Sen. Ted Cruz was interviewed Sunday on the Fox News program Mediabuzz, and host Howard Kurtz suggested that Cruz bashes the media to gain favor with his conservative base. Cruz stunned Kurtz a little by insisting that the "mainstream media" is a pile of "partisan liberal Democrats...almost without exception." This exchange came at the end:
KURTZ: Quick last question: When you bash the media, and you've been treated unfairly at times, like you scare little children (Cruz laughs), but isn't that in your interest to do that? Your base loves that. They don't like the mainstream media.
CRUZ: There's a reason they don’t like the mainstream media. They're partisan liberal Democrats.
KURTZ: Every single journalist?
CRUZ: Almost without exception.
KURTZ: Almost without exception?
CRUZ: Almost without exception. They have a partisan agenda, and yes we understand -- alright let’s take a substantive issue, police officers. If you have one police officer somewhere who does something he shouldn't have, the press will breathlessly report on this terrible, horrible police officer and all of the Democratic politicians will jump in and demonize and vilify the cops. Let me ask you something. How come the press doesn't tell stories of heroism? But the great news is, we don't live anymore in a world of three networks that have a stranglehold on information. We’ve got the Internet. We’ve got the Drudge Report, we’ve got talk radio, we’ve got social media. We've got the ability to go directly around and directly to the people.
Kurtz didn't bring up the Latino candidate's young daughters Catherine and Caroline being cartooned as little monkeys by The Washington Post. Was that one too easy? The end of the interview was similar to the beginning:
KURTZ: You’ve ripped coverage of the Republicans as being unfair and biased from the day you got in the race. But now as a leading candidate, don't you need to be able to withstand tough media scrutiny?
CRUZ: Oh sure, that goes with the territory, but any Republican who is running should not be confused and think that the mainstream media are our friends. They are partisans. They wake up every day fighting for liberal political agendas. The New York Times wants Hillary Clinton to be the next president, and every day from now until the election they're going to push stories advancing that. Now that's the reality, that’s the world we live in. The answer is not to whine and complain about it. The answer is to do what Reagan did. Go over the head of the media, go straight to the American people. That’s what we’re looking to do. That's why we're building running a grass-roots campaign to go around the media gatekeepers.
Kurtz asked Cruz about the Times story on the loan he and his wife Heidi took from Goldman Sachs (where she worked), and he dismissed it as a "nothingburger," noting he had failed to disclose on one form, but included it on another, and both were made public before he was elected. Kurtz also raised the "birther" issue:
KURTZ: Let me move on to the so-called birther story, because I was surprised at the way that took off. I thought it would about a two-day flap, questions about you being born in Canada, questions about your eligibility for the presidency. You were asked about it every day for a week by reporters everywhere you went. What did you make of that?
CRUZ: Look, that's just the nature of reporters. They like to, as I mentioned they're Democrats at the end of the day. The reporters want Hillary to win.
KURTZ: The reporters like conflict, and Donald Trump drove the agenda, or do you believe he drove the agenda by throwing that into the center of the campaign?
CRUZ: He drives the reporters' agenda. So we were in the midst of a bus tour of Iowa. We went to 28 counties in six days, had enormous enthusiasm. But from what you do, looking at the media, it was a great field test. We would do at pretty much every event we do a press gaggle, let the reporters ask questions. By the way, a lot of other candidates don't do press gaggles. They don’t take questions. I take them all the time. Half to two thirds of the questions from the reporters would be about Donald Trump and the latest attack, the latest tweet...
When we do town halls and actual voters would ask questions, nobody would ask about the silly birther attack. Nobody would ask about Donald Trump. They ask about the real problems facing this country. How are we going to defeat ISIS? How do we stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons? How are we going to protect our Scond amendment or religious liberty? How are we going to have more jobs? It was a perfect focus group, where the reporters all follow Donald Trump like catnip If he wakes up at six in the morning and he sends a wild tweet, every reporter asks, did you see the latest tweet? You know what? The American people are a lot more serious and substantive. They're interested in who is ready to be the next commander in chief.
Regardless of the lack of merit in the "natural born citizen" flap, Cruz here sounds a lot like the Clinton playbook on scandal: we care about the issues the people care about, the scandals aren't substance. Kurtz challenged Cruz on the media/moderate Republican line that everyone hates him in Washington:
KURTZ: I have one more New York Times question. A piece last month said you are not very likable, senator, [Cruz laughs], that you seemed to be taking an almost academic approach to achieving likability, and you can appear to be excessively calibrated, right down to dramatic pauses. Dramatic pause now. What do you make of that? What did you make of that line of media analysis of your candidacy?
CRUZ: Look, it's a perfect example of the kind of hit piece the New York Times does. By the way, if I were a Democrat, go look at the stories that the New York Times wrote about Barack Obama -- the inspirational campaign, driven from the people! You could write the same, exact same story – have you seen anywhere in the mainstream media where 10 percent of a rural county came to our event? That 25 percent of a small town came --
KURTZ: It’s certainly true you're not the most popular guy in the Senate.
CRUZ: But let's be clear why that is. It's not, how I treat people.
KURTZ: That's why I'm asking.
CRUZ: My entire time in public life, I've treated everyone with civility and respect. What is problematic in the Senate from other senators' perspective is speaking the truth, actually saying what is going on. We just passed a trillion-dollar omnibus bill that funded the entirety of Barack Obama’s agenda -- funded Obamacare, funded executive amnesty, funded the Iran deal, funded Obama's indefensible plan to bring Syrian refugees to America. The unpardonable sin that I committed is I actually speak the truth and actually say why is Republican leadership funding the Democrats’ objectives? By the way, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi said the same thing.