Hastert accuser surfaces; Duggars struggle in Fox spotlight

This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," June 7, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, a woman tells ABC's Brian Ross that her late brother was sexually abused by Dennis Hastert, a decade after she tried to get the network to pursue the story.


BRIAN ROSS, ABC NEWS: For the first time this morning, we're learning the name and the details of one of the alleged sexual abuse victims of the Former Speaker of the House.

"JOLENE": I asked him, Stevie, when was your first same-sex experience? And he just looked at me and said it was with Dennis Hastert. And I just -- I know I was stunned. He damaged Steve, I think, more than any of us will ever know.


KURTZ: Is it fair to air this charge when Hastert's former student is no longer alive? And how does this change the media narrative for the indicted ex-speaker.

Hillary's numbers nosedive and many of the pundits who said the swirl of ethical controversies wasn't hurting her candidacy are suddenly changing their tune. Is the press slavishly following the polls?

The news sexual culture wars, partisan pundits go to fair over the "Vanity Fair" cover in which Bruce Jenner re-emerges as Caitlin Jenner, and over the molestation scandal hidden by the Duggar family, who talked to Megyn Kelly about the abuse and the sidelining of their TLC reality show.


MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: The main charge we've heard from your critics has been they are hypocrites. They preached family values.

JIM BOB DUGGAR: I don't think you go up to total strangers and say, hi, my name is so-and-so and I want you to know what I did as a child and share everything about your past.


KURTZ: Did the interview expose a family in denial, and two of the daughters lashing out at the media for revealing the abuse by their brother, Josh.


KELLY: When you found out this was going to be on the cover of "In Touch Weekly," what was your reaction?

JILL DILLARD: What -- like, how could they do this? This is just - - they can don't do this to us.


KURTZ: Were they victimized by a tawdry tabloid?

Plus, Gretchen Carlson on how she's been stereotyped.


GRETCHEN CARLSON, FOX NEWS: I reached and hit the bimbo trifecta when I came to Fox News. Because I'm a blond, I'm a Former Miss America, and now I work at Fox.


KURTZ: I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."

No journalist has been able to coax a comment from Denny Hastert or his lawyers since the former speaker was indicted over money transfers related to a cover-up. Alleged hush money over what sources describe as sexual abuse during Hastert's days as a high school teacher and wrestling coach. That story got far less abstract on Friday when "Good Morning America" aired this bombshell interview.


"JOLENE": I said, why didn't you ever tell anybody, Stevie? I mean, he was your teacher. Why didn't you ever tell anybody? And he just looked at me and he said who is ever going to believe me? In this town, who is ever going to believe me?


KURTZ: Joining us now to examine the story and the latest coverage of Hillary Clinton, Mary Katherine Ham, Editor at large at Hot Air, a Fox News contributor, and Co-Author of the new book, "end of discussion: how the left's outrage industry shuts down debate, manipulates voters, and makes America less free and fun." Ann Guerin, Political Reporter for "The Washington Post," and Jackie Kucinich, Senior Politics Editor for "The Daily Beast." Mary Katherine, how important is this ABC interview with this woman, Jolene, who says her brother, Steve Reinboldt, told her that he, was sexually harassed years ago by Denny Hastert. How much has it changed to a story?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's very important. A ton of people are going to watch it for obvious reasons. Something $3.5 million worth of bad happened here that was worth covering up, so obviously the press will ask questions and I think should ask questions as a public figure. It is a really tricky story, though, when you get to the fact that the alleged victim is no longer with us and cannot speak to this. And the guy who's being paid money, who's in the indictment, which is not for any sort of sexual abuse, is for the structuring involved in the paying, we don't know who that is yet. It is a tricky story, because an allegation alone like this, of course, ruins lives, and there has not been a trial or a charge. So it's hard to know.

KURTZ: It's odd, there hasn't been a charge or a trial or a denial from Denny Hastert. CBS News now quoting FBI sources is saying there are three alleged victims, but again it's alleged. Jackie, before this woman came forward showing pictures of her brother, the story seemed almost remote and abstract, because there was no victim that we could see now have an alleged victim.

JACKIE KUCINICH, THE DAILY BEAST: The thing that's clear to me from this interview is that -- what's changed? This woman came forward in 2006 with this same story and they did not run the story, they did not go with her claims because they couldn't have substantiated it? What's substantiated it at this point? I thought that was missing. As someone who watched the interview and read the story about it, it just wasn't clear to me what changed, what new information they have about her claim.

KURTZ: Well, ABC says the original approach in 2006 it was off the record, for one thing. And the other difference, I suppose, is that this woman, Jolene, has since been interviewed by the FBI. That's an interesting question Anne, given she didn't provide ABC news with any voice mails or documents or letters. Did this meet the test for publication?

ANNE GEARAN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I agree with Jackie. It was hard to tell what had changed between the first time the woman came to ABC and the time that the interview was aired. Particularly since ABC didn't show us a trail of what they were able to get in corroborating information from the FBI. All that said, clearly, the entire landscape surrounding the story has changed. And multiple news organizations, including mine, have reported on the basis of law enforcement sources, you know, kind of the architecture of the allegations and the investigation. What's been missing and what remains missing is either a, you know, a step-by-step account from one of the alleged victims, presuming there's more than one, or, as you pointed out in your introduction, you know, a denial or any theory of the case at all, from Denny Hastert. I still can't really get my head around why a lawyer hasn't spoken up yet.

KURTZ: I don't understand it. But as you pointed out, it's a strange indictment, and the thing that's at the heart of it, the alleged sexual abuse years ago at an Illinois high school isn't spelled out in the indictment. So last Sunday when criticized the indictment or at least raised the question that why isn't this also extortion by the person who was going to received $3.5 million, I guess got almost $2 million, he got criticized for being insensitive to the cause of sexual abuse.

HAM: And I think that may be something that reporters are responding to right now as well, because the environment is such that people want to be very sensitive to alleged victims. And perhaps are thinking, hey, maybe somebody didn't have the ability to come to a person of power and make these accusations at the time and they want to offer a makeup call for that. But I do think there's been interesting and mature reporting on the indictment itself, which is based on these old structuring laws. And I think the press has been really good about laying out why that's an interesting way to take somebody to task.

KURTZ: Usually used to get drug dealers who is moving money around. By the way, liberal columnists like Bill Press and Ruth Marcus of "The Washington Post" have also questioned whether this is prosecutorial overreach. But the story broke Friday morning. CNN, MSNBC covered it every hour. MSNBC, sometimes as much as three times an hour. Fox News covered it only once, a brief story on a special report. Who was right?

KUCINICH: You know, I think that's up to the viewers to say whose judgment is right but I will say, this is...

KURTZ: If you ran a cable network, would you air this throughout the day?

GEARAN: You know, here's the thing, I covered Dennis Hastert as a reporter on The Hill. So I think this is a very big story. And it speaks to -- particularly because of how he reacted during the Foley Scandal, if these allegations are true, I think it's a very important story. And trust in government, frankly. But, again, I don't know if everyday Americans care as much as I do.

KURTZ: Well, because Hastert has been very much out of the limelight for nine years now. But during the years when he was the speaker of the house, he was a real power player in this city. So I guess it depends on how important it is when you go after a former official. That's the other thing that has changed, right. It's harder to make that charge against a sitting speaker of the house, a former official who was already under indictment, a little bit easier.

HAM: And I think your chances of getting good coverage that's not entirely sensationalized is better when somebody is out of the limelight. That doesn't mean it's better for alleged victims if the charges end up being true.

KURTZ: Although I got an NBC News alert on my phone saying, we have the first video of Hastert on his property in Plano, Illinois, since the scandal broke. So apparently somebody's trying to stake him out.

GEARAN: TMZ'ing it.

KURTZ: TMZ'ing it. Very well put. Let me turn now to Hillary Clinton. There's been a lot of coverage this week over some sinking poll numbers, in particular, a CNN poll, for example, showed that 57 percent believe that she is not honest and trustworthy. Let's take a look at some of the pundits weighing in on that.


STEVE HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: You've had sort of Democrats and I think many in the media reporting with glee that she hadn't been affected by the e-mail story and the Benghazi story and all of these things. Well, clearly she was going to be affected.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: The pounding on Benghazi, an e-mail server, has been nonstop and it's worked.


KURTZ: Anne Gearan, how much has Hillary's low-key rollout, which you cover for "The Washington Post," not talking to the press very much, not grappling with these questions, contributed in your view to this showing up in the polls?

GEARAN: I don't think the two are really directly related. Certainly, as a reporter covering her, there's a frustration level for me and among a lot of my colleagues that, you know, we're not getting to ask her some of the questions that bear on the job in the public perception of her trustworthiness, face to face, that often. She did take questions two weeks ago, on all of these subjects.

KURTZ: For about five minutes.

GEARAN: Right. And there weren't a lot of follow-ups, and her answers weren't as extensive as they would be in a one-on-one interview. If she were sitting here with you, you would be able to ask follow-up questions and go point by point. That's not possible when you have a scrum of reporters. That said, she did actually appear to be responding to the criticism that she wasn't taking questions, and the fact that, indeed, their own polling must show this, and they're reading the public polls, she remains popular and remains the front runner...

KURTZ: No question about that.

GEARAN: But the troubling thing is the rise in the number of people who say that they don't find her trustworthy.

KURTZ: Here's where I partially disagree. I think that by having these small groups of voters, and I know she's going to do the big rollout in New York next week, and by largely avoiding journalists, I think she has kind of left a vacuum. Her campaign has left a vacuum that has been filled by e-mail stories, Clinton Foundation donation stories, speaking fee stories, and stories about the press not gaining access, Jackie?

KUCINICH: I'm sorry, what's the question, do you think that she...

KURTZ: Do you think that there is a connection between the way she has run her campaign and not engaged on this very much, particularly with the press, and the fact that this is finally showing up in the polls?

KUCINICH: I think there is a connection. But I do think it's giving relative strength of course to people who have declared against her, people like Bernie Sanders, people like Martin O'Malley, its creating oxygen for them which I think might be more problematic in polling numbers in the long term.

KURTZ: But I sat here on the set for the last two months and said this is chipping away at her image. She's not responding effectively, she should talk to the press. People said it's not hurting her because it is showing up in the polls. Well now it is showing up on the polls. Are we so addicted to polls we can't seed the evidence in front of our own eyes until a public opinion survey validates it?

HAM: I think that is part of it. What are we to do? We're pundits and reporters in Washington. We need a poll. I wish she would respond for the sake of transparency and running of government, you want to trust these people and hear from them. Politically, I don't think I would advise her to respond often, because when we saw her at the U.N. respond, it was not effective. That's one of the issues they're wrestling with. Two, they have left a vacuum, and when the poll numbers come in, and show that she's falling guess what there is to cover, despite valiant reporters like Anne out there trying to cover her, there's not much out there. You cover the poll numbers and it cascades.

KURTZ: I think that news coverage was not effective because she hadn't answered questions on the e-mail business for eight days. She talks to the press routinely each particular confrontation or engagement might not be a big story. Let me get a break, send me a twitter message @howardkurtz, talk about the media aspect of what we're discussing right here on the program. When we come back, Hillary's campaign holds a background briefing for the press, and even that sparks controversy. And later, we'll look at Megyn Kelly's interview with the Duggar family and why two of their daughters are blaming the media for outing them as victim's years after they were molested.


KURTZ: Hillary Clinton campaign officials held a background briefing for reporters just over a week ago at the headquarters in Brooklyn, touching off a debate about why journalists go to these things and are they useful. Anne Gearan, you were there. Are there things you wish you could report from that briefing?

GEARAN: There are a few -- some of the criticism of the briefing afterwards is that it wasn't substantiative or substantiative enough. There was some substance there. It was useful for me as a reporter covering her and covering the campaign and the structure of the campaign to hear in their own words kind of -- some of the theory of the case. I would have loved to have been able to quote from that directly. "The Washington Post" rules on deep background, which is what the briefing -- that was the rule of the briefing mean that I really -- I was very much boxed in. All I could do is say what they said collectively, and not use -- not attribute anything to anyone in particular person. And that really was a problem.

KURTZ: That's the debate. Look, all campaigns have officials who talk off the record, they talk on background. This is not some reinvention, but it feels different in this case because there's so little press access to Hillary Clinton or her top deputies.

HAM: It also feels weird in practice. This is sort of an innocuous briefing about how many staffers you have and how you have offices. Like, why can't we just know that? It feels sort of paranoid and bizarre. If that's the vibe you're giving off even on the inoculate stuff, it doesn't look good for your campaign.

KURTZ: And on that point Jackie (INAUDIBLE), "The New York Times" blew the whistle on an e-mail that went out. It was declared to be on background he said this is from Hillary Campaign Official, Jesse Ferguson, because he never agreed to any background rules, and he tweeted that Hillary, according to this e-mail, will lay out her view of challenges facing the country and her vision and ideas. This has to be on background from a campaign official?

KUCINICH: Jesse's not the only person who does this. Let's be real. I get e-mails all the time like, this is off the record, this is on background. Like, I didn't agree to this. You can't just tell me that. That's not how this works. So I think overall campaign officials should know and should stop doing that. It's an agreement. It's not an order.

KURTZ: I know, but I'm so struck by, you know, it's the blandest stuff imaginable. Lay out her vision for the future, but don't attribute that to me.

Before we go, Mary Katharine, I want to ask you about your book "End of Discussion" you write about what you call the outrage circus and you say MSNBC stokes up outrage for the liberals and democrats, yet you acknowledge many people view Fox as playing that role on the right. Why do you think the left is guiltier here?

HAM: I think it's not just the left. And we point out in our book with my co-author Guy Benson that it is the right sometimes and we don't want to get better at this. The left is far better at it, partly because they are more amplified, so when they, large media establishment, sometimes entertainment, various nonprofits that get excited to be offended by everything they've ever heard. And it just doesn't end up making a real robust and interesting political debate or cultural debate for anybody. And I think not just public figures feel that sort of policing of language these days, but it's trickling down to private citizens. That concerns me. You should be able to post on your private Facebook page and not be treated like a public figure, even on something like Caitlin Jenner, which is tricky to talk about as we've all learned this week.

KURTZ: And we'll talk about later. I'll look forward to more leaks from the next Hillary background briefing. Mary Katharine Ham, Anne Gearan, Jackie Kucinich nice to see you this Sunday.

Ahead, the media uproar over a "Vanity Fair" cover and why Bruce Jenner's transition to Caitlin Jenner is such a polarizing issue.

Up next, ABC's world news tonight now vying for first place by covering far less political news, we'll look at that, next.


KURTZ: David Muir is having a successful run as Anchor of ABC's "World News Tonight," which is neck and neck in the ratings with NBC's "Nightly News" without Brian Williams. And ABC is gaining ground on newscast that is heavy on crime, on weather, and human interest dramas that might be described as tabloid.


DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS: Tonight, the rescue playing out on live TV. The officer hoisted into the air. His car caught in the rushing waters. Tonight, turning deadly, the American tourists killed the lion attack right through the car window. The mystery fire, the funeral, and new developments, the suspect, the video, the pizza, the race against time tonight to search for hundreds of passengers after their ship capsizes. Overseas now to England and the images coming in this evening from an amusement park there, 16 trapped for a time and 4 injured after a roller coaster crash.


KURTZ: World News Tonight devoting half as much time to Washington's story as the CBS Evening News and 40 percent less than the NBC, according to the "Washington Post." In fact, ABC no longer has a Capitol Hill correspondent with Jonathan Karl filling in from his White House beat. And the average correspondent's stories are just shorter, just 100 seconds compared to 138 seconds on NBC, 121 seconds on CBS. The top producer at "World News" explains, we're fully aware of how people consume news these days and we're addressing it. There are a lot of websites and channels. Look, shootings and tornadoes and someone killed by a lion, all that stuff sells, sometimes it's important and some beltway stories are boring. But when you can't spare one full-time reporter to covering Congress, you've made a loud statement about your values.

Coming up, huge media frenzy as the Duggar family speaks to Megyn Kelly about the scandal that may cost them their reality show. Why is the coverage so polarizing?

And later, Gretchen Carlson on dealing with sexual harassment in TV news.


KURTZ: The media are suddenly awash in controversial stories about sexual abuse and sexual identity. We'll get to the Bruce Jenner/Caitlin Jenner flap in a few moments. But first, the Duggar family reeling from the molestation scandal involving their son, Josh, that prompted TLC to yank re-runs of their reality show, "19 kids and counting," doing damage control in an interview with Megyn Kelly.


KELLY: This is a young boy who has come to you with shocking information. What did he say?

MICHELLE DUGGAR: There was so much grief in our hearts. I think as parents, we felt, oh, we're failures, you know.

KELLY: Do you think in particular your Christian beliefs are at issue here?

JIM BOB DUGGAR: I think you know what, Christianity is not about being perfect or being a perfect family, but it's actually about being forgiven.


KURTZ: And two of the family's daughters telling Megyn they were horrified when "In Touch Weekly" published the juvenile police records, essentially revealing that they and two other sisters were among the victims of their brother, Josh.


JESSA SEEWALD: I feel like in this situation, we're, again, helpless as to the people handing over this report and then the tabloids taking that and printing that and sensationalizing it, and really using it for their own profit.

JILL DILLARD: Well, I see it as a re-victimization that's even a thousand times worse.


KURTZ: Joining us now to examine how the mainstream media are handling these sensitive stories, Kathleen Parker, the Syndicated Columnist and Pulitzer Prize Winner. And in New York, Lola Ogunnaike, and Anchor for Arise TV. Kathleen, let's put aside the legalities, the freedom of information rules, you heard one of those daughters say that she had been re-victimized a thousand times worse. How could "In Touch Weekly" and every other media outlet on the planet publish these juvenile records that essentially identify these women as victims?

KATHLEEN PARKER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It's horrible, I think. Juveniles are protected from exposure and if they were still juveniles, they would be, and these people would be culpable in some legal way. But this is just -- I think, unfortunately, a sign of our times when it comes to media. There are no ethics anymore among certain publications and once something is out in the -- part of the public record, everybody has to report on what is being reported. We saw this happen with Monica Lewinsky when drudge first reported who was doing what to whom. So everybody, even legitimate publications had to go with the flow.

KURTZ: Although, there's a journalistic rule that we don't identify victims of sexual abuse, whether they're adults or especially whether they're children. In this case, that was just thrown out the window.

LOLA OGUNNAIKE, ARISE TV ANCHOR: Well technically it wasn't because the names were redacted. It was left to people to read the story closely and figure out who the victims were. But their names were redacted. It was pretty obvious.

KURTZ: Because they were sisters.

OGUNNAIKE: Because they were sisters, yes. But they did what they needed to do, the barest minimum, to make it ok, which is redact the names.

KURTZ: Kathleen, let me turn to this, are liberal media types taking a special joy in attacking the Duggar family, not letting them off the hook, because they're Christian conservatives, have had a lot of kids, and now appear to be hypocrites?

PARKER: I think the liberal media, I don't know exactly who you're talking about, but they would delight in such a thing, because conservative Christians, when they have problems, always are called hypocrites, I don't know why. Because to be a Christian doesn't mean, as Mr. Duggar said, it doesn't mean you have to be perfect. It means you aspire to live in a certain way, but we are all fallen, as Christians will tell you, and therefore mistakes are made by everyone. So it's unfair, I think, to ever attack someone as a hypocrite because they've failed to live up to perfection.

OGUNNAIKE: But that's what they were selling. Their reality show is based on them being this perfect family. That's what they were selling. They're not music entertainers, they're not actors. They're selling that they were this perfect Christian family. And they chose to become reality figures. They chose to become reality stars. If you know that you have this shameful secret in your past, why would you invite cameras into your home? Why would you open yourself up to that level of scrutiny? It boggles the mind. It is so insane. I just, I don't understand it. I cannot wrap my head around why they would do that.

PARKER: I agree with you completely on that. In fact, reality shows, as a whole, are mind boggling to me. I don't know why anyone would expose their children to any kind of scrutiny like that.

KURTZ: I have all kinds of criticisms of the Duggar parents and I thought they handled Megyn Kelly's questions very poorly, because they didn't have good answers. Why they didn't go to the authorities sooner and all of that. But the worst thing, you've identified, why would you put and make your family famous and put the cameras in their lives and make it a show when you know and everyone in the family knows you're hiding this. But on the question of the coverage, Lola, let me flip the question. Are some conservative commentators going easy on the family, because it's somebody who is seen as on their side?

OGUNNAIKE: Absolutely. I think that if this family was a group of atheists, they would have thrown the book at them. They would have raced them over the coals, drawn and quartered the entire family in the middle of Times Square. And the fact that they've been a bit -- I think a bit lenient on this family. They've understood. They've asked how Josh is feeling, how the family is feeling. It's about how those girls are feeling and how those girls were victimized by their family. That's what it's about here. And yes, they've been victimized by "In Touch Weekly" and the tabloids that have published these stories, but they've also been victimized by their own family, because the family has rallied to support Josh and not rallied to support these girls. I think it was horrible that those two sisters spoke to Megyn Kelly. Even though their names are redacted, we didn't have to necessarily hear from them. We should hear from anybody in that family, it should be Josh. He should be out there defending his own actions. His sisters shouldn't be out there. They've already been victimized once by him. They shouldn't have to be re- victimized again by going on a mea culpa tour for him.

PARKER: I would be much happier if we never had to hear from any of them ever again. But I don't think there are any atheists out there with 19 children, but if there are, I would watch that show.

OGUNNAIKE: I would too.

KURTZ: I disagree on this point. Which is -- yeah, I would like to hear from Josh Duggar. He's the missing voice in all this. But I think since they've already been outed, if those two daughters chose to speak to Megyn Kelly and in effect voluntarily come forward as victims of sexual abuse, I think that is their right. But there have been a lot of criticism or hot takes on the interview itself, Kathleen, how do think it was handled, some say, Megyn Kelly should have been more prosecutorial with them. She should have nailed them.

PARKER: If you want to be prosecutorial with an interview subject, the interview will be very short. You know your objective to try to get to the heart of the matter and get these people to open up and tell you something. You might bring it up at the end.

KURTZ: She asked a lot of tough questions, but she was providing a forum to hear the family's side.

PARKER: And you have to be sympathetic to their feelings in order to get them to talk to you openly. That's why they probably chose Megyn.

OGUNNAIKE: But Howard, there were some glaring omissions. When the father said, oh, he's not a pedophile because he committed his actions when he was 14 going on 15, you have to be 16 to be a pedophile, and she let that go. That's a problem.

KURTZ: But you noticed it.

OGUNNAIKE: I did. We all noticed it.

KURTZ: My point is, she gave...


OGUNNAIKE: There should have been a follow-up question, like did you hear what you just said now?

KURTZ: I think -- my view is that Megyn Kelly gave them plenty of rope and they proceed in many of instances to hang themselves with that rope.

OGUNNAIKE: I agree with you. The only winner was Megyn Kelly, Fox, the Duggars did themselves no favors by showing up for that interview.

KURTZ: And a writer for The Daily Beast, Kevin Fallon while conceding that Megyn Kelly has asked important questions, said on MSNBC, the interviewer should have wagged a finger at them and condemned them to hell. That's our media culture in a nutshell. If you don't like them and don't like their ideology, they should go to hell.


PARKER: They love their son and love their brother. We're missing that component.

KURTZ: There has to be a compassion piece here, no matter how horrible you think they acted, it was hard for me to watch that interview and not feel some sympathy for them as parents.

Let me get a break, up next, how the media are polarizing what will surely be the most famous "Vanity Fair" cover of all time, Bruce Jenner's transition to Caitlin Jenner.


KURTZ: It may become the most famous "Vanity Fair" cover of all time. Bruce Jenner reemerging in a photo shoot as Caitlin Jenner and saturation coverage ranged from positive to downright celebratory.


CHARLIE ROSE, CBS NEWS: Today Bruce Jenner went public with a new female identity and name.

LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS: Caitlin Jenner, the woman formerly known as Bruce Jenner made her debut in a big way on the cover of "Vanity Fair."

MUIR: Next tonight, Bruce Jenner no longer. A brave Olympian transformed.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: For trans-kids and for trans-adults, wherever they are today, they got a hero. Already, it was their mostly nameless bravery that made this more public journey possible.


KURTZ: Kathleen Parker, you're right that this is a media-driven, media- created conversation among the media.

PARKER: Of course it is. I'll tell you one thing that's not being discussed across America today, except as relates to this show, of course, and is Bruce to Caitlin Jenner. This is not...

KURTZ: Too much coverage?

PARKER: Absolutely there's too much coverage. You've got to cover the story of the week, because that's what we do, but what concerns me is why that is the story of the week? I want to be sensitive to people who are in this process of transgender transition. I try to be understanding of the complexities of that, without being cynical. But as far as, you know, the Bruce Jenner as hero -- I'm sorry, Caitlin Jenner as hero, it's terribly offensive. Does it take courage to do that, I assume, in your personal life, perhaps. But as a hero to the nation, I think most Americans define that a little differently.

KURTZ: One reason is that Bruce Jenner, the former Olympic champion, is incredibly famous. And is there any question in your mind that the mainstream media have been very positive about this episode? "The New York Times" has two stories today about trans-gendered people in general and at least the liberal commentators, she, is a hero.

OGUNNAIKE: Yeah, I think the media has been overwhelmingly positive about Bruce-to-Caitlin's public transition. I also have to say, and I hate to bring the Kardashians into it, but I think Kris Jenner is a marketing genius. I think she needs to teach a course at Harvard because she has rolled this entire thing out masterfully. And we have all fallen prey to her expertise as a marketing genius. So kudos to Kris Jenner, because she's made this entire spectacle happen, flawlessly.

KURTZ: Ok but Bruce, Caitlin, you know, incredible media rollout starting with the Diane Sawyer interview and "Vanity Fair" cover and now an "E!" reality series. There is another side Kathleen to this debate. There was a national review headline, Bruce Jenner needs our prayers, not our applause. Rush Limbaugh says this is an effort to redefine normalcy. "Washington Post," to its credit, did a story on the other side of the debate, but I think for a lot of people you say, well, if you bring up the other side, maybe you're seen as a bigot.

PARKER: Right. And I agree with Lola. This is a big publicity success. And let's remember that Jenner, if he was doing this or she was doing this rather quietly or decided to do some sort of show for no pay...

KURTZ: It would be the opposite of quiet.

PARKER: It would be somewhat easier to say, let's focus on the issue and not the celebrity aspect of it. If you're not on board, you're a hater. And its unfortunate people have to take a position on transgender. Suddenly they're being asked to comment or to respond and they've got to take -- and you know, suddenly, they're a bigot or they're just not quite sophisticated or however you want to put it.

KURTZ: Everybody has to have a position, as you say, and I agree of course transgender people should be treated with dignity and respect, but this has become such a spectacle, a media-driven and Jenner-driven spectacle. Let me show you a little fun Jon Stewart had with this on "The Daily Show".


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I can say is, wow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So sexy it hurts. I got a couple e-mails from some friends yesterday, saying, I'm a little jealous, she looks better than I do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She looks ache movie star.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She looks like Rita Hayworth, so glamorous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She looks amazing!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is a hot...


KURTZ: Lola, I've got about half a minute. Now Caitlin is a woman and she gets to be treated and graded on her looks.

OGUNNAIKE: She gets to be on objectified, just like me and Kathleen.


OGUNNAIKE: Welcome to womanhood. They're not going to care about anything she has to say they're just going to worry about her hair, and what she's wearing and her lipstick.

PARKER: Guess what, they never did care what she had to say and now they have to pay attention.

KURTZ: And on that note of agreement, my two female guests, Lola Ogunnaike, Kathleen Parker.

OGUNNAIKE: Do you like my hair, Howie?

KURTZ: It's fabulous!

Ok after the break, ladies, a conversation with Gretchen Carlson, interestingly enough, about her path from beauty pageant to Fox News and even worrying about her weight.


KURTZ: Can good looks actually be an arbitrage for a female journalist especially a former beauty queen? Gretchen Carlson the Host of Fox's Real Story is the Author of new memoir "Getting Real" and I sat down with her in New York.


KURTZ: Gretchen Carlson, welcome.

GRETCHEN CARLSON, FOX NEWS: Thank you so much, Howie.

KURTZ: You decided you were going to try to become Miss America, based in part on your very prodigious violin playing. You were told you were too short. Why did you want to dive into that pageant world?

CARLSON: Because I had given up my whole goal of becoming a country violinist as a child, and my parents were very upset with me to be honest with you, and they really wanted me to find another goal to use my violin talent. And my mom got a brochure in the mail that said, 50 percent of the points in the Miss America Pageant were based on talent and she called me up, I happen to be studying at Oxford at the time, she said you need to come home right now and enter your first pageant. I said what?

KURTZ: So your mom pushed you into it.

CARLSON: Not pushed, but encouraged, nudged. But I have to say we were a fantastic team.

KURTZ: I love the fact that your interview question was the role of media in the political process. So you win the crown, you want to go into TV, you apply to a Richmond Television Station and the news director there told you he was not hiring you because you had been Miss America. Was it something of a drawback?

CARLSON: Yes. That would not be the first and last time I had heard that. Usually what would happen Howie to be honest with you is that every job that I moved to, I came to know that my reputation would precede me in a stereotypical way. In other words, I knew over time that the newsroom would start a buzz, like, here comes the Former Miss America, she must be a bimbo. Overtime I realized that's what was going oh happen.

KURTZ: Did that bother you?

CARLSON: I got tough skin pretty early on. Of course, originally it bothered me because I was so shocked that people would have -- it's almost like may resume went out the window the minute I became Miss America.

KURTZ: We know why she's here and you would have to prove yourself again.

CARLSON: I did and actually made it my mission to work harder than anyone in the news room so I would become the top reporter in the entire place.

KURTZ: Tell me a story about what happened in Richmond when you went out to cover a story in a rural area with a camera guy you ran into some trouble with.

CARLSON: This is really serious stuff. In this book "Getting Real" I don't only talk about being Miss America and playing the violin and being on TV. Sexual harassment was something that happened to me when I was Miss America and in my first job, and in that situation, on the job, I was scared for my life, basically, because I was in a rural area with someone I didn't know very well. This was before cell phones. I actually considered opening the door and rolling out of the car like you see in movies.

KURTZ: After he put his hands on you?

CARLSON: Well he was just putting a microphone on me and was mostly just talking to me about my private parts and making me incredibly nervous. I had been on the not very long at all. I didn't want to report this. And the news director at the time realized something was wrong with me and kept after me to tell him what had happened.

KURTZ: So you were reluctant to report but obviously you spent years at "Fox and Friends" and you were the journalist on that panel and also a registered independent. Did that create any awkwardness for you being in a conservative panelist?

CARLSON: No, not at all. What I loved about that show was the idea that we never discussed what we were going to say beforehand. So many people have misinformation like we're told what to say or we planned it out. I would see Steve and Bryan at two minutes before 6:00 a.m., and sometimes I got a kick about surprising them with things that I would comment on.

KURTZ: I think the big revelation in your book is that your babysitter was once Michele Bachmann, that stopped me right there on the page. And during when you were growing up you say your mother was constantly on you about your weight. Is that something you've struggled with?

CARLSON: Yeah. That's another revelation in the book.

KURTZ: People think you're on TV. Everything is perfect.

CARLSON: I still struggle with it on a daily basis. I was a chubby kid. The best lesson from all of this and what I would tell young people is that I built my self-esteem from the inside out. I knew I was fat but I didn't really care and when I actually told that story after becoming Miss America, I wanted to empower young teens that look, you don't have to live a perfect life. I was fat and I became Miss America and you know what ended up happening? I got to the airport to start my year as Miss America and all three rags, the old fashioned national inquirer and those types of magazines, they all said on the front did blimpo wins Miss America Pageant. That was my entre. Be careful with you say to the media, Howie. But I still would say the same thing today.

KURTZ: After all you've done now, and now you've got your own show. You say sometimes you're still dismissed as a dumb blond at Fox News.

CARLSON: I say I reached and hit the bimbo trifecta when I came to Fox News. I'm a blond, Former Miss America and now I work at fox. And listen, I've come to understand that when people don't actually want to debate you on the serious heady issues, they'll just call you a dumb blond from Fox, and that is what we face, unfortunately. But I have to tell you that I don't really pay a lot of attention to that anymore. If I read all those blogs and read every e-mail on a daily basis, you'd go home and off yourself or something. It's so ridiculous that at some point you have to just realize that you are who you are from the inside and if people don't want to take you seriously, that's their prerogative.

KURTZ: That's their problem.

CARLSON: That's their problem.

KURTZ: All right, Gretchen Carlson great to see you.

CARLSON: Thank you, Howie.


KURTZ: Still to come, your top tweets. "The New York Times" accuses Marco Rubio of being a traffic scofflaw and one of the most awkward segways you'll ever see in television news.


KURTZ: In our press picks this is over the line, New York Times investigating Marco Rubio and finding 17 traffic infractions that is over 18 years. And all but four were committed by the Senator's wife, seriously. The Times is denying they got this urgent information from the liberal group of American bridge which also obtained the documents recently. They say it's important to understand the Presidential candidates as people. Come on this is picking you and stuff. If Rubio wins the White House, he won't have to drive. Here are your top tweets as media coverage of the Duggar scandal been to too harsh or soft.

TWEET: Unequal considering Lena Dunham bragged about doing the exact same thing to her sibling and she's hailed as a hero by some.

TWEET: Depends on who is doing the coverage. Megyn Kelly was fair but traditional media has been harsh and rushing to judgment.

TWEET: Too harsh. No one cared about them before. It was just a chance to attack them because they are Christian and have so many kids.

TWEET: Too much coverage of the Duggars. Media was outraged at the D.C. thugs, we've got a few like that one.

Finally everyone in TV news knows about making the transition from a lighter topic to something dead serious. Jimmy Kimmel dug up a rather classic example on HLN.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cleaning your cat box twice a month. Give me a break. No wonder your house smells. You're only cleaning it twice a month.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am tempted to make a rude gesture at you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Twice a month? Get a couple to extra boxes not just one. Clean it every day with a scoop is what I told my husband. All right, some random shootings in Colorado.


KURTZ: Yikes, painfully awkward. HLN ladies, try taking a very long pause. That's it for this edition of Media Buzz. I'm Howard Kurtz we hope you'll like our Facebook page. We post a lot of content there. E-mail us @mediabuzz@foxnews.com. We're back here Sunday morning 11 and 5 Eastern. You know what's coming with the latest buzz.

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