This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," August 28, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On Buzz Meter this Sunday, as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton trade charges of racism, new media scrutiny for the ethical questions going the Clinton Foundation with her team complaining distortion by the press.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
MIKE BARNICLE, JOURNALIST: If she were running against a more credible opponent, this would be perhaps be almost a death now because rather than get to corruption at first, it gets to judgment. What were they thinking, both Clintons?
KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, FOX NEWS: It shows poor judgment. You knew you were running for president, OK. Why did you even engage in this? Why didn't you disassociate yourself completely from it?
PAMELA BROWNE, CNN: How problematic is this for Hillary Clinton and the optics of it?
MARIA CARDONA, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Now, the appearance of it, sure, to people who don't understand how these things work, it could be problematic.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: With some editorial pages demanding the Clinton Foundation be shut down, is the press right that the Clintons created the appearance of a pay- to-play environment or as her spokesman says, are journalists just cherry picking their figures. The pundits jump on Donald Trump for toning down his rhetoric on deporting illegal immigrants even as he and his new team insist he hasn't changed his position.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN: I mean one of the biggest policy shifts or flip-flops or whatever you want to call it between the primary and the general election we have ever seen.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: And now he tells us, oh, the laws are wonderful and to diminish it by Bush and Obama, I don't want to change any of it. I'll be a little more energetic. That underlies everything he's ever said that you have to question did he ever mean it? I think the answer is probably no.
HARRIS FAULKNER, FOX NEWS: I just wonder why Donald Trump and others who go through the process of evolution and their campaigns don't get credit for doing one thing people say they should be doing, being thoughtful on the issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Should the media be portraying Trump's new language as a flip-flop? And how should they handle the nastiness as the nominees denounce each other as racist and bigots? Mike Huckabee joins our discussion. Plus, and Jorge Ramos and Julian Assange lecture the American media on ethics, really? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."
The media consumed as always with covering Donald Trump have looked rather bored with the Clinton Foundation mess but that slowly began to change this week specially with the report by the Associated Press that at least 85 of the 154 private people that secretary Clinton met with or had scheduled calls with have donated to her family foundation or pledged money to its global programs, and the coverage got a boost when Trump ratcheted up his attacks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Hillary Clinton ran the State Department like a failed leader in a third world country. That's what it's done. It's run like a third world country. She sold favors and access in exchange for cash.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Clinton's campaign manager responded by calling the A.P. Report distorted and biased.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBBY MOOK, CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: There were over 1,700 other meetings that she had. She was Secretary Of State. She was meeting with foreign officials and government officials constantly so, to pull all of them out of the equation, cherry pick a very small number of meetings is pretty outrageous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage of this controversy and the increasingly white hot rhetoric on immigration and racism, Kelly Ridell, deputy opinion editor of the Washington Times, Joe Trippi, a Democratic strategist and Fox News contributor, and Susan Ferrechio, chief congressional correspondent for the Washington Examiner. Kelly, media have come to consider the Clinton Foundation story to be kind of old and eye glazing, but with these latest revolutions, is it now getting the attention it deserves?
KELLY RIDDELL, WASHINGTIN TIMES: Yes, and it deserve more attention throughout this campaign season. The Media Research Center did a study that from January to May, the Clinton Foundation as a whole got five minutes of coverage on CBS, NBC and ABC. Donald Trump got eight times that much by a stupid like the PR scandal where he posed as his own PR man. That got eight times as much coverage as the Clinton Foundation in the first half of this campaign season.
That just shows you how biased the press is and there's a lot to uncover here. And you know how it's being uncovered, by Citizens United and by Judicial Watch through lawsuits not by The New York Times and not by the Washington Post and investigative journalists. The A.P. was the exception this week but there is a lot more that can be dug into and uncover here and the press just isn't doing it.
KURTZ: Joe, you're an honest Democrat. So, I know you're going to acknowledge that this is a troubling new story for the Clinton campaign and the press should be aggressively covering it.
JOE TRIPPI, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Look, it is what it is. You wonder sometimes why they didn't get in front of some of this. They've known it was coming for quite awhile and on the other hand, the coverage has been, I think, like very simplistic, not really explaining a whole lot. And looking at -- and I do think --
KURTZ: Simplistic in a misleading way in your view?
TRIPPI: Yeah, absolutely. There is no -- the calls for shutting down the Foundation.
TRIPPI: To shut it down right now, this is a Foundation that provides 11 million of the 17 million people get AIDS drugs come from the Clinton Foundation. They receive -- so how do you shut that down like tomorrow?
TRIPPI: In other words, those things like that I think are being lost in the why don't they shut it down right now. I mean those kinds of questions...
KURTZ: Right, and nobody is disputing that the Clinton Foundation has done good work over the years but the questions are about the ties between local and state department and the Foundation and her potential presidency. So Susan, Boston Globe by referral (ph) last week and the uber-liberal Huffington Post said shut it down. This week you had USA Today and L.A. Times. Some would say, you know, it should be gradually transferred to another foundation, and these are right-wing opponents of Hillary Clinton.
SUSAN FERRECHIO, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, it looks terrible. I mean, this is an unparalleled situation where you have someone -- former Secretary of State -- she's running for president. She's leading in the polls with a sort of parallel universe of a big Foundation that takes in billions of dollars from foreign countries, it just...
KURTZ: With Kelly saying that there should be more coverage by media and when Joe is saying the coverage is simplistic, where do you come from?
FERRECHIO: Part of the reason why there hasn't been a lot of coverage is the secrecy. Look how hard it was for A.P. to get this, six years, six years they have been asking. Her schedule...
TRIPPI: But where is the press' -- where is the press' coverage of the Point of Life Foundation when George Herbert Walker Bush was running that Foundation during the same time his son was running for president and serving as president and receiving contributions from people who probably wanted things from the Bush administration?
Now, I agree, part of the reason this is happening is because Citizens United and Judicial Watch sued and are pushing this, there was no such, you know, there was no such coverage of the points alike, which I think was a good foundation and still is a good foundation.
RIDDELL: Well, I mean, Hillary Clinton was serving as Secretary of State while her husband was going out and getting paid speeches from foreign governments that were looking for deals that needed to be approved by the Secretary of State.
Let's drill down the Clinton campaign says this is totally off. The figure, about 85 out of 154 private people. Among other things, well probably Secretary Clinton would have met with some of these folks. That's probably true. The campaign in my view is not really knocked down any of the facts, Uranium One being one of them.
KURTZ: OK, let's put it down a little bit on this A.P. story that the Clinton campaign says it's totally off. So, in this figure, about 85 out of 154 private people, the Clinton campaign says among other things, well, probably Secretary Clinton would have met with some of these folks anyway like Melinda Gates. That's probably true but I can't (inaudible) not really knockdown any of the facts.
RIDDELL: No, and I think the A.P. story was very fair. It's said that this wasn't a complete -- we don't know who she met with because her schedules haven't been released yet, we're still -- and then the State Department comes out and says, we're not going to give you her full calendar or agenda until after the elections.
So, we're not going to know the complete story. But the A.P. was right and they said that these are the calendars that we got. These are the evaluations that we've made off with this, and they just looked at special interest groups. They didn't look at, you know, traditional business. They looked at special interest.
KURTZ: Let me jump in now, Joe, and you can respond. So, the A.P. did one thing wrong, which was failing to retract and wrote these tweets summarizing the story, but the reason that the coverage here, the A.P. story only covers half of Hillary Clinton's tenure is because A.P. had only access to two years of (inaudible), which it had to sue the State Department for, and that is all in the story. So, it doesn't make it inaccurate.
KURTZ: No, but they didn't go, well, one, the big -- they really did make a big mistake with that tweet and they still haven't retracted it. That thing was like -- I still don't get that. Why would the news organization not retract that tweet? The second thing is it's true that what you're saying about them having to fight for the information, I get that, I agree with that. I think that that was a mistake...
KURTZ: And the Clinton campaign sys, well, the 17 other -- 1,700 other meetings that the Secretary held with foreign and domestic government officials weren't counted, the A.P. addresses its and says we didn't contend () that because that's her job.
FERRECHIO: It's not important to look at her schedule where she has a choice. So, she has more of a choice with these outside groups than when the officials of the State Department, which is the part of the calendar that A.P. didn't look at. So they looked at when she had a choice, who did she choose to meet with and why? And you look at it and among those, she received $156 million to the Clinton Foundation and her husband received a lot of money in speaking fees.
KURTZ: Speaking fees, correct.
FERRECHIO: That's important.
KURTZ: Let me turn now to the increasingly hot rhetoric on the question of race by both candidates. Here is a brief look at the speeches that they gave this week.
(BEGN VIDEO CLIPS)
TRUMP: Hillary Clinton is a bigot who sees people of color only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better future.
HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well of course, there's always been a paranoid fringe in our politics, a lot of it arising from racial resentment but it's never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it and giving it a national megaphone until now.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: For both of you, Kelly first, how did the media cover this? It seems like we're all being sucked into this vortex of ugliness and really incendiary charges, you're a racist, you're a bigot. How did media cover this?
RIDDELL: I think they actually have to look at Trump supporters. I give props to the Washington Post today which on its editorial page actually went to a Trump rally and interviewed some of his supporters who are not this alt-right fringe of racist, you know, bigots and there are actually people that are concerned about the future of America. Seventy percent of them don't think they're on the right track, and that's the reason why they support Trump.
So, the press should look into actually who is Trump's space and not give Hillary Clinton a lot of headlines calling them all racists and bigots which is just simply not true and on the same token, if they're going to do that, do it with her or do it with her alt-left supporters.
TRIPPI: Even (inaudible) supporters racist at all. She said that he was stoking racist and bigotry and by the way, a lot of reporting of polls suggest that 56 or even higher percent of the American people believe that about Trump.
RIDDELL: So it's up to us as journalist to actually report the truth and the reason why people in the polls think that it's because a lot of these reporting that's come out, he paints supporters his supporters in this mischaracterization.
TRIPPI: Look, the coverage of Trump for 15 months that the press has covered his words, I think he have left a lot of Americans with that impression and I think what the Clinton campaign is doing is continuing to remind people as much as they can about that.
KURTZ: But there's a lot of...
TRIPPI: That's politics but...
KURTZ: There's a lot of context here. So for example, when Donald Trump says Hillary Clinton is a bigot, he's talking about policies actually as she doesn't care about African-Americans, just cares about their votes. The policies haven't worked. And when Clinton says Trump is supported by a radical fringe of white supremacist, we can get into that, but doesn't all that, no matter what we try to do, get lost amid the sound bites and headlines and the finger pointing?
FERRECHIO: Absolutely because everyone here is (inaudible) bigot and like, what is he talking about? It's hard to, you know, read into that. What he's doing is conjuring a long-time narrative what the Democrats may claim to be the ones helping minorities whereas the Republicans are not. So, he's trying to counter that whole argument by saying the Democratic policies have not helped minorities. The way he interprets that with his campaign followers is saying they are you know, bigots.
KURTZ: We'll have more on this later probably. I got to get a break. Remember to let us know what you think, email@example.com is the address. When we come back, Donald Trump's new approach on illegal immigration, should the media be calling it a flip-flop? And later, we get the Trump campaign's view from Mike Huckabee.
KURTZ: Donald Trump once talked about mass deportations of the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants. He's now using, well, different language.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I had a meeting with great people, great Hispanic leaders and there certainly can be a softening because we're not looking to hurt people.
So, but, we're going to follow the laws of this country.
Number one, we'll say throw out, number two we'll work with them, ready. Number one.
TRUMP: Number two.
TRUMP: We go a step further. They will pay back taxes. They have to pay taxes. There is no amnesty as such.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Government by town hall, well, that triggered plenty of media reports that Trump has done a 180 on his signature issue, reports that his new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway described that as distorted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: I just got to keep asking you this though because it is important, and for those supportive of Donald Trump who early on loved his hard line stance of 11 million illegal immigrants got to leave, undocumented workers got to leave. He is no longer saying that. He has changed his position.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I hope that they are saying what he says, Anderson, which is that you don't just look at people and try to harm them or treat them inhumanely. He's not flip-flopping on immigration and he wants to find a way...
COOPER: That seems like a flip-flop.
CONWAY: ...a way to execute on his principles, Anderson, without hurting people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Kelly Riddell, the journalists love that word, flip-flop. Is it fair in this case to use it when Donald Trump was annunciating one policy and seems to be moving toward another?
RIDDELL: I think that for everyone who does not like Trump, the anti-Trump crowd, it's a flip-flop. I think that if you're inclined to like Donald Trump given the benefit of the doubt, then he's just working out a policy.
KURTZ: He's evolving. Right.
RIDDEL: He's evolving. You know, he's had a lot of tough rhetoric. He has maintained the wall stance and that Mexico is going to pay for it. Where he's been unclear is this mass deportation. He always brought up the deportation force in interviews with MSNBC and NBC. He hasn't talked about it on his website with his plan. He hasn't talked about it at rallies. So, he could very well just be working out the issues and the practicality of them all.
KURTZ: So, Susan Ferrechio, how should journalists react when Kellyanne Conway and other top officials in the Trump campaign keep insisting interviews this is about words and tone and emphasis but when Kellyanne was asked, well, what about deportation force, she said, to be determined.
FERRECHI: Well, I think the media has done a good job honing in on a central issue that Trump has talked about, the defining issue really of his campaign. And the fact that he's "vague" when it comes to how he plans to implement this policy. And what it's done is it's forced him to start to really define what he's going to do.
He's already gotten a lot more specific about what his plans would be on immigration, about building a wall, e-verify, other things having to do with stopping immigrants from coming into the country illegally and I think the media played a role on that by really pinning him down on where he stands on this. Whether you want to call it a flip-flop or evolving or whatever, I mean, that's what we're supposed to be doing, is questioning them on their stance.
TRIPPI: I think the media has done an amazing job of keeping it very unclear and I mean, of him, keeping it very unclear whether he's flip- flopped or not. We don't know. And I think...
KURTZ: Which is the amazing part?
TRIPPI: Yeah, the part that the media has stayed on him.
KURTZ: That's a good thing in your view.
TRIPPI: Right, and forced this back and forth, is it or isn't it, and watch these people turn themselves into pretzels trying to explain whether he has or has not changed his immigration policy, I think should leave everybody out there not knowing, which is the truth, they don't know. No one out there who believes he hasn't changed his position, they are probably wrong...
KURTZ: As a campaign manager (ph), let me just stop you there for a second. Don't all candidates move a bit toward the center in a general election and if that's the case, then the semantic debate is because the Trump people keep insisting, well, it's not a shift on position.
TRIPPI: Right, they haven't changed position and they're also doing it with 72 days left. No one has ever done that before.
RIDDELL: To be fair, Trump's campaign says he's going to have an immigration speech coming up. We don't know when that's going to be exactly and I haven't seen any evaluation of Hillary Clinton's stance on immigration during all of these stories. There were five stories all last week in the Washington Post evaluating Donald Trump on immigration but what about her catch and release and in terms of what she's going to expand upon Obama's executive actions. I'd like to know more about her policy.
TRIPPI: This a good point. It's a good point, and the reason is this was his central being for running. This is what created him. This is his central...
RIDDELL: I don't know if I agree with that, either. That's what a lot of...
KURTZ: It was a key issue.
TRIPPI: I think -- but I think that's the reason the press coverage of it - - that's why they're so focused on him on this issue.
RIDDELL: Because she doesn't have a central issue so I'd like to have a comparison.
TRIPPI: Because if he's moving on his central issue...
KURTZ: I think both candidates should be pressed on it in the few seconds we have. The journalistic (inaudible) left and right has been that this was such a core part of Trump's identity, but now he's essentially adopted a position of Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush and other Republicans he criticized during the primaries.
FERRECHIO: I don't think he has. He says that he's going to build a wall. I know the press is trying to make it sound like he flip-flopped a little bit.
KURTZ: Just on the 11 million.
FERRECHIO: Right. Just on what to do -- is there a path to citizenship? He's saying there is not -- they have to leave and come back into the country. You know, it's such a logical conclusion for the media to leap to because what happened with Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, but it's more complicated.
KURTZ: More complicated, which we often end up here. Great discussion, Kelly Riddel, Joe Trippi, Susan Ferrechio, thanks very much. Ahead, Jorge Ramos say journalists must take a stand against Donald Trump. He's the last guy to making that argument, but up next, a look at a former host lawsuit against Fox News that is generating plenty of headlines.
KURTZ: There is some heavy media attention for a lawsuit against Roger Ailes and Fox News filed by Andrea Tantaros, a former co-host with "Outnumbered" and before that with "The Five." That's in part because the suit includes such lurid made for TV headlines as calling the network a Playboy Mansion-like cult marked by indecency and misogyny. The Fox executives named in the suit deny the allegations according to a network spokeswoman.
The suit comes after Ailes resigned under pressure last month following a sexual harassment suit by former host Gretchen Carlson, which charges he denies and allegations by a number of other female Fox personnel interviewed during an inquiry by parent company 21st Century Fox. Tantaros was taken off the air in April when Fox said she breached her contract by publishing a book whose provocative cover shows her arms tied up by ropes without getting permission.
Her side contends the real reason was that Tantaros has complained about sexual harassment. The suit says Ailes had made off color remarks to her, spoke of how she'd look in a bikini and once asked her to turn around so he could get a good look at her. Barry Asen, an outside counsel for Fox told the New York Times that the company interviewed 12 to 15 people all of whom denied everything that Tantaros was alleging. The lawsuit also said that coverage of her case by the blog TVNewser, charging it was created and controlled by Ailes, which is false and it's currently owned by Adweek.
All the publicity following Ailes departure has raised questions about the culture at Fox. A 21st Century Fox spokesman told the Times, "We have demonstrated a willingness to act." However this lawsuit turns out, the inclusion of disparaging gossip about random people was designed to make Fox look like a terrible place. I can tell you as a veteran in this business that Fox is generally a collegial and rewarding place to work. At the same time, there are allegations that some women in the past were put in difficult or uncomfortable situations. I'm glad the company is addressing that.
Coming up, former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on whether the media treating his man Donald Trump fairly in this latest controversies over race and immigration. And later, Eboni Williams on the coverage of Trump's outreach to black voters.
KURTZ: Joining us now from Florida with a Trump campaign's viewpoint is Mike Huckabee, the former presidential candidate, Arkansas governor and Fox News contributor, and governor, let's get right to it. Let's start with what Donald Trump calls a softening of his position on illegal immigration. Of course the press is questioning whether he's changing his position because now he's talking about following the law more aggressively, kicking out criminals and having others pay back taxes but not rounding up 11 million people in this country illegally, your thoughts?
MIKE HUCKABEE, FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: Well, I think what Donald Trump has done, he stuck to his guns on the idea that we're going to have a border. We're going to enforce the border, that hasn't changed at all. I think the one thing that you can say is that he realizes that it's utterly impractical to try to deport 11 million people just to round them up. That's not going to happen and it's not going to happen because we physically, I don't think could manage that.
This is not a change of his basic fund mental view that America has a right to dictate who comes into this country and to have a door that has a lock on it and that you invite people in and you know who's coming and that hasn't changed and I think the press trying to make him to be a flip- flopper is frankly absurd.
KURTZ: Let me play for you just a brief clip from the presidential debate last February when the candidate said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We have at least 11 million people in this country that came in illegally. They will go out. They will come back, some will come back, the best, through a process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Now that was his position when you ran against him for president. Now, you say it's utterly unrealistic to be seeking out (inaudible). That was criticism made at the time. Why does your candidate Donald Trump not just say I just consulted, I've looked into this and I realized that's not realistic and so I'm going to do it a different way. Instead, there was this insistence that oh, the position hasn't really changed.
HUCKABEE: Well, I think in quite, you know, to be fair to Donald Trump. It's not that his position has changed. What he was saying there that people will go back, they'll come in and make sure that they should come in, you know, talk about whether they have to go back to get in the line to come back in is like deportation or is that going through a process.
One of the reasons, Howard that candidates don't like to give details and deep, you know, deep policy position papers that are 50 pages long, is because all it does is invite an extraordinary scrutiny and nitpicking on the details. So, better to keep it general, and I think Donald Trump is learning that lesson as a candidate. Never run for office...
KURTZ: Well, I'm in favor of scrutiny. Not necessarily nitpicking.
HUCKABEE: I think that's...
KURTZ: Let me turn you to something else. I have a few more questions I want to get to. A few weeks ago you sat in for a show on "Hannity" and interviewed Donald Trump and you announced it to the audience. You're not a journalist, you are there as a supporter but you work at Fox and you were kind of the host, well and that drew some criticism.
HUCKABEE: Well look, you know, I never pretend to be a journalist. I wish some of the other people -- how does George Stephanopoulos pretend to be a journalist? He worked for Bill Clinton. He was in the White House. How does Chris Matthews pretend to be a journalist? He worked for Democrat politicians.
KURTZ: Well, in fairness to both of them...
HUCKABEE: I'm a commentator.
KURTZ: ...that was a couple of decades ago and they've since been in journalism. I understand the criticism to both of them. I understand you're a commentator so let me have you commentate on this. Trump has been now talking about outreach to the black community. His poll numbers with the African-American voters are not very good.
He's taken a lot of heat from the press particularly liberal pundits for saying things like, you all live in poverty, your schools are no good, what have you got to lose? What is your thought about this outreach and why he's drawn more criticism than praise for it?
HUCKABEE: I think he's drawing criticism because he's telling the truth. One of the reasons that I ended up getting 48 percent of the African- American vote in Arkansas as a Republican gubernatorial candidate was because I was very honest and blunt and I went out and said to people in the African-American community, you guys 100 percent virtually support Democrats. What comes of that? Are things better for you? And the answer is no. There was nothing that they could really point to and say boy, this has really worked out for us.
On the other hand, if you give your votes automatically to the Democrats, they're not going to do a thing for you because they don't have to to get your votes. And Republicans won't do anything for you because they know that if they do, it's not going to make any difference as it become a voting block that everybody has to work for and fight for and be a part of helping, and then your votes really do matter in a much bigger way. And I think that's what Donald Trump is saying and it's absolutely 100 percent the truth.
KURTZ: All right, we got about half a minute. Let me leave you with this question, with Trump down in many swing state polls - I know in the national polls he's come back a bit and the race is tightening, most of the press now assumes Hillary Clinton will win. There had been stories about the White House agenda and her transition team. What do you make of this media attitude? You go to New York Times website there is a graphic every day, "Hillary Clinton, 90 Percent Chance of Winning."
HUCKABEE: Well, if anybody denies that the mainstream media is totally in the tank for Hillary, they are living in a fantasy land. They probably have a unicorn ranch and believe in the tooth fairy. It's just absurd for us to deny that there is a concerted effort to try and discredit Donald Trump. But Donald Trump doesn't have to win over the main stream media. Donald Trump has to win over a lot of working class people who have been greatly hurt by the policies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and that's what this race will come down to, Howard.
KURTZ: All right, Governor Mike Huckabee joining us from Florida this Sunday. Thanks very much for being here.
HUCKABEE: You bet, Howard.
KURTZ: Good to see you. Ahead, Eboni Williams weighs in on the coverage of Trumps outreach of black voters, but first, Donald Trump punching back at the Joe and Mika morning team and it gets pretty ugly.
KURTZ: Donald Trump has said for months that he no longer watches "Morning Joe" but he did tune in to the MSNBC show the other day. We see Joe Scarborough ripping and Mika Brzezinski saying they never had much time to talk about Hillary Clinton's problems.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC HOST: I mean, if you're watching morning shows, you're watching our show. All we're doing is talking about Donald Trump and his...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you...
BRZEZINSKI: All we're doing is talking about how he can't pivot. All we're doing is talking about how unbelievably flawed he is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: That triggered a couple of caustic tweets and including a highly personal slight we won't repeat on the air, and saying that Trump may one day tell the real story about the co-host calling them two clowns, "Tried watching low-rated @Morning_Joe this morning, unwatchable! @morningmika is off the wall, a neurotic and not very bright mess!"
Joining us now to talk about this and other controversies, Molly Hemingway, senior editor at The Fedralist and Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democratic Network. Molly, what does it tell us that the new more scripted Trump is still sort of punching back a table pundits?
MOLLY HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: I think you have to put it in a larger context. You had a media that aided and abetted Trump when he was winning the Republican nomination. Once he wins, they turn to savagely attacking him. Joe Scarborough is a kind of extreme example of this having tried to become his V.P. or at least flirting with that.
KURTZ: Well, there's no proof of that.
HEMINGWAY: Flirting with it, not refusing to be considered for that role to now just brutally attacking him. I think it shows that the media are extremely emotional about how they're covering this race. Whether Donald Trump is wise to be attacking the media is a different question, but there is something highly emotional about the media coverage of Trump and he's not unwise to point that out.
KURTZ: Let me play another clip and through the ire of the Trump campaign. This is was on Friday when Mika Brzezinski was interviewing -- and with others -- was interviewing Pastor Mark Burns, a Trump supporter, and she was pressing him about Trump's comments of a few months ago about the Mexican-American judge in the Trump University case. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRZEZENSKI: Were the comments racist or not? I just want to know.
MARK BURNS, EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN TELEVANGELIST: Let me finish -- finish the statement, OK.
BRZEZENSKI: Well, I was asking for the answer to the question not the statement. Could I have an answer to the question?
BURNS: Let me give you my answer at the way I would give it to you so that we can move forward because we're telling the stories.
BRZEZENSKI: But it's a yes or no?
BURNS: I think if I was in Mr. Trump's shoes, I don't think it was racist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: A statement by Trump, Simon Rosenberg, called that whole interview appalling, disgusting, repulsive and said that the "Morning Joe Show" has become the show is the propaganda arm of Hillary Clinton and her campaign.
SIMON ROSENBERG, NEW DEMOCRATIC NETWORK: Listen, I think there's no secret here that this has been a very hard race to cover for most journalists. I used to work for ABC News. I came out of this business and went into the political side and I think Donald Trump has pushed the boundaries of discourse in ways that have made it hard, I think for reporters to manage this race. This hasn't been a normal race, right.
So, people are struggling with I think how to cover it and I think you know "Morning Joe" clearly, right, let's be clear, "Morning Joe" is now clearly going after Trump in ways I think to make up for sort of this dance that they did last year.
KURTZ: But sometimes Scarborough goes after Hillary Clinton.
ROSENBERG: Yes, he does, he does. And look, it hurts more for Republicans to see a former Republican congressman doing it and that's why it's a little bit more painful.
KURTZ: Let me move on to Hillary Clinton's speech this week while trying to tar Trump with all these things of alt-right, the alternative right, painting it as a collection as sort of white supremacist and anti-Semites and of course the opening here provided by the Trump campaign hiring Steve Bannon, the former chairman of "Breitbart." And Bannon has said it's the voice of the alt-right. Is that coverage been fair or unfair in your view?
HEMINGWAY: It really is a campaign tactic for Hillary Clinton to bring up this issue and I think the question is how much of the media participate in that campaign tactic? If they want to cover unsavory characters who support each campaign, they can do that. But they should not just look at one campaign at the exclusion of the other.
You have tons of extremist candidates or people who are supporting Hillary Clinton from the head of the Communist Party USA, some of the most radical abortion extremist, Sidney Blumenthal who was advising Hillary Clinton on invading Libya while he was paid by the Clinton Foundation. There are all sorts of people you can look at on both sides of the campaign. So totally normal negative campaign trick but the media should think about how much they want to participate in that campaign.
KURTZ: I don't like when the media say, oh, this crazy person or is David Duke with Trump or the Orlando shooter's father with Hillary. They want their ten seconds of fame and then we try to tie it around but is there a balance in the way this is being done?
ROSENBERG: I don't know that this one there will be balance because as a Democrat, I don't think we see this as an even-handed thing. I mean I think the Clinton campaign to their credit has been very careful to use Donald Trump's own words or the words of the people supporting him, right? They have been -- it's not been insinuation, right. It's been the actual -- look at the videos, right. It's almost every time all the videos are released, the actual words of Trump and the people.
KURTZ: When we get into al-right position, it's not Trump's words. It is the words of other people.
ROSENBERG: When he hired, right, Steve Bannon to go in there that was the thing that crossed over for Democrats to be able to say this is fair game.
KURTZ: Quick point, New York Times and others reporting on Bannon having been charged 20 years ago with domestic violence, and what was then the charges were later dropped. I can see reporting it but should this be a major story 20 years ago, the guy who is running the campaign?
HEMINGWAY: Steve Bannon is a major figure in the campaign and he's the unsavory character and I think there is tons of information out there that you can go after. But I do think it kind of crosses the line for instance bringing up divorce proceedings. I have yet to hear of a divorce proceeding that didn't involve allegations that you know, you can get really extreme rhetoric. I think we should be cautious or it should be a more universally applied journalistic trick to bring up divorce papers.
ROSENBERG: I think, look, he's a new guy and there is, you know, this is what happens, right? Everyone gets vetted in this business.
KURTZ: I know, but it feels a little -- it just feels a little over the line to me to make a major issue out of something that happened 20 years ago. We have a half a minute left. At the beginning of this year, the Clinton Foundation should be phased out to avoid conflicts. Now, that seems to be the emerging media position. I guess you were right. What took so long?
ROSENBERG: No, listen, I think it's clear that they're making dramatic changes in the Foundation, right. I mean, I wish -- personally I wish this had happened a year ago, right, that they had removed many...
KURTZ: Why didn't the campaign listen to you?
ROSENBERG: Because they don't listen to me about many things. And this one, I think they got the message, right? They're making significant changes and I think it's heading in the right direction.
KURTZ: But not shutting it down or phasing it out or transferring the assets as a lot of people in the media now are calling for. We got to go, Simon Rosenberg, Molly Hemingway, great to see you this Sunday. After the break, Trump calls Clinton a bigot, Clinton accuses Trump of stoking racism as we've been saying. Is the press picking sides in this fight?
KURTZ: The more that Donald Trump has tried to appeal to black voters, the more the media have scrutinized and often criticized his approach. Trump is now calling Hillary Clinton a bigot and CNN's Anderson Cooper repeatedly test him on that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: How is she bigot? Bigot is a...
TRUMP: Yeah, because she's selling them down the tubes. Because she's not doing anything for those communities. She talks a good game but she doesn't do anything.
COOPER: So you're suggesting that she has hatred in her...
TRUMP: Her policies are bigoted because she knows they're not going to work.
COOPER: And you think she is personally bigoted.
TRUMP: She is, of course she is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: I spoke all the way from New York with Eboni Williams, a lawyer and Fox News contributor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Eboni Williams, welcome.
EBONI WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you Howie. Thanks for having me.
KURTZ: So, Clinton accuses Trump of fostering racism. Trump calls Clinton a bigot, ties it to policies, true or not? Most of the mainstream media do not believe Hillary Clinton is a bigot but do believe that Trump has made racist appeal.
WILLIAMS: Is that true? Look, I really can't tell you if mainstream media is picking up on it but I can tell you certainly within some black press units, people are calling Hillary Clinton out on her things that she's had in her past, whether it's calling people super predators or other even policy that her husband and herself have advocated for but have adversely affected the black community so I do actually think, Howie, that people are aware of that and starting to call her out on that.
KURTZ: What about the ugliness on both of them in August, you know, hurling this (inaudible) charges at each other and how does the press cover that?
WILLIAMS: Oh, it's so nasty. I can tell you again it's not being well received. I can pretty much guess that they are each just trying to out slander the other. And what they're doing in this effort, Howie, is they're really just making a mockery of the actual black community and so is the brown community, too.
They're using it as a pawn. They're both using it for political expediency and it's really transparent. I don't think it's really serving the true need whether it's political or otherwise of either candidate.
KURTZ: Well, Donald Trump reacted to Clinton saying at a speech in New Hampshire. Let's play a little bit of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: When Democratic policies fail, they are left with only this one tired argument. You're racist, you're racist, you're racist. They keep saying it. You're racist. It's a tired disgusting argument.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: So it's hard to defend yourself against charges of racism and Trump is calling this an old democratic playbook.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, you know, David Webb a colleague of ours has often said that that's kind of the go-to card for the Dems when they don't have anything else to say, when they're losing the argument. I do agree that it's overused. I've been a vocal and staunch critic of the over usage of the term racism. It's deep seeded.
It's a serious charge and in my book, Howard, when you pull that card, you need to have a lot of evidence to back it up. Are there some things in Donald Trump's past? I'm talking about the central part five? I'm talking about having discrimination? Did I think legitimately warrant questions around his position and race and equality?
Absolutely. But to just kind of put this blatant charge of racist on him constantly, again at the mouth of Hillary Clinton, the messenger matters. You know, the fact that Hillary Clinton herself is not a saint on these issues is hugely problematic and hypocritical to me.
KURTZ: Right. So, Donald Trump at least is trying to do some outreach to the African-American community but he also got hit for that, accused of pandering and then there was the line about, what do you have to lose? You're living in poverty, you're Schools are no good, you have no jobs, so, what do you think of his attempt to do that in a way he's not really getting credit for trying, it's being portrayed as a tactic because he is behind in the election.
WILLIAMS: I think that I will never criticize anyone for making effort to engage in the political agenda of a part of this country. So that includes Donald Trump for having the conversation, doing outreach and making inquiries to find out what you can do to better position himself in the communities of color. I'm going to applaud that as a good faith effort. I do think though pandering, you know, I don't really understand why people give people such a hard time about it. Everybody panders.
KURTZ: Does he need to go into, in the half minute that we have left, the communities of color and not just...
WILLIAMS: One hundred percent.
KURTZ: ...largely wide audiences?
WILLIAMS: One hundred percent yes, and see, this is the intention issue that I spoke about earlier this week on Fox News, that Donald Trump is having to deal with. Certainly he's saying a lot of things that are peaking curiosity and interest for the first time. I'm excited to hear that but they will play better in front of audiences that look diverse.
Audiences that are not 90-95 percent white, audience that have people of color in them -- black people, brown people, so that there is authenticity that can be presumed because he's not only talking about black people, he's actually talking to them.
KURTZ: All right, well thanks for that authentic commentary, Eboni Williams. Great to see you.
WILLIAMS: Thanks Howie.
KURTZ: Still to come, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks scolding the American press -- Jorge Ramos is too. Why I'm buzzed about that next.
KURTZ: I'm buzzed off about Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who was scolding the American media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIAN ASSANGE, WKILIEAKS CO-COUNDER: I would like to believe that no organization, no media organization in the United States would not have published the DNC e-mails and I don't think that's true. I don't think MSNBC wouldn't have published them. I think the New York Times wouldn't publish most of them. That's sad. It's an incredible politicization in this election of the media.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: This is a foreigner deliberately meddling in an American election and he is complaining about politicization? Look, his e-mails are obtained by hackers illegally. I don't know whether we need to be taking advice from a guy who's hiding out of the Ecuadorian embassy to avoid facing criminal charges.
I'm also buzzed off at Univision anchor Jorge Ramos who wrote this in "Time Magazine,." "Doesn't matter who you are -- a journalist, a politician or a voter -- we'll all be judged by how we responded to Donald Trump. Trump has forced journalists to revisit rules of objectivity and fairness.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JORGE RAMOS, AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: I think equality is not an option. When you ask a journalist confronted with racism, discrimination, corruption, public lies, dictatorship, or violations of human rights. I don't know if Donald Trump is a racist. I don't know what's in his head but I do know what is coming out of his mouth.
(END OF CLIP)
KURTZ: It's a bit rich to hear Ramos talk about objectivity and fairness. This is a guy who staged that confrontation with Trump shouting "if you can't build a wall" and continuing to yell, security escorted him out. Hey, Jorge, if you want to warn the world about Donald Trump, fine. Quit your job and go campaign against him. But stop using the cloak of an anchor to disguise your advocacy as journalism.
That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. A little breaking news, Charles Osgood announcing a short while ago that he is retiring as the host of CBS "Sunday Morning" after a 22-year run on that program. He'll continue on the radio but Charles Osgood stepping down confirming the rumors that he is gone.
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