This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," March 12, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz meter this Sunday, with President Trump facing a barrage of political personal criticism from the media, Kellyanne Conway weighs in on "MediaBuzz." The president's counsel on the conservative revolt against an Obamacare replacement bill, media bias, Trump calling so-called fake news the enemy of the American people, and dealing with the uproar of his unproven claim that Barack Obama had him wire tapped.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you seen any evidence yourself?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As far as me, no. I'm not in the position that that would be regularly part of my daily duties for the president to sit down and go through that. That's probably a level above my pay grade.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How does he know that his phone was actually tapped?
KELYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: Let me answer that globally. He's the president of the United States. He has information and intelligence that the rest of us do not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: A wire some pundits questioning the president's stability. Also, the New York Times says Kellyanne Conway is the victim of sexist attacks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONWAY: This is what happens when you refuse to call yourself a doctor near a feminist because in my view you have to be pro abortion, you have to be anti now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Plus, that new WikiLeaks dump on all the high tech ways the CIA can spy on Americans. Should journalists act as a conduit for these illegal leaks? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."
There is so much media controversy on so many issues surrounding the White House. I sat down with Kellyanne Conway, the president's counselor in New York.
KURTZ: Kellyanne Conway, welcome.
CONWAY: Thank you, Howie.
KURTZ: You often talk about how the media focus less on issues, more on side shows, controversies, flack of the day, and that's a fair point. But doesn't the President Trump drive some of that when he tweets everything from wire tapping to Arnold Schwarzenegger leaving "The Apprentice"?
CONWAY: Well look, in the first 50 days of his presidency the president has given anybody who wants to cover his administration fairly and fully any number apparently of options. It depends on what they want to cover. I do find a lot of the coverage suffers from what I would refer to as meanness (ph) shortly after --
KURTZ: A short groupthink you're saying?
CONWAY: No, I just think that, you know, why -- instead of everybody looking out of the same pane of glass all the time, why not turn your head 30 degrees that way and you can still see what everybody else is saying, but wow, a whole new world opens up.
KURTZ: But one of those panes of glass is the president's use of twitter, which is a very effective communication tool --
CONWAY: Yes it is.
KURTZ: -- but it sometimes leads to stories that take away from tax cuts, Obamacare and the elements of his agenda (ph).
CONWAY: Not for the people though. I disagree. I think the people at large -- it's a big country out there outside of the know-it-alls and the big country out there listened to him at that joint session address and they still know he is a man of action and a man of impact.
They know that he is somebody who just looked them in the eye for an hour and said that he will repeal and replace Obamacare. He called ISIS savages. He said radical Islamic terrorism. He said we will build the wall -- that we are a nation that helps -- have spent billions of dollars in many years helping other countries protect their sovereignty and their borders, its high time we did it ourselves.
He went on and on and so people heard that. But I do want to say one thing about twitter and you know, somebody who, as his campaign manager and now counselor to the president. I heard from people in the campaign, oh, you have to take away his twitter, take his phone, delete his -- are you kidding me? This is the way he communicates and connects directly with people and it's a democratization of information for him.
It's that the laborer looking at his screen (ph) rise on the job, a stay- at-home mom attending to her kids who has the computer up in the corner, the CEO-billionaire who's custody (ph) with everybody around him telling him what's going on in the world and what the social media says, and then the academic in the ivory tower. All four of them and you and me can see that he said it at the same exact time.
KURTZ: Yes, of course.
CONWAY: For free.
KURTZ: Let me get to Obamacare, but since we're on the subject, it was just last weekend the president tweeted about Barack Obama having tapped his wires then he gauged (ph) McCarthyism. That he acted like Nixon in Watergate. That he's a bad or sick guy. And you and Sean Spicer and Vice President Pence and others have been very careful not to personally endorse that which doesn't have any evidence of that we know of. Isn't that a difficult position for you?
CONWAY: I'm not in a difficult position, but I will just emphasize what the president had said, which is he had called upon the House and Senate intelligence committees to add this piece to the investigation to their existing investigation about Russia and they've agreed to do that. And so we'll make a comment after those findings are complete.
KURTZ: The media narrative on Obamacare is this, the left doesn't like it, it makes predictions, millions of people might lose their coverage, but your real problem politically is with the House conservatives who say it doesn't go far enough, too much of a government role, it's Obamacare Lite and all of that. Doesn't that coverage reflect the fact that this is a tough political battlefield?
CONWAY: Obamacare is very tough. It's been a disaster for many people. It surely has helped some Americans and the president has committed that no one will loose access to coverage, Howie, that there will be a smooth transition for those who currently went on the exchanges. But that's not most Americans. So many Americans complained about the unaffordability -- the question on affordability of healthcare.
They were promised lowered premiums. You have this unaffordable care, high premiums. You have the small businesses who can't pull themselves together to get coverage. The president in the three-pronged approach to help get reformed here -- he will in prong one get rid of all those mandates, penalties and taxes, hundreds of billions of dollars, expand the health (inaudible) account that you have better (inaudible).
Nobody ever brings the rental car to the car wash when they return it. It's not theirs. So with healthcare spending, if it's yours, if you own the account, if it has your name on it, if you have more skin in the game I think people will become more responsible consumers that way.
Phase two is the regulatory phase. It's the phase that allows secretary of HHS, Dr. Tom Price, to set up a regulatory framework that's more in keeping with the free market patient-centric system. Thirdly, and this is where many things exists that animate those conservatives, it's inter-state mobility of healthcare so that you can buy and sell health insurance across state lines and acknowledge what reform is in there and also drug pricing and a few other things. So it's all there.
KURTZ: One of the reasons -- let me just jump in -- one of the reasons that the president has a problem with most conservative and the Republican Party is that when he ran, he made clear that he likes certain aspects of Obamacare -- pre-existing conditions, no ban there, kids until 26 stay on the parents policy and no one would lose their coverage. That's not the doctrine or conservative position, and so he now is in a sort of ideological fire with people who want to do away with more of it. Would you concede that?
CONWAY: Howie, there is nothing to concede except to say the president is trying to repeal and replace Obamacare with a better system. But Obamacare is not a hypothetical idea in the wind.
KURTZ: It's a flawed program. It's also hard to take the message (ph) away.
CONWAY: Well, but it existed for seven years -- it's existed for seven years. And pre-existing conditions and these young adults on their parents plans until 26 are two pieces that are important to many Americans and he's just -- that's part of his plan where he is repealing and replacing. It's a about Medicaid. It's about the policies and taxes.
I think this is Donald Trump at his best, the negotiator, the deal maker, the decision maker, the listener. This is a guy who is listening as president of the United States. Always (inaudible) his constituencies and I wouldn't go out there with the fact that the hard -- that the Democratic Party is nowhere to be found except scaring Americans.
No wonder the insurance ran out. Hey folks, no wonder you lost a thousand legislative seats, control of the House and the Senate (inaudible), the presidency. That was true. They were just scaring people. Where are their solutions? Where are their ideas?
KURTZ: It would take all -- it would take all these relation skills. All right, you have some pundits now in the wake of the tweet storm this weekend who are actually questioning the president's mental stability. Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC is saying perhaps he should be removed under the 25th amendment. I've never seen anything like this. What's your reaction?
CONWAY: I've never seen anything like this either. But Washington has never seen anything like President Donald Trump. He's doing exactly what he promised to do. When you come in as an outsider and you owe no one anything and you're going to disrupt a bureaucracy that is so entrenched that the -- standing up by root and branch. The tentacles are so deep and so clinging to power, to status, to money, to position, to each other.
You're going to ruffle a lot of feathers and so -- first of all, people were not expecting him to win. I still think they're in shell shock four months later, get over it. And secondly, they just don't seem to want to give him any kind of birth (ph) at all, let alone a live birth to govern. Is there nothing good in the first 50 days for any of these people to cover?
KURTZ: Well that's my question because then you have people like Mika Brzezinski saying fake presidency, he has no credibility, you know, ever part of the press' job is to critique and criticize the president but I wonder what you think about the rhetoric --
CONWAY: Your show is about the press but respectfully, it's a big country out there and there are tens of millions of Americans who like what the president is doing and appreciate the fact that he is making good on his campaign promises and doing it very quickly.
KURTZ: You don't think the media coverage affects him? Do you think they (inaudible) out? Do you think they don't trust him?
CONWAY: Well, the president's approval rating is much higher than the media's approval rating and congress' approval rating for that matter. But that all aside, if you look at the polls that matter most, what people think of some specific pieces of his program and the number of people who think that he's making good on his promises and that he's moving quickly.
Buried in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last the week was just a treasure trove of positive information for President Trump. Among it, you know the majority that Americans saying that he would take the country in the right direction or I think he would make real change -- real change.
And then among them, among the ones who said he would make change, among that 77 percent, they were asked would it be mostly positive change or mostly negative change. And by 2 to 1 they said mostly positive change. People are optimistic. Look at the jobs report, 235,000 in jobs, 4.7 percent --
KURTZ: On Friday, yes
CONWAY: -- unemployment. That's what matters to people.
KURTZ: I agree that that matters a lot more than the scandals that we all get tied up in and it doesn't mean there is not a legitimate story. You deal with journalists a lot of time. The majority of the coverage of this president and I've said this over and over again, has been negative. There's not getting around it, whether it's justified, we can debate. Doesn't it make your job harder when the president names CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC and The New York Times and says enemy of the American people?
CONWAY: The president has made very clear that he would like to have, you know, a good relationship with the press, but it's a two-way street and we believe in a fair and free press. But with a fair and free press comes responsibility. And the responsibilities also to not be presentively negative at every turn.
This is a president -- I tell him and say publicly all the time and I'll say it again, he is his own best spokesperson and I think when he does the press conference, when he goes to CPAC, when he does a rally in Melbourne, Florida or maybe one coming up soon somewhere else, Howie, when he goes and addresses Congress in a joint session, that's Donald Trump at his finest.
That's the president communicating, connecting people and I hope he does a lot of it. I hope he gets his cabinet secretaries out on TV more, but you know, it would be nice for him to get, you know, people are calling him names that I have never heard a president described before. I mean, seriously, I was -- well maybe I'm old, but I was raised to respect the office of the president and its current occupant no matter who it is and I think by any quantitative objective analysis, the coverage of this president has been so presumptively negative and unfair and incomplete.
And no, this is not a common in the biased news -- it's not what we're saying. We're just saying, if he said 34-35 executive actions in the first 50 days, why is everybody covering one or two? I think the American people want to hear about the jobs --
KURTZ: Is the president --
CONWAY: There's an optimism -- there's an economic optimism you see reflected in the stock market, you see reflected in consumer confidence and you see reflected in the job growth. The construction manufacturing job explosion in his first four months on the job really tells the tale.
KURTZ: I have more of my interview with Kellyanne Conway about her life under constant media scrutiny and criticism. Weigh in on the interview, email@example.com. But when we come back, the president's unproven wiretapping claim is getting more coverage than ever even as the White House tries to move on.
KURTZ: Here for the Kellyanne in defense of President Trump -- more of that interview later. Now let's bring in our panel, Erin McPike, White House correspondent for Independent Journal Review, Meghan McCain, a co- host of "Outnumbered," and Margaret Carlson, columnist for "The Daily Beast."
I put this question to Kellyanne Conway, is it a problem with Trump's top aides, and you saw a little bit of the clips at the top, can't personally vouch for his unproven claim about wiretapping or is this just journalism enjoying the story and pounding every guest for answers they can't provide.
ERIN MCPIKE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, INDEPENDENT JOURNAL REVIEW: I think it is a problem. You also played Sean Spicer at the top saying it isn't his job to get all that information from the president. I think that is his job. It is his job to go out an defend the president so he should have access to that information.
KURTZ: Fox News confirmed an AP report saying the House Intelligence Committee has information from the White House to back up the wire tapping claim by Monday, by tomorrow. So, journalists may not want to let this go but also you have interviews with members of Congress and former and current or usually former CIA and FBI officials, all of which keeps the story going because no one has been able to point too much evidence.
MEGHAN MCCAIN, OUTNUMBERED SHOW HOST, FOX NEWS: What happened with the story right now is we don't know what we don't know. The White House could have a bunch of information on this and a bunch of evidence and the story ends up being a hundred percent true. But right now, we're all you know, evolving in conspiracy theories and what ifs, and that's a very difficult place to be, but you know what we're not talking about? We're not talking about Jeff Sessions recusing himself.
We're not talking about that scandal, and this is what Donald Trump does so well. He changes the media narrative with one tweet. He's been doing it since the campaign and he did it again. We're not talking about that now.
KURTZ: He is very, very successful at that, at driving the media agenda, but at the same time, look where he has driven it, to all this criticism about him making a charge that at least the journalistic consensus is he is not been able to back up.
MARGARET CARLSON, COLUMNIST, DAILY BEAST: Howie, if the White House have something, I mean, they would have put it out in order to help the story. In the interview with Kellyanne which is very interesting, we haven't heard that much from her lately. Mr. Know-it-all, you know, among all the know- it-alls in the press let her have her say on almost every topic. But on the wiretapping tweet she was conspicuously less forthcoming because no one does have this. I don't think it exists and they're not telling us. It doesn't exist so they're not telling us.
KURTZ: Right. I mean I understand the position which is if the president is not giving you information when you are the spokesman, you're the counselor, and you're the vice president of the United States. You can't go on television and say, well, I know this is true and the president has assured me. So instead you retreat to where the president is now, which is let's have congress investigate, but that in turn is driving the story.
MCCAIN: It's also a complete matter of distrust of our national security and the CIA and the FBI becoming so politicized in the election cycle. So, I speak to a lot of average Americans all the time and they have reason to believe that maybe there are people inside the FBI that are doing this for political reasons that want to take out great President Trump who speaks for the people, who (INAUDIBLE) Obama administration that's not a part of this problem right now.
KURTZ: There certainly is a lot of leaking presumably from the people who are holdovers from the previous administration on some national security matters as well against Donald Trump. All right, so, this is all according to unnamed source or sources close to the former president. NBC says Barack Obama rolled his eyes at this allegation. CNN, "he was hurt and exasperated." "Wall Street Journal," "he was livid." But President Obama hasn't come out and said these things himself. This is all being filtered through sources.
MCPIKE: And President Obama also has said that he doesn't necessarily want to come out and say much at the beginning of the new president's tenure. The question I asked on Monday of Sean Spicer was has Donald Trump thought about picking up the phone and calling President Obama and to ask him about this personally because the Trump administration is trying to hold the media to a very sort of standards so shouldn't they be subject to the same standards that you go to the subject and ask first before you accuse?
KURTZ: And Spicer's defense?
MCPIKE: He said I don't know if they have talked. And we found out soon that they haven't spoken since the inauguratiin.
KURTZ: All right, let me get a break. Up next, some commentators now openly questioning the president's stability. Isn't that way over the line? And later, Kellyanne Conway on whether there is a double standard for top officials who are republicans and female.
KURTZ: The uproar over President Trump's unproven claim about wiretapping has made some of his media detractors actually questioning his mental stability. In the case of Lawrence O'Donnell saying he should be removed from office under the 25th Amendment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
BRZEZINSKI: I had hoped and an open mind and I have lost hope completely and my mind is closed. This presidency is fake and failed.
BOB BECKEL, THE FIVE HOST, FOX NEWS: This guy is now almost to the point, and I have a very strong suggestion as an American, I think that he ought not have control of the nuclear codes. He ought to have Pence, him and the Secretary of Defense because this guy is starting to lose it.
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, THE LAST WORD SHOW HOST, MSNBC NEWS: Whether he lied about President Obama because he is simply a buffoon, whether he accuse President Obama of committing a crime because he is a madman.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: Meghan McCain, is it over --
MCCAIN: Hey Lawrence, Sunday morning.
KURTZ: So, is it over the top for pundits who can criticize the president's handling of the wiretapping issue, that is fine. But to say things like as Mika Brzezinski put it, fake president, failed president.
MCCAIN: It's so over the top. It's so dramatic. It's worse than some of the things I've seen on "The Bachelor" this season. But you have to say, this only gives President Trump power. People -- his hardcore supporters, they love he makes the media uncomfortable.
They love that he's like speaking truth to the media elite, and just warning I continue to give liberals and I continue to give people in liberal media, save your ammo for something that's actually worth it. If he actually does something that you really truly believed could be dangerous, could be compromising to our democracy. But until then, it's perhaps hysterical every night on television you lose power.
MCPIKE: Well, one thing I would say, it's so bad it's good, right. Like good television, good ratings, you know.
KURTZ: OK. Well, but for the rest of us who are uninitiated, can you explain the "Bachelor" reference?
MCCAIN: Well, it's just that it's so dramatic. It's over the top. I mean, I think when you're saying, you know, this is a fake president, oh, my gosh. I think that is -- it is not commentary. It's just, you know, just sort of like opening up --
CARLSON: I think it's hysterical. The dishonest media had been giving Trump a break on tweets saying that there was some rationale for them. He wanted to counteract a story before with a new tweet. Just layer them on top.
CARLSON: This when was -- it came after his speech which there was no rationale for taking attention away from that.
KURTZ: It came after his successful speech at Congress but then came the Jeff Sessions stuff (ph).
CARLSON: And he broke a taboo which is to call the former president sick and bad.
CARLSON: And we usually, you know, have respect that, you know, the President's Club there is a certain amount. KURTZ: And so then maybe the pundits are trying to match Trump's language because they see that he gets a lot of clicks and attention when he uses inflammatory words. But look, the president is fair game for criticism by the media. There is no debate about that. But having interviewed him since the 1980s, a successful businessman, a guy who won the White House when almost no one thought he could do it, is not a guy who is insane.
MCPIKE: Well, yes. He's not insane. I think the one that we hear from a lot of media right now is that he is unhinged. What does that even mean, you know? I think we need to slow down and just take everything step by step, ask direct questions, get the facts and calm down.
CARLSON: He doesn't have impulse control. I think that he feels something and its -- if he doesn't mediate it in any way and then it's out there.
KURTZ: OK, so speaking o impulse control, take away the nuclear codes, I mean, to what extent do this kind of language undermine the media's credibility, which he already has at a low end (ph) when they are taking on (inaudible) some -- and want to emphasize some because (inaudible) the president.
MCCAIN: Yes, it's not all.
KURTZ: Yes, but what does this do to their credibility, the media's credibility?
MCCAIN: So that's what I've been trying to say since the rise of Donald Trump, is that if all Republicans are insane and Hitler, which sort of has been the narrative for a long time, comparing all Republicans to George Wallace going back to my father on forward, then it doesn't matter. If you are hysterical about every move Donald Trump makes, which many people in the media have done, and all it does is make his supporters think that you're part of the left crooked media in the government.
KURTZ: Everything is now left to 11. All right, stay put panel. Ahead on "Media Buzz," the coverage of that damaging WikiLeaks dump on CIA spying techniques. Is Julian Assange getting a pass? But first, even "The New York Times" says the administration's highest ranking woman is being hit by lots of sexist attacks. More with Kellyanne Conway in a moment.
KURTZ: More now of my sit down in New York with Kellyanne Conway and we began with a "New York Times" piece on the flack she gets as a woman.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
KURTZ: Let me read you a headline, "Sexist Political Criticism Finds A New Target: Kellyanne Conway." That's from The New York Times. The story says, "What powerful political woman is mocked for her clothes, is the target of pictures on Twitter depicting her as haggard and is routinely called a witch and a "B" word." "New York Times" wrote a piece saying you're being unfairly attacked on substance (ph) --
CONWAY: The "B" word is beautiful?
KURTZ: It just does not going to --
KURTZ: What's your reaction to this being in The New York Times saying that you're being unfairly attacked because you're (inaudible)?
CONWAY: I was asked about that before I read the article actually and I'm very heartened by the article. I did not participate in it but I would note for you that a number of well-known Democratic, prominent liberal women that we know like Karen Finney and Jen Palmieri who worked very hard to elect Hillary Clinton and who I commend as obviously very good consultants and worthy political opponent, they came to the defense of why a woman would be talked about in these terms. But you should also recognize that a lot of these comments come from women and I just don't -- I turned off a lot of it and if I don't read most of the praise and I don't read most of the criticism like literally most of it, it keeps you in balance.
KURTZ: That's a good survival strategy.
CONWAY: On this White House -- well, it's not just survival, it's prospering. I'm there to serve the president who is there to serve the American people. I'm not there to read about my --
KURTZ: Well, part of the mockery and this came up in a lot of these articles including the "Times," you know, that infamous photo of you taking a picture on the Oval Office couch and you're trying to get everybody into the room and (INAUDIBLE).
KURTZ: Right. And then Democratic congressman Cedric Richmond made a crude sexual joke about the position you were in. The women's groups didn't exactly come to your aid.
CONWAY: The silence was deafening. But remember, I'm pro-life. I am a high-ranking female White House official for President Donald Trump.
KURTZ: What about Nancy Pelosi? She was asked about it on CNN.
CONWAY: Very disappointed in --
KURTZ: She said she didn't know and she kind of --
CONWAY: -- Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. No wonder she was a two-term speaker and the majority of the voters were female across the country and they want her to be speaker anymore. I was very disappointed with her. She either was not telling the truth that she wasn't aware of it or it's not important enough to her caucus that they would bring it to her attention and ask her this person who says every day, this one she recuse, that one should resign, that one should go be impeached.
She had nothing to say about a member of her -- a Democratic congressman, a member of her caucus issuing such a tasteless, sexist joke which a lot of liberals in the room do not think it was funny, brought to my attention immediately. She and I went to the same small Catholic women's college. The nation's oldest all women Catholic college community in Washington, D.C. and that small women Catholic college can boast the first female Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, the first successful female presidential campaign manager.
And the way they threat the two of us, the president of the college is unbelievable, and you would think some of the alumni of the all women Catholic college would maybe be pro-Life or maybe object to Nancy Pelosi's abortion anyone, anytime, anywhere stance. But this is what happens when you refuse to call yourself a doctrinaire feminist because in my view, you have to be pro-abortion. You have to be anti-male.
Look at all these commercials on TV about men, they can't open up the garbage bag until unless the wife shows them how. We treat men like they're fools. I don't look at my husband and my son, my cousins, my colleagues that way.
KURTZ: Let me jump in on our remaining time. When you were off TV for about a week, CNN reports --
CONWAY: Eight days.
KURTZ: -- ran a story based on a lot of unnamed sources saying the White House had sidelined you whether you think about that --
CONWAY: I don't think much about it.
KURTZ: And then you went back on a bunch of TV interviews.
CONWAY: I did and I'm invited on TV routinely. I have been a very loud voice since the transition and it's all out there and so anybody could pull the click (ph) and the coats of having our cabinet secretaries out there, our vice president, our president, other voices. And having less of us on TV, why?
It's not the campaign. The opponent is not a political opponent. It's a proactive agenda and having us because the president is the main messenger. And if I can go out and reinforce his message on his behalf, I'm happy to do it and he like seeing me out there. One day I'm going to go get one of those fancy made for TV facelifts set women of a certain age seem to get on TV and I'll make sure everyone know about it and then ahead of time why I'm on for three or four -- why I'm gone for three or weeks sidelining myself.
KURTZ: Now, this is not a question against innocent men but you brought this up on CBS Sunday morning and you said that the one thing that would cause you to at least think about leaving the White House is your four kids, who are still here in New York would having yet to move to Washington. Is it harder than you thought working for the president and being a mom?
CONWAY: No. It's not hard all. In fact, it's more rewarding that I could have ever imagined because the impact he can have on lives and will is truly remarkable and it's why I'm there.
KURTZ: But it's only 24 hours in a day and you've got children when you do as well.
CONWAY: That's right. They do need their mommy. You are making me too accessible and relatable now. You know, remember, I'm a "W," a witch and "B" because I am making too nice like, oh, god, she has kids who love her. But it gives you great perspective and Donald Trump is somebody who is president, is the same as he was at the Trump Corporation, and what he's done in the cabinet, elevating women to high positions and his campaign certainly -- he elevated women in New York real estate at a time when other men just did not.
It's a very comfortable thing for him and he is always very gracious and very aware of the fact that I have children. He knows it and he's a very family-friendly, very pro-woman boss to have and I'm very proud of my children as well because they and family members and certainly my husband are working overtime to accommodate a situation that's unusual for us. And you know Howie, hats off to my male colleagues who also have kids but they're the first ones to admit to me it's different for the mom. It just is different.
I mean, someone -- my male colleague asks, hey, how are the kids? I will say, I don't know. I haven't seen them four days. You know, I don't have that -- sometimes I'm up on Facetime until midnight helping with the slide presentation or --
KURTZ: That's the secret.
CONWAY: -- with the spelling with, and that's OK. So, and that's the answer to why I look haggard too, you haters. I'm having a 6th grade math and I'm proud of it.
KURTZ: Kellyanne Conway unplugged. Thanks very much for sitting down with us here in New York.
CONWAY: Thank you.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
KURTZ: Coming up, the press feeds on the Republican warfare over replacing Obamacare. Is there a bit of gloating there? And later, Ben Bradley and Catherine Graham, again getting the Hollywood treatment?
KURTZ: You guys just heard Kellyanne Conway talking about sexist attacks as it was mention in The New York Times article and also about the focus on her looks and whether she looks haggard, because she's working so hard, she's got four kids. I'll let everybody to react, Meghan.
MCCAIN: You know, I know women's taking a day off work women's protest this week I talked a lot about. The modern definition of feminism meaning a very different thing for liberal woman than it does for conservative women and I thought she summed that up very well and I thought all the comments made by the congressmen, that vulgar comment you talked about was completely beyond the pail and I have also been surprised at Nancy Pelosi's response to it, not defending Kellyanne Conway.
KURTZ: You get a lot of flack on everywhere --
MCCAIN: Everyone woman on -- all three of us, we will leave this studio and get flacked about, Howie, based on what we say.
CARLSON: I look like Scooby Doo, apparently so, and it gets sent to me among other things. Kellyanne is wrong about women not defending her. I'm one of them. And that a lot of things have been blown out of proportion. She's a lightning rod. There are men in the White House doing many bigger mistakes that she did. I wish she hadn't done the facelift thing, because then she's kind of pointing out women who do that. And that's a more sexist thing. The very thing, you know, we're guilty of and was brought up in "The New York Times" piece about her.
KURTZ: Obviously I think it was said as a bit of a joke, but also, yes, a few -- I mean, including Chelsea Clinton defended her. But there wasn't, you know, you didn't have now coming out and saying Kellyanne Conway is being mistreated.
MCPIKE: Look, the other thing I would say is by indulging in some of the attacks. I think she's taking away from the president's message some which is what here job is to be driving, which I think is the biggest problem.
KURTZ: My view is she has every right to respond and I did ask the question. All right, let's get to Obamacare. Much of the media savoring this sort of Republican dilemma replacing the program, a conservative revolt against the plan backed by Paul Ryan and praised by president Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Folks, the Republican healthcare plan already has an identity crisis because the Republican Party still has an identity crisis at least when it comes to ideology.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it seems to me that if they do pass this, which I don't think they will, they're going to end up owning the problems Obamacare continues to have without really getting a great deal for it.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Well the American Health Act is a step in the right direction. It is far from perfect. It must be fixed.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: So, how much are the media enjoying this spectacle of Republicans fighting Republicans over how to reform this program?
MCCAIN: Love it. There's nothing to me that loves more than Republican on Republican (INAUDIBLE) but I actually think the criticism you just showed is valid. I mean, if you talk about the Freedom Caucus, Rand Paul, Justin Amash, this is definitely going to be a fight that is going to go on for a long time basically about the soul of the future of repeal and replace.
KURTZ: For six years, as the Republicans kept repealing Obamacare 50 or 60 times, and the press said well, you don't have a plan, but now there is a plan but it's hard to sell it to everybody because you have the conservative wing that doesn't want to keep much of the program and you're the president and the leadership wants to sort of strike a compromise.
CARLSON: This plan is dead but --
CARLSON: Yes. I mean, we're not going to have this --
KURTZ: How do you know that President Trump is not going to bring the party together?
CARLSON: We're not having this replacement.
KURTZ: Are you saying that we --
CARSLON: You know, what the media has been running all week is that clip of Trump from the campaign during which he is saying Republicans don't like this, but I want to have even bigger, better healthcare. He practically wants kids to stay on their parents' insurance until they're eligible for Medicare. He was --
KURTZ: Let me move on. Let me move on. Is the president doing a good job explaining all the complexities here about tax credits and subsidies and you know --
MCPIKE: Yes, I think that it actually dominated a lot of the week. I think the coverage has actually been quite good. And look, I think you're saying Paul Ryan and Tom Price and others realized that they have to do a better job messaging and they were saying that toeards the end of the week saying, OK, we need to do a better job talking about the three phases of this plan.
KURTZ: Two other issues, Rex Tillerson travelling to Asia -- first gig overseas trip as Secretary of State not taking reporters. He will hold a press conference and talk to reporters who get there on their own. Very unusual for the secretary of state.
MCCAIN: I don't understand this at all and I think it only it gives people in the media reason to question exactly what he's doing. If you take a position about how the level and the administration should definitely be bringing, you know, a pool of reporters with him.
CARLSON: Rex Tillerson is the anti-Trump when it comes to the media. He loves it. He manipulated it. He doesn't like what he's getting now, but Rex Tillerson is a traditional CEO. He doesn't like the media and he doesn't want to be in it but it would be too his benefit because he's kind of the absent cabinet secretary.
KURTZ: All right, lots' of headlines in the last 38 hours. Two front page stories in The New York Times and one from front page story came from the "Washington Post" about Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking for the resignations of 46 U.S. attorneys, including as it turns out Preet Bharara who is a high-profile U.S. attorney in Manhattan, the Southern District of New York who refused to turn his resignation and had to be fired. Is this a story or non-story, and I asked that because as you know, there is quite a precedent here for other new precedents going this route.
MCPIKE: Well it's definitely news. It is a story to see all of these attorneys go and that they have to replace them. I think what makes it a little bit of a bigger story is that the White House said it first that they wouldn't be doing it in this fashion and they went back on their word. I told Dianne Feinstein that they were going to do it in a staged process, but it's not worthy of the uproar that it's getting.
KURTZ: Bill Clinton fired 93 U.S. attorneys including Jeff Sessions at that time in Alabama got a letter from Janet Reno, but it was done a little less abruptly. But that seems to me -- it seems to me that press is insinuating there is something wrong with this.
MCCAIN: It's far from historically unprecedented as you just mentioned with President Clinton and I think this is the problem like people begin -- already do distrust the media because something that has happened time and time again. The media is acting like Donald Trump is doing something completely different. It looks like it's the crooked media trying to hurt him.
CARLSON: It's totally expected but the most famous one is the one that's causing I think the stir, which is the U.S. Attorney from the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara.
CARLSON: And Trump had hugged, I mean, Trump had hugged him and I think -- and that was well covered. But that was before Steve Bannon had taken complete possession of Trump's soul, now --
KURTZ: A little bit of a leap there.
CARLSON: But now he want to fire the guy he assured was going to keep his job.
KURTZ: All right. I think you may be getting little twitter response on that one. And just to be clear, U.S. Attorneys are political appointees. They can get replaced like anybody else when a new administration comes in. That's the way it works.
Erin McPike, Meghan McCain, Margaret Carlson, thanks for coming by this Sunday. After the break, WikiLeaks reveals the CIA can spy on you through your smart phone even your TV, but should journalist be publicizing the dangerous leaks of Julian Assange?
KURTZ: They are huge headlines over the latest dump by Wikileaks which says it's disclosing secret CIA technology that can spy on Americans through their smart phones, their laptops, even their TVs. That's obviously eye popping and disturbing but just how should the media be covering Julian Assange, a group that routinely pumps out classified information.
Joining us now is Gillian Turner, Fox News contributor and vice president of Jones Group International and former National Security staffer in the Obama and Bush White Houses. All right, so let's start with WikiLeaks. You have your WikiLeaks and then we'll get to how it should be covered because I think there is a tendency in the press to say, wow, here's this latest thoughts, let's just throw it on TV and carry it on the web because it's hot and it will get us a lot of clicks and ratings.
GILLIAN TURNER, CONTRIBUTOR, FOZ NEWS: I mean I think there is a press responsibility to report on it when there is something like this or dump like this absolutely. But above and beyond that, I think the press has a responsibility to not just spit out talking points that WikiLeaks itself provides.
You know, they have this tendency now and they dump the (INAUDIBLE) of documents like this to give you a nice little talking points-type executive summary at the top. And if nay outlet is just using those to kind of base its analysis on and to present to its viewers and readers, I think that's irresponsible.
KURTZ: But this is an organization that seems determined to embarrass America that would actively work it would in some fashion it seems with Russia in the hackings or in the campaign of the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign, e-mails, and all of that. Should the media be a little more determined, a little bit more cautious in describing the (INAUDIBLE) rather than just sort of ripping and running with it?
TURNER: Absolutely. And viewers should as well. The American people should be a lot more skeptical than they currently are. One of the problems I'm seeing is that folks during the campaign who supported Donald Trump are now jumping on board and saying they now have this idea that because WikiLeaks orchestrated this DNC dump during the campaign, that WikiLeaks is somehow pro-Trump. Make no mistake about it. This organization will turn on the Trump administration a dime.
Their primary focus here is trafficking in classified intelligence, classified information in order to embarrass the United States. They don't care who the president is. They're not aligning with any U.S. political party here.
KURTZ: But on that point, it seems that people in the political world and many commentators on the left or right either don't like or like WikiLeaks depending on who is the target. I mean Donald Trump have said I love WikiLeaks here in the campaign because the Democrats were the target. And now the White House has said very little about the hacking of the CIA. Maybe there's for other reasons so, do you see people in the opinion business welcoming leaks only when they heard the other side?
TURNER: Of course, and it's very dangerous. And mark my words, President Trump will come to regret that he said that because at some point during the course of his tenure, they are going to do -- they are going to release -- it's almost inevitable that they're going to release information that he feels will be damaging to him.
KURTZ: Do you think --
TURNER: And at that point, he has to fall back on this statement he said earlier that he loves them and they are a wonderful organization, and that puts him in a bind.
KURTZ: Do you think the administration has been reluctant to criticize him if he leaks in this instance because of the past history or because not wanting to sort of officially confirm that the CIA spying techniques are real and this stuff is the real deal?
TRUNER: Yes. It's kind of a combination of all of those things, I would say. I think that in the political corners of the White House, the political advisors are probably eager to embrace damaging information that's released about Democrats absolutely. But I also think that the responsible folks in the administration recognize what you just said, which is that there's now this ongoing FBI criminal investigation. We don't really know that these things are -- nobody has verified this stuff yet and so why comment on it when it could be totally foolish.
KURTZ: Right. Well we have half a minute. I mean, it's been widely portrayed as pretty scary stuff. But WikiLeaks didn't say the CIA was doing all the stage in spying, just that it has the capability of doing it. Has there been an element of high fear in the way it's been covered?
TURNER: Yes, probably. And again, I come back to this point that WikiLeaks bills itself as a not for profit organization, but they're very nebulous opaque kind of organization. They take money from foreigners and again, use it to sabotage the United States national interest so, of course they're willing to hype things when they think that it will help them in a P.R. sense.
KURTZ: Right. And I think the meeting needs to be really, really careful about that. Gillian Turner, great to see you. Thanks for coming in. Still to come. Steven Spielberg and Hollywood are making a movie about the Washington Post and the Pentagon Papers but don't they have the wrong newspaper?
KURTZ: (INAUDIBLE) we're constantly debating government leaks, Steven Spielberg is going to make a film about a very famous leak in media which by the way would be distributed by Fox. The movie zooms in on the Pentagon Papers, a secret history of the Vietnam War leaked by a contractor named Daniel Ellsberg, and leading to a landmark Supreme Court ruling for press freedom.
Meryl Streep will star as post publisher Katherine Graham and Tom Hanks as Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee. But here's the odd thing, Ellsberg actually leaked the documents to the "New York Times" reporter Neil Sheehan who's only after the Nixon administration got a lower court to bar the "Times" from publishing but the "Post" obtained and ran on the Pentagon Papers. Here's my take. Hollywood decided that the legendary Ben and Kay were just better characters.
I actually love this story. Every parent who's ever tried to do a TV interview from home, maybe even a Skype conference call has been anxious about such a calamity. Robert Kelly, a political science professor in South Korea was doing a BBC interview when this happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT KELLY, PROFESSOR, SOUTH KOREA: Scandals happen all the time. The question is how did (INAUDIBLE) with those scandals.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what will it mean for the wider region. I think one of your children just walked in. Shifting sounds in the region, do their relations with the north might change?
KELLY: I would be surprised that they do, but -- pardon me. My apologies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What will it be to the region?
KELLY: My apologies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Boy, did he stay poised. That's happened to me, but at least it was radio and his wife is like an Olympic athlete hustling the kids out including the baby with the walker. About a billion more people have probably seen that interview because the kids barged in. 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 there. Let me know what you think about the show, the Kellyanne interview, firstname.lastname@example.org, @HowardKurtz and Twitter. Expecting to pick up my phone here and see a lot of reaction. We'll continue the dialogue and we'll see you back here next Sunday with the latest buzz.
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