Covering the Trump crisis

Media tout vile remarks about women


This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," October 9, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: We're at Washington University in St. Louis where 10 hours from now Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will face-off for their second debate. These as the media are ablaze with damaging stories about each candidate that are virtually certain to surface here tonight. For Trump, it's a decade old videotape obtained by the "Washington Post" that shows him engaging in vulgar talk about groping women, those words causing a storm of criticism, even among some conservative commentators and fellow Republicans.

And we'll talk to the reporter who broke the story. For Clinton, e-mails dumped by WikiLeaks revealed some of what she said in those big money speeches to Wall Street firms includes not just embarrassing phrases but positions that seem to contradict her public pronouncements. We begin with those hot mic moments from Trump's 2005 "Access Hollywood" taping with Billy Bush and some this is graphic as Trump talks about seeking sex from a married woman.


DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I moved on her like a (BLEEP). I couldn't get there and she was married. And all of a sudden I see her, she's now got the big phony (BLEEP) and everything. You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

BILLY BUSH, NBC HOST: Whatever you want.

Grab them by the (BLEEP). You can do anything.


KURTZ: Trump said in an initial statement that he apologized if anyone was offended but that Bill Clinton has said far worse to him, then came this video.


TRUMP: I've never said I'm a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I'm not. I've said and done things I regret and the words released today on this more than a decade old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me knows these words don't reflect who I am. I said it. I was wrong. And I apologize.


KURTZ: But many pundits described the story as highly damaging.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: I honestly feel like there's a pretty good chance we don't know who the Republican candidate is for president by the end of this weekend.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN: Will this kill his campaign?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN: You know, I think this could be it.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Nobody is going to defend this. You can't defend. It is wrong, it is inappropriate, it is outrageous.


KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage of the Trump and Clinton stories as well as tonight's big debate Julie Roginsky Fox News contributor and a Democratic strategist, Tucker Carlson co-host of "Fox & Friends Weekend" and editor of the Daily Caller and Heidi Przybyla senior political reporter at USA Today.

Tucker, you have a nuclear explosion in the media over this, over a decade old tape, Republicans baling right and left. Look, the words are disturbing, they are indefensible, but I was watching CNN and MSNBC, I mean it's on hour after hour after hour. Is the news business overplaying this just a bit?

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: The words are indefensible they are not inexplicable and that's why the coverage is so misleading. I mean, nobody is actually shocked by this and everyone is pretending to be...

KURTZ: Manufactured outrage?

CARLSON: It's entirely manufactured. It's totally (inaudible). This was one of the recurring guests on the Howard Stern show. This is Donald Trump. So, everyone knew that Trump is capable of this. Everyone who knows Trump knows he speaks like this in real life, I mean, not this extreme but in the ballpark. And what bother me is two things. One, the press has no moral standing to judge anyone who talks like this having spent 25 years in news rooms, like this is not, you know what I mean, like spare me the (inaudible) clutching.

KURTZ: You've heard plenty of locker room talk.

CARLSON: I have. But the other point I would make is it's misleading to pretend that Trump is being abandoned by the Republican leadership because they are so outraged. John McCain is not pulling his support of Trump because he's so offended -- does (ph) a Navy veteran is so offended by this.

He just doesn't agree with Trump on the issues. He thinks being connected to Trump hurts him politically. That's legitimate. I'm not attacking, but a little very different thing from saying he's so morally outraged he can't possibly be associated with this guy.

KURTZ: Julie Roginsky, so Tucker is saying hardly shocking, we've heard the whole Howard Stern interviews and so a lot of this is just whipped up from people in the media and politics who do not like Donald Trump.

JULIE ROGINSKY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, so I agree with tucker on almost everything. The only difference here between locker room talk that maybe Tucker was privy to I would hope, is that Donald Trump is not just talking about the size of somebody's breasts or all these things that he's talked about to Howard Stern. He's actually talking about sexual assault.

He's talking about going up to women and grabbing them by their private parts in ways that I think most people would construe as an unwanted sexual assault. And so when it comes to that, that's where the line is drawn. Listen, I agree with Tucker 100 percent, John McCain is not baling because (inaudible) all of a sudden we find that Donald Trump is vulgar.

We've always known he was vulgar. They're baling because of politics. For a lot of women, this isn't about just the locker room talk, it's actually about the fact this locker room talk constitutes something people are familiar with as assault.

CARLSON: See, I'm not trying to minimize this in any way or defend it or anything like that or make excuses, but I'm really saying that it came from Donald Trump and everyone knew he was capable of this. That's the only point I'm saying.

KURTZ: Interesting Julie used the word private parts because the P word which we have bleeped -- CNN just showed the tape and showed the P word and S words and a whole bunch of other words. "The New York Times" printed it. So the (inaudible) question. Heidi Przybyla, so even if, you know, people out there saying well this is media bias, you don't like Donald Trump.

I mean, you also have the explosive reaction to this whole tape, you know, Reince Priebus and Kellyanne Conway bowing out of the Sunday shows. Mike Pence not making a trip saying he can't defend it, Trump's wife Melania saying this is offensive but she accepts his apology. Hugh Hewitt and Bill Bennett, conservative commentary saying he should drop out of the race. So, in part is the press now covering the reaction to this even if it's an overreaction?

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, USA TODAY: Absolutely. Granted, Tucker is absolutely right, that a lot of these Republicans who are baling have been critical of Trump all along. But a lot of them haven't like Bill Bennett who had been out there essentially speaking -- talking up Trump -- like Deb Fischer in the Senate. There's really only one female GOP senator who hasn't called for him to step aside which is Joni Ernst.

So, I'm hard pressed as are all of the political commentators to come up with any kind of a historical precedent for what we've seen over the past 48 hours. Not only just in terms of the lewd comments that are also frankly predatory in nature, but also just in terms of what we're seeing with this civil war erupting in the Republican Party with Republicans down the ballot now as well panicking and it is relevant and it is significant to play this up because this comes at a time when it appeared according to the polls that Trump was really consolidating the GOP base for all of the ranker that had taken place throughout the primary, he was consolidating.

KURTZ: But let me come back to you on this, Tucker, because a couple of Trump tweets -- I'm going to rush and show them real quickly -- the media and the establishment want me out of this race so badly, he said he's not dropping out. He also told this to the "Washington Post" and "Wall Street Journal." And this new one, so many self-righteous hypocrites. My question is, you say there's a lot of hypocrisy in the news business. I will not give you an argument on that.

Is there going to be a gap between the public which may -- some of whom may not like this at all and some of whom may think that this is just, you know, Trump showing off with boys will be boys, and the pundits who are saying -- who are actually talking about whether he could be replaced as the Republican nominee?

CARLSON: I mean, look, I don't think anybody likes what Trump said, it's gross. I mean, it's disgusting. On the other hand, there could be a rubber band effect where the outrage is so phoney and so overdone that some people say, you know, knock it off. I dislike you more than I'm offended by Trump. But I would just say this, here's the dishonesty, is that the people who are opposing Trump now have real reasons to oppose him, I think.

They are totally legitimate but they're preexisting. I mean the same people who are abandoning him now didn't want him to be the nominee. They're the same ones six months ago talking about taking it away from him at the convention, They have preexisting reasons for opposing him, and that's fine, but we should just be honest about it.

KURTZ: Julie, let me read you excerpts from the coverage, CNN Politics editors said on the air, "it's over for him, he's like some Central American dictator." "Politico," "no candidate has entered a debate so cloaked in disgrace." "New York Times," "this turned a boorish man into an outright predator."

I have the impression -- and also following reporters on Twitter, which has a lot of glee in this, a lot of people in the media who never liked Trump, who said he was never going to win the nomination would kind of like the, "victory of seeing him pushed out of the race."

ROGINSKY: Well, there's two things going on and then I will make a personal observation. One is Trump is a complete creation of the media. The media...

KURTZ: No, he is not.

ROGINSKY: He is, I'm sorry Howard.

KURTZ: He got millions of Republicans votes, would you get off that?

ROGINSKY: He did because the media rode this horse all the way to the nomination. They covered his press conferences. They never broke to go to Ted Cruz's press conferences.

KURTZ: He gave more interviews than anyone in the history of television.

ROGINSKY: Excuse me, he broke -- didn't cover wall to wall press conferences for Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush. They did it for Trump because his ratings were good and the ratings were good because he would say crazy stuff and people wanted to tune in so that's one.

Two, I will say to you, that reporters love nothing better than to build somebody up and tear them down and that's a fact. And I think to some extent you have a point there.

KURTZ: On that one I agree with you.

ROGINSKY: The third observation I would make is as a woman very quickly we all know this guy. It may not be a big deal to some male reporters -- every woman out there knows this kind of guy. We've all encountered this kind of gut. I don't think there's going to be a rubber band effect among women because women know this guy. We've seen him and we've experienced him, and that's what women don't want to see in their president.

KURTZ: And Heidi, what about Billy Bush who is now a co-host of the "Today Show" and he is seen playing along on this tape. He's apologized. He says he is embarrassed and ashamed that he did play along. You know, is he going to take a hit in terms of his NBC career? There are reports that NBC is not even planning to reprimand him.

PRZYBYLA: Charitable interpretation. He is just kind of an overeager sycophant who was kind of rooting Trump on. But the really damaging part is when they get off the bus and he knows what's been going on and the talk and Donald Trump has kind of put the tick tack in and kind of like pushes him on to this woman.

So, I think based on the reporting that I've seen, this could be a real problem just given not just what happened but also the demographic of the audience that the "Today Show" reaches which is mostly woman and also the fact that this could make a lot of his female co-workers as well uncomfortable and who knows.

I guess we will find out on Monday when he was supposed to be co-hosting again what actually happens. A lot of times in these cases when something like this happens, the host or the personality will go into a hibernation period. But I guess we'll find out on Monday.

KURTZ: Right. What's interesting is that Megyn Kelly who just criticized Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton said on her show, "Donald Trump, with all due respect to my friend at 10:00, will go on to Hannity and pretty much only Hannity and will not venture out to the unsafe spaces these days which doesn't explain (ph) on the tape.

And Hannity tweeted back, "You should be mad at Hillary Clinton, clearly you support her." They have since made up. They sent out a picture but Trump is pretty much staying off of any non Fox outlet. But Tucker, I know some people out there and I see some of this online are saying, well, what Donald Trump said is just talk, but Bill Clinton, he actually had affairs including with an intern in the White House, there is an allegation of rape. Is the media going to buy the said argument?

CARLSON: No, well, they hate Trump. Of course they're not going to buy into that argument. Is it a legitimate argument? I don't know. I mean, I think he's, as a political matter better served by talking about what he believes or what he's going to do for the country. But I mean, I do think it's worth preserving this distinction because it's a real and meaningful one and a legal one.

There is a difference between talking and doing, there is. If I say, you know, I don't like you it's different from hitting you in the face. And so, I'm not defending anything that Trump said and I didn't like it. I've got three daughters. I don't like that stuff. But to call it assault is like to devalue assault because it wasn't assault. It was something different. It was. It's not the same as physically attacking someone talking about it. It's just not.

KURTZ: Julie, brief response.

ROGINSKY: Well, brief response is that he's actually talked about having done this, not just talk. He's boasted about it.


ROGINSKY: And that's a big difference. I mean...

CARLSON: OK, then he can call what he did assault. You can give me the specific time that he did and I will say that's assault.

ROGINSKY: Well, wait a second. He keeps boasting this, now you don't want me to take him on his word on this particular issue? He said he's done it and now we're saying he's a liar.

CARLSON: I'm not defending the guy. Don't devalue the word assault.

ROGINSKY: I'm not devaluing the it but I'm telling you, if somebody comes up to me and says I'm going to grab you by the you know what, that to me without my consent or kiss me without my consent, that to me is the definition of assault.

KURTZ: We'll just be shaking hands at the end of this segment.

ROGINSKY: You can give me a hug at any time.

KURTZ: Let us know what you think, When we come back -- well, this is going to be some debate tonight -- the leaked documents against Hillary Clinton. These have practically been blown off the screen by the Trump saga. And later, the reporter who got hold of the Trump and Billy Bush tape gives us the back story.


KURTZ: Hillary Clinton will undoubtedly face a new line of questioning at tonight's debate here in St. Louis about her highly lucrative Wall Street speeches, parts of which were made public in hacked e-mails obtained by WikiLeaks. While running to the left against Bernie Sanders she had said in these speeches that she favored, "open trade and open borders," a stunning contradiction with her public position.

She also called Sanders' supporters a bucket of losers and despite her tough on big banks rhetoric, Clinton said this in one speech, "Wall Street insiders are what is needed to fix Wall Street." Clinton spokesman said the "stolen documents" could have been orchestrated by Russian officials trying to help Donald Trump but would not say they were fake. Tucker Carlson, the media treating this also as a bombshell or kind of just an interesting look at routine politics (ph)?

CARLSON: Well, I don't think they are treating it at all, I mean -- and this goes to the most frustrating pieces of this whole debate or non- debate, is the lack of attention to the actual issues including from Trump. I mean, what would it mean to carry through on his trade policy? What would it mean for example to have open borders?

Hillary Clinton in the last two weeks we discovered that Obamacare has basically collapsed. No one is denying it. Bill Clinton has affirmed that twice in public. Hillary Clinton is calling for extending Obamacare benefits to illegal immigrants in this country which I mean, what would that mean?

KURTZ: And the media's interest -- the media's interest in these subjects?

CARLSON: I haven't read a single story on that. That's a big deal story of where are the White House.

KURTZ: Julie Roginsky, "open borders," that's a radioactive phrase and it seems to contradict just everything Clinton has said on trade and immigration.

ROGINSKY: Look, I am not going to defend these speeches. I haven't defended them from day one. If she was even contemplating running for president which I think we all know she was, to go out there as soon as she left Secretary of State -- to go out there and start doing these speeches was completely incomprehensible to me.

KURTZ: And suck up to Wall Street and make a lot of money.

ROGINSKY: And to suck up to Wall Street and, yes, exactly right. She didn't need the money. She didn't need to suck up to Wall Street. She was going to get their support and she did not need the money, let me stress again. So, I'm not defending that. Having said that, the difference here is it's sort of what you expect of politicians.

It's not as salacious as the Trump tapes and in her defense -- not on her defense but on her luck and it's really dumb luck in this case -- this tape got leaked the same time as her WikiLeaks stuff got leaked. The news cycle will go up with Trump up until tonight's debate and the starting tomorrow the news cycle will pick up where the debate left off. This is getting lost in the news cycle. She has dodged a bullet on these speeches.

KURTZ: And then you set up my question to Heidi Przybyla, which is on any other day, I mean, these John Podesta e-mails describing the Wall Street speeches would have been the lead story everywhere. Is it simply not just that it's being overshadowed by the Trump saga but they are not salacious as Julie says and is that the media standard for whether we cover something intensively?

PRZYBYLA: I think they're plenty interesting enough. There is a lot in there. This has been some of the most sought after information in this cycle about Hillary Clinton ever since the primaries when Bernie was hammering her to release these speeches but to Julie's point, the timing was so fortuitous for her that I literally thought it was a joke when I saw it come across on twitter, that they were dropping WikiLeaks, I thought this is a joke and then I realized, you know, that it wasn't.

This is essentially the campaign's own audit of some of the worst stuff that she could have said in these speeches and I think, you know, a lot of it has to do with the way the networks play this because the papers did give a really full write up to the extent that I saw Hillary Clinton surrogates accusing The New York Times of writing a smear article.

But the way the networks operate, the GOP is in crisis right now and they don't have their surrogates out there pushing this as well because everybody is playing defense on this Trump story so I think it's the confluence of things that very much it's completely due to the timing.

KURTZ: Right. You don't have Democrats running away from Hillary Clinton over this story the way you do have many big name Republicans at least publicly distancing themselves from Donald Trump. But Tucker, you could do separate stories just on Hillary Clinton saying only Wall Street insiders can fix Wall Street this after all the outrage at the banks in the wake of the fiscal crisis.

CARLSON: Or you can do 11 stories on how Billy Bush may be culpable for American sexism. I mean, the overkill on the Trump "Access Hollywood" story guess left a shortage of journalists to write actual real stories about actual policies. Look, and by the way, I don't think that "The New York Times" or any news organization ought to need prodding from partisans where to cover a story.

KURTZ: Yeah, if you knew there is not...

CARLSON: I mean, she makes a completely fair point about the lack of surrogates for sure, but that shouldn't affect our business. We should just be (inaudible) say what is this? Why go write a story on it? But no one did.

KURTZ: And for months and months, Julie, the press was hot on the $675,000 from Goldman Sachs to take just one example that Hillary Clinton was paid, the failure to release her speeches, the refusal, that ardor seems to have cooled in the general election. So, I'm sure some critics out there are saying, sure, now you're giving Hillary Clinton the pass because she's close to winning the White House and Donald Trump is in trouble.

ROGINSKY: I don't know if the ardor has cooled. I think again it goes back to ratings. This is why I keep saying Trump is helped by the ratings, now he is being hurt by the ratings. He is somebody who attracts so much attention because he's so salacious in what he says that especially cable news including all of us unfortunately, are like longing to go with him and it's left for other people to sit there wading through boring Wall Street speeches,.

It's not as sexy. It's not to most people as talking about what Billy Bush and he talked about. He lived by the sword. He's now dying by the sword to some extent.

KURTZ: Right. There is also the question of WikiLeaks and the role of Russian hackers that I think really troubles me but of course, we all now pass on these stories. All right, Tucker Carlson, Heidi Przybyla, we will see you a bit later. Julie Roginsky, thanks for joining us.

Ahead, Martha MacCallum on how the latest Trump and Clinton disclosures create new challenges for tonight's moderators, Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz. But first, the Hillary interview where the questions were scripted, I mean, really scripted in advance.


KURTZ: Now comes some ammunition for people who suspect that media outlets give politicians the questions in advance, which would be a huge ethical breach in any interview. In the case of Chicago television and radio host Steve Harvey and Hillary Clinton it was true, in cringe worthy fashion. Clinton aides detailed Harvey's planned questions last February along with proposed answers in a memo obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. There were even pre-selected photos of Clinton as a female trailblazer to share with the audience.


STEVE HARVEY, NBC HOST: Let's go to the Yale Law School.


HARVEY: Billy boy.

CLINTON: So I met my husband in law school.


KURTZ: According to the memo, a grandmother in the audience would see suggestions on what to do with her grandkids and Hillary would talk about singing "Wheels on the Bus" to her granddaughter Charlotte. And then this penetrating query, deep dish or thin trust pizza? What a tough one. What did Clinton learn from her last campaign? Question, how would she bridge the racial divide? Answer, Hillary has been fighting these battles for decades.


HARVEY: Race is such a hot button issue in America these days. How would you better bridge the racial divides as you see it?

CLINTON: Well, I want to thank you for raising it, kind of helping people to think about it because, look, there can be no doubt that we still face systemic racism...


KURTZ: It was all in the memo. What's the role of faith in your life and campaign? Answer, Clinton would talk about being raised a Methodist. The campaign even suggested questions for Hillary to ask women in the audience before her final Q & A on the problems in Flint, Michigan. There were TV sitcoms less scripted than this.

A spokesman for Steve Harvey tried to portray this as a routine pre- interview to help the guest feel prepared, I'll say. Come on, Steve Harvey, endorse Clinton, are we clear. Oh, and how about this, check out this question to Clinton at a Pennsylvania town hall meeting from 15 year-old Brennan Leach.


BRENNAN LEACH, CHILD ACTOR: At my school, body image is a really big issue for girls my age. I see with my own eyes the damage Donald Trump does when he talks about women and how they look.


KURTZ: Well, The New York Times reported that Brennan had said her dad, a local politician helped her with the question, but the paper didn't take the next step which media eye did. The father, Daylin Leach is a Democratic state senator and big Hillary supporter. He now claims it was a spontaneous question.

And here's the kicker, according to a hacked e-mail, a producer for MSNBC host Chris Hayes wrote to the Clinton campaign last year pitching a segment looking back at the 90's scandals faced by the Clintons saying the show wanted to, "talk about this amazing, intelligent woman who probably faced more nonsense back in the day because she is a woman." Now, that is amazing. Coming up, how badly did CBS's Elaine Quijano get run over in that vice presidential debate? Martha MacCallum on that and more. She's on deck.


KURTZ: As we count down to the big debate, joining me now here at Washington University in St. Louis is Martha MacCallum, the co-host of "America's Newsroom" who moderated some of the presidential primary debates. Martha, this Donald Trump videotape story has exploded like a neutron bomb, some republicans calling for him to drop out, I don't see that happening.

Do you have a sense that some folks in the media are kind of cheering this on, kind of enjoying this twist and watching the setback for the Trump campaign?

MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS: Yeah, I mean, absolutely. You know, you have to ask yourself about the coverage of this issue and how important this moment really is in terms of measuring a presidency. However, as you and I well know, we live in a world where people sort of want to digest scandalous material at a level that is really unprecedented and the desire to dig deeper into policy is not always there. But Donald Trump is such a unique candidate.

You know, he's obviously a businessman who came up through the ranks and built a real estate empire, but he's also a reality TV show star. So, from the very beginning this has been digested by the media and I think by the public at a level and in a way that is just not like anything we've seen in terms of typical political editorial digestion. So, it is a completely unique situation and this unfortunately for him it feeds right into the worst nightmare of the way he treats women and talks about women and women have been the problem for him electorally since day one.

So, the group that he should have been building traction with and building a reputation with over the past four or five months in particular and he made some ground there, he is sliding down that hill quickly and it's going to be very difficult for him to repair tonight, but that's the job that's set before him, Howie.

KURTZ: Right, yeah, white hot focus on that and relatively little focus on the WikiLeaks dump on Hillary Clinton. But let me ask you this because we've got the debate coming up and Anderson Cooper of CNN one of the moderators and ABC's Martha Raddatz the other.

CNN just now reporting that both moderators will make the Trump videotape "Access Hollywood," talking about groping women the focus of the opening set of questions. Does that seem right to you and is there any danger that will end up overshadowing the economy and taxes and terrorism and other issues that Americans care about?

MACCALLUM: Yeah. Of course there's a danger of that and it's going to  be up to Donald Trump to answer that question in the way that he has designed and decided to answer that question, and to then move on to the issues that got him through an incredibly roller coaster tumultuous primary where he vanquished 16 other candidates out there.

So he's got to figure out how he's going to deal with this question and in a way, Howie, it's probably better for him if it does come right off the top. You know, Hillary Clinton is also going to have to answer to these WikiLeaks stories that have come out, about her public versus private persona and they better press her on that as well. I mean, they are going to have to be seen as coming at these candidates fairly.

I really question why the Trump campaign did not put Donald Trump out there last night, why he didn't do a sit-down interview with a sort of neutral party to talk about his life, to talk about the way he sees things, to you know, express, you know, his apology to women that he offended with this.

He could have gotten this story a little bit behind him in a well-crafted appearance last night and I really think that that's going to be one of the questions that continue to dog him. Why didn't they do that last night?

KURTZ: Instead it all comes down to tonight. I predict that the viewership will be at least as high if not higher than the first debate. Let's take a brief look back at the VP debate, Tim Kaine and Mike Pence because CBS's Elaine Quijano, a little less experienced at this, was the moderator. Here are some of what happened with her in the moderator chair.


SEN. TIM KAINE, DEMOCRATIC VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You can't make the next in standard...

ELAINE QUIJANO, DEBATE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, the people at home cannot understand either one of you when you speak over each other. I would please ask you to wait until it is -- that the other is finished.

GOV. MIKE PENCE, REPUBLICAN VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I was in Washington, D.C. on 9/11. I saw the clouds of smoke rise from the Pentagon.

KAINE: I was in Virginia. Where the Pentagon...

PENCE: I know you were. We all lived through that day as a nation.


QUIJANO: Gentlemen, please.

KAINE: The FBI did an investigation.

QUIJANO: Gentlemen.

KAINE: And they concluded that there was no reason to prosecute her.

QUIJANOL: Senator? Senator Kaine and Governor Pence, please.


KURTZ: There was so much crosstalk and from those it was hard to hear. Got about a minute here, did Elaine Quijano lose control of that debate and is there any danger of that happening tonight in St. Louis?

MACCALLUM: Yeah, I think she did a little bit. I think both of those guys came in, you know, sort of loaded for bear (ph) and ready to jump in on each other. Tim Kaine said that even his wife told him he interrupted too many times, I think it was like 72 times. I don't think it reflected well on him. But I do not expect that to happen tonight.

I don't think Anderson Cooper or Martha Raddatz who I ran into briefly this morning and asked her how she felt about tonight. She said, sure I'm nervous. You know, if you're not nervous, you're not going to be on you're A game, and I don't think either one of them would put up with the kind of thing that we saw at the VP debate.

KURTZ: I'm with you on that, and of course everybody a little nervous before such a big event. Martha -- excuse me -- Martha MacCallum, great to see you.

MACCALLUM: We get confused all the time. Thanks, Howie. We'll see you later on our show. Looking forward to it.

KURTZ: Same here. Coming up, the Washington Post reporter who broke the Trump story on how he got that tape from an anonymous source. And later, Frank Luntz on how this and the WikiLeaks dump on Hillary Clinton is changing the coverage of this campaign.


KURTZ: The crisis in Donald Trump's campaign was triggered by an exclusive from one newspaper reporter, and joining us now from Washington is David Fahrenthold, a reporter for the Washington Post. David, you can't reveal the unnamed source who led you to this footage of Donald Trump and Billy Bush a decade ago of course, but is it fair to say the person wanted to damage Trump's candidacy.

DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, WASHINGTON POST: I can't really say anything about the source and I don't think I really even know. So, no, I can't really address that question.

KURTZ: You're saying you don't know the source's motivation? Because sometimes newspapers try to at least describe the motivation of somebody who brings in information but doesn't want to be named.

FAHRENTHOLD: In this case we haven't. We haven't said anything at all about the source. I can't really say more than nothing.

KURTZ: OK. Can you even say whether somebody wanted this out quickly because, after all, "Access Hollywood" had this in the archives, could have dug this up anytime in the past year and when you called "Access Hollywood" for comment you had to figure, you know, you might be in a race to break this story.

FAHRENTHOLD: That's right. We knew that was the risk. We called NBC and Billy Bush's folks around noon to 1:00 on Friday and knew, yeah, that was the risk. You know, obviously this foot was theirs originally so there was a risk that they would get there before us, but you know, we had to take that risk. We wanted to call them and make sure that the tape was authentic, that there was no concern that we were being hoaxed.

KURTZ: Any hesitation at all in disclosing what was obviously meant to be a private conversation?

FAHRENTHOLD: No. No hesitation about that at all. We're talking about the guy is running for president of the United States wearing a microphone. If this had been somehow, you know, a secret bug put in his office in Trump Tower or something like that maybe you'd have a different, you know, wonder whether he knew he was being miced (ph) but he certainly was wearing a microphone, you can see that later in the tape so, no. No (inaudible) about that at all.

KURTZ: Yes, wearing a microphone, that is a perfectly valid point. You know, early on in the show we talked about, well, a lot of past raunchy talk involving Donald Trump particularly on those Howard Stern interviews, you know, has been out there. Did you anticipate when you saw this that this would create the crisis and the explosion that it has for Donald Trump? Did it seem to you be to be sufficiently different from what we have already known about the Trump persona?

FAHRENTHOLD: Well, no. I don't think I would have predicted it would have caused this level of crisis, but I've been wrong basically about every political prediction I have made along the way. I spent three weeks writing a long profile of Bobby Jindal last year so I don't think my instincts should be trusted at all.

But what's different about this tape though is that, A, it's not public. That's the interesting thing here, is that Howard stern, all the things that Trump said on Howard Stern he says in public and there is sort of a sense that he said it in public it can't be that bad. And also Trump had said when I talk in public I'm playing a character. I'm doing it for entertainment. This is obviously is not a public statement.

And also, one of your earlier guests said he's not just sort of rating a woman or commenting on a woman's attractiveness. He's describing his own behavior. Wether truthfully or not, I don't know, but he's saying this is what I did, this is what I do. I think that's what makes it worse.

KURTZ: Now, you have broken most of the stories about finances of the Trump Foundation leading New York's attorney general, who is a Democrat and a big Hillary supporter, to recently bring a halt, a temporarily halt at least to the foundation's fundraising. The campaign not that long ago described you as a biased reporter who is clearly intent on distracting attention away from the corrupt Clinton Foundation, what was your reaction to being attacked that way and does something like that make you kind of try to redouble your efforts?

FAHRENTHOLD: Well, that's life in the big city, you know, cover a presidential campaign, there's going to be questions about your motives and about why you're focusing on one candidate versus another. In the case of Trump, this is a guy, as I said who is running for president. When you do that, you open yourself up to scrutiny and the questions about the Trump Foundation it's particularly the particular failure that led to this order from A.G. Schneiderman. This is not something that Schneiderman found and brought to me. It's something I found that was pointed out to me by a law professor I called while working on another story, the Trump Foundation.

It's literally the easiest thing that Trump could have done to make sure his -- it's a paperwork error. It's not something that required a lot of sleuthing. Once you knew the law it's easy to see that Trump should have done this and in fact did not.

KURTZ: I've got just a couple seconds, but you do all this digging on the Trump Foundation and now the story you will probably always be known for involves "Access Hollywood."

FAHRENTHOLD: A bus and an interview on "Access Hollywood," I would never have predicted that after I spent all those weeks learning the ins and outs of tax law.

KURTZ: David Fahrenthold, thanks very much for joining us from Washington.


KURTZ: And let's bring back Tucker Carlson and Heidi Przybyla. Heidi, does the way in which the tape became public, does it matter? Does it affect the impact here?


KURTZ: Let's say this tape...

PRZYBYLA: There was a point, I think there clearly was some media strategizing around when this was released because it wasn't until the decision was apparently made at NBC or that it became clear that it wouldn't be released until Monday after the debate that someone took it upon themselves to decide that that wasn't good enough and that it should be released on Friday before the debate to kind of set up this big forum.

KURTZ: Yeah, I couldn't get Fahrenthold to shed any light on that but clearly somebody didn't want to wait until Monday and because otherwise, "Access Hollywood" would have reported it after the weekend. But Tucker, "Access Hollywood" is part of the huge NBC corporate family.


KURTZ: So, this has been sitting in the archives for more than a year and yet NBC never thought to go after it to find out whether there were any outtakes that might be interesting. What does that say about...

CARLSON: It's been there 11 years of course and...

KURTZ: Yeah.

CARLSON: And apparently, they think...


CARLSON: Right. I mean look, someone should shot at (ph) Billy Bush from with inside the company he works for which is the other question. So, I would like to do the network morning show anchor challenge where we attach microphones to all of them when they don't know they are being recorded and kind of see what we find. You know what I mean?

So, it looks like a true self-righteous here. I would have run this in a second if someone would have sent it to me. I'm not attacking "Washington Post" for running it, of course. But there are ethical questions around it. Let's not pretend there aren't. It's silly to pretend there aren't. Remember, he's wearing a mic, yeah, but he didn't think he was going recorded. I have a mic on my iPhone. If we're sitting talking and I'm recording you and you don't know, is it, oh, you knew I had an iPhone.

I mean, I'm around mics all the time and there are moments when you think you're in a private sphere and maybe that you misjudged it but someone has told you're not on camera and so we're talking normally than you're on camera, you talk differently. That's legitimately. We all have different selves, the one we project publicly and the one reserve for people we're speaking privately with. I mean, come on.

KURTZ: And yet, Heidi, in the (inaudible) that we have, we live now in an age of hacked e-mails and just all of these private correspondence, comments, seem to come out. It seems to be part of the terrain of running for president.

PRZYBYLA: Absolutely. And I think that's why it's shocking that this actually didn't come out until now especially in the course of the primary. I think we were all waiting for his primary opponents to bring stuff like this out because we all have known that the Stern tapes are there for public consumption, for instance, and now there may be more coming out so, it's really poor timing for Trump.

KURTZ: All right. We will see tonight. Heidi Przybyla, Tucker Carlson, great to see you guys here in St. Louis. Next on "Mediabuzz," Frank Luntz on how the new Trump and Clinton bomb shells are changing the media climate and perhaps public opinion.


KURTZ: When it comes to the fireworks we now expect at tonight's debate here in St. Louis, we turn to someone who has studied these things quite intensively, Frank Luntz, Republican pollster and Fox News contributor. Frank, this Donald Trump tape is very vulgar and very damaging and I don't think there's any debate about that, but does the tsunami of media stories, the endless replaying and reposting of the tape, does that amplify the impact on Donald Trump?

FRANK LUNTZ, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It does, but this is what everyone is talking about, that if you take a look at twitter, if you look at Facebook, Google, Instagram, everyone is talking about this presidential campaign. This is the most talked about campaign that I've been around since 1992, and what makes this one significant is that even people who don't care about politics, who would normally turn this stuff off with just one month to go.

They're all paying attention. There's a reason why that first presidential debate was record-setting. There's a reason why this morning, Sunday morning, you can wake up at 7:00 a.m. and it is filled with this conversation. It's because people want to know what Donald Trump is going to say next.

KURTZ: So, it would be a mistake, therefore, to look at this purely in terms of political analysis? I mean, I had my questions here to ask you, does this affecting more with women or with all voters? What you're saying is this is a cultural event. Everyone is talking about around the proverbial water cooler. It is everywhere online and therefore the interest, you know, even -- is just huge whether you ordinarily tune in to politics heavily or not.

LUNTZ: You can't get away from it and people don't want to get away from it. It's why Fox News is having its all-time record ratings and frankly the competition is also up. You're picking it up on talk radio, you're picking it up in newspapers and the problem is that they're not asking about substance, and Howard, I really do think this is an issue that no one is asking which one is better able to handle nuclear -- a nuclear war.

Which one is better able to balance the budget? It's all about the persona. It's about their character traits, and that's good up to a point, but the American people need to be talking about the issues, and nobody is right now. The candidates aren't. The media isn't. The pundits aren't. Nobody is.

KURTZ: Do you think the reason that the media are shying away -- I mean, over the course of a campaign obviously we've talked a bit about the economy and taxes and terrorism, but the media shying away because this other stuff, the juicy stuff, the talk of sex tapes, talks of Miss Universe, all of that is like catnip and is much more fun to cover and it's easier to cover and delivers better ratings and more clicks in. If so, what does that say about the news business?

LUNTZ: What does that say about America? When you ask the question, would you rather see where they stand on issues or would you rather see a Donald Trump sex tape. A 2 to 1 they're going to choose the Donald Trump sex tape. We've been finding this out for the last couple of months. It's genuinely upsetting for those of us who care about the future of the country.

And I got to tell you this is an impossible campaign for someone like me to cover because nobody -- not only are they not talking about the issues, they don't even know what the issues are -- social security, education, things that are affecting us right now or over the next generation, and instead we're discussing the "P" word.

And by the way, watching "Saturday Night Live," and this is something that I also find significant, for first time ever just about every one of George Carlin's words that you can't say on television you can now say, thank you, Donald Trump, thank you, media. That's where we've come and it's a disgrace.

KURTZ: I've got about half a minute. So, rather than just pile on the journalists and the pundits and the news organizations as you know chasing the cotton candy and ignoring the substance, what I'm hearing from you is this is a reflection of the country that we are a mirror to a country that is increasingly amusing itself to death?

LUNTZ: There is a battle between William F. Buckley and that type and the PBS crowd and the Jerry Springer and that crowd and, unfortunately, Howard, the Jerry Springer crowd won. And we're never going to be able to go back. The thing I tell every viewer, once you step over that line of civility and indecency, once you start to use language that you might use in a bar rather than in a presidential debate, you never go back. I think it's a poison. I think it's toxic, and the country is going to suffer.

KURTZ: All right. Frank Luntz, thanks very much for your insight. Appreciate it. Still to come, some final thoughts from St. Louis on the media's handling of the Trump bombshell and the big debate, now just nine hours away.



ALEC BALDWIN, MOVE ACTOR: I would like to take this time to formally apologize.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What? What are you saying?

BALDWIN: I deeply apologize.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you trying to say apologize?

BALDWIN: No, I would never do that. What I am doing is apologizing to all the people who were offended by my statements, but more importantly to the people who were turned on by them.


KURTZ: Alec Baldwin back in action on "SNL." This has been the most remarkable 36 hours and the most remarkable campaign any of us have ever covered. After the incredible media battering that Donald Trump has taken, it's simply stunning that all the outtakes from "Access Hollywood" has many top Republicans bailing on their nominee that was truly never aired (ph) as a quiet boy.

Trump's words about women were disturbing, indefensible, but what's also disturbing is the sense of glee that I see among some of the reporters and pundits who cover him especially on twitter as if this justifies their hostility toward Trump as well as the major -- as well the downplay for major document involving Hillary Clinton. Whatever happens to Trump in this campaign, the media's reputation for fairness has definitely suffered some damage.

That's it for this special edition of MEDIA BUZZ from St. Louis. I'm Howard Kurtz. Write to us, follow We hope you like our Facebook page where we post a lot of original content. Let me know what you think on Twitter @HowardKurtz. And also, I'll be on here after the debate. You can watch the Fox News coverage tonight and check me out with Megyn Kelly. We are back in Washington next Sunday. We'll see you then for the latest buzz.

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