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Bailing Out on Royal Wedding; President Obama Releases Long- Form Birth Certificate

Aired May 1, 2011 - 11:00   ET


HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: Will you remember where you were during the fairytale moment when William and Kate got married? Well, I won't. It was 4:00 in the morning here in the states. I was sleeping. Come on.

But here's a serious question about the thousands of journalists who descended on London. The ABC and CBS anchors stayed for the pomp and the pageantry. NBC's Brian Williams left London and flew to Alabama to cover the devastating tornadoes.

Bailing out on the royal wedding, was that the right call?

President Obama says he released his birth certificate this week because the media had pumped up the story until it became a major distraction. He's right, isn't he? We'll look at how Donald Trump lured the president to crazy conspiracy land and why endlessly challenging the story is very different from putting it to rest.

Plus, Lara Logan breaks her silence about that awful sexual assault in Egypt, reporting on the attack tonight on "60 Minutes." We'll talk about that and more with Connie Chung.

I'm Howard Kurtz, and this is RELIABLE SOURCES.

You'd have to say this for most journalists -- they reported that the crazy conspiracy theory about Barack Obama being born in some other country was absolutely false. But they then insisted on pounding away at the story, especially after Donald Trump started repeating the birther charges on one network show after another.

Things reached the point that the president felt compelled this week to release his long-form birth certificate from Hawaii, and he made clear that the media were partially to blame.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, normally I would not comment on something like this, because obviously there's a lot of stuff swirling in the press at any given day. And, you know, I've got other things to do.

During that entire week, the dominant news story wasn't about these huge monumental choices that we're going to have to make as a nation. It was about my birth certificate. And that was true on most of the news outlets that were represented here. We're not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers.


KURTZ: Moments earlier, Donald Trump was surrounded by a pack of reporters in New Hampshire, where he declared victory.


DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Today, I'm very proud of myself, because I've accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish. So the press can stop asking me questions.


KURTZ: Fat chance of that.

So, are journalists largely responsible for keeping the birther nonsense alive?

Joining us now here in Washington, Chip Reid, White House correspondent for CBS News; Terence Smith, former media correspondent for PBS's "NewsHour"; and Nia-Malika Henderson, reporter for "The Washington Post."

Chip Reid, when Obama is blaming the media for distraction and "silliness," was his word, is he on target?

CHIP REID, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CBS NEWS: Well, there certainly is something to it. But I think you have to look at the fact that our poll, for example, the CBS/"New York Times" poll, showed that 25 percent of Americans and 45 percent of Republicans questioned whether the president was born in the United States. You can't ignore an issue like that even if it's coming from somebody like Donald Trump.

So, if Trump gets some of the publicity -- and I've also got to add, the president saw a political opportunity here --

KURTZ: Sure.

REID: -- to jump on Donald Trump and, by association, lots of other Republicans. So he certainly made this issue bigger himself.

KURTZ: Now, some people, Terry Smith, said, well, Obama misspoke. It wasn't the dominant issue in a Pew poll, it was only four percent. But if you just looked at cable TV, and especially if you looked at primetime cable, it was on all the time.

Now, news organizations kept saying, well, these allegations are untrue. But then they kept giving him air time, and teasing it and teasing it, and putting it on the next night and the next night.

What do you make of that? TERENCE SMITH, FMR. MEDIA CORRESPONDENT, "NEWSHOUR": Well, most of it was Trump. And Trump is like catnip to cable TV, especially. And, you know, he's the new Sarah Palin.

You can't seem to get through a broadcast without him. And so more about that later. But he -- I think the president felt that it really was a distraction at this point. It really was taking away some of the oxygen, and he had to do something about it.

KURTZ: An Obama campaign aide told me last night that when George Stephanopoulos, in an interview on a bunch of subjects, asked the president about the birther issue, they realized it wasn't going to go away.

Were journalists candid, do you think, in examining the racial underlying aspect, if you think there is one, of these allegations that somehow tie up with this notion that Obama is a secret Muslim?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, I don't know that they have necessarily looked at that aspect of it. I think we have looked at this idea of the birther phenomenon, and this belief among some people that, you know, Barack Obama was born somewhere else. I think we've looked at it as part of a piece of a larger narrative, which is that somehow, some people believe that Barack Obama is not quite one of them, one of us, not American.

I was in New Hampshire yesterday. And you do hear that from even some of the candidates who, you know, talk about Obama going on an apology tour, for instance, for America, and not quite understanding that America is great.

So I think we have, you know, flicked at that. And maybe it is racial. And, for instance, you hear Donald Trump now talking about Barack Obama's records and whether or not he --

KURTZ: Just briefly, do you think we've flicked at it enough?

HENDERSON: I think we've flicked at it. I mean, I think it's debatable whether or not it is racial, because if you look at, for instance, some of the claims around Bill Clinton, some of the claims around Bush not being qualified to be president, not being smart enough to be president, arguable. I mean, that obviously isn't racial.

KURTZ: Right. Right.


KURTZ: Let me go to a piece of tape, because I was at the White House Correspondents Dinner last night, and the president told a series of jokes about Trump, who was sitting there and not smiling. Some of these were zingers.

Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: No one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than "The Donald." And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like did we fake the moon landing?


KURTZ: Now, Trump was at he dinner as a guest of "The Washington Post."

Do you have any problem with that invitation? Some people were criticizing The Post.

REID: No. Anything goes these days. It all started with Fawn Hall after she was arrested for eating a banana on the subway.

KURTZ: I remember that.

But through the media's political scorecard mentality, Chip, Trump got to declare victory. But I think there was a sense in the coverage that, well, he forced the president to do this. Therefore, that was a good thing for Donald Trump.

REID: I think there was. And, you know, I think Donald Trump, he sat there completely stony-faced throughout that whole thing. I think he loved every minute of it. What he wants is attention more than anything else, and he succeeded.

KURTZ: Why isn't the storyline Donald Trump shamelessly pushed this baseless conspiracy theory and was definitively proven wrong? Why isn't that the media take?

SMITH: Well, in a sense it is in that people -- a certain amount of the coverage of Donald Trump has been to discredit him, as well to spot his exaggeration to sort of serial fabrications on everything from his political contributions, to his own wealth, which apparently is measured in millions and not billions.

KURTZ: Well, we don't know.

SMITH: Precisely the point.

KURTZ: So you think the press is starting to do its job?

SMITH: I think starting to do his job, but, as I say, he's catnip and they like it.

KURTZ: Well, here's my take. He may be catnip and, yes, he's a very colorful guy. And I've interviewed him a few times over the years. But the way in which cable news in particular kept putting this birther thing on night after night after night, even saying it's not true, but let's do it again, and let's do it again, I think it was shameful, and I think it did fill up all the available oxygen. None of the other candidates being talked about, and therefore the president, in effect, was forced to do what he did.

Let me show you a clip just to show you the way Trump deals with the press, of him fencing with CNN's John King, Trump claiming that there was a CNN poll that he liked very much. Take a look.


TRUMP: The president himself talked --

JOHN KING, HOST, "JOHN KING USA": You also said there's a CNN poll that shows you in a dead heat with the president of the United States.

TRUMP: That's right.

KING: There's no so much poll. We've never polled.

TRUMP: I'll give it to you. I'll give it to you.

KING: We have never polled Obama versus Trump.

TRUMP: Yes you have. No. Really? Can I show it to you?

KING: I looked at those. No, we haven't. They polled you in the Republican primaries.

TRUMP: Of course you're not going to show that, because if you are wrong, you'll cut it out. Excuse me. Excuse me, if you are wrong, you'll cut it out.

KING: When I'm wrong, I look the camera in the eye and I say I'm wrong.


KURTZ: John King was not wrong, although I think Trump confused -- it was a "Newsweek" poll that did show him in a virtual dead heat. And CNN had reported on the "Newsweek" poll.

My question to you, Nia-Malika Henderson, is you were in New Hampshire, you saw the press scrum around Donald Trump. Was he treated as aggressively as any other candidate would be, or was he more treated like a celebrity?

HENDERSON: Oh, he was treated aggressively. I mean, we were there at the airport hangar in Portsmouth, and shouting very aggressive questions at him about his finances, when he would release those, whether or not he was in fact discredited by the release of this long-form birth certificate.

Trump, obviously, answers the questions that he wants to answer and ignores the ones he doesn't want to answer. And he definitely ignored the questions that were repeatedly shouted at him about his finances, when he would release those and whether or not he would be more forthcoming with his own, you know, records, because that's, of course, the line that he's forwarding about Obama, that he hasn't been transparent.

KURTZ: Right.

HENDERSON: But, you know, he makes great TV, as that interview showed.

SMITH: To some degree, it's also, the attention on Trump is a reflection of the weakness of the Republican field right now. It is a rather boring lot.

KURTZ: Are you suggesting that the journalists are so bored by the likes of Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum, that they have gravitated toward "The Donald"?

SMITH: Well, I agree that Tim Pawlenty is an exciting figure.


KURTZ: But he actually has a serious shot at the nomination. Most people think Donald Trump does not.


REID: But it's a hard decision to make. I mean, I had a Republican strategist argued with me the other day vigorously that we have a responsibility to completely ignore him because he has no chance of winning. I don't think we can make that decision. That's not our decision to make.

KURTZ: I think that is true. I think Trump is newsworthy, but if you look -- sometimes I watch cable TV --

REID: You know, I don't watch cable at night, so I'm not affected by it like you are.

KURTZ: Well, OK. I was going to say sometimes I watch during the day, and I leave the sound off in the background. And all I would see in the last two weeks is Trump, Trump, Trump.

So you say we have responsibility not to ignore Trump, but if it's all Trump all the time and it's not Romney and it's not Pawlenty --

REID: Yes. I certainly don't do all Trump all the time. "CBS Evening News" doesn't do anything remotely like all Trump all the time.


REID: And the president himself made him more of an issue not only with his statement the other day, but now with his jokes last night.

KURTZ: With the jokes at the dinner, yes.

HENDERSON: And Romney has been very under the radar in terms of his giving interviews --


KURTZ: Well, that is true. I mean, Trump does put himself out there. He called me back and we talked for 20, 30 minutes about his real estate dealings. And Romney has not given very many interviews.

Since you mentioned "CBS Evening News," I have another clip I want to play. First, we're going to you Donald Trump, in New Hampshire, bringing up another aspect of Barack Obama's background. And then CBS's Bob Schieffer having something to say about that.


TRUMP: The press is very protective of President Obama. Very protective.

The word is, according to what I've read, that he was a terrible student when he went to Occidental. He then gets to Columbia. He then gets to Harvard.

I heard at Columbia, he wasn't a very good student. He then gets to Harvard.

How do you get into Harvard if you're not a good student?



BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS: That's just code for saying he got into law school because he's black. This is an ugly strain of racism that's running through this whole thing.


KURTZ: Is that a fair charge for Bob Schieffer to make, ugly strain of racism?

HENDERSON: Well, again, I think it was a very prominent strain among liberals who questioned George Bush's qualifications for getting into the schools he got into and for being president. So I don't know that that was racist. I think certainly people are going to read that into Trump's statements and some of the other statements he's made about being a friend "of the blacks," which I think people don't think is the correct way to sort of refer to African-Americans.

KURTZ: There's a legitimate debate to be had, Terry, about affirmative action and whether or not it actually stigmatizes otherwise qualified black students who then go on to college. I would think that Barack Obama would be a terrible example since he did go on to become editor of "The Harvard Law Review" and fairly successful in politics as well.

What do you make of that?

SMITH: Yes, clearly. Clearly, his career is meretricious. And he earned each step of the way, or it would seem. I feel more strongly that it is racial, that the process is to discredit Barack Obama and to emphasize his otherness.

KURTZ: And should the press report on that? Should it stay on that? And this is pretty serious stuff here.

SMITH: Well, then, yes.

REID: And we're giving Donald more attention. But the two issues he's focused on, both his otherness, with the birth certificate, African father, African name, and the issue of getting into Harvard, they both have racial undertones. Is that a coincidence? I can't read his mind, but it may not be.

KURTZ: I think Bob Schieffer's remarks got so many attention because he doesn't usually slam people. He's very measured in his approach, and here he came out pretty strongly.

Let me get a break.

When we come back, Lawrence O'Donnell rips into NBC and demands that Donald Trump be fired, which is striking because O'Donnell works for NBC.



TRUMP: And they want to -- they want to go in and raise the price of oil because we have nobody in Washington that sits back and said, you're not going to raise that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) price. You understand me?


KURTZ: Donald Trump in Las Vegas this week.

And Chip Reid, there was a series of f-bombs there, including the one that begins with the word "mother." Should the media have made more of this? I have never seen anything like that.

REID: Well, certainly the evening news shouldn't have, but cable should have. I mean, if you're going to cover Trump, and cover all the outrageous things he does -- and I'm surprised that they didn't. And there's no doubt in my mind --

KURTZ: Because you can't show the whole thing.

REID: You can't, but there's no doubt in my mind that he used those words for the same reason he's doing some of these other things.

KURTZ: What would that be?

REID: To get attention.

KURTZ: All right.

I teased the fact we're going to talk about Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC. Trump, of course, has a hit show, the "Celebrity Apprentice" on NBC.

Here's what O'Donnell had to say the other night on his program, "The Last Word."


LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC: NBC has created a monster who is using his NBC fame to spew hatred wreaking with racist overtones and undertones about the president of the United States. NBC can no longer stand idly by, not for one more day. An NBC paid performer, the most deranged egomaniac in the history of the NBC entertainment division, has spewed lies to the point where he provoked this.


KURTZ: "This" being the whole spectacle.

And I bumped into Lawrence O'Donnell last night, and he's still really hot on this. And he says that was a sort of message from the press, to demand answers from NBC about whether Trump is going to continue with this "Apprentice" show.

What do you think of what he did there?

SMITH: Well, you know, the "most deranged," that's a title, you know, in contest.

KURTZ: Taking on his own network.

SMITH: But taking on his own network is, I have to admit, also a very good way to draw attention to yourself.

KURTZ: You're cynical this morning.

SMITH: Seth Meyers did it last night at the White House Correspondents Dinner. So I think that's part of it. But the point is valid in the sense that he's the first presidential candidate to defer his announcement to after the end of his reality show.

KURTZ: Right. I thought this was a reality show.

Does NBC entertainment have a responsibility? I mean, if they've already signed him up for the next season, then that means this whole presidential thing is a farce. Does NBC have any responsibility to answer these questions?

HENDERSON: Well, in New Hampshire, Donald Trump was introduced as a business mogul and also an entertainment icon. And NBC is very much a part of that entertainment -- him being an entertainment icon.

And they obviously make a lot of money off of him through advertising and ratings. And I don't see that they'll sever this relationship. And it only -- it only adds to the buzz of his show.

KURTZ: Unless Trump chooses to sever it and actually does run.

I give O'Donnell credit. It's not the easiest thing to go on, look into that camera, and blast your own network.

REID: I agree with you. I think this is a win-win for everybody.

He wins in the ratings, Donald wins in the ratings. NBC gets more buzz. I think in this world of media today, even taking on your own boss, he's seen as courageous. And I don't think it's going to hurt them.

KURTZ: So you think it's a tactic by Lawrence O'Donnell.

REID: I don't think it's a tactic. I think he feels it strongly, but I think his personal interest and his tactic all come together.

KURTZ: Well, there were no cameras on him when I talked to him last night. He does feel strongly about this.

REID: I do believe he feels strongly about it --

KURTZ: All right.

REID: -- but it also works well for him.

KURTZ: Chip Reid, Terry Smith, Nia-Malika Henderson, thanks very much for coming by this morning.

Coming up in the second part of RELIABLE SOURCES, William and Kate finally tie the knot with 12,000 of their media friends looking on. Did the wedding really need all that journalistic royalty in London?

Plus, Lara Logan speaks out about her sexual assault in Egypt. Connie Chung is here to talk about that.

And Katie Couric, handing over the CBS chair to Scott Pelley.


KURTZ: The royal wedding took place in London on Friday with 1,900 of the couple's closest friends and 12,000 journalists, many of them from the former colonies -- Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Meredith Vieira, Barbara Walters, Tina Brown, Anderson Cooper, Piers Morgan, Shepard Smith, Mary Hart, Billy Bush. The list goes on.

In fact, the American invasion helped turn the William and Kate nuptials into a weeklong extravaganza, one that if you own a television, was bloody impossible to mission.


MEREDITH VIEIRA, NBC NEWS: They're expecting two million to line the streets here on Friday, rain or shine.



ROBIN ROBERTS, ABC NEWS: Live from London, it's "Good Morning America." And royal wedding week has arrived. Just four days to go until Will and Kate's big day.



CYNTHIA MCFADDEN, ABC NEWS: Good evening, Bill. I'm outside Westminster Abbey tonight, where people are already staking out their sidewalk positions for Friday's royal wedding.



ERICA HILL, CBS NEWS: We are here at the legendary Tower of London, which is our home for this week for our special coverage of the royal wedding.



REHEMA ELLIS, NBC NEWS: Good evening, Brian. After months of preparation, the real signs that a royal wedding is indeed about to take place were evident today.


KURTZ: Then came the color commentary, as the prince and his longtime girlfriend tied the knot.


VIEIRA: Kate Middleton looked elegant and regal as she arrived as Westminster Abbey, a design by Sarah Burton from Alexander McQueen's Fashion House. Absolutely beautiful dress.



JOAN LUNDEN, ROYAL WEDDING SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Even though the kiss wasn't really a long one, I guess we all wanted them to smooch, but they are the future king and queen of England.



RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: I've got to say, they look certainly very happy together. They've been together, like, nine years. And they just look great.


KURTZ: It was a nice event, a happy event. But outside of Great Britain, was this a classic case of media overkill? Joining us now from London, Ari Melber correspondent for "The Nation" magazine. In New York, Emily Bell, a former editor for "The Guardian" newspaper and now director of Columbia University's digital journalism program. And here in Washington, Matt Frei, anchor of BBC's "World News America."

All right, Matt Frei. It was a charming ritual, done impeccably. And I understand you told me that half the people in Britain watched. But for the worldwide audience, particularly for the American audience, why do I have this sense of the media just going nuts?

MATT FREI, ANCHOR, "WORLD NEWS AMERICA": Well, you know it's much as half the British population. Was it two or three billion people on the planet? I mean, we haven't seen these numbers since the stimulus package. I mean, these are huge numbers of people --


KURTZ: But 23 million in America, which is a very healthy number, but it's not the Super Bowl.

FREI: Yes. Well, it was also before dawn, or just at the time that dawn broke.

KURTZ: Right.

FREI: So, you know, it's the quintessential water cooler story of the decade. Everyone has a view on it. You know, it's not controversial. It's not political. It's not the birther story that you discussed earlier.

You know, for us Brits, certainly, but also, I think, for you, it's a story on so many different levels. It's about continuity, it's but it's about change. It's about the vows between a couple and renewing the vows between the monarchy and the British populous.

KURTZ: Right.

FREI: It's about pageantry, it's about all these different things, and the detail, of course, is just something that you want to see and enjoy.

KURTZ: Everybody wanted to see the dress.

FREI: It doesn't become we're all become to become royalists, but you can --


KURTZ: All right.

Emily Bell, how does the news business justify sending 12,000 journalists? I don't think there were 12,000 journalists covering World War II.

(LAUGHTER) EMILY BELL, FMR. EDITOR, "THE GUARDIAN": No, I'm sure there weren't. Somebody said to me, for a major news organization, you know, one of the reasons that a lot of people get sent to these things is because the top people ask. They all say it's really important that we cover it because they want to go.

You're having a good time. It's not a dangerous or horrible story. No one's going to shoot you.

And so you end up with this kind of nobody really then examines whether, in fact, it's actually worth it. I mean, the irony is that all the pictures that everybody watched were pretty much the same ones --

KURTZ: Right.

BELL: -- going into the abbey, coming out of the abbey.

KURTZ: Exactly. Maybe it could have been done with just 2,000 journalists.

BELL: Well, I think 2,000 journalists and a million people with their cell phones.

KURTZ: Right. Exactly. Get the citizens to cover it.

Ari Melber, since you're there in London, I assume that you've been swept up by all the excitement and you've changed your view of the royal wedding?

ARI MELBER, "THE NATION": Yes, I'm a royalist now. I think we need some kings and queens in our country.


MELBER: No, I mean, I think, look, this was a wonderful holiday. I was surprised to be here and see how they have several days off. People have a great time. People wear funny hats. And people want to pay attention to this here and abroad, as you have said.

But when you look at the international media, particularly the American media, they've made a huge mistake in investing so heavily here. You know, we have three wars going on. We have a great number of international stories while foreign bureaus are often being closed. So I don't think you can justify the expense.

I would distinguish between the expense and the attention. Obviously, you're going to pull up that feed, and you're going to show those pictures. But spending so much money to spend so many people, including high-profile people, to basically comment on a predictable parade while we ignore the Arab Spring and other important stories is a mistake.

KURTZ: Well, at a time when newsrooms everywhere are cutting back and tightening their belts. I mentioned at the top of the program, Matt, that NBC's Brian Williams had flown to London and then left London almost immediately because more than 300 people were killed in these tornadoes that swept across the South.

Was that the right decision on a news basis, even though, you know, other correspondents for NBC obviously were perfectly capable of covering the storms?

FREI: I think it probably was, actually. And it's interesting that he did make that decision.

It was clearly a courageous one, to fly all the way there and then turn back again. And I sort of felt a little bit sorry for the American networks, because you did have this genuine dilemma.

You know, the trains had rolled to London. The makeup artists were there, all the superstars --

KURTZ: Months of planning.

FREI: -- months of planning. And suddenly, events happen -- events, these terrible events. And I think there was a dilemma there -- there must have been -- for news bosses in this country about how to apportion their coverage.

I think he did the right thing. I think at the same time, you know, you have to leave people there to cover this event because the public wants to see it. And the numbers speak for themselves.

Brian Williams made a statement in favor of hard news. And I think it was a good statement.

Emily, the media, for so many years, had a lot to do with the soap opera that surrounded Charles and Di and Camilla, and there were all these leaks and the tapes and the scandals. I wonder if now that the glow has worn off, and after the honeymoon, whether they will kind of want to have that again with the new couple.

BELL: Oh, I think -- feel that the way that if you look at the world as it was 30 years ago, when Charles and Diana got married, the media world has so completely changed. And whilst this will continue to be a compelling narrative and a soap opera for the U.K. and the world, I think that, actually, kind of the heat and the light surrounding that couple will be much diminished, not least because, actually, the whole Charles and Diana saga was so extraordinary in many ways, that there simply won't be a repetition of that.

And I think that people's attention is now pulled in many, many, many different directions. And that goes for -- actually, quite rightly, it goes for royalty as well.

KURTZ: Ari Melber, everybody feels good about this couple. And it was nice. And they do actually seem to have a good relationship. But the paparazzi in the city where you are haven't exactly retired. And I wonder if we will see a return to the usual British gossipy approach to, you know, basically hounding the people who are in that spotlight.

MELBER: Yes, I think that would be what we would expect. And I disagree with the idea that a sort of a disaggregated media means less celebrity coverage.

If you look at a lot of what people like on Facebook and Twitter, where this event was very popular, over 10 million comments on Facebook over the day internationally, is obviously more celebrity, personality-driven. I think that's why this is such a challenge for the media, precisely because there's a great deal of attention on these stories as personal narratives. And they may rate well, but they may not be newsworthy.

You know, one other data point that I thought was very interesting is that about 65 percent of the social media discussion on Twitter about the wedding and the run-up came from the United States. So while Twitter, obviously, played a role in other stories, that's a place where, again, people want to do that. So it's the media drawing lines.

KURTZ: OK. Let me get Matt in.

FREI: I think you're absolutely right, but there was one crucial difference, though, and that is that Diana and Charles chose to play out their dysfunctional marriage in the media. They leaked things to friends who leaked things to the press. They played that game and they made the decision to do so.

From what we know so far in these early days, the circle of friends around Kate and Will is incredibly tight. They've circled the wagons. They know what the consequences are if you don't do that. And I think we're all a little bit wiser for it, and I think they are.

So, despite that enormous amount of scrutiny out there, and Twitter feeds and Facebook and all the rest of it, I think they, themselves, especially if their marriage ends up being happy, will mitigate against the kind of temptations that Charles and Diana had.

KURTZ: That's true. It does take two to tango, so to speak, in the sense that journalists may look for leaks, but you have got to have somebody to provide the leaks.

Emily, I was stunned to read the other day that Kate Middleton, who may be a lovely person -- she's been dating William for years -- that she talked to the press exactly once when the engagement was announced. So she's been totally shielded from this. I find that just hard to understand given the American concept of celebrity, where you're supposed to be out there all the time.

BELL: Well, I think that Matt's point is absolutely right, which is that there are different ways to play out any celebrity story in public or not in public. And I don't think there's a diminution at all in celebrity stories. I just think when you have your own royal family on "Jersey Shore" here, that you see that the individual narratives become less and less. So, you know, I think the fact that Kate Middleton, as you say, her voice has been heard in public once, is not that much of a surprise. But I don't think you'll see that change terrifically in the future.

I think there's also protocol there as well, because don't forget, Prince William is an heir to the throne, and possibly a kind of undercurrent that was covered more in the U.K. press was Prince Charles's anxiety that not only is he not yet king, but he's also -- that the attention will now divert. Now, whether or not -- that's probably complete nonsense.

KURTZ: Right. Well, in --


BELL: But I think that -- I don't think there will be any pressure from the palace for Kate and William to be more public. I think probably less.

KURTZ: In America, there would be a lot of demands to get on "Oprah," but, of course, we don't have kings and queens.

I'm running short on time.

Ari Melber, I can hear some people saying, you know, look, yes we've got three wars, and the economy is terrible, but this is a good news story. Lighten up. OK?

FREI: Sure. Well, yes, I think there's value in that, and people like these big events that bring everyone together.

You know, we've seen the Oscars have their ratings surge back up on television, even in a disaggregated media. But I guess the question, though, as I said before, is not whether you cover it, but whether you decide to also have your resources elsewhere.


KURTZ: Right. It's a question of the volume and how much money you spend on such things.

FREI: Yes.

KURTZ: We've got to go. Thank you all for a royal discussion.

After the break, Lara Logan goes public with the chilling details of her sexual assault at the hands of an Egyptian mob. The network's former co-anchor, Connie Chung, joins me in a moment.


KURTZ: It was horrifying which we got right after Lara Logan had to cancel an interview for this program from Cairo. She had been sexually assaulted by an Egyptian mob.

Now the CBS correspondent, breaking her silence about what really happened with a report tonight on "60 Minutes."


LARA LOGAN, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Our camera battery went down, and we had to stop for a moment. And suddenly, Bahar (ph) looks at me and says, "We've got to get out of here."

Bahar (ph) is not happy here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's Egyptian. He speaks Arabic, and he can hear what the crowd is saying?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He understands what no one else on the crew understands?

LOGAN: That's right. I thought, not only am I going to die here, but it's going to be just a torturous death that's going to go on forever and ever and ever.


KURTZ: Logan told "The New York Times" that a group of 200 to 300 men tore at her clothes and beat her body in a sustained attack that lasted about 40 minutes.

For an extended period of time, she said, "They raped me with their hands." A chilling account from a woman who has repeatedly faced serious dangerous situations in war zones.

Joining me now from New York to talk about this is Connie Chung, a former CNN host and, of course, the one-time co-anchor of the "CBS Evening News."

Connie, what do you make of Lara Logan going public, doing a segment on this on "60 Minutes"? That's got to be awfully difficult after the trauma that she undoubtedly went through.

CONNIE CHUNG, FMR. CO-ANCHOR, "CBS EVENING NEWS": No question. I mean, I salute her. She has gone through a horrific, violent incident. But the fact that she has the courage to come forward and talk about it -- but, I mean, I don't think there was ever any doubt that she has courage. I mean, she's been in war zones for too many times. And the fact that she's now willing to step out and talk about this horrible, horrible incident in her life is just exactly, you know, who she is.

KURTZ: You think, journalistically, she needed to put any questions to rest? Some people were doubting how serious the attack was. Of course, we didn't know.

CHUNG: Good God, I hope not. I hope that people are not discounting what happened or, you know, creating any disbelief. It's the same with so many women who are assaulted across this country, that anyone who places any doubt in it -- I mean, certainly there have been cases --

KURTZ: Right.

CHUNG: -- but, I mean, I think that this would be unforgivable, if anyone thought anything untoward her. The fact that she's coming out is so important. And I think it's like many stories that we don't know about.

We know it's occurring, but no one talks about it. So it's terrific that she's coming out and talking about it.

KURTZ: On that point about no one talking about it, I've interviewed a number of female war correspondents since this happened who say yes, things have happened to them, not necessarily of this severity, but they keep the incidents quiet because they don't want their bosses to see them as weak or doubting them in dangerous situations.

CHUNG: Yes, I can see that.

KURTZ: It's an extra burden that they seem to carry.

CHUNG: Sure. It's very obvious that then your boss will not let you go out into a war situation or anything that seems dangerous. It's just -- it's not fair, and we have to overcome that.

Women have to overcome all sorts of, you know, silly stereotypes. But that's one of them. And I can clearly see why women in the past have done that, but those times are over. They need to speak out.

KURTZ: Since you mentioned women and stereotypes, that kind of provides a segue for another topic I want to talk about with you, and that, of course, what was the worst-kept secret in broadcasting, and that was Katie Couric's announcement that she is leaving the CBS anchor chair.

What was really striking this week when Katie made it official was what CBS had to say. Here's the official announcement.

"There's a lot to be proud of during Katie Couric's time at 'Evening News.' CBS News, like Katie herself, is looking forward to the next chapter."

That's it, two whole sentences. Rather chilly for someone who was once trumpeted as a woman who would revolutionize the newscast.

What do you make of that, Connie Chung?

CHUNG: Well, you know, this is our business, unfortunately.

KURTZ: It's a cold business?

CHUNG: Yes, that's the way it is, as Walter Cronkite used to say.

She didn't have a chance, actually, with all the publicity to be able to live up to the publicity. There was also the salary. Much like Barbara Walters, years and years earlier, her salary was trumpeted.

KURTZ: Fifteen million dollars a year, yes.

CHUNG: Well -- and Barbara's was as well. And that so hurts a person.

You need to walk in on cat feet. And that's exactly what she wasn't able to do because the hoopla was there. But you couldn't avoid it in many ways because she was the first woman. So it was very, very hard for Katie, I think.

KURTZ: So, the fact that she was the first woman, and it's become more common now. Diane Sawyer, of course, anchoring at ABC.

CHUNG: Sure.

KURTZ: But it brought her an enormous, an avalanche of publicity. At the same time, do you think it led her to be judged more harshly or by a different standard than some male anchor?

CHUNG: Well, sure. I mean, no one could live up to that.

Fortunately, for Brian Williams, he had been working in that slot many times substituting for Tom Brokaw at NBC. Diane had substituted a great deal. And there was no fanfare at all.

So Katie had a really hard go arriving on the scene because there was this wonderful thing that had happened to her. She was the first woman. But at the same time, she and her superb producer, Rome Hartman, decided to change things dramatically in the beginning. That's another thing that's hard to do.

KURTZ: Yes, very hard to do with a very tradition-bound audience.

Let me play some comments that Katie had this week about leaving this job.


KATIE COURIC, CBS NEWS: I'm excited about the future and about doing something that's just a little more in my wheelhouse. While it was such a privilege to sit in that chair that once was occupied by Walter Cronkite, you know, it's a pretty confining venue.


KURTZ: Connie, Katie did some very good work at the "CBS Evening News," and it became a much better broadcast over the years. But as we just saw, she never seemed fully comfortable in the role.

CHUNG: I think that's true. I think that -- witness what she just said. She said, "a little more in my wheelhouse." And I presume that that means that that wasn't what she envisions as her type of way of communicating.

KURTZ: And using all of her skills.

We're going to pick this up on the other side. I've got to run some commercials here.

When we come back, we'll also talk about the next CBS news anchor, Scott Pelley.


KURTZ: CBS expected to announce this week that Scott Pelley will succeed Katie Couric in the anchor chair.

Let's take a look at some of his work on "60 Minutes."


SCOTT PELLEY, "60 MINUTES": Those stories on "60 Minutes."

The Mara River rises in a place called the Mau Forest, and it meanders about 250 miles or so down to Lake Victoria.

Of all the tragedies of war, none are greater than those that involve children.

There are about 85 bodies in the gym by my count. It is now five days since the tsunami.


KURTZ: Connie Chung, you were in the situation in the mid-90s where you were supposed to revitalize what was then Dan Rather's broadcast. Can any one person these days, Scott Pelley or anybody else, do that for an evening broadcast?

CHUNG: Probably not. I mean, Scott is a wonderful, superb journalist, and he's come up through the ranks at CBS.

You have to understand that CBS has a very strong feeling that an insider is the one who should ascend to that position. I think that NBC is actually kind of like that, too. They don't welcome outsiders that much. And so, Scott is someone who has toiled away all these years.

KURTZ: Absolutely. Not a particularly flashy journalist, but a very seasoned and aggressive one.

CHUNG: Exactly. And at "60 Minutes," he's been incredibly superb.

So I think that Scott is going to be the perfect person for the job. However, the job has changed so much. It's not what it used to be.

I think that I was very fortunate to be in network news and anchoring at that particular time, when I did in the '90s, because it was -- network news was different. Now it's changed so dramatically, lost so much audience, that it's not the same. And we don't know what this new media are. It's plural, isn't it? Media is plural.

KURTZ: Right.

CHUNG: We don't know what the new media are. It's evolving.

It's not going to reach some point that we can get our hands on it for some time. So, network news and the evening newscast is just a different ballgame these days.

Scott's going to be able to do it. He's going to be able to do it blindfolded, with his hands tied behind his back.

Diane Sawyer, over at ABC, I think has begun to change the broadcast. Brian Williams is as solid as they come. How smart was he and his boss to have him not go to the wedding and in fact --

KURTZ: Well, he was going and then he came back.

CHUNG: Yes. But, no, that's what I mean, not cover it, but to come back.

KURTZ: One more question about Katie Couric before we go.

She, of course, will be headed into some type of daytime talk show syndication deal. People are talking, could she fill the vacuum left by Oprah's departure?

How do you see Katie's future in that arena?

CHUNG: I think she can do it. I really do. I think if anybody can, you know, start a successful talk show, it's Katie Couric.

Now, she's got some tough competition from Maury Povich, but --

KURTZ: Ah-ha. A little plug there for your husband.


CHUNG: But believe me, he's got a loyal following. And his demographics are incredible, so young.

KURTZ: Glad to hear that Maury is doing well. I'm also delighted to have you on this morning on these topics, Connie.

CHUNG: But you know what/ Then let me make that prediction. Katie can't beat Maury.

KURTZ: All right. We've got it on videotape.

CHUNG: All right.

KURTZ: We'll have you back in a year.

CHUNG: There you go.

KURTZ: Connie Chung.

Thanks very much.

Still to come, Anderson Cooper takes on Sean Hannity, and Jon Stewart uses our program for some laughs about Donald Trump.

The "Media Monitor," straight ahead.


KURTZ: Time now for the "Media Monitor," our weekly look at the hits and errors in the news business.

And here's what I liked.

Ryan Lizza's lengthy piece in "The New Yorker" went beyond the talking points and sound bites in examining the making of the president's foreign policy. From the evolution of candidate Obama's thinking, to behind-the-scenes accounts of his approach to Egypt and Libya, the article helped us better understand the administration's caution in the face of violent Arab protests.

Sean Hannity ran an hour-long special on liberal media bias -- yes, the same Fox News host who reliably delivers the Republican line every night. Well, he's entitled to his views, but CNN's Anderson Cooper accused Hannity this week of distortion. So let's sort it out.

Cooper said he wasn't trying to start some sort of cable feud, but to set the record straight. Here's a clip from the "Hannity" program.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS (voice-over): When journalist Robert Novak wrote a column noting that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was an undercover CIA agent, the media cited the column as evidence of a smear campaign against Wilson and his family, organized, of course, by the Bush White House.



ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": He is the victim of a Bush administration smear campaign.



COOPER: That's not actually what I said. Here's what I said in the original news report.

A former U.S. Diplomat who investigated Africa's suspected link to Iraq's nuclear weapons program now says he is the victim of a Bush administration smear campaign.


KURTZ: That is an absolute slam-dunk case of misleading editing. Anderson was shown as if he were offering his opinion of Joe Wilson when he was, yes, quoting Joe Wilson.

And this, in Hannity's special program on media bias.

Now, usually when you end up unexpectedly on "The Daily Show," you look -- what's the word I'm looking for? -- dumb. But Jon Stewart played a clip of RELIABLE SOURCES this week in which we actually got to make a serious media point.

The subject was Donald Trump. And I was talking to Adweek's Michael Wolff about whether we should take his presidential flirtation seriously. Stewart was, shall we say, skeptical about all the attention that Donald's been getting.


JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": But perhaps you're asking yourself, why?

MICHAEL WOLFF, "ADWEEK": I don't understand why people talk about this in such serious ways.

KURTZ: Well, there is the poll-addictive nature of journalism, and so when you have a couple of polls where Trump is at nine percent, leading the GOP field, that tends to get our attention.

STEWART: Yes, they have to put Donald Trump on every show spewing the crazy (EXPLETIVE DELETED) he can think of, because Donald's poll numbers are high, mostly because they keep putting him on television to spew the crazy (EXPLETIVE DELETED) he can think of.


KURTZ: Yes, there is that circular quality in which media exposure leads to political buzz, which in turn leads to more media exposure. Jon Stewart went on to recall other politicians who were leading in the early polls and getting so much coverage -- "President Rudy Giuliani," "President Joe Lieberman," and "President Mario Cuomo."

A good reminder from my poll-obsessed colleagues.

Well, that's it for this edition of RELIABLE SOURCES.

I'm Howard Kurtz.

Join us again next Sunday morning, 11:00 a.m. Eastern, for another critical look at the media.

"STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley begins right now.