Hillary, Bernie in bitter slugfest

Media swarm as race turns ugly


This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," April 17, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On our buzz meter this Sunday, the media start obsessing on hand-to-hand campaign combat as Donald Trump charge that Ted Cruz and the Republican Party are stealing his delegates.


DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Republican National Committee, they should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this kind of crap to happen.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: Trump has a very good argument. Popular votes should decide the nominee. The guy who gets -- the person who gets most votes should be the nominee.

GREG GUTFELD, FOX NEWS: He uses the banking rules to help him screw other people and now he's mad that he's getting screwed?

BEN STEIN, ECONOMIST: He's a big sulking baby. I mean, this is -- this is incredible.

A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL: I think actually this is really going to help Trump. The Colorado situation is just too weird.


KURTZ: But is the press overplaying the argument that Trump is in trouble or underplaying his difficulty in playing by the established rules? Is Trump softening his style? He's sitting down to clear the air with Megyn Kelly.

And why is Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg taking not so subtle shots at the Donald? The media suddenly fascinated by the bitter battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN: Secretary, senator, please...

HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That day has been -- it's linked in races in...


CLINTON: Let's do it.

BLITZER: If you're both screaming at each other, the viewers won't be able to hear either of you.


KURTZ: But did CNN's Brooklyn brawl change the race? Plus, a new HBO film on the Anita Hill hearings.


KURTZ: Is the movie, as some republicans say slanted against Clarence Thomas? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is Media Buzz.

Donald Trump may be heading for a big win in New York two days from now but the media's focus has been on the convoluted nature of how delegates are chosen in some states.

Ever since the Colorado Convention gave all the delegates to Ted Cruz without most GOP voters have been able to express their preference, same thing in Wyoming yesterday with Cruz winning all those delegates. Trump calls the system rigged and corrupt but has also been blamed for a feeble effort on the ground.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: Does it say something -- and your critics says it says something about your leadership ability if you, for somebody tell themselves as somebody who is an organizational genius, who's created this amazing business organization that you couldn't create an organization on the ground that can beat Ted Cruz's organization.

TRUMP: Number one, I started with a $1 million loan, I built a $10 billion company. Well, there are a lot of similarities. In this case, I won most of it. I mean you know, you can say what about organization? Well, how come I'm leading by hundreds of delegates? How come I'm leading by millions of votes?

SEN. TED CRUZ, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald has been yelling and screaming, a lot of whining. I'm sure some cursing.


KURTZ: No cursing on this show. Joining us now to analyze the coverage, Heidi Przybyla, Senior Political Correspondent for USA Today. Lisa Boothe, the republican strategist and columnist for the Washington Examiner. And Juan Williams, the FOX News analyst co-host of The Five and author of the new book, We, The people.

KURTZ: Heidi, two days until New York. Are the media fixated on the state by state delegate's fight, the arcane rules and all of the sausage making?

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, USA TODAY SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Truth be told, Howie, I've always been a little disturbed by the tendency of the media to cover politics like it's a sports match. And I feel like this new phase that we're going into right now really could have the potential to put that on steroids.

We're seeing a good example of that right now where you just had, you know, these two voter less contests in Wyoming and Colorado and then in West Virginia, it's possible that Trump could win but fall behind in the delegates.

And the critical thing is we're having that happen on the democratic side, too, in terms of the complaints. So instead of focusing on the process, let's have that debate about the system, let's have that debate about solutions.

KURTZ: So in the media debate about this, as Trump is obviously put this front and center, Lisa. Has the tone of the coverage tilted toward the view that he should be better at playing this game or that the game is absurdly complicated and unfair?

LISA BOOTHE, WASHINGTON EXAMINER REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST AND COLUMNIST: Well, I think the coverage is in pretty evenly split as evidenced by some of the clips you showed earlier with even Chris Matthews of MSNBC coming to the defense of Donald Trump.

And we know Donald Trump could dominate another news cycle. This is what he does so well as someone who worked in political communications that I'm somewhat in awe of his ability to dominate the news media attention because they're not talking about Ted Cruz's victory in Colorado and Wyoming.

They're talking about is the system rigged and asking the questions. So you know, leave the Donald Trump to be able to capture the news media's attention.

KURTZ: Juan, even the pundits that say, "Well look, the rules are announced in advance and all the campaigns in lieu with this going in." They're very -- they're very often, very quick to say, "Well I'm not defending the system."

Yeah, the system stinks. Should there be more media outrage that the fact that you know, this has gone on in past years but wasn't a focus because we didn't have this odd situation, that you can win a state where basically it's controlled by party insiders and most voters will get the vote?

JUAN WILLIAMS, AUTHOR AND FOX NEWS ANALYST CO-HOST: Well, you know, the odd part for me is that this is the rules -- these have been the rules forever. I mean, you can do a historical rift on this and go back to Reagan and Ford in '76 and Convention fights and -- you know, it was wonderfully told this week that Ronald Reagan would say to delegates, "How you would like if I had Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne come to me to talk to you?"

KURTZ: I love that story. OK, so we know this exists. So the real question then becomes there's a populous mood in this country, anti-establishment and anti-party. And those people are with Trump and they're saying the system is rigged. Why is it that people get votes or don't get the votes as we saw in Wyoming?

WILLIAMS: I think that's because the press reflect that.

KURTZ: I think we're trying to reflect it. The problem for me, and I'll tell you something, as someone who's covered politics seriously is that the rules are the rules. So if you don't know the rules, you should have done a better job at playing the game.

PRZYBYLA: In some of these states, the rules were changed. Back in August, the Denver Post published an article saying they were taking away the straw poll and they've mentioned Donald Trump by name, and this could hurt him. So there is a place for this debate I think.

BOOTHE: Can you blame the media for focusing on the rules to the extent that they have? This is the first time potentially in 40 years where there have been contested conventions for the republicans.

Potentially the first time 68 years that it goes beyond about. This is essentially putting a bone in front of dogs. I mean, the press is salivating at the idea of a contested convention. Think, can you blame them for sort of the -- the hyper media attention of the...

KURTZ: We salivate about a lot of things. And, of course, it is part of the story because it may ultimately decide the nominee. But I just think about the average voter is sort of like, "Why am I hearing more about taxes and jobs and health care and ISIS as opposed to this process story which the press tends to like?"

Look, another thing that made a lot of news this week, it's on the cover of The New York Post, was Megyn Kelly and Donald Trump. Let's take a look at a clip. We'll start with Megyn.


MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: The meeting was at my request and Mr. Donald Trump was gracious enough to agree to it. We met for about an hour, just the two of us, and had a chance to clear the air.

TRUMP: Well, Megyn called and she wanted to come up and she came up to Trump tower and we talked about things and I think we had a very good conversation.


KURTZ: So it's Trump meeting with Megyn Kelly who was attacking in very personal ways on Twitter all going back to the first debate. Indicate he is pivoting to a different kind of campaign style.

PRZYBYLA: Yes because he's doing it in coordination with other things. He's not just meeting with Megyn Kelly. He was down for several days. He completely went off line and hired new people and perhaps most tellingly, he hasn't been bashing people on Twitter lately.

So I think he's going into new phase and as much as he says trash in certain polls when they favor him, you know, he talks them up. So he is paying attention to these polls that show him really underwater with them and I think he's pivoting.

KURTZ: And all this happens to coincide with Florida prosecutors declining to bring any charges against Corey Lewandowski for grabbing Michelle Fields, whatever you think of that incident, we've all looked at the videotape you know, a thousand times. It was a very big media story, maybe more than was warranted.

BOOTHE: Yes. I think it probably got too much attention. Similarly how the meeting between Donald Trump and Megyn Kelly got way too many attention. I mean -- well, some reports sat down with candidates all of the time. They have sources. They connect with the sources. So I think that's you know, press loves conflict. This is something brewing that's been brewing for eight months in the making...


KURTZ: I think it ordinarily -- it would even be news, sudden an anchor talks to a leading presidential candidate, yes.

BOOTHE: Well, I -- I think the press to some degree led with emotion as opposed to objectivity in reviewing the incident that happened between Michelle Fields and Corey Lewandowski.

Further, you know, I think that Trump's campaign handling of it. The inconsistencies are routed -- sort of added fuel to the fire. But it really should have let the prosecution play it out.

Allow the State Attorney's office to do their job, investigate the case and obviously they're not moving forward with the prosecution. So hopeful the media will move on to some of the more pressing things facing this election cycle.

KURTZ: You say the press should wait until the investigation is over. Let me know that next time that happens. Now Trump -- Donald Trump has also sat down with our Fox News colleague Houston Powers for her USA Today column and spoke to her for an hour. She has been very critical to him and her headline was Trump is kinder, gentler version.

So was that an emerging story line now that Trump is toning it down or do you think he -- you think this is just a brief deviation from the norm?

WILLIAMS: Well, his character is that he is aggressive and he will take risks in terms of what he says and what he does. So he's toning it down for the moment.

I -- I would think that we are a little bit, you know, jumping the gun to say this is a new Donald Trump. We have to see what comes. By the way, on the Megyn Kelly front, I think she is the star of the moment in American media.

And the idea that she is meeting with Donald Trump at her request suggests to me there is going to be fireworks in the media world when she and Donald Trump sit down to talk. I can imagine the ratings will blow the roof off this building.

PRZYBYLA: I'm sure.

KURTZ: But what are the reasons that she asked for the meeting was to see if she could get an interview and he has not agreed to that but she said stay tuned on that. All right, we also heard this week from Paul Ryan, house speaker, let's take a look and I've got a question on the other side.


NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS: Didn't he kind of say the same thing that is Paul Ryan about the speakership?

UNKNOWN MALE: Does Paul Ryan want to be a speaker?


UNKNOWN MALE: Do you want to be speaker?

RYAN: I'm not.


RYAN: That I don't want to be a speaker.


KURTZ: Well now he is a speaker. I didn't quite say that Paul Ryan had a televised news conference in which he said he will not, under any circumstances, accept a draft or a nomination as president because he didn't run for president.

And -- but what Neil Cavuto did and a lot of others didn't say, well didn't he say the same thing? Why won't the press take note for an answer? Ryan has said this 18 or 19 times.

PRZYBYLA: I know. I guess it just makes the story sexier and we're used to people saying no when they we know they have certain political ambitions. But he seems pretty darn, you know, unequivocal about this.

And I think part of it is also because a lot of the people who are feeding the media are part of that republican establishment who really want to have this escape hatch option even if Paul Ryan isn't there and doesn't want it.

KURTZ: We seem to love the fantasy football aspect of this. Well, he might run. If this doesn't happen on the third ballot, they may turn to so and so.

WILLIAMS: Yes. So I come back to what you were talking about earlier. I was listening to the news, I said -- you know, voters really should be hearing about policy issues, instead, we're focused on all of the minutia and the in-fighting and the elbows being thrown.

People love the horse race though, Howie, I mean really do. I think we in the media are overly preoccupied because we give people the impression the horse race is all that matters. But you're actually electing somebody who is going to have office and have power.

KURTZ: Thank you for that reminder.

BOOTHE: That's what's going on.

KURTZ: Oh, yes.

PRZYBYLA: Be careful.

KURTZ: Ted Cruz has mostly been covered now in terms of the delegate fight that we talked about earlier and he's picking up in some states. What about the fact that he went on Jimmy Fallon, he appeared on CNN with his very young daughters? There seems to be a charm offensive going on after that Time Magazine cover saying he is likeable enough?

BOOTHE: Well I think that's been similarly to Hillary Clinton. That's been a question about Ted Cruz, is he likeable or not. But I think that is a question that a lot of people have been asking. So I think Time Magazine was in balance with, you know, publishing that magazine piece, but as that being said, yes.

I mean, I think Ted Cruz is working on winning people over. He has folks like Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney and some of the establishment types who are coming to his defense. So he's trying to build this broader coalition of republicans. So doing the CNN piece, doing the Jimmy Fallon allows for him to have a broader appeal. And the Jimmy Fallon interview was hilarious, so good for him.

KURTZ: It was good. The establishment that didn't like Ted Cruz very much - - some of its members now embracing Ted Cruz. You can e-mail us at And up next, why is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg ripping Donald Trump and could that lose him some friends? And later, Nina Totenberg who broke the Anita Hill story and whether the new HBO movie on the Clarence Thomas hearings plays it straight.


KURTZ: Mark Zuckerberg didn't mention Donald Trump by name at a tech conference, but there is no doubt who the Facebook founder had in mind.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK FOUNDER: I hear fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as others, for blocking free expression, for slowing immigration, reducing trade. Instead of building walls, we can help people build bridges.


KURTZ: Joining us now from San Francisco is Sarah Lacy, founder and editor of the tech site Sarah, is this the new more political Mark Zuckerberg trying to be more than a tech tycoon?

SARAH LACY, PANDO.COM FOUNDER AND EDITOR: You know, everyone has been saying this was unprecedented and certainly I don't think it was expected at a developer conference. But Mark Zuckerberg has history of making very diplomatic political, very controlled political stances.

He's been very pro-gay rights. They were one of the first companies to offer egg freezing and more reproductive rights for women as a perk of working there. And he's pledged $100 million of his own money to create Forwardus, a very, you know, pro and more empathetic inclusive immigration lobbying group.

I think he's had a history of making these stances before that if you look at it, probably aren't core tenants of a Trump campaign. So to me, it was very diplomatic. He can blast him. He didn't name him. It's consistent with the things he stood for before.

I think he got so much attention because Facebook not only controls one huge outlet, it has Facebook proper which a billion people are on and more people get their news from than anything else and three of the four largest messaging apps in the world and WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook messenger...

KURTZ: It's a massive platform...

LACY: And he's never gone this level of power...

KURTZ: Donald Trump has 7 million followers on Facebook. But does Zuckerberg risk, whether you thought it was diplomatic or not, does he risk alienating some Facebook users who don't share his views on Donald Trump or immigration?

LACY: There is always that risk that this is a man who has become very good at knowing what he is saying and the impact it will have. And he has many smart political advisors. There is a whole trend right now of tech companies becoming more political, not in the divisive sense but in terms of using the tools of politics and diplomacy and Mark is one of the leaders in that.

That said, they are so cautious on this kind of stuff. I mean, you look at what Facebook just went through with India where it wanted to provide free internet access and it was mostly rebuked by the Indian people because there was a fear that they would be seen as the controlled view of the internet that was in Facebook's favor.

The company is very, very sensitive about this. And I think it's important to say he has shown what he believes. But there is no evidence that Facebook has tipped the scales. And the reason they won't isn't because it's not within their rights, it's because Facebook does what is best in for Facebook and as a business, it's not best for them to try to control the outcome of the election.

KURTZ: Right, to tweak the algorithms and decide what people -- influence what people see. I got half a minute, but one reason this made a lot of online headlines is there was an internal Facebook poll in which some employees asked, we don't know how many employees were involved -- what responsibility does Facebook have to prevent president Trump in 2017? So obviously people in the ranks don't like the Donald.

LACY: Yes, it's absolutely true. And look, a lot of people said Facebook is essentially a media outlet like The New York Times. What you see in The New York Times has really been much stronger in warning against a Trump presidency.

Facebook could do that. There is no evidence it will, even if its employees want it. Again, Mark has three constituencies, shareholders, employees, and his audience. And unfortunately, employees are the smallest of those three groups.

KURTZ: Right. Sarah Lacy, thanks very much for your insight from San Francisco. We appreciate it.

LACY: Thanks, Howie.

KURTZ: When we come back, Nina Totenburg on this question, does the new HBO film about Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill engage in a bit of revision of history?


KURTZ: It's been a quarter of a century since the Anita Hill hearings when her allegations came close to blocking the senate confirmation of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas. Last night, HBO debuted a film about those events called Confirmation.

MSMBC and NBC have played up the movie featuring Anita Hill and the movie star and executive producer Kerry Washington who had met with her.


ANITA HILL, FORMER U.S. EEOC ASSISTANT / VICTIM OF CLARENCE THOMAS: She just wanted to know not only how I felt during the confirmation hearing, but what was I thinking? And that really was encouraging though to have someone wanting to know what was -- what was my thinking pattern? What was going on in my mind during this whole episode?

UNKNOWN MALE: Others are saying this is political propaganda...


UNKNOWN MALE: To support Anita Hill and even support Hillary Clinton.

WASHINGTON: For me, I've felt as like it's important for me to not hold back on my political beliefs because of what I do for a living.


KURTZ: Joining is now is Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio who broke the Anita Hill story back in 1991. You were asked to be in this movie. What did you say?



TOTENBERG: I mean -- well, they wanted me to re-voice my story so they could have video of it. They wanted me to sort of reenact my interview with her and my first approach to her which first of all I couldn't do because I don't remember it that well and I don't have the notes from it anymore.

But I said, no. That's put in news. We have rules against that because that's real news. So you know, I can't do that, I'm sorry. So they used a little bit of me, of the actual report. But we wouldn't let them edit it, either.

KURTZ: Interesting. So some conservatives, others sensitive, others are saying the movie is inaccurate. Some scenes and dialogue are created and slanted to make Anita Hill look good. Even Anita hill says there are composite characters and some invented dialogue.

TOTENBERG: Well, it's like all of these movies. It can't be completely accurate. It's compressing vast amounts of information in time into an hour and a half or two hours. I saw the movie once because I was curious enough to look at it. And I think actually it's -- to me, it was quite interesting.

I thought that she come off telling a completely credible story but so does Clarence Thomas and I remember having that feeling. The villain in the piece is the judiciary committee.

KURTZ: The senators don't look good and...

TOTENBERG: They look awful.

KURTZ: The panel chaired by Joe Biden.

TOTENBERG: I mean, the republicans looked vicious, the democrats looked hapless and Biden looked at best weakened and worse, gutless.

KURTZ: And does that reflect the tumultuous period that you chronicled?

TOTENBERG: I think it is an accurate reflection, and I said this before. But to me, when I broke in story, to me the story was the judiciary committee had not looked into this on its own privately when it could have actually resolved this -- had a chance of resolving it.

The minute slated hearings for three or four days later in the kind of atmosphere we were in, it was sealing the fate of the -- of the truthfulness of what this was all about and that we would never know what the real answer was.

KURTZ: Now in the movie, Clarence Thomas is shown as shaken by the allegations, insisting to his wife it's not true. So it not completely one sided. But I can understand because the emotions of that time still run pretty high 25 years later where somebody would say, "Well, this is the vehicle to make Anita Hill look better."

And of course Kerry Washington, I'm sure Clarence Thomas had no interest meeting with her but she did meet with Anita Hill.

TOTENBERG: And the thing it was, you know, at the time was very minor, was much more major in the movie was the fact she took a lie detector test, a polygraph and passed it and he refused to. Now there is a perfectly good reason to refuse to. They're not entirely accurate.

And, you know, there are plenty of important people like George Shultz refuse to take polygraphs when they want people in the state department to take them. It's a good reason to take them. But in that chance, the believability of her story is more so in the movie.

KURTZ: Now, people forget that she initially didn't want to come forward. And you played a role in that because you found out about her and you got the copy of the affidavit to the senate committee and you called her and still have not revealed your source, even at least 25 years later.

Obviously also you and another reporter who worked on the story had to deal with a leak investigation. Was there a reaction against you for disclosing these allegations by Anita Hill?

TOTENBERG: Oh, it was awful. I mean, it was really dreadful. I have said this and, you know, you don't want to sound like a whiner. But everything you ever done in your life that wasn't perfect gets examined and held up and people screaming at you. They're preventing -- I mean, I left the Nightline Studio one night and Allen Simpson who is my friend since then, I made sure we made up.

But Allen Simpson was screaming at me, not allowing the car to leave. I finally get out of the car. I yell back at him. We get and go around the corner and the driver stops. He says to me, "Lady, you better get a gun."

KURTZ: So it was not the most pleasant period of your life.

TOTENBERG: No, very awful. It was dreadful...

KURTZ: And once you gave -- you broke the story. You weren't saying the allegations are true. You were saying here is the affidavit and asked what she says.


KURTZ: Nina Totenberg, great to see you. Thanks very much for coming in this Sunday.

TOTENBERG: Thank you for having me.

KURTZ: Coming up with Bernie Sanders drawing massive crowds and riding a wave of momentum. Is the press starting to view Hillary Clinton as the damaged candidate? And later, when columnists savage Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, is there a line between commentary and shear partisanship?


KURTZ: If anyone in the media delivered anger and hatred to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sander that vanished at the CNN debate.


DANA BASH, CNN: Can you name one decision she made as senator that shows she favored banks because of the money she received?

SANDERS: The obvious decision is when the greed and recklessness and illegal behavior of Wall Street brought this country into the worst economic down turn since the great recession, great depression of the 30's. Now Secretary Clinton was busy giving speeches to Goldman sacs for $225,000 at stakes.

CLINTON: Well, you can tell -- yes, he cannot come up with any example because there is no example.

SANDERS: Secretary Clinton called them out. Oh, my goodness. They must have been really crushed by this.


KURTZ: It's called dripping with disdain. We're back with the panel and Heidi, I thought the CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Dana Bash did a good job. Were they encouraging conflict at that debate or Hillary and Bernie going to go at it no matter what?

PRZYBYLA: I think they did a great job about making it about the candidates and they stepped back. I think the moment was primed for this before we even went into this debate.

We were all reporting how Hillary's strategy is now to go for the kill and then worry about unity later. And I think that this was a reflection of that, but also Bernie's irritation on his side as well.

KURTZ: Lisa, I have a question already for you and I'm going to pause for a moment because it's kind of reflected in the "Saturday Night Live" skit last night featuring Larry David and Julie Louis-Dreyfus. Take a look.


JULIE LOUIS-DREYFUS, ACTRESS: You've been pretty vague in the past, how exactly are you going to break up the big banks?

SANDERS: Once I'm elected president, I'll have a nice Schmitz (sic) in the Whitehouse gym then I'll go to the big banks. I'll sit them down and yada, yada, yada, they'll be broken up.


KURTZ: So when "SNL "went after Trump, liked talked about whether this was a sort of a cultural barometer. Does this now reflect a view that Bernie Sanders has great rhetoric? And he's done frankly well in this campaign, but he doesn't really have the details to back up some of the proposals.

BOOTHE: Well yes, that's been the knock against him. And he had that horrible -- I believe it's the New York Daily News editorial where he really couldn't back his policies that he was putting forth. Yes, I think after the CNN debate -- look, the secret is out. Bernie sanders and Hillary Clinton do not like each other.

KURTZ: It wasn't that much of a secret.

BOOTHE: Well, it's known for sure now. But you could just see the frustration with Hillary Clinton. It's palatable the fact that she can't put this to bed. She can't put this campaign now behind her and just be the nominee.

KURTZ: When Hillary Clinton was in a skit with Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York. It's called the Inner Circle, it's like the -- other correspondents say the Gridiron Club here in D.C. He made a joke about colored people time, she went along and blamed him. Press made a big deal out of it. Is it a big deal?

WILLIAMS: Not to me, as a black person I say this. I mean, that is like something people say to each other all the time. What struck me was there are so many colleagues said they never heard of it...

PRZYBYLA: I never heard of it.

WILLIAMS: And they've said colored people. Isn't that offensive? And I said, "Well it's anachronistic but I don't know if it's offensive because black people say that to each other all the time much it's like someone saying manana down in Latin America.

You know, oh yes, you guys are -- a manana type. So but anyway I think it was dangerous for Hillary Clinton. We're just talking about Bernie Sanders and why that acrimony has some consequence and why the media should focus on it. Hillary needs Bernie's supporters going forward.

KURTZ: Let the record show that Juan showed up on time for this segment. All right, you know, Bernie is drawing these massive crowds, 30,000, 40,000 per month, he even reported that. But when he goes to lower Manhattan, Greenwich Village and there are 27,000 people near NYU, the New York press was like, "Wow this guy is for real." It doesn't happen to...

PRZYBYLA: Maybe they haven't been out there. At every -- in every state including states he's won and states he's lost, it's kind of been the same. He has huge crowds and the reason why, Howie, and maybe this has been a little bit under covered, is that people have organized ahead of Bernie Sanders.

We were all surprised by what happened in Iowa. That's because people were on the ground organizing before Bernie ever got there and that's why it's been the same throughout the country.

KURTZ: So Bernie Sanders took 48 hours off the campaign trail to go to the Vatican and speak at a panel and then he got -- he says five minute audience with the pope -- to Pope Francis. He said it was just a hand shake and he was being polite.

And anybody who reads those things does need a psychiatrist, the pope says. But the way it was covered was sort of like this was a really weird thing. The only Jewish candidate race was going to the Vatican. Was that fair?

BOOTHE: Well, I think it is a really weird thing because look, he's got the New York primary right around the corner. He is taking time off to give a speech at the Vatican. He makes the big deal about the pope. The pope is saying, "Look, I gave him two seconds of my time. I literally shook his hand, nothing to see here." And Bernie Sanders is singing praises and trying to make it seem like this huge deal that he's there...

KURTZ: There are Catholic voters -- Catholic voters in New York.

BOOTHE: I know, but you don't take time off right before a primary to make that kind of trip in my opinion. So I think the way -- that the reason why they covered it in such a weird degree is because it was weird.

WILLIAMS: You know what, I just want to jump in here. I think you touched on something so fascinating to me many terms of the press conference or lack of the coverage in the fact Bernie Sanders is Jewish. He is setting record -- nobody, no Jewish candidate has ever gone to this level of American public elected life...

KURTZ: It is rarely talked about it and...

WILLIAMS: Very rarely.

KURTZ: He doesn't talk about that much. But there was a story won. The headline was The Book of Bernie: What religion is Sanders. And the story said -- he says religion is a guiding principle in his life but also he's not particularly religious or a member of any synagogue. So what? I mean, a lot of people are in...

WILLIAMS: Correct. And in fact, an increasing number in this generation say that they're nondenominational. But Bernie, it's not that he is somehow advocating the fact that he's Jewish. He is simply saying, it is not defining him. And it's so interesting.

Did he not speak at APEC in that debate that we just played. He goes after Israel in terms of his defense, and now he's off to the Vatican. I think he is presenting as a different sort of nonreligious, nondenominational presence of opinion.

KURTZ: I think all of these -- we'll be getting a lot more coverage if the media believe that Bernie Sanders really had a shot at the democratic nominee.

Juan Williams, Lisa Boothe, Heidi Przybyla. Thanks very much for a great discussion. Next on Media Buzz, Ron Fournier on how far columnists can and should go in savaging candidates they don't like? And later, New York's Daily News and New York Post at war again, this time over Donald Trump.


KURTZ: How far should commentators go in utterly denouncing candidates they don't like? I put that question to Ron Fournier, a columnist of The Atlantic and author of a new book about his relationship with this son, Love that boy.


KURTZ: Ron Fournier, welcome.


KURTZ: You're a columnist. You're paid for your opinions. But let's talk about how far is too far? You've said Donald Trump social media whore, a boar, a bully who traffics in all hates by new technologies, bigoted sexist divisive, being glorious fan of political violence. It sounds like you're running an opposition pack.

FOURNIER: Normal opinion as a columnist and those are my opinions. You know, I could be a little more careful and maybe say what he is saying is sexist. What he is saying is bigoted. What he is doing is vacuous, his lack of policy shows he is vacuous and ignorant.

You know, I could copy a little bit maybe, but all of those things are -- are now, not only are -- my opinions but I think they're backed up by facts.

KURTZ: Hillary Clinton who you covered back in Arkansas, you've known her a long time from firings in the courthouse travel office in '93 to e-mail scandal of today. Clinton has a history of deflections, deception and untruth. So you have written a lot about whether she lies. It sounds from these kinds of sentences like you can't stand her.

FOURNIER: Actually, I really like Hillary Clinton. I've known her for a long time. I think -- I've always said and I've told you this, if I could have a drink with either Clinton, it would be hands down Hillary Clinton. I think she's a fine person, I think she's qualified to be president.

I think what she did with the e-mail issue, if everyone did it, if she was allowed to make this precedent, there would be no freedom of information act, there would be no legislative oversight anywhere in this country, there would be no historical record and would be constantly jeopardizing U.S. Secrets.

And if we allow a politician to do that without accountability and to deceive us about it, that's setting a terrible president. As reporters, and even as -- especially as columnists, it's our job to say, "Hey, what you're doing, Donald Trump, that is sexist the way you treated of Megyn Kelly and what you're doing, Hillary Clinton, that is deceptive as the way you are treating the American public...

KURTZ: You do give it to both sides. But when you use this kind of strident colorful language, it is also a view breaking throughout the noise and getting some attention for what you write?

FOURNIER: I don't think of it that way. But if you remember when I worked at the AP for years which is a great institution, the oldest, largest news organization in the world. One thing the boss there or the executive editor Kathleen Carroll tried to get me to do to the kind of lead the way in the rest of AP was to get away from what she called weasel words.

When we know a governor has done something wrong, instead of saying critics say what the governor has done is wrong. If factually what he's done is wrong, we should just say the governor is wrong. That we shouldn't always - - we shouldn't have false equivalence.

She wanted to teach the rest of the AP and she wanted me to kind of lead the way with my columns. Don't pretend that there's always one hand on the other hand and that they're equal. Call out people when at the do wrong. Use clear, concise and in some cases, use provocative language if that's what gets your point across. And so I was taught to do that and I'm proud of what I've done.

KURTZ: In your book, you talk about your son Tyler...

FOURNIER: Yes sir.

KURTZ: Who has Asperger's and I'm a dad. I wrestle with this. Lots of dads wrestle with this. You missed a lot of family life because you were going around the country covering stories that seemed very, very important at the time. Do you feel at times you weren't there for him?

FOURNIER: Yes. What parent doesn't? For me, I think there is an extra shame and I write about it in Love that Boy because I had choices. There are a lot of parents who are working two, three jobs and can't be home with their kids. I could have been home more.

It was important to my family and it was a decision my wife and I made that I take this path, that I leave Arkansas and cover the Whitehouse and cover the campaigns. But every day you make choices in your life. And there are too often than that where I could choose between work or home, I chose work.

KURTZ: You tell the story about the book about how on 9/11, you basically hung up on your wife Lorie because you had to get back to work. She is home with the three kids and later tells you, you know, I don't have much adult contact, raising our children and you don't want to talk about your work because you've been doing that all day.

FOURNIER: I haven't talked about that story since I wrote it. Yes. On 9/11, she called right after I broke the news that these were planes were hijacked. And I said, "I got to go, I can't talk you" because I was too busy telling the rest of the world. I wouldn't tell my wife what was happening. I didn't even ask her, "What are you doing with the three kids that are in school?"

And that got us -- when I realize what I had done to her, was when I started writing this book that one of the first things I did is took a tape recorder to one of our date nights. I interviewed her and it was interesting how just dispassionate I was able to be and then interviewing her.

But then when I sat down and listened to what she said to write the book and I listened for the first time in my life in that tape recording that by then was a couple weeks ago. It really blew my mind because I heard many I wife saying to me that, you know, "You didn't want to talk about 9/11 because you were busy. You didn't want to talk about work for years when you were home. But I want to talk about it. Why didn't you listen to me?"

KURTZ: Back to your son and you described how he got meetings with Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and how gracious they were. You missed the symptoms of Asperger's originally. You wanted him to be popular. You pushed him into playing sports. You were pretty hard on yourself in this book.

FOURNIER: Yes, and it's not an exercise of, you know, I know I can't get forgiveness or have solutions just by doing this. It's not like me talking to a priest. But I think it's important. If nothing else -- if parents can get out of this book that, "Hey, you're not alone" because I do recognize we all carry some guilt.

And none of us are perfect parents. I'm certainly not an expert. I wasn't when I was 23 and first had a child and I'm certainly now at almost 53. But I did go through a couple years, thanks to my wife of looking at myself really hard and trying to be honest with myself. And I'm hoping that maybe I can help somebody, especially dads who keep this all inside.

You know, to deal with, you know, if you feel guilty about something, see what can you do to be better it.

KURTZ: Hard book to write and fascinating book to read. Ron Fournier.

FOURNIER: Thank you.

KURTZ: All right. Thanks very much.

FOURNIER: I love doing your show.


KURTZ: After the break, Ed Henry on that Donald Trump meeting the press again today after losing last night in Wyoming. Are journalists buying his message about a corrupt system?


KURTZ: Donald Trump meeting with reporters and accepting endorsements on Staten Island, New York's most republican burrow today. And Joining us now is Ed Henry, Fox's Chief Whitehouse correspondent who covers the Hillary Clinton campaign.


KURTZ: Good to see you, Ed. So yesterday you were sitting at Fox and friends. You got to ask Trump a question during one of his call-ins and let's take a listen.


HENRY: Why not leave the Republican Party and run as an independent? You're saying the party has rigged it? So why are you still running as a republican?

TRUMP: Because I'm leading by far and I'm the number, you know, person in the -- and I'd rather do it as a republican. I am a republican. I'd rather clean up the system so that for the future, we can have a much fairer system.


KURTZ: Now, are you expecting him to suddenly make news and say, "You are right, I think I may just leave the Republican Party."

HENRY: It's more impressing. You know, what's interesting is when you do these interviews and they say I cover the democrats. I don't usually get a chance to press him. I hear all kinds of people, social media, commentary elsewhere saying these folks never press him, just let him talk and I thought that would be one area.

That wasn't a perfect question but the idea being he keeps saying, and was insisting lying Ted Cruz. He said that again and again, and he was saying that the Republican Party has rigged this and that they're corrupt.

Seems like a natural question to say, why in the world are you still in the republican if you think the number two guy is a liar and the RNC chairman and others are rigging this against you? And it was a reasonable answer though. I think for him to say, "I'm going to stay within the system and try to fix it whether he...

KURTZ: Because I'm leading by a lot.

HENRY: Right, and that's the way he likes to spend it.

KURTZ: So you spend most of your time now on the road with the Hillary Clinton campaign. How many opportunities do you have to ask her a question? Has she held any kind of other than a brief...

HENRY: She's got a handful of press availabilities here and there. A lot of times we're told about them at the last possible moment. One recent one was in the Bronx. I had just been in New York, left to go to Pennsylvania for another campaign of what they're trying to keep up in case.

She went back to New York and went outside Yankee Stadium. I mean, I could -- who would have loved to have been there by the way if I got a heads up, I didn't. And just the small pools of reporters around her were told about it and then she...

KURTZ: Is she paying the price for this not -- not the answered questions but it's hard to find out...

HENRY: We'll see. I mean look, she's still winning and that's their strategy to get the nomination.

KURTZ: Right, not to please the press.

HENRY: I've tried to be fair to both candidates and in the case of Bernie Sanders say people were dismissing him all along. And I've tried to be fair and say give this guy a shot in the sense that he has a real candidacy here.

We should cover him, tough but fair like Hillary Clinton. And by the way, when he is not winning, we she shouldn't be pro up his candidacy. We shouldn't be cheerleading for either. We should say, can you really win this thing?

For example, a couple of days ago at that Brooklyn debate, before the debate is obvious the strategists were telling us, "We think he's going to have a great May." And Meyers put up something he will -- and the press and they said, "Well, are you not going to win New York?" Oh we'll see.

Hang on a second. You know, we press Hillary Clinton when we can. If you're not going to win New York and all those delegates, don't tell me about a good May. You have got to win in April.

KURTZ: I got a half a minute, but -- so Bernie say's she's a tool of Wall Street. Hillary says he can't go into one instance of favoring back. Do you think there has been good reporting on the details of their political agreements?

HENRY: It took a while frankly...

KURTZ: Just the back and forth he said.

HENRY: Mostly been the back and forth. And I think to myself and many people are probably guilty of that. And we do the horse race, we do what's going on today. But I do think, you mentioned this before, the Daily News Editorial Board did a good job and I think it was a turning point in pressing Bernie Sanders on the details and he struggled with that.

KURTZ: And Henry, great to see you. Thanks for that behind the scenes look at covering the Hillary campaign. Still to come, a new tabloid war in New York over Donald Trump, and the candidates showcasing their spouses and kids on the air. How much does that really help?


KURTZ: How much do the New York's tabloids despise each other? On the same day that Rupert Murdoch's New York post Donald Trump's go-to paper endorsed him. The Daily News attacked its rival over the retirement of Post editor and chief Col Allan and look at this, Tata to Trump's Tabloid Toady.

The news story about the so-called belligerent boss includes blind quotes from staffers criticizing Allan. Now keep in mind that Mark Zuckerman's daily news keeps ripping Trump on his covers, Clown Runs for President and Dead Clown Walking which aren't just absurdly bias, it turned out to be just plain wrong.

All right, presidential candidates have always showcased their families. But this week, they are all over the air waves casting their husband or dad in a softer light.


IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: I think the way he raised me and the way he raised Tiffany, it's a testament to the fact that he believes in inspiring women and empowering women. He always taught me there wasn't anything I couldn't do.

TED CRUZ, U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because I was back for Caroline's daddy-daughter picnic at school which featured all the dads running and playing games and...


CRUZ: Your favorite was -- that she got to dress up daddy in like this pink boa these like big goofy looking underwear.

JANE SANDERS, BERNIE SANDER'S WIFE: In the first time at the victory party, he asked me to dance and that was the end. To me, it was like the beginning of everything.


KURTZ: Those Cruz's daughters are cute. And The New York Times has a profile today of Ivanka Trump and her very positive piece about her role in Trump Campaign. Now look, we all know this is designed to humanize the politician making them seem more like, well, ordinary human beings. And the media play along because it's good programming.

But you know something, no matter how cynical you are, it kind of works. That's it for this edition of Media Buzz. I'm Howard Kurtz. We hope you liked our Facebook page where we post a lot of original content.

Be part of your buzz. The videos, I respond to your e-mail, Make a question or comment about the media and I will respond. Also follow me on Twitter. I'm Howard Kurtz. Keep the dialogues going. We try to make it a two-way street. We're back here next Sunday, 11 and 5 Eastern with the latest buzz.

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