This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," May 28, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On our buzz meter this Sunday in a week marked by more leaked stories about the Russian investigation, President Trump getting high marks from the media for his trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican and Brussels.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
DAVID IGNATIUS: The president who represented many millions of Americans who were angry, fearful toward the Muslim world went to Muslim world and -- and essentially embraced it.
ARI FLEISCHER: You know he -- he had a strong trip to Saudi Arabia, a strong trip to Israel. His message was strong, he hasn't interfered with it.
A.B. STODDARD: I think it's gone very well for the president. I think it was very ambitious, high risk, high reward. Bad things could have happened and he would have stumbled, but they didn't.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN: Oh, it's going very well in terms about the symbolism and in one important respect for substance which was the speech that President Trump gave on...
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN: In Riyadh.
ZAKARIA: ... in Riyadh on Islam was very carefully done. It was nuanced.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: With those stories were constantly competing with reporting on the president, James Comey, the Intelligence Agencies, the Russians, and then NBC, and The Washington Post touting this story on Jared Kushner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS: NBC News has learned Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and one of his senior White House advisers has come under scrutiny by the FBI. That's according to multiple U.S. sources.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC: So the confirmation tonight that the man who has been called the deputy president is as they say under scrutiny.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is the most powerful person in the White House except for the president himself, right? Jared Kushner -- and of course, he's a member of Trump's family. So the investigation is now inside the White House.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: What is a non-elected son-in-law doing representing the United States government to be the (Inaudible) coming administration to the Russians, our adversary out there in the world. Why is Kushner sitting there talking for us?
NEWT GINGRICH: Does it have a single-named source to the story? Is there a single -- this is the Washington Post's most disgusting.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: And with reports to the president, someone tried to set up a secret back channel to Moscow. Is this media were justified when he hasn't been recalled a target. As to Montana, congressman elect who body slammed a reporter to the ground.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICOLLE WALLACE: If anyone who thinks it's -- it's unfair or too early to describe a direct line train to Donald Trump calling reporters, enemies of the state and people for beating up a working journalist is ridiculous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Why are some correspondents blaming that violent incident on the president? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz." President is back in Washington today after his nine day trip overseas.
A trip that was constantly competing for age and air time with the Russian probe back home, especially those reports by NBC and the Washington Post, saying investigators are looking at meetings between Jared Kushner and Russian officials a month before the inauguration.
Even though the Post say that he hasn't been told that Kushner is a target or the central focus of the investigation and he has not been accused of any wrongdoing. Joining us now to analyze the coverage, Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist and a Fox News contributor, Joe Trippi, the Democratic strategist, and Erin McPike, the White House correspondent for Independent Journal Review.
Let's start with you, Mollie, even many of the president's critics, even many liberal commentators giving him high marks on this first foreign trip. Do you think this perhaps more of reluctance by the American media to criticize the president when he's abroad representing us?
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: Well, I'm -- I'm not sure about that but I do think that the media who failed to understand the significance of Donald Trump's difference of opinion on foreign police from both Republicans and Democrats, and this trip really did lay a lot about it. He talked about principled realism. He critiques both the lectures of the Obama administration and the unnecessary invasions of both Obama and Bush administrations.
I think a lot of the appeal that Donald Trump had with voters was impart because of his differences on foreign policy. The media have really struggled to understand that and really, you knows, laid that out very well. They -- he have so much attention to President Obama's Cairo speech where he addressed the Muslim world and they didn't quite give that same level of attention, even though this was a very significant speech and trip in general.
KURTZ: Well, not so high marks on covering this up at trip. Joe, let's face it, media expectations were low for a rookie president without experience on the world stage but there's no question exceed.
JOE TRIPPI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: No, and he -- and I think for the most part, the coverage was pretty positive, particularly on the Riyadh speech. But what -- what you don't see is a lot of sort of really getting down to the nitty-gritty about not lecturing Saudi Arabia on a lot of human rights and a lot of things but then going to NATO and lecturing NATO allies on -- you know, not paying their fair share.
TRIPPI: And I think there is a dichotomy there. I agree with Mollie that the Riyadh speech was really an important speech for him to give even with some of the omissions.
KURTZ: A brief moment of consensus and yes, the coverage of the NATO visit was more controversial. You're just back from Brussels. So you saw some of this first hand. Didn't the media originally view this trip as a distraction from the problems at home and did that view change as the President got in few assumptions here?
ERIN MCPIKE, INDEPENDENT JOURNAL REVIEW: Well, there is a little bit of a view of that. But remember, this foreign trip has been on the books for a very long time. He actually said sometime in early February that he would be going to Brussels for this NATO meeting. It was essentially even created for him.
You know, I would disagree a little bit. I do think the coverage of him was good in Saudi Arabia and also in Israel. And I think that was on substance but it was much more critical of him in Europe because he did not perform as well in Europe as he did in other presidential trips.
HEMINGWAY: I'm going to actually though, you know, there have been many presidents who have tried to get NATO countries to actually increase their defense spending and allocate their funds to actual defense posture. And then goes back to Nixon, Reagan tried to do it.
President Trump actually is actually the first one who's getting people to put out their plans for this defense -- defense spending to match what their rhetoric is about the supposed threat of Russia. If people really do think Russia is a threat, these countries need to act like it and he's saying, act like it.
KURTZ: So let me get your take on the NBC and Washington Post stories about Jared Kushner being under quote, scrutiny, by the FBI which is kind of murky. I mean, just today, POLITICO's headline, scandal cast uncertainty over Kushner's future row, New York Times, growing crisis over Kushner. What do you think on these stories?
HEMINGWAY: Well, I mean, scrutiny -- under scrutiny is not a legal term. It's a -- it's a journalistic term that makes it sounds like something much worse is going on and it actually is going on. If he were in to the target of an investigation, that would be news.
At this point what you have with the media, is they're starting with conclusions of wrongdoing and then trying to back up and still in with stories to support that conclusion that they have already made. That something very nefarious has gone on with this White House possibly at the level of treason or espionage or -- that's exactly what they are saying at that level. And that's not a good journalist posture. You start with the facts and you see where they might go, this is the exact opposite.
KURTZ: And then during the Washington Post follow-up on Friday with story about and others have confirmed about Jared Kushner offering -- this is before the inauguration to set up a secret communications channel with the Russians, possibly using their communications gear at the embassy or the council that -- and this is according to U.S. intercept.
So the question is, that's kind of interesting, maybe it was a naive move on his part but is there anything necessarily nefarious in the incoming administration wanted to be able have secure communication or is this a case of, you know, the press making too much of its own suspicions.
TRIPPI: Well, it raises the question of is there something nefarious going on, and that's compounded by the fact that he failed to report the meeting where this happened. So you put those two things together and it becomes a -- you know, a real news story.
KURTZ: ... have a phone calls with ambassador...
TRIPPI: Yeah. I'm sorry.
KURTZ: But the meetings were made known about but we may not have known the content of...
MCPIKE: That seems important. It seems like those are two things that he should have disclosed since Russia is such a focus right now and such a problem.
TRIPPI: And then you have the problem of -- a pattern of eighteen such meetings from different players in the White House...
TRIPPI: ... who forgot, didn't report...
KURTZ: There is such a contrast in the coverage, Erin. So when these stories broke and they both broke at night -- first day Friday night in -- I spoke in around CNN and MSNBC just an hours and hours and hours. They virtually did not come off at all kinds of panels talking about the Kushner story. Fox barely mentioned in prime time, these have more limited coverage during the day, so who is right?
MCPIKE: It should be somewhere in the middle. Here's the thing, Jared Kushner as you point at the top, is a very influential figure in this White House. The press has reported that he's a very positive influence on President Trump. However we don't know some of what he's on the side. He's obviously hard working. But is it time for Jared Kushner to come address the media, say what is he's doing and take some questions.
HEMINGWAY: You know, not included in this coverage is that he mentioned that there is nothing wrong with what he's even alleged to be doing by anonymous sources. Is it the 11 billion story they stole on anonymous sources. Nobody is named in any of these leaks. And then, it's all presented as if something really bad was happening. Actually, setting up back-channel communications is a totally normal thing. Even if it's true, it's not a big deal.
TRIPPI: You see, the Russian technology and their security sources of communications to have that channel, that is not...
HEMINGWAY: The media are pushing two simultaneous stories right now. One story is a leaked campaign study by intelligence agencies, and they can't keep any information this great if their lives depended on it. And the other is that, it's supposedly bad to try to avoid these intelligence agencies if they can't control any secrets.
KURTZ: Since you brought up the question of leaks, just a couple of hours, you've got the president had something to say about this, just put up on the screen. It's my opinion that many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the hashtag fake news media.
Are they being disputed or these leakers have agendas and whether or not, what they're leaking is significant or the president's making to much of it, over-brawling it, making this a huge crisis, for the president's son-in law, that fabricated lies?
MCPIKE: Fabricated lie is -- is pretty strong and over the top. And that is the president pouring gasoline on the fire and that would be irresponsible.
TRIPPI: My favorite part is White House leaks. These are all leaks from the White House that are fake. I mean...
KURTZ: All right.
HEMINGWAY: What he's claiming is that, these leaks don't actually justice their fabricated, that's quite the claim to make. At the same time it's true. We have no ability to judge these leaks. They're aren't -- you know, it's always a possibility that you're going to use an anonymous, so we are led to believe but we don't have a way to independently determine if that is true.
And that's the problem with relying solely on anonymous leaks. We have no ability to judge these for ourselves. Nobody is willing to put their name on any of these things. And I'm sorry, but what have the media done in the last year to just justify that we would trust them on any of these?
TRIPPI: The leak come from the president of the United States, who was out there saying, I love WikiLeaks. I mean come on, he spends a year screaming about how wonderful leaks are and now leaks he's -- and now WikiLeaks from his own White House...
KURTZ: Let me just remind you these...
KURTZ: because you know, there are so many stories that I can't even get them in every Sunday. So some days ago, Washington Post reported that president Trump had asked Dan Coats, the director of National Intelligence and NSA Chief Michael Rogers to pushback against on Comey's FBI probe, both oppose have been refusing.
Then there was this moment when the president was in Israel and everybody was up live on the cable news in Chyron saying, Mike Flynn is taking the fifth in response to his Senate subpoena. Do you think that journalist are having trouble keeping up with these believing to the stuff that maybe a lot of the public is -- true or not some of it?
MCPIKE: Absolutely. It is hard to put -- there are so many stories coming out as fast and furious, that we get away from some of the larger questions, I mean the broader issues sometime, because there is minutia happening every single day. It is hard to follow.
KURTZ: Just briefly, Erin, what if I say that it would good for Jared Kushner to talk to reporters and many have never heard his voice but do you think there is also a lot of resentment in the media toward Kushner. I mean, he's young. He is rich. He's obviously in his white House job because he married into the family and therefore, kind of disparaging his role, which the president has given him a lot of responsibility.
HEMINGWAY: Well, obviously, the media are so emotional about this administration and anybody associated with it. And they seem to have this incentive where they need to bring down the president rather than just do their job which is report accurately what's happening. I mean the story...
KURTZ: And is bringing down the president includes trying to bring down his son-in-law?
HEMINGWAY: Of course. And I think that, that means all the more that they should be careful about how they're covering these things. Stick to facts of the post narrative and also be careful how you present those facts. Don't make everything the most nefarious thing you have ever heard, instead of just reporting what's actually happening.
KURTZ: If everything is in eleven and nothing is a one (ph), I got to break in here, when we come back, James Rosen on how a flood of leaks is undermining the Trump presidency. And later, how is it Trump's fault that a Montana candidate physically attacked a reporter
KURTZ: Over the president's foreign trip to the Jared Kushner story leaks, sometimes illegal leaks are increasingly driving the news. So we brought in James Rosen, Fox News Chief Washington Correspondent here in studio one. James Rose, welcome.
JAMES ROSEN, FOX NEWS: Great to be with you, Howard.
KURTZ: You've worked with confidential sources over the years. You were ensnared in a leak investigation during the Obama administration. What do you make of sources leaking to the Washington Post and NBC, that Jared Kushner is a quote, focus of FBI, quote, scrutiny, not the target investigation, not the subject of investigation, but just essentially being looked at.
ROSEN: It strikes me as standard issue leak out of an investigative law enforcement agency at what we might call an embryonic time of an investigation. Not perhaps of the same sensitivity or order of magnitude, let say, as the leaks of President Trump's transcripts of his telephone conversations with foreign head to technology state but probably both to be able to have private federal government is illegal.
KURTZ: Embryonic or not, this has caused the media explosion and you have all these headlines and endless segments on certain cable networks saying, you know, Jared Kushner, president's son-in-law under investigation. Is that a bit unfair when he is not even the subject of investigation? Are you getting hesitancy about running with that story?
ROSEN: Well, if my sourcing was good or if I had a document in hand, no, I wouldn't. And so, I can't speak to that because I haven't retrace all of that reporting. But sure, Jared Kushner probably has some good basis for feeling defamed if he in his own mind, and I'm sure he does regard himself as innocent.
But we saw exactly the same kind of things during the Watergate. People think that because Nixon and his aides left office and were prosecuted and turned out to be guilty, that they were -- that everything that was leaked about them in the run-up to that must have been was accurate and it wasn't.
KURTZ: Well, it's of course, a crime to leak this kind of information, but not a crime for reporters in their judgment to decide it should be published or aired. Now a whole bunch of leaks that talked about the reason they're complaining to president Trump, the British were furious over the U.S. side leaking some Intel about that horrifying Manchester concert bombing.
ROSEN: The photographs that were leaked...
KURTZ: Yeah and -- and Trump was upset about it and said that this posed a grave threat to U.S. National Security and ordered an investigation. Somebody is out to embarrass the president, and it looks to me.
ROSEN: Not necessarily. The motivation of the leakers are unclear to us here. It could have been simply to curry favor with a specific reporter at the New York Times or perhaps to drive the investigation in one direction of another. We really don't know.
KURTZ: You talked about the leaks that there have been several of them now, leaks of confidential phone calls or conversations between the president of the United States and foreign leaders.
There was one, the Philippine president, just in the last few days, in which the transcript showed that President Trump has been criticized this and revealed that there are two U.S. nuclear submarines off North Korea but how extraordinary -- I mean given these limited number of people who have access to that, that this stuff is repeated being leaked.
ROSEN: Being at mistake, we are right now in the age of Trump witnessing a zenith for illegal leaks of classified information to the news media. It exceeds really even what we saw during the Nixon presidency. And that was a new zenith fir it's time. It's something this administration has to get on top of or it won't be able to survive.
KURTZ: Right. When we looked at motivations and we don't know what the motivations because we don't know the sources but it seems to me that these are totally designed to embarrass President Trump. Rather than get out to the public some vital information that the public somehow needs to know.
ROSEN: Sure. There is taxonomy of leaks of different kinds of leaks. There are authorized leaks. There are unauthorized leaks to make your boss look good. . There are unauthorized leaks to for -- with other purposes.
ROSEN: In the leaking for example of the unmasking of General Flynn which seemed to come from former Obama administration officials. The motivation there are very clearly seemed to be to undermine the incoming president.
KURTZ: Taxonomy, I like that word. It kind of elevated the discussion here. So now finally we had our President Trump, this past week meeting with BIBI Netanyahu and bringing up the subject of the story originally in Washington Post about what he told the Russians that he met with highly classified stuff about ISIS terror attack, New York Time saying, the source was Israel. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I never mentioned the word or the name Israel, never mentioned it in that conversation the word or name Israel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: So by the president saying it's not Israel, doesn't he in fact confirm that Israel was the source of this highly classified material.
ROSEN: Well, I don't think he said it to not Israel. I think he said that the word Israel was never mentioned in a particular meeting.
KURTZ: Correct. I mean, he just fired away, the New York Times didn't say that president Trump brought up Israel. He just said that Israel was the source. But again, the president sort of put on the defensive that have been speaking out to reporters because of another leak designed to undermine him.
ROSEN: And in that moment, the face of Bibi Netanyahu was precious to behold. As he couldn't really believe that this was happening and that what seem like a successful conclusions to the media event was now being derailed by the president taking that question and even clearing out time to do it. I don't think it helped the president, but I think he's got bigger problems right now.
KURTZ: Absolutely. (Inaudible) is just remarkable, James Rosen, great to see you.
ROSEN: Thank you.
KURTZ: Let us know what you think. Mediabuzz@foxnews.com. Ahead, that scope in Montana, some folks think it's OK to be a reporter. But up next, Fox News retracts a story involving a heartbreaking murder.
KURTZ: Fox News retracted an online story this week, a story about a murder here in Washington, after a storm of criticism. Seth Rich a 27- year-old staffer at the DNC was shot to death last year during what police described as a botched robbery.
There have been unsubstantiated speculations as the young man might have some connection to WikiLeaks. And a theory was discussed a few times on the air, most everybody show in Hannity, who's obviously on the opinion side of this network. A local Fox affiliate in Washington and foxnews.com reported that a name source, Rich had leaked tens of thousands of emails to a WikiLeaks official.
After the family complained the network said, on May 16th a story was posted on the Fox News website on the investigation at the 2016 murder of DNC Staffer Seth Rich. The article was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all of our reporting. Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has been removed.
On this tragic subject with no evidence, to consciously, the police have count that is a very good decision. And it would have been better if Fox's website had never published that story. Fox said, it will continue to investigate the story. Now, Hannity initially said that there was who accuse him and pushing conspiracy theory are phony hypocrites because they are pushing the notion of collusion between Donald Trump and Russia.
After Seth Rich's parents made a public appealed, his brother Aaron won't have any of this producer's saying, providing the platform to spread potentially false, damaging information will cause us additional pain, suffering and sorrow. The two men's folk and the Fox News hose said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: I totally completely understand how upset, how hard this is on this family, especially over the recent coverage of Seth's death. However, out of respect for the family's wishes for now, I am not discussing this matter at this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Meanwhile, after the liberal advocacy group media matters posted, listed of Hannity's advertisers, a few of them have pulled their ads from his show. Hannity is accusing his critic of liberal fascism and calls this an effort to silence conservatives.
I have Liz Claman on the coverage about health bill and the budgetary position that's 23 million people could lose their insurance. But first, why are some pundits blaming the president because a Montana politician tackled a reporter.
KURTZ: Montana Congressional Candidate Greg Gianforte generated huge headlines when he slammed a reporter for The Guardian to the ground. That's after Ben Jacobs walked uninvited into a side room plus the tape recorder at the Republican and suddenly asked him about the health care bill. Fox News Correspondent Alicia Acuna was standing right there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALICIA ACUNA, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I did the whole thing when Gianforte grabbed him by the neck with both hand, put him to the side, body slammed him and then got on top of him, and started punching, and then yelling at him. And Ben Jacobs eventually kind of scrambled to his knees, dropped his glasses and you've heard him talk about his glasses being broken and then he wanted to police called.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault and three Montana newspapers with three of their endorsements over this fogiesh behavior. But some pundits put the blame of the incident on President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: You don't think it's because the guy who is in office now has said very horrible things about reporters and has said that the reporters are the enemy of the American people?
UNIDETIFIED MALE: No, no, no.
DON LEMON: That has nothing to do with anything. That people feel like they can get away with it, because I don't believe that you actually believe that.
UNIDETIFIED MALE: A guy assaults a reporter, which it get certainly too surprising in an age of Trump where he calls the press the enemy of the people. These reckless words have consequences.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: We're back with the panel. Mollie, I think we can all agree that violence against reporters is unacceptable and disturbing and for a candidate to physically attack a reporter and then give him lecture, is also by the way, politically stupid. But how did this become possible.
HEMINGWAY: Yeah, I mean, it is true that political leaders have a moral duty to model stability with reporters and reporter should also model stability with those what they cover. But this is insane basically to think that this has to do with Donald Trump unless you believe evil never existed in the world until Donald Trump was on the scene.
This has nothing more to do with Donald Trump, then you wouldn't blame Democrats for Bob Etheridge man handling a reporter after closing data of his election campaign in 2010. He's -- you know, he's a Democrat since before Trump was in the scene. You wouldn't blame Trump for that.
You can't blame Trump for this. People need to take responsibility for their own behavior in the same way that the media's rhetoric which regards to the president has been extreme. I don't think they would want to be blamed if anything happens to the president.
KURTZ: I hate all this guilt by association staff. I mean during the Obama administration, some on the right blamed President Obama when a police officer would be shot, saying it was his record (ph) and blood on is hands. I didn't like that. I don't like this. How is Donald Trump responsible for Greg Gianforte, you know, essentially slugging this guy and acting like a thug, and breaking his glasses?
TRIPPI: Well, I don't think you can make that -- that case. The president hasn't been exactly the model of that, Mollie, was talking about.
KURTZ: He attacked for it rhetorically.
TRIPPI: That's right, but the other thing is, he doesn't help himself when he tweets this morning congratulations for a great win in Montana. No point has said that this was an abysmal abuse of behavior that shouldn't happen. He's never done that. That doesn't mean that you can connect him or blame him for what happen at Ben Jacobs. But I am saying, he kind of just -- kind of just never really pushes back on this stuff.
MCPIKE: He should have condemned it. As opposed to just say, we had a great win Montana. I think both President Obama and President Bush probably would have done that.
KURTZ: Well now, Gianforte apologized after the election, which he did win, of course a lot of early voting in that state but he only put out a statement saying or his office did saying, these were badgering questions form an aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist -- as if that justified him. By the way, the gotcha question that set him off was about the CBO score in the health care bill was oppose to something more personal.
MCPIKE: Yeah, so I actually had the opportunity to interview Gianforte about a month ago when I was in Montana doing a story (Inaudible) and I found him to be a particularly an uninspired candidate. And he is going to have a lot of questions when he gets to Washington. You've seen a lot of...
KURTZ: Did you find him to be in hostile?
MCPIKE: He wasn't hostile but he was not really able to answer tough questions and couldn't really -- he couldn't really answer why it is that he wanted to come to Congress. So he -- I'm sure he will find a tough audience when he gets to Capitol Hill.
KURTZ: Well, you know, I guess the argument is about whether President Trump with, you know, his criticism on fake news and using phrases like enemy of the American people is creating a dangerous climate and we can debate that. That's a fair debate. But I think people are responsible for their own actions and this guy might have done this if Donald Trump was still, you know, selling golf courses.
HEMINGWAY: There really is something to be said tough about the need for politicians and those who cover them to model good behavior. And we have not seen that on both sides. There is no justification for body slamming a reporter and also there's no justification for how the media have created sort of a climate of distrust, they use double standards, unfair rhetoric, people do take that personally.
It is important for the sake of the Republic that we all work to improve our behavior and that's everything with one of us, even those have us, who are just reading or consuming the news. We need to work together as a country and everyone needs to make sure that they are putting their best foot forward.
KURTZ: Sometimes you get caught one of these media scrums in places like they weren't and you can get --you know, you can get elbowed in the head. This was not that.
TRIPPI: No, no, this is -- I mean look, if this set him off, the CBO score, I mean come on. I mean like, I can't -- you know, when this guy gets here, as Erin said, he can be a big problem.
KURTZ: What about the CBO score. All right now, the thing that got an enormous amount of media attention way beyond what it deserve had to do with Melania Trump, the first lady and some video. We have got two pieces of video were going to play here. I'll call the alleged hand slap. Let's put up the first video there.
They are walking, here is the close-up, now we are treating this like this is a film, was this an actual slap or did she just pull her hand away? Only need toward the lather interpretation. Can you break it down for me?
MCPIKE: You mean, toward what interpretation?
KURTZ: She pulled her hand away, but I didn't quite see the contact of a slap. Why is this getting so much media attention?
MCPIKE: Well, because he did try to hold her hand and she doesn't want to do it. And maybe she was high fiving him, about a generous read of that video, I don't know. But it looks like she was walking away.
KURTZ: Well, that's right. We're actually talking this, look at the -- a second video. I think, this when they were coming off the plane. And once again the first lady is not interested.
KURTZ: So what?
TRIPPI: That has never happened to me.
KURTZ: Even when you were sixteen?
TRIPPI: Now, you know. No, no, that's never happened.
KURTZ: All right. Then I guess, it's a high road question. A high road question is, take these incidents, (Inaudible) if everyone goes crazy, but is there an effort to sort of understand the -- their marriage through these little glimpses?
HEMINGWAY: Right, that's exactly what's going on. People are trying to get a great deal of meaning out of these -- these little snippets, the thing there are pictures of the two holding hands, so...
KURTZ: On this trip?
HEMINGWAY: Yes, and so, it all kind of depends on, but more than that is that, we should also remember that there are -- if you are focusing on this type of thing, it's an indication that the trip went pretty well, because you're not wanting to...
KURTZ: If that's the worst thing they can say about it. All right, Joe Trippi, Mollie Hemingway, Erin McPike, thanks very much for joining us this Sunday. Coming up, the media portray the president's budget as heartless towards the poor. Is that fair? And later, Billy Bush breaks his silence about that access Hollywood tape.
KURTZ: President Trump may have been overseas but the release of his first budget made plenty of news and negative headlines. Washington Post, steep budget cuts don't sit well with many in the GOP, The New York Times, budget is bad, GOP fears but it's a start. The New York Times Columnist Carl Hulse, finally some good news for President Trump.
His new budget stands absolutely no chance of being enacted by Congress. Joining us now from New York is Liz Claman, the host of Countdown to the Closing Bell of the Fox Business Network. And Liz, the media are casting his budget as hurting not only the poor but many working class Trump voters. Is that fair? And is that whole picture?
LIZ CLAMAN, FBN HOST, COUNTDOWN TO THE CLOSING BELL: I have actually seen more pointedly harsh headlines on this budget, on President Trumps budget than I have on the Manchester bomber.
KURTZ: Wow, wow.
CLAMAN: Yeah, yeah. And I have -- I have scrutinized a bunch of this. So that we could effectively talk about it but is it fair? Well, what can the press do and what should the press do but go to Capitol Hill, because right now, we don't have the CBO score of Congressional Budget Office or yet, on that budget.
So, they go to Capitol Hill and of course the Democrats are quite vitriolic in their dismissal and their criticism of this budget, including some of the cuts, for example, the national science foundation.
You know, you dig into the weeds and you'll find that there were spending plans on their -- to do sort of research on things like the fashion industry in Turkey or Viking textiles in Iceland. And here is the best one, $700,000 spent by that organization to create a musical on climate change. A musical. Not study climate change, but a musical. So the Democrats lose legitimacy when they can't even say that one or two pieces of this need to be cut and if that's appropriate with the president.
KURTZ: All right.
CLAMAN: So they go to the Republicans. Guess what, some Republicans -- and I'm just talking bout blue state Republicans are very critical of it. How we may say, it's DOA, dead on arrival on this.
KURTZ: Yeah. I was going to make that point but you know, also the press any time you have a budget where you are cutting federal spending. It's easy to portray it as unpopular because you can go to potential victims and they can talk about how this will hurt their lives.
But at same time, there is another side to this, which is, you know the tax payers have to pay for all those stuff. And I wonder if you think that focus is sometimes lost in the people he -- the coverage of this particular bill.
CLAMAN: Well, nobody wants to be realistic. However, I -- I also looked around for people who are being realistic about it on CNN online. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who used to be the head of the CBO The former head of the CBO, put an op-ed on there and right away, he said, it is not as bad as everybody says. What we have is unsustainable and well know that.
We have too much spending, not enough tax revenues and measly two percent growth. So at what point do we wake up and realize that we absolutely have to reform this, and when President Trump put out his budget, he put out his priorities.
His priorities were to not touch social security and Medicare, which of course are huge spending plans, to add more spending when it comes to the military and to veterans organizations, and to pay the -- the interest on the debt because you just have to do that. So if those are his priorities, the press has to look at that and say, all right, let's take it from there.
KURTZ: Right. All right, now on the health care bill that pass the house, we now have the Congressional Budget Office scoring saying that 23 million people over a decade would move their health insurance coverage, some of them with preexisting conditions that's only slightly different amount than the original health bill that failed.
This morning the New York Times editorial, Trump care, cruelty reaffirmed. How does the referee -- how does the press referee this when some republicans were saying, well, CBO, nobody believes them. They've been wrong before.
CLAMAN: It's -- it's fascinating to watch how some press do referee fairly like, you know, you see -- you see the hockey referees...
CLAMAN: ... in the national hockey league. They just want to make sure that they are making the right calls. That's the important thing to do here. And many of them are not. They are only pointing out this headline number that says 23 million over ten years will not be insured. Well, part of that has to do with the fact that this Trump plan -- this healthcare plan eliminates that mandate, that rule that you have to buy coverage.
KURTZ: Why and so people will drop it.
CLAMAN: Exactly, but then people are now putting this right back where we were. Were they don't buy insurance, and yet they show up at the hospital at their worst point. My dad was a doctor, Howie. He said, they come at their worst point and that falls on the rest of us who do pay insurance because costs go up. So there has to be an answer to that.
But as you look at the Trump plan, you have to realize that there are things that have to change. Obamacare was going to buckle under its own weight. It already is. Talk to anybody in certain states where there aren't any plans left or just one single choice.
KURTZ: The coverage often leaving out that part.
KURTZ: I think that's a really important observation. I love the way you drill down on these things. And now that I know your father is a doctor, I will ask you for this kind of advice. Liz Claman, thanks very much.
CLAMAN: You would see urologist, Howie. So it's very specify, depending on what you need.
KURTZ: Great to see you.
CLAMAN: Thank you, Howie.
KURTZ: after the break, the president meets the pope and the media focus on Melania.
KURTZ: The president and Pope Francis after a cordial meeting with the media played up this awkward looking photo form the start of the encounter with a charming headline from the liberal Huffington Post, pope and dope. We're back with Mollie Hemingway. So, in that photo of course, president is smiling broadly and the pope is kind of stoned face.
But you know, the meaning it seems to me after the rough (Inaudible) they had during the campaign, when pope suggested that president was not Christian and then candidate were out, do you think that this meeting was a bigger deal than the coverage would have suggested with this focused on things like a photo?
HEMINGWAY: Right, and they're at the same thing where you can have a photo with a smiling pope or a photo non-smiling pope. And whichever one you choose sort of sets the tone for what you are going to say about the meeting. But every time a president meets with a pope, there will be areas of commonality and areas of disagreement.
They obviously have a disagreement on immigration enforce enforcement and they -- they had that fight on the eve on the South Carolina primary, a primary that Donald Trump won. You have that with President Barack Obama. The pope was very opposed to his position of supporting abortion, through all nine months of pregnancy, forcing religious groups to pay for abortion and birth control against their religious conscience, but they agreed on other things.
So every president will have certain things they have common agreement on and certain things they won't and it's better to reflect the full complexity of that. Rather than trying to make this was a good or a bad meeting.
HEMINGWAY: Probably with a little bit both.
KURTZ: Why wasn't both faces are smiling. All right now, another thing that happened here was the pope blessed the rosary with conclusion to that for Melania Trump after her meeting. The only male that reported that has confirmed, that her spokesman said, she's practicing catholic, which may sort of the first in the White House and the Kennedy's. So first of all, how is it the media were unaware of this.
HEMINGWAY: To me, this is one of the most interesting stories to come out of the trip. One of the ways that the media really violated norms and how they cover -- how they cover presidential politics is we didn't get a lot of those profiles of Melania or Mrs. Pence, Mike Pence's wife. And so we have things like we don't know what religion they are.
This is something that normally you have known prior to now. It's also interesting because Melania grew up in a communist country where religion is banned. So she didn't have the same, you know, childhood religion story that maybe a lot of people did. So, there's still something to find out here about when she became catholic, was she secretly Roman Catholic, was she secretly baptized in...
HEMINGWAY: ... in communist, Slovenia or what.
KURTZ: I think it's there to say Melania Trump didn't do a lot of interviews and this maybe why (Inaudible) made the profile pieces, but this hasn't really been that big a story. And I would think if, you know, given how many Catholics there are just in America and around the world that the press would want to know more about this.
HEMINGWAY: Right, and kudos to the Daily Mail for actually noticing this and following up to find out if was it -- is it that she Roman Catholic or did she just have this rosary and they did get confirmation from the White House that she is Roman Catholic. So, there's a lot more that could be done here.
KURTZ: Yeah, they were from religious reporters, so that's why we're having on this air. So Sean Spicer was excluded from he pope, meaning he's at that Catholic he had talked ultimately about really wanting to meet the pope. Even reporters were saying they feel sorry for him, as kind of he was married and maybe he's on his way out or diminish (Inaudible) thing for the president there?
HEMINGWAY: Sure, this is the type of palace intrigue story that reporters really like to eat up. And it is interesting that Spicer wasn't at the meeting. I'm sure there were many other high-profile people who weren't at the meeting as well. So it could mean that it has something to do with his relative favor in the White House or there could be a thousand other reasons. And we need should make sure that we find out his actual reasons before we speculate on what they mean.
KURTZ: You always go to the nuance and the complexity, I mean, he likes simplicity and this is the story line, and you're right, of course. We don't know, (Inaudible) and why other people got in all of that. Great to see you as always, Mollie Hemingway.
HEMINGWAY: Thank you.
KURTZ: Thanks very much for joining us. Still to come, Billy Bush on that tape that ended his Today Show career.
KURTZ: The FCC received thousands of complaints about Stephen Colbert's crude and offensive sex joke about President Trump and Vladimir Putin but not much of a surprise this week when the commission decline to take action. Turns out, he can pretty say whatever the blank you want after 10:00 P.M., which is considered a safe harbor because fewer kids are watching and then one of seem word in that joke was bleeped.
I'll tell you this, Colbert will definitely keep scouring Trump, because it helps his ratings. He just won the season in late night but hopefully, he'll do in few more that doesn't descend into the gutter.
Billy Bush lost his perch at the Today Show over that access Hollywood tape. He had been a host of that show a decade earlier when the tape was leaked during the campaign, showing him yucking it up with Donald Trump who was engaging in some crude talk -- locker room talk he called it about women. Bush broke his silence this week on rival GMA.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBIN ROBERTS, ABC ANCHOR, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA": Do you believe you should have lost your job over this?
BILLY BUSH, NBC HOST, "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD": Based upon the moment on that is on that tape, I understand people's reaction. I agree, I also felt that way. We live in a visual and digital age. So we get this -- this video, this moment, and we react emotionally to it. And then you have social media and the ability to respond in real-time, and a flame becomes a bonfire very, very quickly. I look back and I wish, people also say, you should have stopped it. But I didn't have the strength of character at the time to do that. I wish I did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: You know, I give him credit, he's not whining, he's not blaming anyone else, pointing fingers, he's taking responsibility for outtakes that he never thought would see the light of day. That's it for this edition of MediaBuzz and Howard Kurtz. I hope your enjoying your Memorial Day weekend. Nice break, this time of the year.
I planned to do a little bit of that myself right after this show. I hope you like our Facebook page. I respond to people there. Let continue the conversation on Twitter @HowardKurtz. Let us know what you think about the media. No political speeches.
Mediabuzz@foxnews.com and DVR the show so you don't have to miss it if you're out going to the beach Republican going to trip or whatever might be doing on Sunday morning. We have a lot of media news every week to get in and we try to shove as much as we can, that will make time. You know, at seven for example, about the president and the pope. Back here next Sunday, see you then 11 Eastern with the latest buzz.
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