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Media Buzz

Donald Trump replays '90s scandals

This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," May 29, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On buzzmeter Sunday, sex scandals and suicide, Donald Trump turns to the tawdriest Clinton tales of the '90s and takes some heat from the media.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN: Donald Trump bringing back a long-ago debunked theory as he hammers away on Clinton, but will regurgitating a lie even matter?

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: I mean Donald Trump like the last couple of days brought up Wright with Sean Hannity and a sexual abuse and all that stuff 20 years after the fact.

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC: And Vince Foster.

SCARBOROUGH: And Vince Foster, which is just despicable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: That's a reference to discredited allegations about the suicide of Hillary Clinton pal and one-time White House aide, Vince Foster. How should the press cover Trump talking about that and Bill Clinton's sexual misconduct?

Huge headlines over Hillary Clinton being hit hard by the State Department's internal watchdog for violating its rules with a private e- mail server. Is the press finally taking her on?

Katie Couric under fire for a gun control documentary that contains a stunning example of misleading editing to make pro gun people look like morons.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATIE COURIC, JOURNALIST: If there's no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: With Couric and company defending the film, we will bring you my interview with a gun rights activist who was at the filming and says she was shocked at the deceptions. Plus, the mystery man behind the Hulk Hogan lawsuit that threatens to bankrupt Gawker and why this is a classic case of revenge. I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."

The media have grown accustomed at Donald Trump attacking Bill Clinton over his past sex scams, but this week he ratcheted things up in a way that many pundits found troubling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS: I think it was today on the internet you put you up some stuff about Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton. It's kind of tawdry stuff and I'm not sure that this is a good thing to do that.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESUMPTIVE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You talking about what I did, well, I'm only responding to what they do. She's been very nasty and I said I'd like him be on policy Bill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: What is particularly stunning was Trump's discussion in response to questions from The Washington Post about the 1993 death of Vince Foster. Five investigations have confirmed that the one-time White House aide and Hillary Clinton confidant had killed himself despite conspiracy theories involving foul play that had persisted for more than two decades.

(BEGIN VIEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vince Foster's sister has called your comments to the Washington Post about cruel, irresponsible and wrong.

TRUMP: Well, a question was asked about Vince Foster and it was asked of me -- what do you think of Vince Foster? I really know nothing about the Vince Foster situation. Haven't known anything about it, a lot of people are very skeptical as what happened and how he died.

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC: Vince Foster's sister today broke her silence since the brother's suicide decades ago saying what Donald Trump has said about Vince Foster "was wrong, irresponsible and cruel." He thinks is not something that should really be part of the campaign.

JOY REID, MSNBC: Right, conspiracy theories that he invite (ph) from Alex Jones or whatever it is that he gets his ideas.

JAKE TAPPER: Mr. Trump has repeated and outrageous and long ago debunked falsehood about former Deputy White House counsel Vince Foster, a friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton's until his tragic suicide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Pretty tough stuff. Joining us now to analyze the campaign coverage, Lisa Boothe, a Republican strategist and contributor to Washington Examiner, Susan Ferrechio, chief congressional correspondent for the Washington Examiner and then Penny Lee, a Democratic strategist and commentator. Lisa Boothe, Vince Foster's death ruled a suicide by no less than Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr. Does trump deserve the media criticism for bringing this up?

LISA BOOTHE, WASHINGTON EXAMINER CONTRIBUTOR: Well, he does. I think there's an important distinction to make between Donald Trump talking about Bill Clinton's infidelity which is something that The Wall Street Journal editorial board not too long ago criticized for Hillary Clinton's role and as well of, you know, the Clinton's war on woman which is what that editorial was titled, to him pushing and peddling sort of this narrative about Vince Foster which drew criticism from his sister in the Washington Post.

But this is kind of part of Donald Trump's whole thing where, you know, no press is bad press. All press is good publicity and part of the reason why he's been able to garner at least from the primary $2 billion of free media.

KURTZ: Well, Trump is saying it's not pushing and peddling, in fact, he puts it out there, and here's an article in The New York Times, Susan Ferrechio, in the old days, Republicans would "secretly place damaging information with friendly media like the Drudge Report on Fox News and with radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh," but now Trump says that times (ph) with his outrageous style doesn't need the middleman.

SUSAN FERRECHIO, WASHINGTON EXAMINER CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, he's changed the rules and he can come out and say the stuff and its working because everybody is talking about it. Everybody is suddenly talking about a 1993 death of Vince Foster. Who would've thought that that would become part of the campaign dialogue? So, he's actually progress in trying to ruin Hillary Clinton's effort to win the woman's vote because he's bringing up all these past things that make her look less attractive to female voters. That's an important strategy for him because his biggest weakness is female voters.

KURTZ: Yeah, it has also led to some broader pieces about Donald Trump and conspiracies. Here is NBC correspondent Hallie Jackson the other day. Do we have that?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HALLIE JACKSON, NBC CORESPONDENT: When Ted Cruz was still in the race, Trump speculated about a tabloid rumor linking Cruz's father to JFK's assassination.

TRUMP: And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: So NBC basically called Trump a conspiracy theorist. Fair or unfair?

PENNY LEE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think it's fair. I mean, look, he's always out there often times and peddles these things. I mean, the whole thought...

KURTZ: Well, he says that people have various questions about it.

LEE: Yeah, and he talks about it and so the press covers it as quite a "a process story" but they're not really covering the actual conspiracy. Then we're covering it as a process story that he said this a new in a form (ph) and so therefore we must cover it. That is wrong. I mean, it was interesting to watch CNN.

Just this week, you know, you had Jake Tapper push back hard on the Vince Foster saying it was after five investigations, as you related to, was ruled a suicide and then if you watch hour by hour by hour on CNN, they went back and back and back to "these comments" now that Trump was only quoting somebody else. If this is a conspiracy that we all know is fault (ph), stop the coverage.

KURTZ: That reinforces your point Lisa which is in the process of even knocking it down and even criticizing Donald Trump and media criticism as we know (inaudible) him, the press acts as an echo chamber and gives this more attention.

BOOTHE: And Donald Trump is the king at driving headlines. And this is what does it in a genius way. I don't think that he believes this stuff. What he does in such a genius way too, because I don't actually think he believes this stuff. What he does, he put it out there in a way that he can eventually walk back and say, well, I was asked this question. There was an article about it in the "National Enquirer" or whatever it is and he does it in a way his hands are off it but he puts it out there. He drives headlines. He consumes the media and there's this vacuum for reporters trying to fill what to report on, and he puts these things out there and it's just driving the headlines.

KURTZ: Well, I wasn't serious about debating Bernie Sanders. That was just for fun. So, I have another standby Susan Ferrechio, and this one has to do with an interview that he gave in the '90s when he was a little bit more sympathetic to Bill Clinton when we were dealing in the days of Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky and all that sex related scandals. Take a quick look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bill Clinton, what does he need to do?

TRUMP: Well, I don't know, and it's so embarrassing, and you really have to say where does it stop. Paula Jones is a loser, but the fact is that she may be responsible for bringing down a president indirectly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: 1998, does it matter in 2016 that Trump had at least a different emphasis about Bill Clinton back then?

FERRECHIO: Trump has come across as someone who people aren't sure how conservative he is. He's got a democratic past but nobody seems to care because frankly, I think he is really a post political candidate, and that's part of his popularity, that's part of the attraction. So, the fact that he has said these things in the past, I don't think make one bit of difference in the people who are supporting him and following him. The people who may wonder about though, who are watching this old clips, are the diehard conservatives who he currently really must court to win over for the 2016 election.

KURTZ: For the media covering this stuff even though he is saying, you know, the election really should be about the economy and healthcare and Isis. It's a lot sexier than deconstructing for example an energy plan that Trump did put out.

LEE: Sure, you saw this weekend in "The New York Times" coverage there's an article about Mrs. Clinton, you know, and they actually are criticizing her saying that she wasn't sexy or it wasn't entertainment enough and so there are people that are now worried about it.

KURTZ: With sexy lines or sexy campaign...

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: Just to save you from the e-mails?

(CROSSTALK)

LEE: Thank you for that. It's specially saying, you know, she went into and trying to criticize an in-depth, I mean, in-depth policy issue and there was absolutely virtually no public thing (ph).

KURTZ: We'll do that later in the program, but let me come to this. So, Donald Trump officially clinches the nomination, that magic 1,237 that we all obsessed on. He's now past it according to a count by the AP. But he's starting to get some other criticism about how he deals with Republicans, Lisa. A Morning Joe crowd basically said he's using slash and burn tactics this particularly after he went out to Mexico criticizing the Republican governor Susana Martinez -- Mitt Romney walks like a penguin and all that, but the press loves a Republican civil war, does it not?

BOOTHE: Oh, they, I mean, they absolutely love it. Because you would look at the coverage on when it was thought of that there was going to be a contested convention with Republicans and then you look at the coverage when there's a very real chance that Democrats, the Democratic Party could potentially have a contested convention. I mean, there's just no parallel there. I mean, the amount of coverage that was focused on a potential contested convention for Republicans is drastically different from the coverage on the Democratic civil war that's going on right now.

KURTZ: Maybe it doesn't matter whether Republican leaders like the reluctant Paul Ryan get behind Donald Trump. Maybe that's something that the media will obsess on because we deal with these people all of the time. Maybe what matters is what the rank and file Republicans are closing ranks behind him so he can then complete this so-called pivot (ph) and go after some Democrats and independents.

FERRECHIO: I'm not really sure it matters who inside the belt what it gets behind Donald Trump because so far, it hasn't mattered one bit. If it really mattered, Howard, he would not be the nominee because, I think if anything...

KURTZ: So, why does he get so much attention? Why every time Paul Ryan clears his throat there's a story?

FERECHIO: Because there are, you know, 150 reporters running around the Capitol reporting on it and obsessing over it. My frustration is when I go to the weekly press conference with Paul Ryan, I can't get in a question about what's happening with legislation, which is very important and it's being dropped by reporters because every question is about when he's going to endorse Donald Trump.

How much does it matter in the election? Probably not a heck of a lot since a lot of voters don't like the GOP establishment the way it's functioning right now. They like Trump because he's not part of the inside.

KURTZ: At one of these speeches this week where Trump went off on Romney and Susana Martinez and others -- by the way, Susana Martinez says she's going to be buoyed (ph) Donald Trump so she responded rather (inaudible) -- he also went to Bill Kristol, who is the editor of "The Weekly Standard," a long time force and conservative movement in Republican politics and who has been trying to draft somebody to mount a third party conservative challenge to Trump and Hillary Clinton. Here is what Trump had to say about Kristol.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: His name is Bill Kristol. From day one, this poor guy -- this poor guy -- I watch him, but here's what I don't understand, why do you keep putting a guy on television that's been proven to be wrong for so many years. He's been doing this for like nine months he can't find anybody. What a loser.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Is that a waste of Trump's time to go after some pundit who's gotten under his skin?

LEE: Oh, it is typical Donald Trump. I mean, anybody that gets in his way that says anything negative about him, that's his attack and he goes right...

KURTZ: Well, this has been very negative. He has definitely lied (ph) to him in about (inaudible) five minutes of the speech.

LEE: And so much for the pivot. I mean, there's been a pivotal moment when he now, you know, goes and uses the words like senator and more (inaudible) kind of words and he obviously not. There's a real battle right now and whether or not this is going to be a base election or this is going to be an expanded electorate. And so I think what Donald Trump is doing right now is very shrewd and very smart and that's to go back and to ensure the Republican base the impact of this.

KURTZ: Because he loves beating up on the press, we know that. We're a very fat target. Let me get a break. Let us know what you think. E-mail us mediabuzz@foxnews.com and stick to the media or stick it to the media. When we come back the Trump campaign responds. Katrina Pierson is standing by.

And later, did Katie Couric engaged in deception for a gun control documentary. This is the story the other networks just aren't covering. We'll talk to an activists who was at the filming.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Time now for response from the Trump campaign. Joining us from Dalla is Katrina Pierson, a spokeswoman for Donald Trump. So, we began the show by talking about the media hammering your boss for bringing up the thoroughly investigated Vince Foster suicide in 1993. And I know that the Washington Post raised it with him first, but why go there?

KATRINA PIERSON, DONALD TRUMP SPOKESWOMAN: Well, I mean, it's quite simple Howie. I mean, look, Mr. Trump answers questions by the media. This is nothing new. And when you have a candidate like Hillary Clinton who is riddled with scandals, whether it's Whitewater, Travelgate, Benghazi, e-mail for that matter, when he's asked he's going to respond and look, it's not Donald Trump's responsibility to protect Hillary Clinton on any scandal.

KURTZ: Well, I suggest that she has some responsibility on the Vince Foster death, which I don't think there's any evidence we have. But since you pivoted very adeptly to Hillary Clinton, let me play for you is a sound bite. This is Donald Trump talking to Bill O'Riley the other night and lays some question about Hillary Clinton's only (ph) television appearances. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: She goes on very few shows and I know there's the other night she was on a show and they gave her set of questions and they negotiate their questions. I don't think you can ever say that I negotiate my questions with you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: So, Hillary Clinton had been on "Meet the Press" and CNN and days before that. What evidence does he have that anyone has given here any set of questions in advance?

PIERSON: Well, a lot of the media actually talks about this and early on in the campaign when Mrs. Clinton was on the campaign trail, she wasn't doing any media interviews and I can't remember the last time she's gone on a Fox program particularly O'Reilly, Hannity even Megyn Kelly for that matter. She does do the softball interview questions and no one asks her the tough questions in the media and I heard your segment earlier with CNN actually doing the cover up work for Hillary Clinton when it comes t the things that Mr. Trump is saying. They're going out of their way to defend her without her defending herself.

KURTZ: Wait, I got to push back on this. You say that CNN's Jake Tapper, by stating that there have been several investigations of Vince Foster's death and now it's been debunked that the Clinton's had anything to do with the sad tragedy is covering up for Hillary Clinton. I don't follow?

PIERSON: Well, they're defending. They're constantly defending -- there are several anchors on many of the other networks who are constantly defending Hillary Clinton whether it's a scandal or even with the e- mails for that matter and you just don't see that on the other side.

We have known for a very long time that Republicans have you tough time in the media particularly in a presidential election and Donald Trump is that kind of candidate that they're having trouble fighting back against because he does stand for himself and he defends himself and he's not going to be silenced by the mainstream media.

KURTZ: Well, you can characterize the enemies (ph) how the way you want. She certainly has done far fewer than Donald Trump and I know nothing she has gotten any questions in advance. All right, so "The New York Times" big piece this weekend will show you the scuffles roiling the Trump campaign, growing sense of paranoia, internal combat, has undermined "The Daily Message," I mean, the two Times reporter asked for comment, they got a statement that said, "to Ashley Parker and Maggie Haberman, you two wouldn't know how to write a good story about me if you tried -- dream on." What about the substance of the Times piece?

PIERSON: Look, I've been hearing since Mr. Trump entered this race, the Trump campaign is in turmoil, the staff is not getting along. Howie, we just beat 16 other candidates. Mr. Trump is the Republican nominee...

KURTZ: That's true.

PIERSON: ...we're now building out. We are now building out to a national team and so these types of reports are just -- they're just false. There are going to be times when everyone is talking and even consulting with each other that may agree or disagree, but that doesn't mean that there's something as intrinsically wrong with the campaign. But more importantly, we hear a lot of these sources come from "anonymous people inside the campaign" which I have to challenge because a lot of the things that I have heard coming from these anonymous sources are flat out false.

KURTZ: Well, every campaign I've ever covered ahs internal tensions and all from the press piece that sometimes blows it up, but...

PIERSON: Absolutely.

KURTZ: ... interesting tweets from Donald Trump about this or he had a series of them, "don't believe the bias and phony media quoting people who work for my campaign. The only quote that matters is a quote from me." What about other people that are quoting? What about when we talk to you?

PIERSON: Well, I think the key term is phony and as I mentioned you have these anonymous sources supposedly inside the campaign, and those are just phony reports. So, that's what Mr. Trump is talking about. If they're quoting people who don't have a name, then that's a problem. We consider that to be phony and I'm giving you that answer as a national campaign spokesperson, Mr. Trump was speaking specifically to those phony reports.

KURTZ: I am skeptical about named sources as well by their (ph) civil rights with names attached...

PEIRSON: As we all should be.

KURTZ: ...it has a little more credibility by seeing you say it on camera...

PIERSON: Absolutely.

KURTZ: ...then I take it a little more seriously. Kat, great to see you. Thanks for stopping by this Sunday.

PIERSON: Great to be here. Thanks.

KURTZ: Ahead, Bill Cosby is heading to trial on sexual assault charges. Will that become the ultimate media circus? But up next, the Silicon Valley billionaire who secretly got his revenge against Gawker.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: There's a bizarre new twist in that Gawker case. Now, a judge has upheld a $140 million verdict to Hulk Hogan over the posting of that sex tape involving the wrestler and his best friend's wife.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HULK HOLGAN, PROFESSIONAL WRESTLER: All I wanted was to let everyone know what Gawker is all about and what they do to destroy lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: The New York Times has revealed that a mystery man secretly bankrolled the see what were the motive, the money, and the message that the gossipy site is a threat to journalism. He is Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire, co-founder of PayPal and a Facebook board member. Now, years ago, a Gawker blog published a story under the headline, "Peter Theil is Totally Gay people," outing (ph) the businessman who is not totally public about his sexuality.

Thiel told columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin that this and other articles about his friends ruined people lives for no reason. "I saw Gawker pioneer a unique and incredibly damaging way of getting attention by bullying people even when there was no connection with the public interest." Thiel said that these were very painful and paralyzing for people who were targeted. Gawker founder Nick Denton defended the original story about Thiel being gay at CNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BECKY QUICK, CNBC I don't think that outing someone's sexual presence is fair game.

NICK DENTON, GAWKER FOUNDER: Well actually, I'm a gay man. The author of the...

QUICK: It doesn't mean that, you know...

DENTON: The author of the story on Peter Thiel is a gay man. Why on earth maintaining this kind of -- this code of silence around a gay public figures -- in a way that you would never do about a straight person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Denton who is now exploring a sale of Gawker warned against the danger of rich guys carrying out a revenge fantasy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENTON: The billionaire behind the curtain, pulling strings, hiring law firms, pursuing a decade long -- a decade long strategy. It's kind of extraordinary and I'm slightly impressed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Joining us from Stanford, California is Farhad Manjoo, technology columnist for The New York Times. So, what do you make of Peter Thiel telling your paper this is actually philanthropy on his part, striking a blow against mean spirited journalism?

FARHAD MANJOO, NEW YORK TIMES TECHNOLOGY COLUMNIST: Yeah, that is a crazy idea that this is sort of somehow in the public interest. I mean, in this one instance you can say because of (inaudible) that Gawker, you know, went over the line but this one suit about Hulk Hogan was one of many -- is one of many that Thiel seems to be funding and I think the real danger here is that if you have billionaires funding lawsuits against the press in secret, you're going to, I mean, that like sort of inherently has a chilling affect on the press. And there are in stances, I mean, where you could have many people file lawsuits that they have no merit and still sort of ruined a small publication like Gawker.

KURTZ: Well, I also, you know, I'm troubled by the idea billionaires who maybe just don't like the media outlet (ph) for ideological reasons, secretly funding the lawsuits. But the lawsuits have no merit, they probably will be thrown out. In this particular case, you know, Gawker kind of handed him a sword because posting this sex tape, a jury had to be convinced that there was a case here and obviously they awarded a verdict of many, many, many millions of dollars, your thoughts.

MANJOO: Yeah, I would be cautious about thinking that if lawsuits have no merit, they'll be thrown out. I mean, one of the things that tech billionaires and other billionaires have said for a long time, is that the legal system doesn't work as cleanly as that. I mean, Peter Thiel is a funder of many small companies. If those companies were attacked by the legal system for example like Uber or (inaudible) or various other startups who are hit by huge lawsuits that, you know, calls for a hundred million dollar judgment for every wrong person.

I think that they would, you know, not think that that's good for startups generally for businesses and for the industry. There are many in stances we found, you know, people suing news companies and the legal costs even if the suits are trivial (ph), the legal costs exceed, you know, what many companies can afford.

KURTZ: I was going to make that point. It's a great one. We'll see you later in the show for (inaudible). And one little footnote there, Gawker is a liberal website who's editor told me last fall that Trump who has Republican rivals will be apocalyptically disastrous president. Peter Thiel is going to be at the Republican Convention, a Trump delegate. So when Farhad comes back later in the program, we will ask him this question. Will Trump's tweeter tirade somehow back fire?

But coming up, Hillary Clinton getting pounded even by liberal news outlets over the investigative report on her e-mail debacle.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Hillary Clinton's e-mails scandal had been fading from the headlines when the State Department Inspector General issued a stinging report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN: But the report specifically say the State Department did not and would not have approved your exclusive reliance at a personal e-mail account. So, here's the question, did you break the rules?

HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well Wolf, you know, this report makes clear that personal e-mail use was the process under other secretaries of state and the rules were not clarified until after I have leftdid.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Yesterday State Department I.G. report was pretty scathing and it seemed to contradict many of the things that you said about the e-mails.

CLINTON: Well, Chuck, the report makes clear that personal e-mail use was the practice under other secretaries of state.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: We're back with the panel. Lisa Boothe, Wolf Blitzer and Chuck Todd weren't the only ones who were oppressing Hillary Clinton on this. Do you see a change in the media's tone on this e-mail?

BOOTHE: Well, I think for now, I mean, that's going to change as the election progresses here and I think they're going to get a little bit softer on Hillary Clinton.

KURTZ: Right now?

BOOTHE: Right now, no. I think that criticism was well deserved. I mean, you look at the "Washington Post" editorial and it was scathing (ph) towards Hillary Clinton. But she deserved that. I mean, what she did was outside of the protocol of the State Department and she broke protocol and she broke rules.

KURTZ: Penny, the "Washington Post" and "The New York Times" both had pretty tough editorials and these are liberal editorial pages obviously slamming her. Is it fair to say that the liberal media basically aren't buying Hillary Clinton's explanation in the wake of this I.G. report?

LEE: I think the media has been going after this issue for a very long time and you see this story being covered for more over than 12 months and so what happened there are some things they have avoided. They are asking the appropriate questions. There is a new report that came up that did warrant those questions so yes, I think it was appropriate in the role in which the media played, was to have those questions asked.

KURTZ: People forget the story it was recently broken by "The New York Times" more than a year ago, Susan Ferrechio, but it kind of ran out of gas in recent months. I think when it was covered, the cover (ph) seemed incremental because we don't know what's going on with the FBI investigation. So, why the striking change here? Is it because -- is it just because there's a new report or is it also because she seems to be sticking the her talking points on this?

FERRECHIO: I'm trying (ph) to think the media knows its credibility is on the line here, that the media is not trusted anymore and the mainstream media is aware of this and then giving that -- I think this is bare minimum coverage I my opinion even though they did cover what came out this week because they had to and she -- the mainstream media can play this up as much as they want or as little as they want. If she were a Republican, can you imagine the swarms of reporters who would be keeping this out the press every single day? I honestly believe the coverage would be a lot different if she had an R after her name.

LEE: Yes, because, I mean, there's has not been a lack of coverage on this issue and so, I mean to say it's kind of one of those things that there's only so much news that you can report on. So, there hasn't been any new news per se. So, this report did beg some of the questions that are being asked. But this has been long, long chronicles in their reports.

BOOTHE: To Susan's point, if this was a republican, they would be asked to step down. They will be forced to step down. There's absolutely no...

LEE: You can't make that leave (ph).

(CROSSTALK)

BOOTHE: Yes, absolutely. If you have a candidate who is facing a criminal investigation by the FBI, there's absolutely no way.

LEE: While she's stepping down from.

BOOTHE: No way, when she stepped down she's a private citizen.

LEE: She's the first candidate in history to be facing investigation by the FBI.

(CROSSTALK)

LEE: If you look at the fraudulent scandals..

BOOTHE: An investigation is not for (ph) Republicans, even it's a sex scandal. Whatever it is, they are forced to step down...

(CROSSTALK) LEE: Republican leadership calling for Donald Trump to step down on his past allegations?

(CROSSTALK)

BOOTHE: But what if he had done that in the nature...

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: Yes, she is under criminal investigation and she's also presumed innocent (ph) in the legal sense not necessarily in the political sense, and she is also -- although she cannot shake Bernie Sanders, she is winning these primaries and so I don't know that's it (inaudible) to ask any candidate to step down, even Bernie Sanders because he's not winning.

Before we go, Mrs. Clinton has been asked in various interviews about the Vince Foster business, about her husband's sex life. She always seems to deflect it. I always say, you know, maybe that's a smart strategy. I always say she has trouble making news. I mean, Trump has this news tornado and she is like the breeze, is that a problem anybody?

FERRECHIO: Yeah, I think Trump's hitting below the belt, she's hitting above the belt, and he's -- had been more successful with his below the belt punches. He's getting more attention. No one is talking about the fact that she said he's not qualified. They're all talking about criticizing over the Vince Foster and Clinton affairs.

KURTZ: On the other hand, Hillary Clinton, above the belt as you say, you know, how it made major push this week about Donald Trump once having said he like the idea of the housing market collapses because he could make more money. Looks like a one day story.

LEE: Well, I mean, it's a responsibility to even lift the debate up into the upper registers that we do talk about more policy and not make it about politics of personalities. I think that...

BOOTHE: She should also be called out for that because Bill Clinton wasn't the one that rewrote the role (h) to the Community Reinvestment Act which helped lead and spearhead, you know, help lead us towards the housing bubble and the financial crisis.

KURTZ: That's a perfectly good debate.

BOOTHE: But she's not being called out for that.

KURTZ: That's a perfectly good debate, but my point is that here is, you know, you have some words that in retrospect might seem a little embarrassing for Donald Trump. He was a business man entitled to make money any way he could for closures and that sort of thing, but how much media actually has that gotten compared to the latest sexual allegations?

BOOTHE: Well, to answer a point, I mean think of it as juxtaposition between the way that Hillary Clinton handles the media and the way that Donald Trump handles the media. That's going to be problematic for Hillary Clinton because this is a guy who, as I mentioned before, earned $2 billion in free media and the Republican primary. This is a woman who went months without even talking to the press for a period of time.

KURTZ: He did own that media and some there was not so favorable, all right. Lisa Bloothe, Penny Lee, Susan Ferrechio, great to see you this Sunday.

BOOTHE: Thank you.

KURTZ: Next on "MediaBuzz" with Katie Couric under fire for deceptive editing on a gun control documentary. We talked to gun rights activist who was involved in the film and is now pretty angry. And later, Facebook makes some fixes but does not resolve the issue of anti- conservative bias.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Katie Couric knew she was wading into a political minefield by undertaking a documentary on gun control. The film "Under the Gun" which just debuted on the EPIX Network seems to build a case for tighter background checks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you feel about the fact that a person on the government's terror watch list can't board a plane but can legally buy a gun?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say that again.

COURIC: In America, there are more guns stores than Starbucks and McDonald combined.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the terror watch list? That's a good one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Couric, told her old pal Matt Lauer that she tried to put aside her personal feelings after they had covered the carnage of Columbine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COURIC: I wanted to have an open mind. I wanted to have understand the psyche of gun owners in this country and what they were afraid of.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Philip Van Cleave who participated in the filming as the president of the Virginia Citizen's Defense League, although his two- hour interview with Katie was left on the cutting room floor, said things seemed to go out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHILIP VAN CLEAV, VIRGINIA CITIZENS DEFENSE LEAGUE PRESIDENT: It was a very polite, nice back and forth. I came out thinking that indeed she was going to do a fair job of representing us.

KURTZ: But now Couric and the filmmakers are under fire over a dramatic moment featured in the movies trailer.

COURIC: If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing the guns?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Eight seconds of stunned silence but that sequence, with members of the Virginia Guns Rights group was edited in a misleading way. Hear from an audio tape made by the organization is what actually happened.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

COURIC: How do you prevent felons or terrorists from walking into say, a licensed gun dealer and purchasing the gun?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, one if you're not in jail, then you should still have your basic rights and you should be able to buy a gun.

COURIC: So, if you're a terrorists or felon?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're a felon and you've done your time, you should have your rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact is, we do have statues both at the federal and state level that prohibit classes of people from being in possession of firearms.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

KURTZ: Philip Van Cleave told me he was shocked.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VAN CLEAVE: The problem was is that it made our members look like they were idiots. Like they couldn't answer a basic straight forward question. Their eyes were diverted in the video. They were looking down almost like they were shamed. I think because of how -- the light that it cast on our members and our organization and gun owners in general, that Katie Couric does indeed owe us an apology for what she did. It's the least she could do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: But that's not what happened. The famous director, Stephanie Soechtig says in a statement, "My intention was to provide a pause for the viewer to have a moment to consider this important question before presenting the facts on Americans' opinions on background checks. I never intended to make anyone look bad and I apologize if anyone felt that way." In her own statement, Couric, the movie's executive producer said she agree with her director and is very proud of the film. Couric would not agree to be interviewed. A source familiar with Couric's role said she questioned the edited silence but deferred to the director's judgment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VAN CLEAVE: I wonder how Katie would like it if we took some video of her and ask the question to her that made her show seemed dumbfounded. I wonder if she'd like that (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: It isn't hard to see that Couric's director has strong views on gun control. An interview this month with "The Guardians," Stephanie Soechtig spoke of the outrage of this strangle hold that National Rifle Association has over the legislative process, and she said, "Gun owners are being duped to being sold a bill of goods by the NRA." The Virginia Citizens Defense League isn't one of those groups that is constantly ripping (ph) the media. In fact, Van Cleave told me he's had positive experiences with outlets from 60 Minutes to Nigtline.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VAN CLEAVE: I think overall, the media has been relatively fair to us. They've never been -- well, there have been four cases where they've really done kind of a Katie did, but other than that, overall it's been fair. We usually don't get as much time as the other side, but I don't care as long as the main part of our message gets out. That's all I care about.

KURTZ: But he is still angry at Katie Couric.

VAN CLEAVE: It wasn't fair. It wasn't right. It wasn't professional and it was very bad journalism.

(END VIDEO CIP)

KURTZ: What Couric's director did, was to use editing to distort what actually happened. That distortion first noted by the Washington Free Beacon would be against the rules of any network news division. There's really no defending it. I've interviewed Katie Couric many times. She's having an amazing and successful career from Today Show co-host to CBS Evening News anchor to her current role as Yahoo's chief global news anchor. She may have set out to show all sides of the gun control issue, but that one deceptive bit of editing has given her critics a very big target.

After the break, Trump's tweeter feed was a powerful weapon showing the primaries, but our friends in the "New York Times" said that this can damage the Donald. We'll be here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Donald Trump is a force of nature on Twitter where he's got eight million very passionate followers, but New York Times tech columnist says that now, his strategy could backfire big time. Let's go back to California and bring in Farhad Manjoo. So, you say Trump is effective on Twitter because he sounds like a real person but you also say that his Twitter army can be domineering in its attempts to harangue and silence critics, explain.

MANJOO: Yeah, I mean, one of the things he does really well on Twitter is sound authentic. I mean, people like Donald Trump on Twitter for the same reason they like him kind of in the media generally because he sounds like a real person. If you look at other politicians Twitter accounts, they sound like press releases basically.

I mean, Hillary Clintons does speak sort of in the third person on Twitter and, yes. So, Trump has kind of mastered this medium. The question now is whether it could help him in the general election the way it helped him in the primary election, and that's where I wonder -- I worry that he may think of it as being effective here, but I think it probably isn't.

KURTZ: Well, somebody who lives on Twitter explaining why the more targeted audience he has originally in the primaries might have been one thing but now you say Twitter is ill-suited to the mass messages that he needs to get out, why?

MANJOO: Yeah, so, I mean Twitter works really well to kind of get at your base and it's a mass media platform. It's basically the same as kind of cable news. It works -- you get everyone listening to you at the same time, and Twitter has this compounded effect where what he says on twitter kind of gets on cable and so he can kind of get everywhere.

But in a presidential and a general election these days, especially when it's supposed to be very close, what the Obama campaign did really well in 2008 and 2012 was use this sort of online fervor to kind of get real people out in the real world during work for you. You know, they tied kind of what was happening online with e-mail addresses and real names and raising money, but the Trump campaign really hasn't done that and Twitter is a really bad tool for that.

KURTZ: Well, let me just jump in because Donald Trump has said he doesn't really totally believe in the whole sort of data-driven approach to politics. He also may not have the money to do it, but, just to come back to Twitter for a moment, you say that Twitter has a 140-character medium, tends to penalized nuance and moderation while rewarding hot takes and bombast but maybe hot takes and bombast in this environment is what it takes to win an election.

MANJOO: I mean, hot takes and bombast definitely get you in the media and as your whole show has pointed out so far is that, you know, he has been able to drown out everyone else's message and Hillary Clinton's lately, but, you know, that's not really how presidential elections are won in kind of battleground states. It's going to be a few percentage point difference, and the way that works is you get people online to do work for you offline.

You know, the major thing is to sort of get people who are your supporters to get non-supporters of people who are in the center voting for you, and there's no evidence that Twitter works that way. I mean, Twitter is really good at kind of, as you said, like getting the really -- the red meat out, right? Like you can get people -- you can get people whipped up that way. When Trump has kind of gone to the center and tried to pivot, you know, the Cinco de Mayo tweet was an example of that where he showed himself eating a taco bowl.

KURTZ: Yeah.

MANJOO: That has ended up -- I mean it sort of backfired. He did dominate the media but mostly people were making fun of him.

KURTZ: That may have been a misstep, but I think you did point out that Trump's twitter feed was kind of like its own wire service. It does drive a lot of publicity (ph). I would say it drives news coverage everywhere, your newspaper, magazines, et cetera, so, therefore, I take your point but I think it's not to be underestimated. Farhad Manjoo from "The New York Times." Thanks for getting up early out in California, great to see you.

MANJOO: Hey, good to be here.

KURTZ: Still to come, Facebook changes its rules in response to allegations of liberal bias, but is it enough, and with Bill Cosby heading to trial, will the media go utterly haywire?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Facebook insists it was not biased in picking its trending topics but Mark Zuckerberg's companies is making some changes and go beyond better training and oversight for the journalist hired to help pick the topics. Facebook will no longer assign an importance level based on top ten news sites which are mostly mainstream outlets like "The New York Times," the "Washington Post" CNN although it does include Fox News.

But Facebook is essentially admitting here is that journalists being human have biases and relying heavily on establishment outlets does tilt things away from key sources on the right as well as the left and Zuckerberg deserves credit for trying. I'll give that a like. It's been more than a decade since allegations of sexual assault first surfaced against Bill Cosby long ignored by most of the media. This week the comedians fortunes took a turn for the worst.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLIE ROSE, CBS NEWS HOST: It is a stunning fall from grace. Bill Cosby who portrayed the all-American TV dad was ordered today to stand trial in Pennsylvania for sexual assault.

DAVID MUIR, ABC WORLD NEWS TONIGHT ANCHOR: Bill Cosby, once nicknamed America's dad, will now face his first criminal trial for alleged sexual assault.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Prosecutors say Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted Amanda Constand in his suburban Philadelphia mansion back in 2004. She, of course, is one of more than just 50 women who have made similar, remarkably similar allegations against Cosby. USA Today called this the biggest celeb case since Michael Jackson -- I guess that's true -- and the media interest will be intense given Cosby's now tarnished status as a TV trail blazer and cultural icon. I just hope, and maybe this is wishful thinking, but I just hope that my profession doesn't put itself on trial by turning this criminal case into an O.J.-like media circus.

KURTZ: Well, that's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz in Washington. Thanks for joining us and a special shout-out to our veterans and members of military on this Memorial Day Weekend. Thank you for your service. We hope you'll like our Facebook page. We just talked about Facebook. We post a lot of original content there. You can be part of our Your Buzz Feature.

Just e-mail us, mediabuzz@foxnews.com -- mediabuzz@foxnews.com. Stick to the media, ask a question, I may respond or maybe you want to talk about Trump's twitter feed, maybe you already are @howardkurtz on Twitter. Look forward to enjoying your weekend. I know I am. And we're back here next Sunday with the latest buzz.

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