Furor over ex-Trump aide

This is a rush transcript from "The Five," February 11, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On "Buzz Media" this Sunday, a Daily Mail expose prompts the ouster of top presidential aide Rob Porter by disclosing physical abuse allegations from two ex-wives, one of them appearing on TV. And journalists seized on shifting explanations at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

JENNIE WILLOUGHBY, EX-WIFE OF ROB PORTER: I closed the door and locked it behind him. He returned a moment later and punched in the glass on the front door.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: You were frightened?

WILLOUGHBY: Yes.

COOPER: And you call the police?

WILLOUGHBY: And I did call police.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN: Can you think of a way where the White House could have handled this worse?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN: The bottom line is that they protected an abuser.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS: Obviously the underlying story here is ugly. It does not look good.

BEN SHAPIRO, CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The real question here is what did John Kelly know? And even if he only knew some of the allegations, why would he allow Rob Porter to get so close to the president?

KIRSTEN POWERS: You know, here we have this statement now saying that they take domestic abuse very seriously at the White House, but I would have to say I don't think they do, actually.

DON LEMON, CNN: Sources telling CNN that senior White House officials knew about the allegations for months and scrambled to protect Porter once they became public. Think about that for a minute. Scrambled to protect an alleged domestic abuser.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

KURTZ: As journalists pounce on the president for his public comments, is the press also turning on General Kelly? A new twist in the coverage of the Russia investigation as a leaked story in The New York Times says the president's lawyers don't want him talking to Bob Mueller.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

RICHARD LOWRY, NATIONAL REVIEW: I mean, Trump could have ever intention of telling the truth and being completely factual and the way he talks, the way he goes off on tangents, the way he naturally exaggerates everything, he would be in major jeopardy.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: Mr. President, your own lawyers think you are too stupid and too much of a liar to stand up to the heat that Bob Mueller is going to send in your direction.

Besides being politically dead wrong, I believe the advice of Trump's attorneys also stands at odds with the president's own public statements.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

KURTZ: Why are pundits on the left and the right urging Trump to refuse an interview with the special counsel? Why about those newly disclosed texts from rogue FBI agents? And did some journalists mishandled them? News analysts spent a year shying away from crediting the president for a booming stock market, but are they now blaming him for some dramatic dips?

Plus, the downfall of casino mogul Steve Wynn for alleged sexual misconduct. Could a Las Vegas newspaper have stopped him 20 years ago?

I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."

The story on White House staff secretary Rob Porter began with the tabloid- style website the Daily Mail which quoted his ex-wife Colbie Holderness as saying he had physically abused her and sometimes choked and punched her. A second Daily Mail piece quoting Porter's second ex-wife Jennie Willoughby as also alleging physical abuse and she got a protective order against him. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president and John Kelly have full confidence in Porter and read his denial.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: These outrageous allegations are simply false. I took the photos given to the media nearly 15 years ago and the reality behind them is nowhere close to what is being described.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: But Sanders also said then that Porter was resigning. This after The Intercept made photos of Holderness, his first wife, with bruises on her face. Willoughby then did a lengthy sit-down with Anderson Cooper.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

WILLOUGHBY: He came to the shower and opened the door and pulled me out to continue yelling at me.

COOPER: He put his hands on you and pulled you out?

WILLOUGHBY: Yes.

COOPER: Was that a startling moment for you?

WILLOUGHBY: I think up until that moment, I didn't realize that I was in an abusive marriage.

COOPER: Is this a coordinated smear campaign?

WILLOUGHBY: No. No. I had no intentions of disparaging Rob.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: And reporters asked the president about the allegations against Rob Porter.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We wish him well. He worked very hard. I found out about it recently and I was surprised by it. But we certainly wish him well. It's obviously a tough time for him. He also as you probably know, he says he's innocent. And I think you have to remember that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage: Emily Jashinsky, commentary writer for The Washington Examiner; Ed Henry, Fox's chief national correspondent; and Capri Cafaro, Washington Examiner contributor and former Democratic Senate leader in Ohio who teaches at American University.

Emily, the ouster of Rob Porter, these horrendous accusations, and the shifting explanations at the White House, does it warrant all the media coverage it's getting?

EMILY JASHINSKY, COMMENTARY WRITER, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Yes, absolutely, and the reason that this news cycle is going to continue to be so persistent is because of the rolling unanswered questions, and now we have people that are leaking accounts that are favorable to John Kelly saying, you know, maybe he didn't realize that these were domestic violence accusations, maybe it was just verbal and emotional abuse.

And then we have people leaking accounts saying, you know, Don McGahn and John Kelly were aware and they were aware, you know, whether it was November, whether it was last January, and so we have to get an answers to these questions because it gets to the heart of a serious problem at the White House.

KURTZ: Don McGahn was the White House counsel in touch with the FBI which never gave Porter a permanent security clearance. Capri, Fox's news division has covered this story as it should, but on Wednesday when it was exploding for 15 hours after special report from prime time in the morning, there was no mention about Porter being ousted at the White House. Your thoughts on the coverage.

CAPRI CAFARO, CONTRIBUTOR, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, I think one of the most interesting things when you look at media coverage for any story and, you know, certainly this has been at every media outlet across the globe as you mentioned starting with the Daily Mail which is actually, you know, a British-based publication.

But when you look at coverage, it is not just about what is said, but how it is said. And if you take a look at for example and I jotted down a couple headlines, headlines are what get people to click on something online.

KURTZ: Sure.

CAFARO: That's how so many of us get our news. So if you are scrolling through for example Twitter and you see CNN, who says their headline says Rob Porter's ex-wives' detail abuse allegations. Then you have Fox with a different approach. Fox says -- a headline says Trump wishes Rob Porter well, was surprised by allegations. So, you know, what --

KURTZ: Both are true.

CAFARO: Both are absolutely true.

KURTZ: Right.

CAFARO: But the approach at how they are communicating the content of the underlying articles or pieces is, you know, very different.

KURTZ: Well, I think opinion shows can cover this any way they want, but I think to not cover it all for a happy day was a misjudgment that gives some ammunition to Fox's critics.

Ed, a couple of Washington Post headlines -- excuse me, couple of front page headlines yesterday, Washington Post, Kelly's job may be in peril. New York Times, under fire, Kelly is said to muse about retiring.

So just if people haven't follow this, I mean , we have gone through Kelly's first statement, praised Rob porter as a man of true integrity and honor. Then after the Colbie Holderness's black eye photos were published, Kelly said he was shocked. And then Friday night Kelly said he had found out the accusations were true. All this has (INAUDIBLE) to the press.

ED HENRY, FOX NEWS: Yes, all of that was troubling, the time line. Let me add something else. How did General Kelly, Hope Hicks and Kellyanne Conway, who I believe were pictured in the Oval Office on Friday from what I have seen at (INAUDIBLE) where the president said this is a tough time for Rob Porter, didn't mention any of the women?

How did they allow him to get in front of a TV camera and say what he said without mentioning any of the women? Don't you think it's a tough time for them?

CAFARO: Particularly in this climate. Particularly in this climate right now.

HENRY: And the president is getting hammered for this tweet yesterday. Right, by the way, this seems to dismiss the "Me Too" movement and say, and it ties back to this, because he sort of said there should be due process and all the like. It is not popular to say, but he is right.

There should be due process. The problem is, there could have been due process here months ago if General Kelly was told this and the FBI knew this and they could have said, Rob, is this true? They could have (INAUDIBLE) the women, but they kept it under wraps.

KURTZ: Since you brought it up, let's put it up on the screen, tweet from the president the other day. People's lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused. Life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as due process?

Legally, Rob Porter, who disputes these allegations, is entitled for presumption of innocence.

HENRY: Yes.

KURTZ: Politically, it doesn't mean he has to keep his job at the White House and of course they --

HENRY: Right, and that's the other thing I'm trying to point. What I'm trying to make is that beyond the political fallout, beyond the media coverage, right, there are really human lives here and the White House seems to have just completely missed that there were women coming forward saying we were victims, that he may have committed crimes. Again, I say may have, (INAUDIBLE).

KURTZ: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

CAFARO: That's a security clearance issue there. If he's susceptible to blackmail because of this information --

KURTZ: Right.

CAFARO: You know, that obviously puts, you know, our White House in jeopardy.

KURTZ: Let me jump in here, because Kellyanne Conway who you mentioned was on television this morning. She told CNN's Jake Tapper that the president has full confidence in John Kelly. But Kellyanne also said that she was horrified by these allegations, that she has no reason not to believe the women, the two ex-wives, so a very different tone.

And just after New York Times said that Trump is angry at his chief of staff, that he's in trouble, and when you see -- one of my sources said that when you see names being floated, there is possible replacement of chief of staff, that that doesn't happen by accident.

JASHINSKY: Yes. And I think we are seeing that start to --

KURTZ: But do you think the press is taking a more negative view toward John Kelly? Not just on this episode, but different stories about well, he's much of a hardliner as the president and when he said about the "dreamers" that they were too lazy to get off their asses -- I mean, he got a lot of good press when he came in and now it seems like it is pretty negative.

JASHINSKY: Yes, it turned this week especially. It started with the "dreamer" comment. And I think what's interesting is how President Trump is disturbed by the press coverage of John Kelly. The reporters saying --

CAFARO: (INAUDIBLE) John Kelly.

JASHINSKY: Well, I mean, I don't know that, but --

KURTZ: (INAUDIBLE). We don't know.

JASHINSKY: What is interesting is that President Trump himself is concerned that the media coverage on John Kelly is turning negative.

CAFARO: It doesn't help his White House to have a chief of staff that is being disparaged by the media. It certainly doesn't help.

HENRY: What makes this different this time from what I know from my sources inside the White House and outside the White House close to the president is that it's not just the president's critics who are beating up on John Kelly in these stories.

The fuel for these stories are coming from people in the Trump orbit who want John Kelly out. People who wanted to be the next chief of staff or want to have more power in the White House moving forward. Not all of it has come out yet, but it should be coming out soon.

KURTZ: Right. As we played clips on the top, I mean, on the conservative side, there is not a lot of defense here of these Horrible allegations against Rob Porter and the handling.

Let me ask you, Capri, about Hope Hicks, the communications director, usually manages to stay out of harsh spotlight. So, for those who don't know, she was dating Rob Porter, and yet she was involved in helping to draft some of the initial statements or defenses of Porter.

But, the difference here is that there was a piece in New York Times where White House officials including Ivanka Trump praised Hope Hicks, defended Hope Hicks. And the president put out a statement saying Hope is absolutely fantastic. So we don't have to speculate about what he thinks about his communications director.

CAFARO: No. Well, look, I mean, Hope Hicks -- I don't know her. I have never met her. She may be a fantastic individual, and it is a difficult circumstance obviously. She is apparently romantically involved with an individual who was a coworker, so that makes things complicated.

And then, you know, subsequently obviously all of these other allegations about abuse of ex-wives have come out. So I think that there are two separate issues here. Is Hope Hicks competent at her job? I think that, you know, certainly the view of those inside the White House is yes, she is competent in her job, she does a good job.

But, the other question I think is, you know, is it appropriate to be involved with somebody else you work with? How does that -- you know, how does that impact --

HENRY: Should she be involved in this story? You know, her personal life is her personal life.

KURTZ: Le me just jump in here. At the same time, we have another story about another White House aide, this is a speech writer, now a former speech writer, David Sorensen, who resigned Friday as the White House was pursuing abuse allegations from his ex-wife which included some pretty horrible stuff about he ran over her foot with a car and put out a cigarette on her hand. Again, he disputes that, but he was gone pretty quickly.

Finally, I think the Daily Mail deserves credit here, because it not only broke this story but it had both ex-wives on the record, not sources say with these pretty concerning allegations. Let me switch before we run out of time in this segment to something that may made a big fuzz earlier this week. The president was talking about the conduct of Democrats, not applauding his state of the union. Roll it.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You have the other side even on positive news, really positive news like that, they were like death and un-American, un-American. Somebody said treasonous. I mean, yes, I guess, why not?

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: Can we call that treason? Why not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: So there was a media freak out over this. White House says the president was mostly being tongue-in-cheek.

HENRY: He is laughing. It's probably not the best language. We can all agree on that. It would came from someone in the audience, he's feeding off the crowd. He probably has to be more careful with how he -- you know, feeds off these crowds. That's been the thing.

KURTZ: Yes.

HENRY: When he goes out in these rallies, people -- he gets round up, they get round up. And sometimes things were said --

KURTZ: Treasonous seemed a bit of a joke, but un-American did not. He seemed very serious when he said that.

CAFARO: I think he has been very serious about un-American, but, you know, look, the coverage surrounding this statement was not necessarily about what he said about it's un-American, but, you know, all of the headlines where he said that Democrats are treasonous.

And, you know, obvioulsy, I think that's a bit of a stretch in how it was actually said.

KURTZ: Right. You can hear the tone.

CAFARO: The reporting is not necessarily reflective of what was actually said.

KURTZ: Right. Emily.

JASHINSKY: I think this is why it is difficult for so many people that cover President Trump, is because when you see a vide of him and then you have to translate that into print, it's really difficult sometimes because, yes, he was serious about un-American charge. We know that treason language isn't a buzz, but it was clearly a joke, actually predicated on the idea that that was hyperbole.

HENRY: By the way, Democrats were disrespectful to him. I mean --

KURTZ: And Republicans do the same thing during democratic presidency. All right, let me get a break here. By the way, "Publishers Weekly" calls my new book "evenhanded and incisive" that "it paints a vivid portrait of White House infighting and leaks."

"Lively, entertaining narrative of vitriolic news cycles is a penetrating critique of a liberal news establishment." I want to share that with you. Check it out. "Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War over the Truth."

When we come back, a new batch of anti-Trump texts from those FBI agents. But did some media reports unfairly implicate Barack Obama? And later, Corey Lewadowski on the media's coverage of the president and the Rob Porter mess.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Republican Senator Ron Johnson released yet another batch of text messages between FBI agents Peter Strzok who was removed from the Mueller investigation and Lisa Page got heavy play, especially on Fox News.

(START VIDEO CLIPS)

STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS: Let's get started with the Fox News alert and a bombshell exclusive.

AINSLEY EARHARDT, FOX NEWS: Those new messages now raising even more questions about what the FBI knew about the Clinton investigation and when they knew it.

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS: Guess what, there is a reference too in this exchange, President Barack Obama.

JESSE WATTERS, FOX NEWS: This may be the first clue though we have of President Obama possibly being involved in the FBI shenanigans.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Their texts are - - I really believe are Rorschach test. Meaning, if you read an excerpt of it and you want to believe in a conspiracy, you can find your way into a conspiracy.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

KURTZ: The text in question was about preparing talking points for Obama, quote, POTUS wants to know everything we are doing. As the Wall Street Journal later reported, this apparently wasn't about the Hillary Clinton e- mail investigation which was over. But according to associates of Strzok and Page was about Russian election meddling days before Obama was to meet Vladimir Putin.

Emily, there were several segments on Fox and an online story saying it might have been the Hillary e-mail investigation. Is that the danger for all of us in running with selectively leaked or selectively released texts?

JASHINSKY: Well, yes, it is interesting because the source of this, the stems from the report itself that was released by the committee, which in the blur where this text messages discussed, it directly links to sort of matter of fact to the Clinton investigation rather than Russia investigation.

And if people have checked the dates, they probably would have been a little bit more sceptical of that claim because the dates didn't add up very well for the Clinton investigation.

KURTZ: Well, I know what it's like when, you know, your whole bunch of documents are dumping you on sort of say something quickly on the air or online, but I think journalists have to cover themselves by saying well, it is not clear what this particular text is referring to.

Ron Johnson is a Republican senator who earlier talked about another texts from these agents about the secret society which turned out to be a joke. Was he trying to use the media on this line and did he succeed?

CAFARO: It seems that way and I think that he did succeed in a number of media outlets because, you know, look --

KURTZ: Initially.

CAFARO: Exactly. And I think as the media got further, as journalists got further into the story, they recognize that this was more of a hyperbole than actual fact. But you got to remember, Ron Johnson is a senator. He is a United States senator who assumed that, you know, he has more information than the average bear. And that I think forms the judgment of the media as well.

JASHINSKY: I didn't think that it was any sort of calculation or strategy on Senator Johnson's behalf. I think that it was really what he believes because it blew up. I mean, nobody wants that to happen. Nobody wants (INAUDIBLE) something bad.

KURTZ: When you say (INAUDIBLE) it turns out to be big.

JASHINSKY: Exactly.

KURTZ: At the same time, there were many more damaging messages in this exchange between these two FBI agents who are having an affair, calling Trump a blanking idiot. Clearly they opposed his election. Have these gotten enough media attention from major news organizations?

CAFARO: I would argue no because --

JASHINSKY: I would argue no, too.

CAFARO: Yes, I mean --

KURTZ: You can agree, all right.

JASHINSKY: We're done. We can go.

(LAUGHTER)

JASHINSKY: I think they are really serious. And I think regardless of where you are, your partisan affiliation, seeing this from the FBI, sort of pulling back the veil here, there has been some stuff that I think you just have to be concerned about. You just have to be.

KURTZ: And you would argue no.

CAFARO: I would agree because at the end of the day, the FBI, the Department of Justice are suppose to approach things in unbiased and political manner. These text messages obviously reveal these two individuals biased even though I don't believe it is reflective of the entirety of the Department of Justice and FBI.

KURTZ: Right.

CAFARO: But, you know, I think that what has happened, though, is that there has been an eagerness to try to attach higher people to this story, Barack Obama, the attorney general --

KURTZ: Right. It's not all -- the FBI is not all the DOJ.

CAFARO: Exactly. They want to sort of build that narrative. They want to try to put in Obama. And so some of the more important things about bias have gotten swept under the rug.

KURTZ: By the way, these two made nasty comments about a lot of people including folks at Fox News. But to the extent that it hasn't got enough coverage, not this one, but the substance of all these anti-Trump messages, is it because it doesn't fit the narrative of some news organizations? So, why is that?

JASHINSKY: Yes, when news organizations are running with their narrative of the day being, you know, the Trump campaign was -- it was on behalf -- the fall is on behalf of the Trump campaign --

KURTZ: Right.

JASHINSKY: Then yes, it is inconvenient to have to talk about this certainly. And maybe it is not so much the quantity of the coverage on this, so much as to the severity of it. It is not being taken as seriously and these weren't dismissed as conspiracy.

KURTZ: It is quoted as being dealt with almost like a footnote or a sidebar but not the main story. All right, I think we have had a good look at this right now. Capri Cafaro and Emily Jashinsky, good to see you this Sunday.

Up next, the press didn't have much to say about the president's impact of a soaring stock markets until those 1,000-point declines.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: When stocks began soaring after Donald Trump's election, some conservative analysts complain that the president was given little credit, although he wasn't exactly shy in the taking credit department.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I don't know if you heard the latest but the market is up about 150 points. And we broke a very, very big barrier.

The stock market is smashing one record after another.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: I said repeatedly that markets are complicated and presidents get more credit than they deserve when stocks rise and more blame than they deserve when stocks fall. But if the Dow had fallen 8,000 points, I would say you can be sure the press will be giving Trump plenty of blame.

Well, that view got a reality test after the Dow dropped 600 points in one day. And then on Monday, this happened.

(START VIDEO CLIPS)

STEPHANIE RUHLE, NBC NEWS: The sell-off on Wall Street is posing a real issue for Donald Trump. Remember, this guy in his entire administration has spent the last year cheerleading the markets, cheerleading. That's a dangerous behavior.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN: Live by the Dow, die by the Dow. When you make claims like if Hillary Clinton had won, the stock market would be down 50 percent, and you say things like we're adding trillions of dollars, just look at the stock market.

STUART VARNEY, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK: A, the sky is not falling. B, there is no economic catastrophe on the horizon. C, the left is spinning this because they really want to associate President Trump with anything negative.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

KURTZ: And it wasn't over. A bounce back was followed by more (INAUDIBLE) in the market on Thursday.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is huge loss on Wall Street. For the second time this week, the Dow has plunged more than 1,000 points.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Now, it's fair to point out that President Trump is going to keep touting the record run on Wall Street which after all had something to do with his policies, especially the tax cuts, that he would also have to own the downturn.

But this little question that some journalists especially the left-leading journalists who never associated the president with the Dow's climb from 18,000 to over 26,000 are suddenly rushing to attach his name to the dramatic dips. And that seems to me to be the wrong call.

And President Trump said he wants to talk to Bob Mueller. All sources tell reporters that his lawyers fervently disagree. But first, Corey Lewandowski who stays in touch with the president and how the White House is handling a whole spate of media-fueled controversies.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS MEDIA BUZZ SHOW HOST: With the president and his White House under fierce media criticism on numerous fronts this week, joining us now from Miami is Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump's former campaign manager and chief strategist for America First Policies. And Corey, the media consensus on the whole Rob Porter mess and the accusations by his ex-wife is that John Kelly and the White House staff badly mishandled the whole situation. Fair or unfair?

LEWANDOWSKI: I think that is a fair assessment and I think Raj Shah, the principal deputy press secretary admitted to that from the podium and is probably the first time that we have seen them say that. It was a mistake and they have now corrected it and what matters is that Rob has left the White House and that is the most important thing.

KURTZ: Now, the New York Times says that the president is angry with General Kelly. Others are saying Kelly is in trouble. You are somebody who understands how the president thinks. Is this mere speculation or is there something to it?

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, I think its complete speculation. And look, Kellyanne Conway, the counselor to the president has gone and publicly said that the president is staying with John Kelly. John Kelly reports to one person and that's the president. And as long as the president continues to have confidence in John Kelly, John Kelly will remain in that position.

KURTZ: Now, "The Daily Beast" is quoting two unnamed sources as saying that some White House staffers including Rob Porter blame you for allegedly supposedly spreading this story. Your response.

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, number one, I love getting credit for things I didn't do. I don't work for "The Daily Mail," OK. I am a private citizen. I don't work in the building. I have never met Rob Porter's ex-wife. I didn't take a picture of them with a black eye. I have nothing to do with it and you know, look, go back and look at contemporaneous accounts of what took place from these women.

They have relayed the information to the FBI. The FBI has either said or claimed to have said that they have notified the people in the White House. Rob was working under an interim security clearance for the last year so, what that has to do with Corey Lewandowski who doesn't work for the government is beyond me and look, if "The Daily Beast" is a basic rag (ph) so, you can accuse me of whatever you want but I'm not the one who did anything here.

KURTZ: All right, last question on this. Some media criticism we're seeing that today that the president and his public comments to reporters and also his tweet has expressed some sympathy for Rob Porter, also concern about false allegations, but not expressing any sympathy for the two women making these allegations.

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, look, I think the president was very upset when the story came out and the pictures came out and was very disappointed. And what the White House has said was that the individuals who worked with Rob did not see this side of him. But once those allegations were brought forth and the pictures were brought forth, they moved very quickly to take Rob out of the building. He resigned.

I think it was the right thing to do to have him leave the building. The president was not made aware of any of these things until the media accounts were put in place and as soon as he found out, he said it was time for Rob to go.

KURTZ: I think that's an important point because while there are some back and forth about who on the staff knew what, when, nobody is saying that the president knew until this exploded in the press. Let me move on to the Bob Mueller investigation. The president has said he is perfectly happy to sit down with the special counsel. But the New York Times would get in to this next segment, called sources are saying his lawyers are opposed to that or at least trying to negotiate written questions. So, which version is right as far as you know?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I haven't spoken to the president all about this matter but, you know, just as a political operative I would tell you that I see no value of the president sitting down with Bob Mueller I he is going to answer questions. I think the attorneys would be right in saying send us the interrogatories, we'll answer these in writing. We'll negotiate exactly what the scope is, but look, just as a political side of things, I don't see the value of the president sitting down with Bob Mueller.

KURTZ: Well, a lot of pundits on the left and right agree with you on that point. Now, the president sparked a lot of media outrage when he made some comments about Democrats sitting on their hands at the State of the Union, even when he talked about the dramatic decline in black unemployment, but he said they were un-American.

He seem to be semi-joking right when he said they were treasonous. You know how partisan these things are, and the Republicans did not applaud much when Barack Obama was giving these speeches. What did you make of the harsh criticism of the president pushing back on the Democrats?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I think it's very unfair when the president is articulating, you know, a 12-year-old boy who is taking an American flag and putting it on the graves of dead American soldiers and that can't be applauded in a bipartisan nature is very unfair. And I think, look, there are some people who will say the democrats hate this president more than they love their country.

And if you can't in a bipartisan nature support some of the people that the president brought to the state of the union and talk about their stories then that's how bad Washington, D.C. has gotten because that young man who was doing that to remember our soldiers should be applauded.

It's not a Republican or a Democrat issue, it's an Am0erican issue. And this notion that the Democrats can't support those people is very unfair and really un-American in my opinion.

KURTZ: One of the people who worked in the White House of course was Omorosa -- Omorosa Newman, and she is back on reality TV and you probably have seen the clips or the write-ups. She says she is haunted by Trump's tweets. She wouldn't vote for him again in a million years. Are you offended by that after she so recently left the president's payroll?

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, look, it's very easy to go and criticize the president after you leave the office that, you know, you wanted to stay in. And that's what it really came down to. I think Omarosa want to stay in the White House and she was asked to leave or she resigned, one of the two. I'm not sure. I wasn't part of it. But look, I don't think it's fair to go and criticize the president right now because if you were so critical, you know, maybe you shouldn't have gone to the administration in the first place.

KURTZ: How about the president's idea for a big military parade in Washington? That's gotten a lot of media mockery. Are you pro-parade, Corey?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I love our military. I think if you look at the spending bill, which just passed, it increases our military, you know, in all fairness and full disclosure. You know, my grandfather served in the military, my father served, my brother is a 20-year retired Marine so, and I'm a pro-military person.

And look, I think that if we can continue to give the military all the tools they need to be successful, I think that's fantastic. And look, recruiting individuals to come to our military is an important component and if that is what this parade would do, I would be open to having more of our great men and women serve our country.

KURTZ: All right, I need a brief answer, last time you were on talking about your book with Dave Bossie, "Let Trump Be Trump." You guys account of the story and how you thought you might be invited to take White House jobs. You were kind of relieved that didn't happen. Well now that more people have left the White Hous, are you open if the president were to ask to you go inside as they say?

LEWANDOWSKI: Howie, I got to be honest with you. I'm very happy being on the outside of the administration right now. I get to, you know, not be involved in the day to day drama which takes place there and Dave and I have had a great opportunity to talk about our experience on the campaign, and so we're very lucky to be on the outside and be outside talking about the president's successes. That's where we can be most effective.

KURTZ: Very happy on the outside. All right, I get the message. Great to see you. Thanks very much Corey.

LEWANDOWSKI: Congratulations on the boo Howie. Thank you.

KURTZ: Thank you. I appreciate it. Coming up, as I mentioned a moment ago, the New York Times saying Trump lawyers don't want him talking to Bob Mueller and many pundits, conservative, liberal, they seem to agree. And later, Steve Wynn ousted from his casino empire and the paper that could have him stopped him long ago.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: The New York Times is quoting, four people briefed on the matter is saying that President Trump's lawyers are opposed to a sit down interview with Robert Mueller fearing he could be walking into a perjury trap. We're back with Ed Henry. So, the president was pretty unequivocal when saying he wanted it. Now you got these sources, is that story on target?

ED HENRY, FOX NEWS: Not really, I mean, it's on target with what outside advisors believe the president should do.

KURTZ: This said the president's lawyers.

HENRY: I thought you said advisors briefed on it.

KURTZ: Yes, that's what they say. They're saying that the lawyers --

HENRY: Well, briefed on it doesn't necessarily mean they spoke to the lawyers.

KURTZ: OK.

HENRY: My point is, my sense is from sources very close to the situation that there is still divided opinion and they have not ruled out the president sitting down with Robert Mueller. What you are seeing in the New York Times account and others, to my point, is people trying to influence that decision who don't really know the facts of the case and don't really know what the legal team has and doesn't have.

So the bottom line is it's very much up in the air right now. There are people close to the president who are worried that he gets in the room it will be a perjury trap, that's true. But he may still sit down though.

KURTZ: Was this an orchestrated leak in your view to push the president away from his cooperative approach?

HENRY: Yes, absolutely. And my point is that there are people, other people around the president who were not quoted in that story who believe the best medicine here is cooperate, cooperate and eventually it is going to go away because they believe , and they can be wrong because we still don't know what Robert Mueller has.

But there are people very influential around the president who believe that this has been messy, it's been ugly but there is no obstruction of justice. There is no collusion, and he is going to get through this. And if you cooperate and sit down, limited in scope, not a five-hour interview about everything, but limit the scope. He's going to get through it.

KURTZ: All right, let me get you in on this. So the president over the weekend blocking the release of that Democratic House intel memo. This was in response to the David Nunes memo, having to do with FISA surveillance warrant for Carter Page. The president says it will contain classified information so he sent it back. Is the press more sympathetic to the Democratic argument that he didn't approve it for political reasons?

HENRY: They are very sympathetic to the Democratic argument, I mean, we heard all of this in the press about the Nunes memo that their sources and methods are going to jeopardize national security, then the memo comes out and it did no such thing. Instead it really tore apart the Democratic argument and Nunes was backed up by Grassley and Graham in their memo.

think the Democrats clearly do have much more sensitive information in their memo if they will simply re-work it. It would be in the White House's interest in transparency to make sure they're not hiding I think to put it out there as long as they pull back some of the info.

KURTZ: Although I think a side benefit is that as this gets delayed, I think just interest in the whole memo versus memo thing is fair. It just been overtaken by other stories --

HENRY: Yes, but it doesn't change the basic facts which is that the Obama administration used a dossier that was unverified to spy on (INAUDIBLE) that's important. The Democrats haven't knocked that down.

KURTZ: All right, so the Olympics is underway in South Korea and CNN has a story that's attracting a lot of negative attention. The headline is, Kim Jong-un's sister is stealing the show at the Winter Olympics. "Washington Post" also had a headline calling the sister, the Ivanka Trunmp of North Korea. Now that's a quote from an ex-CIA analyst but it made it into the subhead on the front page. What do you make of the story?

HENRY: This is disgusting, I mean it's, you know, sucking up essentially to the sister of this brutal dictator. He's starving his own people. He's threatening nuclear war every other week. It's absurd to sort of say she stole the show. I mean, what's next, you know, his cousin is opening a Starbucks in Pyongyang.

KURTZ: Right. She's so charming.

HENRY: I mean it's ridiculous.

KURTZ: Now, if you look at the CNN story I didn't like the lead, if diplomatic dance were an event of the Olympics, the sister would be favored to win the gold. But the story does say look, North Korea's brutal dictator ruled with an iron fist, operating Nazi-style prison camps, executing senior officers and even members of his own family. But as you know, the headline is often what goes viral and that's what you're using to get people to click.

HENRY: Absolutely. And I think beyond just the ridiculousness of saying these wonderful things about the sister of a dictator. To them have other people compare that sister to the daughter of President Trump is beyond absurd.

KURTZ: Right. And that sister --

HENRY: But if fits a narrative that a lot of people like.

KURTZ: is the head of the propaganda and agitation department in North Korea so let's remember that.

HENRY: High paying job.

KURTZ: Ed Henry, good to see you.

HENRY: Congrats on the book.

KURTZ: After the break, Omarosa back from the White House to reality TV and taking a big swipe at her former boss. And did Jimmy Kimmel really say that about conservatives?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Omarosa Newman got her job as a presidential aide because, well, she had appeared several times on Donald Trump's show "The Apprentice." And just weeks after she was ousted from her White House job, she returned to reality TV dumping on her former boss on "Celebrity Big Brother."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OMAROSA NEWMAN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL AIDE: I was haunted by tweets every single day like what is going to tweet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does anybody say to him what are you doing?

NEWMAN: I mean I tried to be that person and then all of the people around him attacked me. It was like, keep her away, don't give her access, don't let her talk to him, and it's like -- and Ivanka is there, Jared is there. They said don't give her access. And ivanka is there and Jared is there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should we be worried?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Joining us now from New York, Carley Shimpkus, a reporter for Fox News 24/7 Headlines on SiriusXM. So you couldn't hear the whispering, she said she is haunted by Donald Trump's tweets and she also said she wouldn't vote for Donald Trump in a million years. What do you make about Omarosa going off like that?

CARLEY SHIMKUS, REPORTER, FOX NEWS 24/7 HEADLINE: Well, it is truly a bizarre moment history when you can turn on your TV and see a former White House staffer sitting in her PJs on a couch bad mouthing the president of the United States. But the reality here is really simple, she is trying to stay relevant and she is, you know, also maybe seeking a little bit of revenge after getting fired. But what Omarosa is --

KURTZ: Oh you think, a little bit of revenge, you think?

SHIMKUS: Yes, just a little to put it lightly. But what she is forgetting is that it's an honor to serve under any president this country elects, so by bad mouthing the president she's not hurting his reputation. She's hurting her own.

KURTS: Well here is how the White House handled it. Deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJ SHAH, DEPUTYT WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Omarosa was fired three times on "The Apprentice" and this the fourth time we let her go. She had limited contact with the president while here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Well look, I get that, yes, I think that's called distancing. We barely knew her. I get that she was frustrated in the White House. Nobody can quite figure out what she did there and the thing is though that Donald Trump made her into a national figure. And is the concept of any bit of loyalty just hopelessly outdated?

SHIMKUS: Well I think that the president hired a lot of people based off of loyalty. This one was obviously a big mistake and didn't necessarily take her resume in consideration meaning he picked the wrong people, which is why there was so much initial turnover among his staffers. But this seems to me like an isolated incident where she was let go, she was angry and she is trying to get her 15 minutes of fame once again and she has succeeded on the front.

KURTZ: Right, right, 15 seconds is more like it. And you know, she gave some recent (ph) interview and said here are my concerns about the White House. I'm OK with that but whispering on the couch. Apparently the strain has gotten to her because there are reports that she was hospitalized during the (INAUDIBLE) at a latest taping of "Celebrity Big Brother" which I did not know was a thing or was on the air. All right.

SHIMKUS: Oh, it's a thing. It's a thing.

KURTZ: It's a thing. It's big. It's huge. It's even bigger now. All right, so let me turn to Jimmy Kimmel now. It's no surprise to people who watch the ABC late night host that he regularly slams President Trump and Republicans. He (INAUDIBLE) that campaign to save Obamacare after his son sadly was born with heart problem. But now, here is what Kimmel said on the liberal podcast, Pod Save America.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JIMMY KIMMEL, LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST: Pretty much every late night talk show host is a liberal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go figure.

KIMMEL: And that's because it requires a measure of intelligence.

(AUDIO CLIP)

KURTZ: So now Kimmel is just saying conservatives are dumb. I don't know, is that funny?

SHIMKUS: Yes, well, that's a very easy joke to make of course in a room filled with liberals. After he made that comment and he was criticized for it, the host of the podcast said on twitter that that comment was a just joke. I don't think he was kidding. I think he actually believed that and it does take a level of intelligence to become, to be a talk show host. But that's not why they are liberal. They are liberal because they are a part of Hollywood and that's kind of the way the cookie crumbles in that part of California.

KURTZ: Yes, what is so striking is how almost all of the late night host and late night comics are anti-Trump because that's the cool thing to do. And you know, I mean I like Jimmy Kimmel and I understand he's made a decision not to appeal to the conservative audience but I don't know. I just saw that one, even as a joke went a little over the line. Carley, great to see you.

SHIMKUS: I agree. All right, thank you. Good to see you too.

KURTZ: Thanks so much for joining us. Still to come, a complete meltdown with firings and resignations at Newsweek and the Las Vegas newspaper that had the good on Steve Wynn 20 years ago and killed the story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ: Steve Wynn resigned from his Las Vegas casino empire this week this after the "Wall Street Journal" reported numerous sexual misconduct allegations against him and he had already step down as the RNC's finance chairman. Now, the Las Vegas Review Journal is admitting it killed the story about such allegations against Wynn 20 years ago despite having court documents involving again, allegations of sexual harassment against employees. But the paper can't say exactly why that story never made it.

These days the paper is owned by Sheldon Adelson, a rival casino billionaire who certainly might want to put his chips on anti-Wynn story, but editor Keith Moyer told the "Washington Post" that Adelson had no involvement in advance in the Wynn story. What an embarrassment to have killed that thing in 1998.

Fox News has deleted an online column that was in my view offensive. It was by John Moody, Fox's executive vice president and executive editor. And while in recent years he's mainly been a commentator, the column wasn't vetted because of his high ranking title. Moody wrote that the U.S. Olympics Committee apparently want to change the team's motto from faster, higher, stronger to, darker, gayer, different. And quote you're your goal is to win medals that won't work, adding that sports teams can't be a rainbow of political correctness.

Now the gay rights group GLAD accused him of vicious ant--LGBTQ and biased rhetoric at what should be the proudest moment of these athletes' lives. Fox News spokesperson said in a statement, John Moody's column does not reflect the views or values of Fox News and has been removed.

"Newsweek" which once compared Donald Trump to Charles Manson among other things is in total meltdown. The co-owner has step down. The chief content officer was suspended over sexual harassment allegations and then brought back. The editor-in-chief and executive editor have been fired. Also fired is reporter Celeste Katz who was reporting on financial problems at the magazine. Allegations of improperly buying online traffic that New York prosecutors are investigating.

Also veteran journalist Matt Cooper has resigned from "Newsweek" calling the firings a disgrace and castigating editors, quote, who recklessly sought clicks at the expense of accuracy, retweets over fairness. Just sad, one story brand that was owned so many years by the "Washington Post" company.

All right, that's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. Thanks for watching. We appreciate it. We hope you will like our Facebook page. Check it out. Give us a like. I post a lot of original content there, my columns, videos and I try to respond also on Twitter, @HowardKurtz. Many of you not very shy but letting you know what you think, mediabuzz@foxnews.com if you want to e-mail us. I'm running out of time. You know we'll be back here next Sunday as we are every Sunday, 11 o'clock Eastern. See you then for the latest buzz.

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