tv Media Buzz FOX News May 26, 2014 1:00am-2:01am PDT
[ applause ] that's it for tonight. this is mike huckabee. from new york, good night and god bless. and stay tunedririririririririrl day, everybody. a heartfelt thank you to our troops for their service. "mediabuzz" with howie kurtz begins right now. on the buzz-meter this sunday the mainstream media ripping the obama administration for its bungling of the g gut-wrenching scandal at va hospitals. and outraged that the white house says the president learned about it from the press. >> it is lunacy to have shinseki, who is overseeing the va debacle, investigate anything. lunacy. >> and i think the president needs to step up. i think heads do need to roll at the va. >> the question is what on earth has taken everyone so long to address them? >> but were the media too slow to jump on these disclosures about secret waiting lists and patient deaths? and why has the story now gotten such traction when other scandals have faded?
diane sawyer and robin roberts snagged the first interviews with hillary for her new book. but as the media machine cranks up could this kind of sort of candidate become overexposed? the new york tabloids calling the city's first lady a bad mom because she spoke candidly about the frustrations of child rearing. did mayor bill de blasio's wife deserve to be savaged? and the story we broke about the video sting against mariel ham hemingway and ed begley jr. involving a fake middle east oil sxhan a documentary. was this dastardly deception or did it capture the hollywood stars in hypocrisy? >> they say they set themselves up as a person -- as an entity that finds out dishonesty. you know, they're trying to find who's being dishonest or hypocritical. yet they do this and they have a secret guy with a fake guy? that's not dishonest?
>> an exclusive interview with one of the targets, mariel hemingway. i'm howard kurtz, and this is "mediabuzz." the story began in april with a local news report about problems at the va hospital in phoenix. it went national two weeks later with this investigative report about the phoenix facility on cnn. >> a doctor who's left the hospital says that managers were actually keeping two waiting lists -- a sham list that made the hospital look like a model of efficiency and a secret list that showed the deadly reality. >> it took more than two weeks before the network evening newscasts latched on to this story. >> now we turn to the growing national outrage about what has happened to american veterans inside va hospitals. >> critics say backlogs are spread across the country and the va has been covering up the
problem. >> not until the last few days has the media's coverage reached white hot intensity with some pundits and politicians calling for veterans secretary eric shinseki to resign. >> the white house knew. now, the "washington times" is reporting that the obama administration was notified about scheduling problems and delayed care at multiple veterans affairs hospitals more than five years ago. >> if these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and i will not tolerate it, period. >> but some are still saying the va mess is kind of an old story. >> it feels to me like it's the media coming upon a problem in progress and calling it a scandal rather than something brand new being uncovered. >> joining us now on this memorial day weekend, lauren ashburn, fox news contributor who hosts social buzz on the fox website. david frum, senior editor at the atlantic and former speechwriter for president bush. and craig crawford, publisher of the trail mix blog and a former
columnist for congressional quarterly. why is it that it took so long for this story to explode? >> i think one of the problems is that we don't pay attention to beat reporters all across the country. there is a real value in these reporters, especially as local newsrooms are cutting and slashing budgets. there were stories out of pennsylvania and georgia and south carolina that were very heart-wrenching, yet no one wove together all of those stories until cnn came along with its one-year investigation. >> but which newspaper initially broke this story about the phoenix facility? >> "the arizona republic" out of phoenix. and it was a gannett-owned newspaper. and my hat really goes off to the reporter who took on this story. but there was also a whistleblower who came in and said hey, you really have to examine what's going on here. and he did that after he retired. >> i want to take a moment to recognize drew griffin, investigative reporter at cnn, because he is not one of the famous anchors or commentators
or loud mouths, but who's been on this va story for a long time but even then fox did jump on it the next day, it was on every primetime show, but weeks have gone by, david, and only this weekend did "the new york times" and "washington post" put this story on the front page. why? >> this is a scandal that's been hidden from sight by another scandal. the va story has been so disappointing for so long that there's this whole extra dimension that in fact it's not just a matter of bureaucratic bungling but actually conscious malfeasan malfeasance. that was a hard thing to penetrate. people are used to bad news about the va. now here's worse news. >> and craig, it seems that television can only focus on two or three stories at a time. and maybe now some other things have faded and there's room to focus more heavily, as we should have all along, on what's happening in these va facilities. >> well, frankly, a lot of this story's been user driven. i think the public seeing this has risen up in such a way. we've all been getting e-mails, lawmakers, and stories, anecdote after anecdote. so finally the media just
couldn't ignore it. i think when it comes to obama sometimes the media has kind of a wait till the roof caves in approach. maybe it will go away. but then all of the sudden the roof caves in and they can't ignore it. >> yet there is something different i would say about this story. let's take a look at a couple of interviews on national and local television that i think will explain why this one resonates. >> i'm saying working at this hospital to make my dad suffer the way they did for a whole year. my dad was a really strong man, a very brave man. >> and i grabbed his hand. i said, pop, no matter what, i'm not going to let this ride. i'm going to fight till the very end with you. as he was dying, he says, don't stop. let the whole world know they let me suffer. >> i don't know about you guys, but how can you listen to this and not just feel this horrible pain for them? these stories are heart-wrenching. so i think it's really the human dimension here that adds to
this. everybody has a va hospital. right? most people know someone who's a veteran who has had to go through this system. >> i was really moved watching those interviews and other interviews by the pain that people suffered because somebody couldn't get in their dad, their -- another family couldn't get into the hospital. and yet look at the irs scandal. most people don't have 501c3s they have to worry about being audited or not getting preferential tax treatment, but everybody can relate to the va. >> well, look. with the irs, a lot of our discussion turns into a soap opera in which the president is the central star. so if the story does not seem to be about the personality of the president, whoever the president is, it's less interesting to watch in a new york-based media. meanwhile, the things that actually matter, the lives of millions and millions of people, tend to get short shrift. and there's a lot of other stories we could tell. extended unemployment insurance still lapsed all these months after it let lapse. we give that very little attention. we have a media that pays attention to the problems of
very affluent people. if a plane goes down, we're interested because we and people who consume our product are plane riders. if a va hospital is delivering bad care, our viewers and we tend not to be consumers of that kind of product. >> we've got to remember what the va is facing. we've got 3 million new veterans from 12 years of wars in two places that costs $2 trillion. we don't think about these consequences when we go into these wars. and here it is. and the resources have been drying up. the senate republicans last february, you know, blocked a bill to build two dozen new va medical centers. where's the accountability for them? >> okay. well, we're starting to ask questions, as we in the media should, about why did this go on so long. there are gao reports going back 10, 15 years talking about this. but i think david raises an interesting point, craig, which is this one doesn't feel so far as politicized. you have liberal columnists like "washington post's" dana minimumbank times' joe klein denouncing obama's apparently
slow reaction to this. and it's not being treated as some others are as a so-called phony scandal by people on the left. >> we are seeing liberals now not so quietly acknowledging that while his rhetoric still inspires them this presidency has turned out to be a case of serial incompetency. i mean, going back to the stimulus bill and the shovel-ready projects that weren't ready for ten months. and you mentioned the irs. benghazi. it goes on and on. there is a management problem with this president. he was a great campaigner. and that's one probable way we pick presidents. we don't elect them to govern. we elect them for their rhetoric. >> way the beltway press treats this, now we have this media drumbeat. eric shinseki, should he go, should he stay, will he resign. is there anything that bothers you about that? i mean, of course it's a legitimate question to ask, but. >> of course everybody wants somebody's head to roll for something like this. and we look to the person who's at the top of it to sort of impersonate or look at the top.
it's actually for this whole scandal. and the problem is that a lot of people just want him to resign and then want the story to go away, i think. and if you look on google, i don't know if anybody's googled this, but google shinseki and resign. you get more than 30 pages of pundits of both stripes, everyone calling for his head. >> does this remind you of kathleen sebelius and hhs? >> they're going to have a lot harder time with him because he's a long-time soldier. he's a vietnam veteran. and he has a disability. so i think we're going to have a lot harder time getting him than -- >> he beat out kim kardashian in the google search. >> that's an accomplishment. >> resignations in politics are not just about cases of doing justice to people. there's a symbolic effect. the next veterans administration head and the next head of any cabinet department is going to learn from this ask more questions. if not to say, well, i didn't know and i wasn't responsible, those aren't good answers. because you're actually -- the reason he needs to be -- to
resign or be fired is to encourage the next person to do a more careful job. >> i agree with you that there's a symbolic value and also this is how traditionally presidents have shown they're on top of it. i'm 2ke78ding the resignation today of so and so. but shinseki resigned tomorrow, it doesn't fix the problem. my question to you, david, as somebody who has some political experience is, former lieutenant colonel ralph peters on fox a couple times this week saying where was the outrage in the bush administration about the same problems which have festered now for 10 or 15 years? >> there was outrage. i remember the walter reed scandal. it was a gigantic firestorm. it became together with katrina to create an image of incompetence around management of the bush administration that did so much damage in the elections of 2008. >> what happened there? where is walter reed now? that's one of the problems with journalism is that we don't follow up. have things improved at walter reed? >> walter reed's been converted into housing i think. it is going to be no longer a hospital. it's going to be a big new development -- >> that was a great expose by the "washington post."
but i think because there are so many va facilities around the country -- haven't we all become inured to this, oh, va is a mess, we've all known that. and then i think until we got the secret waiting lists and the suggestions of skullduggery and cover-up, that's what the story had been lacking. >> but in defense of the va, again, going back to all they have to deal with with so few resources, they don't do such a bad job in the aggregate. the marketing studies that have been done show that the average patient of the va give it pretty high scores. in some cases higher scores than civilian hospitals. >> i know a lot of veterans can't get in. not that the care is altogether lousy. it's the lack of access. >> a lot of the problems is the rules for getting access, getting benefits are almost kafkaian. and that needs to be streamlined. but that's a separate problem from people in the system not getting service. >> you have to look now that there's been a decision made to go to private hospitals. and that is starting to get some
coverage. >> and just to pick up on your point and close the segment, when president obama kind of praised eric shinseki it was kind of a heck of a job, brownie moment and we'll see how the politics plays out here and whether or not the short attention span is also going to be a factor. go to our facebook page and give us a like. we interact with you there. and send me a tweet about the show during this hour. @howardkurtz. we're going to read some of your messages at the end of the hour. when we come back, hillary picked diane and robin for they are first interviews. we'll look at the coming media wave. and later a "mediabuzz" exclusive, mariel hemingway on how she got entrapped in an undercover video sting.
sawyer and robin roberts. so david frum, as we get ready for another huge hillary wave in the media i would say that perhaps there's a media obsession with the former first lady. is she in danger of being overexposed and the media flustering them? >> she is very cleverly using scarcity to make sure she never faces difficult questions. the clinton operation, since bill clinton left office, is just this morass of financial, ethical scandals. the idea that bill clinton was giving speeches in foreign countries and often to foreign governments while his wife was secretary of state, it's almost post-soviet. and yet that is not going to be discussed. and when you raise it, people's eyes roll. oh, that old story. you know, that's all been disclosed. it's been disclosed, but you don't care. >> i don't think diane sawyer's going to ask those questions. >> no. >> she once called hillary clinton dazzling. >> i also think that she's also a good reporter and a good interviewer. but she does have that softer side to her. and i think that the reason that the clinton campaign or the clinton group has picked her is
because they also want that softer side that diane and robin roberts can bring to the interview. >> robin roberts coincidentally or not was hand-picked by the obama white house for the interview in which barack obama decided he was in favor of gay marriage. so they're clearly expecting, what would you say, a sympathetic reception? >> i don't know if it's sympathetic as much as a lighter touch in some areas. >> by two women. >> by two women. i think diane is becoming the next barbara walters, the person that you come to, as she's exited the stage, the person you come to sit down with and have that sort of intimate, very intimate -- >> i think you call it relentless empathy. >> soft questions can often elicit interesting answers. in fact, often with politicians they're so prepared for the hard question that the soft question can surprise them and catch them. but you have to deal with the appropriate topic areas. and if you ignore these, you'll never find out anything. >> and i don't think she does.
>> since you ignored my opening question we'll try craig on this. we debate the state of her brain, we debate her becoming a grandmother, every joke, full-time beat reporters assigned to hillary clinton. she may not like the press very much but could the press make people sick of her because you know, we've got 2 1/2 years to go in this campaign. >> i think that's why she's so careful about the interviews that she does. i think they're very aware of that. >> now we have the book tour. >> then there will be that. but at the same time i'd like to see her do some interesting interviews. go on with o'reilly. get some interesting contentious exchanges going, let's see what she's made of. for the sake of hillary supporters if she is again going to run on above the clouds, play it safe, i'm an inevitable campaign, i don't think she is a guarantee for the nomination. >> okay, fine. but right now she doesn't want to be in campaign mode. >> frank rooney had an excellent article in the "new york times" where he talked about the fact that she doesn't have anything new to bring to the table. we know a lot about hillary clinton.
she has been covered ad nauseam for the last 20 years. so i think one of the things that she's going to have to break through here is to find something other than the woman card to put out there. >> well, she's going to have a grandchild. but i predict that will change. david frum, kraug crawford, thanks very much for stopping by this sunday. ahead, mariel hemingway takes on james o'keefe over the secret video of her meeting with a bogus middle east oil tycoon. but first, the new york tabloids go after the city's first lady as a bad mom. and my next guest is ticked off about that. he hour at
but mariel hemingway and ed begley jr. wound up walk into an undercover sting orchestrated by james o'keefe, the conservative activist whose past targets have included npr and acorn. hemingway and begley attended a lunch with a man posing as a middle eastern oil tycoon, an actor hired by o'keefe who said he was offering millions of dollars to fund an anti-fracking film being made by their friend, liberal director josh stickel who told me candidly we were punked. o'keefe says this as hollywood hypocrisy. here's a bit of the surreptitiously recorded video from a lunch in late march at the beverly hills hotel. >> if washington, d.c. continues fracking, america will be energy efficient, and then they won't need our oil anymore. >> oh, yes. only where the money comes from. >> there was a misleading bit of editing there. begley was not responding to that statement about american dependence on oil but to a point
about social media minutes later. now, as this video was surfacing, i pressed mariel hemingway in los angeles about what it felt like to be on the receiving end of a scam. >> mariel hemingway, welcome. >> hello. >> with the benefit of hindsight, and i know that's easy, should you have gone to this meeting with a guy who said he was a rich middle east oil person? >> first of all, i've got to tell you, i didn't even know he was a rich middle east oil person. i knew that he was somebody from the middle east. that's all i knew. and i was doing this for a friend. i was going to help a friend. and to get money for a documentary about anti-fracking. and i thought, oh, okay, i'd help a friend. and that's -- you know, i'm that person. i help people. and i happen to love the earth and the environment. so i said sure, i'll show up. but should i have done my due diligence and figured out who this guy was? probably yes. and i shouldn't have trusted
that my friends had actually vetted this guy properly. >> when you walked into this meeting in the beverly hills hotel, ed begley was there and you met the guy who said his name was muhammad. were you suspicious what was going on? >> well, first of all, he was an hour and a half late. he showed up, and he wasn't at all what i expected. i thought, you know, middle east, probably would show up with an entourage. anyway, there was just things about it that felt weird and awkward right from the very beginning. and i just sat back being polite and listening to his story. it wasn't my meeting. it really had nothing to do with me. i was helping my friends try to raise money and seeing if this person was interesting. >> just to be clear -- just to be clear, you have no financial interest in this anti-fracking documentary. >> absolutely. >> right. >> absolutely. i'm not an executive producer.
i'm not in the film. i'm not an adviser. i'm nothing. i was a friend celebrity who could show up at the polo lounge on a particular day, and it turned out to be bizarre at best because when he left i just thought, that -- i actually said, there's no way that guy was a real anybody, anything. it seemed like he was not a real person. >> so we now know thanks to the recording, and of course you didn't know you were being surreptitiously taped, that muhammad, the guy playing muhammad, was of course an actor, says you won't tell anybody, will you? using middle east oil money to fund this documentary. and this is going to help my country's oil business. and you kind of played along? >> he never said -- as far as i could tell, he never said that. he didn't say -- first of all, i've got to say right off the bat, i am not a political person. that is not my format. >> so james o'keefe, who was behind this sting, says this shows hollywood
environmentalists and celebrities are hypocrites because they're willing to take oil money -- i know it wasn't intended for you but you were at the lunch, and not reveal where it's coming from. >> well, here -- first of all, again, i'm not the filmmaker. so i just politely, okay, i won't say anything. i'm not the filmmaker. who am i going to tell about where this money is coming from? i'm not a person who's going to go through my life thinking that people are going to be deceptive and secretly filming me. i mean, that's just a very sad way to go through life. >> when you found out that was the case, how did you feel? did you feel duped? >> well, to be honest, i thought, are you kidding? that was something? i mean, to me it was so preposterous even in the situation, waiting all that time, he shows up, he doesn't look like he's an important person at all from anywhere and
saying things in an inappropriate way. it was at one point during the lunch his, you know, handler said, you know, muhammad has an audition in an hour. and i thought to myself, an audition? and then he goes, i meant a meeting. so i think there was just -- i felt like this is the silliest thing i'd ever heard. >> so it sounds like a bad hollywood movie. >> it's a bad hollywood movie. the other thing i find ironic is that project veritas, that's how they do business. it's not how i do business. but they say they set themselves up as a person -- as an entity that finds out dishonesty. you know, they're trying to like find who's being dishonest or hypocritical. and yet they do this and they have a secret guy with a fake guy, that's not dishonest? you know, ed begley and i showed up to just be kind and support a
friend. and we didn't -- there was nothing dishonest about what we were doing or hypocritical. >> so you have a real problem with the tactics that james o'keefe uses through project r veritas which invariably involves somebody posing as someone toels entrap his targets. >> well, i think it's very -- it's a waste of everybody's time. if he didn't have the courage to just come out and have a meeting with us and say, you know, i'm against you. good. let's get face to face. you know, i happen to not like fracking or -- and i do. and i want to support -- you know, i want to support whatever, locally. or in this country. just say it. be up front. be honest. and that is not honesty. and that is being deceptive. and that's trying to hurt somebody that hasn't done anything wrong. ed and i did nothing wrong. we showed up to have lunch.
and by the way, i just ate salad. and somebody sees this video they're going to see me eating salad. and you know that's my message. i just want people to eat more salad. >> talk about finding a silver lining, finally any lessons in this whole episode for you in the future? >> well, though i'm not going to be a suspicious person, i probably will vet people and not go to secret lunches or something. >> all right. anybody wants to take mariel hemingway to lunch, you've been warned. mariel hemingway, thanks very much. >> thank you. >> james o'keefe has told me in the past he views himself as a citizen journalist taking on liberal targets and that these videos are a form of guerrilla theater. but my problem is that he uses deception in a way that undermines his case. after the break we declare our winner in the spin war overt "new york times'" firing of jill abramson. and later, spare me. someone's making a movie about the missing malaysian plane? ÷@ñ at his current pace,
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newspapers love to cover political spin but the best spin battle around was at "the new york times" after jill abramson was fired as executive editor. and it's clear that abramson won the p.r. war even if she is out of a job. by cleverly putting out word that she'd been paid less than her male predecessor abramson shaped the media narrative by the time publisher arthur
sulzberger started issuing statements saying that with bonuses abramson had actually been paid more than the man she replaced. he was on the defensive while she was on the "new york post" cover with the perfect image, in boxing gloves. and despite complaints about her brusque management style she seemed all too human this week during a commencement address. >> you know the sting of losing or not getting something you badly want. when that happens, show what you are made of. >> when reporters, including lauren ashburn, approached sulzberger at a first amendment dinner in new york and started asking questions, he said "no comment." not a great strategy for a publisher. sulzberger did do an interview with "vanity fair" confirming what i and others reported last weekend, that he feared abramson's deputy would quit over being mistreated by her and instead elevated matt kay to the top job and that sulzberger offered abramson an amicable parting but that jill said that. on the unequal declared i'm not going to let
lies like this lie. but quotes in a magazine can't compete with sound bites. so sulzberger lost more ground by staying away from the cameras. and abramson will wind up just fine because with those boxing gloves she punched her way to victory in the spin war. coming up, anderson cooper gets even with a dallas talk show host and this footage of strippers. hey, it's part of the story. our video verdict is straight ahead.
here are a few of your top tweets on the v.a. scandal. the problems might be old but the story isn't. we now have evidence of how ridiculously short the president has fallen in his promise to the vets. did they hold bush accountable? steve, they were slow, but in part it has been an old story the media has heard for a long time. they never look deeper to see deaths. clyde watkins, old story going on for years. fundamental reform to fix. media won't cover a story that long. >> it has been an old story that has been covered a little bit, and i don't know if the media
will continue to cover it but any little bit helps. >> like to see the media suspend the a.d.d. and stick with this for a very lock time. >> brian williams took a secret trip to russia to interview edward snowden, the nsa leaker who some people consider a traitor. >> a lot of people who say you have badly damaged your country. have you performed, as you say, a public service? >> here's the back story. the interview was arranged by glen greenwald who won a pulitzer and who has written a book and will be interviewed. nbc signed a, quote, collaboration agreement" with first look media. it was williams' nbc colleague david gregory who asked greenwald last june whether he should be charged with a crime for working with snowden. when greenberg returned for a "meet the press" rematch gregory didn't interview him, that was left to a reporter. we'll find out in a primetime special this week how aggressive brian williams is with snowden. >> a good get for williams, good for greenwald would has a book,
and no matter what you think about him, whether or not you think he's a hero or traitor, we'll get interesting information out of it which is a win for the american people. >> i'm sure brian williams will ask a lot of questions but that will be critiqued as well and we'll talk about it next wire. that's it for "media buzz" this week and i want to take a minute to thank all the veterans out there who have given their service to our country and how much we appreciate it on this memorial day weekend. we're back here next sunday morning, 11:00 and 5:00 eastern with the latest buzz. hope you go to our facebook page and home page,
>> it's monday may 26th vpt after the president returns from a surprise trip to afghanistan we are live in washington with how the country plans to honor our nation's heros on this memorial day. >> brand new revelations about the weekend college campus shooting rampage. the cops are calling the work of a mad men. what they know about the moments up to the killing spree and how his parents tried to stop him. >> for the first time in 8 years an american takes the indy 500.