Did the media sink Roy Moore?

This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," December 17, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the buzz meter this Sunday, much of the media celebrates the upset in Alabama after weeks of tough scrutiny over Roy Moore and points the finger at the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a resounding rejection of everything with that Republican and what President Trump was standing for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That Democrat was elected to the U.S. Senate in an utter repudiation of Steve Bannon and what he stand for, and an utter repudiation I think by extension of Donald Trump and what he stands for.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not a referendum on Trump. I think it was a referendum on Harvey Weinstein.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Is the press making the Alabama lost too much about Trump? And did journalists help push Doug Jones to victory in a ruby-red state. The whole Roy Moore accountable for allege sexual misconduct.

Maybe outlets at Washington revived the allegations by women against Trump back in the campaign. And get pushed back when they slam the president for seemingly suggest a tweet against Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Your mind is in the gutter -- so, no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Is the press actively promoting these year-old allegations against Donald Trump. Tavis Smiley shows about allegations of sexual misconduct and he is fighting back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAVIS SMILEY, AMERICAN TALK SHOW HOST: Let me assure you that I have never groped, inappropriately exposed myself or coerced any colleague in the workplace ever in my 30-year career.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Were the New Yorker lying? And Lisa, also confessing his firing for allegedly improper conduct, are many of the accused being tarred with the same brush? Plus, with the premier of a new film on the Washington Post starring Richard Nixon over the Pentagon papers, I'm on the red carpet with Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MERYL STREEP, AMERICAN ACTRESS: I was really drawn to the idea of making a film about Katherine Graham.

TOM HANKS, AMERICAN ACTOR: We didn't who Ben Bradlee was then. Even Ben said, you know, after that movie came out, you know, everybody will always say, well you know, it looked like Jason Robard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: But is it a stretch for these Hollywood stars to draw a link to the current White House? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is Media Buzz.

Virtually all the pundits thought Roy Moore would probably eke out a win in the Alabama Senate race and yet, most seem to be relieved -- rather relieved to be wrong when Democrat Doug Jones scored his upset victory.

Joining us now to analyze the coverage, Libby Casey, on-air reporter for the Washington Post, Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at the Federalist and a Fox News contributor, and Ruth Marcus, The Post deputy editorial page editor.

Libby, has there been a perception that the media in this country -- if not out opposed to Roy Moore, at least were ringing the alarm bells about him.

LIBBY CASEY, WASHINGTON POST, ON-AIR REPORTER: It were to come out a recent survey that said 52 percent of those polls don't trust the media.

And Roy Moore was certainly playing into that, talking about fake news, picking up on these hashtags that the president himself has, usually. He was pitting himself against not just the elite of Washington but also the media elite.

But it have to say, having talked to reporters in the Washington Post newsroom who broke the initial stories of the allegations, they were just doing their job and they were reporting, and they worry even to face by all the attention that he done to them.

So it really was -- it was not reciprocated I'm going to say, by the reporters who were doing the actual reporting. Roy Moore may have been lobbying -- you know, fight at them but they just kind of kept doing their job, Howie.

KURTZ: We will come back to that, Mollie. I saw a kind of a celebratory under tone to much of the coverage of Moore's defeat. Not just, you know, liberal places like New York Times editorial page which said, sanity reigns but also, National Review, Wall Street Journal editorial page and other conservative outlets.

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, SENIOR EDITOR, THE FEDERALIST: Yes, many people were exited that Roy Moore lost and it was -- a lot of attention paid on this race. I think it speaks both to the strength of journalism, but also the weakness of journalism.

Meaning, if this story had come out five, 10, 15 years ago, that man would have left the race immediately, that he didn't and that he almost won speaks to the credibility problems that general media establishment has.

But on the other hand, the strength of the story if held under scrutiny, unlike some of these other, you know, people who were trotted out by attorneys and what not. The Post story did hold up under scrutiny. So it's -- that's a god mark for them. But the danger is that it was even disclose, means that people aren't trusting or having confidence in the media.

RUTH MARCUS, DEPUTY EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, WASHINGTON POST: You know, I'm not really sure, Mollie, that you can take the failure of Roy Moore to quit the race as indicative of the failure of journalism and the sort of lower standard of -- and the lower profile of journalism in the modern world.

It certainly true that there is much more distrust of the media. But I would think that his failure to lead, I was kind of reminded of we were all braced for Clarence Thomas to withdraw...

(CROSSTALK)

MARCUS: No, withdraw, when the original allegations came out.

KURTZ: That's 1991.

MARCUS: We were braced -- people like me were braced for Bill Clinton to quit when the Monica Lewinsky story erupted. I think it's anything -- this just sort of proves that if you just -- until he lost, prove that he just stick it out, you can stick it out, probably more indicative to me of less control by the party of its own actors than of the failings of the stature of the press.

KURTZ: But you mentioned The Washington Post which interviewed the first four of nine accusers on the record in the initial story. One later went on TV. You have been doing this online story about journalism. You interviewed the Post reporter Stephanie McCrummen -- one of the main Post reports. Let's take a quick look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANIE MCCRUMMEN, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: To find and just to hear that, you know, someone had an affinity for teenaged girls. So we have to find out whether there is any reality there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: So if Roy Moore ran against the Washington Post and what he or as people the lynch mobbed media, do you think that strategy backfired?

CASEY: You know, I think it gets, honestly, to a bigger question about the Republican Party and how they are going to put forward candidates and who they represent. You know, Stephanie, did not going down to Alabama looking for dirt on candidates.

She's an enterprise reporter and she went down there and talk to Roy Moore supporters about why they were so into this candidate and why they had been a supporter of him for so long, because of this stands, you know, as a judge. And she kept hearing these rumors and these stories and her job was to look into it, and to dig into it.

Whether it's a Republican or a Democrat, your job as a reporter -- (Inaudible), as a reporter is to dig into it, and she says she was skeptical when she first heard these stories from people, and so she dug a little more, dug a little more and called an editor and said I think we have a story here. And the Post sent down a second reporter and her role was to get to the truth.

KURTZ: Obviously, this is a set by President Trump because he have to keep his distance and endorse Roy Moore, and did that rally in Pensacola, did the robocall, but you heard some of the sounds bites, utter repudiation in review. Do you think the press is portraying the Alabama loss as mainly Trump's fall?

HEMINGWAY: There was no question that this was a huge hit for Donald Trump. He did endorse this person. At the same time, this whole race was supposedly about whether you can support a candidate who molests children...

KURTZ: Allegedly.

HEMINGWAY: Allegedly, yes, but then as soon as he looses, it all becomes a referendum on Trump. And that seems a little bit tricky that the goal post keep getting moved.

And it speaks to how -- I think the media didn't do a good job of understanding what interests Alabama voters and what they were motivated by. Was it 40-year-ols accusations of sexual misconduct or did they have other issues that they cared about. And I'm not sure the media did a good job of covering the rest of the world.

KURTZ: I think...

CASEY: I saw some great stories. I saw some great stories. I hear your point. And it's a lot of what ends on television but I do read a lot of good stories asking voters, you know, about the whys, the hows, the how do want Alabama to be portrayed in the national media, why are African- American voters so important to this race in particular.

KURTZ: I thought what was overshadowed was that, Roy Moore is terrible candidate. He barely campaign, what he did, he kept stepping into new controversy. But what about, Mollie's, point, was there a shifting of the goal post in her words, after Roy Moore loses. And now it's not really about Moore, it's really about Trump.

MARCUS: Well, I think Donald Trump's decision -- he shifted the goal post initially, right? Originally, the White House position was no Senate seat is worth having a pedophile in Congress.

KURTZ: Accused.

MARCUS: Or accused pedophile, but you know, they said, no Senate seat we're having a child molester. As did (Inaudible), then it was if true, then this shouldn't -- then it completely shifted to it's concerning but it's more important to have a Republican. And then the president, you know, carefully didn't go to Alabama.

But did robocalls, did his Pensacola rally. So he got himself completely aligned with, I'm going to not say in bed with, Roy Moore. And so I don't think that's a shifting goal post, he made a decision that he was going to support this candidate when the candidate lost, which was clearly as a result of giving the very small -- I mean it's amazing that a Democrat could win.

HEMINGWAY: It's also missing one of the most important parts of the story, I think, which is that Mitch McConnell intervened in the race during the primary, sabotage basically a conservative candidate who could have easily won and acquiring millions of dollars to make sure that Roy Moore would be the person that his preferred candidate run against. And this was like a total meddling and this is a huge Republican issue but I don't think we get media coverage of those things.

KURTZ: Let me move you all onto this question. The series of media mistakes, and I'm talking here about ABC's Brian Ross on Mike Flynn, he's suspended for four weeks. We had CNN on this supposedly exposed of emails to Donald Trump Jr., turned out to be nothing because CNN had the date wrong and the information was public.

And then Washington Post David Weigel tweeting that he half empty arena -- the photo of a half empty arena and it turns out it was hours before Trump spoke. So, this came up repeatedly at sort of thing that the White House briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders on the media's intentions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: You cannot say that it's an honest mistake when you are purposely putting out information that you know to be false or when you're taking information that hasn't validated, that hasn't offered with any credibility and that has been continually denied by a number of people including people with the right knowledge of an incident.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Would (Inaudible) want to avoid intentional mistakes if only to not have to run correction later?

HEMINGWAY: Absolutely. There's a big difference between an intentional mistake and an actual mistake. Journalists are human too, they make mistakes, one thing that we can do is be more transparent.

And so when you are journalist and you make a mistake, apologizing, explaining your process, explaining why and how you got it wrong, and when we get it right, also being transparent, also explaining yourself to us.

CASEY: But people aren't stupid and they notice that all of these mistakes go in the same direction. All of these mistakes go against Trump. If it were truly accidental, if it were truly just the cost of doing business, you would see errors going both ways.

(CROSSTALK)

HEMINGWAY: It is important to hold people accountable and it is important to hold the president accountable but when you let your bias making not skeptical about people who are critical of the president, that's also bias.

KURTZ: I think that's a fair -- I think that's a fair point. But again this question is intentionally. I wrote a column saying these media blunders were really bad. Undermining the president's credibility, help proved ammunition for President Trump.

Again, a lot of people are attacking me, and a lot saying, what do you mean blunders? They are intentional mistakes. And so, is the fake news charge sticking for some point?

MARCUS: It's irrational for any reporter to intentionally make a mistake that is going to be easily and quickly in this modern media environment just prove and it's going to hurt, if not ruin his or her career.

Then there is a tendency I think because in the modern media environment, everything happens at lightning speed to jump the gun too fast. We all -- and perhaps in a too snarky way, we all should be careful of both those things. But it's generally the notion that these are intentional mistakes. It is like just insane.

HEMINGWAY: I think the problem is though, that people bought into a Russia collusion narrative. And they just kind of -- they bought into it.

They started putting a lot of stories, and now even though they kind of realizing that there is no collusion to steal an election, they are so embarrassed at how much coverage they gave to this story that turns out was kind of information operation that they aren't able to pull back and correct because it will make them look back..

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: But I have to get a break. When we come back, the press taking on the president over sexual harassment and his wife (Inaudible), and later at the big premier, ask Meryl Streep about a shot she took at Fox News.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: As Roy Moore was denying the allegations that helped cost him the Alabama Senate race. The White House correspondents increasingly peppered the press secretary with questions about Donald Trump's accusers from 2016.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRANCHESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, DAILYMAIL.COM: I wanted to ask you about the women who came forward accused the president.

SANDERS: The president addressed these accusations directly and denied all of these allegations.

CECILIA VEGA, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, ABC NEWS: Can you stand here eight now and say without a doubt 100 percent certainty that more than dozen women who have come forward to accused this president has conduct are lying?

LAURA INGRAHAM, THE INGRAHAM ANGLE HOST: The sexual allegations circus and the plot to take down the president. In the dangerous climate we have today that the liberals have created, allegations are enough to strip anyone, especially any man, of his career.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KURTZ: And as Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand went on CNN and demanded that Trump resigned, the president hit back on Twitter saying, light weight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer as someone who would come to my office begging for campaign contributions not so long ago and would do anything for them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, CO-HOST, TODAY SHOW: Did you interpret that tweet assessment sexual reference that you would trade sexual favors for campaign cash? Is that what the president was saying about you?

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: Certainly, that's how I and many people read them. And it was certainly just a sexist smear that is reprehensible to the president of the United States would say something so derogatory and disgusting about a woman.

GREG GUTFELD, CO-HOST, THE FIVE: When you say, oh my god, that's sexist in your head, you're saying that women cannot handle the same insult to the man. The weird thing about Trump is he insults everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: So while several of the Trump accusers appear in Kelly's NBC show, are the media trying to take a 2016 story. And I'm not saying these aren't serious allegations, and he has denied them repeatedly and recast it as a 2017 story.

HEMINGWAY: I mean, partly it's legitimate, right? This is the story of the moment. And there are these stories out there and in another way, this is why we have elections, we litigate these things. This behavior by Donald Trump is well-known going back decade and people knowingly elected him as president.

So there isn't aspect to this that does seem a bit in world news. In general though, this is just a story that needs to be covered without -- people just run to accept any allegation. And I think we need to see a little but more criticism from the media.

KURTZ: What do you make whether the media justification that we're in a new environment now and therefore, in the wake of Harvey Weinstein, and Louis C.K., and Kevin Spacey, and Charlie Rose, and Matt Lauer, we should revisit these allegations for that reason.

MARCUS: Well, I think, Mollie, is right. It was just inevitable that it would just going to come up. And by the way, the president did tell us not only that these women were liars by they said will be sued after the election, so kind of waiting for those lawsuits.

Meanwhile, there is a defamation lawsuit filed by at least one of the women who's trying to get discovery and would like to see the deposition of the president on that one. It is just inevitable that in the Harvey Weinstein at all, and it all keeps growing everyday at an environment that we all are going talking about Donald Trump.

KURTZ: So many White House correspondents in a row, we could have show more of those as Sarah Huckabee Sanders about allegations that surface a year ago. Can it look like the press is pushing this issue?

CASEY: I think they are following the story because Donald Trump himself opened this door when he talked about Roy Moore, when he said he that he didn't even know these women who are accusing him which he clear does know them. One of them was an Apprentice contestant. And there is footage of him firing here on TV. It raises more questions. He said didn't know the women.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave it a caveat and said the women who have came out in the press conference. But that was putting a fine point on it, that the president himself has not made. And so, journalists are going to ask questions.

They are going to say, all right, press secretary, what's really going on here, is he changing his story. So he brings some of this on himself. And when you even have Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador who is part of team Trump saying, you know, accusers should be heard. Women should be heard on this and including the president in that, that's significant.

KURTZ: Let me get to the tweet about Kirsten Gillibrand because the White House says, there was no double integrant suggested but, did it ring -- did it resonate for the media because of past Trumpian comments about Mika Brzezinski and Megyn Kelly, and that sort of thing?

HEMINGWAY: I don't know because Donald Trump has said the exact same thing about Marco Rubio, about Jeb Bush...

(CROSSTALK)

HEMINGWAY: ... for growth. He used to talk about Mitt Romney getting on his knees and begging for money. And it's actually pretty standard rhetoric to say that politicians will do anything for money.

The idea that all of a sudden it becomes a sexist insult because a woman is the target of his insults is ludicrous and it points to how the media way over do things. Donald Trump is being ridiculous in insulting people and then they get more ridiculous by saying it's a sexist insult when just saying...

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: And by the way -- and by the way...

HEMINGWAY: With every word he said has to be measured in a different way.

KURTZ: Kirsten Gillibrand went on CNN and said Trump should resign. So she too are hard punch first.

MARCUS: So hard punch him and we know who the counter puncher and she is. That said, I don't think you have to have your mind in the gutter to have taken a sexual innuendo there. And I -- I think he has talked about others begging for money. I don't think he is very much of it all. Talk about others who would do anything. He knew what he was saying.

KURTZ: All right. Mine is out of the gutter and we have to call halt there. Ruth Marcus, Mollie Hemingway, Libby Casey, thanks very much for joining us this Sunday.

Ahead, why 21st Century Fox is selling much of the company to Disney and the impact on the news and entertainment business. But up next, a new wave of firing and suspensions over sexual misconduct, while media companies, restaurants, sports and entertainment figures, and a federal judge.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Rupert Murdoch is drawing criticism after a Sky News reporter asked him about the impact on the company of past sexual harassment controversies at Fox News. Murdoch said, it's all nonsense and if the company had quickly forced out longtime Chairman Roger Ailes but the criticism was political and NBC, and CBS were now having similar problems.

Bur there are really bad cases where people must be moved aside and others that amount to quote, a bit of flirting. After a Huff Post report said some women at Fox were upset, 21st Century Fox said in a statement that Murdoch's were nonsense was not about sexual harassment itself but whether that issue was an obstacle in its bid to buy the rest of Sky News under Murdoch, the company said.

Bur it has compensated numerous women who were mistreated, fired its biggest star, Bill O'Reilly, and trained virtually all of its employees, quote, by his actions, Rupert has made it abundantly clear that he understands there were problems at Fox News, the statement said.

A question of misconduct was also spread into the restaurant business. ABC has fired celebrity chef Mario Batali, co-host of the day time show, The Chew after a website Eater.com quoted several women who is saying he had groped or sexually harassed them in other ways.

Batali is also taking a leave from his company, apologize to those he has hurt saying quote, I take full responsibility and deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused. The sports world is feeling the impact as well.

ESPN has suspended two on-air analyst, including former star quarterback Donovan McNabb over a lawsuit by a wardrobe stylist alleging numerous graphic instances of sexual harassment and assault. And the suit prompts the NFL network to suspend three former football players who have been working as on-air analysts.

The federal bench is not immune when the Washington Post reporting yesterday that nine more women, for a total of 15 have accused a high- profile appeals court judge Alex Kozinski of inappropriate conduct including unwanted kissing and touching.

And the New York Times and L.A. Times have included several women who accused music mogul Russell Simmons of rape. Simmons who has steeped down from his company insists he's innocent. More on this on our next event, including Salma Hayek writing for the New York Times on Harvey Weinstein sexually tormented her, and Tavis Smiley fighting his suspension by PBS.

And later, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, and Steven Spielberg on why they believe film on the Pentagon papers has resonance for today is attacks on the press.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Things can get very personally, even nasty in the media world that began when Senator Kirsten Gillibrand called on Donald Trump to resign and president fired up that tweet about how he will do anything for campaign contributions. MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski slam the president for that and said that if his press secretary backed her boss on this, she should resign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sarah defending his daughter on Fox and Joe Scarborough shot back on behalf of his fiance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I was stunned that of all the people who were going to give a lecture on morality and family and marriage, it's going to be Mika? Well Mika can go pound sand somewhere as far as I'm concerned.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, CO-HOST, MSNBC MORNING JOE: Well I just saw a Huckabee clip. No, what a sleazy thing to do.

BRZEZINSKI: No, Joe. Come on.

SCARBOROUGH: No, what a sleaze bag. Mike, what a judgmental, predictably stupid thing for you to do. It's unbelievable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Joining us now from New York, Guy Benson, political editor of Townhall.com and Jessica Tarlov, senior director at Bussle.com, both are Fox news contributors. So Guy, what do you make of Mika Brzezinski attacking Sarah Huckabee Sanders and saying if you would defend your boss on this Kirsten Gillibrand tweet, you should go, you should quit.

GUY BENSON, FOX NEW CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think that attack was premised on a false assumption that the tweet itself was sexist. The president says sexist things sometimes and has done sexist things in the past, but in my opinion this tweet was not sexist. And Molly Hemingway I think made that case earlier in your program. He has said the exact same thing with the exact same formulation about male Republicans in the not too distant past.

So then that sort of began a cascade of counter attacks from various family members, fiances, fathers -- it got personal and sometimes when it gets personal, it gets ugly.

KURTZ: Yes. Jessica, you know, it's understandable Mike Huckabee will come to the defense of his daughter but Joe Scarborough's also right that Mika Brzezinski hadn't talked about marriage or family. What do you make of all the sniping?

JESSICA TARLOV, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I made two things. First of all, (INAUDIBLE) signified it. I completely agree that Donald Trump insults men and women. I think that he needs to be careful not to insult women in this way and because she has said specifically something about the charges of him sexually assaulting, I think it's up to 19 women, I feel that he did go after here in that way specifically and it was sexist.

My second point is that what this cable news host are doing and pundits when we get up here and we fight like that. We are further turning America off. They don't want to see Joe Scarborough and Mike Huckabee have a fight about their respective loved ones. Stick to news as much as you can and your opinion is fine and I'd certainly love to express mine but I think that's why you have sinking faith in the media.

KURTZ: Right. :et's go to Omarosa who is leaving the White House, either fired or resigned depending on whose account you believe. She has been in a feud with the radio reporter and CNN contributor April Ryan. Take a brief look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OMAROSA MANIGAULT, OUTGOING WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATION: The assertion that I would do that in front of 600 guests at a Christmas party and no one has reported that except for one individual who has a personal vendetta against me.

APRIL RYAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm continuing to hear information from all sides, I mean, incredible sources. I have no vendetta. I am a reporter who's covering the beat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: April Ryan says she's doing her job but she formerly was friends with Omarosa and they have been feuding for a while.

BENSON: Yes. So I don't know if there's a personal vendetta here, maybe there is. I think there is overall a vendetta on behalf of April Ryan against this White House going back to the stupid allegations about whether Sarah Hucakbee Sanders baked her own pie saying that, oh, I wasn't invited to the Christmas party, but if I have been, I wouldn't have gone anyway.

It does seem like April Ryan goes beyond just being a reporter frequently. She is a commentator, an activist on the left. She does her job and that includes some reporting, but I think to claim that she's just a journalist, just a straight reporter. To me the evidence suggests otherwise.

KURTZ: Just briefly, Jessica. Are media giving too much attention to the departure of Omarosa who's not exactly a major figure in the White House?

TARLOV: Yes, absolutely. There was that amazing "Daily Beast" article about she was followed around and no one could figure out what it is that she actually does. I presume that's why she was fired. In the end and as John Kelly thought, there is no reason to be paying this person a bunch of money so that she can have her bridesmaids come in, open presents and have a luncheon. So I think that's what was going on here, but I have a very high opinion of April Ryan and I don't think she was making this up.

KURTZ: All right, disagreements there. Let me move to these FBI texts, these two FBI agents, one of whom, Peter Strzok was removed by Robert Mueller from the investigation. Let's put some of the messages up on the screen. He's writing to his girlfriend, Lisa Page -- God, Trump is loathsome human, yet he may win. Good for Hillary. It is. And if we can move on, Peter Strzok, oh my god, he's an idiot. Lisa Page -- awful. He's also referenced to insurance policy.

So Guy, there is an issue here about whether this stuff should have been leaked and shared to the press. And there's also an issue about whether it undermines the credibility of the investigation.

BENSON: I think the American people have the right to see what these text messages were because Strzok was fired or demoted or thrown off these investigation months ago. We knew that he had departed Mueller's team but we didn't know why and then it took a long time. Congress didn't even know why. It took a long time for to us figure out what the case was and if there were references to anti-Trump, pro-Hillary text messages. I think for journalistic transparency, it was right for the t was right for the media to try to get their hands on those and give them to viewers and to readers.

To me, you just ran through some of those examples of what was sent back and forth and some of it was just sort of sniping and people are going to have their political opinion. Obviously they didn't love Mr. Trump, but to me, the most important one or the most potentially problematic message was about that insurance policy against a Trump presidency. To me that raises a red flag. And on the media side of this, Howie, Byron York tweeted over the weekend that he did a search of the "New York Times" and "Washington Post" websites and the insurance policy element of those texts was never mentioned in a single news story about this controversy.

KURTZ: OK, so it think that needed more coverage, but Jessica, let me point you to something that Jesse Watters said on his Fox show last night. Let's put it up. He was talking about the investigation. He said, we may now have evidence. The FBI mentioned destroy the Trump presidency for partisan purposes. In fact, we have -- if it's true, we have a coup on our hands in America. So critics on your side is saying that Fox News over some Fox commentators they really should say, are trying to discredit this investigation any way they can.

TARLOV: Yes, and I think that's an accurate criticism and it's not just people on my side of the aisle. There are number of Republicans who feel very strongly that Bob Mueller should be able to proceed as he has been with the full confidence of the government and certainly not the president of the United States of America slandering them non-stop, even at graduations.

We know that Christopher Wray and Rob Rosenstein have both said that they have full confidence in this investigation and how Bob Mueller is running it. I completely agree with Guy that the text that matters is about the insurance policy and the idea that these characters were sitting around in Andy McCabe's office talking about what would be done yet we don't know if anything happened but...

KURTZ: Well since you both agree on one point I'm going to call help there. Guy Benson and Jessica Tarlov, thanks very much for coming today. Appreciate it.

TARLOV: Thanks a lot Howie.

BENSON: Thank you.

TARLOV: Bye guys.

KURTZ: Next on "Media Buzz," the media tizzy as Omarosa gets cancelled -- oh, that's what I was supposed to read last time. Next on "Media Buzz" we put the right script up, a look at Tavis Smiley being fired by PBS and Ryan Lizza suspended by the "New Yorker."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: PBS has suspended Tavis Smiley's talk show after an outside law firm found what it called multiple and credible allegations of misconduct. The "Variety" reports that Smiley had sexual relationships with a number of subordinates who were worried that their job status was tied to these relationships and express concern about retaliation. But Smiley is strongly disputing the findings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAVIS SMILEY, HOST, PBS NEWS TAVIS SMILEY: It is clear this has gone too far and I for one intend to fight back. PBS overreacted and they launched a sloppy investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Joining us from New York, Lynn Sherr, a former correspondent for ABC News. So Tavis Smiley I think is the first major TV figure to fight back in one of these cases. He's saying he had a consensual relationship at least in one case and PBS won't give him the name of the accusers. Without PBS writing the details, how are we supposed to judge whether there is a big problem here?

LYNN SHERR, FORMER ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: They're going to have to release he details at some point and certainly anybody who is accused has the right to find out. We need to differentiate, Howie, this drip drip drip which is now a flood. The only way we can avoid drowning in it is to differentiate -- find out the facts, differentiate between something that destroys a woman's career and something that just makes her want to go take a shower alone.

There's a difference between these things and we need to find it out and I think what Tavis Smiley -- I know nothing about his case. I do know that when he says we need to start the conversation, that's the point. We're never going to ban sex in the workplace, although I have a feeling there'll be a lot less mistletoe at holiday parties this year which might be a good thing, but we need to determine the boundaries. We need to have a way to say to each other what's right, what works, what's OK and what's is not OK.

KURTZ: Right. Similar questions are being raised about the "New Yorker" magazine firing Ryan Lizza who'd been the Washington correspondent for a decade. He's also a CNN contributor. The network is reviewing his case. And in that case, the "New Yorker" is saying that he engaged in improper sexual misconduct, but not saying exactly what it is. Now Ryan Lizza may be best known for reporting on that raunchy off the record or he supposedly -- he says it was on the record, excuse me -- conversation with Anthony Scaramucci which cost him his job at the White House. Let's take a brief look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I named it insane Scaramucci interview. It was just so completely unlike any on-the-record conversation I'd had with a spokesman for the White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: And then let me read you Ryan Lizza's comments, I am dismayed that the "New Yorker" has decided to characterize a respectful relationship with a woman I dated as somehow inappropriate. But the woman hired a lawyer to complain and again, we don't know the details and it goes to your point about how do you differentiate among these cases.

SHERR: Well, this is what a lot of people are now talking about because there is some concern that there is backlash. There is some concern that everything gets lumped together and it shouldn't be. My friend, Allen Alda, he's a great actor of course, who has been a great supporter of women's rights for many decades, said to me the other night what we should do is have a safe word. One phrase that is universally recognized as something that means you can't do it anymore.

Now, I think the word stop is fine. I think the word no is fine. I think Hillary Clinton's book where she said back up you creep was a perfectly good idea. But if those were too subtle, what Allen Alda suggested is something like that's not OK. Make that a universally accepted quick phrase that even bystanders can use if they see something going on. There has to be lines drawn. Women should not have to bear the onus of this. We should not have to police it. But something has to be done.

KURTZ: And finally, let me ask you about what I thought was a very moving piece by actress Salma Hayek in the "New York Times" about Harvey Weinstein. Obviously we've heard many, many, many allegations about the movie "Mogul." And she says, you know, he asked her for sex, asked to watch her take a shower, accept a massage and all that and had bullied her and even said at one point I could kill you. I will kill you.

But in this piece, she says also that he pushed her into doing a nude scene with another actress, Ashley Judd. She had a nervous breakdown. But really the question here is she says she was too much of a coward to come forward before this, against what she calls this monster. Your -- briefly.

SHERR: Howie, I've got two reactions to that. One is when I read that really gut wrenching piece by Salma Hayek, I remembered when I was the sexual harassment ombudsman person at ABC News back in the 80's, young women would come to me trembling. I felt their trembling when I read that piece. This is a horrifying thing for women to go through. And back then, these women were too frightened to even bump it up to the next level let alone publish it in the "New York Times."

KURTZ: Right. And of course Salma Hayek was an unknown actress at the time that a lot of this took place, not the big star that she is today.

SHERR: Exactly.

KURTZ: We got to leave it there. Lynn Sherr, thanks very much for becoming our correspondent on theses matters. Thanks for joining us. Nice to talk to you.

SHERR: Thanks Howie.

KURTZ: After the break, I talk to Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks about playing Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee in the film about the huge risk of publishing secret Pentagon documents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MERYL STREEP, ACTRESS: Do you have the papers?

TOM HANKS, ACTOR: Not yet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: I was on the red carpet the other night for the premiere of the "The Post," a Steven Spielberg film. It shows how the "Washington Post" obtained the classified Pentagon papers revealing lies about the Vietnam War after the Nixon administration got a court order to stop the "New York Times" from running them. The movie portrays the enormous pressure on Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee, both of whom I knew well, played here by Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're talking about exposing years of government secrets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that legal?

HANKS: What is it you think we do here for a living?

STREEP: Meaning --

HANKS: We could all go to prison.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: I asked Meryl Streep about playing the legendary "Post" publisher.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Were you surprised when you studied Kay Graham to find out that she was not this super confident, steely (ph) executive that she might have seen to the outside world?

STREEP: You know, it was heartening to discover that because I don't think there is a woman alive who has been, you know, sort of found herself at the pinnacle of her career and doesn't feel in some way that kind of imposter syndrome and insecurity even given her success. She suffered that and I could relate to it. I think many women can. And that's a shame. That's a shame because we shouldn't apologize or fear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: I asked Tom Hanks, who like Meryl Streep has taken shots at the president about saying Donald Trump is monkeying with the constitution.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Do you see parallels between the press battles of the Nixon administration in this film and the current climate even you have talked about President Trump's insidious campaign against (ph) the media mokeying around the constitution?

HANKS: You said insidious and are you -- I believe the Nixon administration at the time did a full frontal assault on the first amendment by trying to keep, literally trying to stop the press from publishing. I don't know that you -- you can't do that and still have the United States of America.

I think the current administration and their like-minded allies are waging a guerrilla war on the first amendment. Not quite as over but by diluting the job they do in order to establish what the truth is. You sort of raise legitimacy of those people who are not interested in the truth whatsoever and really are putting forward a specific sort of agenda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: I asked Steven Spielberg who was friendly with Bradlee whether the film lionized the "Post" journalists.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVEN SPIELBERG, FILM DIRECTOR: 1971 is the story we were focusing on the "Washington Post" and then fight with the Nixon administration to defend our First Amendment rights and publish these papers, both the "New York Times" and the "Washington Post" who were both competitive but also collaborative. In that, they were both doing the right thing against what the Nixon administration was doing which was (INAUDIBLE) the wrong thing. And we thought that was a story for the times then and the times today.

KURTZ: Do you see some parallels with the attacks on the President Trump administration to this movie that takes place decades ago?

SPIELBER: I certainly leave that to everybody who sees the movie. They can draw their own conclusions but this movie was not a partisan movie by a bunch of us kind of, you know, Hollywood filmmakers and actors and actresses. This is a very patriotic film and I don't think patriotism has any partisanship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: I also checked in with the real life editor of today's "Post," Marty Baron about President Trump's enunciations of the press.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTIN BARON, EDITOR, WASHINGTON POST: Well, nobody likes this, right. But, you know, its part of the way things are these days and so a way it was actually at the time of Watergate as well. You know, the president was attacking the "Washington Post" at the time and well, the president is attacking the "Washington Post" and many other news outlets at the time right now as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: And I couldn't let Meryl Streep go without asking about a recent shot she took at Fox News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: You've said you read the "Washington Post," "New York Times," "Variety," and "Politico" and you go to Fox often to see the manipulation. Do you think all Fox News is manipulation?

STREEP: Well, I watched "The Five" today and I think that's an entertainment show.

KURTZ: What do you mean by manipulation?

STREEP: What is chosen, what they choose to ignore. So, on a big day, a big news day, which everybody acknowledges globally is a big news day, they go to a small college in Oregon and talk about one professor who is outrageous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Well, whatever their views on politics in the media, this is one heck of a journalism movie. Still to come, the huge deal between 21st Century Fox and Disney and the impact on both companies.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: It's the biggest blockbuster media deal in years, but why has the Murdoch family decided to sell much of 21st Century Fox to Disney, combining the company of Mickey Mouse and Snow White with the Simpsons and the Family Guy. Here's what this company is keeping, Fox News, Fox Business, the Fox Broadcast Network, Fox's local television stations and Fox Sports. In short, a tightly focused news and sports company.

And here's what Disney is buying for $52 billion, the 2ist Centry Fox Movie studio as well as National Geographic, the FX Channel, 22 regional sports channels which could boost Disney owned ESPN, and Fox has taken the Hulu website and Britain's Sky News.

Now Rupert Murdoch has always been about buying assets, but faced with prospect of competing as not just the rest of Hollywood, but such emerging digital giants as Netflix and Amazon. He found a willing partner in Disney chairman Bob Iger whose conglomerate owns ABC but is mainly focused on entertainment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUPERT MURDOCH, MEDIA MOGUL: Well, you know, a lot of change coming. People watch television differently. Not news or business, but the entertainment they watch very differently. We're seeing that with the emergence of new companies, some are getting valued and I believe they spend tens and tens of billions on entertainment and programming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Murdoch says he insisted that Iger stay on. His contract was extended from 2019 to 2021, quashing media speculation that Murdoch's son James might be headed Disney. The Justice Department of course must approve the deal on antitrust grounds, a prime opportunity for Disney, but for a media mogul who's empire has been ever expanding, this is also a return to Rupert Murdoch's roots. He begun with Australian newspaper. He owns the "Wall Street Journal" and "New York Post." He's always been a news junky and that in an increasingly fractured media environment was more important to him than being a player in Hollywood.

That's it for this edition of "Media Buzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. Let's continue the conversation on twitter, @HowardKurtz, so all are weighing in on the Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks interviews and some of the conversation about Trump. We hope you like our Facebook page. Check it out. You can read my daily "MediaBuzz" columns there. Watch the videos and also comment. We try to comment back. And if you want to write to us, mediabuzz@foxnews.com is the address. We're back here next Sunday, 11:00 Eastern. We'll see you then with the latest buzz.

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