Trump's war on 'sleazy' media

Journalists rush to defend profession


This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," June 5, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the "buzz meter" this Sunday, Donald Trump escalates his war with the press using a news conference to slam journalists to their faces.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESUMPTIVE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The press should be ashamed of themselves. And instead of being like thank you very much, Mr. Trump, or, Trump did a good job, everyone is saying who got it, who got it, who got it and you make me look very bad. I have never received such bad publicity for doing such a good job.


KURTZ: And Trump didn't stop there singling out individual journalists like ABC's Tom Llamas.


TRUMP: I'm not looking for credit but what I don't want is when I raise millions of dollars have people say -- like this sleazy guy right over here from ABC, he's a sleaze.


TRUMP: You're a sleaze.


KURTZ: What was Trump objecting to legitimate journalistic questions about his donations to veterans and what about conservatives turning to an obscure national review writer for a third party bid, Laura Ingraham raising on that.

Hillary Clinton denounces Trump as dangerously incoherent on foreign policy, how is the press handling her new offensive?

Katie Couric finally expressing regrets for the deceptive editing in her gun documentary, but has the damage already been done?

Plus the passing of Muhammad Ali who spent years fighting not just his opponents but a hostile press.

KURTZ: I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."

There was something about the confrontation between Donald Trump and the media and an epic new conference this week that boosted the tension to a new level as the candidate announced nearly $6 million in donations to veterans groups, donations that had been questioned by the press, and he got some push back from those covering the Trump tower event such as CNN's, Jim Acosta and David Martosko of The Daily Mail.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It seems as though you're resistant to scrutiny of the kind of scrutiny that comes with running for president of the United States, you're...

TRUMP: I like scrutiny, but you know what...

ACOSTA: You're raising money for veterans...

TRUMP: Excuse me, but excuse me I've watched you on television, you are a real beauty.

DAVID MARTOSKO, U.S. POLITICAL EDITOR FOR DAILY MAIL: Is this what it's going to be like covering you as you are a president?

TRUMP: Yes, it is...

MARTOSKO: We're going to have this kind of confrontation in the press room?

TRUMP: OK, yes this is going to be like this, David. If the press writes false stories like they did with this...


KURTZ: Many of the media defended their profession and said the Republican nominee had gone too far.


DANA BASH, CNN: It is our job to ask questions particularly of public figures, especially somebody who wants to be the leader of the free world.

STEVE HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I do think -- what Trump is complaining about the news media here targeting him on this, I don't think they're targeting Donald Trump, I think they're asking very basic questions.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: We're going to get to the press conference next, but it was -- it showed Donald Trump at his thinned skinned worst.


KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze this battle between Trump and the media, Heidi Przybyla, senior political correspondent for USA Today; Gayle Trotter, a commentator and contributor to the Daily Caller and The Hill; and Molly Ball, political reporter for the Atlantic. Heidi, Trump has spent a year complaining about the dishonest media, do you see this though as a significant escalation of his battles with the press?

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, USA TODAY: I did, Howie and I thought as, you know, just watching this as a reporter a turning point both for Donald Trump and for the media and Donald Trump's behalf, you know, he has called us all of these things before, disgusting, dishonest, unfair, but that was before he even got through the first question. And why were we unfair, in his words because you made me look bad, and I think the media for their behalf was looking at this and saying we're just fulfilling our most basic duty as journalists. You took a pledge, you made it in a very public way and in the context of a campaign, we couldn't get answers, we investigate it and now you have a problem with that, so...

KURTZ: A more aggressive stance by the media?

PRZYBYLA: Yes, yes. I think that the media will look at this and say, OK, it's time to do more than just point the camera and give free press. It's time to do more of that basic journalism and fact checking.

KURTZ: Gayle Trotter, does Trump have a point that from his point of view he tried to do something good, raise money for the veterans groups and instead got bad publicity?

GAYLE TROTTER, THE DAILY CALLER: Yes, no good deed goes unpunished, right? And I think the reporting here by the press is swallowing the camel and straining its neck (ph). There is a Rasmussen poll that showed that 47 percent of likely voters think that the media is biased against Trump and only 23 percent of likely voters think that the media is biased against Hillary Clinton. And we haven't seen the same type of deal of the media going after Hillary Clinton or covering the fact that she had this email server, this Homebrew email server, that she said was protected...

KURTZ: And has gotten a lot of coverage as it...

PRZYBYLA: No, we were all over the I.T. report...

TROTTER: Not to the same deal. I mean here Donald Trump has conformably raised $5.6 million of donations for veterans groups and he's being punished for it.

KURTZ: Molly Ball, journalists say as the "Washington Post" that prodded Trump because his own personal $1 million donation and some other donations didn't go through until writing after the paper published it was about to publish its story. So, where do you stand on this warfare or this skirmish?

MOLLY BALL, THE ATLANTIC: Yes, absolutely. Look, this is a political tactic for Trump attacking the media and it's one that has brought him success so far. Certainly, Republican primary voters have no love for the media and voters overall. People overall, the press is a very low rated institution in American society.

I disagree with the idea that we haven't been aggressive about Hillary and with her emails, but I would say, you know, at least Trump is having a press conference to address these. How long has it been since Hillary Clinton had a press conference and so what enabled this one-on-one combat between Trump and the press is the fact that he is subjecting himself to questions, he is extraordinarily accessible to the press that he so loved (ph).

So there's a bit of a symbiotic I think love/hate relationship there. But he didn't have a leg to stand on in this thing. He hadn't even given out the money or given his own money that he said he was giving until he got called on it.


PRZYBYLA: Yes, how many times he answered the questions actually. I know the media organizations that were following this were following this for several weeks and trying to get an answer and it was only when they couldn't get an answer that they decided to investigate.

KURTZ: But is there a circling of the wagons here? Because here -- here we are covering the story that's about our profession. I'm seeing journalists who played a few gun in the air and say, you know, this is terrible for Trump to be whacking us and he needs to move on and he needs to pivot. At the same time, our profession is so widely distrusted on the left as well as the right.

PRZYBYLA: Yes. Well, if how we look at it, I get it when we cover stories about, you know, 20-year-old phone calls or delving into his romantic history it just kind of place to that sense among his supporters that the media is unfairly picking on him. But in this case, I think it is pretty black and white.

Like I said, it was a public pledge he took and he did it as part of his campaign and the anger that we're seeing both by Trump and frankly by a lot of the people who love him and support him just makes me feel like is there an underlying problem in terms of just not understanding civics, basic civics, and the role of the press in this country.

KURTZ: Molly, since Trump specifically went after ABC's, Tom Llamas said, you know, that sleazy guy over there. His question, Llamas' question at that presser (ph), you said you raised $6 million, clearly you had not. Your critics say you tend to exaggerate, you have a problem with the truth, is this a prime example, that might be an aggressive question but is it an unfair one?

BALL: We should always be aggressive and we should be aggressive toward everybody. I didn't think and it's not the first time he singled somebody out either. I've been to multiple Trump rallies where in front his thousands of supporters, he points at individuals in the press pen calls them out by name, calls them all kinds of ugly names, and that's borderline provoking people against a reporter. I think part of the reason that people are so negative to the -- for the press, to Heidi's point is that candidates on both sides love to attack the messenger when they don't have the facts on their side.

KURTZ: Let me try this on you Gayle. I think journalists secretly love these attacks, not that we like being called names amplified (ph) but it's a juicy story and it's a story that involves us and we are narcissists...


KURTZ: ...and so could it just be a defence of the veteran's money, 24-hour story, instead a week later we are still debating Trump, the press, did he go too far? Is it going too far with others? What do you think?

TROTTER: Right. Well, it's "Gotcha reporting" and I think that the -- that the press loves it because it's this back-and-forth that creates a lot of excitement. And as I've said repeatedly through Donald Trump's yearlong campaign he loves a media firestorm. He is the opposite of a typical politician, he thrives on that. So these types of back-and-forth resonate with millions of American voters who feel like the media bullies a lot of people and they finally have someone who is an effective response to the bullying of the media.

KURTZ: Just briefly, you say "Gotcha reporting," you don't see any legitimacy to the question...


KURTZ: ...of what happened to this money...

TROTTER: Absolutely not. And the hypocrisy of the press not going after Hillary Clinton for real national security life-and-death issues just really underscores...

PRZYBYLA: Which was the on the front-page of every media newspaper. We were...

KURTZ: We're going to talk about Hillary.


PRZYBYLA: ...we were all over that I.T. report and I spent my whole summer reading every single one of her emails and writing about them as well, so I just -- I just strongly dispute that we are...

TROTTER: 33,000 emails, that's impressive.

PRZYBYLA: ...that we're not covering...

KURTZ: That's quite a summer.


KURTZ: We're going to talk about Hillary in the next segment. But, let me just put up on the screen CNN, Chyron as we call it the business of the lower third banner while Trump was speaking here, Trump, I never said Japan should be nukes (he did) and that was an attempt at real-time fact checking which I kind of like except that he lose all the nuances when you have to do it in the seven or eight words when Trump actually had said a couple times was that maybe Japan would be better off if they defended themselves against North Korea with nuclear weapons but it's not that he wanted it to have, that might be a fine distinction but it just lost in there.

All right, let me move on to this, in that news conference which I showed at the top Donald Trump was asked, is this how you will treat the press as president? And I thought he will de-flag I'll be more president, and he said, yeah, that's exactly what I will do if I see stories I think that are unfair and he's talk about losing the libel laws, so does that I don't know raise the stakes a bit?

PRZYBYLA: I mean, clearly at least as far as the media is concerned the pivot is not coming. And again, let me just -- for everything that I've said I think this is a smart strategy for his base to go after the media. We are -- those numbers, I think a lot of them come from Republicans who believe that there really is a liberal media bias, but I also think that -- I'm trying to picture a year from now, he is in the oval office, we come in, we ask him some basic question about his policies or we question a decision that he made and he calls us disgusting, dishonest and unfair and I just think at some point that's not going to be a novel fresh strategy anymore.

KURTZ: Right. Let me put up on the screen a couple of headlines, one from "The New York Times," this has to do with the Trump university case, do we have that graphic, there we go "New York Times," Trump could threaten U.S. Rule of law scholars say; "Washington Post" not just another Trump vendetta attacks on judge by potential president alarm legal experts.

Now, let's stipulate a lot of even Trump's supporters say that maybe Trump going after this judge and the Trump's new (ph) case who was born in Indiana but whose parents are Mexican was not a great thing was in fact troubling. Does that justify these papers saying legal experts say -- Time says Trump shows contempt for the first amendment, separation of powers, rule of law, electing Mr. Trump is a recipe for a constitutional crisis.

TROTTER: Well, we didn't see any breathless reporting by "The New York Times" when President Obama decided through his executive orders to undermine federal law through actions on immigration, gun control, religious liberty. So, here we have this headline that you've just displayed saying that the declarations of Donald Trump are a threat to the rule of law but we don't see balanced coverage when President Obama does similar things that threatened the rule of law. We had 25 smack downs of President Obama by the Supreme Court, 9-0 decisions, where they said that President Obama had overstepped his bounds. We don't see that type of deal in reporting.

KURTZ: In that -- in that Times story way down in the piece it did mention Obama's executive orders on immigration, Molly?

BALL: Well, I think it's our job as journalist to reflect the conversation that's happening wherever it's happening, whether it's a conversation in academia, if this is -- if you cover legal scholars and this is what they're talking about, you write that story but you try to make it a balanced story.

I -- you know, the liberal media conspiracy wasn't writing these stories about Mitt Romney being a potential threat to the fabric of United States society. I think there is something about the Trump candidacy that is provoking these conversations and academia and that's what's reflecting.

KURTZ: All right, let me get a break. Let me know what you think on Twitter. I'm Howard Kurtz. You can email us

When we come back, Hillary Clinton on ratcheting up her media strategy but she still hasn't held a press conference this year, how can that be?

And later, Laura Ingraham on the search for a third party conservative candidate leading to an obscured national review writer.


KURTZ: Donald Trump usually dominates the media coverage but Hillary Clinton changed that this week with a speech attacking Trump's foreign policy.


HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump's ideas aren't just different, they are dangerously incoherent. They're not even really ideas, just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies.


SCOTT PELLEY, CBS NEWS: It was an extraordinary moment today. Hillary Clinton warned that Donald Trump could lead America into nuclear war on a whim.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS: Tonight going nuclear, Hillary Clinton tears into Donald Trump like never before.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: As a performance, as a candidate you could argue that this was the single best performance she's had as a candidate this cycle.


KURTZ: Gayle Trotter, let's talk about the media's reaction. So, Liberal, it seemed to me on TV said she devastated Trump, anti-Trump conservatives said she devastated Trump, pro-Trump conservatives said sure it was a well- delivered speech but undermined by her own fraud foreign policy record. Did you find the coverage of the speech and the aftermath there?

TROTTER: It was reminiscent of when Senator Marco Rubio went after Donald Trump and the media loved it, they were swooning, they just love that somebody was finally standing up to Trump. And when you read the coverage of the "Washington Post," "The New York Times," "The New Yorker" on the speech by Hillary Clinton they are certainly saying that she took it to him, but I don't think it's going to have the effect that these bastions of the press think that it will. I don't think Hillary Clinton is going to be able to out Trump-Trump.

KURTZ: Well, we'll see. But Molly, what did you think about -- it was really the first time maybe in the whole campaign when she sort of took the fight to Trump and seized the upper hand at least in terms of the media coverage?

BALL: I think she's tried before, but hasn't been successful. In fact, she's played around a lot in trying to find an effective tone and method and means of attacking him and I think by doing this sort of bait and switch where she said she was giving a foreign policy speech and it really wasn't a foreign policy speech, it was a speech about Donald Trump, but you know, a lot of the sort of bed wetter Democrats that I know who have felt that Clinton's campaign was really poorly equipped to go after Trump in a one-on-one way they were breathing a sigh of relief after the speech because they did feel it was a lot more effective and the coverage reflected that.

KURTZ: Interesting that she was not 100 -- her campaign was not 100 percent honest with the media about the speech that was being carried about...

PRZYBYLA: Wait a second because I actually -- I actually got the information before the speech came because what they -- this was very calculated, yes, but they did make clear in those talking points that she was going to hit Trump pretty hard and if you look at the leaked stories that came out both in the "Washington Post" and the "New York Times" they did make clear that she was going to be going on offense after Trump.

KURTZ: Yes. That's what got everybody really interested in it.


KURTZ: But here's the other truth thing, I mean Trump can't stand "The New York Times," remember the story on his conduct toward women. During the speech, while the speech is going on Trump is on the phone to a "New York Times" reporter panning the speech, terrible, pathetic on the opposite of thinned skinned, what do you make of that as a real-time tactic?

BALL: Well, it's the love/hate relationship that Trump has with the media. He continues to be widely accessible and to talk to even people who I think he considers haters and losers even when he feels that he has been attacked by them. But, you know, I think Trump would like this to continue to be him versus the media.

Now that it's him versus Hillary Clinton in a general election, it's a different dynamic and I think the way this seemed to put him off-balance this week reflects that he's going to have to get used to that.

KURTZ: Yes. Hillary Clinton clearly doesn't like to hold news conferences she hasn't held one in quite awhile but this week on that day of the -- it was the day of the Trump presser in New York she called in to MSNBC, she called in to CNN that's usually kind of a Trump tactic, too...


KURTZ: you see her changing her approach to the media?

TROTTER: Yes. She's trying to change her approach, "The Washington Post" has said that previously Donald Trump was addicted to the media and Hillary Clinton was allergic to the media. And she's certainly seeing that how much success he has gotten from that approach and I think she's trying to adopt it as her own.

KURTZ: With the California and New Jersey primaries coming up on Tuesday Bernie Sanders over the weekend said the press -- he told the press do not declare a victory for Hillary Clinton even if she gets over that threshold on Tuesday because I could flip some super delegates, hard argument to make against journalists who do like math?

BALL: Yes. And this is another case where I think you've seen the press sort of calling BS not to find one of our own something that a candidate is saying. There hasn't been a lot of belief given to Sanders' argument and, you know, the -- not coincidentally, the only people that you meet covering politics who detest the press about as much as Donald Trump's supporters are Bernie Sanders' supporters because the facts have turned against them so they've turned against the bringers of the fact, the media.

KURTZ: Heidi, brief comment.


KURTZ: If she has enough delegates, with super delegates, usually we say it's over.

PRZYBYLA: Yes. And that's why the campaign is being clear that even if the media calls this for Hillary Clinton which actually I'm getting indications it might even happen earlier than California, it's possible, that the campaign is very nervous about this because the next thing they need to do immediately is pivot to try to support those people who are so angry over the process and the media.

KURTZ: So, tuned in next week as we talk about that. Heidi Przybyla, Gayle Trotter, Molly Bawl thanks very much for stopping by this Sunday.

Still ahead, Katie Couric, belatedly expressing regret for the deceptive editing in the gun documentary.

But up next, are the media giving Donald Trump more coverage than Hillary Clinton? We'll go to the video tape.


KURTZ: It's an undisputed fact that Donald Trump makes himself far more available to the media than Hillary Clinton, but when it comes to balance that doesn't let my profession off the hook. Here's a classic example. The former first lady gave a speech to a union group in Las Vegas last week.


CLINTON: So when Donald Trump talks about deporting 11 million immigrants, he's talking about ripping apart families like Carla's.


KURTZ: Here's how much live coverage that got on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC.

During those same moments the three cable news networks had this up on the screen.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: That podium will host Donald Trump coming up here in a few minutes.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN: We are just moments away now from Donald Trump speaking publicly. We will get to his press conference when it begins.

GRETCHEN CARLSON, FOX NEWS: We are awaiting that highly anticipated speech from Trump at a petroleum conference in North Dakota.


KURTZ: That's right. They were talking about an empty podium in Bismarck, North Dakota, waiting for Trump to speak. So, a television banner about awaiting Donald Trump presser was deemed better than an actual Hillary speech. That moment noted by "The New York Times" showed a clear tilt toward Trump, an imbalance obviously driven by ratings.

But, here's another part of the dilemma, Trump is constantly doing interviews with "O'Reilly" and "Hannity" and Greta and "Fox and Friends," with "Morning Joe," "Today," "Good Morning America," CNN's New Day" and with the "Sunday Shows," Clinton not so much although that could be changing.

In the past week, she adopted the Trumpian (ph) tactic of calling into shows on CNN and MSNBC. She has by the way had done exactly one interview with Fox during this campaign. And then there were press conferences, Trump holds lots of them, Hillary hasn't had a single one this year, stiffing the reporters who fly around the country with her and get nothing in return.

So, we have one candidate who publicly detests the media but provides lots of access and one candidate who privately detest the press and provides very selective access. And we have a TD (ph) business that gives Trump a bigger platform because he is more bombastic in entertaining even as he describes most of us as scam and sleazes.

Coming up, Bill Kristol's third party effort comes up with a journalist name David French. Laura Ingraham weighs in on that.

And later, the former "New York Times" Ombudsman on taking the heat as an internal watchdog.


KURTZ: Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard has been trying to find someone, anyone to mount a conservative third party challenge this fall and he has come up with a writer for the national review, David French, an Iraq war veteran.


DAVID FRENCH, NATIONAL REVIEW WRITER: It would totally change the dynamic at that point because I know for a fact an awful lot of Republicans are throwing in for Donald Trump right now because they feel like they have no other option. You know what happens when it's in the House of Representatives, there is other option and Republicans will take that. And that's the key of the Mitt Romney choice. You give all of these people another option.


KURTZ: Trump who has been taking wax at Kristol targeted him again this week.


TRUMP: Kristol is the one -- he is the last one. Don't forget, he said Trump will never run. He is not a smart person. He said, Donald Trump will never run. Remember? Do you remember? I actually blame you. Why do you put this guy in television?


KURTZ: I talked about this and the campaign coverage with Laura Ingraham, the radio talk show host, Fox News contributor and founder of the website, LifeZette.

Laura Ingraham, welcome.


KURTZ: Bill Kristol has been asking one conservative politician after another to mount a third party challenge and the best they come up with is a basically unknown national review writer named David French, a journalist.

INGRAHAM: Yes, well -- yes, he's a decorated war veteran and it seems like to be a very person...

KURTZ: He was a terrific guy...


KURTZ: ...never run for dog catcher.

INGRAHAM: Yes. I don't -- look, I cannot get in to Bill Kristol's mind about this. It's clear to me that the party has basically coalesced behind Trump, 87 percent of the party last time I checked. So, if Bill Kristol thinks that somehow David French is going to deliver the electoral nirvana for a neo-conservative vision, you know, I guess, you know, let him -- let him go ahead and do that.

I'm not sure what the end game is though. I don't think Bill Kristol thinks David French is going to be a nominee that's going to take on Hillary Clinton. So, the only result of this would be obviously to ensure that Donald Trump does not win if that could actually happen and Hillary Clinton becomes the Commander-In-Chief of the United States.

So, you have to conclude from that Bill Kristol is a lot more comfortable at least with Hillary at the helm than Donald Trump.

KURTZ: Which I'm sure he would dispute. And he -- I'm sure he is acting on what he sees as principle. But you have Donald trump attacking him, talking about the failing Weekly Standard and why do people put him on TV, is he now in fair game for these kinds of political attacks?

INGRAHAM: I don't -- I wouldn't do it if I were Trump. If I were Trump, I'd focus all of my fire on Hillary and there's a lot to focus on, not just her failure in foreign policy, but the Clinton foundation. The fact that the country is kind of tired of these old political dynasties, they want to move forward with a new fresh approach to trade, immigration, tax reform...

KURTZ: But that's Donald Trump's style...

INGRAHAM: Hillary is not going to get...

KURTZ: ...Trump style to punch back at the people who punch him.

INGRAHAM: Well, I get that but you've got a big target in the Clinton's and now that President Obama is coming out and campaigning, he's a phenomenal campaigner, you have -- you have a lot to tackle here. So, I think internally fighting with someone who is a Republican but kind of for the purpose of this running for a third party I just don't think that gets you anywhere.

I think Trump is best when he's going on the offensive as to what the Obama/Clinton legacy has been in foreign policy and domestic policy, I would just -- I was a little kind of laugh it off and say, you know, God bless Bill Kristol and good luck. It may -- it probably not going to be what he does...

KURTZ: Right.

INGRAHAM: ...that's how I would do it.

KURTZ: So, with the guy who runs the Weekly Standard recruiting someone from National Review...

INGRAHAM: Why not get someone from the American inspector deployment unit need to hop around all these conservative publications.

KURTZ: Does much of the conservative media now appear to be disconnected from what at least many Republican voters want?

INGRAHAM: I don't know who they're representing. I mean I don't know if there are a few big donors to these magazines that are keeping them afloat or benefactors, I have no idea what is going on.

KURTZ: ...a lead conservative opinion.

INGRAHAM: What is conservative? Is conservative unending war in the Middle East, open borders and unending trade deals that you can never change? I mean if that's conservatism count me out and I think you can count out millions of Americans. The thing we know is that there was no audience or no following electorally for a neo-conservative Bush-like approach to either foreign policy or domestic policy. That -- if that were popular Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush would be the nominee today. So, they were kind of offering a new version.

KURTZ: So, you are one of the few prominent conservative voices during the primaries who were not in this never Trump stop Trump campaign?


KURTZ: And he won, I mean he went out and he got the votes.

INGRAHAM: Well, I always thought two key issues. We're going to change the Republican Party and change its appeal to a wider range of voters, trade and immigration. Now, Trump was an unconventional vessel for those positions but nevertheless I think he saw a vacuum, he stepped into that vacuum and everyone counted him out but he had one thing that a lot of people didn't have, he had the people on his side.

Doesn't mean everybody but he had a lot of -- he had a lot of momentum and he had a bravado that I think is attractive in a kind of win-ish, you know, masculinity we are seeing today. I think a lot of people like the fact that he is who he is. He is kind of rough around the edges but that's OK.

KURTZ: Well, he was certainly rough with the press calling...


KURTZ: sleazy and worse...


KURTZ: the press conference this week. Now, I've been saying that attacking the media helps him but does this go too far?

INGRAHAM: I have two minds of it Howie. On the one hand, I kind of agree with what you're saying. At this point, he is in general election mode. You don't want to pick a fight with every two bit reporter from a media organization. I don't even know that ABC guy, maybe he's good maybe he's not, I don't even know.

But, again his whole message to the American people should be follow me and I'm going to rebuild this country. We're going to do it together. Your life is going to be better. There are going to be a lot of naysayers. Do what Reagan did. Reagan was like laugh them off with a smile and a kind of a little wink and move on to the American people.

I think Reagan had the right approach on this. I think picking these fights or answering every criticism, it might have served them well in the primaries but I think there's going to be so much incoming at him right now...


INGRAHAM: ...that it's going to get a little tedious after awhile.

KURTZ: And in half a minute, is there a risk for Donald Trump that he comes off as thin skinned against media scrutiny, the kind of scrutiny that every candidate is going to get?

INGRAHAM: I think he's a tough guy. He could take the criticism. I'd let it slide off his back. I think there is a risk in looking just a little too touchy and sensitive. Look at the stuff that people say about you and me, Howie on the internet. I mean we would not even get up in the morning if we even care. Everyone says like did you see what's...


INGRAHAM: ...I was like ask me if I care. I don't care one bit what anyone says about me except maybe my family and my close friends.

KURTZ: Right.

INGRAHAM: He needs to take that point of view. Do what's right for America. I also think it will be better off. I also think he'll be happier. He'll have more fun if he mixes it up with the regular people and let's all this other stuff go by.

KURTZ: And on that note, Laura Ingraham.

INGRAHAM: Good to see you.

KURTZ: Great to see you. Thanks for stopping by.

INGRAHAM: My pleasure.

KURTZ: And on "MediaBuzz," everyone is covering the passing of Muhammad Ali, now being hailed as the greatest but he was long vilified by the sports media.

But first, the lessons of Katie Couric's misleading gun documentary now that she has taken responsibility for the debacle.


KURTZ: I reported extensively last week on how Katie Couric's gun documentary engaged in deceptive editing. A story that generated those segments by the way on CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS or ABC. Couric had said she was proud of the film but this week she addressed the cinematic trickery in which members of the Virginia Citizens Defence League were made to look dumbfounded for eight long seconds even though its President, Philip Van Cleave told me that's not what happened and produced the audiotape showing they actually had answered the former anchor's questions about background checks.


KATIE COURIC, JOURNALIST: If there are no background checks for gun purchasers how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?

PHILIP VAN CLEAVE, ACTIVIST: I think because of how it -- the light that it casts on our members and our organization and gun owners in general that Katie Couric does indeed owe us an apology for what she did. It's the least she could do.


KURTZ: Couric now says that his executive producer of Under the Gun, I take responsibility for a decision that misrepresented an exchange I had with members of the Virginia Citizens Defence League. I questioned her, the director and the editor about the pause, and was told that a beep was added for as she described a dramatic effect. I regret that those eight seconds were misleading and I did not raise my initial concerns more vigorously.

Joining us now from New York is Joe Concha, television columnist for Mediaite. So, what lesson can be gleaned from the way that this gun rights group fought back against this film?

JOE CONCHA, TELEVISION COLUMNIST FOR MEDIAITE: Very easy lesson here, Howie that if you're a politician, if you're an average Joe unintended, you're an activist group like the DCDL and you are being taped in a documentary kind of format or a pre-taped for an interview that's going to air later and you know there's editing that's going to happen afterwards, very simple, you have a phone, the phone has a free recording app on it, no one suspects you when you walk into a room with a phone or it's in your pocket, record that interview, get the raw audio so this way it doesn't become a he said/she said situation and you could actually have proof to show that you're being misrepresented in a post edit as was the case here with the Couric documentary.

KURTZ: Right. I'm glad that Katie Couric eventually took responsibility for this editing that really can't be defended. The fact that she took several days to do so, does that damage her credibility?

CONCHA: I think it did, Howie and I disagree with you in that her apology did not go far enough. She should have asked the director to take that scene out if she could, it's all digital now. It's not too hard to do or at least say this is not how this went down and I don't stand behind this film anymore.

They apologize five days after the fact because you're caught right handed and she wouldn't admit this recording didn't happen that's where I say maybe she didn't go far enough. And look, I don't want to turn this into a Katie Couric bashing session. In my column, I said she was one of my top four crushes growing up outside of Ally Sheedy and Elisabeth Shue and Meg Ryan.

You know, she was an icon co-hosted the "Today" show. All those years in the '90s, won a Merle award in 2008-2009. This is a very high ranking person who has had little controversy in her career and for CNN and ABC and CBS and NBC, not to cover this is quite frankly a complete mystery because this was a big story. It had tangible proof and they missed it, they missed it badly.

KURTZ: Well, is Liberal bias a factor here with Katie Couric's popular. I agree with you that scene shouldn't have been deleted but they didn't touch it and it was gun rights activist that were made to look bad in this deceptive editing.

CONCHA: Let's put it this way. If gun rights activists weren't involved here I'm betting that this probably would have gotten some coverage and if Katie Couric weren't involved here it probably would have as well. Remember, she worked at all those networks NBC, CBS, ABC...


CONCHA:, she's kind of journalism royalty and that she's almost a celebrity. And for them to just to admit it, again, it's a complete mystery to me, Howie.

KURTZ: All right, let me jump in, in our final sites. I want to talk later about the death of Muhammad Ali. Let me read you something he said before one of his big fights. Sonny Liston is nothing. The man can't talk. The man can't fight. The man needs talking lessons. The man needs boxing lessons, anyone that reminds you of?

CONCHA: Yes, a little bit of Donald Trump in that and then I want to make this very clear in terms of the comparison. Both knew how to dominate media coverage through bombast. The press loves that. Both were polarizing figures. Remember after Ali retired...


CONCHA: ...he became sympathetic, but at that time he was very polarizing and again he was very personal Ali just like Trump in attacking his opponents. You could have asked Joe Frazier when he was alive...


CONCHA: ...calling him an Uncle Tom and a gorilla. I mean I'm telling you Ali knew how to get the press' attention and in the 20th century your top five speakers of all time...

KURTZ: Well, Churchill...

CONCHA: ...Churchill, Reagan...

KURTZ: We got it. We got to go...

CONCHA: ...Martin Luther King and Muhammad Ali.

KURTZ: We'll take that advice (ph), Joe Concha, thanks.

After the break is a Silicon Valley billionaire seeking, retaliating and is Gawker a threat to the free press, "The Washington Post" new media columnist says yes, is she right?


KURTZ: The press has been unloading on the Silicon Valley billionaire who secretly financed Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker for posting that sex tape. Peter Thiel who was angry at the gossip site for outing him as a gay man says he was trying to strike a blow against bad journalism.

But Margaret Sullivan, The Washington Post new media columnist writes when a vindictive billionaire can muscle his way into a lawsuit with the intention of putting a media company out of business, there's reason to worry. And Margaret Sullivan who recently stepped down as The New York Times Ombudsman joins me now. Welcome.


KURTZ: So, why is Peter Thiel a threat to the press if a jury was able to be convinced that posting the sex tape of Hulk Hogan was mean-spirited journalism and an invasion of privacy?

SULLIVAN: You know, Howie I really don't like what Gawker did with the Hulk Hogan sex tape and as an editor for a long time I would not have publish that and I don't like it, but there are free speech issues here that override that. You know, my -- the owner of the paper I just went to work for, Jeff Bezos said this past week that it's not beautiful speech that needs to be protected it's ugly speech. And I think those issues enter into this very much.

KURTZ: Bezos has taken his share of knocks as the owner of Amazon as well.

SULLIVAN: Absolutely.

KURTZ: So, how is what Thiel did different than a lawyer providing pro bono services to plaintiff who is deemed to have a worthy cause or the ACLU...


KURTZ: ...providing free legal services to a defendant deemed to have a worthy cause?

SULLIVAN: I think the difference here is that he's really gone on a campaign against Gawker. It's not just that he's supporting a lawsuit but he has gotten behind a number of suits with the intention, it seems of putting gawker out of business.

KURTZ: It's a crusade in your view.

SULLIVAN: Exactly.

KURTZ: And look, that makes me nervous, it's kind of a scary when a zillionaire can target a despised media outlet, maybe just try the illogical reason that just doesn't like the journalist...

SULLIVAN: That's right.

KURTZ: try to push the outlet into bankruptcy, but the other side of this debate is, aren't libel law supposed to give ordinary citizens even if there ex-arrest (ph) or whatever a way to defend their reputations against bad journalism?

SULLIVAN: Sure. And a jury made the determination here. I mean the monetary amount is astronomical and...

KURTZ: $140 million, yes.

SULLIVAN: ...$140 million, it's really, you know, very unexpected and that was the jury's decision but the idea that someone is pushing this and in the background is also funding lots of other suits with the intention of getting rid of our media organization, whether you like the offerings of that media organization or not is pretty scary to me.

KURTZ: But what can be done, because if people have a lot of money and they choose to use it to finance other people's lawsuits and they choose to target the media, you and I can either say wow this is terrible but there is nothing to stop them, is there?

SULLIVAN: No, there's nothing to stop them, but you know, Peter Thiel is on the board of Facebook and Facebook declined to remove him from the board or really take any action or just said, you know, he did this on his own and Facebook is really trying to seem transparent and to, you know, be a fine media organization. They could have done something here.

KURTZ: Right. Now, before you go, you just finished your tour as public editor of the New York Times...


KURTZ: wrote in one of your farewell column, as many times journalists find it hard to admit they got something wrong.


KURTZ: In fact, you say they are more likely to double down. How hard was it to deal with that as the in-house watchdog?

SULLIVAN: It's a very tense situation. I mean there's an inherent (ph) tension in the job and it's not a lot of fun to be, you know, in a newsroom where you respect everyone, but you're there to point out errors and to, you know, suggest remedies.

KURTZ: I've had that in my career.


KURTZ: When you call, people would got have heads up...

SULLIVAN: Heads up a little bit.

KURTZ: Yes, yes.

SULLIVAN: Exactly.

KURTZ: And did they use the word there (ph) backlash against some of your effort?

SULLIVAN: I mean there was sometimes. I mean in the -- for the most part people were very collegial. Both -- I definitely had some moments that I'm happy to lay down that burden.

KURTZ: You are ready to move on.

SULLIVAN: Exactly.

KURTZ: All right, you also write about what you call "New York Times" exceptionalism...


KURTZ: ...the idea that it's news. When we say it's news, even if it's already been reported by other outlet...

SULLIVAN: Got there in (ph).

KURTZ:, where does that Manhattan media mindset come from?

SULLIVAN: Well, the time is very powerful. They are as we know the paper of record and they've got a huge, you know, very prestigious newsroom and I think it's baked into the DNA of the times that when we say it's time to write this, we will write it and until then you know you can just kind of cool your jets.

KURTZ: And I think your point was that we live in a multimedia world now and if it's something that's on Twitter it's a legitimate story or elsewhere you can't necessarily wait until two weeks later or...

SULLIVAN: I think it's changing now.

KURTZ: Absolutely. Margaret Sullivan, great to see you, hope you'll come back.

SULLIVAN: Thank you very much.

KURTZ: Margaret Sullivan now with the "Washington Post." Still to come, your top tweets, the state department video deletion that turned out not to be a glitch.

Plus, Muhammad Ali's death making headlines around the world. But there was a time when the press was beating up on the greatest.


KURTZ: Nobody was buying the state department's explanation for why an embarrassing exchange for a briefing just happened to be deleted from its YouTube channel. It was a random glitch. Now, the department has admitted it was deliberate. The exchange you may recall involved our own James Rosen asking why the department had mislead him about the start of secret nuclear negotiations with Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JAMES ROSEN, FOX CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Is it the policy of the state department where the preservation of the secrecy of secret negotiations are concerned -- is concerned to lie in order to achieve that goal?

JEN PSAKI, FMR STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: James, I think there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress.

KURTZ: Now, department spokesperson John Kirby acknowledges that some department official made a phone call for the precise purpose of deleting that part of the briefing.

JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We took it seriously. And we did talk to the technician who was on-duty that day and who was asked to make this cut. What I said to my staff yesterday was this was inappropriate. This isn't the way we're going to behave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He acted like a stand up guy.

KURTZ: But, Kirby who praised Rosen for bringing this to the government's attention says he doesn't have the resources to investigate who made this or really made a move on that. I've got (ph) CNN, Jake Tapper the last word.

JAKE TAPPER, THE LEAD ANCHOR: Just as the public has the right to know the truth, we have a right to know who lied to us and why.


KURTZ: What he said. The liberal website Vox founded by former "Washington Post" columnist, Ezra Klein doesn't like Donald Trump, but this is beyond the pale. Deputy Editor, Evette Renzon (ph) tweeted the following advice. If Trump comes to your town, start a riot. There are other tweets about that. He's a fuscous and so forth.

This guy is a journalist Ezra Klein said he can't condone such words and suspended him. I'll talk to your top 20, so bringing back what about Donald Trump ripping the media as sleazy at that presser about veteran's donations. Bruce Pride (ph), vast majority of the press will try to destroy his candidacy with smears, lies, distortions he has no choice.

Joe (ph) in my humble opinion, he protests too much. He would have turned over the money if they haven't pressed. It had been too long to be legit. Adam Annapolis (ph), projection, they caught him in his own sleaze so he had to go on the offensive. It's what he does and why many relate to him.

Marlaine Morgan-Feller (ph), media lost all credibility. You are the enemy. The more you hate on him, the more we love him, the enemy.



MUHAMMAD ALI, MEDIA LEGEND: I said back there and I listened to every word you said. Howard, every time you open your mouth you should be arrested for air pollution.



KURTZ: Muhammad Ali who died this weekend was the first modern athlete to truly exploit the media. Not just to promote his boxing bouts like the Thrilla in Manila but his political views. When he joined the nation of Islam and changed his name from Cassius Clay. And most of the press refuse to use the new name.

When he refused to be drafted in 1966 declaring that I ain't got nothing against them Viet Kong, he was savage in the papers. Columnist, Red Smith, famous baseball writer saying Cassius makes himself as sorry as spectacle as those unwashed punks who picket and demonstrate against the war.

Ali lost 3-1/2 years of his career until he won his appeal to the Supreme Court. It was a tremendously polarizing figure yet it was ultimately his media mastery that made his comeback bigger than ever as he played the rope atop (ph) not just with his opponents but with the press.

His tart tongue stilled only by Parkinson's. Ali was an American original and it was nice to see some of his many interviews with ABCs, Howard Cossell. The two careers were really intertwined.

And that is it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. Thanks for watching. We hope you like our Facebook page. We will post a lot of original content there. You can write to us becomes part of your buzz. I respond to your questions. Also check us out on Twitter to continue the conversation. We're back here next Sunday at 11:00 again at 5:00 Eastern with the latest buzz.

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