Behind the Bannon brawl

This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," January 7, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, Steve Bannon and the president in a war of words as their relationship enclosed with Bannon quoted in a new book is calling Donald Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer "treasonous", and the president denouncing the book and saying his former chief strategist has lost his mind.


STEVE SCHMIDT: I'm just struck by that Steve Bannon's instinct also that we finally understand from someone inside that orbit that in fact we are not the crazy ones.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS: These statements Bannon has given basically credence to the worst conspiracy theory of the impeach Trump forces. Are they kind of plan right into the hands of the Democrats and the media who are hoping for nothing more than your mutually assured destruction?

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: This isn't Steve Bannon versus Donald Trump battle. This appears to be the entire White House and the entire world versus Donald Trump's ability to be president of the United States.

AINSLEY EARHARDT, FOX NEWS: When you look at it, it's just a salacious book. It's so tabloid. It's a book about what this guy who was fired was saying about what was happening inside the White House. Do you really care?


KURTZ: Well, the president really cares and he hit back at author Michael Wolff.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Because I talk about fake news and the fake news media, was really the fact that so many of the people that I talk about in terms of fake news actually came to the defense of this great administration and even myself because they know the author and they know he's a fraud.


KURTZ: Is the press turning on Wolff embracing Bannon? How much of this bit of breakup really matter? Anthony Scaramucci who clashed with Bannon as White House communications director will be here.

President Trump uses incendiary language against North Korea and the media launch a fusillade of critical commentary.


HEILEMANN: He has been cavalier in a way that makes him seem demented and deranged and makes no serious of our serious allies or adversaries around the world think that he's a serious person.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, FOX NEWS: I don't have a problem with that, you know, President Trump's tweet. I think it's fantastic. I'm glad that somebody is standing up to this guy. This guy has been like an international punk and bully forever.

JOY BEHAR: Trump has to be medicated and hospitalized or he's going to just kill all of us.

PODHORETZ: He is not ratcheting up things with North Korea. North Korea is ratcheting things up. It's North Korea that is testing the ICBMs.


KURTZ: Is Trump going too far or is that just the verdict by the pundits?
The president also taking a whack at the new New York Times publisher, A.G. Sulzberger, accusing the paper of phony sources. Then why does he keep doing interviews with the "Times"?

Plus, Trump about to hand out dishonesty awards to the media and his biggest late-night critic is already lobbying.


STEPHEN COLBERT, CBS: Nothing gives you more
credibility than Donald Trump calling you a liar. And I, of course, don't want to get snubbed.


KURTZ: Will the president's prize-giving have an impact or is it mere entertainment? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "Media Buzz."

First, President Trump responded to Steve Bannon's harsh rhetoric in the Michael Wolff book by saying his former chief strategist only pretends to have had influence to few people with no access and no clue whom he helped write phony books.

The president hit Wolff Friday in a Twitter taunt. Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book. He used sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad.

Bannon who runs Breitbart responded with praise for the president while the White House (INAUDIBLE) a tough campaign against him and against Wolff.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST (voice-over): The president of the United States is a great man. You know, I support him day in and day out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president saying it's full of lies, that Eugene
(ph) have the access you've said you had. Would you release any of those recordings since your credibility is being questioned?

MICHAEL WOLFF, AUTHOR: My credibility is being questioned by a man who has less credibility than perhaps anyone who has ever walked on earth at this point.

TRUMP: I guess sloppy Steve4 brought him into the White House quite a bit and it was one of those things. That's why sloppy Steve is now looking for a job.


KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage: Shannon Pettypiece, White House correspondent for Bloomberg News; Gayle Trotter who writes for and The Hill; and Mo Elleithee, former Democratic strategist who runs Georgetown University Institute of Politics and is a Fox News contributor.

Shannon, the president's denunciation of Steve Bannon, who was one of the two top White House officials. It's a juicy story with lots of layers of gossip, but is it a politically important story?

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Well, I guess that will be up to voters in 2018 and 2020. And the way that news cycle goes and the number of books that are planned just in 2018 alone, it's hard to know how much life and legs this one book will have, because I think there is going to be one tell-all book after another coming out over the years.

This certainly dominated the news cycle this week. This certainly gave people an impression. I think it reaffirmed the impression that some people have of the president. Maybe it raised questions with other people.

But it will only take time to tell whether this or anything else is enough to change people's minds if that's what they care about, if they care about how the White House is run or take care about issues.

KURTZ: You know, Gayle, the media has been painting Steve Bannon as president's svengali. But since he left the White House and he has been fighting with President Trump over immigration, over Roy Moore's candidacy in Alabama, Bannon was an early backer up, Jared and Ivanka, it seems the more the media were embracing him.

GAYLE TROTTER, COLUMNIST AND WRITER, TOWNHALL.COM AND THE HILL: Yes, I think you're right. There has a charge that the media has built up Steve Bannon. But you look at this and there was so much negative publicity about Steven Bannon before he left the White House and now you see that the media seems like they're embracing Steve Bannon --


TROTTER: -- and using him as a (INAUDIBLE) against the president.

KURTZ: Right. Look, Bannon is a very smart guy who knows how to build his brand. From the day he walked out of the White House, he went back to Breitbard. But do you think all of the credible (INAUDIBLE) media coverage (INAUDIBLE), Mo, could have emboldened him to think that he was untouchable?

MO ELLEITHEE, FORMER DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's a little -- I think it's off to blame the media for building up Steve Bannon. The president of the United States as a candidate built up Steve Bannon. This was a guy not a lot of people took very seriously --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's not true. That's not true.

ELLEITHEE: -- president of the United States made him campaign --

KURTZ: Well, but relatively --

ELLEITHEE: -- and then made him the senior -- the chief strategist of his White House. Go back through history, people that hold that position, chief strategist, in the White House are serious people who are therefore -- if the president gives you that title, of course, you are going to be taken seriously.

KURTZ: All right. Was it a dumb idea for Donald Trump's lawyer to send a cease-and-desist letter to the publisher to stop the publication of this Michael Wolff? Obviously, he is not going to be able to stop the publication of the book and it certainly set up new waves of coverage.

PETTYPIECE: It didn't work. It fueled a little bit of the flames of this story of now, is the president trying to suppress the book? Is it a free speech issue?

KURTZ: Speech issue also in part because the president now saying libel laws are too weak. I mean, he really went after the book.

PETTYPIECE: Right. And this is just part of the pattern, the cease-and- desist letter. Many news organizations, Bloomberg included, have received over the years letters from President Trump or then Trump the businessman about things we didn't like, threatening legal action.

One of my colleagues wrote a book that then businessman Trump sued him over. So, it's just part of a pattern. And I don't think it was a surprise to any of us to see it. That's just what he does.

KURTZ: It's not just the White House, Gayle Trotter, other journalists, a number of journalists have taken on Michael Wolff's credibility, saying that over the years, sources have said that he (INAUDIBLE) they didn't say, he has used material off the record in Wolff's own book years ago about his own business career.

He admitted that he lied to bankers to ward them off by making up a story about his father having open heart surgery. So he is taking some hits as the press scrutinized him.

TROTTER: Right. This has been a surprising change to the story because, as you know, he does not have a good reputation among the media especially in New York where he is based and a lot of his reporting was sad because he hang out at a hot spot in New York and got the gossip from the other journalists.

And so his reporting has been very salacious. In the book, he says he has a prologue saying that he has taken conflicting points of view from different stories.

KURTZ: And saying that some of these accounts are boldly untrue --

TROTTER: Right. He's doing a case of telephone operator, just reporting stuff and not doing a job of a journalist. And now analyzing it and presenting it to the reader.

KURTZ: OK. But in fairness for all the disputes, Steve Bannon hasn't disputed any of the particularly inflammatory quotes attributed to him. Mo, statement from the president, he has a lot to say this week on this topic, about Bannon Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, that he spent time in the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important that he was.

If that's the case, he was part of the leakiest White House in history and many adversaries leaked against Steve Bannon.

ELLEITHEE: Yes. There is no question. This the leakiest White House in history for the president's war on leaking. He needs to look -- a lot of the leaks continue to come out, right? Yes, I think a lot did come from Bannon when he was in the White House. But it is not like we've heard.

TROTTER: There's no truth if it came fro Bannon.

ELLEITHEE: Just coming from somewhere in the White House, right?

TROTTER: Sure --

ELLEITHEE: And so I think that's fair. But, yes, Steve Bannon has not disputed any of the things that he has said. So, even if as most journalists are saying you should look at this book skeptically because of Michael Wolff's background and his record and his history and take some of it with a grain of salt, Bannon has not disputed any of the quotes attributed to him.

KURTZ: All right. We are looking at pictures we got in just a few minutes ago. We just turned the tape around. President arriving back at the White House after the weekend at Camp David. He met with Republican congressional leaders there, talked about the agenda for 2018, which of course is the mid-term election year.

We'll continue our discussion while we look at President Trump. There he is. He is getting off Marine One. There is an advance person. I am sure we will be seeing the president any moment. Again, this happened just a few short moments ago.

So, another tweet by the president, we just had to keep reaping up the show as he hits the Twitter, the fake news mainstream media taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook, says the president, screaming mental stability and intelligence, I think the word that will qualify, not smart, but genius, thinking of himself, and a very stable genius at that. Media response has been amazement and kind of ridicule.

PETTYPIECE: The very stable genius was a new line. He is obviously very good at branding, sloppy Steve, now we have very stable genius President Trump. I mean, there has been this increasing criticism mostly by Democrats and in some cases by some members of his own party about his mental stability.

This book just reopened it. People in the book are questioning his fitness for president. That could mean anything from mental fitness to physical fitness. I think it's going to be an argument that will continue to see in the 2018 --

KURTZ: Right.

PETTYPIECE: -- particularly by Democrats who are going to want to make his health and I will note he has a physical at Walter Reed on Friday, possible we could get some additional --

KURTZ: Very cold morning here in Washington as we see the president walking from the helicopter. But liberal commentators have been making these arguments for months. We played some of it on the show.
Psychologically unbalanced, unfit, unhinged, 25th amendment.

By this President Trump giving the media (INAUDIBLE) now by taking this on, the president says he's a genius, he's stable, he has lustrous career and then it extends to several news cycles.

TROTTER: It does extend it. You raised an important point, you just said you had to reap up the show based on his tweet and his ability to turn around and take -- dominate the news cycle. This is reported all weekend, it is going to go into next week.

And now when you think President Donald Trump, you think genius. And so his ability to link that --

KURTZ: Not everyone in the country is going to agree with you now.

TROTTER: No, not -- maybe yes, maybe no, but the discussion is whether or not he is a genius is not whether or not all these things that were swirling around last week, so he has been able to change it, so he applied a nickname to himself, essentially.

KURTZ: Right. Now, on the subject, smoking Mo, of president watching television. So, earlier today, a White House official, Stephen Miller, was on CNN talking to anchor Jake Tapper, he turned on his former colleague, Steve Bannon, called his remarks as quote in the book, grotesque and vindictive.

And also said that CNN has 24 hours of negative anti-Trump hysteria coverage. It was a very testy interview. President Trump tweets, Jake Tapper of fake news CNN got destroyed in his interview with Stephen Miller of the Trump administration. Watch the hatred and unfairness of this CNN flunky.

He is watching.

ELLEITHEE: Yes. And what he just guarantees is that the rebroadcast of that show's ratings are going to go through the roof now because everyone is going to turn and watch on that show.

KURTZ: Right. I didn't see anything unfairness to questions although it was a testy interview.

ELLEITHEE: That's right. And I haven't seen the whole interview yet, but there was a clip at the end where Tapper is trying to ask Miller several questions and Miller kept -- all he would do is just lavish the president with effusive personal praise to the point where Tapper said you are only speaking to an audience of one right now. Moments later, the president verified that with his tweet.

KURTZ: Well --

TROTTER: I guess he doesn't just watch Fox News. He is watching CNN, too.


KURTZ: Also, the presence of Stephen Miller on the show shows there is a White House campaign today to try to hit Bannon, hit the Wolff book. Ahead, Anthony Scaramucci on the coverage of the president, Steve Bannon, and his own White House tenure. He will be here. When we come back, a nuclear reaction in the press as Donald Trump warns North Korea's leader about his bigger button.


KURTZ: I sometimes say the press is going nuclear against President Trump.
That's particularly true since he tweeted about Kim Jong-un, who had boasted of having a nuclear button on his desk.

Put up the tweet. Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a nuclear button, but it is a much bigger and more powerful one that his, and my button works.

Well, Gayle, many journalists and commentators, as you know, depicting that presidential tweet as inflammatory and dangerous when it comes to a potential nuclear nuclear confrontation.

TROTTER: Right. Why is it so shocking and appalling to tweet something that is undeniably true? And I think the reaction is because they are objecting to the tone of the tweet. We saw this when President Trump went to the U.N. and called him "rocket man."

And there was shock and outrage about that. And yet at the same time, it is just the message -- the media missed the message and he is putting that out there. And yet the media foreign policy experts who were satisfied with the statue quo of our policy in North Korea for the last two decades somehow feel the statement that is undeniably true is outrageous.

KURTZ: But you're right about the tone. No president in modern history has conducted a diplomacy like this. Usually every statement is carefully vetted and sanitized and scrutinized. So, is the press penalizing this president, kind of taking a street fighter approach?

ELLEITHEE: I think a little bit. I think the foreign policy community is as well, right? I think when you are dealing with someone who as volatile and as narcissistic and as --

TROTTER: As a North Korean dictator.

ELLEITHEE: -- as a North Korean dictator --


ELLEITHEE: -- as a North Korean dictator, I don't know that -- I think the tone is important. And I think that setting a foreign -- if the Trump doctrine is size matters, I am not sure that is what is going to actually be productive in trying to turn things around with the North Koreans or if it is going to end up just provoking them even more.

KURTZ: And that's the thing, Shannon, beyond the confrontational aspect, there has been a whole series of tough tweets against North Korea, who none of us are (INAUDIBLE) for. There has been a lot of media ridicule about my button is bigger, your button is about size, this is about manhood. Is that fair? Does some of that go too far?

PETTYPIECE: I think the reason that you see reporting that says that this type of language is not helpful and it could be harmful is because you have so many foreign policy experts and people who study North Korea and understand the issue here who are raising big alarm bells.

And I am certainly not a foreign policy expert, I am not a North Korea expert, but when I talk to people who are foreign policy experts, they are the ones who react in shock and outrage here.

When I talk to people who are politicos and campaign people, they laugh and say this is funny, this is a strong leader and we like it. But we are talking about foreign policy here and you probably hear to some extent hearing the media echo that.

KURTZ: Right, but as Gayle points out, the foreign policy experts didn't stop North Korea from reaching this point where it does have missiles that can deliver nuclear weapons at longer ranges.

By the way, we talked in the last segment about CNN's Jake Tapper getting criticized on Twitter by President Trump over his interview with White House aide Stephen Miller. Tapper has now linked to the interview on Twitter and says, judge for yourself.

All right, Shannon Pettypiece, Gayle Trotter, and Mo Elleithee, great to see you this Sunday. Ahead, the mooch (ph) on the media. Former White House aide on how the press is covering this Trump-Bannon dust stuff.

Up next, president goes after the new publisher of The New York Times with an attack on phony sources.


KURTZ: A.G. Sulzberger, who just took over as publisher of The New York Times from his father, Arthur Sulzberger Jr. told readers in an open letter, misinformation is rising and trust in the media is declining as technology platforms elevate clickbait, rumor and propaganda over real journalism, and politicians jockey for advantage by inflaming suspicion of the press.

Those are pretty reference to President Trump who hit back on Twitter telling Sulzberger, get impartial journalists of a much high standard, lose all your phony and non-existent sources, and treat the president of the United States fairly, so that next time I and the people win, you won't have to write an apology to your readers for a job poorly done.

Joining us now from New York, Shelby Holliday, senior video reporter for Wall Street Journal. Shelby, the Times didn't apologize but it did raise questions about its own campaign coverage. What do you make of President Trump responding to A.G. Sulzberger's letter by whacking the new publisher?

SHELBY HOLLIDAY, SENIOR VIDEO REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, the president is obviously greatly concerned with how he is covered. He talks a lot about The New York Times which is his hometown paper.

KURTZ: He sure does.

HOLLIDAY: He doesn't think they cover him fairly. You know, this is not new to you. I know you read President Trump's tweets. But what the president does in tweeting these things actually drive more people to subscribe to The New York Times. So he does create a bit of a challenge when he is slamming folks for being fake or slamming publications for being fake, they get a Trump bump.

And the new publisher of New York Times admitted that they got hundreds of thousands of new readers after the Trump election. So, the president is free to say whatever he wants to say. We have the first amendment. He can slam the Times whenever he wants, but he does give them more readers and their coverage is more greatly read when he does it.

KURTZ: Right. He is highly interested in that particular newspaper. Even as he criticizes the, quote, failing New York Times, which as you say is surging at least subscriptions, why is he keep giving interviews most recently to investigative reporter --


KURTZ: -- Michael Schmidt in Mar-a-Lago over the Christmas break?

HOLLIDAY: Right. He gave that exclusive very informal interview that the White House Press Office didn't know about to this one year Times reporter.
He did tell the reporter that he thought that that particular reporter had treated him fairly.

But nothing has changed since the president tweeted just a few days ago about the New York Times. In fact, Mike Schmidt, the reporter who Trump spoke to at Mar-a-Lago, released a bombshell report about the Russian investigation this week.

So, the president, you know, while he does tell individual reporters they treat him fairly, just the other day actually in criticizing the coverage of this new book, he's quoting a New York Times reporter. So he tends to use them as credible sources when it benefits him and bash them when it doesn't benefit him.

KURTZ: This business about made-up sources, phoney sources, it is not just in this one tweet, he has done it with Washington Post as well and other news organizations. The sources might be wrong. The papers and other news organizations make mistakes.

But they are not fabricated in the sense that, you know, except in the case of extreme fraud like Jayson Blair, I mean, somebody is telling these reporters things about what's going on in the White House and the administration, right?

HOLLIDAY: Right. That obviously bothers the president. And he tends to, when this happens, criticize the sources, but then lash out at leakers which in a way sometimes confirms that the information is true when he gets so upset with the leakers.

I think another challenge here for the president is that when he does criticize reports or books for being fake, that drives the news cycle. So here we are talking about "Fire and Fury" and The New York Times instead of the Trump's tax reform or his legislative agenda for 2018. And so, you know, the media does --

KURTZ: Yes. Or the fact that the Dow just broke 25,000.

HOLLIDAY: Exactly.

KURTZ: You know, it does tend to, you know, it makes -- he's entitled to express his harsh anti-media views and he's entitled to complain about leaking him. Maybe one of the leakers for Steve Bannon are some of this stuff. But as you say, it also does tend to try to spotlight on these news organizations.

HOLLIDAY: Causes a bit of a destruction.

KURTZ: Yes. Shelby Holliday, great to see you. Thanks very much for joining us.

HOLLIDAY: Thanks for having me.

KURTZ: Ahead on the program, Stephen Colbert is campaigning for the awards, the one that Donald Trump is handing out for dishonest journalism.
But first, new statement just in from Steve Bannon. We will read that to you. Anthony Scaramucci is on deck. He has been through the media wars. He will something to say about the press, the president and the Bannon brawl.


HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS MEDIA BUZZ SHOW HOST: The president under a pretty harsh assault this week from the media and hitting back at Steve Bannon.
It's time to talk to one of his allies. Joining us from New York, former White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci. And we'll get into this latest Steve Bannon statement in a minute but since you famously clashed with Bannon during your brief time at the White House and attacked him as a self-promoter. Are you surprised to see his relationship with the president blow up like this?

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Yes, actually I sort of am surprised. I mean, I said what I said about him being more focused on his personal brand. But I didn't think he was going to go out this far out into the stratosphere and do something like this, Howie.
So yes, I am surprised.

KURTZ: All right, so since this just crossed the wires, Bannon gave a statement to the website Axios in which he -- because one of the incendiary quotes in the Wolff book was about the president's son, Donald Trump, Jr., the meeting with the Russian lawyer. Donald Trump, Jr. said Bannon says no, is both a patriot and a good man. A relentless advocate for the president and he talks about remarks he made.

I regret says Bannon, that my delay in responding to the inaccurate reporting regarding Don, Jr. has diverted attention from the president's
(INAUDIBLE) accomplishments in the first year of his presidency. Not quite a full apology but you have been indicating you were waiting to see something from Steve.

SCARAMUCCI: Yes, listen, it's inside the red zone of an apology, but he needs to cross into the goal line of and apology and actually apologize for what he did. I mean, the unprecedented access that they gave this guy, Michael Wolff, who is a non-fact checker and an actual liar is ridiculous.
So, I think he's got to flat out apologize rather than parse his words like that on Axios.

KURTZ: You had said things like Bannon should go back to his therapist and you predicted that Breitbart, the conservative website that he runs with --

SCARAMUCCI: Live coach more than -- he needs a life coach more than a therapist. Life coaches are more for the forward life, Howie. Therapists are more for your past life, but go ahead, keep going.

KURTZ: Why did you predict that Breitbart will drop him? Do you think he is now radioactive?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I don't know. Did they drop him? I just said if he continues on --

KURTZ: Not yet. I mean they will never drop him.

SCARAMUCCI: -- if he continues on this course and splitting this hard from the president of the United States who literally has an agenda that should be in the sweet spot of at least the economic agenda for Breitbart, which is to help economically desperate lower middle class families and to embrace the idea of resurging manufacturing America, if he continues to break this hard from the president, then I'd be shocked if they don't drop him.

If he comes back into the fold which I've recommended and many other people have recommended, drop the Steve Bannon jersey, put on the Donald J. Trump jersey and Team America jersey, then there would be no reason to drop him.
Listen, people --

KURTZ: A little football analogy there, but let me jump in. Let me jump in because --

SCARAMUCCI: -- people fight all the time, you know.

KURTZ: Yes, sure. I understand and being a private citizen he can say what he wants, but there's been a lot of criticisms as you know of the Michael Wolff book, some from journalists, a lot from the White House. You just moment ago called him a liar. What do you base that on?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, he's a complete liar. I mean, he's saying on the "Today"
show that 100 percent of the people in the Trump orbit think that the president's -- I'm not even going to say what he said because there's no sense of repeating it, but I don't feel that way. Stephen Miller --

KURTZ: Wait, it have to do with -- just so people know we're talking about, Anthony, has to do with questioning his mental capability or fitness

SCARAMUCCI: Well, yes, OK. They're questioning his competency and his judgment. He's saying 100 percent of the people are saying that, that's B.S. I'm not saying that. I for certain Steve Miller is not saying that.
Hope Hicks is not saying that. You think Keith Mueller (ph) is saying that?
Those are people right there so, this sort of exaggerating, tabloid-esque nonsense that unfortunately the president has to deal with, because look at the accomplishments that he has had over the last year.

And he's a combative person. He has got a twitter style that some of these liberals don't like and it's a little bit too bad, but if you look at the economic dashboard, the national security dashboard, the things he has done in regulations, he has had a great first year. He is going to have an even better second year. And so people are like that and so they're going to do this sort of, you know, nonsense. This tabloid-esque brag nonsense.

KURTZ: If you were still at the White House, would you have advised the president to be sending out tweet after tweet going after the book which gives it plenty of attention and to say that he's stable genius? I mean, in playing defense he is obviously helping to keep the spotlight on the book that you and others say is not there.

SCARAMUCCI: Yes, I mean, listen. This is where I probably diverge some of the people inside the White House and then probably more in line with Corey and Dave Bossie on this. Let the president be the president. He's going to do this stuff whether you advise him to do it or not do it. The truth of the matter is there is a level of genius to his personality as it relates to his marketing, his political judgment, his insights.

This is a guy, Howie, that went from being a business executive and a television star to the American presidency in 15 to 16 short months.

KURTZ: Right.

SCARAMUCCI: And so, People can say whatever they want about him. There is a lot of genius in that and so if he wants to tweet about the book and it increases the sales and the author wants to send him a box of chocolates, big deal, OK. In a month or two, this book will be over but his presidency will not be, in fact, it's just beginning in terms of the accomplishments that he's going to have.

KURTZ: You know, Bannon also had opposed you as not being a good choice for communications director. A moment of self-reflection here. Could it be said that you both have something in common which is kind of a big mouth?

SCARAMUCCI: Yes, listen. In hindsight, I regret some of the things that I did while I was the communications director. In hindsight, of course I could have done things differently, but I think the big difference between me and somebody like Steve Bannon, I'm totally comfortable apologizing for that. I'm totally comfortable for admitting that. I offered my apology to General Kelly and the president and I'm ready to move on. But I stayed on the team, Howie. I never broke ranks with the president or General Kelly.

I believe in the president's agenda. I've known the president a long time as a friend before he was president, and it is politics. And if you make a mistake in politics and it costs you your job there's no sense in whining about that. You just get back on the field and let's play to win as a team.

KURTZ: Just before we move on, I know you've got the jersey on, the helmet, it was of course the expletive laden conversation you had with the "New Yorker's" Ryan Lizza, which you accept was a mistake you assumed it was off the record that was not that led to your departure or at least hastened it. What was your reaction when the "New Yorker" recently fired Ryan Lizza over sexual harassment allegations which he disputes?

SCARAMUCCI: Well listen, I mean my first reaction was good because now he won't be able to do what he did to me to other people. My second reaction and frankly, I often bring you up Howie, because you said to me that you've never seen a journalist do that in your 40 years in Washington to a government official.

He knew the spirit and the context of that conversation was off the record.
He decided to use it against me, cost me my job. But the good news is that he won't be able to do that to anybody anytime soon as a result of his departure from the "New Yorker." And again, my family had a 50-year relationship with the Lizza family on Long Island and so, he can say whatever he wants about that but there's no disputing that.

KURTZ: All right. Well, you know, not just this book, "New York Times,"
"Washington Post, is just a constant flow of stories based on leaks from people within the Trump circle, White House and administration. I know you wanted to crack down on leaks when you were briefly there. And the leaks often make the president look erratic or hotheaded, in other words they are from people who are supposed to be on his side that are not helping him. He says phony sources but somebody is talking to these journalists.

SCARAMUCCI: Yes, but you know the truth of the matter is, those are -- when you look through book and I read the book, you know, over the weekend.
I finished it yesterday. It's sort of the people that were never really with the president day one. You know, it's non-Trump loyalists, it's people that were sort of in that quiet never Trump zone that somehow meandered into the administration more so than the Trump loyalists.

Ans so the people that totally understand the president and get the president, understand his instincts, know him as a person, do not see him that way, but the people who are sort of in that Washington establishment crowd that have somehow crept into the administration, those are the ones that you're finding anonymously sourced in that book.

KURTZ: All right now finally -- I've got half a minute here -- you took strong exception to a piece in "The Daily Beast" saying that you had told people that the president and Ivanka missed you and wanted you back in the West Wing.

SCARAMUCCI: NO, I never said that. It's more of that nonsense, total inaccuracy there. I have a great relationship with Jared and Ivanka. I consider myself having a very good relationship with the president. They've never asked me to go back. I am super focused on my own house as opposed to the White House, Howie.

KURTZ: You have no interest in going back at any time?

SCARAMUCCI: No, I didn't say that. I'm an American citizen and I'm somebody that loves the country and although it was only 11 day, I enjoyed my time in public service so I didn't say that, but I'm not a presumptuous person and I don't think anybody wants me back. I certainly don't think General Kelly wants me back. You know, I mean, at the end of the day, he's trying to run a very organized and tight ship. I'm more of an entrepreneurial figure and more creative. I can probably be more helpful to the president, frankly, on the outside than inside the White House.

KURTZ: All right, Anthony Scaramucci, Mooch, thanks very much for joining us this Sunday.

SCARAMUCCI: Good to be here.

KURTZ: Appreciate it.

SCARAMUCCI: Thank you.

KURTZ: Ahead on "Media Buzz," why some pundits think a Trumpian award for corrupt journalism would be a badge of honor, but coming up, can Steve Bannon survive at Breitbart now that the president has castigated him and his main financial backer maybe bailing.


KURTZ: The media debate right now revolves in part about credibility -- Steve Bannon, author Michael Wolff, and of President Trump. Joining us now to analyze the coverage in Houston, Kristin Tate, a columnist for "The Hill" who's website is called Libertarian Chick. And Here in Washington, Capri Cafaro, "Washington Examiner" contributor who is teaching in American University as a former Democratic leader of the Ohio senate. Kristin, you've worked at Breitbart. You've been friendly with Steve Bannon. It looks like his attacks on President Trump have backfired to the point that his leadership at Breitbart may be jeopardized. Your thoughts?

KRISTIN TATE, COLUMNIST, THE HILL: Look, I can't predict whether or not Breitbart will boot Bannon but I think Bannon will be probably be just fine whether or not he stays at Breitbart. I suspect this is not the last we will see of him. He's a skilled political strategist with a lot of deep ties in the populist wing of the conservative base. So I think he'll be OK.

Now of course the media would love to see Bannon crash and burn. They have seething hatred for him. He was perhaps more despised than Donald Trump himself because there was this perception in the media that Bannon was the one controlling the White House narrative behind closed doors.

Now of course, through the moment, the media is kind of treating Bannon like this temporary champion because he allegedly made comments that can be used to make Trump look bad, but I still think the media hates him. They just love it when Republicans fight with each other and this Bannon-Trump feud is being used as a distraction.

KURTZ: Well let me get Capri in.

TATE: I think to take away attention from Trump's many achievements

KURTZ: You know, look, Steve Bannon played a key role in the campaign and then the White House. Do you agree the media have a seething hatred for him because what we're now learning is and certainly he talked to some reporters?

CAPRI CAFARO, CONTRIBUTOR, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Right. I don't actually think that they have a seething hatred for him at this point. I mean I think that certainly as you mentioned, you know, his credibility is in jeopardy. It's interesting. There was an article in the "National Review"
just a few days ago talking about how Steve Bannon is a victim of his own, you know, buying his own hype. And the fact that he --

KURTZ: That is so unknown in Washington.

CAFARO: It never happens. It never happens. So you know, I think that at this point right now because of the statements that he made to the "Fire and Fury" book, in addition frankly to the fact that he sort of crashed and burned with Roy Moore. I think both of those things, you know, have caused folks like the Mercers who have, you know, been the major funding behind Breitbart and Steve Bannon, to distance themselves potentially, you know, take away the funding and put some pressure on the "Breitbart" board to toss him.

KURTZ: Again, Bannon telling the website Axios that he regrets his delay in responding to what he says all the inaccurate comments about Donald Trump, Jr. But Kristin, Rebecca Mercer, whose billionaire family really has bankrolled many of Bannon's ventures including "Breitbart," put out a statement saying, my family and I have been communication with Steve, provided those financial supports for his agenda. So that could jeopardize his role as an independent force both politically and as a media guy.

TATE: You know, we don't really know the context in which the comments were made. A lot of Michael Wolff's credibility has been called into question, but if I were Steve Bannon, I would come out and just explicitly apologize for the comments. I also think it's best for Trump as well if these two men kind of bury the hatchet and move forward because ultimately when it comes to the issues that matter most to the American voters, these two men are on the same page.

They both want to implement the America first agenda. Voters should not have to choose teams here, and if Trump forces his own supporters to choose teams by being combative with Steve Bannon, he may risk alienating some of his own voters.

CAFARO: I think they'd pick Trump.

TATE: He could not afford to lose any of his support at this rate.

KURTZ: OK, but do you agree that the media likes Steve Bannon more when he is criticizing President Trump on immigration, on the comments in the book, on the Moore campaign or whatever --

CAFARO: I think that it does certainly adds to the palace intrigue if you will. And that sells papers and that gets more subscriptions to, you know, the "New York Times" and fill in the blank. You know, any time that there is a little bit of acrimony between, you know, two very colorful characters, the president of the United States and Steve Bannon. Certainly I think they welcome that.

KURTZ: All right. Let me get in this other topic, Kristin, as we learn that the FBI's investigating the Clinton Foundation, president drawing fire for a tweet in which said the long-time Hillary advisor Huma Abedin should be in jail says the president after a number of classified e-mails were found on the laptop of her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner. The press argument is that a president shouldn't pronounce somebody guilty especially in a criminal investigation involving his former opponent.

TATE: I just find if laughable that the media seems more offended by and interested in Trump's tweets than they do in the actual content of the story, which is the disturbing fact that Huma Abedin forwarded sensitive e State Department information including government passwords to government systems to her private Yahoo account and subsequently all Yahoo accounts were hacked.

CAFARO: Right, in 2013.

TATE: She also sent and received private e-mails using Anthony Weiner's laptop, and now the media wants to sit here and make the big scandal Trump's tweet instead of the criminal behavior that have allegedly taken place.

CAFARO: I don't think that's the case.

KURTZ: Well, hang on, hang on, because we're short on time. Also in that tweet the president talked about the deep state Justice Department has finally act, the media indictment is hey, the Justice Department works for you, Mr. President.

CAFARO: Right, but you know, he doesn't have full, you know, unfettered control over the Department of Justice even though he certainly said that.
I frankly think that the coverage of this tweet has been relatively fair.
You know, I have seen a number of articles from every place from the "Washington Post" to the "New York Times" to CBS and NBC and you know, they seem to be able to provide some balance to the story and give some of the concern appropriate thought.

KURTZ: Great to say, wish we had more time, Capri Cafaro, Kristin Tate, good to see you this Sunday.

CAFARO: Thank you.

TATE: Thanks Howie.

KURTZ: After the break, an Alabama newspaper executive resigns in disgrace. This is really creepy. President Trump handing out awards to the dishonest and corrupt media and why the "Today Show" after the Matt Lauer scandal is going with two female hosts.


KURTZ: It is a stunning and disturbing story involving an Alabama newspaper leader who many regard as hero for his progressive stance on civil rights. H. Brandt Ayers has essentially admitted that as publisher of the Anniston Star, he spanked -- that's right -- spanked two female employees. Former reporter Veronica Pike Kennedy told the Alabama political reporter that a 1975, Ayers spanked her 18 times with a metal ruler in the newsroom, telling her she had been a bad girl. She was 22, he was 40.

Another Star reporter said he witnessed the assault. And an unidentified woman called the website that Ayers spanked her in his office that same year. Ayers now 82 told the paper he spanked one woman with psychological problems on the advice of a doctor, seriously. He also said as a very young man with more authority than judgment, I did some things I regret. At my advanced age I wish I could relive those days again.

Ayers then announced he would remain as chairman of the company that owns the Anniston Star and five other papers but a couple days ago he resigned.

NBC has just replaced Matt Lauer as the "Today Show" host after Lauer of course was fired over allegations of sexual assault and harrasment.


SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, CO-ANCHOR, NBC TODAY SHOW: Hoda is officially the co- anchor of "Today." Let's give her a round of applause.

HODA KOTB, CO-ANCHOR, NBC TODAY SHOW: There is no one I'd rather be sitting next to in 2018.


KURTZ: Well the media mainly focused about the first two woman pairing in the "Today Show" as history, the real story is that the era of the exorbitantly paid anchor monster maybe over. Hoda Kotb will make maybe a third of the $20 million plus that Lauer was earning. Know "Huffinton Post"
that's not sexism. Lauer was the long established star and Katie Couric made as much or more when they were a team.

But what's striking is that the ratings have gone up while Hoda has been filling in allowing "Today" to edge out GMA. She says Lauer texted his congratulations. Now Hoda has plenty of journalistic experience, but she's not known as an aggressive hard news interviewer and has concentrated on softer stuff in hosting "Today's" fourth hour with Kathie Lee Gifford which she'll continue. So that may tell us something about the direction of network morning news.

President Trump is cooking up some dishonesty and corruption awards for the media. Tomorrow he'll unveil it and one aspiring winner has actually bought a billboard in Time Square.


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, CBS LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT: Nothing gives you more credibility than Donald Trump calling you a liar. I'm hoping to be nominated in all categories including outstanding achievement in parroting George Soros' talking points, fakest dishonesty, corruptest fakeness, dishonetest corruption and smallest button.


KURTZ: Of course Stephen wants to win it and milk it. Now, this is something that of a spectacle by a president whose base loves his media bashing. Bottomline, he's trolling the press and naturally the pundits will take the bait.

That's it for "Media Buzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. Thanks for watching. Continue the conversation on Twitter @HowardKurtz. Let me know what you think. Go to my Facebook page and look and like. I post my daily columns there and original video and you can always DVR the show. It's been quite a show with the Mooch and others. We're back here next Sunday. See you then with the latest buzz.

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