Press sees sexism in Warren's loss

This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," March 8, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: On Buzz Meter this Sunday, the pundits are outright stunned as Joe Biden, whose campaign so many of had bash and buried, rolls up one Super Tuesday victory after another.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The idea that we are sitting here, even contemplating that Joe Biden could be ahead at the end of the night is so remarkable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't overstate the fact that a couple weeks ago a lot of people thought that he was going to have to drop out of the race.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've never heard of anything like it. At the beginning - - (Inaudible) anything like it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This has been most impressive 72 hours I've ever seen in American politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's a guy who 10 days ago was dead, right? Joe Biden was done.


KURTZ: How did the media get the coverage of the former VP so incredibly wrong? As Elizabeth Warren drops out, many in the press cry sexism.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It also feels a little bit, like, in terms of the prospects of having a woman for president in our elections.

ELIZABETH WARREN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, god, please no. That can't be right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was inspiring, and now it feels crushing.


KURTZ: But are the media really saying that Warren's campaign collapsed because she's a woman? Chuck Schumer gets a tongue lashing from Chief Justice John Roberts after warning of consequences for Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh and the coverage largely divides along partisan lines. Plus, MSNBC pushes out Chris Matthews after two decades of the network for executives lost patience with the series of blunders and a history of insensitive comments to women.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me start with my headline tonight. I'm retiring. This is the last Hardball at MSNBC.


KURTZ: Should the network have acted sooner and was the former Democratic aide humiliated on his way out? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is MEDIA BUZZ. When Joe Biden had a huge Super Tuesday, winning 10 states from Massachusetts to Texas, he couldn't resist jabbing at a media establishment that had left him for dead.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So I'm here to report we are very much alive.


KURTZ: Don't forget it was just a couple of weeks ago after Iowa, New Hampshire, most pundits were writing off Biden's campaign, using words like done, toast, on life support, even urging him to quit.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he is on his way out the door.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Looks like Joe Biden's campaign is collapsing or on the verge of collapse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not going to be president. And it's very hard for him, I'm sure.


KURTZ: With Kamala Harris jumping on the endorsement bandwagon this morning, I have to ask, how did media botch this so badly? Joining us now to analyze the coverage, Mollie Hemingway, Senior Editor at the Federalist and a Fox News Contributor, Gillian Turner, Fox News Correspondent here in Washington, and Capri Cafaro, former Democratic state Senator in Ohio.

And Mollie, what explains this massive media miscalculation about Joe Biden? The press basically, and in many cases, literally wrote him off.

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, they did. But they did for a really a good reason. He performed horribly in Iowa. He performed horribly in New Hampshire. He was expected to win South Carolina, even when people thought that he was doing poorly. Part of what happened was really just the establishment getting behind Joe Biden, making sure other candidates got out of the way.

But it worked. And it really was a stunning 72 hours and it really is impressive to see what happened. Part of it was also that the media decided to get behind him right before Super Tuesday. And, you know, did not get behind Bernie Sanders in the same way.

KURTZ: Right. For all of the negative coverage for a year on Biden, but look, Biden did get clobbered at the beginning. But everybody knew that Iowa and New Hampshire, small states predominantly were not going to be good states for him. What is this urge by journalists we saw in some of these clips, to say, you know, you're out, you're toast, you should drop out, when only a fraction of the delegates have been chosen?

GILLIAN TURNER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Biden in particular might have had -- not only as Donna said the most stunning political, you know, resurgence we've seen in a long time. But he's also maybe the oldest comeback kid that we have seen in decades. I mean, it was really a spectacular thing the way the media resuscitated him during the 48 hours preceding Super Tuesday.

Part of the problem with Biden -- I've been talking to reporters who have been with him out on the trail for a long time. They've been saying since he got into this thing that he was toast. That he was going to drop out. That his campaign was really dead, on a shoestring, it wasn't like they killed him and then brought him back 10 days later. He's been -- he was out according to the media.


KURTZ: He was too old, too out of touch, not liberal enough. But on this point, so Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg getting out and endorsing him, and then you had the media kind of filled with warnings from party insiders that if Bernie Sanders has a big Super Tuesday he will be unstoppable. Did the press pound home this message that Biden had to win otherwise Bernie Sanders would get annihilated in the fall?

CAPRI CAFARO, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I certainly think that the press very much on the fact that Texas and California were going to be in the bag for Bernie Sanders, that he was able to build a strong coalition with Latinos, where, you know, Biden had a strong African-American backing. And so basically, I think the way that they set it up, even post South Carolina, was Biden is going to do well in the southeast.

Because he basically can only win with African-Americans, and Bernie is going sweep every place else because the momentum has been on his side, I think that the press got it wrong in one very important way. I think that there's been this assumption that has been really pushed by the media, frankly on both sides, that Democrats are way more progressive than they really are. And I think that this is a huge wakeup call out of Super Tuesday.

KURTZ: Journalists who spend too much time on Twitter, in my view.

CAFARO: Indeed.

KURTZ: Just as the press underestimated Biden in retrospect, in part because he was broke. We place such a high value on money, but turns out he didn't money to win those 10 states. Did journalists also build up Mike Bloomberg as a savior, and then of course, he kind of imploded on Super Tuesday and got out the next morning.

HEMINGWAY: Well, there really was that period of time where the media were so excited by Bloomberg. I think they thought of him as the guy who would rescue them from Bernie Sanders or what not. But it was really that debate performance that he hurt himself with that debate performance, and the media kind of followed to boot. But the money really was a big issue.

I do think the media need to realize after having many examples of people having a lot of money. You know, Hillary Clinton outspent Trump two to one. She still lost. Bloomberg spent half a billion dollars in just a few short days and still wasn't able to buy all these votes that he needed to keep going.

KURTZ: Yeah. The media makes this mistake take every 4 years, money and ground game -- we are so impressed. And then it turns out you have to have a candidate who has a winning message. So also, I think, underestimated it at the beginning by the press was Bernie Sanders who was kind of dismissed as a cult (ph) sideshow.

He was on four Sunday shows today. He's predicting he'll win Michigan in Tuesday. He's got an unshakable. And he is blaming the corporate media, for part -- in part for his problem.

TURNER: Well, I think it's obvious to anyone that follows Democratic politics that the establishment is not behind him and never has been. I mean, that goes back to 2016 and even before. He's not wrong when he talks about bias against him from his own party.

KURTZ: He's not even a Democrat.


TURNER: Well, from the party that's going --


TURNER: Sort of --


TURNER: -- funding his campaign, shall we say. Quick note on Bloomberg is that, you know, the media with him was really interesting because -- the debate, he was the frontrunner and everyone was hyping him until we heard from him. Meaning -- I think Mollie is right and the debate really did him in. Bret made a great point earlier this week, which was like he was the Wizard of Oz, and he came forward from behind the curtain. And then everybody heard from him, and most Americans hadn't heard from him in many years.

KURTZ: In part because he hardly did any television interviews at all, so he might have made some early mistakes off Broadway, so to speak, as opposed in front of 20 million viewers at that debate. I always criticize liberal commentators for saying things like President Trump is mentally ill and President Trump has psychosis and he's narcissistic and all of that.

So I do think it was unfortunate that some commentators on Super Tuesday, Brit Hume, Marc Thiessen, people I respect, said Joe Biden is senile or getting there. He certainly is forgetful and memory lapses and you can question his performance. All right, let me turn to Elizabeth Warren because when she dropped out this week after Super Tuesday after thinking it over.

MSNBC reporter, Ali Vitali, asked her -- kicked off a debate really in part by asking this question.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- that the women and girls who feel like we are left with two white men.

WARREN: I know. One of the hardest parts of this is all those people and all those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years.


KURTZ: Ali Vitali talked about it on television. She talked about it on Twitter. Her question was we are left with two old white men. You're the only one on the set who has run for office. What do you think of the question of sisterhood and the whole debate about Elizabeth Warren, she lost, she would have won but there's so much sexism?

CAFARO: Well, I first ran 16 years ago. And I didn't have a whole a lot of, you know, women -- (Inaudible) on the national stage. So, you know, we've made great strides. I will say this that, you know, Elizabeth Warren may have been the last one to exit. Yes, there's Tulsi Gabbard. But when Kamala Harris, a woman of color exited in December, there wasn't this outcry that somehow sexism pushed her out by the media.

When Amy Klobuchar got out, there wasn't this outcry that, you know, she was, you know, squished because of her gender. It was more about the fact that the establishment was coalescing around Bernie Sanders. Yet, when Elizabeth Warren gets out, all of a sudden it's a conversation about sexism. I think it is because Elizabeth Warren, in her campaign, made gender more of an issue than some of her colleagues who were public servants first and women second.

KURTZ: Right. Well, I mean, it kind of disses the millions of women who decided to vote for Joe Biden in those states. Look, Warren made some big mistakes. She embraced Medicare for all and then she backed off. She was running as a progressive then she said I will be the unity candidate. I don't think being a woman is part and parcel of those missteps.

HEMINGWAY: I don't think so. I mean, like, I would completely agree with the previous comments about the other women. And Amy Klobuchar actually did really well in previous primaries, and we still didn't have that kind of conversation when she decided to step out of the race. Elizabeth Warren really got a lot of coverage from the media, I think, in part because she was such a meaningful candidate for some of these people.

You can hear the emotion. You know, and you have shown clips where people really felt deeply connected to her. There's a particular liberal, middle- age, white woman, who really identified with her. And you're seeing that in the coverage. But I don't think that's actually fair because it's the actually candidacy she had was not that impressive.

KURTZ: She was getting very positive press when was leading the polls last fall before she started to slip. And by the way, Hillary Clinton won the nomination by popular vote last time. Gillian, so let's say -- I mean, look, there is sexism in the media. There's sexism in the culture. So let's say that Warren's gender knocked two percent, three percent, or maybe even five percent.

She still would have lost. She never finished higher than third in any of the states, including her home state in Massachusetts. Amy Klobuchar ran a smart campaign. She never finished higher than third in New Hampshire.

TURNER: Here is my problem with this, is that questions about sexism for women, particularly women in politics, are always a double-edged sword, always a trap. If Warren and any other woman, you know, cite sexism as being real and impacting their trajectory, half of the country's is going to say they are crying victim and they are being a woos.

The other half of the -- you know, if they say, no, sexism didn't play a part in this, then half the country is going to think that they're delusional and crazy.


HEMINGWAY: -- Hillary Clinton really did win the nomination four years ago and ran, you know --


TURNER: That doesn't mean that sexism -- it's like done and dusted.


CAFARO: Including women voted for the candidates that are left. And I think we cannot be lost on that fact. You can't be sexist if -- women are voting for Bernie and Biden.

KURTZ: Right. And making a calculation as who they think would be --


KURTZ: OK. You could --


KURTZ: But I want to get to this sound bite from President Trump who had something to say about Warren dropping out.


DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: The people don't like her. She's a very mean person and people don't like her. People don't want that. They like a person like me that's not mean.


KURTZ: Half a minute. Your thoughts on that and even aggressive male politicians aren't usually described by the press as mean or shrill or unlikable.

CAFARO: Well, I think to the earlier point, like, you know you're damned if you do and damned if you don't as a woman. If you're too strong, you're mean. If you're not strong enough, you're not up for the challenge.

HEMINGWAY: Wait. I think that's not true. Men are frequently called names. And Donald Trump is a great example of it. He insults people and he gets called on it. There was something abrasive about Elizabeth Warren that you didn't have with Amy Klobuchar or Tulsi Gabbard, with other female candidates who are out there. And it's OK, like --


KURTZ: Bernie Sanders yells all the time.

HEMINGWAY: And he gets called on it. I mean, it's OK.


HEMINGWAY: I don't find her mean, but she is clearly abrasive. I mean, there's a -- she's not -- not all women are the same. And there are women who are more abrasive.


KURTZ: So very good debater but it didn't help her. All right, when we come back, a partisan divide in the coverage of Chuck Schumer as the Chief Justice slaps him down for attacking Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. And later, is the media coverage of the Coronavirus overwhelming us and starting to scare us?


KURTZ: Chief Justice John Roberts, in an extremely rare move, scolded Chuck Schumer the other day for what sounded like a threat toward two of the High Court's members, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, on the subject of abortion. And this got zero primetime coverage that night on MSNBC, some coverage on CNN, and more coverage on Fox.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you Kavanaugh, you have released a whirlwind and you will pay the price. You won't know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.


KURTZ: Roberts declared that threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate. They are dangerous. And the uproar led to duelling statements from the leaders on the Senate floor.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the very best, his comments were astonishingly, astonishingly reckless and completely irresponsible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I shouldn't have used the words I did, but in no way was I making a threat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was inappropriate. It did sound like a physical threat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sure if Mitchell McConnell is going to criticize Chuck Schumer for what he said. He will attack Donald Trump for -- well, for the past three and a half attacking acting federal judges.


KURTZ: So Mollie, some anti-Trump commentators responded to the storm over Chuck Schumer and his remarks by saying yeah. You know, President Trump attacks judges all the time, so no big deal.

HEMINGWAY: There have been examples of this president, the previous president, criticizing members of the Supreme Court or criticizing rulings of the Supreme Court. That's something that's OK to do. I actually looked for an example of any time in history where a threat of this nature had been made. I couldn't find any other examples.

So Senator Schumer really did something that is -- you know, you saw even liberals were saying this is completely beyond the pail. It's worth remembering these Justices in our political environment face threats to their safety. And when you have a sitting member -- you know, sitting senator doing this, it's not good. We have had had instances in the recent past of, you know, Republicans playing softball, getting shot up by political partisans.

We need to make sure that whatever criticism we do, which is totally fine, we don't incite violence.

KURTZ: Right. And obviously you wrote a book on the Kavanaugh nomination, so it's a subject you know a lot about. The president of the United States was asked about this. Here is what he had to say.


TRUMP: That was a real intimidation. And the best you can say is they are trying to intimidate so that the judges vote -- so the Justices vote their way. That's no good either. But that was a physical -- that was really s-- if a Republican did what Schumer did, they'd be in jail right now.


KURTZ: Chuck Schumer says he never intended a physical threat, but it sure sounded bad. I don't know about the being in jail if it was a Republican.

TURNER: I mean, I don't know about that either. But what was missing here in terms of media coverage was every single Capitol Hill reporter trolling the hallways up there demanding answers from all the Democratic senators, saying do you or do you not support your leader's comments on this putting their feet to the fire, putting them on the record when it comes to media coverage that was the big kahoona piece that was missing.

KURTZ: Are you suggesting that that's a much more common journalistic response when a Republican says something very controversial, everyone (Inaudible) for it?



TURNER: I am suggesting that.


TURNER: And to clarify all reporters on Capitol Hill did do that, though.

KURTZ: All right. I'm glad you mentioned that. Capri, Donald Trump has attacked the judge in the Roger Stone case as unfair. During the campaign, he criticized a Mexican-American judge's bias. And he said after descent from Sonia Sotomayor or that she and with Bader Ginsburg should recuse themselves from many Trump-related cases. Not acquitting that -- what Schumer said, but it has gotten a lot of media coverage.

CAFARO: Right. I mean, there are two different types of comments certainly, because one I think is a little bit more, you know, charged with a potential threat than others. But I think that the issue here is if you're going to criticize those politicians that are criticizing judges. You need to be consistent in that coverage and point those things out.

Words do matter on both sides no matter who is saying them. I think one thing that hasn't been really talked about that much, although I think it has been talked about this network, is the fact that this action by Chuck Schumer was almost forced. He's too much of a pro to do this. And he was playing a little bit to the base very much like Speaker Pelosi.

HEMINGWAY: Well, Schumer did a lot during Kavanaugh confirmation hearings so he was orchestrating a lot of that. But you can have better journalistic coverage of the Supreme Court justices themselves. There really have been instances of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor saying things that if justices on the other, you know, side of the court had said we would have seen much more scrutiny, comments that you might think would lead to recusal that we haven't seen much coverage of.

KURTZ: The president's response when he's asked about his own attacks on judges, particularly the two liberal justices. I have to state the facts. I'm not threatening anybody physically. Mollie Hemingway, Capri Cafaro, great to see you, Gillian, we will check with you later. Ahead, how Frank Luntz talking about how the media botched the coverage of the Democratic campaign. .

But up next, why the president's campaign is suing two more media outlets, Bill Clinton blatantly apologizes to Monica Lewinsky, sort of, and Brian Williams in need of some remedial math. Stay with us.


KURTZ: The Trump camp has sued the Washington Post and CNN over opinion pieces on Russia, calling them false and defamatory just days after filing a similar suit over a New York Times op-ed. The CNN piece is an online opinion column last year by contributor and former FEC official, Larry Noble, who says Bob Mueller was wrong and should abort charges against Trump campaign officials.

The suit objects to the claim that the campaign assessed the potential risks and benefits of again seeking Russia's help in 2020 and has decided to leave that option on the table. The Post columns are both by liberal writers. Greg Sargent claim that the 2016 campaign tried to conspire with Russia in a sweeping and systematic attack during the 2016 election.

Paul Waldman's piece said who knows what sort of aid Russia and North Korea will give to the Trump campaign now that he has invited them to offer their assistance. (Inaudible) experts are saying it's extremely difficult to win libel suits targeting opinion. A Post spokeswoman says it's disappointing to see the president's campaign committee resorting to these types of tactics, and we will vigorously defend the case.

Bill Clinton offers his first real apology to Monica Lewinsky, well, sort of. In a Hulu documentary called Hillary that's out this weekend, the former president says he had sex with White House intern to manage his anxieties and take his minds off the pressures of the job and then adds this.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I have no defenses. It's inexcusable, what I did. I feel terrible about the fact that Monica Lewinsky's life was defined by it, unfairly I think. You know, over the years, I've watched her trying to get her a normal life back again. But you got to decide how to define normal.


KURTZ: OK. He should've left that last part out, kind of like depends on what the definition is, because it suggests that somehow it's Lewinsky's fault that her life was ruined, not Bill Clinton's, though she's busy these days as a Vanity Fair contributor and anti-bullying activist. But at least Clinton has attempted a more candid apology for his sorted abuse of power.

Now, television anchors don't really have to know algebra or trigonometry, but a working knowledge of math is kind of helpful. When Mike Bloomberg dropped out of the race, MSNBC's Brian Williams and New York Times editorial board member, Mara Gay, thought they would have a little fun with numbers.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Somebody tweeted recently that actually with the money he spent he could have given every American a million dollars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got it. Let's put it up on the screen. When I read it tonight on social media, it kind of all became clear. Bloomberg spent $500 million on ads, U.S. population 327 million.


KURTZ: OK. Bloomberg giving each American a million bucks is off by about a gazillion dollars. He would actually be able so send each person about a dollar and a half, enough to buy a Big Gulp soda. MSNBC had this all prepared in a graphic and nobody questioned it. We'll have to give that an F. Ahead, why did MSNBC have Chris Matthews announce his own resignation and then leave the Hardball set after two minutes.

But first, President Trump is asked in a Fox News town hall if he could tone down the insult politics. We will look at his answer with Frank Luntz in a moment.


KURTZ: At a Fox News town hall with Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, a sympathetic Pennsylvania voter asked President Trump whether he could deliver his message without resorting to what the voter called insult politics.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And I think the way we unite is really through success. But when they hit us we have to hit back. I feel that. I mean, there's two ways of doing it. Turning a cheek but I wouldn't be sitting up here if I turned my cheek.


KURTZ: Joining us now from Los Angeles is Frank Luntz, the veteran pollster who has worked with many Republican candidates. And Frank, you often deal with anger in your focus groups, you often talk about the need for civility.

The president obviously gets bashed and batted all the time. But what did you think of Trump's answer when asked why he engages in insulting opponent?

FRANK LUNTZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST AND POLLSTER: He's right politically but he is not right in terms of the voters. One of the greatest challenges we have right now is that the candidates try very hard to come up with some powerful sound bite who can challenge each other more, who can create the most memorable line, who can make audience laugh at the opposition.

They're all doing it. On Fox News last Tuesday, Neil Cavuto ran a 90-second video of all the candidates doing it. And it's a tragedy because I'll tell you, it's having an impact on the voters. This is how they treat each other in focus groups. It's how they treat each other in the general public. That's why we can't talk politics anymore and it is a problem.

Trump is correct, it is one of the reasons why he got elected, but it is having a negative impact on the electorate and it's a tragedy.

KURTZ: Well, let's turn to the Democrats, Joe Biden dissed and denigrated by the press all year, some were performing last rights for him after those early losses, rolls back on Super Tuesday. What do you think of the way media covered him, and in particular, the way in which they wrote this premature obituaries?

LUNTZ: Well the first problem is the polling that the press did not pick up because it started with South Carolina, it continued for the next 96 hours. Michael Bloomberg was collapsing because he performed so badly in the debate that his advertising was not having an impact that he had and the polling didn't pick it up.

Similarly, Elizabeth Warren has been collapsing for the last month. But if you don't poll right up till the end, the press is reporting old numbers, the numbers are not correct and they did not pick up the shifts that we were trying in our --


KURTZ: So, is the problem with the polls themselves, the fact that the polling didn't continue up until the night before the election or with things just moving too quickly because it was only from Saturday in South Carolina to Tuesday that Biden is winning the 10 states is it hard for polls to keep up?

LUNTZ: Well, they weren't doing any polling on Sunday and Monday or Tuesday. And the voters were changing their mind in the last 96 hours but nobody is showing it. One of the promises that they're talking only to the pundits and not to the voters themselves.

Fox is about to do a town hall but the fact is most of these town halls are staged, are scripted, yes, voters get a chance to ask a question but we don't hear the give and take going back and forth.

And I want to emphasize also the problem with the debates. How do you answer a question on China, on Russia, on this pandemic in 75 seconds? It's impossible. The first three seconds of the Democrats are spent on bashing Trump and that leaves them 45 seconds to talk about their own positions.

It is foolish and it's cheap, it encourages sound bites and once again it's contributing to this horrible culture and one of the reasons why voters are yelling at each other.

KURTZ: Well, I also happen to believe that Bernie Sanders was underestimated by the press who I think well, he was never going to win the nomination. Something he was a real threat to him in nomination and the press became more sympathetic to Biden.

You at one point predicted that Sanders would be the likely nominee. Do you think the media has treated him fairly?

LUNTZ: I think the media has been tough on him. But let me take that back. I think the media has been tough in labeling him but they've not been tough on his policies particularly Medicare for all. That was his legislation that Elizabeth Warren tried to defend and defended it unsuccessfully and he's not been pushed on his numbers.

But in the end, one of the challenges for Sanders is that he's in the mainstream of the Democratic Party but not in the mainstream of America overall. And Joe Biden is much closer to the center of America than Bernie Sanders is.

Remember, the Democrats are voting for their candidates and we forget and I'm going to get yelled at and e-mails to Fox News. The Democratic Party is to the left of America overall. Bernie Sanders is not that far from the center of the Democratic Party but he's very far from the center of America.

KURTZ: Well, let's add to your e-mails by asking this question, do you think that many journalists who spend a lot of time on Twitter, who want somebody new and exciting, and maybe more progressive underestimate the extent to which there were ranking file Democrats who were at least willing to vote for the more moderate in Democratic terms candidates, meaning Joe Biden?

LUNTZ: Well, I think -- I do agree with you that they underestimated him and the fact -- go back to 1972, that's 24 nominating conventions. No candidate has won the first three individual contests and not been gone on to win the nomination.

So, Bernie Sanders doesn't win. And now Joe Biden is clearly the front runner. This is historic. What happened to Joe Biden in the last 96 hours has never happened before and it's partially because the media and how it covered the South Carolina victory, and frankly, it's because Joe Biden has been a better candidate over the last seven days.

KURTZ: Yes. We ought to give him a little bit of credit not take all of the credit or blame for the media. Last question --

LUNTZ: Exactly.

KURTZ: -- you mentioned Elizabeth Warren declining over time in the polls, and perhaps, the polls that even the press was slow to pick that up. But now, there is this whole debate that she lost because of sexism that we talked earlier on the program. Do you think that was a factor?

LUNTZ: Absolutely not. Remember, about 55 to 57 percent of the Democratic primary and caucus electorate are women, so women aren't voting for her by definition. How can it be sexist? She should have won the vast majority f women, she did not. And the idea of blaming sexism when this is just of Democrats is absurd.

KURTZ: All right. Frank Luntz, always good to see you. I appreciate you coming this Sunday.

LUNTZ: Thank you.

KURTZ: Coming up, MSNBC forces out Chris Matthews after two decades at the network. Why the executives got fed up with the Hardball host.

And later, the president charging that fake news is distorting his comments about the coronavirus.


KURTZ: It was a stunning television moment. Long-time liberal host Chris Matthews announce his retirement at the top of Hardball when he was actually forced out by MSNBC executives and included an apology for past insensitive remarks to women. He was then left to set, leaving backup host Steve Kornacki visibly stunned.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, MSNBC: After conversation with MSNBC, I decided tonight will be my last Hardball. Complements on a woman's appearance that some men including me might have once incorrectly thought were OK, were never OK. Now Dennis, certainly not today, and for making such comments in the past, I'm sorry.

STEVE KORNACKI, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, MSNBC: That was a lot to take in just now, I'm sure and I'm sure you're still absorbing that and I am too.


KURTZ: Joining us now from New York, Kat Timpf, a National Review and co- host of the great Greg Gutfeld show. And my sources say executives just simply lost patience with Chris Matthews after a series of blunders such as, mixing up two African-American politicians having to apologize to Bernie Sanders, who was Jewish, for using a Nazi analogy to describe his campaign the new retirement at age 74 was not really his choice. What's your take on the decision?

KAT TIMPF, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I completely agree with that. People are saying that he was fired because of the GQ article that came out about his comments. But I don't think he was fired because of that. I think he was fired because MSNBC wanted to fire him for many reasons and they saw this as an opportunity to do that and say, hey, we'll make it a Me Too thing.

But honestly, it's not a Me Too thing and I think we need to have more nuance when we talk about these issues. The comments were creepy, they were gross. But Me Too was always supposed to be about more than just about creepy comments. It was about power dynamics, first and foremost. Women who were afraid to go to work, women who were afraid they'll lose their jobs if they spoke up because this -- the man had a position or power over them.

She was a guest on the show and most women I know have been through things that are more serious than that. I've been through things that are more serious than that and I think it's almost little offensive to not split those hairs and make that -- that nuance detail clear.

KURTZ: Well let me -- let me provide more detail. This is GQ columnist Laura Basset who wrote that when she was a guest a couple of times three years ago, Matthews would say things like he was stunned -- and I don't need the tweet right now, we'll get to that in a second.

Matthews would say things like keep putting makeup on her, I'll fall in love with her. And he has a history of saying to women on the air, off the air, you're gorgeous, you're beautiful. He's gotten in trouble for that before. But no one has ever accused him of laying a finger on any of the women or trying to date them. It's all been, you know, running his mouth. So, you're saying, I mean, did the Me Too movement catch up with him for past offenses?

TIMPF: See, I think those comments gross, you know, Chris, yuck, no woman wants to hear that from you, gross. But at the same time, I don't think that gross automatically agrees OK, you're not employable.

As a woman myself, I know I can handle creepy comments without someone's career needing to be destroyed over it. I think that there should be some nuance. There should be, you should be able to say this is gross but that's not something that's worth being fired over.

Because Me Too, again, is more about power dynamics, the work place, women who are afraid to go to work because they are dealing with things where there's a man who has a position and power over them --

KURTZ: Right. Right.

TIMPF: -- who is being abusive.


TIMPF: And this is not that.

KURTZ: Well, let me -- let's put up the tweet now from Laura Bassett. After, in 15 minutes later after he announced that he was leaving, the harassment has been invasive, cruel and personal towards her she says. And it's all worth it if he will never have the platform to demean and objectify us again. So, she was trying to get him fired.

What did you make, Kat, of the way that MSNBC executives didn't let him finish the show, he comes on for two minutes and he leaves the set or at least let him finish the week rather than creating this awkward spectacle and kind of embarrassing where he resigns, apologizes and then leaves?

TIMPF: I thought that it was wrong, but again, I think that they had been wanting to do this because of some of the comments you brought up earlier such as the whole debacle with Bernie Sanders, mixing up the senators, all those sorts of things and they just wanted a reason to fire him and be able to say, we did this because, you know, we are good people and not just we don't want this guy in the air anymore, he's not woken up which is really what the reasoning was.

KURTZ: But you know, I've known Chris Matthews since he was a speechwriter for Jimmy Carter. And he has a great passion for politics. He's also a member of the blurred it out school of broadcasting which is he says a lot of things that come into his head without any filter. You never knew what he was going to say. So that was exciting. But it also got him in trouble.

I interviewed him 12 years ago when he was under fire for dissing Hillary Clinton, saying she owed her career to Bill's philandering. And he told me while I aim for the chalk line as in tennis and I like when people have that little gasp and say I can't believe he said that. The problem is there turned out to be a lot of I can't believe he said that in his career and more recently. Final thought, Kat.

TIMPF: Again, I think he's -- the things he said were gross, not OK to talk to woman that way, but there needs to be some nuance in the way we discuss these issues. Creepy doesn't always equal cancelled than most women are strong enough to handle comments like that, and by fact, and it's not the same as Me Too with the power dynamics that are at play in those situations.

KURTZ: Great to have your perspective. Kat Timpf, thanks very much.

TIMPF: Thank you.

KURTZ: In other news, Hachette Book Group was all set to publish Woody Allen's autobiography in which he undoubtedly defends himself against charges that he abused his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow back in the 90s before suddenly cancelling it.

The plug was pill -- pulled, excuse me, after Dylan called the move deeply upsetting. And her brother Ronan Farrow, the journalist, cut ties accusing the publisher of hiding the project from him, and then the staff staged a walkout.

Now, Hachette has issued the corporate speak about him a difficult decision and it wouldn't be feasible. Now I'm not defending the movie director, I don't know what happened three decades ago except that he was never charged.

But if Hachette thought the book was a good idea before, isn't simply caving into pressure now in this era. Woody Allen who also recently lost the movie deal with Amazon is radioactive.

Still to come, the coronavirus coverage has become a constant presence in our lives with each new case drawing heaving media attention. So, are we starting to scare people?


KURTZ: For me, our absolutely a wash in coverage of the coronavirus and that includes non-stop criticism of President Trump's handling of the outbreak.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: We have report today the global death rate at 3.4 percent.

TRUMP: Well, I think the 3.4 percent is really a false number. Now, this is just my hunch. Personally, I would say the number is way under 1 percent.

CHRIS HAYES, HOST, MSNBC: We need truth, we need the facts, we need testing and Donald Trump should take the next month off in golf while someone else handles it.

CHRIS CUOMO, HOST, CNN: The president said he had it under control. He doesn't. And apparently, there is no cure for this president's viral lack of veracity.


KURTZ: And we're back with Gillian Turner who has been covering this story. So, you see some of that criticism, more criticism after the president was at the Centers of Disease Control on Friday when he called Washington's Democratic Governor Jay Inslee a snake, and he talked about that cruise ship off the coast of California where some people have been infected. He doesn't want them to come on shore, that's his preference.

Quote, "I like the numbers being where they are, I don't need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn't our fault." What do you make of all this criticism of the president?

GILLIAN TURNER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, to expect President Trump to not inject politics in his personal opinion and views on anything at this point I think would be silly. And it means that journalists are being unprepared if you think he's not going to tell you what he's really thinking and feeling even if it goes against some of, you know, the public health officials best advice.

KURTZ: Right.

TURNER: No surprise.

KURTZ: All the papers have stories today. Politico has a headline, Trump's management -- mismanagement, excuse me, help fueling coronavirus crisis. And then let's put up a tweet. One of the many in which he's questioned the coverage of the president.

Saying, I never said that people feeling sick should go to work. This is just more fake news and disinformation put out by the Democrats, in particular MSNBC, Comcast, the parent company, covers the coronavirus situation horribly.

So, he's unhappy with the coverage and then the coverage is unhappy with him.

TURNER: Well, the problem is that some of the coverage is already saying that President Trump and his administration have failed the American people. They have failed to contain this virus. They have made what is a public health crisis worse.

It's a little early for that kind of criticism at this point. I mean, he's right to push back when he says, you know, people are basically already -- people in the media are accusing me of being responsible for people dying and that's just not the case yet.

KURTZ: Right. And he should get some credit decision on the borders and people from China when that was the epicenter, at the same time it seems like a lot of the commentators where they were all ready to go. As soon as this hit it's was going to be his fault and any time there was any daylight between him and federal health officials, they were going to pounce on it.

TURNER: Well, where the media has been justified in criticizing the administration is on the lack of testing kits that have been made available statewide, community wide in the United States. Is that President Trump's direct personal fault?

KURTZ: Right.

TURNER: I don't think so. I don't know.


KURTZ: It's a federal health bureaucracy that --

TURNER: Right. It's not --

KURTZ: -- not shockingly has been moving slowly.

TURNER: Exactly, but that is, I think if the media can burr (Ph) public officials to get to make whatever decisions they need to make to get those tests out there now, then that is public service, a public good.

KURTZ: Let's put politics to aside. I mean, every morning I look at the New York Times whole pages, first five or six stories are about coronavirus even if there's no major news. Every incremental development is constantly covered on cable along with the near daily thousand-point drops in the Dow.

A bump to a lot of people who say they are word. Of course, it's a huge concerning international story but is the sheer volume of coverage contributing to public fear?

TURNER: It might be but I also don't know that that's wrong or that that's not a good thing in the sense that the news today if we are honest is largely a reflection of what the various networks feel their viewers want to hear about, what they care about, what they are prioritizing. That's why we cover politics so much. Because we know the American people by and large care deeply about this and want to follow all the developments.

It's the same thing with a public health crisis like this one. People want to know. And so, the media feel, you know, compelled to provide them constant updates.

KURTZ: Right. Look, it is very important, to some extent they're giving the public what they want. I', sure all those stories are clicked on that's why they are at the top on a lot of home pages. But when you have -- I worry about the tone and the perspective. I don't think anybody has been alarmist, maybe, you know, certain commentators.

But when you have a handful of cases being discovered in New York --


KURTZ: -- that doesn't mean they're will be an epidemic in New York City or that those people will face fatal consequences. People get this and they --


TURNER: But it also doesn't mean that it won't. Meaning if you listen to the epidemiologists now and they talk about the rate of spread and the exponential increase the way these kinds of things work --

KURTZ: Right.

TURNER: -- they've been very alarmed. Again, I'm not a public health -- an infectious disease expert --

KURTZ: Sure.

TURNER: -- and I can't tell you the details. But we do know that World Health Organizations first became very concerned in December when they heard about this cluster in Wuhan, China when it was perfectly contained, when there were not very many cases. Something about the way this virus was replicating and spreading really, really terrified them.

And so, there is reason here for people to take these precautions and do all of these things.

KURTZ: You are exactly right. But I also think that every time a new case is discovered in a new state or new city, I mean, of course, it's big local news. I don't know that that automatically should be a big national news. But the politicians react, they all do news conferences. We cover them. It is difficult, as I said, to destruct and balance.

Gillian Turner, thanks very much for doing double duty today.

TURNER: Thank you.

KURTZ: And that is it for this edition of MEDIA BUZZ. I'm Howard Kurtz. We hope you'll like our Facebook page. You can read my daily comments there. And let's continue the conversation on Twitter at Howard Kurtz. Check out my podcast, MEDIA BUZZ Meter. We always talk about the coronavirus. You can subscribe at Apple iTunes, Google Play or

This is a week where we couldn't even get it in President Trump replacing his chief of staff Mick Mulvaney with Congressman Mark Meadows. It's been a very (Inaudible) news week. We will see you next Sunday morning with the latest BUZZ.

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