Media finally tout Trump's win; Hillary win changes narrative

This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," February 21, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the "Buzz Meter" this Sunday, the pundits bowing to reality as Donald Trump wins a major victory in South Carolina and even the media skeptics give him his due.


JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: I was just as sure as a lot of people that Donald Trump would stagger out of that debate and possibly finish in second place.

STEVE HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: He was often regarded, myself included, as a candidate who was going to sort of a novelty candidate not somebody who's going to win. Huge credit to Donald trump.

NICOLLE WALLACE, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The stupid pundits, which I guess I am one, we didn't see this. We didn't understand that he was such strong medicine.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN: This is a decisive triumphant win.

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS: Of course it's Trump at this point. Trump looks like he could run the table.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN: There's still a lot of discussion among Republicans who say I still can't believe he's going to be the nominee.


KURTZ: Trump dominating the coverage again through an extraordinary fight with Pope Francis, a war of words with George W. Bush, and an ugly slugfest with Ted Cruz.


DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Never seen anybody that lied as much as Ted Cruz and he goes around saying he's a Christian, I don't know. You going to have to really study that, but he is a very unstable person. That's just my opinion.

SEN. TED CRUZ, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIATE: I understand if a candidate has a record like Donald Trump's how he could consider anyone pointing to his actual record being defamation. Donald's response to this is to go through the iteration. His response to this, no one will be surprised, is to scream liar because that's his response to everything.


KURTZ: Hillary Clinton beating Bernie Sanders in yesterday's Nevada caucuses changing the media's negative narrative, but is it time for the pundits to acknowledge that the socialist senator is a serious contender?

Conservative analysts and political commentators squaring off on what should happen to Antonin Scalia seat to both sides and the history of hypocrisy, plus, Apple battling federal authorities of whether it can and should unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino killers. Has the coverage been fair?

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

The media dismissed him for many, many months, but Donald Trump winning back-to-back primaries, they are now grudgingly are not acknowledging he is a strong front-runner but on his big night in South Carolina Trump said he'd been watching the coverage even though the commentators were fair overall, there was this:


TRUMP: A number of the pundits said, "Well, if a couple of the other candidates dropped out, if you add their scores together, it's going to equal Trump." But these geniuses, they're geniuses, they don't understand that as people dropout, I'm going to get a lot of those votes also. You don't just add them together...



KURTZ: And we have geniuses joining us now to analyze the campaign coverage Mary Katharine Ham, editor at large of Hot Air and a Fox News contributor; Heidi Przybyla, senior political correspondent at USA Today; and Julie Roginsky, a Fox News contributor and a regular on "Outnumbered." Mary Katharine and I argued for eight long months on this network the media must take Trump seriously. Are the pundits now coming out of denial?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there's a couple of steps here. I don't know if you're familiar with the stages of grief, we've gone from denial to anger to now bargaining. And we're going to be bargaining -- I'm not bargaining, we're going to bargain hard and the media is going to be happy to cover all these scenarios; whereby, these guys can start chomping off a little bit of Trump support but look I think it is true that people can come together and coalesce into an anti Trump candidate. The question is whether any of these guys that remain are going to get out and that will continue to be bargaining story moving forward.

KURTZ: Yes. It's not that the race ended yesterday, but Heidi, given all the air time that Trump gets and we've talked about it many times, how much of some of the mainstream pundits actually helped Trump so far?

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT AT USA TODAY: You know, I think that's an important distinction because you have the pundits and the then you have the mainstream press, they're very different and if you remember from almost the beginning some of the commentators who get the most airtime who reached millions of people were taking Trump seriously from the beginning, guys like Joe Scarborough, The Morning Show; Mark Halperin, guys like that, they said you have to take him seriously. Then you combine that with the live coverage that, sorry, no other candidate got, even though when you look at the raw percentage numbers, Bernie Sanders was getting about the same numbers in terms of the percentage, not getting that kind of coverage.

KURTZ: MSNBC takes many of his rallies live, sometimes the other cable networks dip in and the press conferences tend to be live. But isn't that balanced by the fact that you have people on the right and the left, I mean this network you look at George Will and Charles Krauthammer and Rich Lowry, and Karl Rove, you know, who are basically being -- I'll put it diplomatically highly critical of the billionaire.

PRZYBYLA: And do you see them on MSNBC? So, that -- if you're assuming that the American public channel surfs and looks at all the different networks to try and get their most balanced coverage, then maybe you can make that case, but when you -- most -- we know that people in this country don't get their news that way.

KURTZ: Julie, let's put up the cover of "The New York Daily News" which does not like Trump today's headline, confederacy of dunces, blaming the voters of South Carolina for the result. I mean I think it's becoming kind of a biased rag, and it was the parity of a newspaper but does this indicate that there's still a section of the media that are going to fight him every step of the way?

JULIE ROGINSKY, A FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: There's a huge section of the media, that's a tabloid so you really can't take them seriously, the establishment media but I will say look I said this before we are -- we in the media are or not mean you and me but a lot of people in the media, are the drug dealers that feed this crack addiction regardless of how you feel about Donald Trump, they put him on the cover. They're not putting I don't Ted Cruz on the cover, they're not putting anybody else on the cover. Whether you have people that you just mentioned trashing him or complimenting him, nevertheless, we're all talking about him across every network -- across every...

KURTZ: It sounds vaguely illegal, the crack addiction phrase.


ROGINSKY: Well, it should be but it's not apparently.

HAM: Both carrying him live...


HAM: ...and fighting with him even as a media person gets you viewers, gets you people which is why folks who would like to challenge him should have maybe fought with him earlier, Cruz and Rubio among them.

KURTZ: I say again and again that the negative coverage helps Trump in part because he runs against the press, not a popular institution. I just want to briefly mention you talked about mainstream pundits. So, on MSNBC last night, "Primary Night," Chris Matthews and specially Lawrence O'Donnell were among those saying, "Well, this person drops out and this happens on the sunrises over here, you know, he could still be beaten and Brian Williams anchoring said to Lawrence, you sound like a democrat at the salad bar of rationalization.


KURTZ: I don't know, so we...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My favorite joint.

KURTZ: ...we saw a lot of commentators obviously jumping on this extraordinary news of Donald Trump and Pope Francis exchanging less than pleasantries and saying this would hurt Trump. Let's take another look at how that exchange went.

TRANSLATOR: A person who thinks only about building walls wherever they may be and not of building bridges is not Christian. This is not the gospel.

TRUMP: The Pope said something to the effect that maybe Donald Trump isn't Christian, okay? And he's questioning my faith. I was very surprised to see it, but I am a Christian and I'm proud of it. Okay. For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful.

KURTZ: You know, interestingly, the pundits didn't exactly excommunicate Trump for those sharp words against the pontiff who did start it by questioning his faith.

HAM: The lord giveth the Donald another media cycle right before the target; however, (ph). No, I think, look, there was a lot of coverage of this that was like is this real life? There was a point at which this gets so insane, this war of words between Trump and the Pope. I will caution people that escalating a war of words with the Pope, let's imagine what would happen escalating war of words with leaders elsewhere in the world once...

PRZYBYLA: I have to actually correct something too because the Pope didn't technically start this. A month ago Donald Trump referred to this Pope as a very political Pope, and then if you look also at the way that the question was worded to the Pope, it was kind of a very leading question...

KURTZ: Well, I shave some of that for you and this segment hasn't gotten as much coverage, so the question is -- this is on the Pope's plane coming back from Mexico to the Vatican and Phil Pullella, Reuters Correspondent, covers the Vatican says to the pontiff, "Trump said you're a pawn of the Mexican government. He wants to go over the wall, deport 11 million illegal immigrants separating families. What do you think of these accusations against you and can a North American Catholic vote for a person like this. Is that a fair and balanced question? It's kind of loaded to me.

PRZYBYLA: It's a leading question.


PRZYBYLA: And if you're reporting it in print or broadcast, I think the context here is very important. Whenever you're asking anyone this type of question, but also this Pope apparently has, you know, he's a human being too. He's prone to anger and to responding to things that might sound insightful, and I think in hindsight and I think both the Pope and Donald Trump kind of rolled back a little bit...


KURTZ: I just want to set you up with the sound bite, so Trump did soften on CNN. Let's take a quick look at what he had to say.

TRUMP: And the Pope made the statement, and I think it was probably a little bit nicer statement than was reported by you folks in the media because after I read it, it was a little bit softer.

ROGINSKY: Well, first of all, there's nothing that you can count on as much as the sun rising in the east is that Donald Trump will walk back every incendiary statement he makes. Set assures (ph) he make that, I will say though Donald Trump won bu -- I think it's pronounced Buford but Buford County, the most Catholic County -- the only Catholic majority county in South Carolina, he won it. So I guess picking a fight with the Pope is not necessarily bad if you're trying to appeal to Catholic voters.

KURTZ: Is your point about the walking back that Trump makes to the incendiary charge throws out of the country...

ROGINSKY: Every time.

KURTZ: ...gets an explosion of coverage, and then when he was asked about it in interviews...

ROGINSKY: And he is not.

KURTZ: ...even though he's doing interviews to his credit, he softens.

ROGINSKY: Every time, so that he can then say, I didn't say that, why would they say I said them, and points the part where he softens so the base that appeals to whatever incendiary thing he says responds to it but then he thinks in his general elections terms, he can say, well, I walk it backed I don't know what they're saying.

HAM: It sounds like in general the media covering the Pope I think tends to shove all of his comments into a rubric and want him to on American politics and maybe we could be a little bit more nuanced about the way we address the Pope and ask him questions...

KURTZ: Right.

HAM: ...and then write about it.

PRZYBYLA: I think people are aware that this pope has also been a little more if you want to say political, having been out there. When he came to his visit to the U.S...


PRZYBYLA: ...I'm talking very openly about things, the environment and kind of like telling truth to his followers.

KURTZ: Abortion and divorce...


KURTZ: ...and many conservatives seeing him as left leaning with this fair or not. Okay, so we're talking about the way has Trump sort of controls the media dialogue which he has done throughout his campaign. So, when he gets into it with Ted Cruz, we saw the sound bites earlier and says he's going to sue Senator Cruz or whenever to being like (ph), are we just then devouring that and then Cruz has respond of course, and now you're on Trump's throat?

HAM: Well, yes and also it's a story. I mean...

KURTZ: Right.

HAM:'s a story when these two seeming front-runners fight each other. I don't think that this played out on another level with Rubio sort of grabbing the Trump attacks on Cruz and using them to his advantage as well which showed up an exit polling with people thinking his campaign was unfair.

KURTZ: On that point, Marco Rubio apparently has finished second in South Carolina of the final tally not in. But he made a big deal I mean we made a big deal about this photo shopped picture that showed Rubio shaking hands with President Obama, kind of casting it as a dirty trick and Cruz as a deceitful guy. Did you think it was -- deserved that much coverage?

PRZYBYLA: I don't know about that one particular instance, but the problem was and here is where Donald Trump is right that it was a part of a pattern of things that we're seeing all the way back to Iowa, including the robo calls (ph), including this photo shopping and the Trey Gowdy Facebook page and so it played -- the reason why I got coverage...

KURTZ: Right.

PRZYBYLA: ...because it played into a narrative. And I don't know if you saw it but Ted Cruz himself was aware that, oh men, this is really going off the rail then he pulled Ben Carson into some kind of a storage locker and tried to say, "Hey, man, come on let's be friends again."

KURTZ: I love...


KURTZ: This is the daily buzz (ph) reporting on this closet leading between Cruz and Carson, I love that. But on this photo shop thing I think it was obvious. It wasn't an attempt to deceive us but obviously it wasn't a real photo. Their heads had been put on a different photo.

Finally, Trump this morning been on four Sunday show so far and he tweeted about the "Wall Street Journal" which had that "Wall Street Journal" NBC Poll which had the South Carolina race down to five points, he won by double digits.

"Wall Street Journal" should fire both its poster and its editorial board, seldom has a paper been so wrong but totally biased. Fine to criticize the poll but the editorial board is supposed to be biased. It's an opinion of group of people.

All right, we'll talk more, we'll have you guys back a little later ahead. Is the press engaging in hypocrisy in the battle over whether to fill Antonin Scalia's Supreme Court seat? But when we come back, Jeb Bush bowing out after his brother, George tries to rescue his candidacy. Will that change the way we cover the Republican Party?


KURTZ: The pundits have already been speculating when Jeb would get out of the race even as the man who want to be the third President Bush, vote in his brother, George to help him but Jeb bush finished in single digits in South Carolina and called it quits, most likely ending the Bush dynasty.

Joining us from Nashville is Jon Meacham, Executive Editor of Grantham House, the former Editor of "Newsweek" and author of "Destiny and Power, The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush."

Jon, the media which once anointed Jeb the front-runner a long time ago were already trying to push him out of the race with the kind of a death watch. Does his political demise in this campaign change the way that we cover and define the Republican Party?

JON MEACHAM, EXECUTIVE EDITOR OF GRANTHAM HOUSE: Unquestionably, although Donald Trump has changed that and the press has been obviously part of that process. You know, this is the end of almost a 70-year story, Prescott Bush, Jeb's grandfather first ran for the senate in 1950. Six of the last nine presidential tickets on the Republican side had a bush on it.

And so the shift from Jeb Bush in that kind of Republican, Mitt Romney, George W. Bush those kinds of Republicans to a front-runner like Trump obviously changes the entire conversation.

KURTZ: Barbara bush complained at one point that the pundits or the press were ignoring her son, but although he had some improvement toward the end didn't the media reflect the fact that he just -- was just not a very good candidate?

MEACHAM: I think it was more of a mirror than a maker. You know, this has been -- you've talked about this a lot on your show and elsewhere. It's just been a year where the whole playbook has been rewritten, and you have this extraordinary personality in Trump, but it's beyond the politics of personality.

This is someone who is speaking to deep emotional forces and reservoirs in the country and it's part of the tragedy in some ways of this moment for Jeb Bush that so much of the anger is adding an establishment that his family has personified.

KURTZ: Bush 43, of course, coming in South Carolina with former first lady Laura Bush to try to rescue Jeb's candidacy that proved impossible but he got into it with Donald Trump who, as you recall, just last weekend ended Trump really went after the former president in the debate. Let's take a look at that:


TRUMP: George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes but that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. I want to tell you, they lied.


TRUMP: They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none and they knew there were none.

GEORGE BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I understand that Americans are angry and frustrated, but we do not need someone in the oval office who mirrors and inflames our anger and frustration.


KURTZ: Jon, I saw one pundit after another saying it was insane for a Republican Candidate to go after the last Republican President in debate and yet Trump throw one in South Carolina.

MEACHAM: Now, it proves that Trump -- he is defying political gravity. You know, he decided to take on George W. Bush. He has sort of -- I don't know if he's back pedalled his act down the line, he certainly side pedalled by saying that, you know, he doesn't want to get into it anymore whether he lied...


KURTZ: ...Anderson Cooper of CNN asked him four times are you still saying that Bush lied about knowing in advance that Saddam had no WMDs and he kept deflecting the question.

MEACHAM: Right. So what you have is someone who sort of alludes back checking to some extent. Now whether that lasts going forward is a great question but to take on whether the question of whether President Bush kept us safe after 9/11, to take on the question of Iraq and WMD shows that to some extent part of Trump's appeal here is that it's a bipartisan commentary. It's a super partisan commentary. He's willing to say almost anything about the different parts of the establishment including the last Republican President.

KURTZ: Right. And I think just to put an exclamation point on it I mean seven years ago this was George W. Bush's Republican Party. Whether it's in the process of becoming Donald Trump's party now it's hard to say but certainly would Jeb bowing out, as you know their era (ph) has ended. Jon Meacham, great to see you.

MEACHAM: Thank you, sir.

KURTZ: Thank you very much for joining us. Ahead on "MediaBuzz," will the press create a new story line for Hillary Clinton after her winning last time about the caucuses but up next, how much did Donald Trump's coverage contribute to his victory? Our media microscope straight ahead.


KURTZ: Does media coverage translate into votes? It's a little wonder that Donald Trump scored a big victory in the South Carolina Primary. Trump totally dominated in the top mainstream media outlet as much as in any week we've studied in the past according to the new analytics company.

Look at this, from Monday through Thursday more than 13,000 media mentions with the billionaire, this is his part with George W. Bush and Pope Francis among others, it's almost triple the media mentions for Ted Cruz who had nearly 5,700. Jeb bush with a little help from his family plus speculation about whether he was on his last legs rising here to more than 4,100 not that it didn't him much good, Marco Rubio next more than 3,600 media mentions and then a big drop-off, John Kasich over 1,000 mentions and Ben Carson just over 800.

Not much difference in total of among the most covered candidates, here you see negative in red, positive in green Trump, Cruz, Bush, Rubio all hovering around two-thirds negative in their media portrayals but that jumps to 83% negative for Governor Kasich and 91% negative for Carson, so why are the media so down on them?

And that would be because they are low in the polls and the pundits are pessimistic about the governor or the doctor winning the nomination. In our press picks this media fail, MSNBCs Chris Hayes gave viewers the impression that Bill Clinton had take a hard shot at President Obama, here is the clip he played.:


BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: He's always making sound good. He has changed my career forever now (ph). A lot of people will say, "Oh, Will you don't understand, he's different now. He's rigged; yes, he's rigged because you don't have president who is a change maker."


KURTZ: Except that it turns out that the MSNBC program engaged in some deceptive editing, here's the rest of what the former president said.


CLINTON: "Yeah it's rigged because you don't have a president who is a change maker, who has a congress who will work with him. But the president has done a better job than he has gotten credit for. And don't you forget it."..



KURTZ: A better job, Hayes, as media I've noted offered sort of half apology.


CHRIS HAYES, HOST WEEKEND MORNING SHOW FOR MSNBC: We did not characterize Clinton as trashing the president or slamming him as some others do, we said he went off message which is arguably true but here is the important thing. In cutting off that clip of the editing we didn't allow you the chance to make that judgment for yourselves in the full edit context. We shouldn't have done that.


KURTZ: He should not have done that, but at least he corrected the error. Still ahead on "MediaBuzz," in the wake of the Nevada caucuses, will the media start writing off Bernie Sanders once again. And then the Supreme Court vacancy, do pundits and politicians keep switching sides depending on who controls the White House?


KURTZ: The media kept telling us that Hillary Clinton was in trouble but she pulled out a clear victory over Bernie Sanders in yesterday's Nevada caucuses. That for the moment at least changed the gloom and doom narrative as the pundits acknowledge her win.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you don't like Hillary Clinton, you can't say she doesn't fight.

KURTZ: This is going to be a big win for Hillary Clinton because she held him off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She would have suffered a setback here in Nevada, it would have been really, really ugly for her.

KURTZ: We're back with the panel. Heidi Przybyla, we'll kind of setup this question, my sense of the reporting by the media is that Hillary kind of dodged a bullet that had she lost the Nevada caucuses or have been just another one of these, you know, squeakers, she would have gotten hammered by the press.

PRZYBYLA: Let me commit an act of heresy here and tell you that having covered Hillary Clinton from the beginning of last year really, I feel that the fundamentals of this race have always been the same. We have had some fun with the media narrative with Bernie Sanders over the summer with e- mails, but she's always been ahead by double digits, we've always in the national polls, we've always known that these first two states are overwhelmingly white and that this is where she was going to have her most difficult fight, and so now we're going in to seeing exactly what the fundamentals have always told us were the case, which is she's going to -- she's setting herself up now for a string of victories and it's going to be very hard to stop.

KURTZ: Does that mean, Julie Roginsky that the press has been sort of pumping up the Bernie Sanders threat because we're kind of board with the coronation story line and we wanted a competitive race?

ROGINSKY: No question, that's reason number one. Reason number two is she's done a terrible job of reaching out to the press. You saw Chris Wallace just take a hit of her earlier today for the fact that she won't come on Fox, she won't go anywhere really to have an interview for the most part...

KURTZ: But she does a lot of MSNBC.

ROGINSKY: ...she does that but in addition to MSNBC there are other networks there, there are other reporters and she doesn't really reach out to them and so I understand why she does MSNBC, it's a democratic base...


KURTZ: Aren't you underplaying here the fact that Bernie Sanders, a 74 year-old self-described socialist senator has raised all his money, draws these huge crowds, has generated all his excitement and actually he wasn't...

ROGINSKY: ...I will give him his due. He's run a spectacular campaign. He's done an amazing job of somebody who's come from nowhere to be where he is today having said that she also suffers from the fact that the press has never liked Hillary Clinton, she's never had a good relationship with them, they've always been distrustful of each other and that leads into the narrative as well where somebody who tells it like it is, this is the Trump phenomenal all over again. On the democratic side, is able to tap into that press hunger for a candidate that she can't tap into.

HAM: The story is not just media coverage with either of these guys. Trump and Bernie Sanders are both responding to a real strain of deep dissatisfaction in both parties and so I think she is a winner in this case, she is still a winner with many worries because of the way that the Democratic Primary is setup and you get this super delegate story again and young people angry about how their votes are not counting in the process and the parties taking over, there's oxygen here and there's excitement here in the Bernie Sanders campaign and I think that will continue.

KURTZ: But Sanders not only won at least according to exit polls of Hispanic vote in Nevada which a lot of people are surprised by, but you know, overwhelmingly again as in New Hampshire won among those who want honesty most in their candidate, I just want to pause because an interview has gotten a lot of attention both online and on the air is Hillary Clinton's sit down with CBS Anchor Scott Pelley. Take a look.

SCOTT PELLEY, CBS ANCHOR: Have you always told the truth?

HILLARY CLINTON, 2016 U.S. PRESIDENT CANDIDATE: I've always tried to -- always, always.

PELLEY: Some people are going to call that wiggle room that you just gave yourself...

CLINTON: Oh, no...

PELLEY: ...always, always tries...

CLINTON:, I always try to...

PELLEY: ...I mean, Jimmy Carter said I will never lie to you.

CLINTON: You know, you're asking me to say have I ever -- I don't believe I ever have. I don't believe I ever have. I don't believe I ever will. I'm going to do the best I can to level with the American people.

KURTZ: Wasn't exactly a trick question from Scott Pelley.

HAM: No. Well, nobody wants to say I am perfect, right, but there are good ways to answer that question without painting yourself into a corner. She did not choose any of those good ways, she chose a very bad way to answer the question and it points to the fact that she is a fundamentally flawed candidate and her weakness came up in 2008 to bite her and it's coming up again with Bernie where she's seeing this threat.

KURTZ: Is this question about honesty, and a lot of this has to do with the e-mail scandal that's gotten so much press attention and especially commentators on Fox some of them say she may be indicted, is that the story of why she has not, you know, just easily despised Bernie Sanders or...


KURTZ: Are there other reasons here?

PRZYBYLA: No. I don't buy the e-mail story because I've been looking at the poll numbers...

KURTZ: We did supply about...

PRZYBYLA: I'm not...

KURTZ:'re not saying that you don't, you dismiss...

PRZYBYLA: No, I don't buy this e-mail story is what's hurting her honesty numbers, okay? Because what's happening is that she had very high numbers as Secretary of State, okay? And when we started to see her favorability numbers come down and made the e-mail story, if you look at the internals it was among Republicans and Republican-leaning independence. That's not the Democratic base.

Okay, when she gets into a general election, yes, the e-mail thing hurts her. But what hurts her in terms of honesty with the Democratic Base is the fact that she is not seen like as more progressive candidate like Bernie Sanders, she's seen as the same kind of Democrat as her husband who -- when you hear Bernie Sanders talk about all the things these people are angry about, they're all Bill Clinton's policies like NAFTA, like the crime bill.

So, for Democratic Base voters, the honest and trustworthiness has to do with just not believing that she is who she says she is.

KURTZ: This basically doesn't bother you when somebody covers that campaign that she has not held a press conference or press gaggle in 75 days...

PRZYBYLA: Of course -- of course, we're begging for that.

KURTZ: And, Julie, Hillary Clinton changed her message a little bit in the closing days or before Nevada saying that Bernie Sanders not a real Democrat because he has criticized her husband and President Obama, of course, she's hugging President Obama and of course he wasn't registered, she got rude at this Town Hall but, of course, he wasn't -- he wasn't a registered Democrats, his an independent senator...

ROGINSKY: She's right about that. Look, the smartest thing that she did, I don't know if people saw the ad that she put out with this young Latina girl coming to her hugging her and saying I'm worried my parents...


ROGINSKY: was an emotional moment, it made people relate to her. It was the strongest, strongest part for a campaign to date. That's the kind of thing she needs to do to connect. She needs to stop being celebrity Hillary and start being a human being.

KURTZ: Julie Roginsky, Heidi Przybyla, and Mary Katharine Ham great to see you. We could go on for quite a long time. We've only got an hour. Still ahead, Apple getting a ton of bad press as a federal judge orders the tech company to help the FBI penetrate a mass murder's iPhone but is it more complicated than that? Up first, the pundits choosing sides on a divisive story, does President Obama deserve a vote on Antonin Scalia's successor?


KURTZ: The death of Antonin Scalia has led to a furious clash between pundits and polls on the right and the left of whether the Republican Senate should vote on whoever President Obama picks to replace him.

ANDREA TANTAROS, CO-HOST "OUTNUMBERED" ON FOX NEWS CHANNEL: So, now President Obama doesn't want Republicans to follow the rules that he created. So, it's highly hypocritical...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I think they're going to get hurt on this, the Republicans. Because this is obstructionism pure and simple and it's about as bad as it's gotten. You don't even have a debate, no hearings...

KURTZ: Joining us now, Gayle Trotter, a lawyer and commentator who writes with "Daily Caller" in Town Hall and Ruth Marcus, a columnist for "The Washington Post" who is also a lawyer, counsellors...


KURTZ: ...opening arguments, yes. Are Republicans in saying that they won't vote for any nominee that President Obama signs up, are they doing this out of principle or raw partisanship?

GAYLE TROTTER, LAWYER, AND COMMENTATOR, DAILY CALLER CONTRIBUTOR: This is all about raw absolute power. This fight is to replace Justice Scalia's seat is all about power and not about principle, and anybody who is talking about principle is transparently phony. But I think the most interesting thing about this is that the media is flocking the Democratic talking points. They are not looking out for the Republicans' best interests...

KURTZ: Let me come back to that because I don't want to get hovering onward from Ms. Marcus. You write in your column that the Senate Republicans are engaging in obstructionism, so same question to you, are Democrats in insisting that Obama should get a vote, what do you think somebody, acting out of principal or raw partnership.

RUTH MARCUS, WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Well, I've always wanted to say this, so may it please the court, I think that nobody comes to this argument on the Republican side or the Democratic side with clean hands. I mean let's be serious. Washington is the capital of situational ethics and never so situational as when it comes to Supreme Court nominations in particular in judicial nominations in general. That said, there is a -- I totally agree with Gayle. This is an exercise of raw power and where we disagree is it shouldn't be.

KURTZ: We'll give you a chance to follow that up. But to underscore the point and I applaud you both for your honesty in saying that it depends on when. So on that point, Chuck Schumer on the Democratic side, Mitch McConnell on the Republican side, you know, making what they described as high-toned constitutional arguments for or against filling the seat, let's look at what they had to say in previous years.

CHUCK SCHUMER, NEW YORK SENATOR: We should not confirm any Bush nominee to the Supreme Court except in extraordinary circumstances.

MITCH MCCONNELL, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: The republican conference intends to restore the principle that regardless of party -- regardless of party, any president's judicial nominees after full debate deserve a simple up or down vote.

KURTZ: Those were both during the Bush Administration, so, Gayle, it seems to underscore the point that it all depends on which party controls the White House.

TROTTER: Right. And the difference is this time the liberal mainstream media is taking the Democrats' side. Ruth herself rode a very long piece advising Republicans that it would hurt them if they didn't confirm President Obama's nominee but I don't think Ruth who is a Democrat is really looking out for the best interest of the Republicans and the Republicans are certainly not going to take political strategy tips from Ruth.

MARCUS: Well, we have to agree with the last point. They're certainly not. I'm going to actually correct you because I'm not a Democrat. I'm not registered with any party, so...

KURTZ: But it's fair to describe you as a liberal columnist.

MARCUS: I'm a left or center columnist...

KURTZ: Okay, fair enough.

MARCUS: ...let me say this, I have been part of "The Washington Post" editorial board when we supported the confirmation of Justice Roberts and Justice Alito. I have criticized democrats for abusing -- criticized Democrats for abusing the filibuster when it comes to Miguel Estrada who was defeated for the appeals court, and...


TROTTER: ...who was ever a filibuster.

MARCUS: ...and, sorry criticized them for abusing the filibuster and I've criticized them for getting rid of the filibuster when it comes to lower court nominees. So, I'm the only one in Washington with clean hands here.


MARCUS: And I think the point is this is going to -- going to hurt Republicans and I know they're not going to take my argument because what goes around comes around here. We have to find our way out of these judicial wars and into...

KURTZ: What about...


TROTTER: ...the Republicans...


TROTTER: ...who find themselves on the side on having the mainstream media have the democratic talking points...

KURTZ: Or do you agree that press coverage has tilted toward Obama a year or two ago, of course, you should nominate somebody and that person deserves a vote?

MARCUS: Well, I think that one thing that we're seeing here that is different from the norm isn't an argument about whether somebody should get an up or down vote, whether there should be a filibuster, but whether there should be a hearing at all. And that is the difference that I think has affected the press coverage and has contributed to some of the criticism that you're feeling.

TROTTER: Well, there's a misrepresentation by "The New York Times" editorial board. They talk about the constitution basically requiring a vote and that it's disrespectful to not have a vote. But the constitution, you know, that's your lawyer it doesn't say that. It's a two-key operation that Charles Krauthammer said...


TROTTER: ...meaning the president and the congress to agree and I will tell you that the Republicans have to redeem themselves with Republican voters. They have the majority leadership for a leader...

KURTZ: I mean, let me jump in. Interestingly, in a Fox News poll, 62% of those questions say the president should act now on filling the vacancy, 34% say no. It's also interesting, "New York Times" reported this that since the begin of 2015, Republicans took over the Senate, President Obama has only gotten one vote on 12 appellate court vacancies.

Interesting, that press hasn't made that more of a story. Let me just briefly turn to you, I think one thing we also could agree on is that the life of this great juror would you agree (INAUDIBLE) I think are overshadowed by this partisan fight that started about 20 minutes after we learned he was dead.

Yesterday was the funeral. There's been a lot of criticism for President Obama especially on Fox but elsewhere by not going to yesterday's funeral, is that a fair story to wrap the President for only paying his respects on Friday?

TROTTER: I think so. I mean I do, estate planning as a lawyer, and I think it's very important to show up for people's funerals and this is one of the three co-equal branches of government. Justice Scalia had a very revered place. He was the longest serving justice on the Supreme Court currently. Obama should have been there.

MARCUS: I am a believer in two things, not speaking ill of the dead and there was a lot of really ugly conversation that erupted almost immediately on Twitter that I would just like to disassociate myself...

KURTZ: It's awful.

MARCUS: ...and also you know what, it's always a good idea to err on the side of behaving honorably. And so it was good that the President and Mrs. Obama went to see the family when the justice was lying in state, if they could have gone to the funeral, even better.

KURTZ: On this rare mode of consensus, I am adjourning the argument. Thank you both Ruth Marcus, Gayle Trotter. After the break, Apple under fire for politicians and the media for refusing to crack the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino killers, but does the company have a point? Our "Digital Download" is next.


KURTZ: Apple has been getting hammered in the media for fighting a federal judge's order that it helped the FBI unlock the iPhone of one of the killers in the San Bernardino massacre. Donald Trump now calling for a boycott of Apple until the company complies with the government.

But the issue is a little bit more complicated, joining us now is technology analyst, Shana Glenzer. Shana, do you agree that many of the stories and the headlines are painting Apple as being not just uncooperative but unpatriotic?

SHANA GLENZER, TECHNOLOGY ANALYST: One thing is that a lot of the headlines seem fair but if you listen to the banter on television, to news or you're going on social media, there is quite universal agreement that Apple is not being patriotic in this case by not agreeing to unlock this Apple...

KURTZ: It's more of the media chatter.

GLENZER: It's the chatter...

KURTZ: Right.

GLENZER: I mean necessarily not the headlines.

KURTZ: So, Apple says right now it doesn't have the technology to help the feds unlock or break in to this phone. Explain a little bit about the company's position, because I think sometimes it's mischaracterized.

GLENZER: Absolutely, Apple defences that it doesn't have this security work around this backdoor as they call it. And if they were to create that it could then get used or hacked and be dispersed to every single iPhone user. So, my mom, my dad, my grandma could be at risk because having their information stolen.

KURTZ: We all like privacy, right?

GLENZER: We all very much value privacy.

KURTZ: And so people will say, well, that's about Apple brand, but the feds say it's a little about an Apple's marketing the part of what an Apple selling is that you have a phone that can't be easily hacked into it. At the same time, you don't mind, your initial reaction was what you mean they can't help law enforcement, this is a terrible, horrible...


KURTZ: ...terrorist attack but it's not about protecting the privacy of Farook, it's about whether or not this -- what if hackers get a hold of this new work around code and then it could spread on what other foreign governments want to use it.

GLENZER: Absolutely, it is not about this particular instance that they have agreed that they can build this technology, they can build it...


GLENZER: ...but if they apply it one iPhone could it then be supplied to how many other and what extend that the government could just say, one where I thought that it could still to be used and that's their concern.

KURTZ: You know what's interesting about the press coverage is that a lot of folks have reported that Apple has previously cooperated in about 70 other cases with law enforcement. The "New York Times" had one correction saying in the past Apple extracted data from the iPhone, it did not unlock the iPhone. It sounds like a tactical distinction but it's a different technology. Basically, the phones are more unhackable now because of better technology, right?

GLENZER: Absolutely, and Apple actually created this technology post Snowden, to encrypt all their data, to make it more private and, you know, they're not completely innocent here, they actually used it in advertising against competitors or more private, you know, but in doing so, they've made it harder for the FBI, for others to get access that could be helpful in terrorist or other investigations.

KURTZ: Right, a number of news outlets I think made that mistake in basically comparing, forgive me, apples and oranges. So, as you look at this to somebody who is in the field, bottom line do you think Apple has a good case?

GLENZER: I think that Apple has a good case but I don't think that they should cease from engaging on the, you know, if they're going to say you can't get access to this iPhone...


GLENZER: ...we need to find another way to have this discussion in legislation some other way that we can agree that this is an important data that could help the terrorist investigation and how could we get it into other instances than this.

KURTZ: Right and so whether Apple has a good case or not on the technology and the legal arguments, would you agree in about 20 seconds that it is who Tim Cook and the company are losing the PR war here?

GLENZER: I think that they are fighting a very uphill battle here and I think that there are a lot of people that squarely side in tech companies on Tim Cook's side but in the general population they are losing the battle here...

KURTZ: Right.

GLENZER: ...this week.

KURT: Because Donald Trump says boycott Apple, you know, a lot of people say, yeah. Well, Apple needs to comply. But it's a complicated issue. And you made a good point it's a little more nuances and sometimes a television discussions allow for. Great to see you Shana Glenzer...

GLENZER: It's great to be here.

KURTZ: ...thanks for stopping by this Sunday.


KURTZ: Still to come, we got a price tag on TMZs checkbook journalism and huge embarrassment for Omarosa when the reality TV star mocks another woman's physique.


KURTZ: The New Yorker wasn't able to talk to Harvey Levin for a lengthy and not always flattering profile, so the magazine recounted an interview "I did" with the TMZ founder on this program after the site fought those devastating videos of Ray Rice decking his fiancee.

HARVEY LEVIN, AMERICAN TELEVISION PRODUCER, TMZ FOUNDER: You are in a business, Fox News Channel makes money. It's a profitable operation. TMZ is a profitable operation, ABC and NDC, and CBS. The fact is they're all -- they're not charitable organizations, they make money.


LEVIN: And if somebody comes along and say, hey look I've got this video, I'd like you to pay for it. By paying for it the video is still the video so who cares whether you pay money for it?

KURTZ: Well, some of us still care about checkbook journalism and Harvey makes some good point. The New Yorker says TMZ paid more than $100,000 for the two surveillance videos one of them from the security officer who recorded the camera footage on his cell phone.

Maria Bartiromo was anchoring a segment with Omarosa Manigault whose claim to fame is that she was one zombie apprentice and celebrity apprentice and Fox News Contributor, Tamara Holder when things well kind of went off the rails.

OMAROSA MANIGAULT, AMERICAN REALITY GAME SHOW AND REALITY SHOW PERSONALITY: Let's talk about Iraq and let's talk about Donald Trump's positions when Tamara says... TAMARA HOLDER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Tamara, it's Tamara...


MANIGAULT: ...differentiated, it's the same difference (BEEP). You want to come on with big (BEEP) then you deal with the pronunciation of your name. Look Donald Trump stands firm on what his position is about us going into Iraq...

MARIA BARTIROMO, AMERICAN TELEVISION JOURNALIST: Wait a second -- why are you -- why are you bringing up Tamara's boobs?

MANIGAULT:'s what he says for...

BARTIROMO: I don't understand why you brought up the (BEEP)?

MANIGAULT: ...because she's already going back talking about you were a Democrat and you supported Hillary Clinton. If you want to get personal we can get personal. Let's talk about Donald Trump and let's talk about Iraq...

HOLDER: ...the size of my (BEEP) considering that this is how I was born. I mean, I'm sorry I had no...

MANIGAULT:, I called you a (BEEP), I'm sorry. I should have called you a (BEEP).

HOLDER: I mean...

KURTZ: That was a big blunder. Why go there? I've never quite gotten why, anybody cares but don't worry the things about politics. But now we know how she treats women, she disagrees with.

Well, that's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz in Washington, thanks for watching. Follow me at howardkurtz and we just passed 20,000 likes on our Facebook page.

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