MEDIA BUZZ

Media go nuclear against Trump; Colbert, Stewart turn serious

Denouncing his Muslim travel ban

 

This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," December 11, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST:  On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, the media's war on Donald Trump goes nuclear, as much of the Republican Party and the pundits denounce his plan to temporarily bar all Muslims from traveling here to America.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST:  What he's doing to the level of discourse, this is the highest level of Presidential politics.  It's not that it's just impulsive or unreasonable, this truly, deeply bigoted and indefensible.

JUAN WILLIAMS, THE HILL:  The thing is what Donald Trump said was so offensive in terms of our national value, in terms of our constitution, our protection of religious principles.

MICHAEL WEISS, THE DAILY BEAST:  Donald Trump is a buffoon, OK?  He is a dangerous buffoon.  Every passing day he says something that makes this country less and less safe.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

KURTZ:  The GOP frontrunner blitzes the airwaves, defending himself in a series of combative interviews.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS:  You're increasingly being compared to Hitler.  Does that give you any pause at all?

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  No, because what I am doing is no different than what FDR -- FDR's solution for Germans, Japanese you know many years...

BARBARA WALTERS, ABC NEWS:  Are you a bigot?

TRUMP: Not at all.  Probably the least of anybody you've ever met.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

KURTZ:  But with media figures are comparing Trump to Joe McCarthy, to Benigno Mussolini, to Adolf Hitler.  Has the hostility gone so far that it's helping him?  And what about the straight news journalists who now think it's perfectly fine to brand Trump a racist.

Plus, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert taking on terrorism and 9/11 by being serious, well, most of the time, how does that play with late-night viewers?  I am Howard Kurtz, and this is "MediaBuzz."

KURTZ:  From the moment Donald Trump declared that no more Muslims should be admitted here until American officials figure out what the hell is going on, as he put it, he's been subjected to a tsunami of media criticism and fought back on the airwaves.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN:  And it seems as though you're acting out of fear, not making us look strong and rejecting what America is all about.

TRUMP:  Chris, we are at war with radical Islamic terrorism.  

CUOMO:  Not all Islam.

TRUMP:  Whether you like it or whether not like it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  Things got so heated on MSNBC's show that Joe Scarborough threatened to break off the interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC:  Donald, Donald, don't, you're not going to keeping talking.  We will go to break if you keep talking.

TRUMP:  Don't break, Joe, all I am doing...

SCARBOROUGH:  Go to, break right now.  We'll be back with more "Morning Joe."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  Not to worry, they came back and continued the interview uninterrupted for half an hour.

As many in the Republican Party denounce Trump's plan, journalists pressed him as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS:  This week you've been called a bigot, a fascist, a demagogue.  Is that what you're doing?

TRUMP:  It's called making America great again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  Joining us to analyze this virtuous state of war between the media and the Republican frontrunner, Mercedes Schlapp, a U.S. News Columnist, Political Consultant, and former aide to George W. Bush, Sharyl Attkison, and the former CBS News Correspondent who hosts the Sunday show Full Measure on Sinclair Television Stations, and Simon Rosenberg, President of the New Democratic Network.  OK, so Mercy, here is the Daily News to fix Trump chopping off the head of the Statue of Liberty, given this media onslaught, what do you make of the role of the mainstream media going after Donald Trump?

MERCEDES SCHLAPP, U.S. NEWS COLUMNIST:  Well, it appears that the media has become almost part of the Democratic Party.  They're like candidates running to a certain extent against Donald Trump.  It's become almost like an escalating war of emotions for the media, where they are just so upset at the mere fact that Donald Trump came up with this proposal of banning Muslims, they will do whatever they can -- for example in the ways of buzzfeed, you can be politically unbiased, but you can call Trump a racist.

KURTZ:  Almost like the Democratic Party, much of the Republican Party establishment, from Dick Cheney yes to Paul Ryan beating up on Trump.

SCHLAPP:  But they're not the media.  Many in the mainstream media have become almost the moral police.  They are the ones deciding what agenda they're going to push through.  Obviously, they are not agreeing with Donald Trump on this issue and they're making it loud and clear.

KURTZ:  Have the mainstream media morphed to the all out Trump opposition?

SHARYL ATTKISON, FULL MEASURE HOST:  Yes, I think this is the evolving nature of the news media.  They advocate, they press, tell people how to feel, what not to think.  The reason they're so excited to do this, it seems, is they're not getting any criticism.

KURTZ:  That hurt when you said so-called news media.  Simon Rosenberg, on the opinions side, single day on Washington Post op-ed page, Ruth Marcus says Trump crossed an un-crossable line of bigotry and xenophobia.  Dana Milbank likened him to Mussolini.  Kathleen Parker who is on the right -- most dangerous person to emerge on the U.S. political in decades, what's the impact of all this?

SIMON ROSENBERG, FORMER BILL CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER:  Well, I think the most fascinating part -- despite the condemnation, he's getting more airtime than he's ever gotten.  All of these interviews you showed this morning virtually were all him.  They weren't people talking about him.  
They were actually him engaging with the media.  He's probably had more news coverage, more opportunity to speak to the American people since his comment than any other point in this entire election.  It's working for everybody, right?  The media is getting to criticize him.  He's getting the opportunity to rebut it.  And frankly, I think he -- I am going to get in trouble for saying this, but I think he's doing a pretty good job in handling the criticism and taking it like a strong candidate.

SCHLAPP:  Interestingly enough for that portion of the GOP voters, they're watching these interviews, and saying, am I going to support Chris Cuomo going after Donald Trump?  Or does it make sense and why do they keep attacking the guy?  It seems like the media is becoming a bit of the enemy for the -- many on the GOP.  

KURTZ:  But many of your fellow Republicans thinks Trump's candidacy is a disaster, many at Fox think Trump's candidacy is a disaster, so it's not like -- he's running for the Republican...

SCHLAPP:  There are the conservatives as well, for example, Erick Erickson, very popular conservative.  He came out and said what Donald Trump -- in condemning -- in banning the Muslims, "A brilliant move."  This is what Donald Trump does.  It's the art of the deal. He throws out the big idea and then negotiates it, takes it down a notch.  So you find those in the conservative talk radio in particular there is a lot of support for Trump, that's where the GOP voters, many of these are getting their news.

KURTZ:  Trump does tend to walk it back just a bit, now emphasizing this would be temporary, and making certainly exceptions, but pick up on the point from the press not getting heat from Democrats or the Republicans.  
It's almost like the left and the right is uniting, yet he's still way ahead in the polls.

ATTKISON:  If there was any doubt about the disconnect that some people feel when they see the reality on the ground not portrayed by some people, they know they're guess a false reality, portrayed to them.  And rather than reacting based on facts and looking at what's going on, they react viscerally to statements or people they don't like and surrounded by others of like mind, and then there are now news organizations that encourage them to give opinions.  A lot of people may like that, but there is a large fraction of people who find that disgusting and proves the points that they have thought or suspected for a long time.

KURTZ:  Find disgusting that they believe that even so-called straight journalist and reporters are indulging in opinions.

ATTKISON:  Forcing somebody's opinion down their throat rather than telling...

KURTZ:  Here is what the media is missing.  So Wall Street Journal-NBC poll, there's been a lot of polls, 57 percent of Americans or those opposing Trump's ban, but among Republican voters, 38 yes, 39 no, much more even split, so the media frankly, out of touch with the voters?

ROSENBERG:  Possibly on this one.  Look, my take on Trump, is this is not about bigotry.  It was just stupid.  This was a bad idea.  More than half the Muslims in the world don't live in the Middle East, they live in places like England, France, and Indonesia -- so what we didn't get out of the media was taking him down on the merits of the argument.  There needed to be a discussion about the actual reality of where Muslims live, and we're not having that discussion now.

ATTKISON:  How you would screen -- why would a Muslim terrorist come in and say I'm a Muslim...

ROSENBERG:  You can lie.  It was a bad idea, and we're not having that discussion.

SCHLAPP:  I am still asking the question, because Trump keeps talking about his Muslim friends who agree with them.  I have to meet these friends.  
Howie, you have to get them on the show.

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ:  Let's talk about the pattern because it seems like we rerun this every few weeks.  And clearly, you know, there are a lot of people with a deep heartfelt objection to what they a see as imposing a religious test by having a temporary ban.  He calls into the shows, defends himself, mixes up the media, everyone is talking about Trump.  Even though Cruz is leading or a -- a couple points down in Iowa, it helps him.  

SCHLAPP:  Well, I think this past week when Frank Lutz did the focus group with a lot of GOP voters, it was interesting, because they agreed with Trump, and it wasn't necessarily -- they don't necessarily love the way he says things, but they like the idea of someone being tough and getting things done.  This is what we keep running into.  Trumps message -- although it can be bombastic and everyone is cringing going, I cannot believe he just said that, the fact that the GOP establishment doesn't agree with him, for the GOP grassroots conservative voters, they're saying wait a second, I don't care what the GOP establishment says, Trump is right on this.

KURTZ:  Let's take a quick look at how some of the other Republican candidates are showing their frustration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You all quite frankly, should be ashamed of yourselves.  All you do is asking about Donald Trump, and you say -- well, hell, man, if you're talking about it 24 hours a day, anybody can do well.

CARLY FIORINA, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Come on, Chris, you haven't given me or anyone else the attention that Donald Trump receives.  He dominates the news coverage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  Unfair playing field by the media?

ATTKISON:  The media is giving him this playing field to try to disparage them in controversialize him.  So they have their own goal and it isn't working out.

KURTZ:  And they're also interested in ratings.

ATTKISON:  A point I think they have missed is I think part of the reason there's attraction to the things he has said is because they don't see the government as having a plan.  They're afraid, because the government they don't think is taking it seriously, so at least somebody is taking it seriously and has something that sounds more of a strategy than they see from the government.  I think that's part of an issue that could be looked at.

KURTZ:  It just means that Trump continues to go to these rallies -- he called media scum, and went after Katy Tur, calling her a third-race reporter.

ROSENBERG:  You know -- look -- but I do think -- and we discussed this on the show before, Howard, is that part of the goal of terrorism is to scare people and to have a single act of terror -- make everybody really nervous and beyond the actual scope of the act itself.  So the media does have a role in this.  The overreaction -- so this debate about how we react to terrorism I think is fair game and something you should continue to discuss on the show here.

KURTZ:  Time to weigh in on Twitter.  Send me a message @HowardKurtz.

Ahead, Laura Ingraham says some and political establishment are willing to tolerate terror attacks to advance their ideology.  Is that true?

Plus when we come back, are straight journalists like Tom Brokaw crossing the line in ripping Donald Trump?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ:  It's hardly surprising that the commentator and pontificators are slicing and dicing Donald Trump over his plan to ban Muslims temporarily from traveling the United States, but some journalists who aren't in the opinion business are joining in the criticism as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT:  Trump's statement, even in the season of extremes is a dangerous proposal that overrides history, the law and the foundation of America itself.  

Defeating ISIS will be a long, hard and expensive, perhaps even more so now, because ISIS is likely to use Donald Trump's statements as a recruiting tool.

SHEPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS: A lot more need to be led by somebody, not to be dragged down the worm hole by some, by some carnival huckster.

He's not representing any of that. He's representing the worst, darkest part of all -- that is America.

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS:  So the country is in a panic.  This is really not the country that I know.  It is absolutely a -- an image, an impression, a black spot on our collective foreign policy and our conscience.  It also just feeds into the ISIS narrative.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

KURTZ:  Does it bother you when straight journalists like Tom Brokaw, who's not an anchor anymore, and others speak out.

ATTKISON:  It's an important moment in journalism that has led to this, where there's been a blending into opinion, and the quasi-news sites and real news sites, but this all out abandonment of neutrality when it comes to certain discussions I think is pretty remarkable.  I do think that another some people are attracted to that, there's still a market out there, people still wish they should turn to a channel or a how and see things handled and treated from a more neutral and objective standpoint.

KURTZ:  There's not a line anymore between news and opinion.

SCHLAPP:  I think the like has been completely blurred.  You want to ask a question of why not just report the news?  State the facts.  I think we're seeing a point where the journalists are coming out -- Tom Brokaw's piece was clearly an opinion piece where he was making his arguments based on historical content to harshly criticize Donald Trump.  

KURTZ:  Brokaw likened Trump to demagogues of the past.  We've seen some of this in print as well, including Joe McCarthy.  Is this what you learned when you journalism school?

SCHLAPP:  This is like a deeper philosophical conversation of where journalism is heading.  I think you know, we talked about sensationalism in journalism, and you always wanted to void that if you were going to be a straight up journalist, and could be the 24-hour news cycles that feed into this as well.

KURTZ:  And journalists are on Twitter where you tend to be more opinionated.  But it's almost like some of these journalists are saying this is so important, this is guy Trump is so dangerous, and I have to abandon my journalistic detachment and come out against this.

ROSENBERG:  Look, I worked for ABC News, and I started my career in mainstream journalism, and I think that objectivity is always an aspiration and much harder to achieve.  People aren't robots.  One of the reasons I went into politics is I had a hard time maintaining my objectivity, and I made the decision to cross over, and I wanted to be an advocate.  

(CROSSTALK)

ROSENBERG:  The only thing about this is Trump is comparing himself to historical figures.  He's saying he's like FDR in what he's proposing, and where I disagree... --

(CROSSTALK)

ROSENBERG:  No, no, what I am saying is racism and exclusion against minorities is a core part of the American story, right?  This is not an abnormal moment in our history.  It's something we've been wrestling with since the beginning of the republic.  I welcome Trump's comments, because I want to defeat them in the area of public opinion.

KURTZ:  I don't think he's comparing himself to FDR.  

ROSENBERG:  He's raising historical comparisons, so I think it's fair.  

KURTZ:  You mentioned Buzzfeed earlier.  Buzzfeed is a site that does many things but it also has news reporters, I wanted to take a moment.  Put out a memo to the staff which he said it is entirely fair to call Donald Trump a racist.  As the politics team -- he's out there saying things that are false and buzzfeed's reporting is -- it's not opinion.

SCHLAPP:  Again, he's -- he's directing his staff saying its OK to call him a racist, instead of just laying out the facts.  I think what is happening is consumers today have so many options when it comes to the media, so they can pick and choose what they want.  It's usually the outlets more on the opinion side, where people are drawn to it.  They are drawn to the news outlets that will reflect what their opinions are.  So again, I think it creates an opportunity for Buzzfeed to incite individuals to go their way.

KURTZ:  Just very briefly, is there a bit of a bubble problem here like most of the people who these journalists talk to, hang out with, go to parties with, all of a sudden don't like Trump.

ATTKISON:  Yes, of course, the people are cheering them on for the opinions they give and the actions they take, and they tell one another it's a great idea.  Briefly, I was in a room after Trump made his first criticism of John McCain.  There were eight people -- this was in Florida, some conservatives and some liberals, and I thought -- because I don't hang around a select crowd, I hang around a lot of different people -- there is something is happening here.

KURTZ:  All right, Sharyl Attkison, Simon Rosenberg, thanks very much, Mercy, we'll see you a little later.  Ahead on "MediaBuzz," when Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart get serious about issues, does it pack the same punch?

But up next, some stunning figures about Trump's off the charts coverage this week in our media microscope.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ:  There's never been a better week for our media microscope.  We asked the new analytics company to start with a week ago Friday, the last full weekday before Donald Trump called for the ban a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S.  And Trump was way up there, over 2,900 media mentions, about triple the volume of Ted Cruz, 952, Marco Rubio 913, far ahead of Ben Carson with 672 mentions.  Trump doing the best on media sentiment, meanwhile, we see here negative in red, Trump at 60 percent negative, compared to 67 percent negative for Cruz, 72 percent negative for Rubio, and 84 percent negative for Carson.  It's like an explosion, for Monday through Thursday, after Trump announced the Muslim plan, his coverage off in the stratosphere, more than 12,000 mentions, that's quadruple, the others candidates practically blown off the radar.

Cruz, 1,300 mentions, Rubio, under 500 mentions, Carson, 465 mentions, that's pretty close to all Trump all the time.  For all the, from the right, the left, the center, Trump faired better in media sentiment, his coverage 65 percent negative, a bit of a bump from the week before, but better than Senator Cruz over 70 percent, better than Senator Rubio 70 percent negative, better than Dr. Carson 86 percent negative.  So Donald Trump was skyrocketing media coverage, yet not as negative as his closest GOP rivals.

Meanwhile, it took five months but Ariana Huffington has finally admitted defeat.  It was a giant step for her liberal website to declare that Donald Trump was such a clown that he we only be covered in the entertainment section.  Well, he's still the dominant GOP frontrunner, so was Ariana gracious in announcing that he no longer be relegated to the urgent items on Kim Kardashian and company, no, she said, Trump's campaign is so vicious that it's morphed into a ugly and dangerous force in American politics.  So she made clear that the writer will keep trashing him, this time in the news section.

Coming up, Laura Ingraham says the media establishment, Republican establishment, and the Democratic establishment all out of touch on the issues that are helping Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and Donald Trump.  

And later, is it just too easy to fill the air waves with Trump instead of the war on terror.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ:  With commentators on the right as well as the left denouncing Donald Trump saying he would temporary bar Muslims from coming into this country, one exception has been Laura Ingraham.  I sat down with the radio host, Fox News Contributor and Founder of Lifezette.com.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  Laura Ingraham, welcome.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOUNDER OF LIFEZETTE.COM:  Good to be here.

KURTZ:  All right, you tweeted this, GOP and Democratic establishment goal, not just destroying Trump, but destroying the entire populist movement.  So media establishment, is Trump part of that?

INGRAHAM:  I think the media establishment has actually helped Trump in an interesting way.  Because they know he gets a lot of ratings, they know he's quite popular, and they know he understands showmanship.  In an odd way, though a lot don't like him, they love what he brings to their sometimes incredibly boring programming or flat programming.

KURTZ:  You're saying nobody would watch if we don't have Trump.

INGRAHAM:  It's like you want the hottest things.  He's a lot of heat now, and sometimes it's controversial heat, sometimes funny, but its emotion and its heat that's attached to some of the biggest issues that I think are ignored traditionally by the media.

KURTZ:  Immigration and trade.  I think it's tied up or intertwined, yet you use the word destroying Trump.

INGRAHAM:  Yeah, they don't want Trump to be the nominee.  We know for a fact --the top donors to Jeb Bush -- see, even I mix them up.  They have said behind closed doors that they don't see themselves voting for Trump. But then others, close to George W. said we couldn't support Trump, we'll vote for Hillary.  Now we know the establishment when push comes to shove, would rather be with each other in the same party than rather be with a Trump or Cruz falls into the same category, mostly economic especially trade and immigration...  

KURTZ:  On the media side of is the equation, this isn't just garden variety liberal bias, many big-named conservative commentators, including some here at Fox, say Trump's plans on stopping Muslims, at least temporarily is crazy and he is destroying conservatism...

INGRAHAM:  Many of these, with all due respect to the same people who said it was all going to work out in the Middle East, that we would be benefiting from all these great trade deals, and we've seen decades of global trade deals lead to decades of stagnation in the middle class.

KURTZ:  But are you concerned as a conservative, and we've heard for anybody from Dick Cheney to Paul Ryan about this, that Trump's plan, at least temporarily not allowing most Muslims into the country is something that kind of equates to religion with Islamist terrorism.

INGRAHAM:  I think the President of the United States has a unique responsibility above all else to keep this country safe.  I think we're going to have to make some difficult calls, some we won't like.  I've said it in a special report, I wouldn't have done it this way.  People say, what about Trump?  I say, what has the establishment done for us lately?

KURTZ:  The extent that much of the media has gone off Trump, really hard...

INGRAHAM:  How has that worked out for them?

KURTZ:  OK...

INGRAHAM:  How has that worked out for them?

KURTZ:  Do you think they're out of touch with the fears?

INGRAHAM:  I think they're completely out of tough.  I think every poll shows us that from Zogby, to Pew, to Gallup, to NBC, to CNN, to the CBS poll.

KURTZ:  Why are they out of touch?

INGRAHAM:  They don't have to worry about being replaced by a foreign worker.

(CROSSTALK)

INGRAHAM:  I actually think there's a lot of people who think it might be that we have to suffer some vulnerabilities to live up to these global ideals, that the global ideals of open border, if you want to come here -- they literally think that is our moral obligation to let anyone to come in, without regard to national -- to where you come from, if it's a hotbed of terrorism, without regard to our inability to track people.  I think there are people who believe we cannot put any meaningful limits on immigration geared toward reducing the number of potential radicalized terrorists in the United States.  I think they believe to do so would fall prey to all these horrible instincts.  I think -- and I reject that completely.

I think there are always bad apples, but I think most people who are concerned right now, who are with Carson, Trump or Cruz, I think most of these people are good people, patriotic people, they love this country, but they think the establishment has failed, and we know that Obama failed.

KURTZ:  Just to button this up, you believe that some in the establishment won't say so out loud, but that they believe few terrorist attacks are a small price to pay to uphold what we see as our ideological goal?

INGRAHAM:  I think if San Bernardino didn't wake people up, then -- we had 9/11, that didn't change much.

KURTZ:  It changed the debate.

INGRAHAM:  No, we spent a lot of money on antiterrorism measures, we did the Homeland Security Department, we spend $60 billion a year to fund Homeland Security, but we still have a guy who can walk across the southern border dressed up like Osama Bin Laden.  Does that sound like a country who takes it all seriously?  I think we have a lot of window dressing.

KURTZ:  Always provocative, Laura Ingraham thanks very much for joining us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  After the break, remember when the media were laser-focused on terrorism in the wake of San Bernardino attacks?  Has that now been lost?

And later, Seth Meyers sits down with Hillary Clinton, but this time she's not laughing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ:  For five days the media were consumed with reporting on the horror of the San Bernardino massacre, and exploring broader questions about finding terror and stopping ISIS, as well as President Obama's televised address from the Oval Office just last Sunday.  The next night, it was all about this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

DON LEMON, CNN:  Donald Trump read this new statement about banning Muslims out loud.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS:  Trump said we need to completely put a stop to Muslims entering our country.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC:  Trump to Muslims, you're not welcome here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  Joining us now to scrutinize the coverage, Gayle Trotter, an attorney and political commentator who writes for Town Hall, the Hill, and other outlets.  And in New York, Keli Goff, Columnist of the Daily Beast, Gayle, suddenly it's Trump, Trump, Trump, and Trump.  Does that detract from -- or perhaps even overshadow the coverage of San Bernardino and the broader war on terror.

GAYLE TROTTER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR:  It certainly does.  Trump is a unique type of candidate that he uses media firestorm as a campaign strategy.  Certainly easier for journalists to report on the media eruptions than to do the necessary work of investigative journalism where they put a lot of effort in, they might get a small piece of the puzzle of the San Bernardino massacre, but it doesn't generate the ratings that Trump eruptions do.

KURTZ:  Right.  Keli, where you on this?  Trump's -- is a very important story, but more important than fighting ISIS?

KELI GOFF, DAILY BEAST:  Well, Howie, I'm just shocked that you're here to do a segment, insinuating the media might be covering stories of the most superficial, shallow, and celebrity-oriented that covering the real issues that matter here in America.  I am stunned, shocked.  The relationship between the media and the Donald at this point is a bit like a codependent emotionally abusive couple, who can be interesting to observe from afar and good for gossip, but can be very cringe-worthy and uncomfortable when you're actually sitting at a dinner party with them.  I think that is what Les Moon's comments said, a bit of a laugh, but said it's good for business, and added super-pacs may also be bad for America, but good for business.

KURTZ:  OK, you know, to compare it to the Kardashians seems a bit glib.  
He's the republican front-runner, could be the nominee for President, and could be President.  So it doesn't quite seem to be show business.

TROTTER:  I think it's a little more complicated than that, too.  There's not a lot of data on this, but in the general reporting on guns, it seems like they don't know that much about guns, maybe they have never fired a gun, maybe they've never even owned a firearm, so when they have to report on something like what happened in San Bernardino, where the terrorists modified the weapons, so the weapons were illegal under California law, they don't feel comfortable reporting that, so it's not a Kardashian thing.

KURTZ:  So you're saying -- go ahead, Keli.

GOFF:  I am going to push back a little and here's why.  Yes, everyone knows that Donald Trump can become the Republican nominee.  I haven't heard a single person actually believe he'll become President.  The outside coverage is what I am speaking to.

KURTZ:  We don't know that at this point.  Look, I began this segment by saying, are we taking our eye off the ball when it comes to terror and San Bernardino?  It sounds like you agree.

GOFF:  Yes, I absolutely agree, but I don't agree that he should be getting substantially more coverage than the other candidates in his party who might also hold the office of the Presidency, and that's what I am challenging the media on.

TROTTER:  But the media shouldn't by a king maker.

GOFF:  But right now it's almost becoming one by giving him more coverage.  
That's what my issue is here.

KURTZ:  Gayle, to come back to the overarching question, to the extent that many media organizations are just pressing a button and switching to Trump mode, and yes, it's more fun.  Which tend to be a slow accumulation of evidence, they tend to be kind of depressing and it takes a while to figure out the full picture.

TROTTER:  It's very complicated.  Think about trying to go to the lake and find the evidence of that.  It's not as exciting.  It takes a long time to develop that story, and a lot of pushing, getting sources and investigating, so it takes longer for that story to come together.

KURTZ:  Keli, last word.

GOFF:  We know there are certain things that do better, cat videos and stories about puppies, that don't mean we should cover them more substantial.  We're talking about how beautiful his wife is, we're talking about his cookie statements, we should be talking more about the hard issues and that's what I'm hoping our professionals start doing more of.

KURTZ:  We have a few seconds, Gayle, but the coverage of Trump has been not about him criticizing his Republican rivals, but about what he would do on terrorism and his plan -- very controversial would be to temporary bar all Muslims, so it's not like we're doing just soft features here.

TROTTER:  No, it's not, yet that story is an easier way to get into the terrorism coverage than the hard work of the investigative journalism, and really drilling down on the policies that will keep America safe.

KURTZ:  That certainly would include, for example, the fact that the woman in this couple was -- despite that fact openly on social media she was embracing Islamic Jihad, yet officials forget to take note of that.  Thanks very much Keli Goff in New York and Gayle Trotter here, good to see.

After the break, Stephen Colbert holds forth on gun control.  Jon Stewart on helping 9/11 first responders, can comedians have as much of an impact without the laugh lines?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ:  Today's video verdict looks at late night comics without the laughs.  CBS taps Stephen Colbert from the Late Show because he's a funny guy, but after the San Bernardino shootings, he turned mostly serious about guns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, LATE SHOW HOST:  There has to be some way to make it harder to build up an arsenal.  The San Bernardino shooters had 6,000 rounds of ammunition.  Why is it so easy to buy bullets when I have to show three forms of ID to buy Sudafed?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  Mercedes Schlapp, what do you think?

SCHLAPP:  It's not funny.  He's supposed to be a late night comedian bringing stress release to viewers, and he wants to talk about gun control.  
If he wants to become an opinion leader on gun control, go forth and join the Democratic Party.  For a late night comedian, it doesn't sit well.

KURTZ:  I like what Stephen Colbert does with politics, but his liberal views are driving away some of the conservative viewers.  All right, Jon Stewart returned to the Daily Show for the first time since he quit, looking a little different and seriously rooting for his new cause, saving a relief fund for the emergency responders of 9/11.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN:  Soon out of money.  These first responders, many sick with cancers and pulmonary disease have had to travel at their own expense to Washington, D.C. hundreds of times to plead for our government to do the right thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  That was the serious Jon Stewart.

SCHLAPP:  That was.  You have celebrities like George Clooney who have gone on Capitol Hill to talk about Sudan.  I think in this case, this is something that's very close to him personally.  He did have a set before a couple years ago where he had these four responders there.  Now only one is surviving, interesting approach that he's doing.  I think it could work for him.  But you know again, it's bringing the politics heavy in what we would consider late night television.

KURTZ:  Right.  Well, I say hats off to Jon Stewart for taking on this important issue.  There nothing in it for him career-wise.  Now of course, Stewart did go on Colbert's show and then he did a clownish version dressed up as Donald Trump.  We have a picture of that.  He's using different speeds.  This is an issue clearly to his heart.

Seth Meyers was kidding around with Hillary Clinton on his show Late Night when the laughter abruptly stopped.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SETH MEYERS, 'LATE NIGHT' HOST:  I want to ask you a couple questions about Donald Trump.  First question, have you heard about him?

HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You know I have to say, Seth, I no longer think he's funny.

MEYERS:  Yes.  I will say I started to...

CLINTON:  And what he's saying now is not only shameful and wrong, it's dangerous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  Mercy, Hillary abruptly stopped the laughs.

SCHLAPP:  I'm wondering if there was even a Republican in the audience because they were so much in support of what they were saying.  The fact that Seth kept agreeing with her, yes, he's dangerous, yes -- again it's -- I know that politicians go on late night shows to be able to be more human and laugh with the audience.

KURTZ:  Hillary did a thing with Fallon dressed up as Donald Trump.  But she decided here...

SCHLAPP:  This was changing the tone on late night television.  What's becoming -- these late night television shows are becoming another political, opinionated series that now those that want to relax at night to watch late night comedy, we'll see a lot less of that.

KURTZ:  I agree with you about Seth Meyers.  The more he nodded his head and agreed with Hillary, I am sure the liberals in the audience loved it, but it seemed like he was taking sides.

SCHLAPP:  If you want to lose the conservative viewership, that's the way to do it.

KURTZ:  OK, Mercy, thanks very much.

Still to come, your top tweets, two Fox News contributors suspended for inappropriate language, and Willard Scott returns.  Willard, how can that be?  That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ:  This was over the line.  Two Fox News contributors have been suspended for two weeks.  Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters criticizing President Obama's speech on FBN, called the president a word, a synonym for cat, and Stacey Dash used profanity in saying the president doesn't give a blank about terrorism.  They're announcing the suspension -- Fox said these were completely inappropriate and unacceptable for our air, and that both networks do not condone the use of such language.  That was the right move. But on Twitter, many people telling me, Twitter and Facebook, this was a matter of free speech. Folks, this is not about free speech.  These and other people at Fox are free to say whatever they want.  Some of them have harshly criticized the president.  It's about avoiding the kind of crude language about anyone that has no place on the air.

Time for your top tweets, question, how would you assess the coverage of Trump's plan to temporarily bar Muslims from entering the U.S.  I don't know says, the only difference is the mainstream media invested a bit more hope.  Mile says a lot of mainstream media.  John, overkill, the media spends too much time with his nonsense.  Sharon says most mainstream media and many politicians temporary and fixes the problem bid.  Thus, they are anti-Donald Trump operatives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLARD SCOTT, NBC NEWS: One of the beautiful people in Schuylerville, New York, happy birthday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ:  Willard Scott is retiring this week after 65 years at NBC, more than half of that with the Today Show.  Willard who is 81 and started as a teenage page at the local NBC station here did a huge favor for many meteorologists that followed him, creating the job of celebrity weather man.  

That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz."  I am Howard Kurtz.  Thanks for watching.  We hope you'll like our Facebook page where we post a lot of original content.  We respond to your email, mediabuzz@foxnews.com.  I hope you follow me on at which Twitter as well, and I say this to you every week, you can always DVR the show or we're back here on the air next Sunday, 11:00 and 5:00 Eastern with the latest Buzz.

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