TRANSCRIPT

The media on nuclear alert: Are they spreading fear over North Korea?

This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," August 13, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On our Buzz Meter from Los Angeles this Sunday --

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KURTZ: A violent protest by white nationalists in Charlottesville plays out yesterday before the television cameras and many in the media denouncing the president for failing to call out white supremacists and neo-Nazis by name.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.

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KURTZ: And does the news media give these fringe groups too much attention. The media going nuclear as President Trump vows to rain death upon North Korea if the rogue state doesn't stop threatening the United States.

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TRUMP: North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN: Sara, if North Korea launched a nuclear warhead toward Hawaii, let's just start with the very basic theory (ph) if such a thing were to occur, how long would it take to go from launch to strike?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, CNN: Can we just dial this all back a little bit? You know, I think it's important -- this is an important story, but it's an unconfirmed report of a possible technological development from North Korea, and suddenly on television we are talking about people hiding in caves on Hawaii.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC: Our job tonight actually is to scare people to death on this subject so the talk isn't as free as it is about a pre-emptive or surgical military strike.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: We've really never had an American president playing I'm rubber, you're glue with the North Koreans in terms of their threats for a nuclear holocaust before. And so there is a brand new, totally unprecedented craziness and surrealism problem in the U.S.-North Korean relationship.

EBONI WILLIAMS, CO-HOST, "THE FOX NEWS SPECIALISTS": It sounded like don't mess with us and if you push me, I'm going to be forced to push back. That power part that he added the second time he talks about fire and fury, I don't think was a happenstance.

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KURTZ: Is the press overreacting to Trump's escalating rhetoric or are some journalist just scaring people? Mike Pence calling the New York Times disgraceful for reporting that he's exploring his options for a possible run in 2020.

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MARC LOTTER, PRESS SECRETARY OF MIKE PENCE: Really what you got here is speculation, conjecture, half-truths, masquerading as news on the front page of a never Trump New York Times.

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KURTZ: Or was the piece on the vice president's political maneuvering really wrong? Plus, from British politics in London to Fox News here in California, Steve Hilton says the American media are out of touch. Is he right? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."

The aftermath of yesterday's violent protest in Charlottesville has eclipsed at least briefly the confrontation with North Korea. Joining us now to analyze the coverage here in L.A., Christina Bellantoni, assistant managing editor of politics of the Los Angeles Times. In Washington, Mollie Hemingway, senior editor of The Federalist and Fox News contributor. And in New York, Jessica Tarlov, senior director at Bustle Trends and also a Fox News contributor.

Mollie, President Trump enjoying just a tsunami of media criticism for denouncing bigotry, denouncing violence on many sides but not naming the people who carried out these attacks including the car that rammed into a crowd. The driver charged with murder and that's white nationalist. What's your take?

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, yes, the media are very much focusing on this story, this horribly tragic story which has now led to the death of a woman who was run over by a man driving car. A man who I think appears to be related to this white nationalist movement so it's a very significant story.

At the same time you see the media trying to sort of push and hype the story. This was a nationwide rally of white nationalist and at best they were able to gather just a couple hundred people.

So there's two different ways of looking at this. Either you do think you give it wall-to-wall coverage, you very much elevate this tiny marginal group or other people would say, that's exactly what they want. They want that kind of coverage. They want to provoke conflict. They want to provoke quite dramatic interaction and maybe the media shouldn't be playing into that quite so much.

KURTZ: But Jessica, by making Donald Trump the focus of this protest that turned utterly violent, protest that he had nothing to do with, aren't some critics in the media also being divisive?

JESSICA TARLOV, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think the media does play a divisive role in what's going on in today's society, but I do think that this was an incredibly important moment for the president of the United States to step up and to call these domestic terrorists exactly what they are, which are white supremacists and neo-Nazis. He spent years criticizing Barack Obama for not saying radical Islamic terrorism.

And we know exactly why Barack Obama refused to do that. He didn't want to alienate moderate population of Muslims. But there are no moderate neo- Nazi. They do not exist. It is purely an extreme ideology and so I think the media actually hasn't gone too far. And as our viewers at home, and if you were listening to what Karl Rove in the past hour with Maria Bartiromo, he said it was disappointing that this was a moment where the president could have gone out there and said the appropriate things, the moral thing which is to condemn this group by their name just as his daughter did this morning on twitter.

KURTZ: Right, I was going to mention it. Christina Bellantoni, it's been just 24 hour since this awful violence. Death toll is now three. Three dozen people injured, and the whole story turns to Trump's response. The lead story of "Politico" this morning, "Trump fails to condemn white supremacist in statement on (INAUDIBLE) for violence.

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, ASSISTANT MANAGIN EDITOR ON POLITICS, LOS ANGELES TIMES: So that's where you turn "Politico" which is a political outlet, right.

KURTZ: We see a lot of similar (INAUDIBLE) including one in the New York Times.

BELLANTONI: It's the president of the United States, and so his words do matter. His words will get the focus, you know, we're going to talk about that with North Korea. What's important here is condemning violence no matter who is perpetrating it. And the president should have called him out by name. And his Republican colleagues and Democrats across the aisle all said you should have named this organization. You should have strongly condemned it.

But the idea that anybody who would endorse any kind of violence is wrong at any levels of government and this is a moment, this is like a tinder box, right. We have seen this across the country, violence, now it's getting even more severe with people dead. People need to condemn violence no matter where it's happening, whether it's at rallies or with Democrats or Republicans or white nationalists and the president leads by example.

KURTZ: The president did do that, Mollie. Let me just jump in, sorry to cut you off. I personally think it would have been better if he had mentioned white nationalists as his daughter Ivanka did. Now, we did go through this as Jessica points out with Barack Obama who also got criticized heavily for refusing to call out radical Islamic terrorists and I think he should have done that. What explains this extraordinary level of media coverage on presidential language?

HEMINGWAY: Well, first off I feel like people are responding to something to something they believe Donald Trump did or didn't say as oppose to what he actually said. They take this first line of lengthy statements he gave on the violence and they just take that one statement where he says there is violence on both sides or something to that effect. He also explicitly condemns racism. He explicitly talks about the need for people to love one another.

I don't think that the full statement is being included here and I think the media has kind whipped themselves into a frenzy in a way that doesn't match with the rest of the country. I'm glad we just heard reference to other violent rallies. And the country has experienced in recent years a lot of violent rallies and they are on different fringe sides. They're not fringe, just fringe right. There's also fringe left, and we've seen violent rallies in Ferguson, in Charlotte, in Baltimore and Portland and Oakland and Milwaukee and Minneapolis and New York and many other places.

And people I think understand that there are these fringe elements that are convincing themselves about being violent toward their fellow American and that's not something that is just in one political enclave. It's actually a problem we have across the spectrum and it's actually a good idea then for a president to speak to all of those things.

TARLOV: But Mollie, I take your point actually and I realize that there's this fringe. Obviously the vast majority of white people in this country are not white supremacists or neo-Nazis. But don't you agree that this was a great opportunity for the president to make his views clear on this specific group when every other Republican was doing as well. This isn't a bipartisan issue.

KURTZ: Hold on Jessica. Jessica hold on, let me turn this back to the press. It seems like to the extent that the president did repeatedly and forcefully condemned bigotry and violence maybe with the specific language that you or others may have preferred, but the press doesn't have much interest in that. They only wants to make what he didn't say in the story.

TARLOV: Yes, I understand that and as I said in my initial statement, I do think that the media plays a divisive role here. I just happen to think that they haven't gone too far in asking questions about why the president of the United States chose not to use that language today. I agree there are fringe groups of all types across the country who rally and who get violent and it should all be condemned.

But at this moment, I don't know why the press is wrong to be asking a president who was a leader in the birther movement for instance, why he isn't using the explicit language when his own daughter is and when his wife has to be the first person from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to come out and condemn it with her tweet yesterday.

KURTZ: All right, the White House says the president was the first to in fact that there was point of violence between protesters and counter- protesters. Let's pull back the camera a little bit to Christina. Obviously, if there's violence in the protest we have to cover it, but there were already lots of TV cameras there in Charlottesville, Virginia for the possibility that something might go wrong. Do the media pay too much attention in general to these fringe groups?

BELLANTONI: It's a really important question newsrooms have. During the Republican National Convention there were some white nationalists there and the L.A. Times spent some time talking to them asking them their motivations and we got a lot of criticism why would you give any headlines to this movement, but part of it is understanding. This is an element of society. It doesn't matter what the percentage is. This is out there.

And so, trying to understand motivations, get them to be able say like this is what it's about. It's a very delicate situation, but it is important to listen and maybe and maybe that can solve some problems if you get the information out there.

KURTZ: All right, that's a fair point. Let me now turn to the Korea situation. The president didn't just talk about fire and fury, he kept talking about the confrontation with Kim Jong-un. Here's what he said in an impromptu news conference with reporters.

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TRUMP: He does something in Guam, it will be an event the likes of which nobody has seen before what will happen in North Korea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And when you say that, what do you mean?

TRUMP: You'll see, and he will see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not a dare?

TRUMP: It's not a dare, it's a statement.

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KURTZ: Mollie Hemingway, what do you make of the tsunami of media criticism that President Trump is just being reckless and escalating the situation with North Korea?

HEMINGWAY: Right. I personally don't like that type of escalating rhetoric and yet it is also true that this is not actually that outside the norm. You had Bill Clinton talk about how we could end North Korea. You had Barack Obama saying we have the capacity to destroy North Korea. John McCain when he was running for president said we could annihilate North Korea if the ever attacked us. So the idea that what Donald Trump said was somehow outside the norm of our frankly, all too common rhetoric regarding North Korea is not borne out by that historical perspective.

KURTZ: Jessica, the media consensus is it's better to do these things through quiet diplomacy. That hasn't worked out all that well in the last 20 to 30 years. So, does Mollie have a point? Is the press overreacting here a bit to the president's words?

TARLOV: I do think so actually. When I first heard it I had that initial blowback moment where I thought, oh my God, did he just say that. And then I star to see all the quotes of the past few decades in context and understand it. I think it reason that the media undermines him in this instance and in a lot of instances is that they don't trust him, and that's the fundamental problem here.

When we saw that other members of the cabinet clearly did not talk to him about the language he was going to use and they were caught by surprise from Rex Tillerson, what --

HEMINGWAY: The media can't be undermining him with his own words. I mean we're watching on camera what he is saying and I think --

TARLOV: Well, they can with their commentary though. I mean, his words are on for 30 seconds and then there are a bunch of pundits talking afterwards about what he meant and whether his worst than Kim Jong-un. So I do believe that they are undermining him and his ability to, you know, be diplomatic however it is that he's approaching it, whether it's through twitter or in a press conference.

BELLANTONI: And one of the reasons why this blew up so much is because he hasn't talked to the press very frequently. So he's on vacation in New Jersey, a working vacation. The press finally has an opportunity to answer to get him to answer some questions. Of course anything he says is going to become a major story because we don't hear from him enough.

KURTZ: Let me get a break. We'll have more on this, more on North Korea and in just a moment, are the media actually helping to scare people? And later, Vice President Pence ripping the "New York Times" for suggesting he has ambitions in 2020.

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KURTZ: More now on the president's war of words with North Korea. Mollie Hemingway, you saw the CNN reporting pretty consistently from a Hawaii bunker. You've enjoyed a review from Jeff Toobin. Are some in the media just kind of going overboard on this situation and scaring people?

HEMINGWAY: Well first of all there always seems to be a little bit of a rush to war that we see in particularly broadcast media. You might have remembered when we struck Syria, there was such excitement about that. And I think people -- the media have gotten into patterns of kind of escalating rhetoric even as they are condemning what the president said and not thinking through some of the serious consequences of what a global conflict with North Korea would be like. This is news worthy.

It is absolutely news worthy that North Korea which has been on a pass to this point for decades going through several administrations, does have some of these capabilities. But we need to also still remember how to cover these things a little bit more balanced. I mean, North Korea is a country that has interests.

They aren't likely to actually bomb the United States or Guam or Japan or South Korea because the moment they do that, as all these presidents have said, they would be utterly annihilated. So, it's a little bit more complicated situation. What do they want with this nuclear power? That wasn't covered well.

KURTZ: A refreshing bit of perspective. Jessica Tarlov, Brian Williams says hey, this is serious stuff, we have to scare people.

TARLOV: Yes, I know. I didn't agree with that and I totally agree to what Mollie just said there. I think there has been a lot of this blown up and if you listen to the experts, they are saying that, yes, there's an increased likelihood of a conflict but it's nowhere near kind of the fire and brimstone that we're hearing and obviously then saying fire and fury may play into that.

What I think has been interesting is to see the effect on the American public in terms of polling. Now, over 50 percent say that they would be willing or think that it's a good idea to actually go into a conflict with North Korea, and that is a substantial change and I think due to the media coverage like Brian Williams trumping it up, to use the Trump word.

KURTZ: OK, Christina Bellantoni, how is the L.A. Times handling this because you're that much closer in this part of the country to the Pacific?

BELLANTONI: Absolutely. You know, it's important to know what's reality and to have a very clear-eyed look at the facts and what could happen and so, I actually raised this in one of our news meetings. Look, it might be ridiculous that we would need to face and what would you do in the events of a nuclear blast. People are asking these questions.

So, how do we approach it from a very clear-eyed journalistic perspective to report information so people can inform themselves, take that home to their children who are asking these questions? Take that into their school where people are asking these questions and that's what you just have to try to do, to be as sober about it as you can and get the facts out there without being hysterical. No one wants to delight in this type of coverage.

KURTZ: Right. Mollie, all the critics in the media who don't like President Trump's foreign policy really escalating themselves for example CNN's Fareed Zakaria, crisis (INAUDIBLE) has been exaggerated and was handled by a Trump administration to (INAUDIBLE) that's deeply worrying and dangerous so, the same partisan sniping, but it's a serious issue obviously.

HEMINGWAY: It is a serious issue and you know, in the news we don't like to go back decades. We like to cover what's happening right at this moment, but this is a story that really should have had more coverage going back to the 90's when Jimmy Carter made his trip to North Korea and worked out the terms of this nuclear arrangement. He actually kind of sabotaged Bill Clinton in so doing, and this is not, you know, this is not something that all began six months ago when Donald Trump was inaugurated president.

This is a story decades in the making and this is a regional issue that goes back even longer. So, it's limited when you make everything about Trump, you miss out on some really big significant stories.

KURTZ: And Jessica, just briefly, when you make everything about Donald Trump you maybe miss the fact that it's North Korea that has been stepping up the testing and is stepping up rhetoric as well.

TARLOV: Yes, absolutely. They are the aggressor here and this is much more as Mollie pointed out, a regional issue than it is one for us so I understand the concerns especially for those on the West Coast. I think the media does need to play a role here in getting the facts out, something that they say that they are concerned with at the highest level if they want to push back on the White House saying that they've been spreading bad information and the media should be spreading good information or true information -- that's what I mean by good there about the actual --

KURTZ: All right. Jessica Tarlov, Christina Bellantoni here in Los Angeles. Thanks very much for joining us. Mollie, stick around. Ahead on "Media Buzz" from L.A., some fox news commentators trashing Mitch McConnell, very split in the conservative media. But up next, Google fires an engineer who dares to criticize its policy on hiring women in high-tech.

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KURTZ: Google based here in California has created an uproar by firing an engineer who wrote an internal memo challenging the company's diversity efforts and saying females staffers fill only 20 percent of its high tech jobs in part because of biological differences not discrimination.

Google's CEO said he terminated James Damore for, quote, advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace. Damore said in an interview he's not a sexist and accused Google of illegal retaliation in a complaint with the National Labor Relations of what he said, people got offended because Silicon Valley is getting, quote, a progressive echo chamber and his comments go against the lefts ideology. Mollie Hemingway, talk about media group thinks the overall coverage basically portrays this guy as a sexist creep.

HEMINGWAY: It's really interesting how so many people in the media portrayed his memo which was arguing about how to make diversity practices better or how to be more responsive to the very real biological differences between men and women. But the way the media characterized this was they kept calling it an anti-diversity memo.

It's clearly not that if you read it. And that's what's so interesting about it. You could read it. This was a memo that went viral. It was long but you could read it yourself and you could see that the way it was portrayed by various media outlets was incorrect.

KURTZ: Let's hear a little bit from James Damore in one of his interviews. Let's roll it.

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JAMES DAMORE, FORMER GOOGLE ENGINEER: I'm not saying that any of the female engineers at Google are in any way worse than the average male engineer. I'm just saying that this may explain some of the disparity in representation in the population.

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KURTZ: So James Damore also writes that women are more neurotic than men and that this is a factor in their employment. I can see why a lot of people would find that offensive.

HEMINGWAY: Well, there are all sorts of things you might take issue with there. Even his understanding of what social science says about the differences between men and women can be argued with. But the overall memo was how about how to increase -- how to do a better job with diversity program and how to deal with the reality that men and women are different.

This is a thing that many people in the media don't actually accept or they try and fight against all the time. Men and women are these things. They're different. They have on average differences that show up in all sorts of scientific analysis, and this isn't a bad thing. This is actually I think a good thing and women and men have on average different strength and they are going to choose different career paths and they're going to choose to be in those career paths in different ways and that is anathema to a lot of people in the media.

KURTZ: Right. Google canceled their client staff meeting on this subject because of threats that people who participated will be identified and therefore will be subjected to online abuse. Now, James Damore (INAUDIBLE) is seem like he's kind of milking his 15 minutes. He wrote an op-ed piece for the "Wall Street Journal." He was wearing a t-shirt that turned the Google logo into Gulag. Has the company -- does tech giants sort of unintentionally turned him into a media hero in some circles?

HEMINGWAY: Well certainly. And I mean he was fired after Google asked for feedback on these programs. They have these resources where people are supposed to give feedback. He did and then he got fired. I don't know if that's milking it to be upset about it. At the same time, I think it resonates with so many people because a lot of people in the country feel like they're not free to talk through different issues to engage to disagree, to differ with what some (INAUDIBLE) viewpoints are. And so people feel this at their own workplaces. They feel it on social media. And so that's why I think this has taken off and comes to have a life of its own.

KURTZ: Yes, that's a great point that you made about this. Anybody can read it and yet it has been characterized in a certain way by so many in the press. Mollie Hemingway, great to see you as always.

HEMINGWAY: Thanks.

KURTZ: And next on "Media Buzz" from Los Angeles, Mike Pence denounces a "New York Times" reporting that he's positioning himself for 2020. Does he have a case? And later, CNN fires a contributor for invoking Nazi terminology.

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KURTZ: A New York Times story about the 2020 campaign has prompted an unusually harsh denunciation from Mike Pence. The vice president called the piece, quote, disgraceful and offensive to me, my family, and our entire team. The allegations of the article are categorically false and represent just the latest attempt by the media to divide this administration.

What the paper said was that veep created a political action committee, hired top operative and that one of his aides said in a meeting that the Pence team wants to be prepared in case there was an opening in 2020. Joining us now here in Los Angeles, Gina Loudon, host of "America Trends with Dr. Gina" on the Youtoo America Network, and in New York, Cathy Areu, publisher of Catalina Magazine and a former editor at the Washington Post. Magazine.

Gina, what do you make of Mike Pence pushing back so hard in such personal terms against this New York Times piece that includes him in the maneuvering for 2020?

GINA LOUDON, HOST, AMERICA TRENDS WITH DR. GINA: Well I think, you know, he's probably asking the question of if he were not doing those things would the media be criticizing him for not doing them saying maybe he's not fully on board with the conservative agenda or you know, jus stirring (INAUDIBLE) in some other way. I think that's the problem that is that there has become such a chasm between conservatives in general and the media at this point, but there is just a distrust overall. So everything the media says is suspect to someone like Vice President Mike Pence.

KURTZ: Cathy, wouldn't any vice president keep his options open, you know, what if Trump does it wrong, what if he has health problems. The story doesn't say that Mike Pence is going to challenge Trump which would be ludicrous.

CATHY AREU, PUBLISHER, CATALINA MAGAZINE: Well, it is a story with facts. It wasn't -- for him to say it was offensive, it wasn't offensive. It went with facts. He did start a political committee. He is raising money. He did hire a chief of staff that is known to be a campaign guy. So his actions are showing but he may be getting ready to run for 2020 and it would be irresponsible for the "New York Times" to not run story like this. So it makes sense that he's upset, but maybe it's because it's the truth.

KURTZ: On the other hand, Gina, let me quote from the story, Mr. Pence has made no overt efforts to separate himself from the beleaguered president. He has kept up his relentless public praise and even in private is careful to bow to the president. But I'm told that Mike Pence was truly offended and wanted to knock this down.

LOUDON: Yes, and I think just going with the presumption that this president is weak is first of all, you know, a lot of conservatives are going to see that as a media bias in and of itself. Some would say it would be irresponsible of the vice president not to be prepared to be president. He is after all the next in line. So, for any vice president in history to not be prepared some people would say that it would be irresponsible for him not to be. So then the media tries to make a story out of this, you know, other than just reporting it, but reporting it with a little jab like is there some problem there? That's what the consumers of media may have a problem with.

KURTZ: In fairness to the "Time" Cathy, Pence wasn't even at the top of the piece. It was about Tom Cotton, Ben Sasse and John Kasick, but the Pence camp believes that such key facts were left out as, as a former governor he needed a federal PAC just to pay for his travel. And the first $1 million fund raiser for this pollical action (INAUDIBLE) he was introduced by Ivanka Trump or was it, that wasn't mentioned?

AREU: Well, the piece wasn't about him so maybe that's why they didn't mention those things. There were saying that Republicans are coming up with a plan B for 2020 and that is the responsible thing to do given Trump's numbers right now -- they're in the 30s -- 30 percent. So yes, Trump might be the only person who thinks he can win in 2020. So the "New York Times" is simply saying that Republicans are looking for a plan B and Pence happens to be one of them. So, if they didn't include every detail about Pence's life, it's because as you said, the piece wasn't just about Vice President Pence. The piece I think responsible and balanced.

KURTZ: I see. You couldn't resist that political shot. Let me turn now to Mitch McConnell who you know has been the subject of a number of attacks by various Fox News hosts. Let's take a look at, you know, "Fox & Friends," Lou Dobbs and here is Sean Hannity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": So Senator McConnell, my message to you, if all you're going to do is whine like a 10-year-old and complain and make excuses and blame the president for your failure after eight months of him now being in office and you having the House and Senate, guess what, it really is time to drain the sewer and swamp.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: So Gina, President Trump was asked about this and he said well, he's got to get repeal and replace done. What started this was the majority leader saying with Trump, with no political experience had excessive expectations of how quickly Capitol Hill could move. But in terms of these attacks from the conservative media, it's a sign of a divide between Trump and the Hill GOP leaders.

LOUDON: This is about, again, the media just taking great liberties that the American public as consumer doesn't see the way the media sees it. The consumer -- a lot of conservative out there and a lot of the Trump base sees the media as just an enemy and so they are discredited with them. And let's not forget the media's approval ratings are far lower than this president --

KURTZ: We are talking about conservative commentators who in a normal environment would be champions of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, but having to sort of take sides or to deal with the fact that major initiatives have failed particularly the repeal and replacing Obamacare are now beating up on McConnell.

LOUDON: I think the conservatives feel like they've had seven years. Let's not forget the uprising of the Tea Party Movement. That was about getting rid of establishment types like McConnell -- that talk a good game during campaign and then don't deliver the goods. And I think that's maybe what conservatives were seeing as the problem and so it was normal for conservatives to then -- this is something that is interesting about conservatives, Howie, is that they will criticize their own much more readily I think sometimes than those on the other side of the aisle.

KURTZ: But on that point Cathy, does this show that some people on the conservative side in the media, and I mentioned some of the Fox News host are perhaps trying to protect President Trump by blaming it on McConnell when you ever have a failed congressional issue. I feel there is a responsibility on both sides.

AREU: Well, and sometimes we forget the media is the people. The media asks the tough questions. They say what the people are thinking and I think the Fox hosts are correct. I think one of the Fox hosts said ditch Mitch and I think the people are feeling that way. I think society is feeling that way, so the Fox hosts are getting it right and they're speaking on behalf of the people because after all, that's what the media is. The media serves the people. They are of the people so I think the media is getting it right. I don't think they're just --

KURTZ: All right, let me use the remaining time to come back to our lead story, the violence in Charlottesville and all the media criticism of President Trump for not calling out white nationalists by name. What do you make, Gina, of the way the media have covered this overall in terms of the dialogue that the media are starting or not starting?

LOUDON: I think it's sad that Trump became the topic. I think if Trump had identified people initially, the media would have immediately jumped to why is he giving them, you know, why is he elevating their status? Why is he giving them any attention because we know this is such a tiny minority of people? So I think that that would have been the reaction, you know, from the media had he done what they're now saying they wish he had done.

KURTZ: Is there an honest conversation going on right now in the media about this?

LOUDON: Is it an honest conversation? I don't think so. And I think the thing America misses about the media and I think the way the media could get back into the good graces of America, is to let the conversation happen, forget the political correctness for just five minute and have a conversation. And if you want to talk about, you know, when a tragedy like this, we should be discussing the victims, we should be discussing the heart of America right now and not discussing what the president did or didn't say.

KURTZ: I agree with that part. Final thought Cathy on Charlottesville coverage.

AREU: I do agree and it's always tough to cover these situations. These are tough situations to cover. So, let's get down to the victims, let's get to the tough issues and talk about those things. So, these are always tough topics to cover so, it's tough for the media. Thing are never easy for the media.

KURTZ: I hate when the spotlight gets off those who are injured or killed or wounded for political sniping that always follows these things. Cathye Areu, Gina Loudon, thanks very much for joining us. After the break, one- time British operative with a unique take on the American media as we sit down here with Steve Hilton.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Steve Hilton was an advisor to former British Prime Minister David Cameron. He now host "The Next Revolution" on Fox airing Sunday's at 9:00 p.m. eastern and he joins me now here in his studio in Los Angeles. Thanks for letting us (INAUDIBLE) Steve.

STEVE HILTON, HOST, "THE NEXT REVOLUTION": Yes, what are you doing in my chair?

KURTZ: Well, I'm just trying to do an imitation of a television host. You told Forbes magazine, I don't think for one second anyone believes the Washington Post and New York Times are anything but aggressive against Trump. Every single reporter, that's a pretty sweeping statement.

HILTON: Well I think that if you look at the balance of the coverage and the commentary that comes out of what we describe as the mainstream media, but it's beyond those famous institutions. It's actually the whole conversation. There's this element of complete condescension, I think, toward the lives and views and opinions of those people who supported Donald Trump in the election.

There is no real attempt to even understand why they may have done that, to look at the failures of the last -- not just the last presidency bit the last few decades that have left working people poorer, their lives tough, all that stuff that drives support. They don't even want to try to understand it.

KURTZ: And on that point, I'm going to read another quote from you, I think much of the media is decadent in the sense that that people who are producing the coverage, they themselves have very comfortable lives far removed from the crisis of what's happening in America. Now, there happens to be a very nice profile of you in the "New York Times" today which points out that you have a $12 million house in the Silicon Valley. So, what puts you so in touch with America lives?

HILTON: Well basically it's such an important point. I'm so glad we got some time to talk about it properly because I think that that is one of the reasons for the bias coverage I think, is that the people who are generating that coverage, the journalists, the editors, the people that produce that, they typically live in the wealthy parts of cities like New York and Washington and Los Angeles.

And their lives are great. They have rising income, their neighborhoods are pleasant places, and they're free of crime. All those urban indicators are going in the right direction for them.

KURTZ: Well, your life seems pretty great, too.

HILTON: This is the thing that I -- it is, and I'm grateful for that. Mostly to my fantastic wife who has enabled us to have that great benefit. But the thing is that -- it seems to me that you don't -- there is a difference between being part of the elite and elitism. And there's this attitude of elitism that I think is the real problem.

KURTZ: Since you live in Silicon Valley -- let me just jump ahead and we can cut you off, the "Times" piece says that you get harassed as a conservative in Silicon Valley -- kind of a rare breed -- someone left toilet paper with Trump's face on it at a political fund raising outfit you started. So, do you feel a little bit like you're in hostile territory?

HILTON: Definitely. I think that's another question, that is hostile territory. I patiently try and make the argument and say just look at what's going on in the lives of working Americans. Not those who live in this bubble either in San Francisco or New York or D.C. In D.C. for example, the wealthiest parts of the whole country. But look at the lives of people outside of that. You don't have to live there. You don't have to be part of it to see what's going on. There is data that tells you the story of what's happened to incomes.

There are people who document what's going on. You don't actually have to be part of it to understand it and I think what's really happened with the media is this colossal failure of empathy for their fellow Americans, for the experience of people who are not like them.

KURTZ: Well, I said throughout the campaign that the media didn't understand Donald Trump because they didn't understand the people who supported Donald Trump, but some of that is still true, let's do a switch to this Google firing the engineer who have written this memo on diversity policy. What's your take on that and how bad is the sexism problem in Silicon Valley or is that something that you see as overplayed by the media.

HILTON: No, there's a really bad sexism problem that extends in Silicon Valley, but I think throughout corporate America. I mean this has been going on for a long time and if you talk to working women at all levels, of all organizations, they will tell you about their experiences.

KURTZ: It's hard to be particularly bad in the high-tech business because of sort of bro culture and fewer women that's hired for high tech jobs.

HILTON: That's true. But I think the response actually goes to this point of narrow mindedness that I think is really characteristic of our liberal elite both in the media and in the business world where any view that doesn't fit with the prescribed set of opinions the elite have is just automatically dismissed. It's not even taken seriously. Even if you have that view, you don't have the right to be listened to. And I thing that's what's going on that is so troublesome, is this closing down of any alternative viewpoint.

KURTZ: All right, well that's why we have you here. Quick break. More with Steve Hilton in just a moment. Plus, CNN cans a pro-Trump pundit and the really fascinating thing about David Letterman's comeback.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: More now with Steve Hilton, host of "The Next Revolution" here on Fox. So, even though you come out of Britain's conservative party, not everyone on the right is a fan. Breitbart says, fluffy liberal Steve Hilton is the original rhino. Republican in name only.

HILTON: Yes, I get a lot of that actually. When I was working with David Cameron and making some changes in trying to get conservative party elected after many years in the political wilderness.

KURTZ: Meaning appealing to some folks in the middle?

HILTON: Well, enough to win an election.

KURTZ: Yes, that's the point.

HILTON: And that thing that was always something that was always hard to convey but I'll do my best. It's a show that actually -- it's not a betrayal of your conservative principles to try and relate them to the problems that people are facing in their lives today. So one of the big things that we try to do in the U.K. was to show that actually it was conservative solutions to those long-standing questions of poverty and inequality that has so troubled British society that would actually work after years of failing from (INAUDIBLE) party. Now, showing an interest in the lives of the poorest and of working people was seen by some as some kind of betrayal. To me, it was --

KURTZ: Well, the exact working people of this "New York Times" profile, again, published today says you see yourself now on American TV as kind of trying to unite or common ground between Trump supporters and Bernie Sanders supporters who obviously might agree on some issues like trade but they're kind of far out there on the left.

HILTON: Yes, I think one of the really interesting things that's happening in politics is actually that the divide I think is increasingly not left- right but between what I would describe as the elitists and the populists. And the elitist -- you can find them in both parties. Your conversation just now about Mitch McConnell and the establishment Republicans, they are part of the problem in many ways in the sense that that agenda that is pro globalization, uncritical with what's going with automation in our economy, completely open borders on immigration, that agenda is being pursued by politicians in the left and right in the elite for the last few decades. And what you're seeing with the populist response to that is working people saying we've been screwed by these changes and we want someone to stand up for us. And that is different from the old left-right conversation.

KURTZ: Right. The old left-right thing is kind of tired and this is the most fascinated I am that I think American politics are. So on your show, a Washington Times columnist says, he doesn't interrupt his guest when they're responding to well thought questions. Your program is (INAUDIBLE) and civilized. What? This is cable news, you cannot possibly keep this up.

HILTON: Well we'll see how it goes and if I'm respective and bosses at Fox approve of it then I'm sure we'll we keep going. To me --

KURTZ: I interrupt people so, I'll just ask you are you trying to establish a different kinds of conversation with this show?

HILTON: Well, I think that -- yes, that's true. A thoughtful conversation because I think that actually some of these problems that have really hurt people for so long in their daily lives, they require a substantive thoughtful response and it's not the simplistic, you are right, you are wrong, left-right battle that I think has actually done a disservice to the real needs of people living in this country wherever they happen to live and that's what we're trying to get at with "The Next Revolution."

KURTZ: Striking a blow against simplistic media discourse, Steve Hilton, thanks very much for joining us.

HILTON: Thank you very much.

KURTZ: Appreciate the use of the studio. Still to come, CNN dumps a commentator over a Nazi salute and David Letterman planning a bit of a comeback in a way that speaks volumes about network television.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFFREY LORD, FORMER CNN COMMENTATOR: I want to say something here that I know will probably drive someone crazy, but I think of President Trump as the Martin Luther King of healthcare.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Jeffrey Lord was CNN fiercest Donald Trump defender at least until the other day. But after writing a column for the "American Spectator" in which he attacked the (INAUDIBLE) advocacy group, Media Matters as fascist, Lord tweeted Sieg Heil to the group's president. And with that, CNN fired him as a contributor. Nazi salutes are indefensible, a network spokesperson says. Lord says CNN caved over a joke and violated his free speech rights, but hey, wait a minute. There is no first amendment right to have a network contract if you say dumb stuff. Sieg heil, why even go there?

David Letterman has pretty much gone underground since giving up the CBS late show. Once in a while you will see him in an interview with a picture of that big beard, but now he'll be resurfacing with a new show for Netflix. True, it's just six episodes of an interview series slated for next year but that underscores why Netflix is so successful. Letterman clearly doesn't want to do another season on network television so this lets him dip his toes in the digital waters without needing a massive audience and people can watch whenever they want. This is why outfits like Netflix and Amazon Prime videos and others are landing more big names. Well, that and the fact that they're spending big bucks.

That's it for this edition from Los Angeles of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. We hope you like our Facebook page. Check it out. We post a lot of original content there. Mediabuzz@foxnews.com if you want to email us and come at me on Twitter @KowardKurtz, we'll continue this conversation and I'll be back in D.C. next week. See you then with the latest buzz.



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