Media coverage of Bergdahl fair or politically driven?

This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," May 4, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the buzz-meter this Sunday, a feel-good story quickly turns bad. President Obama under fire for trading five Taliban commanders for an American soldier. As the media keep digging out new details about his decision, his explanation, his failure to consult Congress, and at the heart of it, the conduct of Bowe Bergdahl.


MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC: Tonight we are hearing stunning new accusations from the soldiers who served with Bowe Bergdahl and those who risked their lives to save him.

JIM MIKLASZEWSKI, NBC: All the early joy and celebration over Bergdahl's release has indeed been clouded over several growing controversies.

JOSHUA CORNELISON, PLATOON MEDIC: He deserted not only the Army, but he also left myself and my platoon and my company to clean up his mess.

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: Raise your hand if you think he deserted. Wow. Raise your hand if you have some question about whether he deserted. Wow.


KURTZ: Has the media coverage been fair or politically driven? And why are some liberal commentators saying Bergdahl has been swift boated?

Bret Baier on his son's struggle for life and how he was torn between his television work and a baby with a defective heart.

Plus, a court says people have the legal right to force Google to delete unfair or negative information about them from online searches. Sounds tempting, but doesn't that trample free speech? I'm Howard Kurtz, and this is "Media Buzz."


KURTZ: It was remarkable how quickly the media narrative on Bowe Bergdahl turned to harsh criticism of the president and the soldier for just about every aspect of the decision to swap five Taliban prisoners being held at Gitmo.


BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS: Susan Rice saying to the world that Sergeant Bergdahl served his country with honor? Are you kidding me? And that's on top of the Benghazi stuff?

ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC: The fact is an American soldier's coming home. They're going play it to the tilt as something wrong with President Obama. It's his fault. High crimes and misdemeanor.

ANN COULTER, AUTHOR: Why are we doing anything to get this guy back? He's ashamed to be an American. He calls America disgusting.

VAN JONES, HOST, CROSSFIRE: This is an orchestrated smear campaign. The implication is that President Obama should have left a U.S. soldier to die. But if he'd done that, the same Republicans would be attacking him for doing that. So the whole thing is completely outrageous.


KURTZ: The administration's version began to unravel as news organizations focused on an e-mail from Bergdahl to his parents saying he was ashamed to be an American and began interviewing soldiers who said Bergdahl deserted their military unit and put their lives at risk.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN: What was your immediate thought when you learned and fellow members of your squad and platoon learned he was gone?

SGT EVAN BUETOW, BERGDAHL'S TEAM LEADER: I immediately said he walked away. He walked away.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX: Everybody that I talked to believed he deserted. Is there any dispute about that?

CORNELISON: No. He deserted his post. Willfully and purposefully.

NATHAN BETHA, SERVED WITH BERGDAHL: He just vanished, and the next morning when they were trying to do a roll call, they couldn't find him and realized this guy sneaked out.


KURTZ: The White House pushback against the media was soon echoed by such pundits as MSNBC's Ari Melber.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC: A former P.O.W. who's under treatment now at a military hospital is being swift boated by the reflexive anti-Obama machine.


KURTZ: Brian Williams asked the president about the decision, but he got the same talking points.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC: What was the reason for not informing the eight members of Congress who would customarily be informed by this?

OBAMA: Brian, I have to tell you, the same thing that I've been saying for the last several days.


KURTZ: The president repeating his point that the U.S. should leave no soldier behind on the battlefield. Joining us now to examine the coverage, Lauren Ashburn, Fox News contributor, host of "Social Buzz" on the Fox website, and recovering from a tennis injury. Jim Pinkerton, a Fox News contributor who also writes for the "American Conservative." And Bill Press, host of the Bill Press Radio Show. Lauren Ashburn, what's the most important thing the media did to change the administration's narrative about the Bowe Bergdahl release?

LAUREN ASHBURN, FOX NEWS: Absolutely no question, it's the interviews that we saw just a moment ago by these soldiers. These soldiers who served side by side with Bowe Bergdahl, saying that he was a deserter. You could see it in their demeanor, saying how could this man walk away from us, put our lives at risk by knowing that we would have to go searching for him?

KURTZ: Jim Pinkerton, as you know, Susan Rice going out on the Sunday talk shows more than a week ago talking about Bergdahl serving with honor and distinction. Got a lot of attention. And then on Friday, CNN reporter Jim Acosta was able to get a brief interview with her, asked about that. She had a chance to back off. Here's what happened.


SUSAN RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: He is, as all Americans, innocent until proven guilty. He's now being tried in the court of public opinion after having gone through an enormously traumatic five years of captivity.


KURTZ: Why such a focus on this phrase honor and distinction?

JIM PINKERTON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Because she seems to like it. And look, I think it seems to the tin ear of the contemporary Democratic Party for patriotic issues. They just don't have a sense of the military culture. This is not the FDR Democratic Party that won us wars and executed deserters.

KURTZ: You don't think the media are making too much of it?

PINKERTON: I don't. I think Lauren's right. The soldiers, his colleagues, every one of them, I mean, it's not even close. Now, the New York Times is doing its best to smear the unit by running articles saying they're sloppy and raggedy and so on. And the New York Times editorial page has finally found an American soldier they like in Bergdahl. But listen, the average soldier, the ones talking, the ones being interviewed, are unanimous on this.

KURTZ: I'll come back to the smear question in just a moment. But Bill Press, after the e-mail from Bergdahl to parents widely reported, ashamed to be an American, James Rosen of Fox News got hold of a contractor's intelligence reports about his captivity. We learned a whole lot of things such as he had tried to escape a couple times, held in a cage, but also according to this report that he had played soccer with his captors and declared himself a warrior for Islam. Should that have gotten more coverage? Do you have any question about that story?

BILL PRESS: First off, I think Jim Rosen's a damn good reporter and he's not a criminal co-conspirator as he was first called. I'll put that out there. But I read that story as well. It's a questionable source, you've got to say. The guy who runs the source who put it out there was once indicted for lying to Congress. So you've got to raise questions about that --

KURTZ: Although let me just interrupt. The part about Bergdahl being kept in a cage now we know for weeks or months was confirmed by American military sources today in the Times.

PRESS: Right. And the Pentagon did its own investigation of his captivity. They didn't come out with this -- what was in the report, that after he tried to escape and was punished, that then he became more friendly with them, they treated him well, he was able to get out, play soccer, carry a gun maybe even. We don't know that that's true. If it is true, even, we don't know what it says. Is it Stockholm syndrome?

KURTZ: Is it being nice to his captors just to try to stay alive?

PRESS: Get more food and stay alive. I'm not going to judge what he said under captivity because I don't know what I would do.

KURTZ: Pulling back the camera a bit, is there something of a media rush to judgment here? Is Bowe Bergdahl being court-martialed by the press?

ASHBURN: Absolutely. I think it's a rush to judgment in some instances. Early on there were questions raised about six to eight soldiers who died, who may have died looking for Bergdahl. And the New York Times itself actually said that is very murky. So there was that. There was also early on 2010, "Rolling Stone" and Michael Hastings did this report here talking about all of the information that we knew, about how he possibly was a deserter, yet at the time that didn't make any sense, and once all of this started to come forward, everybody started referencing the article.

KURTZ: Hastings also reported, the late Michael Hastings, that there were disciplinary problems with that unit, which is now something that's been picked up in the last couple of days by not just the New York Times and others, is that unfair to point out?

ASHBURN: Hastings said the discipline problems that had plagued Bowe's unit back home only got worse when immersed in the fog of war. As Jim brought up, the headline today in the New York Times is Bergdahl was in unit known for its troubles.

KURTZ: Why is that a smear?

PINKERTON: I don't think -- I mean, a smear on who? I'm sorry.

KURTZ: You said earlier the New York Times was smearing the unit.

PINKERTON: Here they are smearing the unit. Bergdahl unit was known for its trouble. That's a smear. Why are they focusing on this --

ASHBURN: Because there were problems according to Hastings and the New York Times.

PINKERTON: The New York Times now pulls its journalistic resources together to say it really wasn't that bad that Bergdahl deserted, who could blame him? And again, it's in the context of the Times editorial where they say oh, Bergdahl misunderstood.

PRESS: Excuse me. This is on the front page. They're reporting the news. The news is the Pentagon knew there were problems with this unit. Obviously, security for that unit wasn't that tough if Bergdahl was able to walk off at least twice and come back, and his buddy soldiers, at least some of them, they thought this was a good move on his part. It wasn't a smear.

KURTZ: Let me broaden this question a little bit. We saw earlier MSNBC's Ari Melber and the White House aides have started to put this out quietly, this is swift boating. Ari Melber worked for John Kerry in the 2004 campaign, so he knows about swift boating or at least he has it on his mind. But is that a fair charge when I would argue that lots of news organizations that would not be described as conservative organizations, New York Times, CNN among them, have been going out and finding out information from the soldiers you mentioned and other sources about Bergdahl's conduct?

PINKERTON: Jake Tapper on CNN said better men gave their lives looking for Bergdahl. That's Jake Tapper, who wrote a book about Afghanistan. Which by the way, if you read Tapper's book, every unit in Afghanistan, look, it's a crazy war and they're alone by themselves in these little bases. Of course they can't keep track of everybody, if that person chooses to voluntarily desert. To my knowledge there's only been one deserter coming out of Afghanistan, that's Bergdahl. Everybody else manages to deal with the same situations and stay loyal.

PRESS: I just want to make this point, first of all, we can't all agree, right? I believe overall with some exceptions the media's response to this story has been shameful because they took a narrative, you just used the word, deserter, the word you hear most often to describe Sergeant Bergdahl is he was a deserter. We do not know that. We haven't heard his story. We know he walked off twice and he came back to his post. A deserter doesn't do that. Why did he go off? We don't know. There are a lot of different reasons. To call him a deserter in the media I think is just going way over the line.

ASHBURN: Here's the problem, is that we can't talk to him. We don't know what he was thinking. There is no way we can know his motive. But if you look into the eyes of those soldiers who say he deserted and they were there, you need to report that. And then when you finally hear Bergdahl's side of it, then the decision can be made.

KURTZ: Okay. But first of all, I want to make it clear that not everybody at MSNBC bought into the swift-boating spin. Chris Matthews, for example, said everything that he knows that's been reported has been true. Turn for a second to the Taliban video that everybody replayed endlessly, propaganda video of the hand-off, the handover I should say of Bergdahl. Why did that get so much attention and does it get to your point about we haven't heard from him or even seen him?

ASHBURN: Are you kidding? Why did it get so much attention? I mean, here's the central figure of this entire story, and we only have one picture of him in a military uniform, and now we get to look into his blinking eyes and imagine what happened to him or try to discern what the relationship was with his captors. You see him in a Pashtun smock. I mean, you know, you think, okay, maybe he's sympathetic to them, maybe he's not. Is he, you know, cognizant of what's happening? Has he been tortured? I mean, you have to see that video to understand the story.

PINKERTON: But let's also talk about why we haven't heard from this. It's been a week. I think the problem we have is you keep seeing reports that he's been converted -- James Rosen, he's converted to Islam, he's declared jihad. I think they're terrified of letting him even talk to his own family to do a interview because they're afraid he'll declare allahu akbar on TV.

PRESS: I am not going to second-guess the doctors at Landstuhl in Germany who are caring for this guy. Give them a freaking chance to do what he needs to go back, sergeant -- let me just finish -- back to his family. I think also, it's important to point out there's at least one soldier, former soldier in his unit, that told the Pentagon, described him as a good soldier. So we have to -- there are other voices out there. We don't know the story. That's all I want to--


KURTZ: One thing I think we can agree on is there are still unanswered questions because we have not heard except just bits and pieces from leaks from Bowe Bergdahl himself. But also, that there's been bipartisan criticism on the Hill, coming from many Democrats, about the administration's handling, about the failure to notify Congress. I think that has given this whole story a more bipartisan flavor, so it's not just a one-sided attack from the right. Remember to send me a tweet about this. It's going to be a hot topic obviously on Twitter. @howardkurtz. We're going to read some of your messages later in the program.

When we come back, should the media's criticism of Bowe Bergdahl also extend to his dad? And later, an advance look at Hillary Clinton sitting down with Diane Sawyer, and the subject turns to Karl Rove.


KURTZ: Bowe Bergdahl now recovering in a military hospital. On the cover of Time magazine with the headline, was he worth it? Is that a fair journalistic question, Jim Pinkerton?

PINKERTON: It's an important question. But there are also larger policy questions. For example, Michael Mukasey wrote in the Washington Post --

KURTZ: Former attorney general.

PINKERTON: For President Bush.

That this is part of the lawyer left's strategy of closing down Guantanamo. They need to set up the predicate to do that. And so that becomes one of the big--

KURTZ: Have the media not focused enough on that?

PINKERTON: I think the media are all in favor of closing Guantanamo, so they sort of take it as an implicit assumption, of course we should shut the place down. But I think it's an important policy question when you read about how horrible these five Taliban types are, and you realize they're now back, as Armen Rosen wrote in the Daily Beast, look, it essentially means the Obama administration's given up on the Afghan war.

PRESS: I just have to say, look, let's just focus on what this is. It's an American P.O.W., who was there for five years. We had a chance to bring him home and we brought him home. There's no larger picture here. This is not part of a strategy to totally reconvert the --


KURTZ: Okay. But you guys are talking politics and I need to come back to the media. You in the previous block said the coverage was shameful. But you seem to be saying that because we haven't had a chance to hear, understandably so, from Bergdahl. But is there anything that's been reported -- there have been some rhetorical excesses, sure. That has been inaccurate and therefore unfair in your view?

PRESS: I think two things. One, again, calling him a deserter I believe is unfair. And not backed up by the facts. No. 2, CNN reported at least - - Lauren referenced this earlier. CNN, not Fox, CNN, at least six people died searching for Sergeant Bergdahl.

KURTZ: As if it were a fact.

PRESS: As if it were a fact.

KURTZ: It could be related.

PRESS: The Pentagon researched that, said no connection. The New York Times researched it, said murky connection at best. So I think that was overboard, overreporting. Yes, unfair.

KURTZ: I want to turn now to Bob Bergdahl, the soldier's father. I got into it with Bill O'Reilly on the subject of whether or not he was fair game for some of the media abuse. Let's take a quick look at that.


KURTZ: I think you went too far on that one because I'm not a fan of how Bob Bergdahl has conducted himself, but cut the guy some slack.

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: The man shows up at the White House looking like a Muslim. He speaks Pashto. He thanks Allah. It's inappropriate.


KURTZ: Your thoughts.

ASHBURN: No, Bill. I'm sorry. It's inappropriate that you as well as Joe Scarborough from MSNBC are attacking a man whose son has been held in captivity for five years. You don't know what that father has been going through unless you've been in that situation. What -- how can you even say or even question the motives of this father? You just don't know. And here is a man who has lost his son, possibly forever.

KURTZ: And he doesn't know whether he's coming back. I'm not in favor of everything Bob Bergdahl has done and said, but it seems to me he didn't ask to be in the national spotlight, a guy from a small town in Idaho who was at the White House with the president.

PINKERTON: You look at the picture. The guy in the middle here is President Obama. It was kind of freaky to see the president treating the family as a yellow ribbon opportunity.


PINKERTON: Because he didn't do it for the other 2,000 who have been killed in Afghanistan, that's for sure. And he treated them -- again, Susan Rice, honor and distinction. The case is murky at best. Let's just say it's murky. All of his colleagues say he's a deserter, but it's murky. And here he is --


PRESS: I'm not going to attack the father for wanting his father home. I'm not going to attack the president for having his parents there. And if Bill O'Reilly thinks everybody with a beard looks like a Muslim, has he ever seen the Nats? Has he ever seen Duck Dynasty? This is insane.

KURTZ: I do think by making it a big celebratory White House event, the president set a tone for the coverage that he was a hero that we in the media then spent a week knocking down with facts, I would say, it's not swift boating.

Bill Press, Jim Pinkerton, thanks very much for joining us this Sunday. Up next, a conversation with Bret Baier about an awful ordeal. What it's like to watch your newborn baby cling to life.


KURTZ: Bret Baier was riding high at Fox News when he and his wife, Amy, had a baby only to learn that a defective heart could kill him at any moment. Young Paul had two open heart surgeries and a stomach operation in his first year. And the pain and the pressure on his parents was of course crushing. And Bret recounts that ordeal in a new book.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it hard to watch, sweetheart, when you see everything that went on? You're okay? And you did that race and everything?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you say to the doctors and nurses when you see them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for my life.


KURTZ: Bret's book is called "Special Heart: A journey of faith, hope, courage and love." I spoke with the anchor of SPECIAL REPORT right here in Studio 1.


KURTZ: Bret Baier, welcome.

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: Thank you. Good to be here.

KURTZ: How hard was it to relive the agony of what happened in the writing of this book?

BAIER: It was tough, Howie. I didn't think it was going to be as tough as it was. And getting back into some of these e-mails and some of these moments was pretty emotional. And then, as I was writing this book, we found out that Paul, our son, had to have a third open heart surgery. So the final chapter is the third open heart surgery. So getting into that and while I was finishing the book is --

KURTZ: So what was largely a book about what happened in the past became also a book about dealing currently with yet another major surgery. But any hesitation? On every page -- it's a very personal book. Any hesitation about going public with so much pain and a personal story at a time when by your own admission your family's under great strain and you were not at your best.

BAIER: Yes. We had long discussions, my wife and I, about this, and we came to the conclusion that by putting this out there, it possibly could help other families. And not just if they have a kid with open heart surgery or some big surgery, but everybody has something. You know, every family has something to bear, some tough thing, and we thought that by showing how we got out of our darkest moment that it could maybe help others. Not to be cheesy. We actually just thought being as open as we could would be the best way to do it.

KURTZ: That certainly makes for a compelling and sometimes painful reading. When you got the awful news, when Paul was born, here you have this great day, your son is going to be born and then you find out he may not live.


KURTZ: You had to decide whether to wait I guess about a week for a world- class heart surgeon to return to the country, and you say in the book that you had to function right then as a reporter.

BAIER: Because I was asking all these questions. And automatically my mind went to what I need to know to make this decision. But I couldn't outhustle this one. I could not outthink it. It was --

KURTZ: There were all these unknown factors.

BAIER: Unknown factors. And I wanted to effect it. I wanted to change the situation. But I couldn't. So we finally came to the point where we decided the best thing to do was to wait for this surgeon to come back. Dr. Richard Jonas. And it was the best decision we ever made.

KURTZ: During the ordeals and the operations and when you were able eventually to come back to work, but your son was still in grave condition, how were you able to concentrate on your job?

BAIER: It was tough. Especially those first days. Back when he was still in the hospital. My wife said to me, you need to go back to work. Because I was pacing the hallways, and we had gotten to a point where he was okay.

KURTZ: She wanted some distance from you.

BAIER: She wanted some distance, yes. She says I'd love -- the relationship has worked over this time because Bret travels a lot. But I really tried to focus -- I was at the White House at the time. On the story of the day. And really just delve into it. And it helped me actually deal with getting through those moments.

KURTZ: Right. You even got a voicemail message from President Bush which you let go to voicemail because you didn't know the president was calling.

BAIER: Right.

KURTZ: During the -- as you recount in the book, you sent these long and incredibly detailed e-mails with updates on Paul's condition and what your family were going through, you and Amy. And I wonder, was that therapeutic for you? Because you must have spent a lot of time filling in your friends and colleagues on what was going on in your life.

BAIER: Yes, it was cathartic. It really was. Amy's reaction to everything was to internalize, go to Paul, be with him, sing with him, make sure that he was taken care of. I did some of that, but mine was to make sure everybody was up to date because I had all these people asking me what was happening. So at the end of the day, I'd usually drink a glass of wine and sit at the computer and think about the day, specifically. And fortunately, the way I remembered things, I think laid it out for family and friends really what we were in the middle of, real-time. And that -- I was reporting on our own situation. When we compiled all of these together, we looked at them and said, this could be a powerful story to help somebody else get through something tough.

KURTZ: Of course I have to ask you how Paul is doing today.


KURTZ: And you must view your time with him as especially precious because of what you faced at the beginning.

BAIER: Oh, yes. I mean, every holiday, every birthday is really that much more special. He's fantastic. I mean, he's bouncing off the walls. He'll be 7 this summer. Plays basketball, baseball, karate. He's doing great in school. He's the tallest kid in his class. So he's doing great. In fact, I asked him what it was like to be on this book and what does he think about the book, and he said it's really cool because now I'm famous. And I went, oh, man. Maybe we need to work on that answer a bit.


KURTZ: I teared up reading this book. It's really impossible not to. In a moment, Bret Baier on anchoring SPECIAL REPORT and responding to critics of Fox. And later, Lara Logan's finally returning to CBS after her Benghazi blunder.



KURTZ: More now of my conversation with Fox's Bret Baier.


KURTZ: When you took over SPECIAL REPORT five years ago and began to sit in this chair -- you'd filled in regularly of course, but was there a little bit of nervousness because this had been the program that Brit Hume had established and created, and you were now having to fill his shoes?

BAIER: Big-time. Those first few days I was looking at the graphic to make sure it still said "with Bret Baier."

KURTZ: Once your name's on the graphic, it's harder for them to get rid of you.

BAIER: It's harder to get rid of you, yes. Does it say with Howie, "Media Buzz?" I say in the book, I think there were people who looked at me taking over for Brit with egg timers, waiting for this to be changed out. And fortunately, the show continued to succeed, and we built on the foundation that Brit built. And knock on wood, it's been a great five and a half years.

KURTZ: Does it bother you as a news man when critics say Fox slants the news, Fox makes so much of Benghazi, Fox is hostile to President Obama?

BAIER: Yes. Most of the loudest critics of Fox haven't watched. And the people who are most adamant on e-mail, I say have you watched my show? And most say no. And I say how about this? Watch it for three days in a row, e-mail me back and see what you think. And most --

KURTZ: Do they take you up on the offer?

BAIER: -- do that, and they e-mail back and say wow, I like the show. And when Joe Klein comes out from Time magazine and says this is the straight newscast at 6:00, I think that says a lot. And we're proud of the product.

KURTZ: Obviously, many of the commentators at Fox are not fans of President Obama. Does that make it harder for you dealing with the administration, trying to get bookings and the like?

BAIER: It doesn't hinder that ability to cover the news. Even in the darkest days, Howie, of when the White House was saying -- using Fox as a talking point from the White House.

KURTZ: The president still occasionally takes a whack or two, as he did with Bill O'Reilly in the Super Bowl interview.

BAIER: Yes, exactly. But as it was really intense, even during that time, we still covered effectively. People were answering calls, and we had responses.

Is it tougher to book interviews? I'm still waiting to talk again to President Obama after the 2010 interview, and we hope he does come back on SPECIAL REPORT. I can talk directly to the camera if you want me to.

KURTZ: Mr. President. All right. Dude, what was going through your mind during the interview with former White House spokesman Tommy Vietor?


BAIER: Did you also change attacks to demonstrations in the talking points?

TOMMY VIETOR: Maybe. I don't really remember.

BAIER: You don't remember?

VIETOR: Dude, this was like two years ago. We're still talking about the most mundane process --

BAIER: Dude, it is the thing that everybody's talking about.

VIETOR: We're talking about the process of editing talking points. That's what bureaucrats do all day long.


BAIER: I know Tommy and I've dealt with him when he was at NSC. I think that was Tommy being Tommy, and he just -- he felt comfortable in that moment to say that. But I was kind of shocked when it happened. Which took me a second to come back and say dude, you know, I re-duded him.

KURTZ: And you kept going in that interview.


KURTZ: Beyond what you had planned.

BAIER: Well, yes. We were getting a lot more things that actually seemed fairly newsworthy. So we kept on asking questions and moved things around to be able to facilitate that.

KURTZ: Let me circle back to the book. It's not all serious. Before your son was born, you were courting your now wife, Amy. You tell a story about some special preparations you had to make in your apartment before her first visit.

BAIER: She is --

KURTZ: This is the dark side of Bret Baier.

BAIER: -- a neat freak. I mean, she's OCD. I think she would like to have it CDO so it's in alphabetical order. But she --

KURTZ: That doesn't quite describe you.

BAIER: No. I was not on the neat factor. And it was actually very messy. And I say was because she reformed me. But my apartment needed some serious help. And she came in to town and found a large pile of dirty clothes that I had hidden under a black sheet that I thought would just be a black hole in the room, in the back --

KURTZ: (inaudible), wasn't it after you'd taken many other bags of dirty laundry --

BAIER: Howie, you're such a great reporter. Thanks for zeroing in on this moment. Yes, I had. And I had a serious clothing problem. I don't know whether it was a Maytag that went wrong when I was a kid or something. But --

KURTZ: But obviously, the relationship survived.

BAIER: It survived.

KURTZ: And I'm glad to hear Paul is doing well. Bret Baier, thanks very much for joining us.

BAIER: Thanks, Howie.


KURTZ: After the break, Maureen Dowd gets sky high, freaks out, and writes about bumming out on pot. And President Obama can't even work out without being secretly taped.


KURTZ: Time for some buzz briefs. Now we know what President Obama looks like working out. And the cell phone video has been all over television. Whoever caught Obama yawning while weightlifting and then hitting the stairmaster in a Warsaw hotel leaked the footage to a Polish tabloid, and of course it went viral. I guess you have to run it, but I just find the whole thing a little bit creepy. Can't a president even hit the gym without being under secret surveillance?

Maureen Dowd had a tough time on an assignment in Colorado. As she writes in the New York Times, "I felt a scary shudder go through my body and brain. I barely made it from the desk to the bed, where I laid curled up in a hallucinatory state for the next eight hours. As my paranoia deepened, I became convinced I had died and no one was telling me." Dowd had eaten a candy bar laced with marijuana in a state where that's now legal, but at 16 times the recommended dose, and got a bit mocked on the Internet. Welcome back to earth, Maureen.

Now for an update on the couple of media stories. It's been a long time, last fall to be precise, since CBS put Lara Logan on a leave of absence over her botched "60 Minutes" report on Benghazi, which relied on a source who falsely claimed to have been at the scene of the attack. Now as first disclosed by Hollywood Reporter's Marisa Guthrie, Logan is back at work and will be appearing on CBS programs and eventually "60 Minutes." The network had left the war correspondent in limbo for too long. She'll now get a crack at rebuilding her career.

Sharyl Attkisson also made headlines not long ago when she quit CBS News telling me in a "Media Buzz" interview that the network had simply stopped running her investigative pieces on Benghazi and other subjects. Now Attkisson is taking some heat from the left for her new role as a contributor to the Daily Signal, a website that says it wants fair reporting and is part of the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Well, Anthony Bourdain, the CNN food and travel guy, says he doesn't like preaching to the converted, and in a podcast on the Nerdist (ph) website he put MSNBC on the menu.


ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN: You know, MSNBC, it's like every show it's like, look what these stupid Republican morons did today. I'm betting there aren't a lot of Republicans watching that show. I mean, that's sort of -- you're not changing hearts or minds that way. It just seems sort of pointless to me. You know, to shriek at each other like that. Especially on issues like guns.


KURTZ: Well, preaching to the converted isn't a problem unique to MSNBC, but it does seem like almost everyone on that channel bashes the GOP all day long.

Coming up, what if you could ask Google to wipe out all the negative stuff about you online? We'll tell you about a landmark court ruling in our "Digital Download."


KURTZ: Time now for our "Digital Download." Millions of people have had unflattering things about them turn up in Google searches, sometimes so negative it's ruined their reputation.

ASHBURN: Now a European Union court has ruled that people have a right to be forgotten. And online search companies are required to consider requests to remove links that infringe on their privacy. I certainly can understand why people would want that. There are libelous things out there that are written about people and just bad information. And I think that a lot of people want to be able to have the control to get rid of that stuff.

KURTZ: Well, sure. But where do you draw the line? In your case, for example, there's a picture of you that a website that's not a fan of you keeps putting out on Google. Have we got that?

ASHBURN: Oh, come on. I'm glad we don't. Good. Keep going. Oh, there we are. Oh, there we are. Isn't that just lovely? Can we figure out a way to delete that?

KURTZ: Yes. But it seems to me that there's a difference between something inaccurate. You going to whack me with that cast?

ASHBURN: I am, watch it. Do it again and you're in big trouble.

KURTZ: A difference between wanting something that is inaccurate or libelous taken down from search links, or you don't like something that somebody said or wrote about you and you just want that sort of whitewashed from the Internet.

ASHBURN: There are a lot of examples, though, that were cited in this EU court decision, and one of them is a Spaniard who -- actually this was in the New York Times, the Spaniard who was -- it was reported that had he had to sell his house in order to pay for his debts, and he thought that that would influence the way that workers saw him. Another one was seen skipping out on a Dublin cabbie. The picture was posted everywhere, except he was in Japan, and it wasn't him, and the picture was taken down, but all of that information is still there, and he wants it expunged.

KURTZ: But then you also have the French mother trying to remove photos of her scantily clad daughter. And things like that. This just seems to me this is unrealistic. First of all, Google is not the only search engine around; second of all, a lot of these things just live forever on the Internet, they get posted on Facebook, they get posted on Twitter. I don't even know if you can wipe out all this stuff, even if Google, which by the way had 12,000 requests the first day after this ruling.

ASHBURN: How many people do you need to handle that? How many people are you going to have to hire and is it going to hurt startups, which I think it could if people had to constantly comply with all of this? Google did say that the balance that was struck by the EU court was wrong.

KURTZ: Because Google doesn't want to do this.

ASHBURN: Right. Of course not. I would love to know what people think. Seriously, if you have things that are written about you online or pictures that are there, tweet me @laurenashburn and we'll continue the discussion about whether or not this is free speech versus the right of human beings to have some privacy.

KURTZ: Yes. I'm sympathetic because nobody likes the way in which something just sort of lives forever. You Google search and this terrible thing pops up as the third most important thing about you because you said something stupid or someone said something stupid about you.

ASHBURN: That was untrue.

KURTZ: That was untrue or sometimes true. But I'm still not sure.

ASHBURN: What are you saying? I don't go around making that face.

KURTZ: Okay.

We'll get a better picture of you.

Still to come, your best tweets. John Oliver takes on the FCC, and an advanced look at Diane Sawyer's sit-down with aspiring author Hillary Clinton.


KURTZ: There are a few of your top tweets on the coverage of Bowe Bergdahl and whether he's been swiftboated by the press. HB Koplowitz, "The media should be ashamed of the shabby way we're welcoming home a military vet." JA Johnson, "Vets didn't lie when they swiftboated Kerry and are not lying now.: Tocks Nedlog, "He appears to have swiftboated himself," and Gordon Bainbridge says "he's being tried in the press, whatever you call that these days."

ASHBURN: That's a good point, he is, and I'm looking forward to when we can hear from him.

KURTZ: Right. But I don't want to discredit the really good reporting that's been done about what has happened, but there are more pieces of the puzzle.

ASHBURN: I am very glad that the soldiers came out to say what they said.

KURTZ: All right. I figured John Oliver would be pretty funny on his new HBO show, but I didn't know that "Last Week Tonight" would be I hate to say it, educational. Look at what happened when Oliver spent 13 minutes taking on the Federal Communications Commission considering a plan to allow the creation of a fast Internet lane for certain companies, a debate that goes by the rather dull name of net neutrality.


JOHN OLIVER, HBO: The cable companies have figured out the great truth of America. If you want to do something evil, put it inside something boring.

We need you to get out there and for once in your lives, focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction.


KURTZ: And you know what happened? Massive numbers of people listened to John Oliver, so many, in fact, they crashed the FCC website. Maybe serious journalists should take note.

Hillary Clinton's book has been leaked right on schedule, and she starts her TV blitz tomorrow. Here's an excerpt of ABC's Diane Sawyer asking the author about the concussion she suffered in late 2012.


DIANE SAWYER, ABC: The clot in addition.


SAWYER: If the clot had dislodged -- you had trouble with vision? Did you have trouble talking?

CLINTON: No, I had no problems. The only thing I had--

SAWYER: Headaches?

CLINTON: No. I didn't have any of that. I didn't -- I felt fine.

SAWYER: And what would you like to say to Karl Rove about your brain?

CLINTON: That I know he was called Bush's brain in one of the books written about him, and I wish him well.


KURTZ: A little jab at Karl Rove there.

ASHBURN: Of course. But I think Diane Sawyer real did try to push her on her health, and a lot of people have said that Diane Sawyer is the person to come to, I think I've said this, to get sort of maybe some softer questions, but she really did hold her feet to the fire.

KURTZ: She has a style where she sounds very conversational and she is very friendly, but she does not let up, and she asked a whole series of follow-up questions, we'll see the whole interview tomorrow.

ASHBURN: I loved the John Oliver piece. How can 13 minutes on net neutrality be funny? But it was.

KURTZ: Sounds like a snooze.

ASHBURN: I know. He said it's wrapped up in something boring, and then it crashed the website. Really great piece of activism. I wouldn't say journalism, I'd say activism.

KURTZ: Sure. He has a point of view, but I would just say, journalists could learn something from this comedian, because we don't spend 13 minutes on almost any serious subject, and it was an interesting bit of comedic satire there.

That's it for this edition of "Media Buzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. Check out our Facebook page, give us a like. You can ask questions there and we make videos to respond to you. You can also follow us on Twitter and check out our home page. We'd like to continue the conversation that we start here every Sunday, and we will be back here next Sunday morning. Remember, if you don't catch us at 11 Eastern, you can catch us again at 5 in the afternoon Eastern Time back here again with the latest buzz.

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