TRANSCRIPT

Trump calls Hill probe 'witch hunt'

Sanders criticizes media coverage

 

This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," April 2, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: A media furor over a GOP congressman meeting with the investigation of the Trump team, Russia and surveillance which President Trump is calling a witch hunt and debate whether the probe has change.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

BRAD BLAKEMAN, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: I think Nunes will be lucky to keep his chairmanship at this point. I think he should voluntarily step down from this investigation.

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC: Chairman is telling us Devin Nunes is in the middle of the most publicly inept cover-up we have ever seen and he is not in it alone.

JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW: I think Devin Nunes is a smart and an honorable guy, I think he kind of stepped in it on how he handled the politics in this.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN: The question about on whether he is clueless or corrupt or both is really the only question left on this investigation.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: Remember how Sean Spicer, the president's press secretary said if congressman Nunes got intel from the White House it wouldn't pass the smell test.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

KURTZ: Are journalists losing the focus on whether there is any evidence of collusion between the Trump administration and Moscow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: You think I'm bad for America?

TED KOPPEL, VETERAN JOURNALIST: I do. In the long-haul --

HANNITY: You know what --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Sean Hannity takes on Ted Koppel. And we debate his contention in the main stream press is out to destroy President Trump. Plus, a study in tolerance, the online mockery of Mike Pence over a port of he won't dine alone with women, who aren't his wife. Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."

Devin Nunes set up a media firestorm after disclosure he was secretly on White House grounds when sources gave him classified information indicating that the Obama Administration picked up some Trump transition aides during foreign surveillance. This is his meeting with the press.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you have other meeting at the White House? Did you meet with the president or of any his aides while you were there that night?

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: No. I'm sure the people in the west wing had no idea that I was there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: The New York Times revealed that Nunes sources were actually two White House security officials. Joining us now to analyze the coverage, Erin McPike White House correspondent for Independent Journal Review; Guy Benson, the political editor at Townhall.com and a Fox News contributor and Juan Williams, Fox News analyst and co-host of "The Five," so this New York Times report of Devin Nunes going away, coming back, talking to reporters about alleged Obama administration surveillance. How big a story is that?

ERIN MCPIKE, INDEPENDENT JOURNAL REVIEW: We did hear obviously Sean Spicer say earlier this week, the press is getting bogged down in process. The White House Press Corps and the Political Press Corps focus on process. That is how stories get told. We need to see whether or not the White House is using Devin Nunes as a distraction in much the same way that Donald Trump uses his twitter feed as a distraction.

KURTZ: How did me meet your point where there is such intense media scrutiny and debate and uproar over congressman that six months ago, now you are saying that Americans had never heard of.

GUY BENSON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Howie, I think it's hard to follow the script and the plot in this whole saga. It is really murky, there doesn't seem to be hard evidence on either side of this. I think one of the beefs I have with the media in our coverage of this controversy is they are focusing so much on the house investigation where there is acrimony, very little attention is spent on the senate side. If we are trying to figure out what's happening with Russia vis-a-vis our election, the senate probe seems to be much more responsible when the House won which is sucking up all the media.

MCPIKE: Let me just jump in there for a second, because that is my point, I think We are focusing on that process it's a distraction whereas the White House wants us to focus on the House investigation, because it is not doing much and that is why we are focusing on that process, it is a distraction whereas the senate intelligence committee's investigation might be doing their work.

KURTZ: That assumes they are doing all the work. He cancelled this week's hearings and they are fueling the narrative in the press that the investigation is paralyzed.

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it is paralyzed, because what you hear from his counterpart Adam Schiff the top Democrat on the House Intel Committee, he feels Nunes sacrificed his credibility, canceled his meetings. You had the White House behind the suggestion the House Intel Committee would have testimony from Paul Manafort, Carter Page and others.

KURTZ: How do you know that?

WILLIAMS: The question is whether the White House has been using Nunes to stop the course of that investigation, or to give a stage to people who would testify there was nothing going on.

KURTZ: Do you believe this is murky or do you believe all the head lines are justified.

WILLIAMS: I know the way we work as reporters. We are intent on the question whether the senate and house can properly investigate this case or as we heard from people like Senator McCain and others. Maybe it's time for an independent or special prosecutor.

BENSON: There has been something of a pile-on for Nunes, but let us not forget that Mr. Schiff from California, he came out and said there is circumstantial evidence of collusion. Where did that go?

KURTZ: The president had been tweeting this weekend maybe a couple of - we put it up on screen. A little sleepy eyes Chuck Todd started talking about the Obama surveillance scandal and stop with the fake Trump-Russia story. The other one is the fake news story there is no victory for Trump is pushing the phony Russia story a total scam, so fake story, scam, but isn't this the president had asked for?

MCPIKE: I think we are getting away from the point. When you watch cable, every hour they have to reset the story thing. The reason we are holding these investigations, we have to get to the point to see if Russia meddled in these elections. That is the main story. The president is trying make it unmasking of names the biggest story but it's not. The biggest story is whether Russia meddled in the election.

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: Sean Spicer saying the media is obsessed with process and whether the question is about Nunes sources or Mike Flynn asking for immunity for his congressional testimony, he also went after a "Washington Post" story that said the White House sought to block the testimony of former acting attorney general Sally Yates. The Justice Department sent a letter to her lawyer saying her testimony will be covered by executive privilege and has to be approved, so is that story false?

BENSON: I think that is overblown. I think some of the details seem to be correct, but the implication that was being shoveled to the audience at home, not just the post, but everyone covering it. This was if he there was -- and the White House was using a heavy hand to try to squelch testimony from someone who really knew an inside story and again we don't know what actually happen, there is so many question mark. One of the things we learned a fact in the last few weeks came from the senate side where it turned out the Russians were meddling on behalf of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. But they have been coming after Republicans as well, like Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio who revealed he was the target of this.

KURTZ: The White House included the denial in the original story. Another media uproar particular here inside the beltway has to do with the house freedom caucus which essentially stopped a compromise from becoming law on the healthcare bill. The president tweeting again, let's put it up on the screen, the freedom caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don't get on the team and fast. We must fight them and the Dems in 2018. It's hard for the press to hold back when the president uses that kind of language.

WILLIAMS: I don't know how you do it, and you know by the way before we move on the Russia story again, the president's tweet tally. He tweeted he thought it was correct for Mike Flynn to ask for immunity. This fuels the story. The whole thing is this morning the tweets that you read over the weekend as well as the tweets during the week. The president is playing a major media role.

KURTZ: Every president plays a major role.

WILLIAMS: He just has a more direct connection. According to polls most people think he should stop.

KURTZ: Going after the freedom caucus the press is full of Republican civil war. Is the president too quick to call this a Republican civil war or is this too bloody?

BENSON: You just put the tweet up there. The president is calling out a particular part of the party, it is not just that tweet, his social media director came after a specific member from Michigan saying let's primary him. Another guy from Idaho came to his defense tweeting back at the White House. I think the media loves to stoke the embers of internal uproar in the Republican Party, but in this case I think it's justified.

MCPIKE: I can't tell you how much Republicans love to get on the phone with reporters and bash other Republicans.

KURTZ: How aren't reporters encouraging this, tell me more?

MCPIKE: That is our job to get information.

KURTZ: This particular tweet was head-snapping. But it depends on whether you view it as a serious threat to the presidential elections or a tactic, or just Donald Trump venting.

MCPIKE: Maybe it is all three, but it's worthy of coverage and he is the one doing it.

WILLIAMS: Republicans this week saying we are being bullied. They pushed back. You say the media may be seeking to undermine Republicans. Republicans are feeling there is a divide between our president and the freedom caucus.

KURTZ: All I'm saying is the president is really enjoying this story. Let us know what you think, MediaBuzz@foxnews.com. When we come back, Sean Spicer is getting press pushback over a heated exchange to a reporter April Ryan and later, Sean Hannity on Ted Koppel telling him he is bad for America.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Sean Spicer routinely mixes it up with White House correspondents. But one exchange with April Ryan of American Urban Radio Network has sparked some pretty sharp criticism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORK: How does this administration try to revamp' its image two months in. You have got other things going on, you got Russia, and you got wiretapping.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, we don't have that.

RYAN: On Capitol Hill.

SPICER: I get it. I said it from the day that it got here until whatever -- there is no connection. You have got Russia. If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight somehow that is a Russian connection. I appreciate your agenda here. But the reality is. Hold on. At some point report the facts. Every single person who has been briefed on this subject has come away with the same conclusion, Republicans and Democrats. I'm sorry that did disgusts you, you are shaking your head.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: April Ryan talks about the heated back and forth on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: I have been here for 20 years. Since 1997, the second time of Bill Clinton. We have never seen anything like this before. My question was simple. How do you change the perception problem, basically? Essentially I was road killed today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Sean Spicer took a lot of heat including from Hillary Clinton talking about women of color. What is your take?

BENSON: I don't put much into what Hillary Clinton says. Sean Spicer has a tough challenge every day. I hate second guessing these guys too much. Probably a lighter touch was in order. If you are a reporter, not a commentator, but if you are a straight news reporter and you are sitting there shake your head in disgust, I can see why Spicer might get his dander up. I don't think she is a victim. She is a reporter doing her job and she doesn't need Hillary Clinton and others playing the race card.

KURTZ: I want to play to you that something Spicer said on radio show on this very subject.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPICER: April is a tough reporter that knows how to throw it out and take it back. To somehow -- it's demeaning for some folks to say that she can't take it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Basically he is saying he giving everybody a hard time in the briefing room.

WILLIAMS: Sure and I think he does. The key point here is I think lots of people perceived it as somehow treating her as a child, in a childish manner, telling her to stop shaking her head. To me this is the back and forth. April Ryan is quite capable and you can see she continued to talk to Sean Spicer.

KURTZ: When Sean says I know you have an agenda that is a serious thing to say --

WILLIAMS: That is the real heart of it. I think a lot of people have gone away from that, because they want to focus on she is a woman and she is black, whatever, but the real issues here was Sean Spicer is saying she had an agenda. As what guy describe, a real reporter asking questions about the perception is I think is a legitimate.

BENSON: Not just her, they make this accusation against the media broadly, the whole media has an agenda generally.

KURTZ: I understand completely, Erin, is there anything wrong with April Ryan's question?

MCPIKE: No.

KURTZ: Second of all, does this all help her. As the New York Times profiled her and saying new renounced reporter after the question at the White House --

MCPIKE: Yes, I think a lot of people in the front of the briefing room perform their questions, and those who sit in the back ask questions that that gets dismissed a lot. This happened. It's not unique to April Ryan.

KURTZ: I did like the Russian dressing line. And the next day he called on April Ryan first, how are you doing today. So, apparently, no hard feelings for the moment, Juan Williams, Guy Benson, and Erin McPike thanks for stopping by this Sunday. Up next the White House responds on the latest coverage of the president. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is here. And later Sean Hannity says the mainstream media are trying to destroy President Trump. We will discuss that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Joining us to respond to a difficult week of coverage for the president. Sarah Huckabee Sanders the Deputy White House Press Secretary, welcome.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Good morning.

KURTZ: On the House Intelligence probe, there has been a lot of critical coverage of Devin Nunes briefing the president and the press about this classified material that the New York Times has provided intact by White House National Security, as I know, your colleague Sean Spicer said the media is obsessed with process, but (inaudible) this is receiving criticism even from conservatives.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I think Sean is exactly right on this case. Let's look at the substance here. Everybody wants to talk about substance with it comes to the president and constantly attacks on that. Now we have somebody with very deep knowledge of what's going on, has the ability to look at classified information and say there is something there. I think that is worth a lot more time than we are giving it, that part of it -- instead of the process and the back and forth that they want to focus.

KURTZ: I think one reason hasn't met some much focus on this particular substance that we and the press or the public hasn't seen this classified information, but why would the White House go through this cloak and dagger routine? That fuels questions as well.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I don't think that was the White House's play or position. It's equal access that information is open for both of those individual to see what they have done. I know Adam Schiff spent a significant amount of time at the White House. He was there for several hours.

KURTZ: You are saying there is no reluctance to share this information with the ranking Democrat on the House Intel Committee?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Not that I am aware of it at all, I think the bigger pint is because there is something there we would love for him to come and see it. It turns out there is something of substance there for him to know about, we want him to see it. If there wasn't something of substance he would have walked out and said this was a waste of time and a dog and pony show. He hasn't done that, so I think it's telling on what he saw Friday.

KURTZ: All right bigger picture, why is the president calling these investigations a witch hunt? And why did he tweet yesterday, NBC Chuck Todd should stop with the fake Trump-Russia stories? Didn't the president ask for the investigations?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I think the media is so focused on the Trump-Russia component and not the surveillance component that is clearly again, I think by evidence as of Friday, there is something there. But time and time again the Trump-Russia connection that they have been trying to make something out of it for the last nine months, even senior officials in the Obama administration said there is no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. If they had something they would have found it in the last few months. Let's move on to the surveillance story. If they don't want to talk about that then let's talk about what the president has been focused on.

KURTZ: I would agree there is no hard evidence on either one of these arguments. I don't know that it's realistic to say just focus on one-half of the story.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I think they have spent so much time focusing already and have come up with nothing so it's time to move on.

KURTZ: When the president tweeted the house freedom caucus could hurt the Republicans. The New York Times called it a vengeful tirade against conservatives of his own party, was it?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I don't think so, look, this president made bold and big commitments during the campaign and he intends on keeping them and he wants the members of his party to get on board with it. These are the guys who campaigned on repealing and replacing Obamacare. We have an opportunity to do that, so let's do that. Let's fulfill the promises we made to the American people. That is what the president is focus on, that is what he is going to do and he hopes that this group will get on board and be part of that.

KURTZ: Lead story in yesterday's "The Washington Post," "Trump's agenda getting upstaged." is it a source of frustration that what the president is trying to accomplish is not getting as much attention?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Absolutely. The media wants to talk about something that doesn't exist instead of something that does. We spent the last couple months doing major policy initiatives and rollouts in the form of executive orders. Creating an environment where businesses are confident in hiring again. We heard from CEO after CEO. They are excited about this president and the economy. The media refuses to cover that but they are happy to talk about a story frankly that is just fake and it is time to move on.

KURTZ: There is that word fake, I don't think it is true to me and we don't cover that at all. The New York Times did a front page on the latest trade order. A lot of media chatter about Ivanka Trump taking an official White House job. She is an official assistant to the president. That led to the financial disclosure forms the White House put out and the New York Times piece on Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner. Walking and careless legal and ethical grounds, according to several experts, because they have a lot of money and there is this questions about their business empire, your response?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I think it many a great thing to have people who have been successful come in and put their success into the public sector. We should be celebrating the fact that they are there. Democrats love to talk about the war on women. The only war on women I see is the one that is waged against every woman and every female that is close to this president. They have somebody that is the biggest advocate for that sitting next to the president that he listens to. They should be championing her more than anybody else.

KURTZ: I agree.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: That is a sad mishap by them not to do so.

KURTZ: Seems to me Ivanka made this change, because she was trying to respond (inaudible) all concern, so glad to have you here today. Sarah Huckabee Sanders thanks very much for dropping by, ahead on "MediaBuzz", online mocking for Mike Pence, because the vice president won't dine alone with women other than his wife, really. But first Sean Hannity takes on Ted Koppel for the role of commentary at Fox and other networks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: It was an exchange on CBS in Sunday morning that quickly went viral, Ted Koppel challenging Sean Hannity over what he does at Fox.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: You think I am bad for America?

TED KOPPEL, AMERICAN BROADCAST JOURNALIST: Yes.

HANNITY: You do.

KOPPEL: In a long haul, I think you and all this opinions, you know what?

HANNITY: That is sad.

KOPPEL: Because you are very good at what you do and because you have attracted a significantly more influential -- let me finish my sentence.

HANNITY: I am listening, with all due respect.

KOPPEL: You have attracted people who are determined that ideology is more important than facts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: I spoke earlier with the host of "Hannity" and radio talk show host from New York.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Sean Hannity welcome.

HANNITY: Howie, how are you my friend?

KURTZ: Doing well, Ted Koppel said you are bad for American, now in fairness, he said opinion shows like yours are bad for America. You think, let's say, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell are equally bad for America?

HANNITY: Well you only ran 70 seconds of 50 plus minutes of tapes, so, I don't think they are bad for America, that is my honest - you know the fact that they have a liberal opinion and they expressed it, and they have an audience for their opinion is good for them, I mean you don't - when did more speech become a bad thing in America? Look I would make the argument and I did to Ted Koppel that if they ever released the tape head, if it ever released Howie, I made the argument, you know what? The media ignored vetting Obama, they ignored let's see, Frank Marshall Davis say they ignored, he was on the (inaudible) disciple, an acorn member, 20 year in the church of black liberation theology, GD America, America's chicken has got off the roof, Howie, imagine for one second, this is a media show, Donald Trump start his campaign, not coming down an escalator in Trump tower, but imagine it is in a home of a terrorist who's group bomb the Pentagon, the Capitol and New York city police headquarters. He only was ask one time, about that important issue and it was because I fed the question that George denied - the day before the debate on my radio show --

KURTZ: On this question of editing, you know how it is with news magazine, shows, you do long interview, and they edit it down for 10 to 12 minute piece --

Hold on but you say fake, edited news. Why fake?

The end --

HANNITY: It is fake, because he didn't include my answer, I mean, listen I will be very honest this was a really good substantive give-and-take exchange, but I think people would benefit from seeing. Now on one hand Ted thinks he is object just a (inaudible) "nightline," that is fine, but Ted Koppel -- I actually had an answer for him, and I respectfully deferred let him make his comments, right to supplies if you are going to interview and make yourself look good as possible, that is a cheap shot, and I don't care he thinks I am bad for America I know otherwise we report stories look, first of all, I give the American people a lot more credit than he does. And that is I think people know that watch Fox News channel that there are news programs and there are opinion programs. I don't think many people in America that watch my show don't pick up pretty quickly that I am a conservative. Or people on MSNBC liberal.

KURTZ: On that point on that point about your audience, Koppel said you are pretty good at what you do but you have attracted people determined that ideology is more important than fact doesn't appear he thinks much --

HANNITY: He is saying basically my audience is fed lies by me I am a good liar that is how I interpret those remarks couldn't be further from truth, look I have been saying for years, journalism in America is dead, that we have an information crisis in America. The old guard like Koppel, they can't they can't fathom that day has come in many ways gone we have o evolved way beyond where they have been, they have monopoly all this time, and once people had he alternative sources of information, they sought them out I just want to make one point. I don't care if vetting of Obama, I doubt CBS every give a horrific record of Obama after 8 years would I give on a regular basis during election campaign, I used for example I don't think they went in-depth about the Benghazi lies in-depth about Hillary Clinton's foundation or the Iranian one deal, all I give more facts and information, they are network doesn't touch it, so in a substantial audience here, because we are giving news information that is obviously people want need and desire, and are not getting anywhere else, I will be honest Howie, I am proud of the work we do here we work hard at what we do here.

KURTZ: You talk a lot on your show obviously about liberal media bias.

You are up front about your commentator don't claim to be a journalist very strong o supporter of President Trump back to campaign.

HANNITY: Right.

KURTZ: Even though strong opinions are why should not people discount some of what you say?

HANNITY: Why should they example one thing I ever said on this show not true.

KURTZ: I wasn't saying wasn't true people shouldn't believe you I am saying why not discount it as being the -- well efforts of a guy who is in the opinion business.

HANNITY: Well he should. And others I think are pretty well aware that I have a political point of view, and frankly I don't care what other people's points of view are. I think in America the first amendment is sacrosanct and we out ought to have free open exchange of ideas, ideals, principles. I consider myself a radio television talk show host, I am a journalist in the sense advocacy journalist I am editorial page of paper, and we do straight reporting on my show on a regular basis. And I think a lot of the reporting we have do is a lot a better than you will find in main stream media I am not saying this arrogantly, what I am saying, we go out of way to find news information that is valuable that I think is given short of shrift ignored.

KURTZ: Last week health care bill was defeated now you blames Republicans on the hill you said this is not President Trump's failure, now, just about I should say many, many people in media including conservatives says yes the president worked very hard on legislation, but it is partially his failure, are you going to --

HANNITY: I will tell you why I think you are wrong, because, Republicans have been talking about repealing and replacing Obamacare for seven or eight years now and they said give us the house in 2010, they got house, then, give us the house in senate no 2014 they got the senate, then 2016, many of these people and in fairness even Speaker Ryan was not a big supporter of Donald Trump, wouldn't appear with him, November 19 elected president he is President-Elect, Donald Trump represents the executive branch of government, Paul Ryan is a Speaker of the House of representatives, legislative branch of government and they had 8 years to build a consensus, now about before they rolled out the bill, we know there -- that the Republican Democratic parties are coalition parties, they should have gotten the moderates, they should have gotten the Tuesday group, the study committee, the Wednesday, Friday, Saturdays group and the freedom caucus, hang on --

That was a consensus bill that would have passed. They ended up letting Trump do the heavy lifting and that is frankly should not be his job, they -- my opinion Republican house members were not prepared for this moment to lead and they let the president down, now, the president --

(CROSSTALK)

I have no problem with --

KURTZ: Is there anything so far in Trump presidency that disappoints you?

HANNITY: Not yet, I mean you know, listen, to I wish at times maybe -- wouldn't get in some of the battles that he gets in, yeah, built you know what it is not that it is not that meaningful to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: More of my Hannity interview in just a moment and later why are so many liberalize knocking the vice president over his marriage?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: More of my sit-down with Sean Hannity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: You said on "CBS Sunday Morning" -- you said this before. The press in this country is out to destroy this president, every member of the press, a bit of an overstatement there?

HANNITY: No, I don't think so. I have never seen anything like it. You follow the press and you have for many years. Can you give me one shred of evidence that we have seen for 8 long months, Russia conspiracy. Do you see any evidence at all that Donald Trump and his campaign in any way colluded with Russia, in terms of impacting this election? Is there any evidence of that, Howie that you know of?

KURTZ: As of now there is no evidence. But it's a story that needs to be covered. You say out to destroy.

HANNITY: That is right. Every time you read a story that Donald Trump was involved in this collusion, it's a false narrative. It's a lie without any evidence to corroborate it.

KURTZ: Good question, bottom line on the Koppel thing, you love these fights, and they put you in the spotlight, right?

HANNITY: I never back down from a fight, let's put it that way, but if you ever look at the people if I fought with on twitter or the people I fight with on my shows, I try not to devote too much time to fighting, because I have more information that is valuable to my audience. I serve my audience here that is my job. They start the fights with me, I just don't back down. If they want to start a fight, I'm game. I will jump in the arena.

KURTZ: All right, Sean great to see you, thanks very much for joining us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: You can see more of it on our Facebook page or home page, foxnews.com/mediabuzz. Bill O'Reilly was criticizing Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Watters in Fox and Friends when he suddenly took a personal swipe saying it looks like she wears a James Brown wig. That night he said, he regretted the comment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS: Talking points believe Miss Watters is totally sincere in her belief system and should not marginalize by political opponents. I made that mistake on "Fox and friends." I said the congressman's hair distracted me. That was stupid. I apologize. It had no place in the conversation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: That drew plenty of criticism. I give O'Reilly credit not just for apologizing, but for doing it at the top of his show. The New York Times reported on five cases where women have alleged sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior by bill O'Reilly. Two of those cases had already been made public. The paper said that the Fox News host or 21st century Fox has paid about $13 million in settlements. O'Reilly said this in a statement. Just like other prominent and controversial individuals, vulnerable to people who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity. But most importantly, I'm a father who cares deeply for my children and would avoid doing anything to hurt them in any way. I would put to rest any controversies to spare my children. 20th century Fox says they take these of matters of workplace behavior very seriously. We looked over these matters and discussed them with in O'Reilly. While he denies the merits of those claims, he has resolved those he regarded as his personal responsibility. Standing by O'Reilly, the Wall Street Journal reports that his contract was recently renewed. The network said, it doesn't comment on telling contracts. After the break, Mollie Hemmingway on how a 15 year old quotes from Mike Pence has many in the media ridiculing his marriage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: There was an online explosion over a 20th paragraph of the Washington Post profile of Vice President Pence's wife Karen. He says he never eats dinner alone with any woman but his wife and more events featuring alcohol without her by his side. I spoke with I spoke with Fox News contributor Mollie Hemmingway senior editor at the Federalist from New York.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Mollie Hemmingway welcome.

MOLLIE HEMMINGWAY, SENIOR EDITOR, "THE FEDERALIST": Great to be here.

KURTZ: You had a great column on this on the Federalist. Talk a little bit more about the tone and intensity of the reaction to this recycled quote from Mike Pence.

HEMMINGWAY: It wasn't just tweets that you saw, it was also headlines. You had the national post saying Mike Pence's evangelical refusal to lunch with ladies is easy to mock it also rape culture. The BBC wonders are Mike Pence's dining habits (inaudible) or sexist. Others thought it was an example of Sharia. Vox was wondering fit was illegal to not dine with anyone who was not your wife.

KURTZ: It is shaking my head, rape culture, and freak out. That is a technical term. What does it say about the media mindset? About the vice president who with his wife is a Christian conservative being taunt and ridiculed for how he refuses to conduct his marriage.

HEMMINGWAY: The original story was respectful. But there is something of -- disconnect with a lot of people not understanding how from traditional religious believers live their life differently. This isn't that bizarre behavior for traditional Christians, Muslims, Jews and people who believe they need self-discipline to guard themselves against infidelity that isn't something they would do. This is news room culture that is out of except with that mindset. You need diverse views in the newsroom so when you encounter things like this you don't treat it like gorillas in the mist.

KURTZ: Why don't you let Mike Pence do what he wants rather than suggest he has this rule, because he can't control himself around women.

HEMMINGWAY: It gets to the nature of man and whether they should easily overcome all temptations. It's a battle between a progressive and traditional mindset, and you are seeing it on great display.

KURTZ: You say in your piece what Mike Pence is doing is common sense and he is trying to guard against temptation and you talk about your own marriage and say temptation is a fact of life.

HEMMINGWAY: We have so many news stories that come out because of scandal it's not news that a lot of marriages end in divorce and infidelity is a big motivator for that. He would think that it would be better sort of better treatment when a politician, I mean it is kind of weird for a politician to hold his marriage up in such high regard. But the idea that this is something to mock is not healthy given a how much damage is done by marital infidelity. We should have a conversation about healthy marriages.

KURTZ: Mollie, when you are back in D.C., do you want to have dinner?

HEMMINGWAY: Great.

KURTZ: No drinking. Mollie Hemmingway thanks very much for doing this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Mike Pence said he was sorry his wife Karen couldn't be there but she had dinner plans.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: The biggest story in London was moving ahead with a divorce from the European Union. But the daily mail says never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it, that is right. Not an April Fool's prank, not making it up. The tabloid devoted an article to comparing those legs of Prime Minister Theresa May and Scotland's First Minister Nicholas Sturgeon who is undeniably shapely shanks redeem by the paper to be flirtier. The paper responded to a way of criticism changing a subhead saying this is a light- hearted take. She says the critics should get a sense of humor. But it's a strikingly sexist way to sell papers in 2017.

That is it for this edition of "MediaBuzz," I'm Howard Kurtz. Thanks for joining us. DVR the show, make sure you don't miss it. We hope you like our Facebook page. I try to respond to some of the comments, doing the same on Twitter @HowardKurtz, looking forward to your feedback. Back here next Sunday, see you then with latest buzz.

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