanks very much for joining us.
PEARSON: Thank you.
KURTZ: Ahead, Frank Luntz on "Saturday Night Live" joining the media assault on Donald Trump. But up next, Ted Cruz accuses the media of a Trump love fest by giving him way too much air time and some anchors respond.
KURTZ: It's a charge we've heard for many of Donald Trump's detractors and increasingly from Ted Cruz. The media just roll over for Trump and give him all this free air time. The Texas senator raised that issue with CNN's Anderson Cooper and, well, got a little pushback.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SEN. TED CRUZ, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, what I knew is that media was engaged in a love fest, giving Donald Trump two billion dollars of free-- COOPER: Sounds like you were engaged in a love fest.
CRUZ: No, let's be clear. How many hours of free media does CNN and Fox and every other station -- you let him call in and for a year he got $2 billion of free --
COOPER: Well, I got to say, we've asked you for interviews pretty much every day and you've declined every offer on my program.
CRUZ: Well Anderson ...
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: I mean seriously, this is what we heard. We have the same people that -- I'm going to say it, bitch and whine about never being -- you know Donald Trump is on too much. We invite them every day. It's a standing offer every day. And nobody calls in but Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: That's the thing that critics miss. I have asked Senator Cruz's people for interview virtually every week and said I will get on a plane to do it face-to-face. Now, the senator has been kind enough to appear twice on "MediaBuzz" and felt he was treated fairly. And his people told me yesterday he may do it again. We've also tried John Kasich. We had the same problem with Marco Rubio who appeared once on this program.
Trump says, yes. Again and again and the candidates who do that, yes, get more air time than the candidates who just say no. But is there a price to be paid for interviewing Trump? After Wisconsin radio host Charlie Sykes did a contentious interview with the Donald, MSNBC reported Tony (ph) the couple raised questions about his own network.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY DOKOUPIL, MSNBC: Charlie Sykes, he took his opportunity. He knew it was going to be one and done. He does not have to go back to Donald Trump ever again. People were on the beat, people who work for our network, they have to keep that relationship going for a long, long time. Charlie did not have that burden.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: In some cases, that's true. Now, when I interviewed Trump, we've gone out at it hard, butting heads over all kinds of questions, but that's not to say he doesn't get some softball interviews. Ahead on "MediaBuzz," Hillary Clinton hasn't held a real news conference in 120 days, just as the e-mail investigation is once again heating up. But first, what happened after Outnumbered went off the air and we got to talk about the media?
KURTZ: How much responsibility do the media bear for a campaign that's increasingly being waged in the gutter? I was in New York this week to do "Outnumbered" and after the show I raised that issue with Andrea Tantaros, Kennedy, Meghan McCain and Sandra Smith.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: So as the presidential campaign has kind of gone into the gutter, many would say, and with talk of the wives and photos and nude pictures and mistresses and all that, do you think the media have enabled this or enjoying it or just sort of have no choice but to cover it?
SANDRA SMITH, FOX NEWS: Well, first, I think you have to say this is what the people want because people are watching this in large droves. They're showing up at these rallies for the candidates. You're seeing more interest in this election.
KURTZ: I'm talking about (ph) the tawdry stuff? Do the people want that, too? They probably do.
SMITH: It obviously hasn't turned them off because voter turnout has been extremely successful. I got to tell you, I talk to friends and family and show up at restaurants, everybody is talking politics right now. I mean there is just a huge fiery conversation in general right now.
LISA KENNEDY, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK: Yeah.
KENNEDY: And there's -- sorry. I think there is something really compelling when you have people who are seeking that much power and who can really affect your daily life when there are tabloid accusations made about them because usually, you know, we talk about tabloids we're talking about distraction.
We're distracting ourselves from our own lives and the serious issue and it's, you know, popcorn. And now you have -- when those two things come together and the people in power are creating the tabloids or at least feeding them, it's the kind of storm that you can't turn away from.
KURTZ: When you have the front-runner sniping at each other, I would argue the media can't just get on their high horse and say, we're not going to cover this because we're too serious. At the same time, you know, it's good for clicks and ratings but then some people turn around and say, well if you didn't cover it, if you didn't give them oxygen, it would be a more high minded campaign.
MEGHAN MCCAIN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there have been sex scandals since, I mean, from the beginning of politics in America unless we forget the John Edwards sex scandal was much more nefarious than anything we're talking about now.
KURTZ: And also involved the "National Enquirer."
MCCAIN: And also involved the "National Enquirer" exactly. So, my problem actually is I host a radio show and I always try and make these serious issues acceptable and easy to digest by people that are just trying to like drive home and get a little bit of information because so many people, we're a very small minority that does what we do. And I think sometimes journalists get on their intellectual high horse and they're like, why aren't they reading my 8,000 word print, whatever, on the history of whatever. It's like people don't have this kind of time.
A lot of people are working two jobs just trying to get by. And they just want information in the kind that they can get. So, I don't have a problem with the media molding with the times.
KURTZ: So is it popcorn as Kennedy says or is it revealing of character and also how candidates deal with the swirl of scandalous charges and countercharges?
ANDREA TANTAROS, FOX NEWS: I think it points to a culture that is pretty coarsened and pretty eroded and this political season is reflective of that, Howie. I mean this campaign season is pretty despicable, I mean, I have to say. I mean candidates talking about penis size and hands at debates. So when I look at conservatives in this race, I say you have to give us something worth conserving and fighting for and they're not really doing that.
KURTZ: There is a serious debate going on about conservatism and about the future of the country. I mean, you see it in the Sanders candidacy and you see it in the Trump candidacy. You know, people who are taking on the political establishment, but it seems like every time that gets any traction, we get distracted by the shiny objects. The things that's ever easy to talk about which are the insults and the sexual innuendo and here's a picture of my wife and here's a picture of your wife.
SMITH: I think that's why we're constantly talking on this couch about what this election is going to do for the future of the Republican Party. It does seem that things are changing and the definition of conservatism has changed dramatically over time.
MCCAIN: But the one thing I want to say is good journalists rise to the top. There's an interview today and I apologize, I forgot his name -- In Wisconsin, a radio show host that really pressed Donald Trump, really got him squirming. And I think if the right journalist is put in the right situation, you'll get the answers.
I think sometimes it's just journalists want to have, you know, sound bites and entertainment. But I actually think if you put the right person in front of these candidates, you'll get decent answers or at least reflections of who the candidates actually are.
KURTZ: Yes, two reporters of New York Times spent 100 minutes on the phone with Donald Trump talking about the nuances of foreign policy and I think that was a good exercise in journalism.
MCCAIN: His name is Charlie Sykes. Sorry, I just want to say that, Charlie Sykes.
KURTZ: Okay, I think that's a good exercise. But then you get into this question when television has to compress it, how much traction does a more complicated story like that get versus oh, he pointed the finger and said he leaked this thing about me and my family. It's a tough choice. We all grapple with this when we make up our lineups, right.
TARTARO: Well, and if you look at Twitter all weekend long, you would think is the biggest story in the country right now. It's not. I mean, and I think that's where people are getting frustrated, is there such pressing issues, but in this ADD news cycle, people, one, don't have the time for it and two, they're not really interested in radical Islamic jihadism or the real issues at hand.
The media, too, Howie. I mean, the media seems pretty lazy in digging into a lot of these more substantive issues in Washington, D.C. It's much easier to just file another story on Donald Trump or file a story on Ted Cruz and let everybody else discuss it.
KURTZ: Well, every once in a while reality intrudes on the reality show campaign and we saw this with the Brussels bombing most recently and of course the attacks in Pakistan on Sunday. And then the media tend to get more serious. But, you know, we have very short attention span and it's very easy to be distracted by the latest bid of, as you say, popcorn.
KENNEDY: Yeah. But that's, I mean, what tabloids are. And normally we see celebrities on the cover of Life and Style and In Touch and it's like, oh, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani. Oh, my goodness.
SMITH: But hasn't that been a huge change there in this election? Maybe you could comment further on because you watched this more than anybody. But the cover of "Us Weekly," the other day, it was two political stories. Ted Cruz's story, of course, that's happening right now and Donald Trump. I mean that, to me -- I'm not used to seeing that and it was their top stories and it was their top trending stories.
KURTZ: Donald Trump, whatever you -- would you agree or disagree with him and his policies, I mean he uses Twitter as a weapon. He's on hundreds and hundreds of shows. People say, we're giving him free airtime, yes. He seizes it because he makes himself available and also he's interested.
KENNEDY: And it's free. You know, he's being outspent as it has been pointed out 10-1, but still, he's got more traction than anyone because he's using that sort of coverage so effectively because it is free and he's figure out how to use that to best --
SMITH: Somebody amplify his personality.
KURTZ: Donald Trump, peoples say free media, yes. Covering the rallies endlessly when the other candidates don't get that, that's unfair, that tells the playing field. But when he subjects himself to questioning from the Sunday talk show hosts or anchors or me or anyone else, that's earned media because you're taking the journalistic questions not everybody has stepped on.
TANTAROS: Why hasn't anything stuck to Donald Trump? What is your take on that? Why the media has thrown everything they can and nothing sticks?
KURTZ: Critics say it's because we in the media haven't reported this or that, we haven't looked into his business background, we don't follow on (INAUDIBLE). We've done all of that and the fact is, that people who like Donald Trump and his message feel like he is running not just against the political establishment but against the media establishment. They don't tend to trust us. They do tend to trust him and so far, at least -- I mean, we always say, okay, this is the one that is going to bring him down. So far he has been Teflon.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: It's fun being on that couch. Coming up, new stories say the FBI may be close to wrapping up its e-mail probe just as Hillary Clinton is trying to fend off Bernie Sanders in Tuesday's Wisconsin primary. And later, some truly embarrassing journalism about George Clooney.
KURTZ: The Washington Post reported this week on the investigation of Hillary Clinton's e-mail saying that 147 FBI agents are involved in the case. The paper later retracted that account quoting sources as saying the actual number is fewer than 50. Still an eye popping figure for a controversy of the former Secretary of State has long insisted has been hyped by the media and her Republican critics. We're back now with the panel and Kirsten Powers, 50 FBI agents seem like a lot, is there too much media speculation about how this e-mail probe could end? Will there be an indictment as opposed to, I don't know, waiting for the outcome of the probe?
POWERS: Yeah, it would be nice to wait but at the same time, I think it is newsworthy that this investigation is going on and it sort of looms over the presidential race for people who believe that she could get indicted. That would obviously really change the dynamics of the race. So, it seems like a news story and there should be a way to talk about it, but that doesn't reach any conclusions. We don't really know what the conclusion is going to be.
KURTZ: Right, because it is a criminal investigation. Now, many pundits say (INAUDIBLE) the whole process is rigged, the Obama administration is never going to bring an indictment against the Democratic presidential front- runner as if the FBI is incapable of doing its job. Isn't that pure speculation at this point?
HOLMES: Of course its speculation and I think it's also trying to lower expectations for conservatives, you know, not to get too far out in front. But has there not been enough of her? I think there hasn't been enough reporting on Hillary Clinton, the e-mail scandal. You called it criminal investigation. She calls it a security review.
And even Bernie Sanders her, you know, primary rival, after defending her now says, you what, this is really worth looking into. You have General Michael Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under Obama saying that anybody who is under this cloud of suspicion has no right to be running for president of the United States.
KURTZ: You know there used to be an independent counsel law for situations like this, but both Democrats and Republicans let it expire because both sides have felt they might bypass special prosecutors. I have a sound bite to play for you Susan Ferrechio. This is Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail. She was confronted by a Greenpeace activist on the subject of the contributions that she is taking and let's look at how she responded:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do not -- I have money from people work for fossil fuel companies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE).
CLINTON: I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: What do you make of that exchange?
FERRECHIO: I thought that was a good moment for her actually.
KURTZ: I do, too.
FERRECHIO: It showed some excitement, it showed some passion. And I think part of her problem for this whole campaign is Bernie Sanders has been the one with the passion and the excitement.
KURTZ: But everything -- almost everything she does is so carefully calibrated. And she got mad. Whether she should have gotten mad, so what? We saw the real Hillary, and on the substance of it, she has -- her campaign has taken contributions from people who happen to work for the oil and gas industry, not from the companies or corporations giving to a PAC. So The Washington Post gave the charge by Sanders three Pinocchio's.
FERRECHIO: And yes, it's Bernie's grassroots organization versus Mrs. Clinton's corporate organization and that's been very successful lying for him and that's why it's so sensitive for her.
KURTZ: Its' funny how, roughly in politics at least, you get taking money from an illegal oil company is considered now some horrible thing, but, another sound bite for you and this is Senator Sanders talking to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow about Donald Trump and this was fallout of Donald Trump's remarks, which you talked about earlier in the show about abortion. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But because media is what media is today and any stupid, absurd remark made by Donald Trump becomes the story of the week.
MADDOW: Are you suggesting though that the media shouldn't be focusing on his call to potentially jail women who have abortions?
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: So, this is a standard Sanders refrain. He went on to say, "no, it should be talked about. We should talk about all of Donald Trump's position that's the media are not serious about this stuff." But how can you not cover that story?
POWERS: Yeah, of course you have to cover it. It's a substantive issue also. It's not like they're covering something that's silly. In this case we actually could say the media is doing their job. And this was a substantive thing that he said. He did retract it. But I think many people found it alarming and that you can be -- say something that hasn't been totally thought through and I think it deserves plenty of coverage.
HOLMES: And I think for Senator Sanders, this is sort of (INAUDIBLE) that Donald Trump is sucking up so much of the media attention. I think that was really what he is trying to say, which is I want more attention for me.
KURTZ: Half a minute. Tuesday's Wisconsin Primary, Bernie Sanders has won five out of the last six states if I'm not mistaken. If he wins Wisconsin, will it convince the press that he actually could win the nomination or is that just argumentative (ph).
FERRECGIO: No, because there's momentum and then there's math. He does not have the math to get to the right number of delegates because she's got most of the super delegates who are the establishment. And because of that, she's got such a lock on those that he would have to win almost two-thirds of everything going forward. I don't think anyone thinks that's going to happen.
KURTZ: Media love momentum, they hate math. We all had trouble with math in high school. Susan Ferrechio, Kirsten Powers, Amy Holmes, thanks very much for stopping by this Sunday. After the break, "Saturday Night Live" now beating up on Donald Trump. Frank Luntz weighs in on the cultural attacks on the Donald. And later, why is Hollywood freaking out over what Susan Sarandon said about Donald Trump?
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Another bad week for Donald Trump with women. Joining me to talk about it from the Tea Party News Network is Donald Trump defender Scotty Nell Hughes.
SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, TRUMP DEFENDER: High, Kate. As a woman, I like Donald Trump but as a full-blown nut job, I freaking love him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I say women, you say suck. Women.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE/FEMALE: Suck.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Women.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE/FEMALE: Suck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Saturday night live mocking CNN's Kate Bolduan. Scottie Nell (INAUDIBLE) of course the Donald. Joining us now is Frank Luntz, Republican pollster and Fox News contributor. So, when Trump's supposed alleged hostility to women moves from the op ed pages to SNL, is that a cultural barometer? They're hard to change?
FRANK LUNTZ, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It's significant. Look, if people are indifferent to you, you can go in either direction. Even if people are starting to get a feeling that there is something wrong, you can still turn it. Once they have decided that they don't like you or more importantly that they don't trust you, they never come back. No matter what the print journalist say or what TV says. And in this case, with SNL it's now ridicule. And there are several segments ...
KURTZ: It's not laughing with Trump as in some earlier skits.
LUNTZ: It's laughing at him and it's making a judgment and this has been the best year for SNL in a long time. But they are skewering Trump, and everyone is now laughing at him, not with him.
KURTZ: Darrell Hammond does a great job. All right, so we talked about in the show about Maureen Dowd's comment in the New York Times interview with Donald Trump in which he uttered these words to her, "yeah, it was a mistake," where this is referring to his re-tweeting an unflattering picture of Heidi Cruz, the senator's wife next to a picture of his wife, Melania. Is there a media message here not just from Maureen that he needs to change his tone and perhaps when he's wrong and made more mistakes, is a word he does not like to use.
LUNTZ: I don't think he hears it. In watching him, as someone who has done this now for 25 years, I don't see -- I don't see that he feels it. It's what makes him so tough that he can withstand any criticism, from the networks and the print journalists. But I don't think that he feels it as a person. He needs to go -- and there's only one show to do this on frankly, it's "60 Minutes" and he needs to go and emote.
KURTZ: I thought you were going to "MediaBuzz." Emote, like sitting on Oprah's couch.
KURTZ: We see Donald Trump's emotions all the time.
LUNTZ: That's a different kind of emotion. That's him as aggression. That's him as in your face. He needs to sit back and be self-reflective and it's not something he is.
KURTZ: I think what journalists miss is, look, this tough guy, street fighter persona is what got him to this usually GOP race. Ana also, this is how he was in the tabloid tough town of New York for years and years and years and became an international celebrity so, I think it's hard for him to let that go.
LUNTZ: Well, what gets you to the Republican nomination does not get you through the general election. And I'm watching newspapers already say that the election is over. There hasn't been a convention.
KURTZ: Before you give me this answer -- you set me up nicely -- because there is New York Times front page lead story about Trump could face a humiliating loss in the fall if he wins the nomination. He could be hard pressed to get 200 out of the (INAUDIBLE) electoral votes. I remember when Michael Dukakis was 17 points up in the spring of '88 against George W. Bush. Aren't these prognostications on a campaign where Trump, if he's the nominate and Hillary haven't even squared off, aren't that premature?
LUNTZ: Walter Mondale was tied with Ronald Reagan in 1984 and he lost in a land slide. Five days before the election Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter were tied and they had a debate and that changed everything. We have to see what happens in the conventions and most importantly, the first presidential debate. Mitt Romney won that debate and if he had done the same way in the second and third debates, he could have been elected president. The debates matter.
KURTZ: We have less than half a minute. When you look at stories like this, I mean you know, look, it's a good data analysis and you want to talk about unfavorable and so forth, but do you think we are too much in the prediction business?
LUNTZ: They have every right to tell us how things would be if things don't change. But I want viewers to understand that things do change. This is the most fluid election ever and people are changing their minds all the time.
KURTZ: And that's why we have campaigns and if the polls were predictive, Jeb Bush would be the Republican nominee and he's out of the race. Frank Luntz, great to see you here in Washington. Still to come, Susan Sarandon in a celebrity spat for failing to condemn Donald Trump. And George Clooney says journalism has just reached a new low.
KURTZ: I never quite get why the media are endlessly enamored of movie stars and their political views, but Susan Sarandon, an actress who I like, who's been campaigning with Bernie Sanders, touched off a furor after saying on MSNBC that a lot of Bernie supporters won't be able to bring themselves to vote for Hillary Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about you personally?
SUSAN SARANDON, MOVIE ACTRESS: I don't know. I'm going to see what happens.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cannot believe it as we're watching the ...
SARANDON: Well, you know some people feels Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: What? She might back Trump over Hillary? This brought a blast from fellow actress Debra Messing, "Susan Sarandon muses that Trump presidency will be better for the country than Hillary. Wonder if she'd say that if she were poor, gay, Muslim or immigrant, wow. Sarandon said Messing should just watch the interview not just read the headlines. I guess in some Hollywood circles, failing to denounce Trump is simply unacceptable.
George Clooney says he's used to being misquoted, but that Hello Magazine has done something new and "very disturbing." The magazine publishing the interview with the actor headlined, "George Clooney reveals wife, Amal Clooney's most attractive feature which was picked up by plenty of other media outlets. The problem, Clooney never spoke to Hello and says the interview is fabricated and full of inaccurate post. But the magazine says it dismayed by Clooney's comments that had bought the interview from a respectable independent agent and the article is cobbled together from old interviews. Uhm, hello? You published a false piece of garbage and you are defending it? You should apologize to Clooney or kiss your credibility good-bye.
And that's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. Glad you could join us. Follow me on Twitter @howardkurtz. Let's continue the conversation. We hope you like our Facebook page. We post a lot of original content there. Be part of the "Your Buzz" feature. I respond on video to your questions if you e-mail me with a comment or question about the media, MediaBuzz@foxnews.com. If you missed the show, DVR us so you can watch it any time. We're back here next Sunday, 11:00 and 5:00 Eastern with the latest buzz.
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