Conway defends Trump attacks; Bill Clinton's past misconduct

This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," October 2, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: And on Buzz Media this Sunday we'll talk to top officials in the Trump and Clinton campaign as the spin wars heat up over the first debate as the New York Times risk prosecution by publishing Trump's tax returns from 20 years ago. And as the press goes bonkers over Donald Trump launching a twitter attack on a former Miss Universe and what he says is her sex tape. Most of the pundits say Hillary Clinton had a far better night than Trump that he and his supporters dismiss that as bias.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She did not deliver a knockout punch but I don't think there's any way you could discord (ph) this debate in any way that she wanted and then he didn't get any closer to the presidency.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: She cleaned his clock tonight. It was a bit embarrassing for Trump. Very clear result, Hillary won big time. It was a shutout.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think in the end it was something like a draw but I do believe that the draw goes to the challenger in the sense that Trump did not go over the line.

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: And that is Donald Trump's problem. Not that he didn't do enough homework because there is no amount of homework he could possibly do that could change who he is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought she clobbered him, that it wasn't even close. The impression was she controlled the ball. He was on the defensive and he utterly failed to address her singular weakness which is the perception that she is unworthy of trust.

DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I had a great time and I know you're saying the polls weren't scientific but every single poll that was taken I won the debate and some of them by a lot.


KURTZ: Also one in several unnamed Trump advisers tells the New York Times he did poorly because he couldn't concentrate during debate prep. Our guest, Trump campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway and Clinton press secretary, Brian Fallon. Plus, Lester holt getting panned for being way softer on Clinton than on Trump. Was the NBC anchor greatly one sided?

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

We are awash on post-game punditry, dueling spin and angry finger-pointing in the wake of the first presidential debate watched by a record 84 million people. That prompted a wide array of questions for Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump's campaign manager we spoke earlier from Trump Tower.


KURTZ: Kellyanne Conway, welcome.


KURTZ: Thanks for being here. Several unnamed advisers told the New York Times that they don't feel the candidate paid enough attention during debate prep, that he was erratic in the debate, that they are frustrated and disappointed. What does it say that some of your own people are saying this anonymously to reporters?

CONWAY: Well, I think he did a fine job at the debate. I actually think he had a great strong punches at Hillary Clinton about her record on trade, certainly on helping to create the vacuum in which ISIS then appeared and has been doing its damage as murder ever since.

I also thought that, you know, you saw in the debate on Monday night was there's no mistaking who represents the past, who represent the future, who represents the status quo, who represents change, who the true (inaudible) outsider is, who represents Washington. So none of that changes with one debate and we look forward to the future debates.

KIURTZ: All right, well, that was a nice pivot, but let me come back to my question because Donald Trump tweeted this on Friday, "Anytime you see a story about me or my campaign saying sources said, do not believe it. There are no sources, they are just made up lies!" Can you seriously tell me that nobody in your campaign talks on background or off the record to reporters?

CONWAY: I don't know because I don't know what other people do, but I will tell you that this place is very unified.

KURTZ: After Hillary Clinton in the debate brought out the former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, who says that Donald Trump called her Miss Piggy 20 years ago. He brought her up on "Fox & Friends" the next day and said she needed to lose weight.

And then early morning hours on Friday Donald Trump tweeted this, "Did crooked Hillary help disgusting -- check out sex tape and past -- Alicia M. become a U.S. citizen so she could use her in the debate?" He is fuelling the media coverage of this story. Why does he continue to attack this woman?

CONWAY: So, here are the facts though. He did not say she had to lose weight. What he said was --- what the fact is that the company that was in charge, as I understand it -- I wasn't involved 20 years ago -- as I understand it, they wanted to terminate her and he helped give her a second chance. Hannity on his radio show on Friday played a clip where he basically saying some people had a problem with her weight, I did not, as I understand it.

So, he actually gave her a second chance and it's just, you know, Hillary Clinton wanted to throw this in there in the last couple of minutes of the debate, and I know she had a check list she wanted to run through and that was part of it. We'll just keep moving on. You know, I know people want to continue to talk about this but he does a lot of other things day by day like go out and talk to actual voters and talk about policy. Nobody seems to want to cover that. It is more fun to, you know, to look at a twitter feed or to try to do some zingers.

KURTZ: Well as a point, whereas that the media was talking about it because Donald Trump continues to tweet about it. Let me ask you about another claim (ph) that he made. This is not on twitter. Donald Trump said the debate was rigged deporting to the role of moderator Lester Holt. Do you believe the debate was rigged?

CONWAY: So Donald Trump I think he has been looking at some of data since the debate. We see objective analysis that he was interrupted 41 times and then, you know, he feels -- I know today the commission put that out his microphone was faulty in the hall. I just saw that report on Friday.

And so, I think what surprised him is the number of questions that related to things about Donald Trump and then, you know, it was conspicuous by his absence the e-mails unless he raised it, Benghazi certainly, Obamacare which has been a disaster for many Americans.

KURTZ: Let me see if I get some more questions in, a couple about the media. So, last Sunday the New York Times, L.A. Times, the Washington Post and Politico all ran stories about what they described as the lies and in some cases half-truths and exaggerations that Donald Trump had told just in the past week. How do you fight that kind of media narrative?

CONWAY: Well, it's amazing that Donald Trump does as well as he does Howie, and is still standing given the onslaught and I would note that those stories all followed a full-court press by team Clinton to make sure everybody is fact checking and everybody is calling him out. I mean, my goodness, Hillary Clinton has five people taking the fifth.

They have been granted immunity in an active investigation including her lawyer, Cheryl Mills who took then was granted immunity and then turned around was her lawyer in the same investigation. So, it's very frustrating. But I think -- I actually think the voters look right through it. There is not a lot of evidence that the way the campaign is being covered is the way that voters see it.

And if that weren't true, then Hillary Clinton would be winning with 85 to 87 percent of the vote. If you look at the covers, look, people can scream bias and unfairness, that's one thing and that will be obvious or not so obvious to naked eye and ear. But the main point about the coverage this time is that it's incomplete.

It's like for every 15 stories you have about something Donald Trump said or did, you have no story or you have one story for example on the immunity. Why wasn't there more outrage about Howard Dean, a former governor and a former presidential candidate and current analyst on a different network suggesting that Donald Trump is using cocaine? Oh my goodness.

KURTZ: Well, I criticized that and Dean finally apologized. Trump said at the end of the debate, that he wasn't going to say something extremely rough about Hillary Clinton, which he later said was a reference to Bill Clinton's past sexual misconduct. But he did talk about it after the debate, and your surrogates are out there talking about it. Now the media are covering it so, aren't you kind of having it both ways on this question, the sex scandals?

CONWAY: We're not. He could have done it in front of the debate stage of 88 million or so people. And we knew that she was going to attack him on women because that's what she does. How in the world could she miss the chance? She kind of, you know, rushed to get through at the very end we noticed, but of course, she's got mail pieces targeting women.

She's got -- she has tens of millions of dollars in negative ads. Those ads don't talk about her plans for healthcare and education and defeating radical Islam -- it couldn't do that. She doesn't call it that, or lowering our taxes, but she goes after him on this issue so of course he was prepared for that. He was ready for that...

KURT: But Kellyanne, you said...

CONWAY: ...but he decided. And he gets no credit for being gracious.

KURTZ: Kellyanne, I'm running out of time. You said that you were advising him not to go down the Monica Lewinsky road. You think that is a distraction at this point?

CONWAY: Did I say that?

KURTZ: You seemed to say it on "The View."

CONWAY: Oh, no, they asked me have you -- what do you think about this. And the fact is, first of all, he makes his own decisions as to what he is going to say. He is the candidate and he is his own person so let me just begin there. Secondly, we knew that she would hit him with women, there's no question about that. There are many ways to answer that question by the way and I'll do it right now.

Mr. Trump has employed thousands of women and promoted many of them to the most senior positions in his corporation and certainly his campaign. He has been very generous of his time and his money to a any number of people over his life and in his career. And he actually has policies that would help women. Why isn't Hillary Clinton asked why 16 million women are in poverty, right, over 12 million don't have healthcare benefits, that's the real question for women.

KURTZ: Kellyanne Conway, thanks very much for joining us.

Conway: Thank you.  


KURTZ: And joining me now to analyze the campaign coverage, Heidi Przybyla senior political reporter for USA Today, Mollie Hemmingway, senior editor at The Federalist, and Michael Tomasky, columnist for the Daily Beast. So, that interview was done before New York Times story this morning about Donald Trump having lost nearly a billion dollars and declaring that on his 1995 tax returns.

The paper obtaining some pages from those tax returns. The subhead here is Trump tax records obtained by the Times revealed he could have avoided paying taxes for nearly two decades. Heidi, it's a felony to publish Donald's tax returns without permission, punishable up to five years in prison. Should the New York Times have done it?

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, USA TODAY: Well, let's read the story and what Trump's lawyers said, which is that they'll take appropriate legal actions without specifying what that is. Now, we're still hours into researching this but initial read of the first amendment does show that there is a total shield for journalists who publish documents that are legally obtained and that are a matter of public concern.

And I think the Times was very careful in this piece to document how they obtained these documents that they obtained them passively (ph). They didn't break any laws...

KURTZ: Somebody sent this to a reporter, mailed it to a reporter.

PRZYBYLA: Somebody sent this or mailed this to a reporter, so again, I'm not a legal expert, but it's unclear at this point and their lawyer didn't specify under what would they sue him for it.

KURTZ: That's the legal question. There is also the journalistic question about publishing somebody's tax returns and the media just going hay wire this morning not surprisingly and I don't see much into any debate about where this is an invasion of privacy or whether it's wrong to publish this.

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: And people are very excited about this seem to think that it's quite the scandal, and I'm not actually that that frenzy is matched by what we're actually learning in the story, which is he took a huge bet in the mid-90's on investments and gambling and other related issues. Like the way the headline is written, it says, he could have not paid taxes for 20 years.

Well, that partly is his own fault for not releasing his taxes that we don't know what the answer his. Very bizarre journalistically speaking to put such an ambiguous and speculative headline on the front page of a paper. I think it does sort of confirm for Donald Trump and his fans that the media are not giving him a fair shake and are willing to break some journalistic rules to tar him.

KURTZ: Trump tweeting this morning, "I know our complex laws better than anyone who's ever run for president #failing @nytimes." So, we don't know and the "Times" doesn't know that he paid no taxes for the next 18 years based on these laws, but even if that's true, it would be perfectly legal and as it would be for you to deduct the loss on selling a house or stock that lost money.

MICHAEL TOMASKY, THE DAILY BEAST: Yeah, there's legal and then there is, you know, how does it look to people. And you know, every other candidate in the last 40 years or whatever has released tax returns, he hasn't. He's made this an issue by not releasing them. As for the could have business, Howie, (inaudible) who broke the Clinton e-mail server story? Oh, the New York Times, the same newspaper.

It seems to me that they also said she could have broken the law, could have violated national security, could have leaked secret intelligence. If could have is good enough for her it's good enough for Trump.

KURTZ: So you're totally (inaudible) the "Times" decision to publish.

TMOMASKY: I can't imagine anybody who wouldn't run this story.

KURTZ: All right, let me get a break. Let us know what you think,, on Twitter @HowardKurtz. Ahead, we'll hear from the Clinton campaign interview with her top spokesman, but when we come back, our panel and the coverage of the debate and those unnamed Trump advisers and their damaging leaks to the press.


KURTZ: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and Lester Holt mixed it up at the Long Island debate. Trump took aim at a familiar target.


LESTER HOLT, DEBATE MODERATOR: Mr. Trump, a lot of these are judgment questions. You have supported the war in Iraq before the invasion. What makes your...

TRUMP: I did not support the war in Iraq. That is a mainstream media nonsense put out by her because she frankly -- I think the best person in her campaign is mainstream media.


KURTZ: Hillary Clinton made a more friendly reference inviting the media to back her up.



TRUMP: No, no, you're telling the enemy everything you want to do.

CLINTON: No we're not.

TRUMP: See, you're telling the enemy everything you want to do. No wonder you have been fighting -- no wonder you've been fighting ISIS your entire adult life.

CLINTON: That's a --go to the, please, the fact checkers. Go to work.


KURTZ: Get to work fact checkers. So that lead to a remarkable story in the "New York Times" quoting seven unnamed Trump advisers saying that he had an erratic debate, that he didn't concentrate or focus enough during debate prep according to his own people speaking anonymously to the "Times."

Heidi, Donald Trump then tweeting as I mentioned to my interview with Kellyanne Conway, because he's sure to said do not believe it, this is just made up lies. What do you make of the idea that the story was fiction and the idea that at least some of Trump's people would vent in this fashion to a newspaper?

PRZYBYLA: It certainly wasn't fiction. They talked to a number of advisers, but there are a few different possible interpretations here. One is that his own advisers find this is the best way to get through to their candidates. As much as he despises the media, he voraciously consumes it and that this is a good way to kind of get their message through to him. The second is the use of the word advisers is kind of a loose term, right.

Is this really his immediate circle of advisers or are these people outside, you know, like Corey Lewandowski who talks to the press but who also still talks to Trump? The most unflattering interpretation is that this is like what we saw with the Clinton campaign in 2008 which as the campaign is struggling, we see an erosion of loyalty within his inner circle. We don't know -- bottomline, we don't know who those advisers were.

KURTZ: Mollie?

HEMINGWAY: Well, it is true that people are a little too reliant on anonymous sources and they're a little bit too focused on this type of horse race action. I think there were many interesting questions out of the debate and we saw a lot of group thinking (ph) how the media approached it. I think he actually didn't do as poorly as many people in the press said and she didn't do as well as they thought. There were different periods of the debate. He didn't -- he was all right at first...

KURTZ: Yes, he did well in the first (inaudible). You are seeing a gap between the almost unanimous overwhelming verdict of the pundits that this was absolutely disastrous for Donald Trump and the public which might be more divided?

HEMINGWAY: Yes, she did well and I think that's the way to put it. She did well. Her numbers improved. I don't think it particularly hurt him and he was able to get his core message out about the direction of the country going in the wrong way. And as far as she did, I don't know how well she did at laying out her policy agenda.

KURTZ: Well, my own unnamed source says that the debate prep was a mess. Too many people with conflicting agendas who didn't (inaudible) experience and also that Donald Trump is very mad at these leagues, which would suggests that he takes them seriously as opposed to them being fiction.

TOMASKY: Yeah, I mean, they are not fiction. I mean, you know, he just said that. He says a lot of things. But you know, we've all seen -- all of us who have covered campaigns have done these stories and have seen these stories. When a campaign is frustrated and unraveling a little bit, these kinds of sources come in contact with reporters and tell them stories. And when a campaign is a tight ship and when it's going better, these things don't happen. I covered Hillary Clinton's first senate race very closely. By the end, the Lazio campaign was, you know...


TOMASKY: ...stories about from the Lazio campaign.

KURTZ: All right, well, here's a named source on the record interview, Donald Trump with the "New York Times" which ran over the weekend in which he just comes out and says Hillary Clinton was an enabler of her husband. She attacked the women who Bill Clinton mistreated afterwards.

So, he didn't do it in the debate. He didn't dare (ph). The surrogates have been doing it as I mentioned to Kellyanne, and media, "Washington Post" has now giving us lots of coverage. So, are we sort of -- is Trump getting us to do his dirty work?

PRZYBYLA: Sure. He is a master at controlling us. We cover whatever he says including the midnight tweets. But I think as we go down this road, we'll see what happens in the next debate. But I think we in the media have to keep this very fact-based because if Donald Trump goes after Bill Clinton, that is one thing. If he goes after Hillary Clinton, we've got to stay very narrowly focused like "The Post" did in that story imposing the question was she an enabler as he says? Was she a family protector and kind of go back and look at those statements.

She certainly made some unflattering statements about these women. "The Post" in their story concluded that however, there wasn't an actual war room to go against them. I think if Donald Trump continues to talk about that, you'll see more stories like that.

KURTZ: So, all of this, you know, Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers, Monica Lewinsky, Juanita Broaddrick, I mean the media covered this in an explicit and exhaustive detail in the '90s, I know, I was there. Is it relevant to bring it up now or do we simply have no choice if one of the two presidential candidates wants to make this a major issue.

HEMINGWAY: There seem a lot of journalists pretend like this is just a Bill Clinton story. They're saying, oh, that's old news, that's just Bill Clinton, that was in the past when he was unfaithful. They're completely uncurious about any rumors in the present day, in a way that's reminiscent of the John Edwards campaign. But more than that, this really isn't about Bill Clinton at all. This is about Hillary Clinton and her handling of those scandals, and there are very damaging specifics that they should be mentioning.

Her hiring of Jack Palladino, the private investigator to smear Gennifer Flowers, the way her law firm partners brought in every single woman on a long list of names to threaten to keep silent. These are things that have nothing to do with Bill Clinton, I mean only (inaudible), but really do speak to her and whether she is willing to defame women who threaten her power.

KURTZ: And if the press goes down this road, are journalist then obligated to talk about Trump's three marriages and of course the tabloid frenzy (inaudible) in the early 90's over his relationship with Marla Maples while he's married to Ivana. Is that where we're going? Is this what people want?

TOMASKY: I wouldn't say the press obligated to bring that up about Trump actually. Hillary Clinton is obligated to raise that as a counter issue if she decides to go that way. Heidi is right. What we do is -- what the media does is the media follows what candidates say and there are downsides to that but there are actually, you know, there is a certain logic to it and its Trump's responsibility, you know, we'll talk about this later, but you know, if Trump wants certain issues to come up in a debate, it's up to him to bring them up.

KURTZ: All right. Well, you'll all be back but ahead, NBC's Lester Holt taking heat for asking much tougher questions many people said of Trump and fact checking only the GOP nominee. But first, Howard Dean goes off the deep end and Gary Johnson draws a big fat blank.


KURTZ: Howard Dean is a doctor, a former governor, a former presidential candidate, a former Democratic chairman so, what he's doing to Donald Trump makes me want to scream. The MSNBC contributor tweeted this during the debate, "Notice Trump sniffing all the time? Coke user?" and he would not back off.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did you go there?

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: Well, you can't make a diagnosis over the television. I would never do that, but he has some interesting -- that is actually a signature of people who use cocaine. I'm not suggesting that Trump does but...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you are suggesting it actually in a tweet.

DEAN: No, no, no, I'm suggesting we think about it.


KURTZ: Well, it's a ludicrous smear to suggest that this 70-year-old man who doesn't even drink alcohol might be doing blow. And Joe Scarborough, to his credit, asked his MSNBC colleague to apologize. Dean finally said he was sorry on Friday days later, but no comment from MSNBC about this kind of garbage.

KURTZ: Gary Johnson already had his Aleppo moment when the Libertarian presidential candidate went on "Morning Joe" and had never heard of the war-torn Syrian city at the center of the refugee crisis. Now he's had another cringe worthy moment whiffing on a softball pitch from MSNBC's Chris Matthews.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Who's your favorite foreign leader?


MATTHEWS: Just name anywhere in the country, any one of the continents, any country -- name one foreign leader that you respect and look up to? Anybody.


MATTHEWS: No, I'm talking about living. Go ahead.

MATTHEWS: You got to do this. Anywhere, any continent, Canada, Mexico, Europe over there, Asia, South America, Africa, name a foreign leader that you respect.

JOHNSON: I guess I'm having an Aleppo moment -- in the former president of Mexico.

MATTHEWS: But I'm giving you the whole world.

JOHNSON: I know, I know, I know.


KURTZ: The media were quick mock Johnson's past pot smoking, but here's a serious question. While the former governor remains a factor in the polls, is it time for journalists to treat him as gadfly who doesn't know much about foreign policy.

All right, on "MediaBuzz", why is Trump stuck (ph) with a Miss Universe from 20 years ago getting so much media oxygen, but up next, Brian Fallon, Hillary Clinton's top spokesman on the coverage of the debate and the campaign.


KURTZ: We spoke to Donald Trump's campaign manager early in the program. Now, it's time to hear from the other side. Joining me here in Washington is Brian Fallon, Hillary Clinton's press secretary. Welcome and thanks for being here.


KURTZ: All right, New York Times this morning says Donald Trump declared nearly a billion dollars in losses based on his 1995 tax returns, may have, could have -- we don't know for a fact -- used that to wipe out future payments. Trump says New York Times is an extension of Clinton campaign and by the way, he's paid hundreds of millions of dollars in all kinds of taxes, your reaction.

FALLON: Well, I thought that his statement that he gave to the New York Times was what they call in the industry a non-denial denial. He talked about all types of other forms of taxes that he pays but it didn't deny that he hasn't been paying federal income tax the last few years. I think that the secret is out, that this report is a bombshell because it exposes the real reasons why Donald Trump has been holding back his tax returns.

KURTZ: Well, potentially exposes that he did something that even the Times said would be legal.

FALLON: Sure, but that's not the question. I think that it showed us two things that were probably the reason why he's been holding back his tax returns. Number one, it shows the colossal scale of his business failures in the 1990's, which I'm sure probably hit a nerve with him. It's probably something that he's still ashamed of to this day. And then secondly, it suggests that he's able to play by a different set of rules than most ordinary tax payers by leveraging those colossal failures which left a lot of contractors, small businesses and employees his holding the bags, stiffed essentially back in the mid-90s


FALLON: And he was able to leverage it into a tax fraud.

KURTZ: Let me move on because Trump also gave an interesting interview to the Times over the weekend. Hillary Clinton, he says, was married to the single greatest abuser of women in the history of politics. Hillary was an enabler and she attacked the women who Bill Clinton mistreated afterwards. How do you respond to that?

FALLON:  Well, Hillary Clinton herself was asked about this earlier in the week last week and she said, well, she said that Donald Trump can run his campaign anyway he wants. She's going to continue to talk about positive issues. We think that's what the voters want to hear about.

On the very same day that he was doing his 3:00 a.m. tweet storm going after Alicia Machado and giving this interview to the New York Times, she was giving a speech on National Service issuing a call to millennials to be more involved and summoning the best of their instincts and impulses to give back to their community.

KURTZ: In other words, your campaign has made a decision not to engage when Trump goes into the personal stuff about Bill Clinton's sexual misconduct.

FALLON: We think that the very act of him bringing it up is something that repulses the voters. I think that you've seen any number of Republicans speak out in recent days since the debate saying he shouldn't go there. Even Newt Gingrich who is a very close adviser to Donald Trump has said it's a mistake.

Asa Hutchinson, who's one of the house impeachment managers in 1998, has said it would be a mistake. So, I don't actually think it's well- considered, thought through strategy by the Trump campaign. I think it's an impulsive move by the candidates becoming the candidate's strategy by default (ph).

KURTZ: Since you mentioned Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe who says that Trump told her to lose weight 20 years ago and Hillary Clinton raised this at the end of the debate at Hofstra, on Friday Trump went on twitter saying that Clinton had been duped, that Machado has a disgusting past and people should check out her sex tape, your reaction.

FALLON: Look, I think that he is trying to tar this woman. He's digging deep into the gutter in terms if trying to find (inaudible) on her to try to discredit her. None of anything that he might be able to find and a lot of it has not been verified, what he's been saying about her, but none of it justifies the comments that he's made about her and his incessant intents to demean her and other women.

And so, I think that Donald Trump has made this an issue all week himself. There was that moment in the debate where Hillary Clinton rightfully raised them. But I think that he made this a persistent topic of discussion all week because of his doubling down on his insulting comments Tuesday morning on "Fox & Friends" and his 3:00 a.m. Tweet storm which beyond just his habit of demeaning women. I think it also goes right to the argument about how he has a lack of temperament.

KURTZ: At the debate, Hillary Clinton was asked whether the police have an implicit bias against blacks. Since she said, well, we all have to examine whether we have an implicit bias, but why didn't she begin her answer by saying no, most police officers in this country are honest and not bigoted and put their lives on the line for us.

FALLON: Well, she says that all the time, Howie.

KURTZ: Why didn't she say it in front of 84 million people?

FALLON: She says it all the time. That is her position. She goes out of her way every time she talks about the issue that we face in terms of trying to build better trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. That the vast majority of law enforcement officers in addition to putting their lives on the line every day, perform honorably and they do take into account those sensitive issues that are right now creating a lot of turmoil (ph) in our communities.

We just saw in the response for instance in New York City to the Chelsea explosions how valiant our law enforcement is. But I think that she does think there's work to be done. She has called for national standards in terms of ensuring that we're not having implicit bias that work in our police.

KURTZ: Right. And Hillary Clinton is in Charlotte today, the site of the riot after the shooting of a black man by a black police offer. Before the debate, your campaign manager, Robbie Moot said it's unfair to ask for Hillary to play both traffic cop with Trump to make sure his lies are corrected and to also to prevent her vision. That's what all candidates have to do in debates and this has become a major theme for your campaign. That Trump lies a lot, can you honestly say that his statements are constantly challenged by the media?

FALLON: I think that we -- in recent weeks have seen the media do a noteworthy job in terms of fact checking and I felt that Lester Holt did a good job of moderating that debate. I think he picked his spots and...

KURTZ: What made you think he did a good job because he was tougher on Trump?

FALLON: I don't think that that's true. I think mostly both the candidates do get out amongst themselves (inaudible) the debate called for ten minute exchanges where the candidates could question each other, and I think he let that play out. I think the two moments where he interjected, it was completely appropriate to do so. It was instances where Trump was doubling down on repeated lies that the media does have an obligation.

KURTZ: You think the media, who are clearly being thought about your campaign are doing the better job of challenging Trump. A few weeks ago you put out a fundraising letter saying there's media buzz against Hillary Clinton. Do you believe that or do you think it's changed?

FALLON: I think in general we want to see the same standard applied to both candidates in the way that both candidates covered. I think that Hillary Clinton is perfectly willing to submit to having her statements fact checked. But I think that any objective look at the two candidates' statements shows a complete gap between how often Donald Trump abuses the truth. PolitiFact, one of the most well-known fact checking organization rated 70 percent of his statements last year a lie.

KURTZ: In the new (inaudible) poll only 35 percent of those surveyed say Hillary Clinton is honest and trustworthy. Trump is a bit lower at 31 percent. Some liberal columnist like Paul Krugman of the "New York Times" is blaming the media coverage of the e-mail scandal, the Clinton Foundation, but doesn't she have to take responsibility for that extraordinary low number?

FALLON: We do. I think that we have acknowledged that this is an area that we want to address, that we address all the time. I think that in the speeches that Hillary Clinton has been giving including on Friday when she was talking about issuing a call to national service, she has been attempting to communicate more directly to the electorate exactly what her motives are, why she's running for president and how it aligns with the work that she has been doing her whole career.

And so, I think that we are dealing with that. I do think that there is something of an incessant focus on a polling number that I do not think actually reflects the voter's mood in terms of how the view these two candidates.

KURTZ: Come up in many, many polls.

FALLON: It has.

KURTZ: I only have a minute (ph). Was it a mistake to go nine months without a full blown press conference? What is it about the format that Hillary Clinton simply detests?

FALLON: Just look at the last three weeks, I think that we have done availabilities and press conferences on our plane probably two or three times a week.

KURTZ: Yes, finally.

FALLON: We had the new plane and I think all the reporters covering us love it. And by contrast, now that she's on the other foot, it's and irony now that it's almost been I think more than two months since Donald Trump has held a press conference. He only gives interviews to certain outlets and he's not done availabilities where he's answered questions from a range of journalist.

KURTZ: You're saying he doesn't one on Fox. Well, we'll see if he talks to the press more on this campaign. Brian Fallon, thanks very much for being here.

FALLON: Thank you Howie.

KURTZ: Next on the program, turns out Lester Holt did engage in fact checking during the debate, but I would say only with one candidate. We'll examine the moderator's performance in just a moment.


KURTZ: There was a lot of pressure on Lester Holt moderating the first presidential debate, and the NBC anchor turned out to be tough at least when it came to one candidate.


HOLT: But I just want to get the answer here, the birth certificate was produced in 2011. You continued to tell the story and question the president's legitimacy in 2012, '13, '14 and '15 as recently as January, so the question is what changed your mind?

TRUMP: Well, nobody -- excuse me.

HOLT: The IRS says the comment (ph) of your taxes, you're perfectly free to release your taxes during an audit. So the questions, does the public's right to know outweigh your personal...

TRUMP: Well, I told you I will release them as soon as they audit.

HOLT: Do they want to follow-up stop and frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men.

TRUMP: No, you're wrong.


KURTZ: There was no comparable interrogation on Hillary Clinton. We're back with the panel. Mollie Hemingway, Trump predicted tome that Lester Holt might be tougher to avoid the kind of criticism that his NBC colleague Matt Lauer had gotten at an earlier forum. I'm not saying that was his motivation but he seemed much tougher on Trump.

HEMINGWAY: There was no question. It wasn't even close. I actually thought he did a great job with Trump. He did push back on him. It's just that there should have been a commensurate thing happening with Hillary Clinton. The only reason the e-mails was brought up was because Donald Trump brought them up. He didn't fact check her on the claims she made about her e-mail scandal.

There was nothing about Libya. There were all this questions about Donald Trump's position on foreign policy from back when he was a private citizen and nothing for Hillary Clinton at the same time. Also, none of the signature issues that Donald Trump would like to bring out, immigration, economic issues, foreign policies.

KURTZ: That's why the brief exchange is the only time that the Clinton e- mail debacle came up. Let's show it.


HOLT: He also -- he also raised the issue of your emails. Do you want to respond to that?

CLINTON: I do, you know, I made a mistake using a private email.


KURTZ: And then no follow up. Five fact-checking questions to Trump, Michael Tomasky, zero to Hillary, your take.

TOMASKY: I will say that did stand out to me, that moment when Holt did not follow up at all and ask any kind of interrogatory question about the e- mail thing. But I do think again some of this is Trump's fault, you know. Candidates have to bring these things up if they want them to be discussed. It's their job. It's their job to kind of set the direction of the conversation. Nobody asked her about Alicia Machado. She brought her up and we've been talking about her all week. It's up to the candidates.

KURTZ: Absolutely up to the candidates and Donald Trump had a number of missed opportunities in the debate, Heidi, but you know, when the moderator frames the debate, he asks the questions and I also thought the questions to Trump were fair game. I kept waiting for comfortable follow-ups and uncomfortable questions to be asked to the Democratic nominee.

PRZYBYLA: Well the question isn't whether how many times he interrupted the candidate and who he fact-checked the most, but whether he did it fairly. He fairly stopped Donald Trump on a number of these questions but he could have asked harder questions of Hillary Clinton. I did go through the questions and most of them were kind of straight down the line in the beginning. What is your jobs plan, your tax plan, cyber security, preventing terrorism?

There were two questions though that were definitely questions where Trump was on the defense, on birtherism and on his comments about whether Clinton had not a presidential look that put Trump on the defense. There could have been a question or two as well to Clinton for example on the Clinton Foundation. So, again, the bar here has to be whether they were unfairly -- whether he was unfairly fact-checked and he was not unfairly fact-checked.

KURTZ: And I'm not saying that we are here saying that we seem to have a consensus that there was somewhat a one-sided approach. But now, you all listened to what the pundits' think, what we think and of course you make up your own minds, but what really counts is how did it play on "Saturday Night Live"? Take a look.

We've looked at it, do we have a chance to actually hear it? OK, let's try it one more time. Live television.




MCKINNON: He said climate change is a hoax invented by China.

BALDWIN: It's pronounced gyna (ph).

MCKINNON: He hasn't released his tax returns, which means he's either not that rich.


MCKINNON: Not that charitable.


MCKINNON: Or he's never paid taxes in his life.

BALDWIN: Warmer.


KURTZ: Alec Baldwin and Kate Mcinnon. All right, does that move the needle (ph) and it's funny stuff, but is it effective perceptions of the candidates when you have that kind of mockery?

TOMASKY: Not really. I mean, Baldwin really nailed it but, yeah, it will get talked about at the water coolers and it feeds into perceptions of them.

KURTZ: But not necessarily a Tina Fey moment.

HEMINGWAY: Even more than that. I feel like our comedians are doing a really bad job just handling or targeting of political heroes. They couldn't do anything about Barack Obama because they said he wasn't funny. They're always doing very gentle humor with Hillary Clinton because they want her to win. And for comedy to really be effective, it has to actually not have these people it's trying to protect. It can't just go...

KIRTZ: I talked about the late night comics mostly being against Trump, but Trump gave Alec Baldwin a fair amount of material. All right, stick around after the break, why has the press become fixated on the former Miss Universe who says Donald Trump mocked her weight gain or is it Trump? Who's fanning the flames here?


KURTZ: Who would have thought the media would be spending days talking about a Miss Universe winner from 20 years ago? But Hillary Clinton accused Trump during the debate of giving Alicia Machado a hard time about gaining weight, and when Trump called into "Fox & Friends" the next morning, he brought it up.


TRUMP: I know that person. That person was a Miss Universe person and she was the worst we ever had -- the worst, the absolute worst, and she was a possible -- she was the winner and you know, she gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem.


KURTZ: The Clinton campaign made Machado available and she made the TV rounds.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What were the names that he called you?

ALICIA MACHADO, FORMER MISS UNIVERSE: Miss Piggy, Miss Housekeeping, Miss Eating Machine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All to your face?

MACHADO: Yes, all the time. That was really normal for him in that moment.


KURTZ: Isn't that the media cannot resist this story of a Miss Universe on alleged fat shaming or is it that Trump has kept the story alive?

TOMASKY: Well, it's more of the latter I think. I was really stunned Tuesday morning not only that he said what he said, but that he didn't simply say no, I never said those things. You know, whether that's the truth...

KURTZ: Or try to move on perhaps?

TOMASKY: Yeah, or just say I never said those things. Whether or not that's true, but just I never said and, you know, let's move on to the next thing. He totally, totally has kept it alive.

KURTZ: Then we have the early morning tweet storm on Friday in which Trump talked about a sex tape involving Alicia Machado. It's actually a South American reality TV show which there is a scene -- she and the actor were totally under the covers. You can't really see anything. But at the same time, we have no verification that he called her Miss Piggy and Miss Housekeeping, but he certainly publicly challenged her weight gain.

PRZYBYLA: And like Michael says, this was basically just collusion like I have not seen before in this cycle between the two campaigns to kind of keep this front and center and that Trump...

KURTZ: They both want to keep it front and center?

PRZYBYLA: They both want to keep it front and center. Trump with the tweets storm, Trump going on "Fox & Friends" and then Hillary Clinton basically having cut a video interview with this woman before she even brought her up and introduced her to Americ, that video was ready to go.

KURTZ: What about media collusion here because a lot of people -- Mollie, I'll come to you in a second -- that a lot of Americans would say, "Gee, I'd rather hear more about the economy and terrorism and healthcare and we're talking about...

PRZYBYLA: And Trump was tweeting about the biggest humanitarian crisis facing us since World War II and Syria at 3:00 a.m., then we would be talking about that.

HEMINGWAY: I think that's highly unlikely. What you saw here was collusion with the media that I think is really unprecedented even by the standards of normal collusion. You had video shoots and photo shoots in the can ready to go. You had within hours "New York Times" having a double byline feature on the front page that was all before Donald Trump made his remarks.

And I think that journalists should be very reticent to just go with a P.R. pre-ordained package and that's more so just adopting the framing that the Clinton campaign wants. They wanted this to be a woman message. It turned out that the hero that they chose also had a litany of problems in her past from accusing -- threatening to murder a Venezuelan judge, accused of driving a getaway car and having a baby with a Mexican drug lord.

HURTZ: And she publicly talked about having bulimia before the Miss Universe pageant.

PRZYBYLA: If this is a legitimate story and those stories would have run anyway but they would have never gotten near the attention that they are now getting had it not been for the candidate himself. And I knew right when this happened, I said countdown, cue the clock for the Trump campaign to now blame this on the media when he himself is the one who -- and it's not even just tweeting. It's tweeting at 3:00 in the morning.

KURTZ: Speaking of the clock, we have to go, Michael Tomasky, Mollie Hemingway, and Heidi Przybyla. Thanks very much. It seems that we covered a lot of ground this hour. Still to come, some newspaper is getting flak for endorsing Hillary Clinton and the "Vanity Fair" tackles the weighty subject of Donald Trump and Kim Kardashian and blows it big time.


KURTZ: Newspaper endorsements may not matter much these days but it's striking that its conservative editorial pages of the Dallas Morning News backing Hillary Clinton the first time in 75 years. The paper hasn't endorsed a Republican for president. Cincinnati Inquirer, which has supported Republicans for nearly a century, San Diego Union-Tribune, more than a century.

And then we have the "Arizona Republic" which has never backed a Democratic president since its founding in 1890, has been very critical of Donald Trump. The "Republic's" editor says they've gotten a wave of cancellations along with some death threats. And also USA Today taking an election stand for the first time in its 34-year history saying Trump's unfit for the president but not backing Hillary Clinton. Vanity Fair is so anxious to beat up on Donald Trump that it lost all sense of time.

The magazine posted a piece saying that just two days after Hillary Clinton slammed Trump in the debate for having told the former Miss Universe to lose weight Trump has criticize the appearance of arguably the most influential celebrity on the planet, that being Kim Kardashian. It is true. Trump said the Kardashian had gotten a little bit large and you shouldn't dress like you weigh 120 pounds, but he said this back in 2013 when Kim was pregnant.

Vanity Fair has corrected the mistake, but there were big fat clues. The article included video of Trump being asked about her baby shower and that was on CNN's "Showbiz Tonight," a show that was canceled two years ago.

That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. Thanks for watching. Let us know what you think, ask -- comment about the media or ask some questions about the media, Plus we hope you'll like our Facebook page. We post a lot of original content there. We respond to your comments and questions. Check us out on Twitter @HowardKurtz. I might respond to that as well.

We are going to St. Louis next Sunday, the site of the second presidential debate. We'll be on the day of. Join us then for the latest buzz. See you then.

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