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Reliable Sources

Hillary Clinton Complains About Media's Treatment of Women; Interview With Laura Dern

Aired May 25, 2008 - 10:00   ET


HOWARD KURTZ, HOST (voice over): The media and misogyny. Hillary Clinton complains about sexist treatment by the press, and plenty of women seem to agree.

Collateral damage. CBS' Kimberly Dozier on battling her way back from a near-death experience in Iraq and how she's become a symbol of an unpopular war.

Recounting history. Is the new HBO film on the Bush/Gore court battle a fair portrayal or a fictional docudrama. We'll ask the woman who plays Katherine Harris, Laura Dern.

Plus, why Murdoch, Ailes, Zucker and Capus can't get Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann to cool it.


KURTZ: As Hillary Clinton edged another step closer to losing the Democratic nomination this week, the media began to focus on the women out there who are angry. They are angry at seeming to lose the chance to see one of their own in the Oval Office. They are angry at a campaign that has sometimes seemed to focus on Hillary's clothing, cleavage and cackle. And they are angry at the media for belittling their champion.

You can see that in an online video put together by a feminist group and aired on ABC News.


JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: She morphed into a scolding mother talking down to a child.

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS: Men won't vote for Hillary Clinton because she reminds them of their nagging wives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And when Hillary Clinton speaks, men hear, "Take out the garbage."

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC NEWS: They said you're a guy going door to door trying to sell something. And she said, you'll have to wait for my husband to get home. MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: When she reacts the way she reacts to Obama, with just the look, the look toward him, looking like everyone's first wife standing outside of probate court...


KURTZ: Hillary herself used her strongest language to date in an interview with The Washington Post's Lois Romano.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's been deeply offensive to millions of women. The manifestation of some of the sexism that has gone on in this campaign is somehow more respectable, or at least more accepted. And I think there should be equal rejection of the sexism and the racism when and if it ever raises its ugly head. But it does seem as though the press, at least, is not as bothered by the incredible vitriol that has been engendered by the comments and the actions of people who are nothing by misogynists.


KURTZ: Joining us now to talk about this, in Baltimore, Carol Costello, who reports for "THE SITUATION ROOM" on CNN. And here in Washington, radio talk show host Blanquita Cullum. And Marie Cocco, syndicated columnist for "The Washington Post Writers Group."

Marie Cocco, what are some of the swipes and slams against Hillary that have bothered you most in the coverage of this campaign? Have we enabled this? Have we allowed this?

MARIE COCCO, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP": Sure. You know, sometimes you put on cable television and you feel like you're in the middle of a locker room.

One of the most memorable lines was last fall, actually, when Tucker Carlson, on MSNBC, was calling Senator Clinton scary and said, you know, "Every time she comes on TV, I instinctively cross my legs." Chris Matthews has said that the male politicians, prominent male politicians, governors, senators who were endorsing Senator Clinton last fall were "castrados in the eunuch chorus."

KURTZ: All right.

Blanquita Cullum, when Hillary Clinton complains about sexism and misogyny in the media, doesn't being a woman, as a candidate, also help her?

BLANQUITA CULLUM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Not really. I've got to say that it hurts her, because the rules are different.

The rules are a lot harder for her, and people -- I think there's almost more sexism than there is racism in this country. And frankly, as you know, she's not been my candidate, but I have to say that I have to really admire her ability to continue almost like a battering ram against her own party that has been the worst in trying to take her down and make her quit.

And a lot of people are watching that and they're saying -- you know, they're secretly behind the scenes saying, you go for it, because you have a right as a candidate to run. And it's not your sex.

KURTZ: You just touched on something that I want to toss to Carol Costello. And that is, do commentators say things about a female candidate, and do journalists quote people as saying things that you could never get away with if somebody were belittling a black candidate?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, I think that's absolutely true. I think it's OK to say sexist remarks about women in this country. And the best example of that is, remember when that woman stood up at a John McCain campaign rally and she saw that a camera was rolling, she was very well dressed, and she came out and said, "How can we beat the bitch?"

Everybody covered it from John McCain's perspective and how he responded to this woman, but nobody really covered it from this woman's perspective. I mean, what exactly made it OK for her to stand up in front of a rolling camera at a public event and call another woman this name?

CULLUM: And Carol, to that point, you have a situation where people belittled Bill Clinton for telling people, back off on my wife, but no one has said anything to Barack Obama, who made the same statement about his wife...

KURTZ: We'll get to that.

CUMMINGS: ... and told them to back off.

COSTELLO: That's chivalrous. I mean, a man can say that about his wife and that's fine, but Bill Clinton saying that about Hillary is like they want a co-presidency. It's never taken in the same context as what a man would say about his spouse.

KURTZ: But Marie Cocco, are the media being tarred with a pretty broad brush here because of the out-of-bounds comments of a certain number of loudmouths?

COCCO: Well, this is amplified on the Internet, which, you know, may not be the broadcast media, but it is part of the media of this campaign. And if you went to the Internet -- you know, we all know about the false Muslim e-mails that go around about Barack Obama. But if you ever saw the language, the vulgarity, the vitriol that is hauled at Hillary Clinton by liberal Democrats, by the liberal blogs, largely by, frankly, Obama supporters, you'd be appalled. I mean, you'd punish your children for this.

And what I keep coming back to -- and I'm really glad the event with Senator McCain was mentioned, because Senator McCain could have said at that moment, I will accept the premise of your question, which is how am I, the Republican... KURTZ: But I don't want to talk about Senator McCain. I want to talk about the media. The media played that clip over and over and over again. And yes, it was all couched in terms of the political calculations of John McCain.

COCCO: Right.

KURTZ: Why is it -- is it just that we reflect the culture, that there is a media culture that says it's OK to throw these terms around...

COCCO: Well, you know what, Howard?

KURTZ: ... and talk about the first wives and all of that -- yes.

COCCO: Don Imus was the media culture too. And what happened to Don Imus when he made a sexist and racist comment about the Rutgers women's basketball team? The media pounced on him, the mainstream media pounced on him. The political class pounced on him.

I cannot count the number of politicians who went on television who went on television to denounce Don Imus. And he was basically driven out of his job.


COSTELLO: Yes, yes, but on the...

KURTZ: Go ahead, Carol.

COSTELLO: But Don Imus, I think it's because the women he maligned were African-American. If they weren't and they were white women, I really believe that nothing would have been said.

CULLUM: And the other part of this is, it's a very fine line, OK? First of all, when you're running for any high office, and especially as it becomes more apparent in a race for the presidency, you know right out front, right out front you've got to be ready for the maligns and the slurs. And as you're right, Maria, when it comes to the Internet, where it's absolutely bigoted, racist, horrible.

Now, I will tell you, I would rather see someone of a strength of character go out there and run and not limit the free speech, because at least you know where people lie and their biases.

KURTZ: All right.

Now Carol, is this -- let me ask you a two-part question. One is, is this allowed, does this flourish because we have a male- dominated media culture in which mostly male executives make these decisions about the tone of what's acceptable? And also, as a woman -- and you're a journalist, you don't take sides -- but when you see a candidate who happens to be a woman like Hillary Clinton getting slapped around like this, does it bother you personally? COSTELLO: It does bother me personally. I mean, it deeply bothers me. And you know, I've done many stories on "THE SITUATION ROOM" on this.

Something I would like to say, you know, we sit around and we blame males for sexist comments, but women are guilty as well. I remember Jane Fonda came out and called Hillary Clinton, what, a "patriarch with a vagina"?

Laura Ingraham, the conservative radio talk show host, played the Wicked Witch of the West music every time she talked about Hillary Clinton. Randi Rhodes, a liberal woman talker, she called Hillary Clinton a term I cannot say on television, but at least she was fired about it.

But women play into this sexist culture as well because -- you know, explain to me, ladies, why women do this when they have been in the same place as Hillary Clinton, fighting to get to the top. They know what it's like and yet they play into this.

KURTZ: Right.

COSTELLO: And they get away with it because the media doesn't cover that part. It's OK if a woman says it about another woman.

KURTZ: That's an excellent point. And we shouldn't hang it all on men because you gave all the examples.

I need to move on now because making news late in the week, John McCain renouncing support from two pastors whose nod he had embraced. One of them, of course, Reverend John Hagee. The other, Rod Parsley.

Now, the media played a huge role in this, because Hagee's been controversial for his anti-Catholic statements for months since he endorsed McCain back in February. Then surfaces a tape first on a Web site called Talk to Action. It was picked up by "The Huffington Post."

Let's listen to a little bit of that.


PASTOR JOHN HAGEE: "Behold, I will send for many fishers, and after will I send for many hunters. And they, the hunters, shall hunt them." That would be the Jews.

Then God sent a hunter. A hunter is someone who comes with a gun and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter.


KURTZ: Even after that videotape surfaced, Marie Cocco, there were no big stories in "The New York Times" or "The Washington Post" or the "L.A. Times." It was on certain cable networks, until McCain finally said this is crazy and unacceptable.

So what gives?

COCCO: What gives, why was there not more of a media firestorm?

KURTZ: I mean, compared, obviously, to Jeremiah Wright...

COCCO: Compared with Reverend Wright?

KURTZ: ... and clearly...

COCCO: Well, first of all, let me just say, my whole opinion about these pastors is that the Democrats and the liberals have created this situation, because for years and years and years, going back to the 1980s, Democrats ran against the Christian right, there were media stories all the time about people like Pat Robertson, his comments after 9/11. So when the Democratic Party and the media has sent the tone for, you know, religious figures' comments to be fair game, then they're fair game for both sides.

As to why it was not more of a firestorm than Jeremiah Wright, easy. John McCain did not sit in this fellow's church for 20 years.

KURTZ: Yes. Of course the relationship...

COCCO: Didn't give him $20,000 worth of charitable contributions.

KURTZ: Of course the relationship is not comparable.

COCCO: Correct. Correct.

KURTZ: But, the Hagee story was hanging out there and it got very little media coverage.

CULLUM: And Hagee came forward and he apologized to the Catholic Church.

KURTZ: He did.

CULLUM: And Hagee, you know, came out and said that he is going to withdraw his support from John McCain because he felt that he was being detrimental. Reverend Wright did not do that.

KURTZ: All right.

CULLUM: Now look, you have to look at the fact...

KURTZ: I've got to -- I've got to wrap it up.

CULLUM: ... that these guys are -- all right.

KURTZ: Sorry.

And Carol, let me ask you to hold on until the next segment.

COSTELLO: OK. KURTZ: Look, I just think that the media fell down on the job on Hagee. We just weren't as fascinated by some of the outrageous and unacceptable things that he said.

And on the question of Hillary Clinton, there is no question, and you all seem to have agreed, that a lot of what has been allowed, amplified by the media, has just simply been locker room talk. And I think there's a big backlash brewing against us for allowing the tone to get down in the gutter the way it has.

When we come back, slicing and dicing. The White House lashes out at NBC over an edited interview with the president. Don't TV newsrooms do this every day, or was that Richard Engel interview unfairly distorted?

And later, Laura Dern on portraying Katherine Harris.


KURTZ: Everyone in television news edits interviews. That's the nature of the beast. But NBC drew the wrath of the White House this week after trimming part of President Bush's sit-down with Richard Engel. The network's chief foreign correspondent asked whether the president in his speech in Israel had been referring to Barack Obama when he criticized as appeasers those who would negotiate with such countries as Iran.

Here's how it played on "NBC Nightly News."


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My policies haven't changed, but evidently the political calendar has. And when, you know, a leader of Iran says that they want to destroy Israel, you've got to take those words seriously.


KURTZ: And here is more of Bush's answer, which, by the way, was aired on Sunday's "Today Show" and posted on NBC's Web site.


BUSH: People need to read the speech. You didn't get it exactly right either.

What I said was is that we need to take the words of people seriously. And when, you know, a leader of Iran says that they want to destroy Israel, you've got to take those words seriously. And if you don't take them seriously, then it hearkens back to a day when we didn't take other words seriously.


KURTZ: That and other editing prompted a blistering letter from White House counselor Ed Gillespie, who accused NBC of "... deceitful editing to further a media manufactured storyline," charging that it made the president look like he was agreeing with Engel that negotiating with Iran amounted to appeasement. NBC News president Steve Capus responded that there was no attempt to deceive and called Gillespie's charges "... a gross misrepresentation of the facts."

Carol Costello, you've edited hundreds and hundreds of TV stories or packages. Was that unfair?

COSTELLO: I don't think so. You know, it just seems funny to me coming from this administration, who is the champion of manufactured storylines, that they would be, like, criticizing a network for improperly editing comments.

I don't think NBC did anything wrong at all. Our job as journalists is to tell a story succinctly. We don't have a massive amount of time to put every single word that someone says to us in a story.

And I must say, this is so unusual. In my 25 years of reporting, I've had one person come forward and say that I misrepresented them by editing...

KURTZ: Right.

COSTELLO: ... their bite in an inappropriate way. So it's quite unusual for someone to criticize a broadcast outlet for this, because I thought NBC did a great job.

KURTZ: You disagree?

CULLUM: Yes, I do. I do disagree. And I disagree because...

KURTZ: What was misleading about the editor?

CULLUM: Well, I think that at a point here where we're dealing with a very sensitive issue of Iran, of Israel, and in a political environment of an election, they didn't have anything to lose by trying to do it the right way. And obviously they felt compelled to run the entire thing on the Internet. Why didn't they run it better on NBC?

But my thought is this...

KURTZ: Quickly.

CULLUM: My quick thought on this is that criticism happens all the time with the way things are edited. Criticism has been -- there have been complaints against every single network. So that this is unusual, it's not.

KURTZ: In that same letter, Marie Cocco, from White House counselor Ed Gillespie, he accused NBC of blurring the lines between NBC News and the "blatantly talk show hosts like Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann."

So it sounded like the White House was trying to pick a fight here.

COCCO: I think the White House was so off base in this letter. First of all, it's the president. You just saw the clip.

It's the president who says we have a different political calendar. So if anyone politicized this interview, it's President Bush by saying the political calendar changed. So now to accuse NBC of politicizing it, I find way off base.

CULLUM: But Olbermann and Matthews have been very critical, and especially Olbermann. Very blatantly against the president. You guys are going to watch...


KURTZ: Well, OK. But they are opinion guys (ph).

We want to move on to another interview. This was Barack Obama on "Good Morning America" talking about -- he was with his wife Michelle, talking about the criticism of Mrs. Obama.

Let's watch.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If they think that they're going to try to make Michelle an issue in this campaign, they should be careful, because that I find unacceptable. The notion that you start attacking my wife or my family -- but I also think these folks should lay off my wife. All right? Just in case they're watching.


KURTZ: But Carol Costello, isn't Michelle Obama out there on the campaign trail as an advocate and a surrogate for her husband?

COSTELLO: Yes. You know what struck me is Michelle Obama is a well-educated, intelligent, sharp woman who's a great speaker. And for him to sit there beside her, it just seemed like -- I don't know, for me as a woman looking at it, it was belittling to Michelle Obama, who was giggling.

I don't know. She's out there. She's running her own campaign events. She does speeches without him. She's fair game, man.

KURTZ: What prompted this was the Tennessee Republican Party beating up on Michelle Obama for that comment about "This is a first time in my adult lifetime I'm proud of my country." She said it on the stump.

COCCO: Well, not only that. She is one of his most formidable campaign surrogates. She is campaigning for him every day. She has the nickname "The Closer." She raises money for him.

Apparently, Senator Obama forgets the two-for-one blue plate special, because if there was ever a candidate's spouse who was more maligned in history than Hillary Clinton was in 1992, I don't know who it was. Look, if a spouse is out there doing the job, then she's part of the game.

KURTZ: Michelle Obama's gotten a lot of good press, hasn't she?

CULLUM: She's gotten a lot of bad press as well. And the fact of the matter is, Howie, if she's going to say it, then she needs to be accountable for it. We cannot look at her as some sort of, you know, protected person because she happens to be of a certain color and a certain gender.

If you're going out there and you're in the race, the entire family is going to be out there. And she should be held accountable as well.

KURTZ: All right.

Now, one other bit of news. Linda Douglass, longtime ABC and CBS newswoman, a frequent guest on this program, announced this week that she's going over to the other side. She's going to be a spokeswoman for Barack Obama.

Douglass told me that this came together just in the last few days, and that she had not talked about the campaign, commented on it, analyzed it during any time that she was actually talking to the Obama camp. So we'll see how she holds up against the beast of the media in here new role.

Linda Douglass joining the Obama campaign.

Thanks, Marie Cocco, Blanquita Cullum, Carol Costello in Baltimore.

Coming up in the second half of RELIABLE SOURCES, cheating death. Two years after she was nearly killed in Iraq, I go running with CBS' Kimberly Dozier to find out how she's battled back and has become a symbol of an unpopular war.

And later, reliving history -- sort of. Laura Dern joins us to talk about her role as Katherine Harris in the new movie "Recount." The film captures the 2000 election chaos in Florida, but some Democrats are calling it fiction.


KURTZ: It was two years ago this weekend when the bomb that nearly killed Kimberly Dozier exploded in Iraq. The two other members of her CBS News crew died in the blast, but Dozier's life was saved by military surgeons.


KATIE COURIC, CBS NEWS (voice over): A CNN camera crew happened to be filling in the cache (ph) when Kimberly arrived. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I walked around the back, and she was as white as a sheet, laid out on the bed. I had no idea who she was. Her legs were clearly badly injured. And she was -- seemed to me unconscious.

COURIC: Kimberly brought back chilling souvenirs from the blast.

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CBS NEWS: This is what was in my head.


KURTZ: Now Dozier is trying to rebuild her television career, not just her body, and make sense of her experience, questions she grapples with in a new book, "Breathing the Fire."

We began our talk near the Potomac River, where I wanted to find out what kind of shape she's in.


KURTZ: Would you ever have imagined when you were in that hospital bed that you'd be able to run like this?

DOZIER: You know, I didn't even know if I'd be able to walk properly. That's what some of the doctors were telling me. And recently, when I met some doctors in Texas who had worked on me in Baghdad, I said, "Yes, I'm running." I mean, they couldn't even believe I was walking without a limp, much less running.

KURTZ: Are you feeling any pain right now?

DOZIER: None. A little cardio pain because I haven't been working out. I've been writing a book.

KURTZ: Kim, the coverage of Iraq, the place where you were almost killed, has plunged dramatically. Does that bother you?

DOZIER: Terribly. I feel like either we've decided the American public doesn't want to hear about, or they're simply changing the channel. And, you know, we have to choose the next administration, which is going to decide the next policy, act in our name. And if we're turning off to what's going on there, how can we make that decision?

KURTZ: At the same time, you had some trouble selling this book. You wound up with a small publisher, Meredith Books. What does that tell us about the marketplace and the media?

DOZIER: Well, they say that books about Iraq don't sell. And that's why I went to five or six different places. And I was also pushed to make it a woman's story, a feminist treatise of some sort. And I kept saying, no, look, it's not important because it was some journalist there, this is the journey of the combat injured.

So what I had to end up doing is use my story to pull people in. And I'm hoping it works. KURTZ: How do people react when they see you on the street? Do they say, hey, that's Kimberly Dozier, isn't she that CBS lady?

DOZIER: They say, oh, here's that reporter chick who got bombed, yes. They generally open up about how they feel about the war. They are frustrated, they are angry. That's the majority reaction I get.

KURTZ: What's your reaction? How do you feel that you're sort of permanently pigeonholed as the woman who got blown up? Have you become a symbol of this war?

DOZIER: Well, in a sense, you know, I can't really complain, can I? mean, I survived. Some great doctors put me back together. My colleagues, Paul Douglas and James Brolan, didn't make it. Captain Alex Funkhouser, who we were following, he didn't make it.

So if I'm a symbol for this war, that is something I've learned to try to wear as a badge of honor, after initially trying to pull away from it, because it is painful.

KURTZ: What happened to you -- although you got obviously a lot more attention as a television journalist -- is not that much different than what happens to thousands of thousands of American soldiers.

DOZIER: That's the kind of -- that's what I've tried to make positive about this. Not that it was a story of one reporter, but that I'm able to tell the story that a lot of troops have gone through.

A lot of people have said, you know, why the heck -- or who do you think you are writing this down? Why should we care? You were a journalist. You chose to be there. You weren't wearing a uniform.

True, true, true. But I went through a journey that I was ignorant of. I didn't think about the fact that injured troops were starting a one-to-two-year journey to try to get back to health. I didn't even report it most of the time.

KURTZ: Let me read from "Breathing the Fire."

"My editors glazed over when I tried to pitch ideas. Not another school (INAUDIBLE), not another kidnapping story, not another 'soldiers are fed up' story, whether the soldiers are fed up with the war, or more often, with the media's coverage of the war."

So your bosses and at networks and news organizations all across this country were tuning out.

DOZIER: They were reacting exactly like the American public was reacting. And I mean, I understand, we've seen a lot of the same images over and over. We've seen a lot of the same stories over and over. And it's hard to, for me as a journalist, find a character that will keep people interested, that will make people care.

That's my job, but of course I'm also going to complain when I don't win the battle and my stories get shut down.

KURTZ: Another excerpt: "When conservative media critics accused us of 'hotel journalism,' it hurt, because I believed it was partly true. Three and four days would go by, sometimes even a week, with us never leaving our compound. The risks seemed too high for us to capture another tape's worth of a relentlessly repetitive story."

So you were in a way a captive of your hotel, a captive of the sheer repetition of "10 more Americans were killed today, 20 more Americans were killed today, another bomb went off in a marketplace." That had to be frustrating.

DOZIER: Well, the fact of the matter is, the job the troops are doing on the ground, it's hard, it's dusty, it's gritty, it's often the same thing over and over and over. That is what nation-building is all about. That is what peacekeeping and security is all about.

And there are only so many ways you can tell that story. And there are only so many ways you can try to keep the American public interested. And you know, we tried over and over and over, but sometimes even I understood why my bosses were like, hey, you gave us that story a month ago, or six months ago, why should we tell it again?

KURTZ: And not to mention the risk of going out to tell it again. And maybe it doesn't even get on the air.

DOZIER: Well, and what was frequently happening is we would go on four or five patrols in a month, and you'd get maybe one or two of them on TV. And you know, the camera crews, the drivers, the people that took us to that situation would ask, is it worth it?

KURTZ: Is it worth it

Let me take you back to two years ago. Memorial Day Weekend, you were going to do a story about how the troops are spending the holiday. The bomb goes off.

Your heart stopped twice. You had brain surgery. You had titanium rods inserted into your legs. It was six weeks before you could really take more than a few steps.

How did you come back from that?

DOZIER: Had my family at my side. Had some great doctors, nurses, and corpsmen; the corpsmen are the Navy's physician's assistants. They were with me around the clock.

And also, early on one of the doctors told me I might never be able to walk properly again. And this was in Landstuhl. It was going to be weeks or months before I knew whether he was right or wrong. And this made me furious to the bone, to the core.

How dare he say that? And that...

KURTZ: You wanted to prove him wrong? DOZIER: That fed my -- that fed my physiotherapy down the line. I mean, anger became an energy for healing. It drove me. Like, I'm not going to walk? I'm not going to walk? Let's see about that.

KURTZ: As you mentioned, your CBS colleagues, James Brolan, Paul Douglas, killed in the attack. You went back to the London bureau as you were recuperating. Some people there blamed you. Maybe you yourself wondered for a time, unfairly, were you responsible for these men's deaths?

DOZIER: One of the things that happens in any sort of grief or trauma I learned is that when you survive and others don't, you try to take the blame on, because then you're taking control of the situation.

If it was my fault, that means that the next time some sort of tragedy happens, I can do something differently and stop it from happening. So that's a natural part of the process.

If Paul and James' friends, families needed to blame me then or need to blame me now, I understand. That's part of the healing process. And they can be angry at me for all time if it helps.

KURTZ: After all, you were all doing your jobs.


KURTZ: And it's a risky job, and you all knew that.

Bob Woodruff of ABC reached out to you. About six months earlier, he was nearly killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

Did it help to talk to somebody who had been through a similar experience?

DOZIER: When Bob called me in the hospital, I was still barely able to stand up for more than 10 seconds at a time. And I was pinioned by not just the pain, but the guilt, thinking about Paul and James.

And Bob said to me, "I bet you blame yourself, right?" And I said, "Yes, of course. It was my story." And he said, "Look, you knew those guys. You already know what I'm going to tell you."

"Nobody told them where to go. They were professionals who loved their jobs, at the top of their game. They went with you by choice. If you take that choice away from them, if you take the blame on yourself, you're dishonoring their memory."

And that became something I hung onto from then on.

KURTZ: At the moment, you're based in Washington. You, after all you've been through, want to go back to the Middle East. CBS understandably is not crazy about sending you.

Why do you want to go back? DOZIER: Well, it's something I've studied all of my life. It's a place I feel at home. It's a place I think I'm a good cultural translator for, to translate that world back to this one here so that people can understand.

But most of all, I think what happens in the Middle East is pivotal for our legacy, what Americans mean across the world. I want to cover that. It's where some of the major stories on the planet happen.

I don't want to be there because there are wars going on. I want to be there because that's where history is being made.

KURTZ: But it is a dangerous place and you might again be walking into the line of fire.

DOZIER: You know, you calculate your risks. You make your calculations. You do your best to minimize the risks. And then you go ahead and get the story.

KURTZ: Kimberly Dozier, thanks for coming out with a run for us today

DOZIER: Thank you.


KURTZ: A remarkable woman. I should mention that my wife has done some promotion work for Kim Dozier's book.

Up next, tonight HBO tackles hanging chads in the new movie "Recount," but why are some Democrats saying the script includes outright fabrications?

We'll talk to actress Laura Dern and director Jay Roach in a moment.



KURTZ: What happened on election night 2000 remains the single most embarrassing episode in the history of television news.

Here's a brief look at how we covered the media's big blunder.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN: A big call to make.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: Mr. Gore will take the state of Florida.

DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS: Bulletin: Florida pulled back into the undecided column.

PETER JENNINGS, ABC NEWS: There has been a change, or we're going to make a change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fox News projects George W. Bush the winner of the presidency of the United States based on the call we now make in the state of Florida.


KURTZ: It was the beginning of a national melodrama that is the subject of a new HBO movie called "Recount," which premiers tonight and which has used such consultants as CNN's Jeff Toobin. Kevin Space plays Al Gore's lead lawyer, Ron Klain. Tom Wilkinson is George Bush's team leader, James Baker. And Laura Dern is Florida's secretary of state.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My understanding is that the law gives you the discretion to accept late returns for any reason. That it's up to you.

LAURA DERN, ACTRESS: The law says (INAUDIBLE). I have no choice but to follow the law.


KURTZ: But is the film an accurate portrayal, a fair portrayal of what went down during the 36-day recount?

Joining me now from Los Angeles is Laura Dern, the actress who plays Katherine Harris, and Jay Roach, the director and executive producer of "Recount."

Laura Dern, Katherine Harris, as you know, was widely mocked as a moron with too much makeup. You've described her as having been painted by the media as a villain.

Did you try and discount that were you were portraying your portrayal of her?

DERN: Well, I think for both myself and Jay, as the filmmaker, it's not really our job to necessarily discount or support. More, it's intuitively to try to reflect our idea of the essence of what she feels she was walking through. When you're playing a character, you just have to get a sense of what their perspective on their experience is, which is kind of interesting, because then you're getting inside what that person's potential plight was, which I think is what Katherine felt she was waling through based on her autobiography, "Center of the Storm," which we both read and was incredibly helpful.

KURTZ: Right. Let me play a brief clip of you and a key moment in the movie, and we'll ask you a question on the other side.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were about to pick the leader of the free world.

DERN: Don't you worry, Mac. It's going to take a lot more than David Letterman making fun of my hair and makeup to knock me down.


KURTZ: Now, just to remind people, Katherine Harris was Florida's secretary of state, but she was also the co-chairman of the Bush campaign in the state. So, to some extent, did you portray her as a partisan in this battle?

DERN: Oh, I think there's no question. I mean, she definitely had an agenda. I think that's fair to say. And, you know, I think she feels she utilized the law to her advantage. And that's very clear based on the facts that we know.

KURTZ: In watching the film, it seemed to me that James Baker, who was the former secretary of state leading the Bush forces, came off as a canny and ruthless lawyer. And Warren Christopher, the former secretary of state on the Al Gore side, kind of looked like he was played for a fool. Christopher, as you know, is unhappy with the film.


KURTZ: And I talked to Ron Klain, the former Al Gore lawyer who is portrayed by Kevin Spacey, and he told me the following: "Secretary Christopher comes across as kind of naive and out of touch, and he wasn't. It makes Christopher look like an idiot, and he wasn't. It's just not right."

How do you respond to that?

ROACH: Well, we did a lot of research. We tried to find, as we did with all the characters, the essence of Warren Christopher and what he went through during this experience. And I understand Ron was close to Warren, being concerned about it. But I will say that when I read the script, I didn't see Warren Christopher that way.

I thought many of the things he said were ideas that I believe in, the idea that we should put country above party, especially during what was supposed to be an impartial election. And we should try to run a recount process in a way that is, you know, beyond reproach, or beyond criticism, because if the election were to have flipped, if they had done it any other way...

KURTZ: Right.

ROACH: ... would that seem legitimate? So I tried to portray him as a strong figure.

KURTZ: Yes. But you and your staff let Ron Klain and James Baker and some others review the script in advance and make some comments. Secretary Christopher didn't get a shot. He didn't even know about this movie until he heard about it from his tailor. So that seems a little unfair. ROACH: I heard that story. But first of all, I wish he could see the film. You know, I think it would be great for the criticisms that he has, which, again, I think I'm sympathetic to, but I wish he would actually see the film. He hasn't seen it yet.

KURTZ: Let me take you back 2000. As a citizen, how did you feel when the Supreme Court stepped in and essentially made George W. Bush president?

DERN: As a citizen, I felt devastated because there were uncounted votes. And I feel so proud as an American to consider my country being a place where voice is always heard. And that was what was so devastating about this recount, was that I left the experience with a real disillusionment about the process, and really waited for my country to show me this remarkable return of voter reform so that we'd never have to experience that again. And I'm still waiting.

KURTZ: Jay Roach, let me come back to this question about the accuracy of the film. Let me play a clip from Kevin Spacey, who, as I mentioned, portrays Al Gore's lawyer, Ron Klain, and what he had to say about the approach of the movie.


KEVIN SPACEY, ACTOR: Our sort of motto has been, get the story right, get the facts right, tell it honestly and tell the truth.


KURTZ: Now, I understand in making a movie obviously you have to compress, you don't always know what was said in the back rooms and so forth. But, for example, Ron Klain told me in that same interview that there's a scene where he's portrayed talking to another Democratic operative, Michael Bulinibar (ph), and he says -- or Spacey says, "I'm not sure I even like Al Gore."

Ron Klain says he never said that. Why would you ad or invent something like that?

ROACH: Well, we wanted, as with a lot of moments in the film, to capture the essence of a certain attitude in the Gore team. And it's documented that some people in the Gore team were focused more on the larger cause of just getting the votes counted.

There was tension sometimes between Gore and the team, including Ron Klain. Fortunately, as the process went on they unified. And that's partly what this story is about.

KURTZ: Laura Dern, as you tried to capture Katherine Harris, you read her book, and obviously you want to be true to the script and to her character. And at the same time, you're making a movie, you want it to be dramatic. I'm told that at least you did some scenes three different ways or three different takes.

What was your thinking on that? DERN: Well, by good fortune, I had Jay at the helm, who was there to both give me room to try that and also to guide the film through editing to decide if one was more extreme at one moment, that perhaps we wanted to be understanding of the emotion of an experience for her and maybe use a subtler take at another moment. I mean, we all remembered how extreme an impression she had on us when we first saw her. And as Jay mentions, you know, she had already become, you know, late night television fodder and send up on "Saturday Night Live." And we were trying to really have a true experience of an authentic person in a film.

KURTZ: Right. Well, I'd love to get a hold of the outtakes to see what wasn't used. And this is an important subject, an important movie. I hope people will watch it and make up their own minds.

ROACH: Could I say -- could I say one more thing, Howard?

KURTZ: Just briefly.

ROACH: Yes, just that, you know, we watched a lot of docudramas when we started this film, and I remembered when I was studying "All the President's Men," how "Follow the money" became the catch phrase in a way for that movie. And it's true that just like a lot of things in our film, that line didn't actually happen. It wasn't spoken by Deep Throat at the time, and yet it stood for a complicated process of, you know, tracking the financial transactions. But the sort of pure essence of the line captured people's imaginations and is an example of how dramatization should work.

It wasn't 100 percent accurate, but it was very true to what went on. And I hope people will watch the film, our film, that way. We feel like we were trying to tell the story of this national nightmare and get all the big ideas right.

KURTZ: All right.

Jay Roach, Laura Dern, thanks very much for joining us.

DERN: Thank you.

ROACH: Thank you.


KURTZ: And still to come, when anchors attack. The feud between Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann reaches new heights, right up to the level of Rupert Murdoch and General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt.

How did this thing spin out of control?


KURTZ: It's no secret to anyone with cable service that Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann can't stand each other. But their ongoing feud has now reached the executive suites of two corporate giants. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC: Bill O'Reilly, today's worst person in the world.

KURTZ (voice over): On MSNBC, Olbermann mocks this Fox News rival almost every night. And O'Reilly often responds by denouncing NBC as a left wing, anti-Bush, anti-war network.

But in recent weeks, O'Reilly has escalated his attack to NBC's parent company, General Electric, over its previous business dealings with Iran, which is odd because GE renounced such business three years ago and will wind up its contracts within weeks.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS: Because they sold their souls to the worst elements in this country. And Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, is doing business right this minute with Iran, who are killing our soldiers. And Jeffrey Immelt is a despicable human being.

Jeff Immelt answers to me. He answers to me. I'm not letting that go.

KURTZ: But there's more to the story. This week I learned that Fox's owner, Rupert Murdoch, has talked about Olbermann's attacks with Jeff Zucker, NBC's chief executive, and with Jeff Immelt. I also learned that Roger Ailes, the Fox News chairman, called Zucker to complain about a swipe that Olbermann took at him, one at which Olbermann charged, without providing evidence, that Ailes was consulting for Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign.

In that conversation, my sources say, Ailes said that if Olbermann didn't stop the attacks against Fox, he would unleash O'Reilly against NBC and would use Murdoch's "New York Post" as well. A Fox spokesman says Ailes could not have invoked the tabloid because he doesn't control The Post. But on Monday, the same day my story in all of this was published, The Post's "Page Six," edited by Richard Johnson, just happened to print rumors that Olbermann doesn't get along with his colleagues at MSNBC.

Olbermann took note of the coincidence.

OLBERMANN: So hats off for the best timing in News Corp history as Richard Johnson proves that he and his column and his newspaper have no actual purpose anymore except to permit Ailes and Bill-O to retaliate against people who call them out.

Thanks, Dick.

KURTZ: But the phone calls went both ways. NBC News President Steve Capus called Ailes to complain about O'Reilly's criticism of Baghdad correspondent Richard Engel as being anti-war. Ailes complained again about Olbermann's mockery and said the problem could vanish if Olbermann just backed off.

Capus, my sources say, asked whether Ailes was threatening him. A Fox spokesman says Ailes doesn't tell O'Reilly what to do.


KURTZ: One thing is clear. Murdoch, Ailes, Zucker, Capus have all tried and failed to negotiate a cease-fire. Both O'Reilly and Olbermann have gone over the line at times, and no one, not even their bosses, seems able to stop them.

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

I'm Howard Kurtz.

Join us again next Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern for another critical look at the media.