Media blanket Baltimore riots; 'Clinton Cash' author under fire

This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," May 3, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray after the city erupts in violence, with top officials blaming the media for fanning the flames.


LELAND VITTERT, FOX NEWS: If you look over here, you can just get a sense of how the police are still very passive Megyn you saw that yesterday. The question now is whether the police actually end up trying to...

[Bleep], [bleep].

VITTERT: We're going to go, send it back to you. Sorry about this.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN: But there are others who are boarding the authorities at every turn, even --

WOLF BLITZER, CNN: Just saw that guy -- yeah, just saw that guy cut the hose as well, with a gas mask.

MARILYN MOSBY, BALTIMORE CITY STATE'S ATTORNEY: To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America, I heard your call for no justice, no peace.


KURTZ: Are the media now consumed by a debate over the prosecutor went too far and was playing to the protesters. President Obama suggests the media are more interested in riots than peaceful protests. Does he have a point?
And should the president have devoted more coverage to Freddie Gray's death earlier, especially as protests mounted on the night of the White House correspondents' dinner.

Plus, the conservative author who accused the Clinton foundation of taking millions from donors, who sought favorable treatment from Hillary Clinton's state department. Now drawing flack for not producing a smoking gun. Is that fair? Did his politics cloud his reporting? Peter Schweitzer will be here.

Vermont's socialist Bernie Sanders challenging Hillary, is the press taking this guy seriously?

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

As protests mounted after a 25-year-old name Freddie Gray died in the custody of Baltimore police, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had this to say about the demonstrators and later about the media reporting her remarks.


STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE, BALTIMORE MAYOR: It's a very delicate balancing act, because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other, you know, things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy, face to do that as well. It is very unfortunate that members of your industry decided to mischaracterize my words and try to use it as a way to say that we are inciting violence.


KURTZ: But journalists covering the riots had bigger problems than mere rhetoric. At least nine were injured, some of them suffering broken noses, as the danger was obvious, with criminals setting fires and looting stores.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN: One person has turned this entire quiet area -- we are being sprayed with mace, we are being sprayed with pepper spray.

RON ALLEN, MSNBC: I don't know exactly what it is that's been thrown in the air. I don't know exactly what it is, but it is a bit acrid. Somebody telling me that it is tear gas.


KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage of the riots and the tragedy that triggered the violence, David Zurawik, television and media critic for the Baltimore Sunl Amy Holmes, who anchors the Hot List for The Blaze; Bill Press, host of a radio show also carried on Free Speech TV.

David Zurawik has the media invasion since the riots broke out helped your city or inflamed the situation?

DAVID ZURAWIK, BALTIMORE SUN MEDIA CRITIC: Even when we say media invasion or media, there's parts of it. Some parts of this coverage have been very good, others haven't. I will say this about the coverage. First of all, from the president to the mayor, all these people, the politicians, who have talked about the media only showing up after there is violence, let me just give you a fact. CNN was there five days before the first violence on Saturday the 25th of April and they were doing shows from there. Brook Baldwin was hosting shows out of there. So we don't just chase the violence, was there more after the violence, absolutely. But here's the thing. Out of this week, Howie, if nothing else, we've had a much better look at the causes of civil unrest in this country. The statistics that have come out about west Baltimore and the lack of jobs and all of that, and we've seen some of the protesters. You know, some people can't understand it when people say these are our children in Baltimore. Well, after some of the stories, even the mother who hit her son and tore off his mask, we see them as our children. And that makes this situation redeemable. We don't have to say, we're under assault, this can't be saved, it's all hell. We have actually seen a smarter discussion. And we had a very important discussion about the use of the word "thugs" from a council member.

KURTZ: You answered my question. There's an important substantiative debate, some of which is going on in the media, but we got into this ridiculous, in my view, linguistic debate because President Obama used the word "thugs" to describe the looters and the people setting fires, and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake used the word "thugs" and then came back under pressure from her community and said, I should not have used the word "thugs."

AMY HOLMES, THE BLAZE TV ANCHOR: These are semantics and as the president might say, a distraction from exactly the issue that David is talking about. But I think in this case, the media created more heat than light.
And part of that was because we didn't have a lot of facts. We saw the video of Freddie Gray being arrested, and dragged to the van, but we don't know what happened inside the van and we still don't have an autopsy report. So instead, what we got was the media going out into the streets, of course the media is going to cover a riot and cars on fire and the media captured that image of that young man puncturing the fire hose to keep the fires burning. These are all made-for-TV images, but we didn't get a lot of information about the underlying case.

KURTZ: More heat than light, do you agree?

BILL PRESS, @TOPSHOW HOST: I have to say; I watched the coverage of the riot Monday on CNN and on WUSA channel 9 here. I can't talk for all the media, but what I saw, it was embarrassing and borderline incendiary.
Miguel Marquez, I thought, was totally out of control, CNN reporter, running around like a chicken with his head cut off, handing the microphone to anybody who stopped by and letting them spew all their nonsense on the air, with nobody else to read better to refute it. And on WUSA 9 they kept saying, well, it's been two hours, why hasn't the mayor held a news conference, I suspect she has more important things to do. Or why haven't the police chasing all these rioters around the street. I don't know about crowd control, but they don't either. They were not putting it in context and they were not just reporting the facts.

KURTZ: WUSA, the Washington...

ZURAWIK: Not to disagree but one thing I would -- Please, when you say the media made it worse and the media, "the Baltimore Sun" had 60 reporters on that story two months before they came, we had a huge investigative series done on excessive force and violence by the police and the fines the city's paying for them. So don't say the media -- the "sun" was in those streets and we weren't alone. But Amy did say the media.

HOLMES: Well, we're talking --

KURTZ: Identified the ones I was talking about. I'm sorry.

ZURAWIK: Take the part of the media you want to be critical of.

HOLMES: We're talking about visual media.


KURTZ: I played the clip of your mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, saying, we node to give space to people who wish to destroy, and claiming she didn't mischaracterize. Was she mischaracterized? Are playing her own words?

ZURAWIK: Howie, almost a week before this thing blew up, I wrote a thing saying our mayor has a problem when she speaks to the press of not being clear, speaking kind of mushy language, and then her spokesman has to come out and try to clean it up. We predicted exactly what was going to happen and she did it. She did it there. So, this wasn't just reactive. She said that. I know -- I think I know what she meant to say, and she meant to say exactly what she said she meant to say, but she didn't say it.

KURTZ: The mayor didn't come out and say, what I meant to say was -- I misspoke poor choice of words.

HOLMES: Used the media as a scapegoat. They appear the problem. Fox News also has a report that she had some sort of stand down order, so while she may have misspoken, the media didn't misconstrue her words, and maybe there is actually something substantiative there when you look at her subsequent action or inaction.

KURTZ: She has denied that. Mayor Rawlings-Blake...


KURTZ: Anybody who watched the coverage on Monday could see that the police in many instances, police were standing by as the liquor store was looted and burned. I want to talk about "The Washington Post," report a couple days ago citing a police document, saying another prisoner in the van believed Freddie Gray was banging his head against the wall, sort of injured himself. The document was accurate, was the paper and others who reported this line used by the police?

HOLMES: I don't know if they were used by the police. I think it's fair, of course, to report that, but, again, you have these drips and drabs that inflame the situation, that don't tell the whole picture. And this is where the media gets ahead of the investigation, gets ahead of the facts, and so, yes, people globed on to this, saying that one side wanted the "narrative"
that Freddie Gray may have injured himself, while another side was saying, wait a minute, we don't know what's going on.

PRESS: Listen, I'm much more critical -- I think the worst of all the coverage, and I want to identify again, was "The Washington Post," with that article. The headline was that this prisoner heard him, saw him, and was in the van with him. The headline should have been a police report says that somebody told them, this was obviously spun on the part of the police department. It was a first attempt to try to cover this up and defend these guys, and I think "the post" got it wrong and the rest of the national media ran with it.

KURTZ: I want to play one sound bite. I was really struck by this. This was a Baltimore woman, don't even have her last name, interviewed on MSNBC, and she posed this question. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we were out here protesting all last week, for six days straight, peacefully, there were no news cameras, there were no helicopters, there was no riot gear, and nobody heard us. So now that we burned down buildings and set businesses on fire and looted buildings, now all of a sudden, everybody wants to hear us. Why does it take a catastrophe like this in order for America to hear our cry?


KURTZ: You made the point that CNN had been covering this earlier; some other news organizations have done some stories. But then came last Saturday night, White House correspondents' dinner and almost no who one broke away to cover what's something on the streets as the protest mounted instead covering jokes at this black tie media dinner.

ZURAWIK: I was outraged. You read the column. I went crazy. I couldn't believe that CNN couldn't do a cut-in, and then this exercise in black tie narcissism, while a city is on the edge. People couldn't leave Camden yards after the baseball game. The streets were so out of control. And CNN, 50 miles down the road, can't send a -- can't get some kind of cut-in, because it's so important to cover these people -- telling these people to telling jokes and celebrating themselves. I am so outraged over it. I'm still waiting for a CNN executive to tell me who made that decision and how they made that decision.

KURTZ: Baltimore is 40 minutes by -- but my theory is the initial coverage of Freddie Gray's death faded Amy because there seemed to be a rough media consensus; look this was awful, 25 year old he's taken into custody, he ends up dying from a spinal cord injury so there was nothing for cable to argue about at that time.

HOLMES: There was nothing to argue about, except for context, except for Ferguson and Eric Garner, except for all of these different cases that could be connected. But again, I think the contrast between the Washington press corps, slapping one another's backs, gluging down wine and celebrating themselves here in Washington DC, while Baltimore was on fire was disgusting. And it's why the public doesn't trust the press and it will also after that young lady, I'm sorry to tell you, that the press will be gone when your city is trying to recover.

KURTZ: And that raises this question, President Obama talked about one burning building would be played on an endless loop on television. Do the media, by and large, with obvious exceptions, local newspapers etc. ignore these problems in the inner city and parachute in when the violence breaks out and then leave a week later?

ZURAWIK: Not just the media, I think the nation does. The president made that point. Look, I lived through the Rodney King riots and got caught up as a reporter in the middle of that, but back to the '60s, back to Watts in '65, Detroit in '67. These fundamental problems have not changed. Poverty and unemployment, and educational -- lack of education and police opportunity tension, and nothing has been done for the last 40, 50 years.

KURTZ: Maybe the spotty media coverage reflects that. Let me get a break.
I'm sure you have thoughts on this, send me some tweets @Howardkurtz. We'll read some of those later.

When we come back, the media have a new heroine, the Baltimore prosecutor who brought the charges in the Freddie Gray case. And later, the author of Clinton Cash on how much evidence he has tying Hillary Clinton to the donors and favor seeking at the Clinton Foundation.


KURTZ: Marilyn Mosby is the Baltimore state's attorney who quickly brought the charges, including second-degree murder against the six officers involved in Freddie Gray's arrest. Now being hailed by the media, the banner headline, "the Huffington post," "Baltimore badass", Amy Holmes as an old justice department reporter, I've never heard a prosecutor hail protesters saying no justice, no peace seem like a political thing to say.
But The New York Times and politico fraying those comments as a great positive declaration, either putting it in headlines or the kicker. What do you make of it?

HOLMES: Once again, it's the media trying to write a narrative instead of reporting the facts. It should be troubling to all Americans wherever you land on this issue. I don't think it's an issue, I think it's a story that ought to be reported, and that a prosecutor making political statements is troubling. This is supposed to be a criminal justice matter, where the facts will be weighed and these people will be charged fairly. At this point, we don't have enough information to even know if that's the case.

KURTZ: I'm not questioning her motives and I'm not questioning the charges, because I haven't seen the evidence that she has, but I just thought it was an inappropriate thing to say.

Also, all this talk about this as a racial matter, can we fully embrace that term Bill Press when the mayor, the police chief, half the police force, the city council president, and three of the six officers charged in Freddie Gray's death are black?

PRESS: Plus, this is a demographic city with democratic leadership. So I still think that race does have something to do with it. In the case of, again, back to the root causes of particularly young African-American youth in that community, who are disenfranchised and don't see a future and are angry at this continuing tension between police and the community in Baltimore, that's been going on for a long time. But I must say, I think that liberals and conservatives in this country should applaud Marilyn Mosby, because, finally, we have a public official who stepped up to the plate. Nobody had confidence in the mayor or the governor. She's on the job and I thought she did a great job. And people needed that...

KURTZ: Imagine if Marilyn Mosby had said, I reviewed the evidence and I think there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone in this case. Would she be hailed as the bright new star on the prosecutorial...?

HOLMES: Clearly not. But getting back to your question about being a matter of race, national review actually had a very interesting column that we think of civil liberties and civil rights in this race frame, but we should think about it in terms of your civil liberties as a citizen and how you were treated by stat authority. And in this case, it doesn't matter if the cops and Freddie Gray were of the same race, his civil liberties may have been violated.

ZURAWIK: You can read my blog post. I thought she was brilliant. I thought she was righteous. And if you were in Baltimore, I don't care what our leaders are, if black citizens of Baltimore believe that they are being treated unfairly by police, that you can be innocent and wind up dead after you're arrested for something, if those folks believe that, the leaders better speak to them. And I don't care if she is state's attorney. She spoke to an incredible tension. You walk the streets of Baltimore with five helicopters over you and you're in a war zone. And she spoke to the reality of the situation she was in.

HOLMES: A politician is supposed to be righteous.

ZURAWIK: She's not a politician.

HOLMES: A prosecutor is supposed to be just. That's where I disagree with you.

ZURAWIK: She said no justice, no peace, I'm delivering justice today. You give us some peace now.

PRESS: She's saying I'm doing my job, now you do your job.

ZURAWIK: She's brilliant.

KURTZ: That debate will go on. I want to turn to you to the coverage which seems to be increasingly moving toward the same old polarization. National review, riot plagued Baltimore as a catastrophe entirely the Democratic Party's making. But then on the left, salon, Baltimore's violent protesters are right. Smashing police cars is a legitimate political strategy. There was another salon headline that said we're lynching blacks again. And Marc Lamont Hill on CNN let me play a quick sound bite.


MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Something about the job itself and the structure of law enforcement in America itself, it's an occupying force; they're an occupying force in the hood. That's my issue.


ZURAWIK: Howie, I am so dismayed. I'm serious, after 30 years in the business; I could cry that people can't get above their politics and ideology on something as big as this. One, a young man who we have no reason to believe committed a crime died. Number two, I think Baltimore could be ground zero for us dealing with all these cases, dating back to Ferguson. This summer could prove that. If you can't rise above your politics, if you can't rise above conflict of interest, if we as the press can't behave with our best angels, we should get out of the business. I'm serious. The public should hate us. If we can't convince them that we're going to be as righteous as Marilyn Mosby said she's going to be. And by the way, her office has to make sure there are no problems in there as well.

KURTZ: Last word, David Zurawik obviously you're pressured because of what's happening in the city where you've been a reporter for 25 years.

Amy Holmes, Bill Press, thanks very much for joining us this Sunday. Ahead, author Peter Schweitzer on his controversial book about the Clinton Foundation. Has much of the media dismissed him as a partisan? But up next, the dueling NBC leaks over Brian Williams' future and the media make a heroine out of a take-charge Baltimore mom.


KURTZ: I'm getting whiplash from all the NBC leaks about Brian Williams.
First, The New York Times and The Washington Post quoted sources as saying, an expanded network probe of the suspended anchor found new instances of exaggerations in talking about his reporting. Then New York's Daily News said the new NBC news chief Andy Lack, is looking for a way to put him back at "Nightly News." Then The Hollywood Reporter's Marissa Guthrie quoted a person familiar with Lack's thinking, as saying Lack would be a tough hurdle depending on the facts, Williams' apology, and his support at the network. What you're seeing is a messy civil war, playing itself out with dueling leaks. NBC should just make a decision, rather than leaving its longtime star twisting in the wind.

Well, the Baltimore story needed a hero and the media have found one. Toya Graham, the single mother of six who tracked down her 16-year-old son Michael and smacked him around as he was trying to join the protesters on the day of the riots. Several networks rushed to interview Toya graham and her embarrassed sons. They even wound up on "The View."


GAYLE KING, CBS: It says, forget the National Guard, and send in the moms. They're calling you hero mom. Do you feel like a hero mom this morning?

TOYA GRAHAM, MOTHER: I don't. I don't.

KING: Because what was your intention?

GRAHAM: My intention was just to get my son and have him be safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you see here, and you're like, uh-oh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm like, oh, man. What's my mother doing down here?

ROSIE PEREZ, 'THE VIEW': Was I just instinctual or was it premeditated like, I'm going to whoop that [bleep].

GRAHAM: I was like, oh, my god, and to turn around and see my son right there with a rock, I was like in a rage.


KURTZ: I know there's a debate about whether Toya Graham should have hit the kid or whether the media glorifying her. But this thing went viral, because ultimately, its African-American parents not government programs that have to keep their sons from a life of criminality as this big mouth mom showed the world.

Coming up, the New York Times, Washington Post and Fox News have all used his book to report on the Clinton Foundation, author Peter Schweitzer, in a moment, and later, Fox's Leland Vittert on covering the chaos on the streets of Baltimore.


KURTZ: Peter Schweitzer has got a huge wave of publicity for his book questioning whether donors gave millions to the Clintons Foundation and to Bill Clinton for his speeches, whether that may in successfully have Curry favored with Hillary Clinton when she ran the state department. But he's gotten some pushback about his level of evidence while making the television rounds.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your book is questions. I just wonder how that does not be interpreted as clearly political. There's nothing here that's evidence of illegality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think the standard at NBC News or any news organization would be that we only report things when we have evidence of illegality.


KURTZ: The book is called Clinton cash, the untold story of how and why foreign governments and businesses helped make Bill and Hillary rich. And it's published by Fox's sister company, Harper Collins. I spoke to him earlier here in studio 1.


KURTZ: Peter Schweitzer, welcome.


KURTZ: The coverage from your book has started to turn. You've acknowledged that you can't prove, don't have a document showing that Hillary Clinton took any specific action intentionally to help donors to the family foundation, but are much of the mainstream media giving you a harder time because you're going after the Clintons?

SCHWEITZER: I think there's a certain element of that, yes. I think part of it is because there have been a lot of scandal books, so-called scandal books in the past. But I also think there's this sense that they're looking for political motivation in what I'm doing. And, you know, I think you certainly could look at the motivations behind what people are doing, but you want to look at facts themselves and most reporters have been fair in doing that.

KURTZ: All right. You've done enormous research in this book and have raised really troubling questions about these millions of dollars in donations and speaking fees. But many journalists had to report on this without having the book, which still isn't out yet. So I think the advanced publicity kind of oversold what you actually had, your thoughts?

SCHWEITZER: I wouldn't necessarily say that. I think what's happened, though, you're right. A lot of people are talking about the book without having read it. Certainly the Clinton campaign, the Clinton camp has used that to their benefit. They're sending out individual chapters to different people. The real power of the book in my mind is the full collection of stories.

KURTZ: You told George Stephanopoulos in an interview that the smoking gun is the pattern of behavior. That's not quite true in the sense that its circumstantial evidence, it may be highly suspicious. It may have the appearance of sleaze. I don't take the view that for a presidential candidate, not doing something illegal is only bar. But prosecutors can't bring charges unless they have a quid pro quo. You're not a prosecutor, of course.

SCHWEITZER: Yes I'm not a prosecutor, but if you look at this body of evidence, you can compare it with some of the other political scandals out there that have resulted in prosecution. Senator Menendez in New Jersey for example or former Governor of Virginia, certainly in those cases, there did not appear to be quid pro quos.

KURTZ: So prosecutors have to allege that. Let me move you into specific examples so we're not just talking in general. You relied on a TD Bank press release about the bank selling its stake in the keystone pipeline.
That release was exposed as a fake two years ago. True?

SCHWEITZER: That's true, but that's not really central to the story. The story in this particular case, involved the fact that Hillary Clinton is Secretary of State was looking at the keystone pipeline and gave it environmental approval. During that time, Bill Clinton was contracted to give ten speeches to the largest shareholder, in the keystone pipelines which was TD Bank. The press release that resulted later on was about them allegedly selling their shares, which they did not. It does not touch the central fact of that story.

KURTZ: You say Senator Hillary Clinton changed her position on a nuclear agreement with India after the Clinton foundation raked in lots of cash with Indian businesses. You said that she supported a killer amendment to limit nuclear production. But politico says she actually voted against that amendment.

SCHWEITZER: Unfortunately, politico is wrong. They never contacted me.
There was an amendment offered by Senator Feingold. Hillary Clinton was one of 25 senators to vote in favor of it.

KURTZ: Is there more than one amendment?

SCHWEITZER: There were three amendments, but even more importantly, the central player in the Indian story, which is a trustee of the Clinton foundation, who was pushing aggressively to get this deal done, said point- blank in an interview in 2010, that in 2006, Hillary Clinton did not support the legislation that the Indian government wants. That only came later so that proves my thesis.

KURTZ: Then there's the uranium deal, big donations, $500,000 thousand speech for Bill Clinton. But as you know, this has come up, Hillary Clinton's state department, one of nine agencies needed to approve anything involving that Russian-controlled company, and not even evidence that she was directly involved in decisions. So I think like a lot of things you raised in this book, appearance does not look good, but you don't necessarily have it nailed.

SCHWEITZER: I think it's hard for any author to nail it. And I think one of the strategies that the Clinton camp has employed is to set this bar for me as an author that is impossible for any author to meet. Look, it's about follow the money, one of the oldest stories in politics. And when you're talking about this story, you're talking about a unique situation, flows of lots of foreign money, and timing of decisions.

KURTZ: In your own language, you said the really troubling thing about Bill's speeches is the apparent correlation between his fees and Hillary's decisions went she was secretary of state. Let me ask you this, in your last two books, you went after both political parties and got a lot of favorable press. This book about the author doesn't mention that you have worked with George W. Bush's White House, that you have worked with Sarah Palin, does says you worked for the conservative think tank, the Hoover institution, you have also written for the conservative site, So the question emerges, what are you? Are you a journalist?

SCHWEITZER: I'm a conservative and I think I'm a journalist. And when I say conservative, I don't say that that equals Republican. In my books, I have gone after republicans. I have become increasingly skeptical over the years of politicians who become wealthy while in public office. The Clintons I think represent a unique example of that. The fact that they've taken in some $130 million in their post Bill's post-presidential years, this arrangement you had with her as secretary of state and him taking in large sums of money from foreign interest. We've never been there before. My fear with this is essentially that this could become a model for other politicians.

KURTZ: And I think you raise important questions, but you do describe yourself as a conservative journalist who has worked for conservative politicians, so can you understand how there would be skepticism among liberals and those in the media that you are pursuing an agenda?

SCHWEITZER: No. I think what people should do is look at the facts. My skepticism and conservatism springs from skepticism about centralized political power. I'm a libertarian in that sense. And I think that's a legitimate position to have. I think the question comes down to the reporting and to the information contained in the book. And that's ultimately how I think it should rise or fall.

KURTZ: You don't think when you work with republican politicians that that, in any way, undercuts your claim to independence as a journalist?

SCHWEITZER: Well, I worked with republican politicians in the past, as a speechwriter, primarily. But, no, I don't think it undermines it. I think I've been transparent about that, and I think in the book, I explain my sense and my concern about what's going on here.

KURTZ: To be fair, you've been digging into Jeb Bush's finances. That's not going to result in a book, I understand, but what motivated you to do that?
You did work with his brother when he was president.

SCHWEITZER: The motivation here, again, is looking at wealth accumulation by elected officials. In the case of Jeb Bush, you don't have the global reach that you have with the Clintons, don't have the same timeline. It does not appear that it's going to constitute a book. But we're looking at land deals; we're looking at an airport deal and we're looking at other issues. The bottom line again is to follow the money, which is what we did with the Clintons and that's happening here as well.

KURTZ: Follow the money that litigate phrase does still have a lot of residence. Peter Schweitzer thanks very much for joining us.

SCHWEITZER: Thanks for having me.


KURTZ: After the break, reaction to our interview. The coverage of Hillary Clinton's campaign and Bernie Sanders jumps into the race. Will the press take him seriously?


KURTZ: What impact does the book "Clinton cash" and a new democratic candidate having on Hillary Clinton's campaign, joining us now, Ron Fournier, columnist for the national journal. What did you think of the interview with Peter Schweitzer and is the press making his book, at least for now, the issue in the Hillary campaign?

RON FOURNIER, NATIONAL JOURNAL: I thought he did a good job defending him.
I'm not familiar with the position he's in, the Clintons, like a lot of politicians, when they're under attack, like to attack the messenger. I think he's holding up pretty well.

KURTZ: Not just he of course, the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News have all built on this report.

FOURNIER: That's the thing. The Clinton campaign wants us to make this about him, not the fact that there are all kinds of reporting out there that shows that there's some sever conflicts of interest, there are some really questions that she has to answer. The media tends to want to make this like you said, what's the impact on the campaign? I think, and this is where actually he had a point, this should be about, what is this -- how does this reflect on what kind of leader can she would be? Is she going to be transparent, is she going to follow the rules, is she going to be ethical is she going to and put the country ahead of her personal interests? This story, not his book, the story, her actions in both the e- mail thing and the way they handled the foundation raise serious questions about what kind of leader she'll be.

KURTZ: Candidate Clinton has had nothing to say about the book despite the avalanche of publicity it has gotten. But her spokesman, Brian Fallon, he found some remarks that Peter Schweitzer made at a Koch brothers event last year. We talked about fighting back against the left. You heard him say, this is the clearest evidence yet that this widely discredited book is part of a coordinated republican attack strategy.

FOURNIER: They want to make this about the republicans. They want to make it about that book. They don't want to make it about the facts. They don't want to explain why she took her e-mails rogue. They want to make it about why she promised the White House, her president, our president, that she would not take foreign donations. And yet they did. They didn't want to make it about why they couldn't release the fact that there was over 1,000 secret donations when in fact, they could. They don't want to make it about her actions. They want to make it about us in the media and they want to make it about whether or not this affects her campaign. As soon as her polls start going up, they'll say, people don't care about this, this is old news. But this can never be old news, the way somebody -- the way their record and actions reflect on how they'll be as a leader.

KURTZ: The old news thing was a classic technique by the Clinton White House when Bill was president.

FOURNIER: And they're not the only ones. She has the capability of being a transformational leader in our country, but not if she keeps behaving like this.

KURTZ: Now she's got a nominal opponent from Senator Bernie Sanders jumping into the race, getting some attention. Is the press going to build him up because we desperately want some kind of contest on the democratic side?

FOURNIER: You're talking about a bias. Our biggest bias is her conflict. We want a contest. Democrats in Iowa want a contest. Democrats in New Hampshire want a contest for their reason. So any glimmer of a fight, especially from the left, which is where she's vulnerable, we'll seize on.

He's never going to be president, but there will come a time in this primary season, where Hillary Clinton will look like she's not invulnerable. She's going to be the nominee I think, she has a very good chance of being president but there will be a time when she's a lot more scared when she realizes that she's going to be. Someone's going to give her a scare.

KURTZ: So will the media be giving Bernie Sanders the appropriate amount of attention, or are we going to kind of build him up, because he's the only other person in the race?

FOURNIER: I guess it depends what you mean by the appropriate time of contention. If the only issue is whether or not he can become president, then we should ignore him. He's making the point; can someone who's not a billionaire become president? That's a very serious and important question.
I don't think we can give him too much credit on that regard. If this is all about polls and we're going to be poll driven in the media, then we're going to ignore him.

KURTZ: I'm also focusing on the issues that he's raising.

FOURNIER: Let's focus on him.

KURTZ: Got to go. Ron Fournier, thanks for stopping by this Sunday, we really appreciate it.

Next on MediaBuzz, at least nine journalists were injured covering the Baltimore riots, Leland Vittert on his experience on the front lines.


KURTZ: The media mob descended on Baltimore to cover the riots included Fox News Anchor and Correspondent Leland Vittert who found himself in a tense situation.


LELAND VITTERT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: A police officer pulled me aside, a very senior captain, and he looked at me after the incident that you just saw and he said I can't protect you out there. He said you are on your own.
He said if things start to go down, and he said I try to come out and try to arrest anyone being physical with you, meaning me, he said I am going to insight this whole place. I cannot incite a riot here in order to save you.


KURTZ: And he joins me now from Baltimore. You're surrounded by angry protesters. The cop says he can't protect you. Were you nervous?

VITTERT: Yeah. I think you'd be stupid not to be nervous. The part of that that was so interesting to me is that the police were terrified of doing their jobs, and as we reported over the past week, it seems like the reason they were terrified of doing their jobs is because the mayor held them back. You know the idea that the police were outnumbered and outflanked and outgunned are lunacy. We saw their weapons. We saw how much non-lethal force they had. It seems has though they had been told time and time again to just stand down, to let it happen, that unless they absolutely had to respond, to not respond. I think it's one of the reasons you saw this go on for so long and finally once the police really came in and showed that they meant business, things quieted down very quickly.

KURTZ: Right. So not only were they not protecting you, they initially weren't protecting the property and the stores and the cars. You expressed on the air one of the early nights in Baltimore that there was a lot of anti-media sentiment in the crowd. Talk about that for a moment.

VITTERT: It's something I never really thought I would see in America, when you watched what happened on the streets of Baltimore. They were lawless.
It was like times I'd spent in the Middle East, and the anti-media sentiment to me came from when you'd stick a camera in the face of somebody who was looting a store. They got pretty angry, and understandably any time you stick a camera in the face of someone doing something illegal. That's really where it came from, what I thought was interesting on the flipside of it was is the people who were watching these events and sometimes participating, if you gave them a forum and treated them with respect and went up and introduced yourself, even if it was live on television, nine times out of ten, people talked to you. I thought that was an interesting and telling part of what this community has.

KURTZ: Right and their voices were very instructive for us viewers watching at home to hear. One moment of yours that went viral was when you tried to ask a couple of questions of Baltimore's mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Al Sharpton was there. Let's play that for our viewers.


VITTERT: What do you have to say to the businesses that were looted because of your order to stand down? We can't we ask questions? A public official, but can't ask questions? I can ask questions. Will you answer them? You'll answer them then? Then you'll answer the questions?


KURTZ: And, of course, the mayor answered no questions at the news conference. Devil's advocate, some viewers might say you look pushy there.
They're going to a press conference; you're shoving a microphone and trying to get an answer. How did you feel about how that played out?

VITTERT: Think about it this way. Number one, the mayor has received a number of interview requests from her. She turned them down. Number two, she didn't even hold the promised news conference, she used her security team to help her duck out beforehand. If we hadn't asked those questions at that moment, it wouldn't have happened. Number two, when you think about this situation, and the way it went down here, as she walked down the hallway, she had every opportunity to stop, calmly answer the question.
There was a number of things she could have said that would have been just fine and perfectly acceptable answers including I'm sorry, I was wrong that I embarrassed my city and the police department and tied everybody's hands but now I'm doing the right thing. Any of those would've been perfectly acceptable answers. What was interesting to me was that she just stood silently by and let Al Sharpton act as her body guard. It was something I was stunned by, truthfully.

KURTZ: That was very odd, and of course, reverend Al not only aligning himself with the mayor but then does his MSNBC show from Baltimore. I never understood why that never tolerates it. All right, Leland Vittert, you've done a great job this week out in the streets of Baltimore, Maryland.
Thanks for joining us.

Still to come, your top tweets. Some disturbing allegations about Al Jazeera America, and did Floyd Mayweather commit a terrible foul against the media in last night's big heavyweight fight.


KURTZ: That much hyped welterweight showdown, forgive me last night with Floyd Mayweather beating Manny Pacquiao was apparently marred by a sucker punch. ESPN's Michelle and CNN's Rachel Nichols say the Mayweather camp barred them from the Las Vegas arena and the two have covered Mayweather's history of domestic violence problems by the numerous women to retaliate against them is a low blow. Mayweather's camp is denying that account.

A staffer fired by Al Jazeera America makes some stunning allegations in a lawsuit saying he lost his job after complaining that his boss was disrespecting women by removing them from meetings and email chains, employee also saying the boss "whoever supports Israel should die a fiery death in hell." And that the boss told him to replace an Israeli cameraman with a Palestinian, of questionable qualifications, Al Jazeera owned by Cutter's Royal family is stressing its commitment to diversity while declined to comment. But here's the kicker, two executive vice presidents have now resigned following the $15 million suit. Your top tweets. Has media been fair in covering Baltimore? Coverage caused a mess. You guys meant well. You gave them a stage. With three black cops there was no race narrative, Media go home. Eliminate speculation to ensure fairness, good luck with that. Terribly unfair, contrast the way that MSNBC look for any bad act to tire the whole tea party and kept repeating mostly peaceful demonstrations while the city burned and went on lock down. From what I've seen, broadcast media has not been fair. Rather than having deep discussions systemic issues tears over a CVS. David letterman is winding things up, booking guests like the president's wife.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm retiring in a few weeks.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He won't be retiring. Do you ever glimpse down that far down the road?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like when I'm going to be running for president or anything? I heard you. I was watching you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's something to consider.


KURTZ: Calm down. Michelle Obama is not running for anything unless she takes presidential advice from Dave. President Obama going on Letterman tomorrow night, but he's had a good, friendly relationship, shall I say with the first couple. 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 original content there and your buzz in response to your questions, e-mail me,, no political speeches. Ask a media question and I will respond., we're back here next Sunday morning 11 and 5 Eastern with the latest buzz. Hope to see you then.

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