Trump scolds network bosses, NYT

Call paper's coverage 'the worst'


This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," November 27, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On our Buzz Meter this Thanksgiving weekend, Donald Trump clashing with network executives and anchors over the botched coverage of the campaign and the negative coverage of the transition.


DONNY DEUTSCH, ADVERTISNG EXECUTIVE: I'm not going to say this is the beginning of fascism, but there is something concerning when a president- elect or a president feels it's okay to bring the media in the room and scold them about what they're covering.

EBONI WILLIAMS, CONTRIBUTOR, FOX NEWS: But I also think that they were invited over to Trump Tower and media execs and anchors now for a little bit of a spanking.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: We are not held in great regard. We weren't before this campaign and having gotten it all wrong and just all the conventional media, the polling and all of that. And I think that there is a real sense of Donald Trump trying to take advantage of that.


KURTZ: But there are some news outlets hyping the hostility of the meeting with the TV big shots and how Trump called out CNN and NBC. Why did the president-elect cancel then revive his sit down with New York Times which he once threatened to sue. And based on that interview --


SCOTT PELLEY, CBS NEWS: Now his positions are in transition. The president- elect says he won't prosecute Hillary Clinton and denying climate change, well, that's changing, too.

MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: Trump acknowledges he won't be following through on some of the promises he made during the heat of the campaign. Promises like this one.

PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN: So, all of this news comes amidst confusion over some of Trump's policy positions. Politico actually counted 15 flip-flops since election day.

GREG GUTFELD, FOX NEWS: I guess one point is Liberals relax. He's not the crazy right-wing nut job that you think he is.


KURTZ: Is Trump abandoning some of his key campaign promises or just moderating his rhetoric as newly elected presidents sometimes do. And what about the coverage of the Wisconsin recount that he calls a scam. Tucker Carlson, the newest Fox host on Trump's impact on the media's battered reputation.

Digital disruption. Facebook is battling fake news. Twitter is closing down all alt-right accounts. Is social media facing a credibility crisis? Plus, the NFL has always been a television juggernaut but this year the league is being thrown for a loss. What explains the big drop in ratings? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."

It was an off the record session at Trump Tower with top executives from NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox News and CNN (inaudible) such anchors as George Stephanopoulos, Charlie Rose, Lester Holt and Wolf Blitzer. My sources say that while president-elect Trump voiced his complaints about the way he's been covered, especially to CNN president Jeff Zucker, it was a somewhat cordial session. But some versions are much more dramatic.

The New York Post called it a blanking (ph) firing squad which Trump supposedly telling Zucker I hate your network. Everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed and criticizing NBC reporter Katy Tur without mentioning her name.

The New Yorker's David Remnick, a fierce Trump critic quoted one unnamed participant as calling Trump a blustering, bluffing blowhard whose conduct was blanking (ph) outrageous and then another professed (ph) to be emotionally blanking (ph) piss -- I'm cleaning this up a little bit -- but Kellyanne Conway while conferring that Trump said the assembled journalist had been flat wrong about the election challenged those accounts.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR ADVISER OF DONALD TRUMP: Nobody left there in a huff. Nobody has called me and complained that they felt that they had been bamboozled.


KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage of Donald Trump's dealing with the media, Erin Mcpike, political commentator and former reporter for RealClearPolitics, Mollie Hemmingway, senior editor at The Federalist, and Mara Liasson of National Public Radio, a Fox News contributor.

Erin, so Donald Trump ripped or chided or slammed some of the network executives and anchors depending on which version you believe. Doesn't the president-elect have a right to call the media and complain about his coverage?

ERIN MCPIKE, FORMER CNN REPORTER: He does and I would point out that President Obama does this occasionally as well and you hear about it then when President Obama will meet with TV anchors and executives. If he's not happy about the way he is being covered, it also gets leaked to the press.

Donald Trump is going to be having these meetings going forward with TV anchors and executives going forward. So, I think he's well within his rights as just beginning this relationship now going into the new phase of Donald Trump and his presidency.

KURTZ: Yes, and you know, some media critics out there are saying well, they shouldn't have gone because it was off the record. Every president does versions of this especially on state of the union day and anchors all come in, it's all off the record for guidance and that sort of thing. So Mollie, if Trump went after Jeff Zucker over CNN's coverage, so what? Doesn't that help clear the air?

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: Well, I would love it if he had actually said to Jeff Zucker that CNN should be ashamed of itself and that everyone there is a liar. That's just kind of funny rhetoric. But more than anything, it seems like the media really needs to start taking responsibility for how much they mess things up. There's been a little bit of reflection.

People saying, oh well, we read the polls wrong or whatnot. No, there was a really major problem with everything about how they covered this race, everything that they did about Donald Trump, how they mischaracterize his positions, how negative they were to him, how negative they were to his people. And I think --

KURTZ: And that continued during this transition.

HEMINGWAY: Well, of course it's continued during the transition, and the thing that is bad about that is that we need a media that can hold president Trump accountable and in order to do that, they need to re- establish credibility and trust and they're not even -- they have to admit how much they messed up and start covering facts instead of narratives.

KURTZ: Perhaps you're holding your breath. Mara, didn't this session also give the network big shots a chance to voice their concerns about access and other issues?

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Sure. But I don't know in this brave new world where Donald Trump has a completely different approach to the media if that matters, and I think that's why you heard people saying that they would have been better off having this on the record because of the entire thing you just read.

You know, the characterizations and it becomes this big food fight about who said what and who was mad, and everybody gets to characterize it the way they want to. Two days later or one day later when he met with New York Times -- I can't remember how many days -- you know, it was completely different. Everything was transparent and everybody in America could read exactly what he said.

KURTZ: Right. There's a little bit of irony here in journalists reporting on an off the record meeting with journalists about what -- based on leaks about what was said or not said. And by the way to your point, Erin, President-elect Obama -- this is eight years ago -- went to dinner at George Will's house. Krauthammer was there and Bill Kristol. It was not on the record, OK.

So, let me turn now to something that's getting a lot of play especially today and that is Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate, has obtained a recount in the state of Wisconsin. Hillary Clinton's campaign had not called for a recount but is cooperating with this effort and Donald Trump has called it a scam and he kind of went off today on Twitter, recounting many things that Hillary Clinton had said about wouldn't Trump accept the results of the election and how that would be dangerous and (inaudible). My question is simple. How much coverage does this recount deserve?

MCPIKE: It shouldn't get as much as it's getting. There are recounts and irregularities that get reported on after every single election and usually they are briefs in newspapers or anchors will give it two sentences maybe in a newscast. But Hillary Clinton herself is not exactly challenging the election and that she is not withdrawing her concession and the outcome of the election is not in question.

The Clinton campaign even in talking about this had said they just want to make sure that there was no hacking by Russia or something, and they're trying to keep their supporters energized to some small degree, but the election is not going to be changed here.

KURTZ: And that's the bottom line. The Clinton campaign lawyers reportedly saying there was no actionable evidence that the campaign has of outside hacking. There may have been but, Mollie, Trump won Wisconsin by 22,000 votes and yet this is getting an awful lot of attraction in the media.

HEMINGWAY: Yes, but I'd like to see a little bit more consistency from the media when Donald Trump used to talk about election rigging. We were told this was a threat to democracy, dangerous, horrifying. Then when Harry Reid asked the FBI director to investigate election rigging that was treated like responsible journalists would just cover it like news. The Post and the New York Times had stories about how you could hack an election.

Then when we had that debate where Donald Trump talked again about not accepting the results until they happened, we had what? Three days of non- stop coverage about how this was, again, a horrifying threat to democracy, de-legitimizing the process and whatnot. And now we're back again to treating this like it's a totally normal thing to call for a recount. What we need to see is more consistency from the media and just a more moderated level of coverage.

LIASSON: First of all, the media isn't one thing. We have to keep on saying that over and over again. But, you know, what I'm interested in this -- yes, this is probably getting more coverage than it deserves although after an election where Russians, you know, intelligence sources hacked into all sorts of election-related e-mails, maybe it should get a little more than it would have in the past but -- and she's not contesting the results of the election and Donald Trump said that he might not accept the results of the election unless he won. So, there's a lot of hypocrisy --

KURTZ: That was a joke. He said he would look at the situations at the time --


KURTZ: --before the election and the press kicked him around for that.

LIASSON: Yes, but what's happening now -- what I'm interested in is how much attention Donald Trump is giving to this. He tweeted about this a lot trying to make Hillary look like a hypocrite and ridiculing Joe Stein. Why is he spending so much time on this either? Is he worried about something in Wisconsin?

KURTZ: You're saying he's elevating it --

LIASSON: He's elevating it, no doubt. The tons of tweets on this from him and an official statement, maybe he doesn't want coverage of his business conflicts abroad. I don't know why.

HEMINGWAY: No, the media should take a cue. If Donald Trump thinks it's a good story for him, it probably is a good story for him and they should think about whether they want to also be adding fuel to the fire here.

KURTZ: All right. Let's go back now to the meeting that Trump had with the New York Times. Now, part of that, a session with publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. was off the record then there was an on the record interview, and here's an audio clip from the part that was an on the record interview.


TRUMP: I've been treated extremely unfairly in a sense, in a true sense. I wouldn't only complain about The Times. I would say The Times was about the roughest of all.


KURTZ: And Erin, Donald Trump has been complaining about the New York Times by my count for a year and a half, threatening to sue the paper, the failing New York Times. So why would he go to the paper as a sign of respect and have this meeting?

MCPIKE: Well, quite obviously, he reads the New York Times --

KURTZ: Everyday.

MCPIKE: Every single day and, you know, the New York Times has always covered the presidency maybe even more so than any publication. It's very clear that the Obama administration has leaked many stories about what President Obama is doing to The Times. You know, it's an important paper. It's the biggest paper that there is so of course, that's where he needs to start.

KURTZ: Well, Trump also in that session called The Times a jewel, an international jewel and said anybody including Sulzberger can call him (inaudible) except Maureen Dowd. She's been too rough on me, he said. So, remember the tweet when it looked the meeting was (inaudible) Trump tweeted, "I cancelled today's meeting with the failing New York Times when the terms and conditions of the meeting were changed at the last moment. Not nice." But that wasn't true that The Times had tried to change and then of course, it was back on.

HEMINGWAY: Yes, and who can say what actually happened there. There were rumors about some of Trump's aides trying to get him to cancel the meeting because they thought it wouldn't be good for him.

KURTZ: Such as Reince Priebus.

HEMINGWAY: In fact, it was a great meeting that they had together and it seemed like it was helpful to both of them. He was able to articulate his position. I was really -- I commend them for publishing the entire transcript. That helped you actually get a feel for what the meeting was like, but it was even interesting how the media then portrayed this as if he were flip-flopping on everything.

KURTZ: We'll get to that in the next segment.


KURTZ: But let me just close this segment by asking you does this kind of session with the New York Times perhaps be more inclined to give the president-elect the benefit of the doubt or soften just a bit?

LIASSON: I think so. I think that there is a lot of talk among Times columnists after the meeting, well, maybe is he changing? We don't know. Or is he just trying to speak to the audience that's right in front of him at the time, which he's been known to do or say what he just heard from the last person he talked to.

So, I think that going forward, the media needs to see what Donald Trump says and, more importantly, what he does because he says a lot of things that contradict each other often in the same day.

KURTZ: Right, but that was when he was a candidate. Of course now, he's president-elect and actually will take office and actually do things that we should cover fairly. Interestingly, The Times public editor, Liz Spade, wrote a piece about how she has gotten five times as many complaints or her office had from readers who just thought the paper was horribly bias over Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump, and she says, "Readers want not an echo chamber of liberal intellectualism but an honest reflection of reality." Amen to that. All right, you can e-mail us, with your thoughts and comments on the media. And when we come back, much in the press praising Trump for backing off some his campaign promises, but in the conservative media not so much. And later, Twitter is closing accounts for one of the leaders of the alt-right, but what about free speech?


KURTZ: Donald Trump made plenty of news in his sit down with The New York Times which described the session by saying he's "retreating from his most extreme campaign promises." Mollie, among other things, the president-elect said he's changed his mind about water boarding as a tactic of interrogation. He has an open mind on climate change and he has no interest in pursuing a special prosecutor against Hillary Clinton. Was that characterization but extreme campaign promises fair or unfair?

HEMINGWAY: I think the problem is that the media took the most hyperbolic, extreme positions or analysis of what he was saying originally and they pretended that they didn't understand how he talks. And this is a guy who spent decades in public life, wrote a book on making deals where he said that he makes an extreme proposal and then settles for something in the middle and they pretended that they didn't understand this when they had understood that throughout the '80s and '90s and (inaudible). And so I think the problem is really with how the media took this worse construction of everything he said and now they're experiencing whiplash --

KURTZ: You're maybe right.

HEMINGWAY: Created by their own false coverage.

KURTZ: Part of that, but I mean on the, you know, Hillary Clinton should be in jail. I'm going to seek a special prosecutor. He was pretty explicit.

HEMINGWAY: Well, he was --

KURTZ: I personally never thought it would happen if he won.

HEMINGWAY: I mean there -- Mara put it out that he speaks on all sides of an issue and that's true and that's something that we should have been coming to terms with very early on in this cycle. He frequently spoke about Hillary Clinton sort of using metaphors. Like he would say that you have the chance to indict her on election day. Clearly, that doesn't mean that you're indicting by voting for Donald Trump.

KURTZ: So should Liberals now be writing columns about how happy they are that Donald Trump is at least on some of these issues is moving to the center or should they portray this as classic flip-flopping?

LIASSON: No, I think that they -- I've actually even read some Liberal columns where they say if this is him moving to the center, we're going to encourage it and praise him and give him all of the positive response that he seems to crave -- this is pretty much what I've read -- but got to wait and see what he does.

I mean because he said this to the New York Times after everything we learned about him during the campaign. We don't really know until he chooses someone for Secretary of State who either shares his views on Russia or not, you know, pushes legislation, tells his Justice Department to go after his enemies or not. We don't know yet.

KURTZ: The Breitbart headline on the Hillary Clinton comments whereas broken promise, so some of the conservative media clearly disappointed, Erin.

MCPIKE: Yes, there have been a number of stories about how conservatives are disappointed by some of these things that he's saying and I've heard that from Republicans over the last week or so that he is turning back on some of those campaign promises. But I think the most accurate coverage actually came from the New York Times and I would point out what their headline was about that meeting, "Trump in Interview Moderates Views but Defies Conventions."

That's accurate of what the meeting was. And even one of their sentences was, "the interview demonstrated the volatility in Mr. Trump's positions." As you said, we have to kind of wait and see.

KURTZ: Right, but it seems to me there's been a lot of focus on that and understandably people want to know what is this guy going to do as the 45th president. But at the same time, there is also been a lot about potential conflicts of interest with his global real estate empire and "New York Times" has a lead story today on that. The role of Jared Kushner as son-in- law and all of that.

Let me close by asking about something about that Sean Hannity, big Trump booster (ph), said on his radio show. "Maybe Donald Trump should rethink how he deals with the media. Why should CNN or NBC or the New York Times or Politico have a seat in the White House press room? They think they're journalists but they're full of crap." Does that make any sense to take them out of the White House press room?

LIASSON: Well, that seems kind of surprising, but look, Donald Trump has rewritten all the rules. He dominated social media or free media of what we sometimes call news coverage. Maybe he's not going to have somebody briefing every day. Maybe he'll --

KURTZ: Well fine.

LIASSON: -- sound like he banned the people from the campaign trail that (inaudible).

KURTZ: But isn't it different if it's a campaign? You say I'm taking away your credentials and it's the White House, the people's house and you're saying you don't have a seat there?

HEMINGWAY: This is a -- I think this is very problematic and I'm worried about how all the media can cover the Trump presidency if they don't have good access and it's all the more reason why the media should really come to terms with how much they mess up and how taking such blatant sides in this election is not serving them well and certainly not serving the public well. They need to repent (inaudible) and just do their job.

KURTZ: Just a brief comment on this.

MCPIKE: Look, I think Kellyanne Conway has been very clear that they're going to try to have normal press relations and I don't think these seats are going away any time soon.

KURTZ: Yes. There's been no indication over the Trump team that that is going to happen. Erin McPike, Mollie Hemingway, Mara Liasson, thanks for joining us this holiday weekend.

Ahead, the media offering surprisingly mixed sentiments about the death of Fidel Castro. But up next, the journalists and commentators who are using really ugly language about Trump and his team.


KURTZ: Some journalists and commentaries are so over wrought about the new president-elect that they are going just way over the line suffering from what I call Trump trauma. Michael Hirsch, national editor of Politico actually called for violence against a white nationalist leader who strongly supports Donald Trump. Hirsch tweeted this, "Stop whining about Richard B. Spencer, Nazi, and exercise you your rights as decent Americans. Here are his two addresses." and "He lives part of the time next door to me in Arlington. Our grandfathers brought baseball bats to Bund meetings. Want to join me?"

Hirsch is now been forced out of his job with Politico's two top editors saying, "these posts were clearly outside the bounds acceptable discourse and Politico editors regard them as a serious lapse of newsroom standards. They crossed a line in ways that the publication will not defend, and editors are taking steps to ensure that such a lapse does not occur again."

Howard Dean, the former governor and presidential candidate turned MSNBC pundit also invoked the Hitler regime. He was talking about Steve Bannon, the ex-Breitbart executive who is heading for a top White House post.



EVAN SOLOMON, JOURNALIST, CTV NEWS: Steve Bannon who ran something called Breitbart News, you know what people say -- people like to throw around this word Nazi. It's a pretty big word.

DEAN: It's a big word and I don't usually use it unless somebody is really anti-Semitic, really misogynist.

SOLOMON: Do you really believe that --


KURTZ: It's fine to criticize Bannon over Breitbart's incendiary writings but can we please cool it on the Nazi stuff and that's not the only loaded word being unleashed against Bannon. CNN online contributor Charles Kaiser said this about Steve Bannon.


CHARLES KAISER, ONLINE CONTRIBUTOR, CNN NEWS: And then, you know, if you don't want to support the alt-right don't choose as a White House counselor a man who uses the word (Bleep) whose wife says that he did not want his daughters to go to a school with too many Jews --

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Charles, just hang on a second. I appreciate you going through all of this. But, please don't use the n-word on my show.

KAISER: I'm sorry.


KURTZ: Good for Brooke Baldwin. And Kaiser was flat wrong on the first part. He admitted to the Washington Post he didn't mean Bannon, but attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions. The senator denied using the n-word which is alleged to have uttered 35 years ago.

Kaiser just stated his fact. Keith Olbermann you will recall was an uber Liberal voice on MSNBC but now making videos for GQ. He is apoplectic (ph) about Trump and such advisers as Kellyanne Conway who had castigated Harry Reid for trashing Trump's election.


KEITH OLBERMANN, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, GQ: And the CNN headline after it actually reads Conway re-trade barbs over Trump as if criticism and press against the first amendment are somehow equivalent and the pretending escalates.


KURTZ: Oh, and Olbermann tweeted, "What a wretched human @KellyannePolls - - Kellyanne Conway -- truly is #LeaveOurCountry #Fascist." Fascist? Leave our country? Seriously? Kellyanne is a respected professional in the political world and happens to be a nice person. But none of that matters for those in the media world suffering from Trump trauma.

Coming up, Tucker Carlson on how the journalistic botching of the campaign has fueled what he calls the rise of the irresponsible media.

And later, why Twitter is struggling despite its starring role in the election and nobody wants to buy it.


KURTZ: How much of a hit have the media taken from Donald Trump's election? I put that question to the host of the new Fox show "Tucker Carlson Tonight" here in studio one.


KURTZ: Tucker Carlson, welcome.


KURTZ: After the campaign which the media repeatedly told us Donald Trump couldn't win the nomination and clearly wasn't going to win the general election, what is the state of media credibility today?

CARLSON: Well it's very low. And not just the media but the paramedia (ph), you know, all the experts who go on television to tell you --

KURTZ: The experts. The talking heads, the (inaudible).

CARLSON: The pundits, the consultants, all the people who miscalled this election from day one really ought to be ashamed of themselves because the truth is a lot of what they told us was social science, numbers-based analysis, which was advocacy. They were lying. They had strong preferences and they allowed those preferences to color their interpretation of what was going to happen. I mean that's a human thing. It's a natural thing, but they're not admitting it which is infuriating to me.

KURTZ: What about the New York Times? Donald Trump went to the news room on West 43rd street for an interview. What do you think The Times -- what's it standing as a top American newspaper that got this election so wrong and has been pretty negative toward Trump.

CARLSON: Very negative and in fact -- look, whenever you -- and I've said this and I'm openly ideological. I mean my views are out there. I've supervised a lot of reporters like 80 of them. I always said, if you hate someone, if you really despise someone and consider him beyond the pale (ph), you're not allowed to cover him because you can't see him clearly. No matter how terrible a person is, it's possible to be unfair to that person. It's possible to lie about that person and lying is always wrong. They kind of forgot that.

And they decided there is nothing you can say about Trump that was out of bounds. There were a lot of accurate things about Trump that were unflattering. But they also wrote things that were disproportionate, they were untrue and devalued their own credibility in the process, and it makes me sad as a lifetime daily reader of the New York Times to see what they did to themselves.

KURTZ: As you say, you've never made a most (inaudible). There must be things in which you disagree with Donald Trump because he didn't won as a standard litmus test for the conservative.


KURTZ: He also beat in this election the conservative press, particularly the National View and the Weekly Standard and some of the commentators on Fox. He ran -- he denounced them by name and he won. So, where does that leave the conservative side of the media?

CARLSON: Well, I mean he just undid and destroyed for all time two of the great American political dynasties, the Clintons and the Bushes. They're over, thanks to Donald Trump. I think he's discredited or allowed the Liberal press to discredit itself and I think he also overturned a lot of conservative establishment here in Washington, and not just the publications, but also the think tanks, which are a huge part of our culture here -- of conservative culture and D.C. culture and he basically made them irrelevant or forced their relevancies to become public in a way they hadn't before.

I don't know what the future looks like and I will say this -- and the before we got to commercial break and this does bother me -- if you're worried about the rise of irresponsible media, you know, fringe media, the press, the New York Times, the Washington Post, NBC News, CNN, have all but guaranteed their rise by their own, I think, completely irresponsible coverage of this election.

We need some unifying force in the press. I would say some outlet that all of us acknowledge as kind of accurate, kind of trying hard to be fair and there are fewer and fewer of those. What are you going to get in their place? You're going to get openly partisan, sometimes inaccurate news organizations that don't really serve anybody's interest.

KURTZ: In that New York Times interview, I mean Donald Trump either softened or abandoned some of his positions on the campaign. No special prosecutor for Hillary Clinton, open minds on climate change and now it's against waterboarding, which he had favored in the war on terror.


KURTZ: Now the mainstream media I think kind of liked this evolving Trump.

CARLSON: For sure.

KURTZ: But some in the conservative media with Breitbart and a headline, "Broken Promise," are they entitled to feel that he said certain things in the campaign and was walking away, of course.

CARLSON: Yes, they're entitled to feel that way. I mean, part of what this shows you is just how dumb the coverage was. So, the idea was because Donald Trump is intemperate in his rhetoric, which obviously he is, that he is some kind of wild alt-right winger. He's not particularly conservative in economics. He's not particularly conservative on social issues and he's definitely not conservative on the foreign policy questions.

And so in what sense is he a conventional right-winger? In no sense. So, I guess it's a little bit confusing to the average person at home like, really? This is not the Donald Trump the media portrayed. And for good or bad, I mean, previous (on) my views on it, just truth. He's not a conventional conservative.

KURTZ: He's not originally (ph) ideological candidate which I said --

CARLSON: Exactly.

KURTZ: What is the goal for your new show and how are you trying to give it a distinct name now which you are on at 7:00 eastern (inaudible)?

CARLSON: Well, I'm not a big think guy. I'm a very small think guy. So I haven't actually thought about it --

KURTZ: Give us a small thought of it.

CARLSON: No, I mean, my gut reaction is that viewers want to see people on television who are directly involved in the stories of the day. You know, there are an awful lot of people, and I've been one of those people by the way, commenting on things they don't have direct contact with. And there's a lot of that, and that market is saturated.

KURTZ: What do you think of these late developments in the Middle East, exactly like that (ph).

CARLSON: Exactly. Exactly -- I was in Israel last year, I'm an expert. No, you're not. All I'm saying is I don't know, I think it would be nice to have more people on who are directly related. So you're reading a piece in the paper, I can't believe they're doing that. I would like to have that guy on. And so we're trying to do that.

KURTZ: In taking on this expanded role at Fox, you are having a plan to give up your managing role to The Daily Caller, the website that you founded. Was that a hard decision for you? Is it hard to let that go?

CARLSON: Yes, it was really hard. I mean because not because I'm a great manager. I'm a terrible manager. I'm a big picture guy.

KURTZ: You can say that now.

CARLSON: I know. I always said it I knew it. But I loved it and I loved the guys. I like print people and I like TV people, too. But there's a kind of rawness about print people that is just right out there with what they think and they're just wonderful people. And so yes, I miss them. I still preside over the Christmas party but is not in any sense managing the day to day operations of the business but I'm still the Christmas party guy.

KURTZ: I'm glad you held on to a lucrative piece of the franchise. Tucker Carlson, great to see you.

CARLSON: Thanks Howie.

KURTZ: Thanks very much for joining us.


KURTZ: Maybe I can get an invite to that party. Next on "MediaBuzz", Facebook and Twitter battling charges of bias, bogus news and censorship in our digital download.

And later, of the network's fumbled a lucrative franchise by mishandling the NFL.


KURTZ: Twitter has sparked controversy by shutting down several prominent accounts tied to the alt-right movement citing, "targeted abuse and harassment." Facebook is trying to crack down on fake news sites by kicking them out of its advertising networks. Are these moves long overdue or being made on the basis of ideology?

Joining us from New York, Joe Concha, media reporter for The Hill and Carley Shimkus, a reporter for Fox News Headlines 24/7 on Sirius XM radio. So Joe, one twitter account that was shut down belongs to white nationalist leader Richard Spencer who wants a white country and peaceful ethnic cleansing. Now, here's a brief burst, a video from a meeting that he was part of here in Washington last weekend.


RICHARD SPENCER, WHITE NATIONALIST: Hail Trump. Hail our people. Hail victory.


KURTZ: Now, I find his rhetoric appalling (ph), but there was no evidence he was harassing or abusing anyone online. So, could twitter be accused of shutting down these and other accounts for ideological reasons?

JOE CONCHA, THE HILL: You know what, before we cane on Howie, I checked Twitter and somehow David Duke still has an account for instance. So, if you start shutting down alt-right accounts, then where do you draw the line? Do you then go to some extreme elements of Black Lives Matter? In other words it's a very slippery slope. But here's a thing, Howie, about Twitter.

It's losing millions of users every year and is losing billions in revenue. It tried to put itself up for sale and nobody's buying so we already seem to be having this conversation one or two years from now and Twitter could be a thing of the past. There are other options out there such as that alt- right users are now using.

KURTZ: Let me stick with the alt-right question, Carley. So, as Spencer told The Daily Caller that this move was corporate Stalinism among other things, you know, there is also another account that was shut down belonged to Tia Tequila -- excuse me.

She was part of that meeting in Washington and was seen -- we could put the picture up doing the sieg heil salute. So, I guess the question is Twitter has the right to do this. It's a private company but could it be develop a reputation as being hostile to the right?

CARLEY SHIMKUS, REPORTER, FOX NEWS HEADLINES 24/7: I think you're absolutely right. You know, it's really hard to feel sympathetic towards white nationalists who are complaining that their twitter accounts were taken down, but at the same time, where was Twitter during the Dallas police shootings when users were applauding the shooting death of five police officers.

So, if Twitter is going to monitor speech at this level, they're going to have to do so fairly and across the board, which is a massive undertaking. I think it would be more beneficial if twitter focused on features like its new and improved mute button that gives users control over what they can and cannot say.

KURTZ: And Joe, coming back now to your point about the financial difficulties of twitter and putting itself up for sale, there are no buyers. I mean, Twitter just got through an election where it played a huge role not just for Donald Trump but for all the journalists, either making news on there or getting the news from Twitter and yet, it seems to be struggling in part, I would say, because it's also kind of a haven for racist, misogynist, and trolls of various varieties.

CONCHA: Yes. I mean, Donald Trump used twitter like we've never seen a candidate or a person use ever before. He averaged something like 12 tweets a day since he announced his candidacy. That's down to about a little over one since then. But, it's definitely struggling, Howie. There just is no revenue stream. People can't figure out with all those viewers and all those users how it's not producing more money. But, again, there are other options out there and unless twitter finds a buyer, we may not be talking about twitter in a year or two from now.

KURTZ: Well, some rich person wants to buy it and continue it's a public service, Carley, but you know, I think you know, journalists live Twitter, celebrities love Twitter, political people use twitter to send messages including people who work for campaigns. But a lot of people sort of just don't get it or it's not -- and they don't like it as much as Facebook.

SHIMKUS: Yes, a lot of people -- I think it's because that microblogging platform just isn't as popular. Another thing that Twitter -- a big mistake that twitter makes is, you know, everybody wants to know what Donald Trump has to say, Katy Perry, Howie Kurtz has to say, but you don't need Twitter to use Twitter. All you have to do is Google Donald Trump twitter and his account and tweets pop right up. So, I think if Twitter change that, then the company would see a lot more people signing up.

KURTZ: I like the way you threw me in there with Katy Perry and Donald Trump. That was very (inaudible). What are you doing next Sunday?

SHIMKUS: Listen, I'm a solutions girl.


KURTZ: All right, now, Facebook -- we talked about this a little bit last week trying to battle these fake news stories that spread like wildfire, sometimes more popular than legitimate news stories although it can have their flaws. So Joe, what do you do? How does Facebook make these decisions? And when you're throw in hyper-partisan sites that might post some things that are true, some things that are distorted or untrue, how are these not subjective decisions and what should Facebook do?

CONCHA: Mark Zuckerberg, he's the CEO, he's a founder. He has an argument, Howie that, well, "we don't produce the content and we don't have a news team. So, therefore, we don't necessarily need an editor." I completely disagree. Facebook had record earnings last year. Billions of dollars, they could afford to hire a team to make sure what is legitimate and what is fake.

I mean here's the bottom line, Howie, mind blowing stuff from Pew Research, nearly half of Americans get their news from Facebook, not other sites. Only nine percent from Twitter, which we were just talking about, nearly half so, you've got to make sure that the news on there is legitimate and the way you to that is to hire a top flight (ph executive team. I'm pretty sure Mark Zuckerberg can afford it.

KURTZ: And that's true. The Washington Post reporting that a couple of studies in which Russian propaganda outfits use social media like Twitter to push out knowingly fake stories. So Carley, when is Mark Zuckerberg going to admit that he runs a media company, a very important media company and try to have some semblance of editorial standards?

SHIMKUS: I know. He certainly had denied that ever since Facebook started. Now, the thing about hiring a news editor, I'm a little bit hesitant on that just because I don't know if you can hire somebody fair enough for the job, especially when some fake news stories are only partially fake to benefit one party over another. So that is sort of a tricky line in the sand that you're going to have to navigate there.

KURTZ: You would certainly need more than one person. Carley Shimkus, Joe Concha, thanks very much for joining us this Sunday.

SHIMKUS: Thanks a lot.

KURTZ: Fake news by the way is not an abstract problem. The owner of a D.C. pizza restaurant called Comet Ping Pong, where I've taken my kids, began receiving death threats after Facebook, Twitter and Reddit carried viciously phony rumors that the pizza joint was the base for a child abuse ring using underground tunnels led by Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief John Podesta.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is all a lie. Comet Ping Pong owner James Alefantis says the restaurant does not even have a basement.


KIURTZ: James Alefantis who supported Hillary but has never met her told the New York Times this is an insane fabricated conspiracy theory and has contacted the local police and the FBI. But he is still getting nasty messages such as this one from Instagram saying, "This place should be burned to the ground, just disgusting."

After the break, why are NFL ratings tanking this season and are the networks to blame?


KURTZ: Football has been the most popular TV sport for decades but NFL ratings are down more than 10 percent this season.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you have to be there to be there.

TEXT: Back to football.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Together we make football.


KIURTZ: Apparently not everybody has to be there. It's even worse for Monday night games that were down at one point 24 percent Sunday and Thursday night games were down 18 to 19 percent. Is this becoming a crisis for the networks that pay huge sums to carry the NFL?

Joining us now from Atlanta, Will Leach, senior writer at the website Sports On Earth and a contributing editor at New York Magazine. So let's start with a little politics. Do you think the presidential campaign drew a lot of attention away from the early part of the NFL season?

WILL LEACH, SENIOR EDITOR, SPORTS ON EARTH: Certainly if you were looking for full-on combat, they usually get from the NFL. The election certainly gave you that. I think you've seen a little bit of loosening, you know, there was a theory that the election was taking away from that. I think you've seen the numbers go up a little bit I think since the election is over, but I do think there is something to the idea that because football has been so important to the networks, it's been live television and you can't fast forward so people have to watch that real thing.

Because of that, the networks became too committed to it and too addicted to it really, and so you've gotten, I think an over saturation of the market. I think best exemplified by Thursday night football which is an extra night people of football that makes it less of an event, the games tend to not be of high quality because the players have had less rest and you can even tell the announcers almost sound like they're not into the games sometimes. It could be bad.

KURTZ: That's a bad sign. Now, you know, obviously it's not true. Every game, for example, Fox yesterday had the Thanksgiving game, Redskins versus Cowboys in a huge number but I think you can hit a point, there was a time when "Monday Night Football" was like an event especially when it started Howard Cosell, Dandy Don Meredith, and now, you know you got Sunday night, you have Thursday night, you got other nights. Could the networks have been so addicted to use your word that they are just making it not particularly special now when a game comes on particularly anytime other than Sunday afternoon?

LEACH: Yes, and I think -- I don't want to get into the quality of play too much because I think it's more of a football argument but I think you are seeing there is a sense that people are use d to the product in a way. They don't -- I mean, listen, it's like any television show except for this one, of course. Any television show, if you see it for too long people are going to look for new storylines.

They need to be new, kind of pop in there, and I think you've seen, also you know, one thing that's going to help you mention the Cowboys/Washington game. Certainly we can get all worried about these ratings but there is a Cowboys/Patriots Super Bowl, the Cowboys are the -- either you hate the Cowboys or you love the Cowboys.

Everyone wants to watch the Cowboys. If you go to a Cowboys/Patriots Super Bowl, I think the idea of worrying about television ratings, those big event games are always going to be a big deal. But now they've acted like the Thursday night game is a big event game and audiences just don't think so.

KURTZ: Right. And you also have the fact that fewer people are watching television. You have the Cord Cutters, People are spending time on YouTube and Twitter and video games. But how about this, you know, there have been a lot of scandals and controversies touching the NFL whether it's the domestic violence cases, Ray Rice, whether it's deflate (ph) gate, whether it's concern about concussions, whether it's Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers protesting the national anthem that might be turning some folks off.

LEACH: On one hand, I understand the idea that, you know, people like to pretend that football is a fantasy land where the outside world does not affect their lives and they can just put aside politics and put aside all the ugliness of the world and just watch football. And inevitably, the world is going to seep in on that and I think it's illusion for the average sports fan to think that politics can't be a part of sports, so the outside world is not a part.

On the other hand, I hear the Kaepernick thing a lot. I'm a little kind of confused by it. I hear a lot of people say I don't want politics in my sport but then they won't -- they say I'm not watching this game because of this player, who is done actually playing in this game, is doing a protest. I could see if San Francisco ratings were down, Kaepernick feels like something that people don't like that he's done it but I think saying that's a reason for the NFL ratings in total to be down I don't quite get that idea.

KURTZ: Right. I mean it's obviously combination or factors but the NFL has been such a golden goose for almost half a century for the networks that pay all this money that obviously I'm sure some people are sweating figuring out how to bring the ratings back up. Will Leach, great to see you back on the program. Thanks very much.

LEACH: My pleasure. Thanks.

KURTZ: All right. Go enjoy the rest of your weekend. Still to come, media outlets that love to interview Fidel Castro, a final judgment on this day.


KURTZ: Fidel Castro, who died Friday at 90, was but a brutal dictator and an object of fascination for the American media. He had a huge impact on politics in this country going back to JFK's failed Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban missile crisis, and because Cuban-American exiles are such a force in Florida. In the decades that he ruled Cuba, Castro was a symbol of the cold war and largely reviled in the press era as a trouble making communist 90 miles from our shore, but he would soften his image with marathon interviews that could last a week with the likes of Barbara Walters.


BARBARA WALTERS, JOURNALIST, ABC NEWS: He was funny. The crew loved him. We traveled throughout the country. The word charismatic was made for him.


KURTZ: Castro even did a sit down with "Playboy." But as the Cold War ended and Cuba's importance faded, the ailing leader handing power to his brother eight years ago and of course then President Obama restored diplomatic relations with Cuba last year.

The media's obituaries are mixed. The New York Times saying some source (ph) of ruthless despot. Others -- many others hailed him as a revolutionary hero. With Castro, I could never get past the ruthless despot part. It's been fascinating to watch Cuban-American journalist talking or reminding us that this man was a killer and even in some cases imprisoning or persecuting members of their family.

That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. I hope you're having a great Thanksgiving weekend. Give us a like on our Facebook page. Check it out. We post a lot of original content there. E-mail us about the media, comments or questions,, @HowardKurtz on Twitter. And we're back here next Sunday as we are every Sunday. See you then with the latest buzz.

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