This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," October 16, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On our buzz meter this Sunday, the campaign turns tabloid, with three days to go before until the third and final debate as media outlets publish a spate of stories with women accusing Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, and he denounces the media and threatens to sue the New York Times.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
JESSICA LEEDS, TRMP ACCUSER: He was like an octopus. It was like he had six arms. He was all over the place. When he started putting his hand up my skirt, and that was it. That was it. I was out of there.
DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: And so now we address the slander and libels that was just last night thrown at me by the Clinton machine and the New York Times and other media outlets. These vicious claims about me of inappropriate conduct with women are totally and absolutely false.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: The one on the airplane, every guy and woman will say, I can't believe it.
LAURA BASSETT, THE HUFFINGTON POST: It's disgusting. And what struck me about that story is when the New York Times reporter confronted Trump about it, he screamed at her said and you're a horrible person, which is just classic abusive behavior.
MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: And the truth is victims of sexual assault, victims of rape, victims of unwanted groping, they often don't come forward. They're humiliated. Especially back in the day, they were told move along, it happens to all women the time, you got to take it.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: I'm skeptical about the timing of all this. Dropping talk about an October surprise.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: On the heels of Trump's war of words with Paul Ryan and other Republican leaders, is the press all but writing him off? Hillary Clinton being damaged by hacked e-mails from WikiLeaks that shows disparaging remarks, collusion with the State Department, and coziness with some journalists. But are the media playing this out in favor the groping allegations against Trump?
And how will both candidates fare in Las Vegas against the first general election moderator from Fox, Chris Wallace. Plus, I go behind the scenes with one of the creators of the Showtime program "The Circus."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK MCKINNON, 'THE CIRCUS': Donald Trump has just put his finger on the nuclear button.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: What a circus. I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."
The questions about Donald Trump and sexual misbehavior that have dominated the media first erupted after the "Access Hollywood" tape showed him speaking about groping women, and Anderson Cooper raised it in last Sunday's debate in St. Louis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, DEBATE MODERATOR: That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?
TRUMP: No, I didn't say that at all. I don't think you understood what was said. This was locker room talk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Now, the New York Times is quoting one woman who you saw earlier as saying Trump groped her on a plane more than 35 years ago, and another who said he kissed her on the lips 11 years ago at Trump Tower. Trump hit back hard at the reporters bringing up a past story on his misconduct toward women.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Now today, the same two discredited writers who should have been fired from the New York Times for what they did, tell another totally fabricated and false story that supposedly took place on an airplane more than 30 years ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Former People Magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff said Trump pushed her against a wall and kissed her at Mar-a-Lago and said they'd be having an affair, this according to her, as she was interviewing the billionaire and his pregnant wife Melania for a story about their first anniversary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And I asked a very simple question. Why wasn't it part of the story that appeared 20 or 12 years ago? Why wasn't it part of the story? Why didn't they make it part of the story? I was one of the biggest stars on television with "The Apprentice." You take a look. Look at her, look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don't think so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: And on Friday, the Washington Post posted an interview with a woman who said Trump once groped her at a nightclub, and a former "Apprentice" contestant said Trump accosted her when she was seeking a job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTIN ANDERSON, TRUMP ACCUSER: The person on my right who unbeknownst to me at the time was Donald Trump, put their hand up my skirt.
SUMMER ZERVOS, TRUMP ACCUSER: He then grabbed my shoulder and began kissing me again very aggressively and placed his hand on my breast. I pulled back and walked to another part of the room. He then walked up, grabbed my hand, and walked me into the bedroom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Trump forcefully denying both accounts as well as the early ones. Joining us now to analyze the coverage, Heidi Przybyla, senior political reporter at USA Today, Guy Benson, political editor of Townhall.com and a Fox News contributor and Krystal Ball, one time Democratic House candidate and now a senior fellow at the New Leaders Council. Heidi Przybyla, these stories about Trump and the women's accusations have utterly dominated the media. Are news outlets going a bit overboard?
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, USA TODAY: Oh, there is no doubt that we have gone full tabloid and I myself like a lot of Americans, I think that I can't stand to watch that videotape one more time, but the reason why is because the accounts of these women almost hauntingly match what Donald Trump said he himself does to women, and also the sheer volume of the women who are now coming out. Look, the American people...
KURTZ: Trump, by the way, of course said that it was locker room talk with Billy Bush 11 years ago.
PRZYBYLA: Right, and you know, the American people say I want substance, I want to have a debate about the issues, things that will affect my life. I'm there with them. I agree with them, but the problem is the history of our politics says that we care about this stuff and they care a lot about it. I've covered every GOP campaign since 2000.
If you ask the GOP voters what they hate the most about the Clintons, it's not their economic policies or anything else. It's this behavior. We brought Herman Cane down on one single allegation and this is just something...
KURTZ: Guy Benson, Donald Trump says this is all orchestrated by the dishonest media and the Clinton campaign to stop him. Is that fair and are his attacks on the accusers and the media fueling the story?
GUY BENSON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think that it's probably unfair to say that, and of course his attacks are fueling the story. But he has to defend himself. He's going to defend himself.
KURTZ: He's entitled to defend himself.
BENSON: Of course -- of course he is.
KURZ: But when he says coordinated media assault, do you find that unfair?
BENSON: There's probably some coordination here, I mean, this is all at once in the homestretch of a presidential election...
PRZYBYLA: ...in coordination with who?
BENSON: I think you probably have people waiting to tell their story and then the dam is burst now that the video came out. The biggest problem for him aside from the allegations, some of which I think are pretty credible, is that he's on tape saying this is what I do to women, and then women are coming forward and saying yes, he did that to me.
But let me just say this, I think it is totally reasonable to at the same time believe that this is a legitimate story that deserves coverage and also believe that it is getting way too much coverage especially vis-a-vis WikiLeaks and other important stories.
KURTZ: Right, they are legitimate stories because the women are on the record. At the same time, it seems like there's no other issue. Let me read you a tweet from Trump, Krystal Ball, "Election being rigged by the media, pushing false and unsubstantiated charges and outright lies to elect crooked Hillary." Again, is there any (inaudible) that the media are pushing this? They're certainly receptive to these stories and they're juicy and they provide ratings.
KRYSTALL BALL, NEW LEADERS COUNCIL: Of course. You had every day last week and including into yesterday and perhaps today is not on (ph) today, a new woman coming forward and saying the exact same thing happened to me. And let's keep in mind that these media outlets, they didn't just throw up any old accuser, right.
These women had contemporaneous folks who they had spoken with 10 and 20 and 30 years ago when it happened that were also interviewed. So, if this is a conspiracy, I mean, you're talking about basically every major national media organization in the country and women who really do have documented interactions with him. I mean, this is insane...
KURTZ: They have told other people...
BALL: ...this is coordinated.
KURTZ: Well, it's hard to know, let's be clear, whether these are true, but is it fair for skeptical journalist to say why did some of these women wait until the final month of the election to come forward with stories that at least in one case is more than 35 years old.
PRZYBYLA: Well, as a journalist, you always have to question the motives of people who are giving you information. That said, I do think that journalists like Krystal said, have done a wonderful job in vetting these women, like Karen Tumulty actually wrote a separate piece.
KURTZ: She's at the Washington Post.
PRZYBYLA: She's at the Washington Post. saying that the lengths that she would have gone to to vet this woman including tracking her voter registration card, including going back to the nightclub where this allegedly happened confirming that Trump was a frequent guest at that club, that it was very crowded.
You know, some of these women, yes, happen to be Hillary Clinton supports, others don't. That this kind of in lined, you know, with the polls and I think it's also the media's responsibility to point out that in many cases like this, we see the same dam effect when there is something at stake, like with the Bill Cosby case. There was a loss to the case, and then the dam broke and all these women felt comfortable. If on comes forward, more can come forward.
KURTZ: In one case, Guy, the Trump campaign gave to the New York Post a guy named Anthony Gilberthorpe who was supposed to be the witness to knock down the tale of Jessica Leeds who Trump now calls crazy and she's the woman who said she was groped on the airplane decades ago.
This guy has some baggage because he went public with a claim a couple years ago that he procured boys for sex parties with high ranking British politicians so, when (inaudible) when we get down into the Leeds on this it gets ugly.
BENSON: Yes, this entire episode is very, very ugly as this entire election has been. And I think again, when it goes to motive and timing and the press' coverage of both of those things, I do think it's totally reasonable and understandable at least for Republican voters in particular to say oh, my gosh, look at this. We're now in October of a presidential year. All of a sudden these women who had not been heard from at all until just now, they all happen to come out at the same time.
KURTZ: It looks like piling on.
BENSON: It does, but I would say on the counterpoint to that is, I think that the triggering incident was a question asked by Anderson Cooper at the presidential debates saying, "Okay, Mr. Trump, you say this is locker room talk. What you're describing is assault. Did you actually ever follow through and act on that talk?" And he denied it in front of 70-plus million people. So, I can understand why some women watching that might say, wait, that's a lie. He did do this to me.
KURTZ: Let me remind you that it was just seven days ago, I was in St. Louis waiting for the debate when Donald Trump put on Facebook live video a press conference with Juanita Broaddrick and Paula Jones and also Kathleen Willey, all three of the Bill Clinton's accuser. They later appeared with Sean Hannity this week. Let's take a quick look at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Now, is the mainstream media been receptive to asking you three about your stories?
JUANITA BROADDRICK, CLINTON ACCUSER: Oh, definitely not.
PAULA JONES, CLINTON ACCUSER: Nobody has asked.
HANNITY: Nobody has asked? The New York Times never called you?
BROADDRICK: Not until we went into the Trump spin room.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: A number of journalists, Krystal Ball came out and said they had contacted some of these women and were not able to reach them. Others have been interviewed and of course, this goes back to the '90s.
So, if the Trump campaign's position in the press is that it is unfair to quote all these women accusing Donald Trump of various kinds of misconduct -- sometime it's kissing, sometimes it's something far worse -- what about the fact that Trump himself is trotting out Bill Clinton's accuser as he did at that news conference?
BALL: Well, I mean, it just undermines their argument, A, that allegations from the past shouldn't matter, and B, that these women should just be discarded and not listened to. And in terms of, you know, in terms of the timing and in terms of how the news media has covered the stories regarding Bill Clinton.
This was extensively covered in the '90s and the news media typically covers what's new. And there have been stories, by the way, large stories in the Washington Post and the New York Times going back over the allegations and trying to sort back from this...
PRZYBYLA: I just want to note something really quick. Juanita Broaddrick took years to come forward. She said the reason why it was because he's a powerful man, and she was afraid about the kind of influence he had...
BALL: And this is the same thing for a lot of these women and many women never come forward because of that thing.
BENSON: But that also lends credibility to Juanita Broaddrick. And I was sitting in the media room at that debate in St. Louis while this live event was happening on Facebook with these Bill Clinton accusers and I could feel the sense around the people talking about it, media members saying isn't this so unseemly what Trump is doing? And like, well, how about the accusations against Bill Clinton?
KURTZ: Right. Well, Broaddrick once gave a deposition saying that no rape had taken place and this is untrue. But this is a thing we're talking about 1978, and in Trump's case, we're talking about stuff that goes back 35 years. Now, we got a debate coming up in Las Vegas moderated by Chris Wallace, the first Fox journalist to do that in a general election. Let's take a brief look at his conversation with Bret Baier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: You haven't seen anything like this?
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: No, because I've never seen a candidate like Donald Trump. That's what makes this so fascinating and what's made the debates, and you know this from the three that we did, so challenging.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: So what's the challenge for Chris Wallace particularly with all these personal allegations swirling around? And of course, he's going to have to deal with them in some form.
PRZYBYLA: He's going to try to have a debate about substance, but he's got to answer the allegations. He's to get Trump in a way no journalist has to kind of drill down on this, but also with Hillary Clinton to drill down on WikiLeaks because she hasn't, you know, some of the most damaging stuff in there she hasn't had to really answer for.
And I think though he has a good template how he sums (ph) from the past debate, which is it is getting -- Chris has said this all along -- it is good to allow the candidates to just engage each other and not completely try and stop and fact check them, but to step in on the big stuff.
KURTZ: We put up the Time cover, which is complete meltdown, and on the sort side and you'll see this graphic when it comes up. We have the Time cover from a few month ago, which it just meltdown, so now he's totally a puddle and Guy, here's the lead (ph) from Politico: "with 26 days left in the election campaign, he now has a minuscule chance of winning." Donald Trump is in full black helicopter mode, meaning he's (inaudible) conspiracy theory, so the coverage and alleged news story is really turning against him.
BENSON: Yes. Shockingly, we get to the general election and the same media that lavished billions of dollars of free overwhelmingly positive air time during the Republican primary, turns on the Republican nominee and has pounded him every single day.
KURTZ: He gave more interviews than any other Republican candidate. I have to point that out.
BENSON: Yes, but they also carried his rallies live.
KURTZ: OK, if this whole business of -- this whole business of Trump being, you know, his no chance to win, the Washington Post/ABC poll out today says a four-point lead for Hillary Clinton. It's still tight, folks. E-mail us, mediabuzzfoxnews.com. Stick to the media. When we come back, Katrina Pierson responds on behalf of the Trump campaign. And later, is the drip, drip, drip of hacked e-mails hurting Hillary Clinton or is the press playing it down?
KURTZ: Joining us now from Dallas is the Trump campaign's national spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson. Good to see you.
KATRINA PIERSON, TRUMP CAMPAIGN NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON: Good morning.
KURTZ: Donald Trump is denying the accusations of now nine women who are accusing him of various kinds of sexual misbehavior or misconduct. Do you believe it is unfair for media outlets to publish or broadcast these on the record accusations?
PIERSON: Well, I absolutely believe that this is unfair considering how one of the initial women, the lady on the airplane, has already changed her story. Many of these women weren't vetted and now we see other individuals coming forward like perhaps a witness, other Miss Teen USA members who aren't seeing the light of day.
KURTZ: Well, when it came to and when it comes to now, you know, the women who have accused Bill Clinton of various kinds of sexual assault and misconduct, Kathleen Willey, Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick and others, you told Megyn Kelly back in May those women are fair game because we're talking about Bill's conduct here, we're talking about Hillary Clinton's conduct and it's completely relevant.
If that is fair game, how can women making accusations, which I don't know definitively are true, and you don't know definitely are true -- how come their accounts not be fair game as well?
PIERSON: Well, this whole concept of someone going after someone, and this was not litigated back then. The threats, the slashing of tires, the hurting of pets, the releasing of naked photo threats, those things weren't brought to the forefront. These are simply just allegations -- these are simply just allegations. As I said, there have been witnesses that have come forward.
There are other people that were around during that time that came forward. Some of the incidents like the one at the concert, there wasn't even a concert on that date. So, these are the kinds of things that I'm talking about as far as vetting of the allegations. We can talk about allegations all day long, including with Hillary Clinton, but some of these things just haven't been fleshed out and vetted.
KURTZ: All right.
PIERSON: Specifically with the coverage to this is absolutely ridiculous. Yes, this is blown way out of proportion, but we already know through the revelations of WikiLeaks that the New York Times has been colluding with the Clinton campaign.
KURTZ: All right, we're going to deal with that in a later segment. Now, let me take -- show or play for you how one of your top surrogates, Ben Carson, responded to questions about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATTY KAY, BBC NEWS: Are you saying that these women are lying?
BEN CARSON, TRUMP SURROGATE: That's your characterization because you need to characterize it that way to try to make me the bad guy.
KAY: No, no, no. You just -- it's a question.
CARSON: No, no, no. Stop, stop, stop.
CARSON: Hey, can you turn her microphone off, please?
CARSON: It doesn't matter whether they're lying or not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Katrina, it doesn't matter whether they're lying or not. They are saying one thing and Donald Trump is forcefully and vehemently denying their accounts.
PIERSON: Well, what you just saw was typical of the other networks. Any time a Trump supporter or surrogate goes on those networks, they are immediately cut off whenever you want to talk about the policy or whenever you don't agree with the narrative that they want you to participate in. With regard to what Ben Carson said about lying, they made it personal. That's what they do.
He was just simply stating Mr. Trump's position on that. It's not the job of the anchor to attack the one being questioned -- their personal opinion. We are talking about Mr. Trump. He has come out and said these allegations are not true, and we take him at his word.
KURTZ: That was on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." All right, so Donald Trump called reporters for the New York Times corporate lobbyist for Carlos Slim. He's the Mexican billionaire who owns a chunk of Time stock. What evidence is there that Carlos Slim has anything to do with the editorial newsroom decisions of the Times?
PIERSON: Well, I think that's a great job and task for journalists to find out. This is also something that we have seen a lot. There are personal vendettas against Mr. Trump, and specifically with one of the allegations of the women who recently came forward with regarding her restaurant.
Mr. Trump has had to release e-mails of some of these women accusing him of either being a sexist or doing inappropriate things where just as recent as April, she was praising him and wanting him to come visit her restaurant. Now, if you've been sexually assaulted by someone, why all of a sudden is this a revelation 23 days out from the election?
KURTZ: I really got 23 seconds, but with Trump saying the corporate media is against him and that the global special interests are against him. Some critics are saying rigged election, that he's peddling conspiracy theories.
PIERSON: Well, it's not a conspiracy. WikiLeaks has already released documents showing Hillary Clinton has a very public opinion when it comes to the global banks versus her private opinion in helping them as well as the media colluding against Mr. Trump. This has all been revealed in WikiLeaks and the reason why we're not talking about, it's because they'd much rather try to crucify Mr. Trump in the art of public opinion.
KURTZ: All right, Katrina Pierson, thanks as always for joining us this Sunday.
PIERSON: Great to be here. Thank you.
KURTZ: Up next, more WikiLeaks fallout as a CNN commentator and others seems awfully friendly to the Clinton camp. And later, do female journalists have a different view of the latest allegations against Donald Trump.
KURTZ: Those who say some media folks are too cozy with the Clinton campaign just got some new ammunition based on the batches of hacked e- mails disclosed by WikiLeaks. Donna Brazile, who was the CNN contributor last March as well as the DNC's vice chair sent an e-mail to Hillary's campaign the day before a town hall forum, "From time to time, I get the questions in advance. Here's one that worries me about HRC."
It involved the death penalty, when Brazile citing these statistics, "156 people have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have been executed in the U.S." And here's what was asked at that forum by TV One's Roland Martin who has turned out had e-mailed his questions in advance to CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROLAND MARTIN, TV ONE COMMENTATOR: Since 1976, we've executed 1,414 people in this country. Since 1973, 156 who were convicted have been exonerated from the death row.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Brazile now the acting Democratic chair and on leave from CNN told me she was flabbergasted by this, that she never got town hall questions from CNN, but she couldn't explain the reference to advanced questions in her e-mail, and CNN is now pointing the finger at its partner TV One for the apparent leak.
CNN anchor Jake Tapper calling the whole episode horrifying and unethical. The WikiLeaks dump also includes John Harwood, CNBC's chief Washington correspondent, who drew plenty of negative reviews last year for the way he treated Donald Trump as a debate moderator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN HARWOOD, DEBATE MODERATOR: Let's be honest. Is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Now we learn that weeks after that debate, Harwood ripped the Republicans in an e-mail to Hillary Clinton's campaign manager John Podesta, "I imagine that Obama feels some sad vindication at this demonstration of his years-long point about the opposition party veering off the rails. I certainly am feeling that way with respect to how I question Trump at our debate."
And in a message to Podesta after the Clinton e-mail scandal broke, Harwood included a tweet posting, "set aside process -- if there's any specific/plausible suggestion of nefarious e-mail Hillary Clinton was trying to hide, I haven't heard it." Harwood declined to comment but reporters like him attempt to build relationships with campaign officials to get scoops and interviews. And Harwood did try to book Podesta for CNBC.
Ahead, NBC getting ready to dump Billy Bush over that "Access Hollywood" tape. Is he being made a scapegoat? But first, the accusations against Donald Trump are fueling journalistic soul searching among women who've had firsthand experience with sexual harassment and assault. We'll look at that in a moment.
KURTZ: The press reports on the latest accusations against Donald Trump have sparked a number of debates in the media, not just about journalistic fairness, but also a out women, their own experiences with sexual harassment and sexual assault and how they respond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: Ironically, Mika has had experiences with some people who right now are going out and being very self-righteous and with leaders of news organizations that are going out being very self-righteous. And by journalistic gods who are being very self-righteous over the past several weeks.
MIKA BRZEZINSK, MSNBC: I had experiences like that in Washington. I was a page on Capitol Hill. My parents prepared me for men like this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us now, Mollie Hemingway, senior editor of the The Federalist and Amy Argetsinger, an editor and former columnist at the Washington Post. Amy, you had experiences like this? Have friends of yours? And if so, does it change the way you look at the allegations by these women involving Donald Trump?
AMY ARGETSINGER, FORMER WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Friends of mine have had experiences like this and I think you're seeing a lot of women talk about this, write about this, sharing their experiences on social media. You know, it's interesting. I think we all got flashbacks to the Bill Cosby situation as this began to unfurl like an avalanche really. The different tiers really seeing women find something very relatable in the situation. With the Cosby allegations, it was somewhat more exotic, people being drugged, people being raped.
ARGETSINGER: Here, you're talking about women, who have been groped, have had aggressive sexual passes made at them.
KURTZ: Unwanted kisses.
ARGETSNGER: And that's something that a lot of people have experienced and then a lot of people are sharing their stories about now.
KURTZ: Mollie Hemingway, let me ready you a couple of things -- Ruth Marcus this morning in Washington Post column, "the arm went around my shoulder. Then the hand began to creep farther and farther down the neckline of my dress." She was 20 years old and at a college newspaper dinner. Natasha Stoynoff, the People Magazine writer who published her account this week says, "I was ashamed and blamed myself for his transgression. I minimized it. I was afraid a wealthy man could discredit and destroy me." Do female journalists look at this differently because of some personal experiences they or their friends may have had?
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: I think female journalists are frequently dealing with wealthy and powerful men an sometimes wealth and power correlates with sexual entitlement and so female journalists do encounter this type of thing just like all other women do because I think that has to play a role in how they're covering a story.
KURTZ: And Amy, and often in Kelly Oxford wrote on Twitter, "Tweet me your first assault." She talked about being grabbed on the bus when she was 12. Twenty-seven million people either visited her page or responded. So, I'm getting the impression that as a guy, that this has really this tapped -- struck a pretty deep cord.
ARGETSINGER: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. I mean, you know, you start off like my workplace incidents, but here we're talking about a full range of things. Things that women experienced when they were children or teenagers or whether it happened to them in the workplace or whether it happened while they were walking down the street, but you see a lot of women reflecting upon too as Ruth Marcus did was the tendency to remain silent. You know, we all like to think oh, we would throw an elbow, we would yell, and that's not what happened. And I think that's why there's a lot of (inaudible) for women who are coming forward with stories only much later who didn't speak about it before except maybe to a couple of friends because that's the truth. Women are disinclined to make a fuss. They think they won't be believed. They think it's not worth the hassle.
KURTZ: Or there'll be a backlash or you'll lose your job or whatever. But let's talk now about the accusations by these women against Donald Trump and how much media attention it's getting. And do you see a difference, Mollie, in the level of sympathy there was or was not in the case for Paula Jones and Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick, of course that happened almost -- those incidents were talked about and debated almost 20 years ago.
HEMINGWAY: I don't think the time difference is as significant as the political difference and I think there's a big problem with how we cover the stories. I don't get the sense that journalists are genuinely concern about the sexual exploitation of women so much as they're just using this as a way to push a political agenda. And that is very dangerous. I mean, these are issues that women deal with whether or not there's a presidential election going on and they should be covered a bit less -- there's so much enthusiasm going into this story, and it doesn't seem like it's genuinely out of concern for women so much as a way to bludgeon Donald Trump.
KURTZ: So you're saying something really significant, which is you believe that as opposed to when Bill Clinton was sort of given a pass by a lot of feminists and some in the media, although he did sort of -- he did get impeached over Monica Lewinsky and related lies. That you believe that the reason the media have really fully embraced the accounts by these women, which we don't know whether they are true, but they may be true, is because they don't like Donald Trump and he's a Republican. Is that fair?
HEMINGWAY: I don't think there's any question that the media are at odds with Donald Trump and they will use anything. I mean, journalistically speaking, one of the things that's very challenging about this story is when dealing with claims of sexual assault, you're usually dealing with private instances which are very difficult to verify, and a lot of people are just going with single sourced stories, and that is not a typical journalistic practice to go with such -- with just one source to make a claim. You wouldn't see that happening against Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or something like that. We should be careful to be covering the story with the same due diligence that we would apply to anyone else whether or not we like them or not.
KURTZ: Well, I have concerns about the volume of the coverage because it seems like there's no other issue in the campaign right now. But with (inaudible) single sourced story, I mean, if you've got somebody on the record and then they provide people they told this two months ago or years ago is that what else can you do? Could you not go ahead with the story?
ARGETSINGER: I suspect -- again, I'm an editor at the Washington Post. I have not been involved in the cover of these particular stories. I would not be surprised if there are a lot of accusations that are not being reported because journalists don't have the same gut comfort level that they did with the ones that have been coming out there. You know, the ones you've been seeing written about -- there is an incredible amount of details like, here are five, six people who we have talked to, who say that she told us this story contemporaneously, you know, full disclosure. Here are the various legal problems she's had in her past. Here's her voter registration.
KURTZ: Or she's a Hillary Clinton supporter or, yeah.
ARGETSINGER: But you do see attempts to do this. But I mean, the truth is that the nature of these crimes is that it is going to be one word versus another or there's not going to be a story at all.
KURTZ: On that point, Amy Argetsinger, Mollie Hemingway, thanks very much for stopping by. Coming up, the Clinton campaign facing all kinds of embarrassing e-mails in those hacked material, but is the press giving her a pass? And later, Mark McKinnon of "The Circus" uncovering the media circus.
KURT: Plenty of troubling and embarrassing revelations in the hacked Clinton campaign e-mails that are still being dumped out by WikiLeaks even this morning. These include Hillary aides making disparaging remarks about Catholics, about Latinos, like the head of the NAACP and in one case, getting information from the Justice Department about an upcoming hearing on the e-mail scandal. Is this drawing enough media scrutiny? We're back with the panel. Guy, also we learned about collusion between the State Department and the Clinton campaign about leaking the information having to do with Sid Blumenthal, the Hillary confidante, e-mails from him to a, "friendly reporter of the A.P." before the House investigating committee found out about it. How is all this not a bigger story?
BENSON: It should be a bigger story. I think what Democrats want to talk about is the providence of the documents. These are stolen and possibly Russia putting their thumb on the scale of the election.
KURTZ: And that's a fair point, is it not?
BENSON: And I think if the roles were reversed and the KGB were working against the Republican nominee in a presidential election, Republicans would be screaming bloody murder and they should, but the idea that the media would spend so much time muting their coverage or sucking their thumbs about how the documents came to the public. If it were the Republican, I just don't buy that at all.
KURTZ: All right, Krystal Ball, we have John Podesta, the campaign chairman talking about needy Latinos. Communications director Jennifer Palmieri who is Catholic is writing about whether Catholicism is the most socially acceptable, politically conservative religion for rich people. How is it that -- are these routine political embarrassments or has the press made a judgment that it's not that big a deal or is it something else?
BALL: I think the press has made a judgment that there are only so many hours in a day and only so much space in a paper.
KURTZ: And are those hours and space has to be devoted to Donald Trump's problems?
BALL: When you have a new woman coming out alleging sexual assault every single day, when you have a massive October surprise every single day -- and these things were covered and if you look in the papers today, they actually are covered fairly extensively.
KURTZ: In the papers -- very little on television however.
BALL: But I think that's true. That is true because these are salacious claims and they get ratings to be totally frank. But also, if this was any other election, it this was even the primary campaign, you would see a lot more coverage because it was a more normal season. Now you have things that are outlandish and unprecedented every single day, and by the way, the Russian piece of this is outlandish and unprecedented and that part is also being under covered.
KURTZ: And scary as well. And Heidi Przybyla, I mean, there's even political stuff in here. I just came across this one. Neera Tanden, Hillary adviser, works for the Center for American Progress talking about, "her inability to do a national interview and communicate genuine feelings of remorse and regret is now, I fear, becoming a character problem more so than honesty. People hate her arrogant, like her down. It's a sexist context but I think it's the truth." So you looked at a lot of these. Do they deserve more media attention?
PRZYBYLA: That is the problem, is just the sheer volume of it and I still think that these -- a lot of these like the e-mail you just cited kind of confirm what everybody's worst suspicions are about Washington and about politicians, which is that they're very calculated in the messages that they craft, but there's no single smoking bomb. I still think that the most important story is the initial leak about her speeches and the focus on the open borders and immigration.
KURTZ: Speeches to big Wall Street firms, yeah.
PRZYBYLA: And I hope that -- and I know that Chris Wallace will come through in terms of pressuring her on that.
BALL: ...words versus her aides...
PRZYBYLA: Exactly, but I still think a lot of it is the sheer volume of it and I'm glad to see you make a distinction between broadcast and print as a member of the print news media because we are doing our best to go through all these e-mails and do regular updates...
KURTZ: Top most stories on the front page are not about that, they're about Trump. And finally, Guy, in the debate that got lot less of the attention where Charles Krauthammer had been very critical, Trump saying, because you'd be in jail and that you know, I'm going to ask for a special prosecutor if I win to reopen this FBI investigation. Do you think that's a significant story or political rhetoric?
BENSON: Well, I think that you saw Democrats demanding that Senator Tom Cotton potentially get thrown into prison for the letter that he wrote to the Iranian regime about the Iran deal.
KURTZ: He's saying they all do it.
BENSON: I think this happens on both sides and I think the fainting couches from the press over that, especially Trump talked about a special prosecutor. He wasn't talking about, you know...
BALL: No, no, no. He said special prosecutor but then he said you'd be in jail which is different and...
KURTZ: All right, we are out of time. We're out of time. Thanks, panel. And after the break, former Bush and McCain strategist Mark McKinnon on the tabloid turn in this race. You might even call it a circus.
KURTZ: I was at the second debate in St. Louis last Sunday when Mark McKinnon, the former Republican strategist spotted me. Next thing I knew, he had me in front of the camera for "The Circus," his behind-the-scenes campaign chronicle that airs Sunday nights on Showtime. And I was asked about the just released "Access Hollywood" tape of Donald Trump and Billy Bush that was dominating the coverage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: There's really no question this was a very disturbing and damaging tape for Donald Trump to come out from 2005. But in the last few days, it has not only been the dominant story of the campaign it's been the dominant story of our lives. Everyone is talking about it. You could not get away from it. It's on minute after minute after minute. Forget the hurricane. Forget Hillary Clinton. I think there's some media overkill going on here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: We'll see if I make the cut. I spoke to McKinnon earlier from New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Mark McKinnon, welcome.
MARK MCKINNON, "THE CIRCUS": Hey, Howie, how are you?
KURTZ: Doing great. As an old political message guy, what's the impact on a campaign like Trump's when you get hit boom, boom, boom with media stories about women saying he groped them, he kissed them when they didn't want to? How does a campaign get rocked like that?
MCKINNON: Well, I mean, it's just like you're in a boxing ring and you get hit with a flurry of punches and, you know, you look around and you're on the canvas looking up. It's very tough. I mean, I was remembering back to 2000 we got hit with a DWI just a few days out from the election and that put us in crisis mode, but this campaign in the last week as we talked about at the debate, never seen anything like it, nothing close. I mean, it's just one allegation, one revelation after another. You know, there's tapes and women on one side, e-mails on the other. Usually a week would go by in a normal campaign. In this campaign it's a matter of minutes before we see new news breaking.
KURTZ: Is it fair to question why some of these women came forward now to outlets like "the New York Times" and "People Magazine"? Obviously Trump is saying this is unfair and even coordinated.
MCKINNON: Well, sure, it's a fair question. But you know, I think there are also, you know, it's fair to get the responses to that. And I think a lot of the women would say or are saying that, you know, this is not something they're proud of, they're embarrassed by it, but that they were inspired to do this when Donald Trump went on television in the debate and said that no, he had never actually physically assaulted anybody. And they're sitting there watching that and saying, well, no, wait a minute, I was.
KURTZ: But now that this is front and center...
MCKINNON: I mean, such their story, yeah.
KURTZ: Now that this front and center, is it equally fair game for the media to dig and excavate the Bill Clinton sex scandals and some of his accusers from the '80s and '90s?
MCKINNON: Well, I mean, anything's fair game that the campaigns put into play if it's relevant to the election, if it's relevant to the accusations. We are clawing our way to the bottom here, you know, who can provide the most salacious material. And unfortunately for the voters, it's diverting any attention away from anything close to policy. I mean, I think, you know, what's going to happen now, you know, these allegations get sort of Cosby-like, meaning that some women come out, which gives safety and comfort for others to come out. They feel like its okay now because others have. So I suspect we'll see others come out. And then as Donald Trump says, perhaps there will be more women alleging Bill Clinton intersections, and then we'll have WikiLeaks on the e-mail. So, I think it's pretty much sex and e-mails for the rest of the campaign.
KURTZ: Let's talk about "The Circus." Has chronicling the campaign in real- time, as you have been doing, changed your view of the media and the way they cover campaigns since you're now behind the camera?
MCKINNON: It's been fascinating, Howie. As you know, I've been on the other end of the camera, but I've always thought that there were fascinating things going on in particularly presidential campaigns, behind the scenes. Characters, drama, humor, pathos that the public never sees, including by the way not just the campaign behind the scenes but the media behind the scenes. And we had a great show last week where we were behind the scenes at Fox with Megyn Kelly Showing just how stressful that is. And I discovered that it's as stressful doing what you guys do as what we do in the campaign so...
KURTZ: I could have told you that. That's not a revelation to me.
MCKINNON: Well, no, of course not for you.
KURTZ: When you worked for George W. Bush and John McCain, I'm sure you felt you weren't always getting a fair break from the media. Do you think now looking at it from both sides, political operative and now a media guy yourself, that there is a decided marked liberal bias in the way the press covers these campaigns?
MCKINNON: I think I've always felt Howie, that there is a bias toward conflict that the press just gravitates toward conflict. And listen, I know not just -- I know anecdotally but also from all the people that I've dealt with that -- I don't know the number, 75 percent or more of the press is probably Democrats. And it's hard to -- you know, it's hard to cover some inclination that you have. But you know, this is the big leagues and Republicans know going in, you know, we knew -- George Bush knew there was a bias against him and we just dealt with that. I mean, you don't whine about it, you don't complain, you don't call the refs on it, you just go out there and put your best team on the field and give it your best shot.
KURTZ: A good philosophy for political campaigning. Mark McKinnon of "The Circus" obviously having a good time. Thanks very much for joining us.
MCKINNON: Kick it hard, Howie. Thanks.
KURTZ: Still to come, there's another big loser tossed aside by the Trump tornado this week, Billy Bush.
KURTZ: Billy Hush, the "Today" show co-host, is getting the boot from NBC, this after the leaking of that 11-year-old "Access Hollywood" tape of him egging on Donald Trump in their crude talk about women.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILLY BUSH, TV HOST: Sheesh, your girl's hot as (BLEEP) in the purple.
TRUMP: Whoa. Whoa.
BUSH: Yes, the Donald has scored. Whoa, my man. See those legs? All I can see is the legs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looks good.
TRUMP: We're ready. Let's go. Make me a soap star.
BUSH: How about a little hug for the Donald? He just got off the bus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you like a little hug darling?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pending further review of the matter, NBC News has suspended Billy Bush, the host of "Today's" third hour, for his role in that conversation with Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Bush apologized, saying he was embarrassed and ashamed and was foolish to play along with Trump, but it wasn't enough. My sources say NBC has essentially fired Bush and both sides are negotiating a lucrative settlement. Now, the punishment seems a little harsh for a Hollywood guy who, let's face it, his job on that day was to keep the guest happy. But today he has a new show and Billy Bush's presence there simply became untenable.
That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. We hope you'll visit our Facebook page, give us a like. We post a lot of original content there including responding to your questions, email@example.com. Questions or comments about the media. firstname.lastname@example.org. Come back and forth with me on Twitter @HowardKurtz.
I'm heading out to Las Vegas for the third and final present debate, this one moderated by Fox's Chris Wallace. I've said long before I came to Fox that Chris Wallace is one of the best interviewers in the business. He's going to have his work cut out for him with aggressive questions for both Trump and Clinton. Be sure to check that out. We're back here next Sunday, 11:00 a.m. eastern. See you then for the latest buzz.
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