This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," February 5, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On a buzz meter this Sunday, President Trump is pounded by the press over issues from immigration to foreign policy. We talk to Kellyanne Conway about the constant negative on where the White House has made mistakes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: It's not just bias coverage. Biased is easy to detect. Look at the guys beating his wife. OK, bias coverage. But it's the incomplete coverage. It's all the stories that are not told. It's cherry-picking and curating the quotes. It's this reductive curated media culture in which we live.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Two extraordinary leaks about the president's private calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia. Are anti-Trump officials using the press to undermine him?
Trump's firing of the acting attorney general for refusing to defend his immigration orders from some pundits to make inaccurate comparisons to another president had his Saturday massacre.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Monday night massacre. President Trump fires the acting attorney general for refusing to enforce his travel ban.
A breaking news, Monday night massacre. President Donald trump fires the acting attorney general for refusing to enforce his travel ban.
This is the top of the hour. Monday night massacre.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: But the press is wrong to liken Trump to Richard Nixon during Watergate. And we'll look at the coverage of Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.
Plus, on this Super Bowl Sunday, political football with the national media has it for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots because they're friendly with Donald Trump.
I'm Howard Kurtz, and this is "MediaBuzz."
Kellyanne Conway, the president's high profile counselor has been at the center of just about every controversy swirling around the Trump White House. I sat down with her in New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Kellyanne Conway, welcome.
CONWAY: Hi, Howie.
KURTZ: The leaking of the president's tough calls with the leaders of Australia and Mexico is extraordinary. And it suggests that there are senior officials in the government which undermine Donald Trump. How concern are you about that?
CONWAY: Well, we're very concerned because we're not leakers. You saw this with previous intelligence report from that January 6 briefing. We just want -- we are tight lipped. We respect the intelligence and security process.
And the fact that as commander-in-chief and president of the United States, let alone those who serve the president, we have, we are duty bound to this country to not leak information that could jeopardize all of us. Same thing here.
KURTZ: But what can you do about the leakers.
CONWAY: Well, same thing here. I mean, it could be, I'm not going to conclude. It's been speculated on Fox and other places, Howie, so I'll just repeat the State Department.
KURTZ: State Department?
CONWAY: It could be State Department officials who are holdovers. It certainly isn't Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his close advisors. But Rex Tillerson but as our new Secretary of State sworn in this week, I was there. He has made very clear that people at state should expect major changes coming. And I would assume leaking is one of them.
I can't imagine it came from the Australian or Mexican side because the calls as reported were very unflattering to those two leaders.
But, look, Donald Trump is going -- is somebody who is going to put America first and it's going to be resolute and decisive but you know, but also polite.
KURTZ: When the president this week fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates, an Obama holdover, why do journalists compared it? Unfairly in my view, to Nixon Saturday night massacre. That of course was a criminal investigation of the White House and Nixon's own A.G. and deputy A.G. But it generates a lot of bad press. Was that unfair?
CONWAY: The bad press in that would be very unfair. If she can't execute on the president of the United States vision then she shouldn't be there, if she disagrees with what he's doing, and maybe she shouldn't have been there from the beginning.
But he has the right to see this own government. How about, I've got a noble idea, how about if the Senate just confirms his nominee to the Department of Justice for Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The democrats have delayed his hearings and delayed his vote. They tried to humiliate and embarrass him.
As we sit here right now we have a record number of unconfirmed nominees to a presidential cabinet 11, including treasury and commerce.
So, the democrats want to go, they want to go on the record. They have time to go and cry and weep at the airport protesting something that they've completely bastardized as to what it truly is and what's its intent and what is effect is of this immigration order.
KURTZ: Well, let me come to...
CONWAY: And yet, they have time to...
KURTZ: Let me come to that.
CONWAY: ... they don't have time to give a fair hearing and an upper down vote on this nominee. You want to vote again, vote again, but at least give people a hearing and the decency of a vote.
KURTZ: The media verdict on the first two weeks of the administration and this is especially true of the temporary ban on refugees and the detentions at the airports. I would say was one of chaos and confusion. Is there a learning curve for the president and his top people?
CONWAY: There are several things that go on with any executive order, I think any executive action. You've got policy, you have legal review and approval and you have communications and rollout. And so, we are very focused on all three of those pieces on behalf of the president.
KURTZ: Is there is a learning curve?
CONWAY: There is a learning curve for any administration. But I also think that any chance people get to try to demeanor, diminish this president they take it and gnaw at it. And that goes for all of us in the senior team. They've been gnaw at all of us but it doesn't work.
And here's why -- here's why it doesn't work and I'll just put everybody on notice of that. Because it's not reflective of the rest of the country. If you look at even some of the early polls the Americans, they poll out the Americans, Howie, depending on how the question is asked, they like the content of this executive order.
They do think that a president's first duty is to keep people safe. And they do agree that there states -- state sponsors of terrorism and the seven countries that are, it's a narrowly prescribed, narrowly tailored list that President Obama and the Congress first put forward.
It is temporary. It gives us a nicety press or pause to find out if our vetting processes are actually as bad -- as good as they can be.
And also, if you look at the Supreme Court pick, you know, that goes up soon because it was such a brilliant pick in Judge Neil Gorsuch that it got -- it got subsumed by other negative coverage. Because his judicial temperament, his record, and his academic credentials...
KURTZ: But hold on.
CONWAY: ... are beyond reproach.
KURTZ: I think even analysts on the left said that Neil Gorsuch is a very highly qualified Supreme Court nominee. But you spoke a moment ago about not giving a nominee a vote and a lot of the coverage has been about democrats wanting payback for the fact that President Obama got Merrick Garland who don't even get a hearing.
CONWAY: Is it their role -- is it their role?
KURTZ: But aren't -- don't both parties have unclean hands when it comes to acting on nominees?
CONWAY: Well, the last I saw you have to be 30 years old to be in the United States Senate under a Constitution, not 12 or 10 years old. And some of them are acting like that.
And if you are going to behave like that then you're going to see us just plow forward with these nominees and rely upon a majority in the Senate, Howie, that America put there. America decided they wanted a conservative republican American president.
KURTZ: Steve Bannon is getting a lot of bad press. He's on the cover of Time magazine as the great manipulator. The New York Times editorial headline, "President Bannon?"
Do you think the fact that he stays away from the cameras contributes to what he calls his Darth Vader image?
CONWAY: The fact that he is effective for President Trump contributes to that image. Because people are just constantly trying to take down President Trump through each of us. Like we're bowling pins where it's not going down at a time. It's not going to work because we are a very tight group. We live in the fox hole together, and there weren't that's many of us.
In the case of Steve Bannon, he is the chief strategist to the President of the United States. But the ultimate strategist, the ultimate decision maker, the ultimate voice and choice for everything, make no mistake is President Donald J. Trump. And anybody who doesn't understand that or writes against that fact, that is a fact, is just reporting inaccurate information.
KURTZ: You told Sean Hannity on the radio the other day that the media are inciting a mob mentality, if not mob, violence. Now I understand you're upset about negative. That's a very strong charge. And even potentially (Ph) how we would say the media coverage. Even negative media coverage could lead to mob violence.
CONWAY: Did you see the cameras that were put on people? They gave all these people voluntary (Ph)status last weekend. The martyrs at the airport, the conscientious civic participants in the major cities.
KURTZ: Are you saying the protests there should be no coverage. There should be now coverage?
CONWAY: No. No. Protests are part of our first amendment.
CONWAY: And we support -- we support our first amendment...
KURTZ: And cameras clearly attract protestors. We've seen this in some of the urban riots.
CONWAY: OK. But why don't they go -- why don't they go and talk to -- they are the media. Because they already missed America. The big problem for them is they just do not understand America and are not much interested in most of America. Thumb their nose at most of America and you know that.
America didn't go to the fancy Ivy League schools like many in the media did. The America doesn't -- you know, there are some people in the media there are lots of dry cleaning bills for the year is basically what some people earned in some of these districts and counties that Donald Trump won because he is the blue collar billionaire who connected with real Americans.
And so, fast forward, why don't they go and they see who is actually going to benefit and talk to the people who are actually and literally tactically going to -- I mean, potentially going to benefit from Donald Trump keeping the factories here and not Mexico and China.
KURTZ: When you say some of these more important stories aren't covered -- I'm just looking at the New York Post here and there is this whole spread. And it says, they call him the impersonator. "Trump versus Iran, Trump versus Australia, Trump versus Mexico" and then on. It's continued here. "Trump versus the Berkeley protest." Trump versus Arnold and his ratings."
Isn't it true that the White House makes so much news that a lot of this stuff they're simply isn't the bandwidth to coverage as much as might be able.
CONWAY: There is plenty of bandwidth. Come on. There is this online, there internet is infinite. The New York Post is able to put it on two pages, so what's wrong with everyone else? It's a matter of selective coverage.
I've said before and I'll say on your show because it's Media Buzz. And thanks for the platform, Howie. It's not just bias coverage. Bias is easy to detect. Look at the guy beating his wife. OK. Bias coverage. But it's the incomplete coverage. It's all the stories that are not told.
It's cherry-picking and curating the quotes. It's this reductive and curated media culture in which we live. And of course the media are watching this now in their pajamas saying, oh, my God, or from brunch of jogging saying, oh, my God, she is picking on the media.
And no, I'm not. I am asking you to do a service to America because we will have joint custody of America for eight years here. So, let's do a service to American by giving them the full story.
A lot of Americans suffer from information under load. From all this -- all the information overload we have online, in print, in conversation...
KURTZ: You think there are too many empty calories?
CONWAY: I think -- yes. There is information under load. And people get upset. They're so afraid to depart from the sameness of coverage. If they all -- you've been on this office. They all watch the same 60 this week.
KURTZ: Right. Well, the president has a big megaphone.
CONWAY: But, oh, my God. We have to do -- we have to do what everybody else is doing. Why? Because -- and then pretend you're an independent thinker or somehow you're unique or you're this disruptor. The disruptor, the independent voice is Donald Trump. That's how he got elected because he sounded different and he does things differently. And he's gone to Washington in a span of two short weeks, Howie, and you can, you could just measure and feel and see the difference not just in tone but in content and volume.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Let us know what you think firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll have more of my interview with Kellyanne Conway.
But when we come back our panel weighs in on those leaks of President Trump's private calls to foreign leaders. Why was that furnished to the press?
KURTZ: The Washington Post and the A.P. as I mentioned, published leaked accounts of President Trump's tough phone calls with the leaders of Australia and Mexico triggering a wave of coverage and criticism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: These leaks are astounding. A president threatening to march troops into Mexico.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Believe me, when you hear about the tough phone calls I'm having, don't worry about it. Just don't worry about it. They are tough. We have to be tough. It's time we're going to be a little tough, folks. We're taken advantage of by every nation in the world, virtually.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage, Erin McPike, political commentator and former reporter for Real Clear Politics. Kelly Riddell, the Washington Times deputy opinion editor, and Marie Harf, former spokeswoman for the State Department and CIA in the Obama administration and a brand new Fox News contributor.
Erin McPike, and you have a new job, I should have mentioned.
ERIN MCPIKE, FORMER REAL CLEAR POLITICS REPORTER: Yes.
KURTZ: At the Independent Journal Review. What do you make of the leaking of these phone calls? I've never seen anything like it.
MCPIKE: Well, I think it's wrong to lump these two different phone calls into the same category because we don't know where the leaks came from.
MCPIKE: People are assuming that they came from the White House. I think particularly with respect to Mexico, I think if you read that Associated Press story very, very closely, it could be that that leak came directly from Mexico.
KURTZ: Is there a danger when you take someone's account of a call or even a transcript, there's a partial transcript that you're not getting the full story, you're certainly not getting the tone of the talk between two leaders.
KELLY RIDDELL, THE WASHINGTON TIMES DEPUTY OPINION EDITOR: Yes. And this is where this A.P. story, in particular went wrong. It was the partial transcript and they took the reporter, took their own confirmation bias, they want to put out bad news against Donald Trump and spun it.
And then, in the A.P. story it never said that Donald Trump was going to send troops down to Mexico to get those bad hombres. It said bad hombres that threaten troops. And then it was a loud that everyone in the liberal media to go online social media and then exploded. Donald Trump sending troops down to Mexico.
You know, you have Jonathan Favreau who was a speechwriter for Obama who, you know, famously laugh at Charlie Rose about the line that if you help -- like your health you can keep it, write on Twitter, oh, my gosh, we're going to war with Mexico now. I mean, this is...
KURTZ: Some of that was tongue and cheek, wasn't it?
RIDDELL: And to get -- it's all fake news though, and it perpetuates the narrative that the press wants to put out there...
KURTZ: Well, let me get Marie in here because you've actually dealt with reporters and as an administration spokeswoman. In this kind of context wouldn't only very senior officials at the White House, and perhaps the State Department have access to information about these calls?
MARIE HARF, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. I think only very, very small number of officials at the White House. I would doubt that anyone in the Trump State Department probably had access to this.
KURTZ: Why so?
HARF: Because they don't seem to be relying on them for policy guidance on things like the refugee ban. Rex Tillerson hadn't even been confirmed yet when they did these calls. So, I would be shocked if they even share these at the State Department.
KURTZ: Would agree with...
HARF: Particularly with Obama holdovers as Kellyanne mentioned in your interview.
KURTZ: But would you agree that somebody was trying to embarrass or damage President Trump?
HARF: I don't know what the reason was, right? It's hard to get in people's head. I think some people might have been concerned about the tone and wanted to send a message that this is not how you do foreign policy.
This is irresponsible. It's not how you behave as president. And we know the Trump administration when they were campaigning said that they messaged to him through the media. But who knows why they did this.
KURTZ: Well, the coverage has certainly been harsh, particularly about the call of the prime minister of Australia, because this was Trump was reported to have said, this was his worst call of the day and that he talked to Putin that day and ended the call after 25 minutes. It was supposed to go an hour.
Big disagreement over an Obama administration deal to send a certain number of refugees from Australia to the U.S. So, the coverage was certainly was not favorable on that.
MCPIKE: No. I think it hasn't been favorable on either one of those stories. But again, we are trying to get to the bottom of where the leaks came from.
KURTZ: But we can't -- and somewhat speculating because we don't know who the source of the stories was.
MCPIKE: And that's absolutely right.
KURTZ: But speaking of coverage, you know, it just happened over the weekend that a federal judge in Seattle temporarily blocked the president's order on limited travel ban for refugees in those seven countries. And Trump very strongly went after this judge and called him a so-called judge. That has gotten a lot of media coverage and criticism.
RIDDELL: Yes. And you know, it's a Twitter, it's a Twitter tweet. That's all it is. It's not -- it's not attacking...
KURTZ: Well, all of presidential tweets gets lots of attention.
RIDDELL: But let's put this in context. You had Obama in, you know, 20 -- 2010, go after the Supreme Court in his state of the union speech after the Citizens United case. You had leading up to the Obamacare ruling in 2012, a very organized political campaign starting at the White House targeting John Robert and basically saying, if you don't -- if you don't rule for Obamacare here you're politicizing the court system.
So, this is not a new thing for presidents to go after court rulings that they don't quite agree with or try to manipulate court rulings in their favor.
KURTZ: Briefing comes but of course Trump uses colorful language. We know that about him.
HARF: Right. But there is a difference between attacking personally a federal judge. Trump did it on the campaign when he attacked the Mexican- American judge. He did it. Now, and it's calling into legitimacy of the judiciary. It's not just saying we...
KURTZ: It does that go a little far? I mean, he's taking a shot at a guy, it doesn't mean he disagree with.
HARF: So-called, what does so-called mean?
HARF: That is...
KURTZ: All right. Well, we'll let the viewers decide. But I've got to get to a break.
Up next, President Trump stirring some controversy, more controversy when Bill O'Reilly asked him about Vladimir Putin at an upcoming Super Bowl sit- down.
And later, Kellyanne Conway on being battered by the press for making a mistake.
KURTZ: Bill O'Reilly's sit-down with President Trump airs today before the Super Bowl and was already making news. This is a response to a question about whether the president - and he said he does respect Vladimir Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Will I get along with him? I don't have any idea. It's possible I won't.
BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: But he's a killer. Putin is a killer.
TRUMP: We've got a lot of killers. We've got a lot of killers. Why you think our country is so innocent?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Kelly Riddell, having the Post headlines, "Trump defends," quote, "killer Putin."
RIDDELL: I think that the press needs to cool down a little bit. Donald Trump is not a politician and he's not always going to speak politically. Now we've got to look at what his administration is actually doing. You had Nikki Haley going into the U.N. this week with a very heated very confrontational attitude towards Russia, questioning what they're doing in the Crimea.
KURTZ: So, in your view, in your view, that is more important than...
RIDDELL: Look at the action.
KURTZ: ... what he says in the nationally televised interview?
RIDDELL: He had a conversation with the Ukrainian president this week that went very positively according to both sides, and they react both sides that, you know, increase saying -- increasing spend there and maybe some military support. So we've got to look at what he's doing, not the rhetoric.
KURTZ: The president you worked for Barack Obama was often criticized by the right for not sufficiently embracing the American exceptionalism. What would have been the reaction on the right if President Obama have said that about we have killers and what about our country?
HARF: I can only imagine the outrage we would have gotten. I think the words matter. I think policies matter. I also think when you're president of the United States, words matter. And that was a bizarre exchange he had with Bill O'Reilly.
KURTZ: Now in a cold bloodied way when Donald Trump may be right. But it's not a kind of thing that presidents usually say. And the media I think are not accustomed to the way in which this president speaks. And this goes to what we talked about in the last segment about the so-called judge. I mean, he speaks colorfully and he doesn't sort of edit himself on every syllable.
MCPIKE: Right. And look, we're trying to establish double standard. We know that there is a bit of a double standard. But here's the thing. Barack Obama didn't say that. It was Donald Trump who said that. So I think we need to slow down and question Donald Trump and continue to question Donald Trump till we get to the bottom of what he means.
He's going to be president for four years. We'll continue hearing from him and we will continue asking questions.
RIDDELL: You'll know what he means through his actions. And I think that's what we ask the press...
KURTZ: And you always seem to be saying don't listen to what the president of the United States says, let's only look at the policy. And obviously, every president gets enormous attention for everything they say.
RIDDELL: Yes. And he's going to...
KURTZ: Am I being unfair?
RIDDELL: No, you're not going to -- you're not being unfair. But instead of whipping this all into crazy level of hysteria we need to draw it back and look at the policies or we're going to miss the story.
In four years, people will be better off in this country and the press will have no idea why that happened or what occurred.
KURTZ: Also in the Super Bowl interview I don't know if it's getting that much attention.
All right. One -- let me mention before we get to that. The president again in a meeting with African-American leaders took another whack at CNN. He calls CNN fake news. And what's happening is that with one exception since the election, no senior administration official has appeared on CNN. I think that's a mistake.
In fact, Vice President Pence on four Sundays usually he's not on CNN. I think that's a mistake that it's kind of self-defeating and, in particularly like it when the Obama White House did that to Fox very rarely making a senior official available.
I am told my sources say that will change though in the coming days. Now you can see Bill O'Reilly's full pre-Super Bowl interview with President Trump 4 p.m. Eastern on your local Fox broadcast channel.
Ahead on Media Buzz, the Super Bowl as you know is tonight. Why is the media so laser- focused on Tom Brady's relationship with Donald Trump.
But first, Kellyanne Conway on the highly personal criticism that comes with working for this president.
KURTZ: More now with my conversation in New York with Kellyanne Conway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: You are drawing a lot of flak for telling MSNBC's Chris Matthews talking about a couple of Iraqi refugees in the U.S. who became terrorists that they've been a Bowling Green massacre and it wasn't covered. Of course, there was no Bowling Green massacre.
CONWAY: There was a plot. But they were master minds. As I said that before they're masterminds. They should have said plot and I should have called them terrorists.
But everybody should look at the ABC News article that I was referring that of course is trending, top trending article now in ABC News because I mentioned it.
It's from 2011 or so, and it talks about these two radicalized Iraqis are part of Al Qaeda. They bragged about attacking American soldiers. They are, you know, they knew how to make IED's. They said a lot.
KURTZ: You also said to...
CONWAY: It's a lot of the haters. Listen, it's a lot of the haters. I clarified immediately.
CONWAY: I should have said terrorist and not massacre. MSNBC and Chris Matthews' show never even ask, never corrected. I got kudos and accolades for giving that interview. Six to 18 hours later they popped up and they are at their heads.
KURTZ: So, you made a mistake. It happens. It happens to all of us. But when the press makes a mistake...
CONWAY: It happens a lot to the press. I mean, the corrections in these newspapers are three paragraphs long. I misspoke one word. The corrections in the newspapers who are attacking me are three paragraphs long every day. Corrections like major they're making.
KURTZ: But should the White House be attacking the press for, quote, "fake news" on the basis of a mistake that is then corrected?
CONWAY: That is not what -- that is not what the president means when he said fake news on his Twitter. He is talking about things that are invented and not just inaccurate. But, look, I'm one of the most pro-press, open pro-first amendment people at the White House. Can I just something?
CONWAY: It's a lot of women and it's a shame. Because everybody pretends there is some kind of power in the sisterhood. But I'm pro-life so that's not good for them.
KURTZ: Speaking of women.
CONWAY: And I'm the first female, successful female campaign manager. I don't talk about that. I don't brag about that. I feel like it's a blessing. And I thank God every day that Donald Trump gave me that opportunity. And I had a fabulous team that it worked with as equals and we got job done on behalf of America.
KURTZ: Chelsea Clinton addressing you said don't make up fake attacks. She is speaking of female critics.
CONWAY: Right. I thought that was funny since the NBC News Today Show had paid her, wasn't it them, paid her so much.
KURTZ: NBC overall. NBC overall, 600,000 a year.
CONWAY: I think it came -- yes. I think it came to like 600,000 a year.
CONWAY: I don't remember one report she did, if you do, please help me. But I have nothing against Chelsea.
KURTZ: She doesn't show up lately (Ph).
CONWAY: I was treated like a Faberge egg when she was in the White House as a teenager. We'll see if Barron Trump gets the same respect. So far he hasn't. And the people in the media...
KURTZ: And he should. He absolutely should off of it.
CONWAY: And she should know, she and her network should have called me. NBC News has called in the latter, (Inaudible) to me. But why did the reporter who is texting at 6.32 a.m. this morning asking me about a different story for The Today show, and said, for the Today Show, please comment on this?
Why didn't he ask me about what I had said the night before on his network and I turn on the Today Show and I'm being attacked. And then there's an apology retroactively after five million see that and all the haters on Twitters who shouldn't get jobs in the Donald Trump administration. It will be available to you. Give us -- give me a call.
KURTZ: You told Chris Wallace talking about the campaign and all the journalists and the pontificators who utterly got the election wrong that nobody, none of these people have been fired. Do you think news organizations should fire some people who got it wrong?
CONWAY: Well, how about just admitting getting out of the denial, grief and anger stages and getting on with the acceptance. But part of the acceptance has to be some internal, some introspection and soul searching.
I mean, they were wrong up until 1 a.m. on November 9. And it was the road to 270 have no path. We have all the clips. I know people are wondering if I'm talking about them. But let it be a lord of the flies' situation where they don't know if I'm talking about them.
And even in the case of this massacre nonsense where I corrected it right and clarified it which I'm sure to live on for a week. It's -- I didn't mention the people by name.
I didn't mention by name the prominent editor of a very successful liberal web site last night saying I'm going to -- write the whole story about your tweet about the Holocaust? I said did I tweet about the Holocaust? And he said, my god, it was a fake account.
And he said, go on carrying about, you know, helping the president and I hung. I don't say his name because I don't want him to get what I get which are death threats and haters and people mentioning my kids by name and showing up at my house.
It just seems to me that the negative, the presumptively negative coverage and the snarkiness that was put upon Donald Trump the candidate, the nominee, the President-elect and now the President all looks the same to me.
There's never been a deep breath of some of these networks and cable stations saying, you know, he's the president and we ought to cover him a such, we ought show him respect and the deference to the office and try to get it right.
I see very little of that. I'm open to that folks. You know where to find me off the Twitter, call me, e-mail me, and text me. But look, Chelsea Clinton attacking me. Really, Chelsea? Because your mom said Texas and Georgia and Arizona were turning blues and you spent all this money there and you ignored Wisconsin and Michigan, and we did not and we won them, and Donald Trump won.
You mentioned women's magazine, Cosmopolitan. They are relatively sympathetic profile of you have passages like this. "How does Conway, a loving mom, a devoted friend and appealing person in close square quarters square her conscience with what she signed on to do, explain the actions of a man with Russia, leverage to hate mongering movement of the white supremacist alt-right?"
CONWAY: Because I note the full measure of the man and people should pay attention to who he is and what all the great he's already doing for this country and will do for all Americans. He will create. He's already creating more jobs and keeping jobs here and boosting wages. He's already making good on campaign promise...
KURTZ: But you get this like, you seem like a nice person. How do you work for this president?
CONWAY: Very easily. I love the man and I respect tremendously and I know that he and his family have sacrificed so much for him to be president of the United States.
KURTZ: Kellyanne Conway, thanks very much for joining us.
CONWAY: Always a pleasure. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Kellyanne Conway when I sat down on late Friday. Coming up, why many in the media like to compare Donald Trump to Richard Nixon when he fired the acting attorney general.
And it's like the Houston and the Super Bowl.
KURTZ: Minutes after President Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates refusing to defend his temporary ban on refugees, I happened to be on the air and predicted what would happen next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sally Quillian Yates now takes her place in history beside Elliot Richardson, the last Attorney General who directly defied the president of the United States on a Saturday, 44 years ago in 1943.
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Since Nixon, since the Saturday night massacre, we have not had a president dismiss someone because she disagreed with the legal analysis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: We're back with the panel. And Erin, I said this to Tucker Carlson, the next morning in New York Times fifth paragraph Saturday massacre which of course involved a criminal probe of the Nixon White House over Watergate.
MCPIKE: That's right. Look, Both Donald Trump and Sally Yates did exactly what they should have done. Sally Yates is a democrat, she's an Obama holdover. I want to actually...
KURTZ: Wait, wait, wait, you're going to get a lot of tweets. Before we go on. Sally Yates if she disagreed this could have resigned.
KURTZ: Instead she made a big political move and you are saying that's OK?
MCPIKE: Also Donald Trump was right to fire her. I think -- I think from the independent voice of reason here I think both sides did exactly what can be expected of them.
Let me read you a comment that came from an article this week by my old -- my former editor, I should say, Carl Cannon. "She was setting herself up for a seven-figure in private practice risking a job she was going to lose in a week or two anyway."
KURTZ: She was going to lose a job. Marie Harf, even the liberal Harvard lawyer, Alan Dershowitz who opposes the refugee policy of President Trump told CNN that Sally Yates was wrong and that this was a political rejection she was making not a legal one.
HARF: I got a sense that it was actually a legal one. And I'm not a constitutional scholar, but I actually agree with Erin. I think she did what her job was. She was in that job...
KURTZ: The Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department had already this approved this on legal ground.
HARF: The Office of the Legal Counsel is not the end of and be all.
HARF: They had a check history on some issues including torture during the Bush administration. So they are very good lawyers but they are not free from being ask by the attorney general about their work.
KURTZ: You don't think she was grandstanding?
HARFZ: I think, look, I agree with Erin. She did what her job was. I think she felt she had a legal responsibility. And now after we have seen multiple federal judges appointed by democrats and republicans standing up and questioning the refugee ban, what she did actually doesn't seem that crazy. But I agree that's a massacre language...
MCPIKE: She was overblown. Absolutely. Like, and Donald Trump was right to fire her? I mean, look, he's right...
KURTZ: Ok. Let me get -- let me get Kelly. Talk about the optics of the way this was covered. And it was suddenly sort of a woman in the news, Sally Yates what a thing she did. She's an Obama holdover who is on her way out and did this in part to get attention.
RIDDELL: Political grandstanding. She wants the job at MSNBC as a political pundit and I'm sure she'll get one in the few weeks. And she is a liberal hero. But the rule of law was not followed here. She passed through a lot of things under Eric Holder's watch that were questionable.
KURTZ: OK. Come back to -- come back to the press coverage.
RIDDELL: The press coverage was overblown, the massacre thing was completely wrong. CNN went with it all day Monday. And then they still had stuff online on their site on Thursday calling it a Sunday night massacre.
KURTZ: Yes. Because you got to fire more than one person to have it massacred.
RIDDELL: I mean...
All right. Let me -- let me move to the Supreme Court nomination. A huge story this week because there has been so much news this week. Here are liberal and conservative analysts weighing in on the president's pick of Neil Gorsuch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFREY ROSEN, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW PROFESSOR: So if President Trump makes no other decisions that are phrased by both sides this will be the most memorable. He couldn't have picked a more effective, respected conservative intellectual.
JEANINE PIRRO, FORMER PROSECUTOR: What I'm impressed with in terms of Judge Gorsuch is not only the fact that he has incredible credentials, but he has the judicial temperament.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: So I was impressed by the fairness in which these legal analysts and others dealt with Judge Gorsuch. But at the same the media made it clear the battle is into going to turn in his judicial record.
MCPIKE: You think, I mean, that clear?
KURTZ: I think the big story is democrats want to slow this down or defeat it because they are still angry about Merrick Garland instead of republicans.
MCPIKE: Yes. I think that -- I do think that that's part of it, but I do think that the coverage was that this guy is probably going to get through. I actually think -- I think Kellyanne...
KURTZ: But that's a different point.
MCPIKE: No, But I think that that was actually a big part of the coverage after the pick. I disagree with Kellyanne that they good assumed. I think he got a lot of good press.
KURTZ: Do you think, I mean, it is fair to say the democrats are going to fight.
KURTZ: I mean, they are still angry about what happened to Merrick Garland.
RIDDELL: Yes, it's a story. It's a story and it's happening on the Hill and so it should be covered in that direction. I agree. I thought the press was very positive here. The only quorums I had was leading up to the announcement and how CNN and other forums, for example, basically said Donald Trump is trying to grandstand for prime time ratings when actually Supreme Court justice rollout it have happened in prime time before .
KURTZ: Because there were reports that turned out to be untrue that the other contender Tom Hardiman was also heading to D.C. so we wouldn't know who got picked. But it turned out he was at a gas takes in Altoona and he wasn't coming to Washington.
HARF: But they did move it up to take away from the bad coverage on the refugee ban. I think that's been pretty well acknowledged. And the press they've moved up the pubic rollout so they could get some good news.
KURTZ: So they said the press is portraying this as the democrats are going to do it with the republicans. And the republicans did this last year with Garland. This strikes me about what people hate about Washington and isn't there any truth of about them that media are focusing on that there is so much pettiness and holding of grudges.
HARF: I think that's part of what Americans hate about Washington. I also think Americans though, don't like hypocrisy. And I think it's hard for some Americans when they see republicans now saying he needs a vote right away. We need to move forward right now.
Wait a second. We remember what happened to Merrick Garland. We know that he should have at least gotten meetings, hearings, and conversations on the Hill, so I think people don't like that either.
KURTZ: Hypocrisy in both parties, they both outcry obstructionist when their party controls the White House. And I think that's pretty clear by now. Marie Harf, Kelly Riddell, and Erin McPike, thanks very much for stopping by this Sunday.
And after the break, it's Super Bowl Sunday. The media keep demanding why won't Tom Brady talk more about his relationship with Donald Trump. We'll go live to Houston in just a moment.
KURTZ: Nice graphic as we count down to the Super Bowl including Bill O'Reilly's interview with President Trump which we'll see on the Fox Broadcast Network. The usual media hype has turned rather political. As we saw in the Patriots Tom Brady met the press was asked about his relationship with Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BRADY, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK PLAYER: I'm just -- I'm not talking politics. Why? Because I just want to focus on the positive aspects of this game. You know, my teammates and the reasons why we're here. And, you know, it's taking a lot of hard work to get to this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us now from the side of the big game in Houston is Will Leitch, senior editor at Sports on Earth and a contributing editor at New York magazine. So, what's the matter with you sports reporters? The big game, NFL championship on the line, Patriots, Tom Brady in the game again and they keep asking him about his relationship with Trump. What does it have to do with the Super Bowl?
WILL LEITCH, SPORTS ON EARTH SENIOR EDITOR: Well, first off, it's a time- honored tradition to ask players in the Super Bowl about something other than the Super Bowl. There's certainly so many ways that people can say, hey, we're going to win. We're being very positive.
Certainly Brady has a little bit of history of this. Brady had the make America great hat in his locker and that kind of what started all this. It's always this little bit surprise that he gets so much of this supposed to Bill Belichick who actually sent a note to Donald Trump that he read the night before election day.
So, to me, it's like, it's Brady -- you know, Brady has a grand history - you saw that he answered that question. Tom Brad is answering every question that way, including questions about football, by the way. I'm just trying to be positive. I'm just trying to stick with my team...
KURTZ: Yes, right.
LEITCH: ... and have a good time. He answers all questions that way. So it's not really a surprise that Trump related would get that answer.
KURTZ: It's all about the x's and o's one day at a time. We're not looking past the next game.
KURTZ: But there is actually a serious side to this. And we are reading all of these sports columns. For example, USA Today columnist, Nancy Armour "Tom Brady no longer gets a pass on his friendship with Donald Trump. In refusing to publicly disavow Trump's action where he's giving a passive endorsement to both Trump and the chaos he's created."
She goes on to say, Trump has campaign with Steve and racism and bigotry and misogyny. So, some people are calling Tom Brady out. The guy maybe a friend of Trump but he is a professional football player.
LEITCH: Yes, and you know, I get it. Going back to the Belichik idea. I feel like Brady really have never like once come out and said I support Donald Trump. I voted for him and so on.
KURTZ: But he had the hat.
LEITCH: In fact, I did scramble him away. He had the hat, but that was, you know, they're celebrities and they're friends. You know, that was the way he always kind of put it.
So, yes, I think that the idea of what's interesting is happening more and more in the NFL, you see someone like -- like -- there is the Wilson for the Seahawks. He have never really made any political statement and actually made one this week.
I think what the world of Brady has always operated in has been the idea that we can have sports separate from politics. And we can do that and it generally worked for him. He's 39 years old. He's been elite for 16 years. That's all he's worked. That's not really, Howard, as we all know now, Trump has a way of making every conversation whether it's culture or sport or anything else kind of about Donald Trump.
KURTZ: So, you use...
LEITCH: So, I think the reason Brady is getting heat about this is because the rules have changed.
KURTZ: You sort of anticipated my next point. Because I have done Super Bowl coverage before. I've said, boy, the media seems to have it in for Brady and the Patriots, a lot of resentments, so successful, the beautiful wife and all of that.
But Donald Trump in an interview with the New York Times takes on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, of course who famously imposed the four-game suspension on Brady this season over the deflate gate, quote, "scandal." Goodell is a weak guy, a dope and a stupid guy. So of course, and we got to report on that, right?
LEITCH: Well, yes. You know, it's worth noting for all the people after Brady. And I do understand. I think that a statement from him that was a little stronger than -- I'm just a positive guy focused on the game would make sense.
But listen, why would Brady do something that Roger Goodell won't answer. He was at him ahead of a big state of the game press conference I went there. And they asked him what he thought of the Muslim ban. You know, there are other commissioners, the NBA commissioner has had -- has talked to the State Department about what the Muslim ban need for the players.
They made the baseball commissioner met with Trump. They ask Goodell about the band to maybe some of the comments that Trump has made about him. And what did he say? I'm just concentrating on the game. I'm really busy here with the Super Bowl.
So, I think if Roger Goodell can't answer that question, I think it's maybe not that fair to expect for Tom Brady to go in a big political specifically when he actually has to play in the game.
KURTZ: Well, leaving Trump beside hard as that to do, do you think that the deflate gate drama which was such a huge media story it does provide part of the backdrop here for the coverage of the Super Bowl?
LEITCH: Yes. It's funny how, you know, Tom Brady, for obviously one of the most polarizing athletes in America, maybe in American sports history. It's funny though, he's -- probably they don't like Tom Brady but they really don't like Roger Goodell.
So, I think there is a sense because he was suspended for this first four games, because the deflate gate was kind of shatter out together investigation. The idea of Goodell having to kind of ecru who Goodell famously...
KURTZ: Right, right, right. Well, I've got 20 seconds. I want to ask you that.
LEITCH: That's what happened.
KURTZ: Well, I got 20 seconds.
KURTZ: You live in the Atlanta area. Do you think the Falcons have been completely overshadowed in the Super Bowl coverage?
LEITCH: Yes, the Falcons are opponents. It's what they are. I don't think there's any question about that. And you know, typically we draw -- they drive influence and inspiration from that, but it's hard to argue.
Listen, it's not the Cowboys. People wanted the Cowboys. The Falcons are a really good team.
KURTZ: All right.
LEITCH: But in the type of the narrative that's kind of beside the point.
KURTZ: Diplomatically put. Will Leitch, thanks for joining us from Houston.
Still to come, the Washington Post blockbuster story on Steve Bannon that turned out to be riddled with errors.
KURTZ: The Washington Post ran a terribly flawed story yesterday accusing chief White House strategist Steve Bannon of pressuring Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly in person not to exempt green card holders from President Trump's executive order temporarily banning traveling from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Columnist Josh Rogin left the message at home in a security but never contacted the White House. Its editorial page under Fred Hiatt says on editor's note he should have done.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told me "For a paper that has criticized us about the use of facts, the idea that they didn't follow basic journalistic standards and then excuse their pathetic reporting is unbelievable."
A way to gets worse. The Post said "Bannon personally went to Homeland Security headquarters and ordered Kelly not to issue a waiver. It never happened." The paper said Bannon joined other officials in a 2 a.m. conference call about the executive order. He did not.
Now the Post updated its story last night adding Spicer's comments and was trying to be transparent about the changes Hiatt says. But Spicer told me the newspaper is, quote, "dead wrong" he's trying to weasel out of it and needs to apologize.
Now speaking of Sean Spicer to use a football term, he got ruffled up a little bit last night on Saturday Night Live.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELISSA MCCARTHY, ACTRESS: Glenn Thrush of the New York Times, boo. Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I wanted to ask about the travel ban on Muslims.
MCCARTHY: It's not a ban.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry?
MCCARTHY: It's not a ban. The travel ban is not a ban which makes it not a ban.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just called it a ban.
MCCARTHY: Because I'm using your words. You said ban. You said ban. I'm not said saying it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president tweeted and I quote.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "If the ban were announced with a one-week notice."
MCCARTHY: Yes. Exactly. You just said that. He's quoting you, it's your words.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: When Melissa McCarthy mocks on late night TV you know you have arrived.
That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. We hope you like our Facebook page. We post a lot of original content. We do videos and response to your questions about the media at email@example.com.
Check out my news abuse segment. This is a really egregious stuff every Monday night with Tucker Carlson. And I like going back on forth Twitter @howardkurtz. You can DVR the show. If you miss it you can watch it at your convenience. And we are back on next Sunday. Enjoy the Super Bowl with the latest buzz.
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