Will New York Times 'hit piece' on Trump move the needle?

Reaction from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," May 16, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


ROWANNE BREWER LANE, FORMER MODEL: The New York Times told us several times that they would make sure that my story that I was telling came across. They promised several times that they would do it accurately. They put a negative connotation on it. They spun it where it appeared negative. I did not have a negative experience with Donald Trump. Donald is doing a great job. And he is a very successful businessman. He is a great leader. Because of that, he has a lot going for him, let's face it.
And I'm supporting him.

MICHAEL BARBARO, NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER: I interviewed Rowanne Brewer, and I'm going to let her speak for herself, but I think the readers of the story can digest what happened.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, that is The New York Times story they're referencing over the weekend, a story that The New York Times said they talked to dozens of women and came up with this story, crossing the line, Trump's private conduct with women. One of the featured people in the story was the woman you just heard from, Rowanne Brewer, who said the story was not accurate from her point of view. Trump tweeting over the weekend on the media witch hunt. He said "The media is really on a witch hunt against me, false reporting and plenty of it. But we will prevail with the coming forward today of the woman central to the failing New York Times hit piece on me, we have exposed the article as a fraud."

We will start there with our politics panel. Let's bring in Charles Hurt, political columnist for The Washington Times, Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

OK, Charlie, it seems Trump captured the day on news coverage. And this woman coming out on 'FOX & Friends' seemed to raise serious questions about The New York Times story.

CHARLES HURT, WASHINGTON TIMES: Yes. And the war between Donald Trump and the media continues. Obviously, The New York Times spent a lot of time on the story. And what I think is so interesting about it is at no point did the woman come out and say she was misquoted or anything like that. She said, they quoted everything exactly right, everything I said in there is what happened, but they got the entire context of the story wrong, in her eyes.

And to me it reveals a this chasm, this massive gulch between The New York Times and what is this woman, who was a model, after Donald Trump was divorced, and she was at a pool party. And they had a, sort of a ribald exchange, and she came away through with it all. But when you put it through the lens of The New York Times, it becomes this, you know, like he's a predator or something. And I feel like it really does reveal the larger chasm between the mainstream media and America.

BAIER: Will this matter? Obviously we are going to see, Mara, this campaign is going to be in the mud pretty soon, if it's not already.


BAIER: But even more as we get going and they're officially nominees.
Will any of this move the needle?

LIASSON: First of all, I don't think this article is going to move the noodle. When you read the article, it was actually pretty nuanced. There was nothing in there that they said Donald Trump did that to me rose to the level of calling Megyn Kelly a bimbo or all the horrible things he said just recently. As a matter of fact Rowanne Brewer went on to date him. She clearly wasn't put off by that encounter. The article interviewed people who worked for him who he appointed to high level positions in his organizations, women.

So I think if this was an article meant to expose him as a horrible predator to woman, I don't think it succeeded.

BAIER: Meantime, another story that got a lot of attention was this story that goes back years and year as Donald Trump is this John Miller, this public relations guy speaking for Donald Trump. Take a listen and some reaction from his campaign.


"JOHN MILLER": I've never seen anybody get so many calls from the press. I worked for a couple different firms. I am somebody he knows and I think somebody that he trusts and likes.

PAUL MANAFORT, TRUMP CONVENTION MANAGER: Why the media is spending so much time going back 25 years to talk about a People magazine tape that may or may not be Trump. The tape has not proven that it is him. The justification for the tape is words that are on that tape are words Donald Trump uses. I have been working for Donald Trump for six weeks. I'm using words he uses.


BAIER: Paul Manafort. Obviously Trump, back then, told People magazine and apologized saying he was the guy. Is this anything? Are we -- is it just crazy that this has become part of this campaign?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It's not crazy in the sense that this is a man who was known to the tabloids of New York but not nationally. It isn't as if, like Hillary Clinton, he's been in the national public eye investigating for 30 years. So you want to learn about him. It's a bit of a weird story. Last week, I wanted to make John Miller my winner of the week to know where he is.

Look, I don't think it's an important story. I think part of the Teflon around Trump is that it is not a story. It is dead. It's been overridden by the next story, the one you were talking about, the one in the Times.
It looks as if the times had 50 interviews, spent a lot of money and time, knew it didn't have a story, came out with exactly how Mara describes it, a story that is nuanced, interesting, but there was nothing scandalous about it. If this is the best that the Times and the press can do trying to create scandal around Donald Trump, it's time to plan for the inauguration.

BAIER: Meantime, President Obama at a college graduation, listen to what he says about the good old days and the current presumptive Democratic nominee.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: When you hear someone longing for the good old days, take it with a grain of salt.

HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My husband, who I'm going to put in charge of revitalizing the economy because he knows how to do it.

I think we know a little bit about how to create jobs. I think my husband did a heck of a job creating jobs back in the '90s.



BAIER: Back in the '90s, Mara, what about that?

LIASSON: I think this is a tricky thing for Hillary Clinton. She's in Kentucky. He's very popular there. He won the state. I understand why she's invoking him, and the memories of the '90s and the economy in the '90s are positive. He did have a lot of jobs created on his watch.

The thing is, you are going to put your husband in charge of the economy, that just doesn't make any sense. She's in charge. She's going to be the president. Now, she did say at other times, as she's been campaigning in the coal belt, he's going to be in charge of these particular communities and revitalizing hard hit manufacturing, that's different. But to say you are going to put him in charge of the economy, I think that is kind of dangerous.

BAIER: In part doesn't this, Charlie, have to do with her comments about coal in West Virginia and she's trying buffer that with mentions of Bill Clinton.

HURT: Absolutely. I really think that coal remark will go down as her version of Mitt Romney's 47 percent remark. What's amazing about that is Mitt Romney said that at a private dinner and didn't think he would be quoted. She says it to an auditorium full of people on national television, and I think it probably reveals certainly what many in the Democratic base want to do to the coal industry.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: That's right. It's the ultimate gaffe. She said what she really believed and she's been running away from it ever since. There's no way to run away from it. It will definitely hurt her in the general election in Appalachia coal country. I think the idea of putting her husband in charge, she has this tricky deal. She wants to run on the glowing memory of the '90s. On the other hand, the minute she brings it up, all the other stuff from the '90s comes flowing in and she can't -- there's no way to avoid the second when you evoke the first.

BAIER: By the way, those Bernie Sanders Millennials, they don't know a lot about the '90s.


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