MEDIA BUZZ

Spicer rips media over leak

Denounces BuzzFeed for running rumors

 

This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," January 15, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, a firestorm of criticism as BuzzFeed publishes completely unproven allegations about Donald Trump and Russia joining from other journalists and the president-elect.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: As far as BuzzFeed, which is a failing pile of garbage. Writing it, I think they are going to suffer the consequences. They already are.

SEAN SPICER, TRUMP PRESS SECRETARY: It's frankly outrageous and highly irresponsible for a left wing blog that was openly hostile to president- elect's campaign to drop highly salacious and flat-out false information on the internet just days before he takes the oath of office.

EBONI WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: What we see, what I see BuzzFeed it's taking on a very slippery and dangerous slope. We're going to throw everything on a kitchen sink and see what we...

(CROSSTALK)

Well, the two outlets that are actually going with this and releasing it are continuing to make the same mistakes that they have made in the run-up to this election, which is a lot bias to let their bias to get in the way of actually finding out what facts and putting them out there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Trump also ripping CNN for its more limited reporting on the matter and the network pushing back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: And as far as CNN going out of their way to build it up.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: That's not true, that's false. CNN never did that. We never provided even one detail from that dossier.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: What are the standards for publishing unsubstantiated allegations and why are some liberal pundits democrats embracing veteran democrat John Lewis in calling Trump's presidency illegitimate.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer who had harsh words for CNN and BuzzFeed is here alive. And we'll do a deep dive on media ethics in the Trump era.

Plus, Trish Regan on the media flack over Trump deciding against cutting old ties with his global company, and Martha MacCallum on the challenge of covering the new administration's first 100 days.

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

Perhaps the most fiery clash yet between the incoming president and the media began with a CNN report that U.S. Intel officials had used an unsubstantiated document to brief Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: CNN has learned that the nation's top intelligence officials provided information to the President-elect Donald Trump and to President Obama last week about claims of Russian efforts to compromise President- elect Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: CNN withheld details of this compromising information, but the pop culture web site BuzzFeed published all 35 pages of unproven rumors and allegations even this editor in chief, Ben Smith told his staff, quote, "There is serious reason to doubt the allegations." And the Trump team fought back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, DONALD TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: And frankly, I think this is a very big moment for the media. Are we actually going to continue to cover fake news and uncorroborated unsubstantiated reports as what's just said, in the event that it may be true?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, very clear that it's were unsubstantiated.

CONWAY: It used the entire segment on it. It's unsubstantiated, uncorroborated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: There was a remarkable low when at the Trump news conference when Trump criticized CNN as its correspondent, Jim Acosta repeatedly interrupted with attempts to ask a question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN: Since you are attacking us, can you give us a question. Because since you're...

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Go ahead.

ACOSTA: No. Mr. President-elect, Mr. President-elect...

TRUMP: Go ahead. Go ahead. No, not you, not you.

ACOSTA: Can you give us a chance?

TRUMP: Your organization is terrible.

ACOSTA: You are attacking our news organization. Can you give us a chance to ask a question, sir?

TRUMP: Go ahead.

ACOSTA: Sir?

TRUMP: Quiet.

ACOSTA: Can you state...

TRUMP: Quiet.

ACOSTA: Mr. President-elect, can you state categorically -- Mr. President- elect, can you give us a question for attacking us?

TRUMP: Don't be rude.

ACOSTA: Can you give us a question?

TRUMP: Don't be rude. I'm not going to give you a -- I'm not going to give you a question.

ACOSTA: Can give us a question?

TRUMP: I am not giving you a question, you are fake news. Go ahead.

ACOSTA: Sir, can you state categorically...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Joining us now is the incoming White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer. Thanks for coming in.

SPICER: You bet, Howie. Thanks for having me.

KURTZ: We'll get to John Lewis in a moment. We just saw you kick off that press conference...

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: That's right.

KURTZ: ... with harsh criticism of CNN and BuzzFeed. The president-elect also adding his own -- in his own inimitable language that became the dominant story line. Was that your plan?

SPICER: No, it wasn't our plan. Our plan was to go out there and talk about the issues of the day, to talk about the remarkable and extraordinary steps that he is taking to focus on becoming the president on serving the American people, number one. But number two, to ask -- answer or respond to any of the other questions that the media had.

It was unfortunate that one reporter tried to be so rude and inappropriate and disrespectful dominated -- and again, I think and I said this after the event and I agree with it now. I think he owes an apology not just to the president-elect, but also to Mara Liasson who was the person that the president-elect had chosen to ask that question or answer that question.

He had called on her. She had respectfully put up her hand. He called on her. She is a veteran Washington journalist, well-respected. And the idea that he would shout her down because he felt that he deserved the question when another CNN reporter had gotten the question is just frankly disrespectful.

I don't -- I don't care. And look, this is something I would be arguing the same whether it was a republican or democrat, Barack Obama or Bill Clinton. You do not treat the president-elect or any major figure in that way. That's just -- it's childish and disrespectful.

KURTZ: All right. But now you spoke afterwards to CNN's Jim Acosta.

SPICER: I did.

KURTZ: And he said and you've confirmed that you told him that if he were to do something like that again he would be kicked out in his press conference and you've gotten some criticism.

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: Right. What Jim Acosta didn't know he went on and he lied about the events of that day. He was 100 percent false. He said I came up to him and, quote, "During the press conference and told him if he asked a hard question he would be removed." That's 100 percent not true. The cameras are on. We can actually view for people who would kept be roll.

The event had ended. The president-elect had gone up in the elevator. I walked over to him and politely said to him, "Jim, your behavior was unacceptable. That was highly disrespectful the way you spoke to the president-elect." He continued to arguing with me. I said, "I'm sorry, I don't agree with you. Your behavior was disrespectful."

He continued to agree with me. I said, "Jim, I just want to be clear. If that happens again I will have you removed, the same way that we'd remove a protester that was acting as disrespectful as he did."

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: You were referring to the interruption not the content on the other question.

SPICER: But the idea that he would go on television efforts and make it was about answering tough questions. The president-elect he took a lot of tough questions, we're going to take those tough questions.

But the idea that he took no responsibility for his behavior was highly unacceptable and inappropriate. And he does owe us and his colleague members to the press corps for an apology for his behavior.

KURTZ: But when you make a distinction cause to aside between BuzzFeed and CNN which reported that Trump had been briefed on the synopsis of this unverified dossier this op-ed dumping but did not report any of the salacious details. How was that fake news?

SPICER: He kept -- well, there were couple of things. One is, CNN came out very strongly about events that occurred that were not true. How the -- how that it went down. They somehow have sources. There were only four members of the intelligence community in that room. Those -- they claim that they had multiple sources.

So, either they were getting it directly from the director or they were getting it from people that were one-off, two-off, three-off that hearsay, they didn't have it right. They were wrong when they begin with. Then they posted the story. And then mentioned the BuzzFeed's story, gave it credibility, BuzzFeed. So, they posted the story.

Then BuzzFeed because of the CNN story posted their story with it all intact. Then CNN referenced the BuzzFeed story. It became this vicious circle with a sort of looking each other and saying it wasn't our fault that they did this. And then we referenced them in our story but we actually published them but we create the appearance that you should go look what's there.

It's a pretty ridiculous argument to make that they didn't encourage people to go look at that.

KURTZ: All right. When democratic Congressman John Lewis, hero of the Civil Rights movement told Chuck Todd that he does not consider Donald Trump to be a legitimate president, he won't be attending the inauguration because of Russian interference in the election says Congressman Lewis.

It's initially ignored by much in the media but embraced by such MSNBC anchors as long as O'Donnell and Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes and liberal sites like Slate. Your reaction?

SPICER: Well, look, I think john Lewis is an icon in the Civil and Voting Right movement, he has spent years tirelessly advocating for people to be in franchised into vote. And so it's disappointing when someone who has worked so hard to talk about voting rights to get people to participate in the election and to talk about the integrity of our voting systems.

Then he turns around after an election which Donald Trump with 306 electoral votes, 30 of 50 states, 9 of 13 battleground states, 2600 counties and talk about the election being illegitimate. That undermines our voting system and it's ironic and disappointing that somebody who is such an icon in the voting and civil rights movement would choose to use the words like that.

KURTZ: But then part two, Donald Trump goes on Twitter and says that Congressman Lewis should spend more time fixing and helping his district in Atlanta and that he's all talk and no action. So, for example, New York's Ryan Lizza said on Twitter, "President-elect had started the Martin Luther King holiday weekend by attacking John Lewis, one of the great heroes of civil rights era."

SPICER: Well, Ryan Lizza might want to start with how this went down. Congressman Lewis, as you noted, went on Chuck Todd's show and said that the president-elect was illegitimate.

But somehow no one seems to remember, you know, the first inning and say this is what happened to start the game of. But it was John Lewis that attacked Donald Trump. Donald Trump has the right to respond to that and he did, and forcefully. But no...

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: We can debate whether he responded too harshly on that.

SPICER: All right. But that's beside the point. I think you see these reporters forget how the whole events started. It's John Lewis that chose to attack a president that was duly elected and seeks to question the legitimacy of the election that occurred on November 8.

KURTZ: You confirmed to Esquire __ who posted a story last night saying, "The serious consideration being given to moving the White House press corps out of the mansion...

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: To moving the briefing.

KURTZ: ... to moving the briefing. All right. Let's clarify this, to another building.

SPICER: Right.

KURTZ: There has been a lot of sharp reactions from journalists. I know your argument is the briefing that looks bigger on TV is a small space.

SPICER: Right.

KURTZ: We got a lot of people who want to come to these briefings, whether your briefing with the president-elect that comes out to ask questions. But the idea of moving the corps White House press corps out of that space if that's being considered that would take them away from whatever access they have to press officials and other officials and would be pretty -- the press would see that as a hostile move.

SPICER: Well, look, a couple of things on that. Number one, the demand to cover Donald Trump, the excitement, the demand and interest is off the charts. And we saw that at that press conference to the Trump Tower over 600 members of the media attended. We had thousands that sought credentials to get into the space. Right now the briefing room in the White House fits 49 people. And I think that...

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: A lot of people can stand there.

SPICER: No, no. I understand. But fine. So let's say you can get 70 people in there. And I know change is difficult sometimes. But I think sometimes change can actually be better. And what we're doing is looking at spaces in the White House that will allow more journalists to cover.

And so, I think sometimes change is scary but change can be good. And good for the...

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: but you say in the White House not to another building.

SPICER: No. But the White House is 18 acres. It's the old executive office building. It's the house itself. It's the new -- but what's the down side...

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: Would this be temporary or permanent.

SPICER: But let's try it for the first -- for the first few weeks. Maybe we see what the demand is. We see what's the upsize. But I'm working with the reporters getting their insight. But the idea that you can involve more people and be more transparent and have more accessibility should be seen as a welcome change. I think the idea that we can bring more people into this process.

And maybe it turns out that after a few weeks we realize that we want to have a briefing in the briefing room. But this is about greater accessibility, more people in the process. There is a lot of talk radio and bloggers and people that can't fit in right now or maybe don't get a permanent seat because they are not part of the Washington elite media.

But to allow them an opportunity to ask the press secretary or the president-elect or president a question is a positive thing. It's more democratic and it should be welcomed.

KURTZ: Sean, we are short on time, but I want to ask you about last night's "Saturday Night Live" open.

SPICER: Yes.

KURTZ: And the president has made it clear he's not a fan of Alec Baldwin. But this was...

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: It was a...

KURTZ: ... a send up of the briefing.

SPICER: Yes.

KURTZ: And it actually used some of this actual innuendo that no one is major news organizations are avoiding that was in that unverified report. What did you think of...

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: Look, "Saturday Night Live" used to be funny. And it's gone from being funny to just bad. That those aren't jokes. They are inappropriate. They turn off people. And I think for a lot of people regardless of your political persuasion that's not what you're tuning in for. It used to be funny and entertaining and lighthearted.

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: It also shouted Eric and Don Jr.

SPICER: Yes. And just -- and it's just, it's over the top. And it's interesting that if someone had done this to the Obama's they would, there would be outrage. And now, it sort of everyone has laughs about and on the left. It's not funny. It's inappropriate. And I think it shows that "Saturday Night Live" is going to be from being funny to being a left wing, you know, hit piece.

KURTZ: Sean Spicer, thanks very much for coming in this Sunday.

SPICER: Thanks, Howie.

KURTZ: We appreciate it.

SPICER: You bet.

KURTZ: When we come back, a closer look at BuzzFeed's role in publishing an unsubstantiated document full of unproven rumors. And later, Trish Regan on the coverage of Donald Trump's plan to minimize conflicts with his business empire.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the uproars surrounding BuzzFeed, CNN, Donald Trump, and that unsubstantiated op-ed research dossier, Erin McPike, political commentator and former reporter for Real Clear Politics. Kelly Riddell, deputy opinion editor of the Washington Times, and Juan Williams, our co-host of "The Five."

Erin, did BuzzFeed's publication of this unproven rumors and allegations which BuzzFeed admits are unproven, it could -- and serious doubts about it. Did it hurt the reputation of BuzzFeed and more importantly, of journalism.

ERIN MCPIKE, FORMER REAL CLEAR POLITICS REPORTER: I think of journalism for sure. It makes all of our jobs a lot harder. You said it was unproven. At the top of the dossier in their explanation they said it's unverified and potentially unverifiable. These are sometimes as a reporter where you chase and chase and chase but you're never going to nail it. And those days are tough but you have to let it go.

KURTZ: Kelly Riddell, did Donald Trump go too far however in calling BuzzFeed a failing pile of garbage?

KELLY RIDDELL, WASHINGTON TIMES OPINION EDITOR: Absolutely not. I mean, what they put out there was a pile of garbage. And that Donald Trump has been -- the press has been against Donald Trump since the day he entered this race so he needs to defend himself. And in doing he still defends his supporters and to the people who voted for him, who want him to come off as strong.

In the end, Donald Trump wins this exchange because BuzzFeed did report unsubstantiated things. And then the next day it went out and it sold pile of garbage t-shirts on its web site. So, is it -- is it a DNC you know, fundraiser or is it the media organization?

KURTZ: Juan Williams, even many journalist had been highly critical of what BuzzFeed did. And I think for a lot of people out there it's like, well, all you guys in the press if you don't like Trump and this is the kind of thing you did. But most -- many news organizations had this information and did not publish it, as Trump also noted on his press con.

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS CO-HOST: Yes, in fact, he was highly praising I think of the New York Times and specific how he per se that they did not go forward with this information. And when they published something about it being given to not only president-elect Trump but to President Obama, they said it was unsubstantiated information that they could not verify.

Let me just say though, that Donald Trump conflated what BuzzFeed did with what CNN did. And I think that led to the acerbic exchange with Jim Acosta of CNN. And it has stirred the journalistic community in the sense of, boy, we better stick together here as Donald Trump comes forward. Because you could easily divide CNN from BuzzFeed to say, you know, BuzzFeed I can't defend but CNN. And it just looks like the house of cards is coming apart on the press side of the equation.

KURTZ: I asked Sean Spicer about that and he seem to feel like each news organization fed off the other. But there is important distinction from and you had CNN and you can criticize CNN's decision. I wasn't comfortable with it to bring up the compromising information of Russia supposedly hacked. But they didn't do it. BuzzFeed didn't put these real allegations out there.

All right. So, BuzzFeed's editor in chief, Ben Smith doggedly defending his decision to go ahead with the story. And here he is with NBC's Chuck Todd.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK TODD, NBC HOST: I know this was not your intent. I've known you a long time. But you just published fake news.

BEN SMITH, BUZZFEED'S EDITOR IN CHIEF: We just published a dossier. Now I think that's a really no a...

(CROSSTALK)

TODD: Why is that not a -- why is that an unfair description?

SMITH: I think people like to throw fake news around...

(CROSSTALK)

TODD: Trust me I'm aware.

SMITH: ... to diminish anything they don't like.

TODD: Of course.

SMITH: But I think this was a real story about a real document that was really being passed around being the very top officials of this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: What do you make of Ben Smith's argument that elites all knew about this, I mean, I didn't know about it but apparently a lot of people did. And we're just sharing it with the masses.

MCPIKE: I think what Ben Smith did was make a business decision. Now I know Ben Smith, I like him, I think he's a good journalist and he gets a lot of information. But think about it this way.

BuzzFeed has had quite a lot of access to President Obama. You may remember "thanks, Obama." That meme came from a BuzzFeed video that they did of President Obama in the White House.

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: If we have some video we can put up of this right now. They have a friendly relationship to be sure with President Obama. And in fact, when President Obama gave his farewell speech there were a whole bunch of tweets from BuzzFeed political staffers saying "I can't stop crying. I'm so sad." It looks like BuzzFeed has a certain point of view.

MCPIKE: Well, my point is more of this. Their journalists have done a good job. And in fact, some topnotch organizations have actually taken some of their topnotch reporters. They've broken a lot of news over time.

But it's clear that BuzzFeed is not going to get the same kind of access to President Trump. I think what Ben Smith is doing here or what he did here to say we have access to the same kind of information that say, CNN, Fox News, ABC, they all have. I think he was trying to show that he can play in the game.

RIDDELL: Yes.

KURTZ: Through in the campaign -- go ahead, Kelly.

RIDDELL: Well, no, I mean, if he had the same information on Hillary Clinton you better believe he would have never ran with it. It was just because it was Donald J. Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

MCPIKE: That I don't -- that I don't agree with. I think he made a business decision here.

KURTZ: Well, during the campaign there was a controversy about what BuzzFeed's staffers were saying online. And ben Smith told his staff in a memo that it is OK to call Trump a mendacious racist. Because said Ben Smith, that is a fact not an opinion.

RIDDELL: Yes.

KURTZ: So, how much do you think political views influence this journalistic decision?

RIDDELL: A hundred percent. Just like I said, if this was on, if this was about Hillary Clinton or about Bill Clinton -- and there's been a lot of salacious rumors about him. It never would have been published without being authenticated and every word of it would have to been true.

His team was lazy. They just printed the garbage that they got. Journalists are supposed to be thorough, they're supposed to be accurate. And they go to source after source. If it's anonymous they should have three anonymous sources to uphold the White House press protocol. There is a reputation that needs to be defended there. They absolutely threw the whole thing away.

KURTZ: Juan.

WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, again, what we come back to on BuzzFeed is this had been around. David Corn of Mother Jones had written something about this in October without going into the explicit details. And in all fairness, a lot of this stuff was also being handled to federal investigators.

In some cases, by republicans for further investigation. And it raises questions about at what point, in defense of Ben Smith here, do you say to the American people there is this document. It affects your incoming president but we're not going to tell you about it because it's unsubstantiated.

KURTZ: So, you are more sympathetic to the decision.

WILLIAMS: No.

KURTZ: yes.

WILLIAMS: I'm not sympathetic to the decision because I think ultimately what you said is absolutely right. If you have it, the story, go with it. If you don't have the story you can't go with it. But there is a story to the effect that the documents existed.

KURTZ: Let me get a briefing. You all saw the exchange many times I'm sure between CNN's Jim Acosta interrupting Donald Trump. Sean Spicer kind of doubling down the criticism had some very harsh words. Was Acosta out of line?

MCPIKE: No. He's fighting for a question. You know, I actually ran into Jim Acosta just the other day coming out of here. And he seemed to feel fine with this. Because you know, his point is that Trump has gone after the media again and again and again. He just wanted to get a question after being attacked.

KURTZ: He was fine trying to get a question but you have no constitutional rights to be called on.

RIDDELL: Exactly. And after he was ignored after a couple of times he should have let it go. I mean, this happened with President Barack Obama in the Rose Garden by a Daily Caller reporter.

KURTZ: Yes.

RIDDELL: And the White House press at that time said it was a breach in etiquette and that they were shocked that this Daily Caller reporter would pursue it like this, but.

KURTZ: Juan, you're against her.

WILLIAMS: Wow, what a press conference, that I've never seen a press conference like that with a president or president-elect. Someone described it as pandemonium, Howie. I think that's exactly right.

KURTZ: Well, it's fine, in my view for a cause to shut a couple of times. But yes, to keep it going for 30 seconds, it did seem on the rude side.

Up next, Trish Reagan on so many critics in the media are ripping Donald Trump for not divesting his global business interest. And later, how did the local newspapers missed Congressman John Lewis' attack on the president-elect?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: We're looking at west front of the U.S. Capitol; rehearsals are taking place for the inauguration. It happens of course five days now on Friday, Fox News will have live coverage all day long.

Donald Trump says he's not divesting himself from his global company and there was no shortage of media skeptics when he said the firm will operate under ethical restrictions while being run by his two sons.

Joining us now from New York to analyze the coverage, Trish Regan, the host of the Intel Report which airs at the 2 Eastern on the Fox Business Network. Trish, the media consensus...

TRISH REGAN, FOX BUSINESS HOST: Hey.

KURTZ: ... is that Trump did very little to resolve the potential conflicts of interest there because he's not divesting his ownership, it's going into a trust that will not be blind and his sons will run the company. Is the press being fair here?

REGAN: Absolutely not. And one of the reasons the press can't be fair here, Howie, is because the press doesn't know what it's talking about...

KURTZ: What?

REGAN: ... when it comes to business.

KURTZ: Doesn't know what he's talking about?

REGAN: Now I can confidently tell you having work to the business reporter for most of my career in dealing with members of the mainstream media. They don't know two things about economics. They don't know two things about business. And in some ways perhaps they were intimidated by it, but in other ways they resent it.

I mean, very much people on the left in this business in journalism look at the business and they think, my goodness, you must have done something wrong to be that successful and have that much money, and therefore, you know, business is bad, big business is bad.

And let's not forget, Howie, how much they actually hate, despise Donald Trump. So, you combine those two things and they basically got a recipe for a story that is a, in many ways that not fair and rather bogus i some ways and I would say naive.

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: Well, you say rather -- I mean...

REGAN: naive, because there is no way you can easily divest...

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: We'll get to that in a second.

REGAN: ... yourself resell this business without running into trouble.

KURTZ: All right. Because I don't think every journalist despises Donald Trump. And there are some legitimate questions here. We never had a president who had so many holdings.

(CROSSTALK)

REGAN: No. So, I...

KURTZ: So, let me...

REGAN: I'm talking about some of the journalists on the left.

KURTZ: OK.

REGAN: They don't like him.

KURTZ: So, they don't like him. So, Trump among other things says he's going to have an ethics compliance officer at his company to make sure that he doesn't do any deals or deals are not done by the company, I should say, that are not closure. But of course, that ethics adviser will be paid by the Trump organization, so journalists have criticized that.

REGAN: Yes, they'll continue criticizing. But let's just think about something for a minute, Howie. If he said OK, Donald Trump is going to sell his business. It's not the same as say divesting yourself from a stock portfolio where there is a liquid market, right? You can go out and you can sell all your shares say like Henry Paulson had with Goldman Sachs so he can get the market value for it.

KURTZ: Yes, sure.

REGAN: If he sells his business if he divests himself from that business it would take years, it would a massive, massive distraction from anything we want him doing in the office of the presidency, and you run another risk.

In other words, what if the Chinese were to say, yes, you know, we're going to buy that building from him and you know, maybe we think it's worth $700, $800 billion. But we're going to -- we're going to pay him or rather a million, 700, $800 million but we'll offer a billion because we, you know, for whatever reason we are going to pay more.

You run the risk that all of a sudden you open yourself up to far more criticism than you are dealing with right now. In that the Chinese could be construed as making some kind of a down payment on the business.

So, he's damned if he does, he's dammed if he doesn't. The best thing for him to do right now is exactly what he's doing, to step away, to let family members, his kids, who have been trained to run it and to have this ethics officer.

KURTZ: Let me just...

REGAN: You know what, Howie? Americans they knew he was a big businessman when they put him in the office. They knew that it was going to bring on these kinds of challenges.

KURTZ: Yes. Let me jump in we've got half a minute. I mean, of course there should be scrutiny of these things. But is there a mindset do you believe among some journalists that Donald Trump, who is already pretty rich, is going to use this job to make himself even more wealthier?

REGAN: They worry about that. I think that anybody who becomes the president of the United States, their stock goes up, right? I mean, anything that Trump does, provided he's successful.

KURTZ: yes.

REGAN: If his presidency is a disaster, then he could hurt his brands forever for sure. But if he is successful, if he can point to economic growth in this country, then I think it's all about how he goes down in history. He will increase his value...

KURTZ: Here we go.

REGAN: ... on his business. It's the same as, you know, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton increasing their value when they get out of the White House.

KURTZ: Yes. They all write books who had lot of money. Trish Regan, great to see you. Thanks for stopping by.

REGAN: Good to see you.

KURTZ: Next on "MediaBuzz", some in the media are embracing Congressman John Lewis and his branding Donald Trump an illegitimate president. Really?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Much of the media were bit slow to react when democratic Congressman John Lewis, hero of the Civil Right era told NBC's Chuck Todd that because of Russian interference in the election he won't attending the inauguration, and some liberal pundits loved it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEWIS: I don't consider the president-elect as a legitimate president.

TODD: You do not consider him a legitimate president.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: As our remarkable words getting the more authority and democratic witness that John Lewis has bore throughout his life.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Coming from John Lewis it resonates even more than it would from anybody else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: We're back with the panel. Kelly Riddell, I have to ask this question. If in 2009, a veteran republican congressman, a prominent republican congressman have said Barack Obama was not legitimate president and boycotting the inauguration, how would the media's reaction differ from what we're seeing now?

RIDDELL: It would be a circus. I mean, it would be a clown showing condemning the GOP for not wanting to work across the aisle and going after a black president. Here you have Representative Lewis who has worked for, you know, equal rights and equal votes among the American public. Basically discrediting -- discrediting 60 million people who voted for Donald Trump, saying that their right don't matter, their vote doesn't matter because Donald Trump is delegitimize. That is unbelievable to me.

HURTZ: Erin McPike, I got here yesterday's Washington Post, yesterday's New York Times there is not a word about Congressman Lewis' remarks. It was broadcast on MSNBC on Friday afternoon, it wasn't considered to be something that needs to be dealt with until we got into the reaction of it. But as you saw some MSNBC prime time anchors, let's just say were very sympathetic to Congressman Lewis' remarks. What explains this not being a front page story right away?

MCPIKE: Listen, we heard a number of liberals throughout this country say similar things to what John Lewis said. I think there might have been a case where the media, especially the Times and the Post might be desensitized to this because so many democrats have complained.

Now, I think upon further reflection it's clear that John Lewis is obviously no back-bencher in Congress. This is a big deal. I would say that the Post has a great story by Abby Phillips on this, this morning. And it's interesting because she quotes David Axelrod, a longtime adviser to President Obama not agreeing with John Lewis.

And then separately, she quotes Ben Sasse, the republican senator from Nebraska saying that Trump should stop -- shoudl stop attacking Lewis. I thought it was pretty good story of side which is...

(CROSSTALK)

RIDDELL: But Ben Sasse also said that Representative Lewis show up to the inauguration because it's more about the presidency and not about the man.

KURTZ: What is your reaction to the coverage, Juan? And you said on Fox the other day that you think Donald Trump has to prove his legitimacy, and 306 electoral votes is not enough?

WILLIAMS: No. I think that he has to prove, in fact, given some of his behavior. I mean, this week when he goes off on Arnold Schwarzenegger and Meryl Streep, when he, you know, he's talking about s many, what I think are sort of often the weeds-type issues. It leads people to think, is this guy for real, is this really the president -- the man who will be president of the United States.

So, it's not legitimacy. The question for me, and by the way, I disagree with what John Lewis said because I don't think there is any question about the fact that Donald Trump is going to be sworn in on Friday, going to be the commander in chief, going to be military...

KURTZ: Right.

WILLIAMS: ... going to be the man the chief executive of our federal government. But what I think is really odd here is that the media wouldn't have covered this because as everyone have said John Lewis is a civil rights icon. And I think there is some racial content here. I think people think, well, wait a second, is this the black community and John Lewis -- that John Lewis is representing such taking on Donald Trump. And there is real antagonism there.

KURTZ: But when Trump comes back on Twitter and says all talk, no action, referring to the congressman from Atlanta and he should do more of his district. Then he gets attack and maybe he went too far. I mean, I think it's a fair thing to debate.

But he was attacked first; he was called not legitimate by a leading democratic congressman. Is John Lewis is sort of immune from criticism because of what he did 50 years ago, which everyone agrees was a great thing that he did?

MCPIKE: I don't think anybody should ever be immune from criticism.

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: Yes, in politics at least.

RIDDELL: Yes. No. But I do think he is immune. I think that the left views him as a conduit of which to get their message across that the right can't criticize without called names like racist. And they're also, it's also to note that John Lewis is fundraising often of Donald Trump's comments.

KURTZ: Yes.

RIDDELL: And so is the DNC. So, it's very political act.

KURTZ: This reminds me a little bit of when Meryl Streep last weekend hijacked the Golden Globes by talking about well, yes, the press should hold people to account. I actually agree with that. But call them, meaning Trump and his people on the carpet every outrage. Then you have Madonna saying she feels like she has been dumped by a lover and stuck in a nightmare. So, Trump fires back against people Meryl Streep, and then he gets criticized for picking on an actress. But again, he's counter punching.

WILIAMS: He's counter punching. The question is, is it effective. As a matter of communication, no doubt. Because he goes around the press in so many ways in delivering his message. But is it effective? And this comes back to what you were asking me when I said I think he has in some sense legitimize himself.

KURTZ: Yes.

WILLIAMS: So, is this a matter of punching down, Howie? Is it the case that he should be preoccupied with Meryl Streep? Even the John Lewis an important figure in history. Is it the case that the president-elect needs to respond when questions about Jim Comey, the FBI questions about the Russians might lead to this?

KURTZ: Right. Just briefly, Meryl Streep, Barbara Streisand, all these people do they risk alienating many of their fans who may not share their dim view of the next president?

RIDDELL: Well, yes. I mean, a lot of the people on the press applauded Meryl Streep's like speech. And she is like how brave it was, and how brave is it really speaking among your peers that all of which voted for Hillary Clinton.

I mean, this is just -- just as it was kind of funny. As a conservative I get to laugh about it.

KURTZ: I do disagree with the president-elect on Meryl Streep being overrated as an actress.

RIDDELL: Yes.

KURTZ: But on that point, we'll end. Erin McPike, Kelly Riddell, and Juan Williams, great to see you all this Sunday.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

KURTZ: Ahead, Martha MacCallum on covering the Trump administration. But up next, in the wake of this BuzzFeed debacle, are media fans just melting away in the Trump era?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Donald Trump rips CNN for reporting on an ex-British spy unsubstantiated dossier, and refuse to recognize Jim Acosta, the CNN correspondent sharply criticized the president-elect's team.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: There's something worse than fake news and that's the denial of real news. This has been a pattern for the Trump campaign and now the Trump transition where, you know, they don't like the news that's being reported and they go after the messenger.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Joining us now from New York is Joe Concha, media reporter for The Hill. Joe, what do you make of the way Jim Acosta and are pushing back. You heard him say "denial of real news."

JOE CONCHA, THE HILL MEDIA REPORTER: Well, first of all, I want to talk about Jim Acosta's behavior during that press conference, Howie.

KURTZ: Yes.

CONCHA: I wonder why Jim Acosta felt that he was entitled more privileged than the other 250 reporters that were in that room by repeatedly yelling no more than 14 times at the president-elect demanding that he be afforded the right to ask a question. I found that to be grand standing.

And all by the way, another point, that John Roberts fall up on this network and no one else has talked about.

CNN in that morning around 8.45 reserved 8 seats for themselves in the front row by putting reserved signs down there effectively boxing out other news organizations that wanted that kind of access. So, CNN's behavior here, I have to say has been -- in Jim Acosta's case making about himself, making himself the story, and CNN 8 reservations, Howie, that's just obnoxious.

KURTZ: Yes, everybody tries to grab seats. So, look, it was just four years when much of the media were denouncing Neil Munro, then the reporter for the Daily Caller for doing this. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is the right thing to do.

NEIL MUNRON, DAILY CALLER REPORTER: Why do you favor foreigners over Americans?

OBAMA: Excuse me, sir. It's not time for questions, sir.

MUNRO: Are you going to take questions?

OBAMA: Not while I'm speaking. I didn't ask for an argument. I'm answering your question.

(CROSSTALK)

MUNRO: I'd like to...

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: It is the right thing to do for the American people and here's why.

MUNRO: High unemployment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: A little difference, Joe, in the reaction to that incident in President Obama and this incident with President-elect Trump?

CONCHA: Yes. I mean, President Obama, during some press conferences that he had, I did some research on this, Howie, in his first 36 solo press conferences, 22 of those 36 times he did not call upon Fox News, the number one rated cable news network in the country.

So, when we hear CNN talking about, well, you know, I want to be able to ask a question, they are going to be treated probably the same way by Donald Trump the way President Obama treated Fox News with disdain or in this case, conservative media with that Daily Caller. So, it's pretty interesting stuff that Fox was only able to ask 14 questions in President Obama's first 36 press conference...

KURTZ: OK.

CONCHA: ... that maybe something that CNN has to get used to.

KURTZ: But doesn't CNN have a point that what it did was very, very different from BuzzFeed did. It didn't publish any details from this salacious unsubstantiated document. It did say accurately that President- elect had been told about it by, it turns out the FBI director or let's say intelligence officials generally.

CONCHA: They were much more cautious and we should applaud CNN for that. But would I have gone ahead with that story in the first place? I don't know, Howie. It gave BuzzFeed the green light to say, hey, all that cryptic stuff that CNN is reporting, hey, here it all is in its 35-page dossier.

And I go back and look at timing also, Howie, around Donald Trump and interesting information getting out before big events.

Before the first presidential debate, magically in a New York Times reporter's mailbox his 1995 tax returns just happen to show up.

KURTZ: Right.

CONCHA: And then before the second presidential debate the Access Hollywood tape magically shows up in a Washington Post's reporter's mailbox as well. And now one day before his press conference highly anticipated, this information is suddenly reported getting out when every news organization had it for months.

I question the timing and I would look to Thursday to see what other surprise news event is going to happen the day before the inauguration.

KURTZ: It is worth noting that the New York Times and the Washington Post and major news organizations had this salacious dossier, did not publish it, looked into it and, you know, they made I think the right call, which is, you don't put on the air or publish or put on the internet anything that you cannot confirm. It's called journalism.

Joe Concha, great to see you. Thanks so for coming on.

CONCHA: Good to see you.

KURTZ: After the break, Martha MacCallum on the challenge of covering the first 100 days of the new administration's policies.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: The first 100 days is a crucial period for any new president, but maybe especially so for Donald Trump an outsider who ran against the republican establishment as well as the democrats.

America's newsroom co-host Martha MacCallum is launching a new show tomorrow at 7 p.m. Eastern to chronicle those first 100 days. I sat down with her in New York.

Martha MacCallum, welcome.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS HOST: Howie, good to see you.

KURTZ: The media love the first 100 days framing, but usually it's kind of a slog with the president trying to push the legislation through Congress and get his nominees confirmed. Why will this be a different, perhaps hotter story?

MACCALLUM: You know, I think there is so much at stake here for the people on the both sides who are so invested in this story. I don't think there's ever been a time where people will be watching more closely the first 100 days of a presidency. Since the campaign the question has hung out there, will he become more presidential when he takes that oath of office?

And you know, I think the weight of that moment, Howie, will weigh even on Donald Trump. Will it stop him from tweeting in the early morning hours? I sincerely doubt it. But it's a different president from anyone...

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: I doubted as well.

MACCALLUM: ... we've seen. Absolutely.

KURTZ: Yes. You've talked about holding Trump and the new administration accountable.

MACCALLUM: Right.

KURTZ: Like any new president he's promised a lot of things, tax cuts, more spending on infrastructure, and dealing with healthcare and military spending and protecting Medicare. Those things may come into conflict and that may perhaps where you come in.

MACCALLUM: Well, and you know, you think back to the period of the campaign and you picture those thousands of people who showed up for him everywhere he went. Those are the people that we want to talk to over the course of the 100 days. You know, are you getting what you thought you were going to get from this man?

KURTZ: So, you want the voice of voters and Clinton and Trump supporters.

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: Absolutely.

KURTZ: You just don't want pundits sitting in afternoon show in the studio.

MACCALLUM: Absolutely. No, it won't be just pundits sitting there.

KURTZ: Yes.

MACCALLUM: We want to get out there and talk to people in the coal mining areas across the country and kind of get their sense of what they think and how they think he's doing. It's a great question.

KURTZ: Based on the tone of the transition coverage. Do you feel that the media in general are digging in against the president-elect or just covering him aggressively?

MACCALLUM: You know, I mean, it depends on what part of the media you look at.

KURTZ: Sure.

MACCALLUM: When you look at Meryl Streep and what she had to say the other night, there is clearly so much sort of fear mixed with anger on the part of certain elements of society. I do think that the, you know, sort of smack him across the head reality of what this man pulled off has sunk in for some of the mainstream media. But this has going to be a dug-in fight, Howie, and it's not going to let up. So, that's going to make the 100 days really interesting to watch.

KURTZ: You mentioned Donald Trump's all just called government by Twitter. And we'll see how that happens when he is actually in the Oval Office. But there is kind of these debates still going on, the media making too much of his tweets? We shouldn't cover his tweets, we collected that letting him drive the news agenda.

I don't see how you don't give a lot of weight to the words of the president-elect, but what's your take?

MACCALLUM: Yes. You know what, I think it's his version of FDR's fireside chat in a very modern way. I think of the people who lined the halls when Abraham Lincoln was President and why don't you knock on the door and wait for their chance to talk to him. This is the world we live in. He understands that in a way that I know no official has before. I do not expect any changes in that front. I think he is going to keep tweeting all the time.

KURTZ: But challenging for journalists perhaps to fact check these things in real-time. Sometimes that's off a little bit.

MACCALLUM: yes.

KURTZ: But you know, that off for sure for his tweet and then you do reporting I would say.

MACCALLUM: Absolutely. You hold him to the truth of the tweet that he puts out. We've seen him revise them before. We've seen him say that's not what I meant. I think in a strange way there is an acceptance of sort of exaggeration with Donald Trump that we don't have with former presidents. I think everybody kind of takes a look at it and then sees where he goes from there. But it's his method of communication.

KURTZ: What about, are you going to miss Hemmer?

MACCALLUM: Absolutely, but I will be with him all the time, you know, we're joined at the half and he's my best friend here and I will miss working with him for a few months. But we'll be doing and watch together, no doubt.

KURTZ: Martha MacCallum, we'll be watching you at Seventies. But thanks for sitting down with me.

MACCALLUM: Thanks, Howie.

KURTZ: We're sitting right there when I ask that. Still to come, a few words about my own visit to Trump Tower.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: On personal note, I met with President-elect Trump on Monday and that meant walking past the press pool at Trump Tower which everyone gets to talk. So, here's what I said. I'm a television anchor who never stops reporting.

So, the chance to get a better idea of Donald Trump's thinking and that of his top aides was invaluable. I can tell you without violating the ground rules that Trump has the same blunt spoken style in private. But he still closely monitors almost everything the media says about him. Even as when he's dealing with weightier matters. He just had a meeting on filling the Supreme Court vacancy.

And while he finds some of the coverage unfair, he does not see himself as embroiled in a permanent war against the press. And yes, I asked for an interview.

And I saw Mike Pence here who've been to Chris Wallace and I asked the vice president-elect for an interview as well.

That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. Thanks for joining us. Questions, comments about the Media, mediabuzz@foxnews.com, mediabuzz@foxnews.com. What did you think of the Sean Spicer interview, for example?

We hope you like our Facebook page. We post a lot of original content there. And your buzz videos responding to your questions. And also, bat things around or bat me around on Twitter @howardkurtz, and we continue our conversation.

We'll be back here next Sunday right after the inauguration. See you throughout the inauguration and we'll see you on Sunday with the latest buzz.

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