This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," March 19, 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 involved in new series of media controversies, Sean Spicer weighs in on "MediaBuzz." We ask the press secretary about Rachel Maddow about the president's tax returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
RACHEL MADDOW, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW HOST: For the record, the first amendment gives us the right to publish this return. We have the legal right to show these tax returns. We are not publishing them.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It is unbelievably dishonest and it show the length which NBC News will go to get ratings.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: Why did the MSNBC anchor and their long rambling height up presentation draws so much ridicule. An escalating battle with the press corps over President Obama's claim Barack Obama having had him wiretapped.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: Where was your passion and concern when you all said there was no connection to Russia? He stands by it, but you are mischaracterizing what happened what happened today.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN: So how does the president go on and continue?
SPICER: You are mischaracterizing what Chairman Nunes said.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: Tonight we know the president of the United States has no facts.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Everybody in town except for possibly the president knows there wasn't a wiretap, that that is not true.
WOODWARD: Let's remember that heads of the intelligence committee, the CIA director, those of us in the media have been wrong about lots of things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Why is Spicer accusing the media of a false narrative? He says many in the press don't want Trump to succeed. Is that true? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."
Rachel Maddow could not have been more excited as she touted and teased President Trump's tax return. Then came the 20-minute monologue and she still didn't get to the news about the two pages from 2005 until after the first commercial break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is the first time we believe federal tax returns have been obtained by anyone. But once you are president of the United States, the people of the United States need to know if you have got significant unexplained sources. What we have are these two pages, front and back from the same 1040 form you might have filled out when you file your taxes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: That is where we began when I sat down with White House press secretary Sean Spicer in the old executive office building.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Sean Spicer, welcome.
SPICER: Thanks for having me.
KURTZ: When Rachel Maddow disclosed two pages of the president's tax returns showing 38 million dollars in 2005. The president tweeted NBC, fake news. But even before she got out the news, the White House confirmed the returns were real.
SPICER: They talked to us before they aired it to let us know they were doing the segment. It showed it's illegal to publish tax returns, to leak them and publish them. There is an act that prohibits that on another citizen. The idea they would hype the idea they obtained an illegal document and hype it to basically show the president paid $38 million, an effective rate of 25 percent tax. That he is a very wealthy man and he does pay taxes, seem been an ironic for Rachel Maddow, but the other thing is, I think what is more disappointing, is for NBC to continue from that point forward to start perpetuating a faults narrative about what the president probably did leak (inaudible). That is unbelievably dishonest. It shows the lengths to which NBC News will go to get ratings.
KURTZ: This was former New York Times Reporter David Johnson, who said it arrive unanimously on his mail box. And the president tweeted, does anybody really believe that a reporter with nobody have ever heard of, went to his mail box and found my tax returns? What is he suggesting then?
SPICER: This is a former reporter that is running a blog, and somehow someone believes he is the best way to get out key news. It's a little suspect. The question is, instead of them perpetuating at NBC this false narrative about how they got there, they should be asking this former reporter was let go from the New York Times, how someone would want to pick someone like him. It seems suspect that somebody who is no longer employed by a major outlet becomes the prime target to get out big news. Wait I think - but again what is really disappointing, not only does NBC news cross the line when they came in to publishing this and promoting it. But then they when on to perpetuated a false narrative about where it came from. And for them to sit in briefing room everyday and question us about, proof and sources, when they went on and created this false narrative, it shows again the length to which they will go to get ratings and to promote false narratives.
KURTZ: Speaking of the briefing room, you had an extraordinarily contentious briefing the other day. You said journalist is pushing false narrative there, what is the false narrative?
SPICER: There are two things that are interesting. The first one is the (inaudible). That when director -- Chairman Devin Nunes, senator Tom Cotton, Director clapper, all these people who have been briefed on the situation involving the Russian hack, Russian involvement in 2016 election, had come out saying there was no involvement to their knowledge between the Trump campaign and Russia. Not one of them runs the story. It's amazing how the mainstream media continues to bring up a story that is been debunked by every single intelligence official and member of congress who has been briefed by the FBI, including Director Clapper, who was appointed by President Obama said he didn't see anything there. And yet the mainstream media continues to hold on to that narrative because they realize it clearly gets them some coverage or ratings. Then when it comes to the other side of the aisle, they ignore the reporting done by the New York Times and others about the wire surveillance occurred in the 2016 election.
KURTZ: The New York Times didn't report that President Obama ordered wiretapping. They reported some intercepts that the Russians might have picked up, but the Republican chairman of both house and senate intel committees have said so far they have seen no evidence to support the president's claim. You seem to want to deflect those questions toward to the point -- the legitimate point of no evidence of collusion with Russia.
SPICER: They said so far. The department justice asked for an additional week. I think when you start looking into all of these things that occurred in 2016. The question is what did happen? Who was being looked at? There was clearly something there. And I think its incumbent upon the house and senate intelligence committee to look into these situations and find out what did go on. You take a situation like General Flynn. He was uncovered in a wiretap of some sort it's against the law for any Americans named to be exposed to be part of any surveillance like this. So how do these illegal leaks get out, what's happening? What is the extent of them? Why aren't there equal concerns for how that got leaked?
KURTZ: Absolutely a fair question, but one of the reasons it's become such a media fixation, is President Trump accused President Obama as McCarthyism and the media is saying they haven't seen evidence to support that.
SPICER: That is right, but I also believe that so far, the house and senate intelligence committees have both agreed to look at it. Chairman Devin Nunes said he thinks there is something to look at.
KURTZ: After your briefing Jake Clapper said you can't defendant indefensible and you are arguing the earth is flat.
SPICER: I think if you look at some of the stuff, I don't need to respond to Jake. He is looking to get whatever attention he can at this point.
KURTZ: There have been a lot of stories about alleged in fighting and back fighting at the White House chaos when stories talks about paranoia, but some of this is coming from leaks from some of the White House colleagues.
SPICER: That is the thing Howie. I often talk to the reporters dealing with these stories. They say it's not necessarily people in the White House, its people around the White House. A reporter called me and said there were signs in the White House how their phone calls were being monitored. I said yes, it's on every government phone ever since I have been in the government, the department of defense and the White House, when you pick up the phone and log on to the computer it says? In accordance with the agreement that you sign, please do not engaged in this illegal acts on the computer and the government is allowed to do whatever it does, but the point is things are existed for decades and all after sudden they become a false story to perpetuate in existence of a narrative that is not there.
KURTZ: Do you believe that much if the mainstream media do not want President Trump to succeed?
SPICER: I think so.
SPICER: Because I think if you look at a lot of these surveys, most of them are at least a good number of folks in the main-stream media aren't conservative. They are liberals. Survey after survey shows the majority of reporters lean to the left.
KURTZ: Even if that is true you are saying that they are trying --
SPICER: No, I think that there are some that don't understand -- and some of it is intentional and some of it is not. What I mean is in some cases just ideologically some people cannot understand why some of the agenda and the vision that the president is pursuing makes sense to them, because they are so ideologically bent to the left. The way they view life, the prism they exist in and they view issues through doesn't allow some of the thoughts and ideas that come out of the right to make sense to them.
KURTZ: Political (inaudible) "the disappearing Sean Spicer." Now of course you always planned to do some of your briefings off camera, I think that is what triggered that given the white hot nature of what you do - are you trying to low you profile just a bit?
SPICER: No, the irony is in one week as you said from day one, not just day one, early January when I talked about this, I said we'll have some sort of briefing every day. Some of it on camera, some of it off. We have had a briefing every single day. We have had two scheduled briefing that were off camera.
KURTZ: Do you like being the start of a daytime show?
SPICER: I think it's an honor to have the privilege the president bestowed on me and the team I get to work with. The next person that takes this job would have the same right and responsibility and honor to do this as well and get the same treatment. We are all honored the president asked to us do this. We serve at his bequest and will. But that is all it is.
KURTZ: In a recent briefing you actually made a "Saturday Night Live" reference saying don't make me make the podium move.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELISSA MCCARTHY AS SEAN SPICER: You like that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Have you finally come to terms with Melissa McCarthy.
SPICER: No, you have to have a light-hearted moment. Somebody was asking a silly question. I thought it was a great way to point that out and add levity to an hour-plus long briefing. That's it.
I am usually well asleep by the time that comes on. It's the one night I get a good sleep before going off to church the next morning.
KURTZ: Sean Spicer thanks very much.
SPICER: Thanks for having me.
KURTZ: Let us know what you think, email@example.com. When we come back our panel weighs in on that spectacle involving Rachel Maddow and the leak Trump tax return and later Bill Bennett will be here on a highly contentious coverage of the new president.
KURTZ: Let's start with Rachel Maddow's handling of the leak Trump tax return, joining us now to analyze the coverage, Sharyl Atkinson the host of Sunday morning show "Full Measure" on Sinclair television station and author of the upcoming book "The Smear", Mollie Hemmingway, senior editor at The Federalist and Margaret Carlson for the Daily Beast. With all the mockery Rachel Maddow is getting, did she mishandle this story?
SHARYL ATKINSON, "FULL MEASURE" SHOW HOST: I think so. I like her and her show is entertaining. But everyone knows she comes from a view point, she doesn't hide that. When you are not going to report the news you get in a fair way or realistic way. It hurts your credibility.
KURTZ: Rachel Maddow is really smart. She got 4 million viewers for the show. But this was not exactly handled as a straight news story.
MOLLIE HEMMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST SENIOR EDITOR: No, but I do think some of the criticism of hers overblown and Donald Trump is the first presidential candidate in modern history not to release his tax returns. It turned out to be favorable news for Donald Trump. He makes a lot of money and pays a lot of money in taxes. But its very news worthy that we have this and it's not illegal to publish these reports it's illegal to leak them. It's a felony up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for it. But publishing is different from leaking.
KURTZ: I agree it was a legitimate news story that had news value for at least that one year 2005 but the irony is that MSNBC was putting aught a story that ended up being favorable to the president.
MARGARET CARLSON, THE DAILY BEAST: And the way that she did it was a caricature of (inaudible) at a local station where after the break, after the break.
KURTZ: Don't go away, stay tuned, coming up next.
CARLSON: 23 minute before we found out Donald Trump paid his taxes in 2005. If "Saturday Night Live" weren't in reruns last night I believe they would have done Rachel Maddow, however hard it would be to characterize since it was a parody that was unfolding.
KURTZ: As I mentioned this returns were obtained by David Cay Johnston, he is a former New York Times reporter. And he and I Rachel Maddow said maybe it was Trump who sent it or one of his people.
ATKINSON: I don't have inside information on that. If Trump were want to go get out good information about a task return. It would be risky to give to it a network that would be least likely to report it as good news.
KURTZ: Right. And Johnston himself is kind of anti-Trump (inaudible). Even if you think they are behind it and I personally don't, I don't think they would pick this guy.
HEMMINGWAY: No and the only reason that we are talking about it again is because of what good news it was for Donald Trump. It's a good reminder for the media in general when you are digging a grave for your enemy you don't want to fall into it yourself. People were so sure the tax returns would be horrible for Donald Trump, they forgot to think of the possibility they wouldn't be.
KURTZ: Right, exactly. Rachel Maddow is actually apologetic about her handling, she told the A.P. that were people said this was some kind of a bombshell, she doesn't mean if it is damaging information. A lot of people left to that conclusion without indicating what it was, that hype was external to what we did.
You know as I say, many liberals are saying were so sure the tax returns would be horrible for Donald Trump, they forgot to think of the possibility they wouldn't be. She said it doesn't mean it was damning information. Even liberals are saying you hyped it in a way that made it seem like a bigger deal than it turned out to be.
CARLSON: This left-on-left violence is something that people really love that they go after each other, but I think the criticism was deserved and maybe she should give a little, have a little give and looking back on how she did it.
We are not in an age of apology right now.
KURTZ: We are not that is a good point. All right stick around ahead the media in an uproar about the president refusing to back away from his claims about wiretapping. Up next the president calls NBC despicable, why his criticism is getting so personal.
KURTZ: President Trump ripped the press again this week, no shot there, but he made it unusually personal talking to Tucker Carlson about NBC and the success of his former show, the Apprentice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I was very good to NBC, and they are despicable in their coverage, CBS, ABC. You take a look at what's going on. I call it the fake press, the fake media. It's disgrace what is happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: What do you think about President Obama using that kind of language against NBC?
HEMMINGWAY: He feels he has a relationship with the media. He has an ego and he thinks his previous relationship with them should mean he gets better coverage. But I think about how CBS said it might not be good for America but Trump is great for CBS news. They both sort of play off each other, the media and Donald Trump in a way that may not be healthy for the rest of the country.
KURTZ: Right. There is this thing about the relationship smart. For example, President Trump often criticizes Jeff Zucker who ran NBC at the time of the Apprentice, now of course the president of CNN and he says I got Zucker his job. Do you think he has a thing making this personal by what he sees as unfair coverage?
CARLSON: The president makes a lot of things personal. The wiretap is personal and Obama is a sick, bad guy. And Jeff Zucker is awful creature now. So the news is not a reality show. He also doesn't -- he hasn't switched to being a public figure governing. He was used to telling the tabloid -- dishing stuff to the tabloids in New York for years --
KURTZ: by the way it is a very good skill that served him well in the campaign.
CARLSON: He did beautifully, particularly in his divorces. He was a great guy paying lots of money to his ex-wives. But he was John Barron calling them up and pretending to be his own (inaudible). This doesn't work anymore.
KURTZ: Are we approaching the point where Donald Trump says fake news so often it's becoming almost background noise and getting to be less worthy?
ATKINSON: Yes, but that serves his purpose, because if we look at the history, fake news was a phenomenon as a phrase put on the plate of the American public last September by liberals. President Obama got on that train. They think they got the news covered and other angles. But this is how they could control information on the internet. Trump co-opted that term so effectively people think fake news is his term.
KURTZ: He did it again on twitter after the meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Despite what you hear from the fake news, I had a great meeting with Angela Merkel, despite the fact of the awkward moment handshake. Panel I will see you in bit. Coming up, Bill Bennet who once runs the National Dallas, later the White House and the press in a heated battle over those wiretapping allegations.
KURTZ: Time now for some insights on the coverage of this White House. Someone who is long experience in government and the media, joining us now is Bill Bennett, the author, host of the Bill Bennett podcast on iTunes, now a Fox News contributor. Do you believe the media's coverage of him is aggressive or intentionally unfair?
BILL BENNETT, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Both, very aggressive and intentionally unfair, way over the top. It's the worst thing I have ever seen. I have been around a long time. They gave it to Bush Hard.
KURTZ: You are saying this is different?
BENNETT: They gave it to Quayle. I think it is more unforgiving, I think it's more personal and I think it is more contemptuous.
KURTZ: Do you think it's fair to say some portion of the negative covering the president brings on him with certain distractions and tweeting?
BENNETT: He brings out criticism of himself by things he does, sure. That is part of the job of the media is to report on that. The things I'm talking about, the contemptuousness, the snarkiness. I called a year and a half ago and Jake Tapper is now snarky and contemptuous of Trump, he just sarcasm start the show, I am pretty shocked by this because there was a lot of it.
KURTZ: Jake Tapper also points out there is tough words on both sides.
BENNETT: You can fire back, no question. But the question is what's in their heads. I think they are still mad about the election and really mad that they missed it. We all know they missed it. A lot of people said you guys got it wrong. I think what's going on is in some ways how he does not care. He talks about it, the criticism. He goes on his merry way anyway. He does not seek their approval. The funniest this town was in the last month, was the day he announced he was going to a White House correspondent's dinner. We'll get back to the purpose of the dinner which is a scholarship.
KURTZ: It of the overshadowed by the celebrities.
BENNETT: He is supposed to go and be insulted. I often wondered why presidents went to be insulted by a comedian. He said I don't have the time. Good for him.
KURTZ: So you were the head of the national endowment for the humanities under Ronald Reagan. That agency is among those the Trump budget would abolish. You are fine with getting rid of it?
BENNETT: I was also in favor of getting rid of the department of education. Ronald Reagan said do we need this, and I said no. I run all these departments - conservatives don't like. You can do this elsewhere. The particular case, the humanities, humanities professors have done more harm to the United States with the work --
KURTZ: There is also been a lot of reporting on the human impact on some of this (inaudible). The budget director said the meals on wheels don't show any results.
BENNETT: I think Mick Mulvaney is very smart by the way and he argues this very well. If it's not done from Washington, it can be done somewhere else. When I was secretary of education, I polled our recipients of money, what are the single most programs we ran? The answer was block grant. When we took the money and sent it back to them after take our 10 percent out.
KURTZ: Before we go and even a bigger story, sadly is the passing of Chuck Berry at the age of 90 years old.
BENNETT: I'm going to write a little letter and send it to my local D.J. and said jump on this record. I want my jockey to play (inaudible). I got to hear it all again today. There is real culture for you. He had more influence I think on rock 'n rollers.
KURTZ: From the Beatles and The Rolling stones, you name it.
BENNETT: Married for 68 years. There is a cultural message.
KURTZ: Bill Bennett Rock and Rollin with us today. Thanks very much.
BENNETT: Thanks Howie. Thank you.
KURTZ: Next on "Media Buzz," President Trump is standing by his proven wiretapping claim. And Sean Spicer refusing reporting a false narrative and later, it took months, a former CNN Commentator Donna Brazile finally acknowledges lying.
KURTZ: President Trump claims on President Obama had him wiretap suffers a setback this week as Republican chairman of the house and senate intelligence panel says they see no evidence to substantiate that. Tucker Carlson asks the president about his Twitter claim that President Obama had engaged in Nixonian tactics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: Why not wait to tweet about it until you can prove it, if you value your words.
TRUMP: Because the New York Times did wrote about it, not that I respect the New York Times, I call it the failing New York Times, but they did write on January 20 using the word "wiretap." And nobody ever talks about the fact that it was, but that is an important thing, but wiretap covers a lot of different things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: We are back with panel, Sharyl what's your take on the coverage of this presidential wiretap claim that remains unproven? Some anchors and commentators completely going off saying the president of the United States is a liar.
ATKINSON: I think there are two good questions to be asked, should he have made the statement relying on the press on the other hand he says he doesn't trust. But there is a legitimate question the media should be asking whether there was improper surveillance of the campaign. We know the track record of the Obama administration that they conducted unprecedented surveillance of reporters and the congressional intelligence committee. I think those are legitimate media questions.
KURTZ: You are saying it's feasible that it happened.
ATKINSON: I have no information that it happened, but I think it's a question that deserves to be pursued.
KURTZ: What do you think of Sean Spicer saying the media are ignoring crickets, he said. The other side of the story that the same intel chairman who we all quote about wiretapping and surveillance are saying they have no evidence of any improper collusion between Trump associates and Vladimir Putin's people.
HEMMINGWAY: That is a good point. There has been no evidence provided there is a personal wiretap of Donald Trump's phones. And there has been no evidence provide for any number of the unsubstantiated claims. Put forth by anonymous sources about collusion with Russia and in fact when you have these people put on the record, you say people who are probably involved in this coordinated leak campaign to promote this narrative about Russia. When they are on the record, they say they have no evidence of collusion. And when they come out and say that it is not a major news story, I mean Devin Nunes had a big press conference where he pointed that out. And the Washington Post story was almost comical and how it went. It's a narrative that is been carried by the media for months now.
KURTZ: I think the press is mostly focusing on unanswered questions about Russia. In the case of Mike Flynn, there are questions about whether he had been candid about it, whether they have disclosed it, but is it a fair point to say, if there is no evidence of wiretapping or surveillance, there is equally no evidence that we know of some kind of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.
CARLSON: I think both have been covered, and the collusion in the Russian hacking is still ongoing and it gets covered as they come out and say what they know. But I think we are waiting for the results of that. And James Comey is testifying next week on the wiretapping. I mean Tucker did a good job on this. Trump shifted the burden to everyone else to prove his claim. And it hasn't been proven. Even Attorney General Sessions came out this week and said there was no evidence.
KURTZ: He said he had given him no evidence. Sean Spicer brought up my colleague Bret Baier. What Bret did was to ask Paul Ryan about reports about possible surveillance or wiretapping which stem from radio host Mark Levin, but this goes to your point about citing the mainstream media when it's convenient.
ATKINSON: I think it's not a good practice to use as your primary sources, if you are Donald Trump other media reports and then as we know, he sometimes takes what his understanding is of a report and carries it further. I know this from personal experience. He carries it further than the report says. He has gone first when he talked about me and my reporting sometimes he is correct in the statement he makes, then he fills in some amplification that is not necessarily --
KURTZ: Is there a sense in the mainstream media that for so long journalist news organizations had been saying this president is wrong about this, he exaggerated and that and none of it is stopping him. Here on the wiretapping, we think we have him and we won't let our foot off the pedal.
HEMMINGWAY: yes, they keep doing that and it also keeps blowing up in their faces. I think at the same time we need to acknowledge that there has been surveillance of the Trump team. We have been reading about it in the reports in the "Washington post" and the "New York Times." Particulars of what --
KURTZ: Was it targeted in the Trump team?
HEMMINGWAY: It does not matter. We know the Obama administration relaxed rules on the sharing of information in terms of names of people caught up in this. There has been so little interest on the part of the media to understand how is this happening, how is the information getting shared. What is the significance of that? It's a shame it takes Donald Trump the president to it out there in order for to us talk about it.
KURTZ: You have to admit, whether this is a self inflicted wound, the press is loving this wiretap story.
CARLSON: It was the most fantastic tweet of the many tweets of Donald Trump. When you accuse a former president of doing it and call in sick, its news. But then you involve British intelligence and it becomes an international incident.
KURTZ: Well I am glad you mentioned that, because there are a few thing I want to say about that, you know, Fox News became part of the debate over President Trump wiretapping claim, when Sean Spicer out of briefing and report by Judge Andrew Napolitano, he said three unnamed sources told him President Obama used the British intelligence agency to conduct surveillance of candidate Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I didn't make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox. You shouldn't be talking to me. You should be talking to Fox.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Judge Nap is a commentator here in the new Division isn't vouching for his report at this time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano's commentary. Fox News knows of no evidence of any kinds that the now president of the United States was surveilled in any time in any way, full stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Napolitano told me, I reported what the sources told me, I reported it accurately, and I believe the substance what they told me. The British intelligence agency called the allegation ridiculous. Sean Spicer said he was reading media accounts and has no regrets. Sharyl Atkinson, Mollie Hemmingway, Margaret Carlson thanks very much for stopping by this Sunday, after the break, our colleague Erin McPike is the only reporter traveling with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on his Asia trip and that has cause a media backlash. We will get to that next.
KURTZ: The press is very upset with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for not taking reporters on his plane on his trip to Asia. And the story got personal when the one lead reporter Erin McPike who covers the White House for independent journal reviews.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIN MCPIKE, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR FORMER REAL CLEAR POILITICS: Rex Tillerson makes stag crucial trip to Asia take only one reporter from a conservative website. Why is he ditching the news media?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us now Alex Skatell, founder of Independent Journal Review. Let me start Alex with what Erin McPike told me it's a reporter's job to push for interviews exclusives, everyone is forgetting that. I asked politely and they granted my request. Look at Michael Lewis on his Vanity Fair piece on Barack Obama, I never said I was part of the State Department Press Corps or even call himself part of the White House Press Corps. Everyone is completely misreading the situation. No one really knows Rex Tillerson. If Matt Lauer got an exclusive interview what they have the same complaint? Did you change your mind and release the audio and her interview with the secretary signs was transcribed?
ALEX SKATELL, INDEPENDENT JOURNAL REVIEW: I want to go back to the beginning of the decision. I think we received a fair share of criticism and I think that was warranted. We are a newer organization and this was a big exclusive for us. We have a situation in the administration where they are now circumventing the press and they can do that through social media and they can actually build their own distribution channels.
KURTZ: How you say the criticism was warrant. How?
SKATELL: I think people want to be skeptical at first. I think now that the interview is out there and people have had a chance to dig in. I think it is unfair. I think the interview, if you look at it. There are a lot of meaty subjects that are covered. Erin did a great job. She knocked it out of the park. We did everything we could to be fully transparent with the interview we had. We transcribed it through the night, put the audio out and re-allowed the press to react the way they wanted to act.
KURTZ: In that interview (inaudible) said, "I'm not a big media access person." did you decide because there is so much media interest and criticism let's just put it out there?
SKATELL: We wanted to get information out as quickly as possible. There was a lot of news being made throughout the trip. We did not want to try and replicate what the press pool which we supported the idea of the press pool being there. But we didn't want to try and create an alternative press pool and our own version of that.
KURTZ: Several media outlets described you are as a conservative side, that is base on the fact that you are a former Republican operative, four years ago , you were the digital director of the national senatorial committee. Is that an accurate description of what it does?
SKATELL: We have an audience that is primarily, it is an underserved community of people who live outside the major city centers. We have an audience that is majority conservative. But we also have a large independent and Democratic audience. We are not trying to introduce bias in our stories. This was an opportunity for the first time to have a Secretary of State on the record to ask really important questions that will impact 7 billion people.
KURTZ: They are published this week and then retracted a story about Barack Obama going to Hawaii before a federal judge in Hawaii block temporally Donald Trump travel ban and it seemed to - maybe they have some (inaudible), no evidence that they talked, was that story a mistake?
SKATELL: It was and we retract it immediately. It was unfortunate; it doesn't meet our standard that is why it was taken down. We left the full post up so people could see it. It's something -- we are a newer organization. We are four years old, and we are going to make our share mistakes. The best thing we can do is own up to them, apologize and move forward.
KURTZ: I like the way you handle them, just 20 seconds, you think some of the criticism of the situation is driven by jealousy?
SKATELL: I don't think so. I think it is primarily -- people are skeptical. They don't know a lot about our organization. We are newer. Now that the interview is out there, people have the chance to digest the information, hopefully they can see for themselves.
KURTZ: Well you have been transparent about it, very much appreciate coming on, Alex Skatell thanks for joining us, still to come. Donna Brazile finally admits she lied.
KURTZ: We got word just before we came on the air, Jimmy Breslen has died. For those of you who don't know, he was sort of the epitome of the hard-charging, cigar-smoking, hard-drinking columnist. He said the mold for a lot of people who did this for a living. He was a media critic as well as author. He said media are plural for mediocrity. And Jimmy Breslen said don't call me a journalist, I hate the word, it is pretentious. Jimmy Breslen was 87 years old.
And today Trump (inaudible), listen to this from the Washington Post, a group of environmental activists pulled off a daring act of defiance. What was this daring act? The protesters to -- protesters defaced a Trump golf course in California. And then it was the editor note saying well, we will now describe it as an act of vandalism instead. That was a double bogey. When leaked emails last year showed Donna Brazile has shared CNN town hall questions in advance with the Clinton campaign prior to the CNN town hall. I called her and she insisted she hadn't leaked the question. In other words, she lied to me. Brazile now admits sending those emails was a mistake I will forever regret. But she doesn't apologize, especially the CNN, the network she betrayed and to the journalists she deceived sadly including me.
That's it for this edition of Media Buzz, I am Howard Kurtz, email us firstname.lastname@example.org, check out our Facebook page, give us a like. Talk to me on twitter, I am Howard Kurtz. We will back here next Sunday, see you then with the latest buzz.
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