Kellyanne Conway rips Trump coverage

Says press unfair in transition


This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," November 20, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On our Buzz Meter this Sunday, has the press pants Donald Trump's transition is a chaotic mess, Kellyanne Conway's weighs in no the coverage of the president-elect and why the journalists she deals with totally misjudged the election.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP TRANSITION SENIOR ADVISER: Incontrovertibly, unequivocally and empirically provable, if you quantify the analyses that were performed before the election, you will quickly see, story after story, the path is narrow. The path is over. There is no 270.


KURTZ: The media meanwhile ratcheting up their criticism of the president- elect.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN: Sources tell CNN there's infighting and chaos and the Trump insiders didn't care about the transition because no one thought they were going to win.

GREG GUTFELD, FOX NEWS: Week two, the media is talking about disarray, everything is going to hell. It's not even -- it's not even a month.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: The start of the Trump administration is wobblier and weirder than I think anyone expected or imagined.


KURTZ: And outraged that Trump ditched his press pool to take his wife to dinner. With new appointments now for attorney general and national security advisor, are news organizations giving Trump and his team a fair shot?

Megyn Kelly on coping with some tough personal and professional challenges, including her long and bitter battle with Donald Trump.


MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: He told me I was a disgrace and that I ought to be ashamed of myself, and then, he told me I almost unleashed my beautiful Twitter account against you. And I still may.


KURTZ: Plus, how on earth did fake news get so popular? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."

Kellyanne Conway has become the face of the Trump transition. I sat down with Donald Trump's former campaign manager in New York.


KURTZ: Kellyanne Conway, welcome.

CONWAY: Thank you, Howie.

KURTZ: Three columns in the New York Times the other day, firings put Trump transition team in a state of disarray. What do you make of all the negative coverage surrounding the transition?

CONWAY: It's disappointing because it's also inaccurate. I'm in the transition meetings every day with president-elect Trump and vice-president elect Pence. Things are going very well and they're going well from a couple of perspectives. One, how does the president-elect transition from his role as candidate to eventually becoming president in about two months. Number two, how is the transition fairing in terms of having these landing teams on each of the issue sets and within each of the departments and agencies and are we prepared.


KURTZ: Wait. The press wants to know why he hasn't picked the cabinet yesterday.

CONWAY: The answer is it's a very serious task. That's A.

KURTZ: Yeah.

CONWAY: B, we're right on time, right on target, from what's been done in the past, Republicans and Democrats alike, and how we averages 16 years ago after the 2000 election, you and I recall. We didn't know who the president was until about December 12th. And so, everybody went to Thanksgiving, not even knowing who the president would be, let alone who his cabinet would be formed of. I think everybody should just relax. And for me, it's been the media extension -- with the media extension of all the negativity and inaccuracies, and the conclusion and search of evidence that truly defined the campaign season.

KURTZ: Well, since you brought that up, do you feel that, especially in the general election now continuing in this transition period, that the press, much of the press I should say, has held Donald Trump to a more negative, harsher, different standard than other presidential candidates?

CONWAY: Incontrovertibly, unequivocally, and empirically provable. If you quantified the analyses that were performed before the election, you will quickly see story after story the path is narrow, the path is over, there is no 270, Donald Trump will destroy the entire Republican Party, take all the down ballot candidates with him.


KURTZ: When you went on all those shows in the closing weeks and said he has a path, he could win this election, you were kind of dismissed as offering a lame kind of spin.

CONWAY: It was a combination of we love Kellyanne, but she's full of it.


CONWAY: She works really hard but the path is over, the race is over.

KURTZ: Yeah.

CONWAY: And you know, Howie, the open question is, so what will come of that? Will many people in the media stop listening to each other and start listening to Americans because in my view, the cues and the clues of this election result were in front of everyone the whole time. They were hiding in plain sight.


KURTZ: Why couldn't journalists hear them? You're saying there is a bubble, there is an echo chamber?

CONWAY: Well, fundamentally speaking, one would think on paper that Hillary Clinton would have the best chance of being elected president. And for a while, I think that's true, if you looked at the fundamental.

KURTZ: Sure.

CONWAY: Who has raised the most money, who has hired the most staff, who is best known in the country, who has that, quote, D.C. resume filled with accomplishments, that would qualify her. I think Jim Rutenberg from the New York Times puts it best and a few others like him, the Washington Post and other places where these journalists literally admitted that Donald Trump compelled them to suspend objective standards of basic journalism, that their mandate was stop him at all costs. And so, you see people orienting their reporting, orienting their polling questions that way.

KURTZ: I have written that. Some of these journalists would say we weren't trying to stop him. We were trying to fully vet him and investigate him. But look, Donald Trump has fired back. He tweeted several times at the quote failing New York Times this week saying the paper looks foolish, but he told Leslie Stahl he was going to be restrained on Twitter, if he uses it at all. So is this going to remain a weapon of his against the media?

CONWAY: It's definitely a tool of communication for him that's very effective. I mean, Donald Trump has 25 million plus followers on Facebook and Twitter combined. And what I used to tell him during the campaign, too, Howie, is that it's such a powerful exit for him. In other words, a mode of communicating that -- but for him posting an event or rally he was going to have or an article that talked about the strength he may have in Western Pennsylvania for example or the rural vote. But for him posting that, there maybe 25 million people had not been exposed to that. So I still think it's a powerful tool for communications, but who can blame him if he's frustrated with not getting a fair shake. And the irony for me is because the media did not equip America for the result that we have President Donald Trump, you have many people who can't seem to accept the election results. I think that's the greatest irony of the last few weeks. Everybody asks people like me or Donald Trump himself, will you accept the results of the election.

KURZ: Right.


CONWAY: It was the right question, asked to the wrong candidate.

KURZ: Let me move to this. There was a huge flap over Trump ditching his press pool and going out to dinner at the 21 Club with his wife, overblown a bit in my view, but there's an important issue here. Does Donald Trump understand the importance of having a protective press pool follow the next leader of the Free World?

CONWAY: Yes and yes, it was overblown. He has a right to go out to dinner with his wife and his family. And secondly, yes, it is important to have a protective pool. Our communications director of the transition, Jason Miller, did say after the 21 dinner that they'll do a better job of informing the press.


KURZ: He's committing to allowing a pool to be there just in case something unfortunate happens?

CONWAY: Well, he's committing to -- we're working out everything in transition, but he's committing to having the press do what it needs to do and be where it needs to be to cover him properly. But let me make very clear something that's important. When Barack Obama and Michelle Obama slipped out once or twice for a date night, I don't remember the exact circumstances, but it literally was heralded as he's in touch with the common man, look how great they are going to date night. Again, it shows you the disparate coverage of two different men trying to do the same thing, which is spend a little family time.

KURZ: Yeah. You're seeing a double standard here. In the closing weeks in the campaign, you were interviewed by MSNBC news anchor Stephanie Ruhle. And she said to you, how do you face your children working for Donald Trump, what did you think at the time?

CONWAY: I was offended to be honest with you. It wasn't the first time I heard that question and I certainly get it a lot by Twitter, usually by people who have cats as their picture.


KURZ: But for a journalist to say basically how do you live with yourself working for the guy, who by the way, is the president-elect?


CONWAY: That's exactly right. First of all, I live with myself by setting a great example for my children that if you work hard and one day get your opportunity, great things could happen. If you don't whine, you don't complain, if you focus and become impervious to the nay-sayers and critics, you can accomplish the task at hand. But I thought Stephanie's question was symptomatic of the following, which is the media insisted to the American people, here's what's important to you as you go into the ballot box, this is what you care about, this is what you'll vote on. And they became of one mind in that it was going to be exactly what Hillary Clinton was saying on the stump, what anchors -- what mainstream journalists were saying in print and in TV, and what Hillary Clinton's paid advertisement was about. She ended up talking about Donald Trump and women to the very last moment, or what he had said about someone 25 years earlier, and America rebelled. They said you are not going to tell me what's important to me. So I always find the thought police and those who pretend they're for freedom of thought and personal liberty are full of it when it comes to here's how you should raise your children, here's what you should discuss with them. Nobody is going to come between me and the way I decide to raise my children and what I discuss with them, but I can tell you they're very proud and like other people, particularly women in politics children, they've made enormous sacrifices for their mother to do this.

KURZ: There's a lot of resentment toward the press over this election to put it mildly. Thank you, Kellyanne Conway.

CONWAY: Thank you, Howie. I appreciate it.


KURZ: And joining us now to analyze the coverage of the presidential transition, Erin McPike, a political commentator and former reporter for Real Clear Politics, Kelly Riddell, deputy opinion editor of the Washington Times, and Joe Trippi, a Democratic strategist and a Fox News contributor. Erin, you heard Kellyanne Conway saying that in her view she contends the coverage of the Trump transition has been too negative, but has it been unfair?

ERIN MCPIKE, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's hard to say. I think may be a little bit unfair. Yesterday, at the beginning of Michael Smerconish's show on CNN, he said that my glass is now half-empty which I thought was unfortunate because we're just a week and a half into the transition and the people voted for change. And it's important for even the press to keep an open mind.

KURTZ: The transition has been a bit messy, Kelly, with Mike Pence replacing Chris Christie, former congressman Mike Rogers was of course fired. But all transitions are somewhat messy. Do you see a different press standard here?

KELLY RIDDELL, WASHINGTON TIMES: Yes, I definitely do. I think the press seeks out stories to confirm their own bias. And that is that Trump's presidency is going to be messy, so we got to convey this chaotic story. The truth of the matter is like President Obama didn't name a cabinet member for the first 14 days of his presidency. And David Axelrod even tweeted out this week that I don't remember anyone giving us grief for not naming our cabinet members this quickly.


KURTZ: Axelrod said he thought it was an unfair shot.



RIDDELL: Exactly. And I think it's been totally unfair.

KURTZ: When Trump goes on Twitter, Joe, and attacks the New York Times on Twitter and says things are going smoothly.

JOE TRIPPI, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, not that smoothly. I agree with Kelly and David Axelrod and a lot of the other people. I think there are - - look, the coverage has been negative. I think the unfair part is transition in disarray.


KURTZ: There was a three column headline in the New York Times.


TRIPPI: This is like seven or eight days after he's become the president- elect that people are complaining.


KURTZ: What explains that media mindset that it's too slow, too chaotic, he barely knows what he's doing?

TRIPPI: I think that's driven by the narrative that was created by the campaign and the American people by all polling buying into this argument that he was unfit, he wasn't ready, he's not qualified. What I'm saying is so now you carry that narrative forward, what I think the Trump campaign didn't understand was that anything they did like changing transition was going to play into that narrative. I do think it was unfair. I think the legitimate questions about who's he talking to.


KURTZ: It kind of feels like the election is still going on and that many elements of the press are still sort of on a war footing perhaps even in opposition to Donald Trump.

MCPIKE: Yeah. It's interesting a lot of editorializing going on by the mainstream media in terms of the picks that he makes. As best as I can tell, for every name that gets floated that's a far right conservative choice, there's also an establishment choice. And I think that could be politically shrewd but that's not how the press is covering it.

KURTZ: Donald Trump is talking to people like Mitt Romney who trashed him during the campaign. Just a brief answer here, Kellyanne Conway said in that interview that many people can't seem to accept the election results. Do you, Kelly, think that that includes some news organizations?

RIDDELL: I absolutely think that includes news organizations. That's why you see on the front page of the New York Times today a story about a school in Iowa they profiled and how in disarray it is because of this election or people can't go home on Thanksgiving and have a civil discord with each other. On the front page, it's fueling that narrative.

KURTZ: Right. There's this whole sort of what do we tell the children.



KURTZ: Meanwhile, Kellyanne Conway becoming so famous that she popped up - - or someone portraying her popped up on "Saturday Night Live." Take a look.


ALEC BALDWIN AS DONALD TRUMP: America, can I say something? I want to thank you for all you've done. I wouldn't be president without you.

KATE MCKINNON AS KELLYANNE CONWAY: I think about that every day.


KURTZ: Kate McKinnon switching from her Hillary role. Let us know what you think. Stick to the Media,

When we come back, Donald Trump slips out for dinner and sparks a huge controversy by ditching his press pool.

And later, how can Facebook stop the spread of fake news stories?


KURTZ: Donald Trump took his wife Melania out to eat at the 21 Club the other night and the media went into a full blown frenzy.


SARA MURRAY: Trump apparently had other plans. He decided to go out to dinner without alerting some of his key staffers as well as the press.

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Look, it's a pain for every president to have the press following him around, but that's part of it. They have to serve a function on behalf of the American people.


KURTZ: Kelly Riddell, was president-elect Trump slipping off to 21, was the coverage just a tad mellow dramatic?

RIDDELL: Just a tad. This is from the pool report from Barack Obama first slipped -- when he was president-elect, it was December and Christmas in December in Honolulu.


RIDDELL: They wrote the Obama's left the park at 1:40 after the dolphin show. Based on his dry clothes, it did not appear that the president-elect swam with the dolphins. Isn't that cute? Not at all.


KURTZ: OK. But there's a serious point here, Joe Trippi, even Karl Rove says new presidents don't like it, they don't like the loss of privacy, but they have to become accustomed to it. It dates back to November of 1963.

TRIPPI: True. But he's president-elect, he's not president yet. He's president-elect. I think just from being in that bubble, that security bubble, it is -- you want to try to stay out of it as long as you can.


KURTZ: You would cut him some slack until he takes the oath of office?

TRIPPI: I do think part of the problem here is the mistrust between the Trump campaign and the press. And so, I think -- which didn't exist that much between Obama and the press. They were all gaga about him.


KURTZ: People tweeting us now saying distrust exist. With Obama, it was a love fest after he got elected. But there is you know a larger point here and that is the media fear that this is the beginning of substantial restrictions on press access. There were no photographers allowed for example when president-elect Trump met with the Japanese prime minister. You heard Kellyanne Conway say he would commit to allowing the press to cover him properly. But she didn't quite say he would get a protective pool at all times.

MCPIKE: Right. And the press is always going to fight this. My own view has always been that a lot of these press fights in the negotiation should go on without bringing the public into it because it's a waste of the public's time. We do need a protective pool.

KURTZ: You're saying no one out there cares about our little problem.


MCPIKE: They know it's important. And let's get that protective pool for sure. We always give the same ghoulish example, but there could be other examples of why they need the protective pool. This might sound hypothetical but the president-elect could do something heroic for a civilian or encounter another world leader. All of these things do need to be documented, but we don't need to have these fights out in the public view.

KURTZ: Yeah. I think sometimes people react by saying, oh, you whiney journalists, who cares whether you get to go to the golf course or not. It's actually pretty dull most of the time when you're sitting around, but we are the eyes and ears of the public. Anyone want to disagree with that?

TRIPPI: No, it's true.


KURTZ: But I think it's more important once he becomes president, I think the negotiation is going on right now and there is a lot of mistrust there. The other thing I think Trump's not doing, he shows no urge at all to assure anybody that's got doubts. So the press is all worried that they're going to get shut out.


KURTZ: The fact that he listed the credentials of some news organizations, didn't allow reporters to fly on the plane. But it will be different when he becomes president. I don't think we ought to jump to conclusions. That leaves a little bit of time to discuss Hamilton. Hamilton is on the front page of the New York Times and the Washington Post today. There we go. That vice-president elect Mike Pence went to see the famous play in New York, some audience members booed and then one of the cast members did this.


BRANDON VICTOR DIXON, ACTOR: We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents.



KURTZ: Brief comment from each of you.

MCPIKE: There's a line in the show where somebody says immigrants, we get the job done. And the audience usually erupts to that comment in the show. It's no question what the point of view of that cast is.

RIDDELL: Elite liberals lecturing America.


TRIPPI: Exactly right. And Trump plays right into that and the elite liberals play right in with their response.


KURTZ: As a semi-liberal you agree that this was -- as Trump puts it in his tweet, very rude.

TRIPPI: He takes the bait, then we take the bait. It's just the way it is and I think unless -- I mean, the one thing is the press then gets caught into it, too. They have to report this.

KURTZ: Everyone blows it up. I'm going to take the radical position that the vice-president elect should be able to see a play without getting lectured.

Up next, even President Obama decrying phony stories on Facebook. Can Mark Zuckerberg fix the problem without being biased.

And later, Megyn Kelly in a candid sit-down about her life, her career, and her battles with Donald Trump.


KURTZ: Fake news has become increasingly, maddeningly, disturbingly popular, especially on Facebook. I'm talking about websites that deliberately post phony stories, many disturbing stories. Now, a Buzzfeed study found the 20 most popular bogus election stories from fake sites drew more comments and more engagement than the 20 most popular stories from legitimate newspapers, networks, and websites, not that I'm agreeing with everything they do. Hundreds of thousands of people click on such phony junk as Pope Francis endorse Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton sold weapons to ISIS, one bozo bragged to the Washington Post that he helped with the election, which is ludicrous. But look, this is the cancer on the news business. Even President Obama got into the act at a news conference in Berlin.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If we are not serious about facts and what's true and what's not, and particularly in an age of social media where so many people are getting their information and sound bites and snippets off their phones, if we can't discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems.


KURTZ: Mark Zuckerberg said this week the social network would crack down by kicking fake websites off of its advertising network, Google is promising the similar thing. But here is the problem, Zuckerberg has already admitted that its trending topics discriminated against conservative stories and fired the staff, but can he hire people objective enough, luckily one way or the other, especially when stories are either partially baked or partially distorted? Zuckerberg denies it but he now runs a very powerful media economy and that means he needs to impose some minimal standards, even affecting the too-good-to-check material that your crazy uncle wants to share.

Coming up, my conversation with Megyn Kelly about her long battle and eventual truce with the next president and whether she still has the scars.


KURTZ: Megyn Kelly has become part of the news more than she would like during this past campaign and the highly publicized events at Fox as well. She's the author of the new memoir, "Settle for More." And I sat down with her in New York.


KURTZ: Megyn Kelly, welcome.


KURTZ: Donald Trump was courting you early on, he sent you notes and offered to pay for a hotel weekend which of course you declined. And a few days before the famous first debate in Cleveland, he was supposed to appear on your show, he was ticked off about an earlier segment and he called you. What did he say?

KELLY: So I wrote about this in my book, "Settle for More." And you are in this scene. The opening chapter of the book is a real page turner. And there's a scene in which Howie Kurtz comes over to me, right before that presidential debate, and says what's going on. And I said if only I could tell you, you would realize it's the biggest story in the country.


KURTZ: I like that you worked me in. It was very good.

KELLY: I remember that moment distinctly because at that moment, I thought it was a huge deal that the Republican front-runner was threatening me, has threatened to unleash his beautiful Twitter account against me four days before a presidential debate, little did I know how that would pale in comparison to what ultimately happened. So what happened was Mr. Trump was upset with a segment I had done on "The Kelly File" the previous week. And that Monday, he insisted that I call him, the Monday before the Thursday debate. So I did. He expressed his displeasure about the segment I had done. I said he should have been thanking me because the segment I thought was very good for him.

KURTZ: Uh-huh.

KELLY: He didn't see it that way. He told me I was a disgrace and that I should be ashamed of myself. And then told me I almost unleashed my beautiful Twitter account against you, and I still may.

KURTZ: And I still may. So when you asked the question after the debate in Cleveland, about his demeaning comments about women, you write that you had the impression that he knew this was coming. What gave you that impression?

KELLY: No. What I write was that the day before the debate he had called one of our Fox News executives and that he had heard my first question for him was going to be a very pointed question, but he did not know what the question was.

KURTZ: Certain TV hosts were in the tank for Donald Trump, you say, and to the point where you say that they would arrange with Trump in advance to ask him certain critical questions or do certain hits on him, so they would appear to have some credibility.

KELLY: Yeah.

KURTZ: So are you suggesting they were play acting?


KURTZ: Uh-huh.

KELLY: It was acting.

KURTZ: And this was more than one network you say.


KURTZ: But you can't tell us who?

KELLY: No because these were off-the-record conversations that I'm not at liberty to reveal. So while I would love to tell you who it was, I have this information and I'm not allowed to name names. But trust me, it did happen and it's been confirmed by more than one television executive.

KURTZ: During the many months that Donald Trump was going after you following the debate on Twitter, public comments, you know, all kinds of language, lightweight bimbo, and it went on and seems relentless at the time. At the same time, some of his fans, many of his fans were attacking you in very crude language on Twitter, sexual language, violent language, death threats. You had security. Do you still bear the scars from that?

KELLY: No. I mean, I'm fine. And I think Donald Trump and I are fine. And I will say this, the vast majority of Donald Trump's supporters have been lovely to me, and watch the Kelly File. And we're all good. They get it. They understand what a journalist is supposed to do.

KURTZ: How do you go through something like that and then just leave it behind?

KELLY: I think I'm pretty resilient. I mean, I write about this in the book. One of the purposes of writing "Settle for More" was to take issue with this so-called cupcake generation, that's what I've dubbed them, who believe they're entitled to their safe spaces, they're entitled to never be offended. They're all about P.C. culture. And having grown up in a different era, I have really a problem with this because they think we are woosifying (ph) our children. And that does not comport with real life. We're not letting them build the muscles they're going to need to function in real life, where there is upset, there is a fence, there are people who behave badly at times. So I lived a life in which I had plenty of adversity as detailed in my book from bullying a couple of times in my life to you know a divorce, to the loss of my father, to issues when I practiced law, and all of that served me well in the end because it helped me deal with the people who are very unhappy with my questioning of Donald Trump and it helped me sort of categorize it correctly, which is it didn't change who I was, it was just an irritant that needed to be dealt with.

KURTZ: Although the press called this a feud, you were mostly not fight back because you didn't want to become part of the ongoing story with the guy who became a Republican front-runner. At the same time, you say there were debates between you and your producers about the show and whether you were being too easy on Trump, too hard on Trump. That must have been difficult in light of the fact that you were so much in the news.

KELLY: Well, it was odd because my team is amazing, and my executive producer, Tom Lowell is amazing, as you know. And we just held steady. We were steady at the helm, trying not to veer off course from doing fair and balanced coverage. We didn't want to be too hard on Trump, to retaliate against him for what he was doing to me, we didn't want to be too soft on him to try to curry favor with the man who's coming after me. And I think we did a great job, I really do. And I credit my team for that. But the nights where my relationship with Donald Trump was national news were bizarre. I mean, everyone in the country was talking about me and Donald Trump, and we were talking about policy or something else having nothing to do with that, because we didn't want to shine a light on that story. And it would have been too weird and too meta.

KURTZ: You eventually sought the Trump Tower meeting with him. You got a hug and got to interview him for your broadcast special and then you moved on. What are there things you admire about Donald Trump?

KELLY: Plenty of things. I think what Donald Trump's detractors don't know about him in addition to the fact that they now know he can connect with millions of Americans in a way that many you know in New York or San Francisco might not be able to, that he understands them in that way. I think he's got a lot of charm. I mean, if he wants to charm you, you're going to be charmed. I always had a very nice relationship with him and I think actually we're back on good terms now. It was just that weirdness of the campaign where things went south. But I think he's magnanimous. I think he's a very good father. I love how his children reflect on him. I think he's got a great relationship with Melania. And my own experience with Donald Trump is he is funny, he's quick, he's smart, he's a straight and direct communicator and, trust me, I think a lot of people would be surprised at how much they would like him, if they spent one-on-one time with him.

KURTZ: Right. But isn't it a little weird now for you to be covering President Trump, and do you think there's any sort of warning in the press in the way he went after news organizations, journalists, but the way he went after you?

KELLY: No, it's not weird for me to be covering him at all. I'm looking forward to it. I think it's going to be riveting. And I think we're going to have to steel our spines in covering President Trump because if he decides to go after another journalist like he did me, while he's in the Oval Office, it's going to be real First Amendment concerns and journalists and their news organizations are going to have to stand strong in the face of that pressure.


KURTZ: After the break, Megyn Kelly on dealing with her emotions and the turmoil at Fox. And later, is the press fairly covering Donald Trump's nominees for attorney general and national security advisors.


KURTZ: More now from my conversation with Megyn Kelly.


KURTZ: There are points in this book, some about Trump but some much earlier in your life where you describe dealing with raw emotions and sometimes crying. Might be a little at odds with your battle hardened image, but you put it all out there.

KELLY: Oh, gosh. I mean, honestly, I cry all the time. I mean, not like on the air because that would be weird. But I actually don't mind crying. I feel like it's a release of the pain that you may be feeling in a given situation.

KURTZ: Uh-huh.

KELLY: I mean, the truth is I know people see me as this sort of tough news woman who is some people said fearless, but I am not fearless. I have plenty of fears. And the book talks about mustering the courage to get through them. And listen, there are many nights over this past year where I cried. There have been many nights over my life where I've been really sad, I've dealt with a lot of tough times.

KURTZ: Uh-huh.

KELLY: But I do believe it's self-defeating to wallow in one's perceived victimhood.

KURTZ: During the months of battles with Trump, Fox News' Roger Ailes defended you -- you say, but he also had to balance network's interests in covering the presidential candidates. Was it hard for you in writing this book to go public with what you have now acknowledged that a decade ago you were sexually harassed by Roger Ailes. And you say detailed in the book, he still denies it and that you volunteered when the investigation came back, this summer which led to Ailes left the company, that you wanted to tell your story. Was it hard to relive that?

KELLY: Well, it wasn't pleasant, but honestly, I talked a lot about it with the Murdoch's, about whether I should write about what had happened this past summer at Fox News and what had happened to me 10 years earlier. And I am proud to tell you that they believed as I did that it ought to be written about.

KURTZ: Uh-huh.

KELLY: And that sunlight is the best disinfectant. I think for too long, women have kept quiet about this kind of thing just as I did, out of fear of being labeled a whiner or a complainer or someone who couldn't get along with the boys. And I wrote about it because I know that there are other women out there, Howie, who are wrestling with this.

KURTZ: At all kinds of companies.

KELLY: Everywhere, everywhere, news organizations and beyond, and they don't know what to do about it. My own experience in speaking with women about it here to whom this happened is that they all felt that they were the only one. They all felt that they had done something, they were self- blaming, you know, like I must have invited it somehow. And I want women to know it can happen even to somebody who had practiced law for nine years, you know. I was new to this company, but I had practiced law for nine years when this happened to me. So it can happen to anybody. And look, when it happened to me, I made a record of it. I retained a lawyer. I did tell a supervisor. And that person advised me to just try to avoid him for the next -- for the foreseeable future, and I did, and that worked. And Roger and I went on to have a healthy professional working relationship.

KURTZ: And he did a lot for your career?

KELLY: A lot for my career. And when I wrote the book, I thought do I go back and take that out of there now that this has come out that we did have this other chapter of our lives. And I felt it was important to leave the good stuff in there, so they could see it's complicated.

KURTZ: People look back at the last year and a half and it's been a tense year and a half for you and they say well, you had these battles with Trump, you became internationally famous, you're on national magazine covers, all of that, and they say, wow, it's pretty good for her. At the time, it must not have felt as good as it might. Looking back in retrospect, you weren't trying to use it as a brand building exercise.

KELLY: I'll say this, I feel fortunate to have the job I have and to have the life I have, incredibly fortunate. But it's not all luck and the book details the value of hard work. You know, I busted my tail to get to where I am and I didn't come from any money or any circles of power. I had none of those advantages, you know, but I had parents who loved me and helped me believe in myself.

KURTZ: And on that note, Megyn Kelly, thanks for sitting down with us.

KELLY: Thanks, Howie. Great to see you.


KURTZ: Megyn Kelly, "Settle for More."

Next on "MediaBuzz," how the press is treating or mistreating Donald Trump's high level picks, Jeff Sessions for justice, Retired General Michael Flynn for national security advisor.


KURTZ: Plenty of contentious coverage of two of president-elect Trump's high level picks, Senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general and retired general Michael Flynn as national security advisor. We're back with the panel. Kelly Riddell, of course, the media are going to raise legitimate questions about Michael Flynn. He was forced out as President Obama's head of the defense intelligence agency. But here's from the New York Times talking about Trump and Flynn, they both post on Twitter about their own successes and they both at times cross the line between outright Islamophobia and they also both exhibit a loose relationship with the facts.

RIDDELL: Wow, that's pretty -- that's outrageous. But I'm going to read something back to you from Paul Krugman at the New York Times.

KURTZ: Liberal columnist.

RIDDELL: And he's a liberal columnist. So Trump has selected a white supremacist as a strategist, a racist AG, and a crazy Islamophobic for national security, but we can work with them. So I mean, that is ear mongering at its worst, at best really. It's everything that is wrong that they will vouch you in CNN. And CNN has some lengthy segments on General Flynn as well as on Jeff Sessions in the 1986 confirmation.

KURTZ: I want to get to that in a minute.


KURTZ: But, Joe -- Joe Trippi, you know, it's one thing for liberal commentators to go off. The news coverage seems to me to be unusually aggressive toward General Flynn to start with. And I wonder where you think it falls on the fairness scale.

TRIPPI: First of all, I think the hearings are going to matter and the reporting on that matters. And I think again, the reporting is getting ahead of things. I think on the other hand, he did tweet -- I mean, here is the guy who tweets, and he did tweet that fear of Muslims, not radical.


KURTZ: And so I think reporting those things, I think some of the quotes that are being reported are over the line in terms of what the reporters are saying, but reporting that fact. And again, I think what is going on is Trump doesn't seem to want to reassure anybody with any of these picks. And I think that's the story.


KURTZ: Before we have an argument on that, let me bring this in. This is weird for me because Senator Jeff sessions before he was a senator, I covered the senate hearings in 1986, in which he was denied a federal judgeship Ronald Reagan had nominated him. He mostly admitted to these things. He called the NWACP, ACLU and NAACP being un-American. He made a joke about KKK being OK, until he learned they smoked pot. He agreed that a white lawyer was a disgrace to his race for representing black clients. Some of it is in dispute. The question for the media is this was 30 years ago.


KURTZ: And how important should that loom?

MCPIKE: Well, what I think is important in both of these cases for Flynn and Sessions is that these stories are opening with conflict rather than credentials and he's had 30 years of credentials since then. With Flynn specifically, I have a little bit of whiplash over that kind of coverage because when he was up for VP earlier in the summer, the press was interested in this outsider pick with strong credentials that would help Donald Trump with his national security policy. But now, there's a lot of questioning about it.

KURTZ: And the contrast, Kelly, to the coverage of Jeff Sessions. And again, I think it's fair to bring up the old stuff, but he's had a 20-year senate record since then. But look at this, a buzz from the past, New York Times when Eric Holder was named attorney general at the end of 2008, a high achiever poised to scale new heights. Now, he's very liberal compared to say where the Republicans are and yet that was about his achievements.

RIDDELL: And you know what, Jeff Sessions was one of the few GOP senators that voted to confirm Eric Holder as AG. He also signed an extension to the Civil Rights Act. He marched on Selma's 50th anniversary. He is, since 1986, has done some great things in the U.S. Senate and is looked at as an equalitarian between both Democrats and Republicans.

KURTZ: It is 30-year-old stuff. I believe people can change, do change, can change. And there have been things in his record that it indicated he might.


KURTZ: Politico has a headline. Sessions picked as AG could exit from spark civil rights division. And the lead quote, is the civil rights official in the Obama administration.


KURTZ: . with Sessions in policy and substance, isn't that why we have elections? Did the media recognize this?

TRIPPI: Yeah. But both of the facts are real. This guy's background, what he did, I read your articles from back then.


TRIPPI: So I'm saying both things are real. The senator, I think his advantage is that the senators know him from all this time and we'll see what happens.


KURTZ: He's part of the senate club. Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son- in-law, playing an influential role. Where it is an official role, it remains to be seen, huge New York Times profile of him today. It seemed actually pretty fair to me, somewhat sympathetic, but no comment from Jared Kushner, who is the publisher of the New York Observer, but yet has not been quoted in the press.

PIKE: Jared Kushner obviously has outside influence and Donald Trump seems to listen to him, but the press is obviously very skeptical of Jared Kushner. I think it makes sense for the Trump team going forward to put potentially put Jared Kushner out for some interviews. So we have some clear views of Jared Kushner, other than just his record at Harvard and what about his father.

KURTZ: In fairness of the Times, headline in-law with outlaw in power, Kushner is a steadying hand, on this one at least. Joe Trippi, Kelly Riddell, Erin McPike, thanks for joining us.

Still to come bidding farewell to two journalists with remarkable careers.


KURTZ: Bill Plante just retired from CBS News after 52 years. This guy, he covered the Civil Rights Movement, the war in Vietnam, covering presidents going back to Ronald Reagan. He's a fixture at the White House. Every time I go to the White House, I see him looking there. You see him age over the years. And of course, he had that remarkable voice. He was a straight arrow, a remarkably nice guy, a though back to old-fashioned journalism.

And a sad loss for the news business this week with the death of Gwen Ifill, the co-anchor of PBS News Arrow, the host of Washington Week, the moderator of two vice-presidential debates, and a groundbreaking black journalist.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was a supernova in a profession loaded with smart and talented people.

GWEN IFILL, PBS: They have to find a way to work with this president for the next two years. Tom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: NBC'S Gwen Ifill on Capitol Hill tonight.

IFILL: Welcome to the first and only 2008 vice presidential debate.

We have a dedicated, committed audience who want to know more, who want us to dig a little deeper on their behalf.


KURTZ: Ifill started out as a reporter, a print person for the Washington Post and the New York Times. Her gentle manner was tampered by a no- nonsense style as I learned during many interviews with her. And while she's occasionally generated controversy in the past, Barack Obama was featured in a book she wrote on black politicians before she moderated the debate involving his running mate Joe Biden. The bottom-line is that Gwen wasn't flashy and didn't make the news about herself. Gwen Ifill was 61.

That's it for this edition of MediaBuzz. I'm Howard Kurtz. Thank you for watching. We hope you like our Facebook page. We have posted a lot of original content there., ask a question, make a comment about the media. MediaBuzz Continue the conversation on Twitter @HowardKurtz, @MediaBuzzFNC, @MediaBuzzFNC, you can also tweet us there.

And we're back here next Sunday like every Sunday, 11:00 Eastern with the latest buzz. See you then.

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