Mainstream media bash Bolton

This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," March 25, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On our Buzz Meter this Sunday, the media mount a frontal assault on John Bolton, appoint by the president as national security adviser, portraying the long-time Fox News contributor as a danger to the nation:


MICHELLE GOLDBERG, COLUMNIST: John Bolton, you know, the last person in the world who should be anywhere near the National Security bureaucracy. We are stumbling possibly towards an apocalyptic war that will, you know, kill millions of people, turn America into a pariah, and our way of life.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS: John Bolton is replacing H.R. McMaster today, and my goodness, MSNBC, and others were in a total meltdown. World War III is about to happen.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC: A major breaking news tonight that have a lot of people very, very worried.

HARRIS FAULKNER, FOX NEWS: They may not all agree, but Ambassador Bolton is the guy who gets the message right, and it will take the pressure off the White House, always having to put that out there.


KURTZ: Our journalists making any attempt to have balance in covering the hawkish and controversial Bolton. With "60 Minutes" set to air its Stormy Daniels interview tonight, television shines its spotlight on the President's female accusers.


CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: This is the party of the evangelicals, yet they don't seem to admit every breaking point, where the President who is locked in a legal battle with a porn actress, a Playboy model, and reality T.V. contestant.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm not sure the alleged affair or probable affair, whatever you want to call it, is having any impact on the President.


KURTZ: This is after a CNN interview the former Playboy model Karen McDougal about her allegations of an affair.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: Who ended the relationship?



MCDOUGAL: I was just feeling so guilty. When you have feelings in a relationship, and you cared about somebody, why would you want to destroy that life anymore, than you might have already destroyed their life?


KURTZ: Does the public care what Donald Trump, the businessman, did more than a decade ago. And how was Anderson Cooper handling their stories?

Plus, a major crisis at Facebook, as Mark Zuckerberg admits some mistakes in allowing a company to engage in a massive misuse of personal data.


LAURIE SEGALL, CNN: Mark, what happened? What went wrong?

MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK: So, this was a major breach of trust, and I'm really sorry that this happened.


KURTZ: And the company, Cambridge Analytica, under fire after an undercover media investigation finds top executives talking about offering politicians bribes and hookers. But what are the ethics of a hidden camera probe. I'm Howard Kurtz, and this is MediaBuzz.

When the President abruptly fired H.R. McMaster and replaced him with Fox News Contributor John Bolton, the former U.N. Ambassador didn't know it was being announced until shortly before he appeared on Fox.


MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS: The way that you have -- you speak about Russia is quite a bit more hawkish than the way that the President does.

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I have never been shy, that's what my views are. But frankly, what I have said in private now is behind me, at least affective April 9th. And the important thing is what the President says and what advice I give him.


KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage of another tumultuous week at the White House, Guy Benson, political editor of and a Fox News contributor; Susan Ferrechio, chief congressional correspondent for the Washington Examiner, and Mo Elleithee, a former DNC staffer animal, who runs Georgetown University's Institute of Politics, and is a Fox News contributor.

Guy, John Bolton is a controversial person, big boost to the Iraq War, talks about military options against North Korea to stop the regime from getting nukes, became a recess appointee as U.N. ambassador because a Republican Senate wouldn't confirm him as George W. Bush's pick. But some of these stories portray him as being, you know, five minutes from starting an apocalyptic war.

GUY BENSON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Right, with millions of people dying. First of all, it's difficult to transition on talking about John Bolton when the open mention, porn stars, hookers, and all of that to come.

But I think what's interesting about Bolton's resume, and we've seen some people on other networks, including one of your counterparts, focusing on his job description as being a Fox News Contributor.

Now, I happen to be very fond of Fox News Contributors, but John Bolton is also the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. He held two significant positions in the State Department prior to that.

KURTZ: Back to the Reagan to administration.

BENSON: Yes, and the Department of Justice, he's someone who is deeply, deeply informed on foreign policy issues. Whether you agree with his advice that he will be giving the President or not, we should be acknowledging the qualifications that he has for the job, and not getting overheated.

Because you may say, and I may agree that he's a little bit too hawkish for (Inaudible), that is different than making this calamitous predictions about impending doom for the world, and people will tune that out.

KURTZ: Along those lines about Huff Post calling him a war monger, Skate says literally, it's time to panic, the New York Times calls him the most radically aggressive foreign policy team in modern memory. Does this sound like fair coverage and commentary?

MO ELLEITHEE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I mean, the Huff Post and Slate obviously...


ELLEITHEE: And there are plenty of people on the left who would agree with that. The New York Times' description there is not -- I don't think is inaccurate, right? That he was part of an incredibly aggressive foreign policy during the Bush Administration.

I think, I agree with, Guy, that you know, let's put the Fox News contributor part aside. I am not sure the President would have known much about him, where he's not a Fox News contributor, but that's not the reason for the left to be frustrated with him.

I think it is because of the fact that -- what's interesting to me is one, he is incredibly hawkish, he was one of the architects of the Iraq War. The President says he always the Iraq War, that will be an interesting dynamic.

And at a time when we are trying to figure out what this President's approach to North Korea is, to have guy who says, who makes irrational for military action against North Korea, it is worth examining.

KURTZ: He says as an alternative -- I mean, John Bolton told me in a brief interview the other that he finds the coverage so far removed from reality that he doesn't take it seriously.

Let me put out for you, Susan, a tweet about 10 days ago, Sarah Huckabee Sanders just spoke to POTUS. General McMaster, according to reports they have a good working relationship, and they were no changes in the NSC.

So, member of the Trump folks also denied that Rex Tillerson be fired, or the President with the New York Times, always talking about shake the legal team, a journalist having to increasingly disregard (Inaudible), because we report things and then sometimes they haven't.

SUSAN FERRECHIO, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: I have been very critical of how the press covers Trump. I think it's unfair a lot of the time, but not in this case. Constantly contradicting what they say, just a few days later, a day later, a few hours later, one minute it's no, the next minute it' yes. He is contradicting what someone -- someone in his cabinet says five minutes later. It does present the picture of something chaotic happening. I think that really works against the President. And I think the press is absolutely fair in the way they cover that.

ELLEITHEE: And I would say it undermines the President -- if the President wants to be critical of the press, right? When he screams fake news and only comes back later to do exactly what you described, it undermines his own argument. I'm not saying that there is no reason, that there is rationale for being critical of the press. But they are -- but they are pushing the fake news.

KURTZ: That's a fair point. But let's talk about the media narrative, Guy, because it has been, Trump goes rogue. He's listens to his aides. He does whatever he wants. He's totally unconstrained. And then John Bolton gets hired, and (Inaudible), well Donald Trump is going to do whatever John Bolton says because he is such a hawk, so which is it?

BENSON: There is something of a contradiction there. And look, I think that if you look at the Trump presidency thus far, it has not been a hyper hawkish interventionist foreign policy. Will that change? Under Bolton, perhaps. Is that a worthwhile thing for us to be discussing in the press? Absolutely.

But I don't think we do anyone a service by setting our hair aflame immediately, and assuming this is going to mean World War III, because we have heard so many hyperbole predictions about this administration, and this President, many of which have not come true.

And you get the boy who cried wolf syndrome on the media's part, just like we're getting it from the Trump administration, when they say this is fake news, and then they confirm that very fake news a few days later.

KURTZ: Now look, if John Bolton does a due press, Susan, does Trump like to hire people he sees on TV. I mean, for example, Bolton moves as he was advising Trump privately, (Inaudible), Larry Kudlow, a big supporter on CNBC, now chief executive -- chief foreign adviser.

He was going to hire Joe DiGenova, and his wife Victoria Toensing to experience Washington lawyer's and foreign prosecutors. We just got a statement say that's not going to happen because of client conflicts. But they were on TV on Fox. So, what do make of that?

FERRECHIO: Well, yes, he watches Fox, we know that. He sometimes tweets on what he sees on the television. And he -- I think he told Larry Kudlow, you know, watching you on TV right now, you look really handsome, while he was telling him he was just (Inaudible). So yes, I think he does see -- you know, he hears what people say on television.

But these are not just talking heads though. The problem is these talking heads happen to be experienced individuals like, Ben, was just describing about John Bolton. The same thing with Kudlow.


FERRECHIO: He worked for Trump's campaign. He helped device the tax reform laws, (Inaudible). He is not talking ahead, I mean, the broader picture here that's being enlarge.


BENSON: Here is the thing I -- and I think you probably agree with this, I have no problem without saying yes, Trump likes TV pundits. And he watches a lot of cable news, and we thank him for watching. But using that fact to demean the qualifications or dismiss the qualification, positive or negation when he is hiring, that's where I think we make the mistake.

KURTZ: It also means they could be good communicators.

BENSON: Right.

KURTZ: That is part of what you do if you are an administration official. So there is a huge media coverage of John Dowd, the President's top lawyer on the Russia probe resigning because he urged a strategy of cooperation with Robert Mueller. And there were a lot of speculation that the President will be more confrontational, but who knows?

ELLEITHEE: Who knows what he's going to do. Look, I think there is a sense of chaos right now coming out of the White House in almost every aspect.

KURTZ: Is it being portrayed as chaos?

ELLEITHEE: Well, I think it is -- I think both the actions of the media and the actions of administration, right? When they put a statement two day ago, announcing that they are going to be bringing on these new lawyers.

And then they have to walk it back today, when they announce that they are -- that when they stand by McMaster, and then a week later let him go. So I think there is a little bit of chaos that they themselves are projecting. When it comes to legal strategy, I think this much is clear, the President is trying to ramp up the rhetoric against Mueller.

KURTZ: Yes, he is on Twitter now.

ELLEITHEE: And he seems to be moving away from the attorneys on his team who are advocating a softer touch with Mueller.

KURTZ: Dowd before he resigned said Mueller should shut the probe down.


FERRECHIO: He said he was speaking for the President.

BENSON: And then walked it back. So, Mo, I agree that there is some truth to the chaos narrative coming from inside the House.

ELLEITHEE: Yes, yes, yes.

BENSON: But in this case, here is a guy who went sort of nuclear on Mueller, and then got fired for it -- maybe not for it, but related to it.

KURTZ: In this context, be careful on using the word nuclear when talking about North Korea. All right, let me turn now to the thing that dominated television and other media coverage yesterday. And that was of course the marches across the country against gun violence.

And look, a huge turnout, about 800,000, maybe less than that, but hundreds of thousands in D.C., wall to wall on cable news. I thought CNN and Fox handled it professionally. MSNBC, I have to say was sort of cheering for the march at times. One news anchor said, well, the NRA just buys people off.

Joy Reid is one of those liberal voices. There was a street reporter and she asks bunch of kids who were there who is in favor of banning assault weapons, and they said, yes, we are. So, it's an emotional topic that earned a lot of coverage, but some coverage are different than others.

BENSON: I mean, I'm not surprised MSNBC did what it did. I'm actually sort of surprised MSNBC didn't have an upset on stage because they very clearly support this agenda. And look, if you are MSNBC, and your people are left wing, and they like gun control, that's fine.

What bothers me is so-called straight down the middle reporters who cover gun-related issues, and really connives, and bring themselves to fame in reality, that's one of the issues on which the media is most of bias.

KURTZ: And, Mo, covering the march like this, and interviewing the people who were there, and this was obviously led by young people, and particularly led by some of the Parkland High School students, I mean, you will believe carrying the message of people protesting. That's the nature of covering a protest. But at the same time, the magnitude and passion of this, how could you ignore it.

ELLEITHEE: I think that's right. I mean this is -- regardless of where you are on the issue of guns, I think you have to recognize that we are in a very unique moment in the national debate on guns right now.

I think what happened in Parkland, and the way the students have come out, whether or not you are critical, or support them, I think you have to recognize that they are carrying a voice that has not been carried in this way before. And we are not used to seeing marches of this magnitude in Washington. We are not seeing marches of this...

KURTZ: You know, I think that' true.

FERRECHIO: Maybe January, March For Life, and I think a few year ago, 2015, 650,000 people came to that.


ELLEITHEE: My point is, this isn't everyday march, right? I mean, every now and then, you get a major -- a major issue like this, and this is the first time we have seen it on this issue on this -- at this magnitude.

FERRECHIO: I agree with everything you say, everything you all are saying about this. You can never capture really the complexity of this gun control school safety matter with the coverage like this, you can't.

Let me just point you to a good story in U.S.A. Today, that really explores the counter narrative about many kids don't think gun control is going to solve the problem of mass shootings. And the kids who want to own weapons -- I think it's important to have both narratives, it's hard to find that with the coverage yesterday.

KURTZ: All right, let me get a break here. There is a lot in my book by the way on the President firing top aides, battling with top aids, and those officials leaking to the press is called, Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War over the Truth.

When we come back, just happened again, a damaging White House leek about the President's call to Vladimir Putin, what's behind this internal sabotage. And later, Facebook under fire for a massive date breach. How Mark Zuckerberg promises to fix things, we got it here.


KURTZ: After Vladimir Putin won the so-called election in Russia, President Trump told reporters about their conversation.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I had a call with President Putin, and congratulate him on his victory -- his electoral victory. The call had to do also with the fact that we will probably get together in the not too distant future.


KURTZ: But there was a damaging leak with the Washington Post reporting that White House aids and given Trump handed notes before the call warning in capital letters, do not congratulate. The President later tweeting, the fake news media is crazed because they want me to excoriate him.

And, Guy, why do you think Trump should have congratulate Putin or not, is this being portrayed as an international outrage because the media basically don't like his policy toward Russia.

BENSON: I'm not sure this is a media problem. I think this is a leak problem within his administration. If I work in the White House, I would have taken a red pen, and underlined the words do not congratulate.

I think he shouldn't have done that. But I had given that advise, and he had rejected it, what you should not do if you work for a President is air your dirty laundry, and your own internal descent out to the press to embarrass your boss. I think that undermines diplomacy, and undermines the President is the wrong thing to do.

KURTZ: And I bet that you won't completely disagree with that, Mo, because whether you like this President or not, whether you like his policy or not, it hasn't gone the enough attention. And I think this must have been so closely held that somebody in a pretty high position embarrass and undermine the President by leaking that to the Washington Post.

ELLEITHEE: For much of the first year of the Trump administration the conversation around leaks focused on the deep state, on the Obama holdover that were releasing this damaging information about President Trump. This was not a deep state problem. This was not an Obama holdover.

These were very few people -- these are people in the President's inner circle who had this information. The biggest leaks we have seen coming out of there are recently are coming from the White House, from the President's team. And that -- you know, again, whatever you think about him, it just shows a house that doesn't have its act together.

KURTZ: But doesn't this further the media narrative that Trump just doesn't listen to his aides whether its on tariffs, whether it's on Kim Jong-un, or now this do not congratulate.

FERRECHIO: President Obama congratulated Putin in 2012. There was blatant voter fraud, well documented, nobody even wrote about it, and it was public information that he congratulated Putin at the time. Nobody cared.

Second, I think this is really more of a media story. And my fear is that, there is so much zeal to get the next great Trump gotcha story that they are not doing thorough reporting. All of the legions of reporters at these big papers that break these scoop, what about following through to see if he actually read the briefing papers.

KURTZ: Well, the White House had kind of disputed that. But you certainly wouldn't disagree that it's a legitimate story that he was given this advice.

FERRECHIO: I think they...



FERRECHIO: And top of the story, Obama would double check and try to find an excuse for him, probably.

KURTZ: You know, Trump also congratulated President Xi in China, now exactly a democracy over there. But it seemed jarring I think because of what happened with the killing of the Russian spy in London, which Britain says, it was Russia, which U.S. now reasons (ph), Russia, and then here is the congratulations. So that's a fair context.

BENSON: The White House's official position is no daylight between the U.S. government, and the British government, given that brazen act on British soil, and now here's a lot of daylight.

But it does go back to your point that you made in the last segment, Howie. Here are his top aides apparently writing in all caps, do not could congratulate, Trump does it anyway, but John Bolton himself is going to start World War III because Trump is going to become a puppet of John Bolton. There is a contradiction there, and I am glad that we got...


KURTZ: Lots more to discuss, and we are out of time. Mo Elleithee, Susan Ferrechio, Guy Benson, thanks very much for joining us this Sunday. Ahead, a look at the coverage of CNN's interview with a former Playboy model, and tonight a 60 Minutes sit-down with an ex-porn star, and their accusations against Donald Trump. But first, a Fox News Contributor rips the network on this way out the door at Fox.


KURTZ: Well, here is a retired lieutenant colonel and Fox News contributor for the past decade has resigned with an angry blast at the network. And I respect the colonel and his service. He is a passionate guy who sometimes gets a bit carried away. He was suspended for two weeks after calling President Obama a vulgar name. And there was this exchange with Tucker Carlson:


COL. RALPH PETERS: He sounds like Charles Lindbergh in 1938 saying, Hitler hasn't attacked us.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: I beg your pardon.


CARLSON: You cannot compare me to someone who takes apologies for Hitler.


KURTZ: In his mass resignation letter obtained by BuzzFeed, Peters says he was ashamed of his association with Fox, and his disgust with Trump really comes through. Peters said Fox has become a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically looniest administration.

The network said in a statement Ralph Peters is entitled to his opinion despite the fact that he's choosing to use it as a weapon in order to gain attention. We are extremely proud of our top rated primetime host, and all of our opinion programming. And I agree with that, but let's tone down a little.

He says I deeply respect the hard news reporters at Fox, calling them among the best men and women in the business. He says his blast doesn't totally apply to fox business, quote, where numerous hosts retain and respect for facts, and maintain a measure of integrity.

He says not every host at Fox News have propaganda mouth piece. Some have shown courage. So this is really about Ralph Peters strongly disagrees with Fox News primetime host on Trump. He even says outright, he doesn't like their attacks on the FBI, the Justice Department, the courts, and the intelligence community in which I served.

Now I get the Fox' primetime hosts have joined flock because they generally, but not always support a controversial president. Laura Ingraham just the other night, criticize them for signing that massive $1.3 trillion budget. Now we debated some of the harsh rhetoric against the FBI and the Mueller investigation on this program.

But these people are paid for their opinions. Fox' rivals were crypt to adopt Peters' language. CNN President Jeff Zucker, can anyone dispute that he's taken his network in a largely anti-Trump direction? Picked-up on the propaganda machine line, but then allow that there are a lot of handful good journalists at Fox.

Thanks a lot, Jeff. I'm glad Ralph Peters made those distinctions but that came after the incendiary language that he knew would make big headlines. Bottom-line here, don't lump everyone of the network together when there are separate news and opinion divisions here, both of which play a vital role just like at most of newspapers in America.

Ahead on "Media Buzz," a hidden camera investigation plunges Cambridge Analytica into scandal. Was that ethical? But first, the Karen McDougal interview, now the 60 Minutes Stormy Daniels interview. How television is handling the women's accusation against the celebrity businessman, who is now a president.


KURTZ: There has been a huge made idea buildup for tonight's Anderson Cooper interview with former porn star Stormy Daniels on "60 Minutes." Cooper also did a CNN interview the other night with Karen McDougal, the former Playboy model who also alleges a decade long affair with Donald Trump, and who spoke out despite signing a $150,000 contract that included giving the rights to her story to AMI, The National Inquirer's parent company.


COOPER: And what was the thought of selling the story in your mind?

MCDOUGAL: To get my truth out there. I wasn't looking for money, clearly, but when he said it's worth many millions, I'm like, you know.

COOPER: It was hard to pass up.


COOPER: So in essence, you were happy to have the story killed.

MCDOUGAL: Yeah, of course. Like I thought I never wanted to come forward.

COOPER: The thought though of telling your story to AMI, some people that are hearing that are going to think, A, you wanted money and, B, you wanted to damage the President.

MCDOUGAL: I voted for the President, I voted for Donald, why would I want to damage him?


KURTZ: Joining us here now in Washington: Emily Jashinsky, commentator and writer for the Washington Examiner, and from Los Angeles, Leslie Marshall, radio talk show host and Fox News contributor, Emily, I have no reason to think Karen McDougal isn't telling the truth about this relationship, but she was constantly contradicting herself on motivation. We saw it there.

She felt guilty. She doesn't want to hurt him. She says Donald Trump was sweet, respectful, kind, caring. She loved him. And Anderson Cooper didn't really press her except in one or two spots about why she is revealing what was their secret.

EMILY JASHINSKY, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: And that's been my big question about this whole thing. I'm at the same page with you. I don't really have a good reason to believe that she's lying but he really should have pressed her more on the money. Other than that, I thought the interview was fairly well handled. But of course, the big question in all of this is whether anybody actually cares. And I think the -- what happens after the 60 Minutes interview was going to be instructive.

KURTZ: We'll come back to that. Let me get Leslie in on this CNN interview. So McDougal says that American Media Inc. signed this $150,000 deal to bury the story and protect Trump, which sort of the consensus since the Inquirer is owned by David Pecker, close friend of the President. But then she also said, and I reported this before based on sources, that she wanted the story buried because she got cold feet at the end of the campaign, didn't want to come out, backed out of a possible interview.

The ABC so -- I was waiting for Anderson to say so what's your beef, if voluntarily sign this deal.

LESLIE MARSHALL, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I have to say pretty much everything Emily said. I thought that the interview was well handled. I thought Anderson Cooper should have pressed her more regarding the money and the motivation, because I think we heard mixed signals, which is I loved him. I voted for him. But I'm going to take back since Hollywood taped not the man I knew. So you knew he was a married man, shame on you.

But at the same time, you have got to get more about the money. Because I think we all know the money at the end of the day is the motivation if you are quiet for so long, and then you come out and a check being written.

KURTZ: That is exactly the view of the people at American Media Inc., who says she's trying to get out of the contract is she voluntarily signs so she can go out and make a lot more money. And by the way, you know the contract calls for her doing other things. But she's not totally fulfilling it if she's supposed to have two cover stories.

I know about emails where they've asked her to do the photo shoot and she wouldn't commit to doing the photo shoot for the second one. So this is about -- unlike with Stormy Daniels who has the $130,000 payment. It looks like hush money from the President's lawyer, Michael Cohen. This is really about her and this tabloid firm.

So Emily, when as you said, when 60 Minutes airs this tonight -- And 60 Minutes didn't even put out a preview clip knowing the great interest here. We know what she is going to say about the relationship because she gave a 2011 under interview to In Touch Magazine, which was only recently published about her, what she says was this intimate relationship.

The only real news will be about the hush money and what her lawyer said in a tease was a physical threat.

JASHINSKY: Well, that is obviously huge because the story is in two different parts. You have the allegations about the affair and the allegations about the cover-up. And I think the public's interest varies on both of those topics. The affair is probably a less interesting to the public than campaign finance violations.

KURTZ: Possible violations.

JASHINSKY: Yeah, exactly, possible violations. And all of this -- After Karen McDougal's interview, the big question is will they -- was actually raised by Karen McDougal when she said I don't know how this could've happened at this Lake Tahoe golf event because I was with him the whole time. So you have Stormy Daniels saying part of their affair occurred there and you have another person saying part of their affair occurred there.

So there is a very fair reason that the media is asking these questions. And I hope we get some answers tonight.

KURTZ: Leslie, let's talk about Stormy's lawyer, Michael Avenatti. He's been on TV during this period more than 20 times doing interviews. I think he's done kind of a masterful job of driving this stormy, because one day he tweets a picture of himself, there he is, and Stormy Daniels and Anderson Cooper before and after the interview.

And then another day he puts out a picture of Stormy Daniels, he says she passed a lie detector test on this or she may have photos. So he has really kept this in the news day after day, your thoughts.

MARSHALL: I think that he's earning his money. She has got a good lawyer. I mean look. I thought it was titillating when he shows the computer and the disc posted on Twitter and he's like I have evidence.


KURTZ: Stormy Daniels, you fought the disc to be the most titillating, OK.


MARSHALL: Like there was a hidden camera or something. You know that could be a complete bluff. Who knows? But I agree with you, Howie. He's doing a great job keeping the story front and center in the news, on social media, and also portraying his client as the one who is not lying because obviously this down to come down to he said-she said.

KURTZ: Right.

MARSHALL: Even if under oath because we know that people lie under oath. And we even know presidents can lie.

KURTZ: OK. A little short on time but let me get this in the larger question. I think you looked at this earlier, Emily. Are the media using these cases and there is another suit by a former Apprentice contestant, that's been allowed to go forward by the judge charging Donald Trump with defamation, to sort of pile on Trump about what he did and of course, there is a real aspect now, but what he did in his days as a celebrity businessman, beauty pageant owner, in contrast to Bill Clinton who had sex with a White House intern while he was in office. Are the media rather gleeful in covering these stories?

JASHINSKY: That was actually the exact word I was going to use, and it doesn't take away, and you have the validity of the stories but I think sometimes there is a lack of perspective that is exhibited by the media in covering this story, which is unfortunate because there is some serious stuff, you know potential campaign finance violations to get to the hear of it and it can take away from that.

KURTZ: And Leslie, there has been a little contrast -- CNN and MSNBC have covered the Stormy Daniels story very extensively. In fact, Stephen Colbert joked about Anderson should change the name of his show to Anderson Cooper 36DD. And Fox has covered it far less. Who do you think is closer to the mark -- in half a minute of fair coverage on this?

MARSHALL: Well, quite frankly, you know even though I work here and am on the payroll, I would have to say Fox because, as Emily pointed to, there are other issues that are just as serious. But of course, the other networks are going to go for what their audience wants, and they certainly want ratings. And quite frankly, Monica Lewinsky did very well for the networks many years ago during the Clinton presidency. So I am not surprised.

KURTZ: Salacious topic to be sure. Good discussion, guys, Emily Jashinsky, Leslie Marshall. Coming up, Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook has made mistakes with a massive data breach. But is he again, doing enough too little fix it? And later, pundits have found a new outrage, Donald Trump's shaky spelling.


KURTZ: Facebook is in hot water after the London's Guardian and Observer and Channel 4 News reported that the data firm Cambridge Analytica, which worked for the Trump campaign improperly extracted personal information from more than 50 million profiles on the social network. That prompted Mark Zuckerberg to sit down with CNN.


SEGALL: Will you testify before Congress?

ZUCKERBERG: So the short answer is I am happy to if it's the right thing to do. So what we try to do is send the person at Facebook who will have the most knowledge about what Congress is trying to learn.


KURTZ: I spoke earlier from San Francisco with Kurt Wagner, a Senior Editor at Recode who also just interviewed Zuckerberg.


KURTZ: Kurt Wagner, welcome.

KURT WAGNER, RECODE: Thanks for having me.

KURTZ: Mark Zuckerberg did say he was sorry, but boy, did he waffle when asked if he would testify on the Hill. He said maybe I'll send an underling with more knowledge. He's the CEO. He's the face of the company and if he says no, he faces a subpoena. So what was up with that answer?

WAGNER: Well, I think that he was afraid of saying yes outright because he would actually have to show up and testify, right. So he comes out and he says hey, I am open to do it if I am the best person for the job. And we saw this late last year when they had to testify on the Russian ad stuff. The company sent their head lawyer instead of Mark Zuckerberg to do it.

So I think he wants to come across as being open to it and helpful. At the same time, he doesn't want to lock himself in to having to show up.

KURTZ: The correct answer would have been yes. Now, in my view, Zuckerberg has never wanted to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars it would take to root out fake news and foreign propaganda. But in your interview with him, he said something really interesting. He said I feel fundamentally uncomfortable sitting hear in California in a office, making content policy decisions for people around the world, things like, where's the line on hate speech?

I mean who chose me to be the person who did that? I guess I have to because we're here now but I'd rather not. But in this age where Facebook is under so much attack, whether it's him or people around him, somebody has got to police the content, true or false?

WAGNER: I think that's very true. I mean he is the person that created Facebook, right. He talks often about the community. He calls Facebook a community. It's a group of people, and those people should be you know living by certain rules, right. And who is to make the rules but the person who created it. I think its Mark Zuckerberg's responsibility.

I think there are a lot of people who believe that. They've always been very hesitant to come out and be very forceful one way or the other. But I think from the interview that we had it sounded like he's finally realized he might not have a choice.

KURTZ: Right. And I can see where this is finally starting to dawn on him. Now, when you were sitting down with him and Zuckerberg doesn't do a lot of interviews. He said on CNN he doesn't like doing interviews. Did you have the impression this was once again, as with the Russian meddling, a situation where after the fact, after the damage has been done, he's been silent for a few days, he does a Facebook post or reluctantly does a couple of interviews and says he's going to fix it but offers only vague promises about that.

WAGNER: Yeah. It was very reminiscent, right. And I think for people who don't know Mark, it's very hard to feel any sympathy for him, right? He's a billionaire. He's created this business based off of a lot of user data. And here he comes once again saying, hey, I'm sorry that I screwed up. There are not a lot of people out there who feel bad for Mark Zuckerberg today.

But at the same time, as someone who has talked to him multiple times in the past, I do think that he comes out and he wants to fix things. I believe that a lot of this started because as he said himself, he was too idealistic. He thought that Facebook was going to be this wonderful place where everyone was going to play nice and play by the rules.

That's not always necessarily the case, as we've learned. And so I think he does feel legitimately bad about what happened. But there are not a lot of people who feel bad for him because Facebook keeps doing this over and over again.

KURTZ: Yeah. And he's so close there than if I was the company -- it is a media contact company whether he likes to admit it or not. Now he was asked in a CNN interview about the possibility of the feds stepping in. Let's take a listen.


SEGALL: Given the stakes here, why shouldn't Facebook be regulated?

ZUCKERBERG: I actually am not sure we shouldn't be regulated.


KURTZ: So here he is opening the door to government regulation, I think because of the failings of social media giants like Facebook.

WAGNER: Well, I think that he knows that it's probably coming, so there is no point in coming out and pushing against it, right? Facebook has also started to already put some stuff in place around its political advertising business to say, hey, we're trying to get ahead of this regulation. We want to already have the tools, this dashboard where people can go and see who is paying for the political ads. So I think right now it's very much a, hey, we're open to this because we see the writing on the wall.

KURTZ: I've got about half a minute. With several investigations and this Cambridge Analytica mess, do you think Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg himself, who you know finally, have to change their media strategy, be a little more open with the press and be a little bit more aggressive in driving their message?

WAGNER: I think they will have to. I mean the biggest thing from this that there were five days between us finding out about Cambridge Analytica and first hearing from Mark. And I think that they would say maybe they should have come out a little bit earlier. So I would expect you know Facebook to do a lot more outreach in the background with the press. Hopefully, we'll see mark on TV more often, doing these kinds of interviews, taking questions from journalists, not just posting to his Facebook page.

I think what we've learned is that you know we need to hear more from them and I think they realize they need to be held to a higher standard.

KURTZ: All right, Kurt Wagner, thanks very much for joining us.

WAGNER: Thank you.


KURTZ: And Zuckerberg, taking out full-page ads today in British and American newspapers, saying sorry for the breach of trust. After the break, the ethics of the undercover investigation of Cambridge Analytica and is it fair to tie this scandal to the Trump campaign.


KURTZ: Cambridge Analytica, the British data firm that just suspended its CEO, Alexander Nix is in big trouble after undercover footage recorded by Britain's Channel 4 News showed him and others, talking about entrapping politicians with bribes and prostitutes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Inaudible -- Just saying we could bring Ukrainians in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are very beautiful Ukrainian girls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are very beautiful. I find that works very well.


KURTZ: Joining us from New York, Shelby Holliday, a Senior Video Reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Now I've seen a lot of headlines that called Cambridge Analytica a Trump-linked firm. Now it did used to work for Trump's Presidential campaign, but no evidence that the campaign knew it was getting anything illicit or even that it did get anything illicit from Cambridge Analytica, your thoughts.

SHELBY HOLLIDAY, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yeah, that subject, I think, we'll see covered in the news a lot in the next few weeks. Cambridge Analytica is a company that does get involved in elections and it worked with the Trump campaign. Prior to working with Trump, they actually worked for Senator Ted Cruz in his Presidential bid.

But this firm is under fire because it used so-called dirty tricks and they violated Facebook's policies in getting the information of Americans. What they did was they purchased a ton of Facebook data from a researcher who unethically obtained it, unethically sold it to Cambridge Analytica. And Alexander Nix, the former CEO who has now been demoted is on camera saying they used this information to target Americans in the election, and use these psychographic methods to target voters in swing states, to target voters in rural areas, to get out vote.


KURTZ: What I don't understand -- I understand that this Cambridge Analytica broke the rule, that's why it's been suspended from Facebook. But how different is that, to judge, from -- advertisers do with Facebook which has tried to get information about people's preferences so they can target advertising, or what the Barack Obama campaign did, apparently legally, in 2012.

HOLLIDAY: That's a good question. And there is a big distinction that it's tricky to understand when there is so much news about this particular firm. What campaigns do, President Trump's campaign did this, and President Obama's campaign did this. They worked with Facebook above board openly to target voters to help get out the vote. There are a lot of useful that things you can do on Facebook, so campaigns partner with Facebook to do these things. What Cambridge Analytica did was go behind Facebook's back, pay a researcher for data they shouldn't have had.

And then when Facebook approached them in 2015 and said we understand you have data you shouldn't have it. Can you please certify that you've deleted it? They certified they deleted it, yet, in 2016 we hear Alexander Nix saying they used that data. So they didn't delete it.

KURTZ: Right. And people know when they're doing something with a campaign that they're turning over some of that personal information.

HOLLIDAY: You're right. This information is gold.

KURTZ: Let me just get to the undercover video because when someone like a conservative actor James O'Keefe does this, a lot of people, including me come down on that sort of thing. But here, you have Britain's Channel 4, you had to have a reporter working with the channel. Lie and pose as a perspective political clan and got great information, but isn't that kind of unethical.

HOLLIDAY: Well, its undercover journalism and you know there are sort of ethical rules that various organizations have set out undercover journalism. This is of vital interest to the public. So you could justify that it was a good investigative journalism, seeing if you will. Because this firm, Cambridge Analytica was at the center of the Brexit campaign in the U.K. and at the center of the U.S. election here, so it was vital to the public interest.

It was also information that we wouldn't get otherwise.


KURTZ: But the lying still makes me uncomfortable, Shelby Holliday, great to have you with us this Sunday. I appreciate it.

HOLLIDAY: Thanks for having me, Howie.

KURTZ: Still to come, journalists scold the President for typos, typos. And the head of the largest -- one of the country's largest newspaper companies toppled by a sex scandal.


KURTZ: The Chairman of Tronc, that's the old Chicago Tribune Company, announced his retirement just hours before Fortune Magazine quoted two women on the record as accusing Michael Farrell of past sexual misconduct in meetings supposedly funding their start up firms. Now Tronc, which hasn't commented on any allegations, is slated to keep paying Farrell as a consultant, $5 million a year.

Donald Trump isn't a great speller. That's pretty obvious from his Twitter feed. But one error filled message drew lots of media mockery.


MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC: Honestly, you have to actually hit the keys to spell the word right.

JOHN KING, CNN: I assume he knows better. He said he went to the best school. So I assume he can spell. I assume he knows basic grammar, but that is just rage. He's sitting there in what they jokingly call executive time in the morning, watching cable television, nobody around I guess -- I was about to say the President of the United States needs supervision?


KURTZ: That's fair game, I guess but doesn't the tone sound just a tad condescending. It just seems there might be some more presidential qualities than being able to win a spelling bee.

That's it for this edition of "Media Buzz." I am Howard Kurtz. Let's continue the conversation on Twitter @howardkurtz. We hope you like our Facebook page. We post a lot of original content there. We respond to your comments. And check out our new home page. Among other things, you can watch full episodes if you happen to miss a program. Speaking of the program, we hope to see you next Sunday 11 Eastern, our usual with the latest buzz.

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