Media declare Cabinet chaos

This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," April 29, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On Buzz Meter this Sunday, in an extraordinary interview with "Fox & Friends," President Trump defends Michael Cohen, who just pleaded the fifth, rips James Comey, denounces the media of course, and slams his own Justice Department.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You look at the corruption at the top of the FBI -- it's a disgrace. And our Justice Department, which I try and stay away from, but at some point I won't. Our Justice Department should be looking at that kind of stuff, not the nonsense of collusion with Russia.

HOWARD FINEMAN, JOURNALIST: He has created a world of hurt in exchange for a half hour of free psychotherapy on "Fox & Friends."

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN: Well, politically, actually I think it makes a lot of sense for the president to talk to media outlets. I know he talked to Fox but I think in many cases the president is his own best spokesperson.


KURTZ: We'll analyze the fallout from this combative and quite unusual presidential phoner. The president's pick to run the VA bows out after a flood of allegations or leaks to the press. And Trump practically invites Ronny Jackson to withdraw over a process he calls disgusting.


LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC: Dr. Ronny L. Jackson is desperately in need of the credibility that he threw to the wind the day that he stood in the White House briefing room and praised the cheeseburger lifestyle of the obviously physically unfit president of the United States.

DAGEN McDOWELL, FBN: This is a message from the Democrats to the Trump administration. Anybody that you nominate, if you think about taking a job in this administration, we will wreck your life. We will wreck your life with very specific allegations from unnamed sources.


KURTZ: Have news outlets been unfair to the White House doctor by pushing these leaked and unconfirmed allegations? And is the press right that the president keeps putting up nominees without checking their backgrounds? A former NBC correspondent accuses Tom Brokaw of sexual misconduct.


LINDA VESTER, FORMER JOURNALIST: I'm Linda Vester. For a decade, I worked at NBC News as an anchor and correspondent. I was groped and assaulted by Tom Brokaw.


KURTZ: And the former NBC anchor angrily denies the allegations, calling a drive by media shooting. Plus, the White House correspondents' dinner turns ugly as a cursing comedian savages the Trump team. White House was truly a new low. I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "Media Buzz."

There has been an avalanche of negative headlines after Ronny Jackson pulled the plug on his nomination to run the sprawling VA bureaucracy. This after a Senate committee started leaking allegations against him to the press in less than 48 hours after the president suggested he might want to bow out.


TRUMP: But I told Admiral Jackson just a little while ago, I said, what do you need this for? This is a vicious group of people that malign and they do. I don't want to put a man through a process like this. It's too ugly and too disgusting. I wouldn't do it. What does he need it for? To be abused by a bunch of politicians that aren't thinking nicely about our country?


KURTZ: The White House physician decided he didn't need it. And after he were through, the president said this on Fox.


TRUMP: These are all false accusations. These are false. They are trying to destroy a man.


KURTZ: Joining us to analyze the coverage: Mollie Hemingway, senor editor at The Federalist and a Fox News contributor; Juan Williams, co-host of "The Five," and Shelby Holliday, senior video reporter at The Wall Street Journal.

Mollie, Washington Post headline after this cabinet chaos engulfs Trump. So the larger media narrative here is is that Donald Trump employs people impulsively, they aren't adequately vetted, and this creates problems to the administration.

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: It's not that narrative, it's completely false. Obviously there is chaos. We don't have a cabinet secretary at the Veterans Administration and this is a very important cabinet.

This a very important agency that serves the health of all of our veterans. That's an important part of the story, how he's appointing people and how it's not working well, how he is nominating people.

At the same time, I think that larger narrative misses the point which is that a lot of Americans voted for Trump precisely because he does things differently than the way they have been done in Washington and that they are sick of business as usual in Washington and they are looking for different ways to approach such issues as how veterans' health is taken care of.

KURTZ: So shaking things up has both positive and negative effects. Now, Juan, even before these allegations against Ronny Jackson surfaced, the media take was how can he be named to run the VA, no management experience, Trump likes him because he praises how Emily's (ph) allegations surfaced. I mean, the media really pounced.

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS: I'm not sure I would say the media pounced, Howard, because remember, initially it was simply the basis of the reports to the Senate, saying that there were concerns over reports to the senators and it was sort of up on air.

What are these allegations? Then subsequently the reporting comes out based on leaks, if you will, coming out of the Senate that military people have gone to Senator Tester and then the allegations, the flood started.

KURTZ: Right, some of that is fair game, but then it turns out that some of these allegations about wrecking a car or being so drunk that he couldn't be roused are not true. There is no evidence.

WILLIAMS: We don't know. What we know is that the White House has said that subsequent --

KURTZ: Secret Service has also said --

WILLIAMS: No, the Secret Service came back on the idea that he was banging on a door for a woman --


WILLIAMS: Right, but guess what, we don't know. What we know is that principally the White House, that these reports of drunken behavior and handing out pills like a candy man, they say it's not true. But wouldn't it been better if he had been vetted earlier and they could have said right from the start not true?

KURTZ: I think we can agree on that point. Shelby, there were a whole bunch of nominees that were put up but withdrawn including one for secretary of labor, for army sector and navy sector. But there is a New York Times story that says for many, life on Trump team ends in a crash.

And this is also part of this narrative that, you know, for those who left the White House or whatever that working for the president isn't good for your reputation. It's not that it's not true in every case, but is that overstated in your view?

SHELBY HOLLIDAY, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I don't think it's overstated and I'm glad you're asking because the big question now is doe Ronny Jackson stay on as White House doctor? It looks like he will. But there is still question about whether --

KURTZ: (INAUDIBLE) question about working for this administration.

HOLLIDAY: There is and a lot of people feel that when they leave, their reputation has been tarnished. Whether they have been sort of stabbed in the back and --

KURTZ: Or the front. Stabbed in the front.

HOLLIDAY: -- or stabbed in the front or they left on their own accord because of some scandal or some -- something that they disagreed within the administration. So it's a tough place to work. That the White House is always a tough place to work.

I would say there are still questions about this doctor. Does he hand out pills like candy? Is he drinking on the job? You would never want a doctor like that around the president of the United States.

HEMINGWAY: This is actually kind of the whole problem here. Senator Jon Tester went out with anonymous allegations that in some cases have been actually disputed, in no cases have been verified. The media are talking about them on air, acting like it's no big concern to destroy a man's reputation.

Senator Jon Tester is probably going to face a lot of tough questions for what he did from his Montana constituents. But he couldn't have done without the media just carrying that for him. Journalistic norms are being --

HOLLIDAY: President gave him (INAUDIBLE) instead of present (ph) him.

HEMINGWAY: Journalistic norms are being thrown out the window. You do not say this could be true and that could be true. Anything could be true.

HOLLIDAY: That's not the norm.

HEMINGWAY: You make sure something is true. A report based on anonymous sources. This is why it is important to verify --

HOLLIDAY: The senator is looking forward with those details.

HEMINGWAY: Yes, and he absolutely should be held accountable because I think some credence was given to him, in the same way credence was given to Harry Reid when he made up information about Mitt Romney's tax returns. That doesn't mean that journalists should just do this though --

KURTZ: I do have to say there have been instances of Republicans on committees leaking allegations (INAUDIBLE). It's not unique -- it's not (INAUDIBLE) of Democrats. The president of course now calling for Tester to resign and using words like very dishonest and sick.

But the thing about Tester, he is a ranking Democrat of committee. The Republican chairman, Johnny Isakson, he is the one who held up the hearing and he says he has no problem with what Tester did. So there (INAUDIBLE) opinion on this in political --

WILLIAMS: Not at all. In fact, I think there is a lot of concern about the issue you raised at the very start of the show, qualifications. Does he have the management experience to run the second biggest bureaucracy in Washington?

KURTZ: That's now moot. What about Mollie's point that the media were too willing and perhaps eager to run with allegations, many of which were unconfirmed that kind of ruined this guy's reputation?

WILLIAMS: I don't think that's -- for me, that's not the issue because --

KURTZ: Why is it not the issue?

WILLIAMS: -- it is not coming from Jon Tester. You have it coming from (INAUDIBLE) --

KURTZ: Would you say the same thing if it is coming from Devin Nunes? Will that be the same?

WILLIAMS: Yes. Are you kidding? Devin Nunes has been all over the papers and in some cases had -- then later had to recuse himself --

KURTZ: But you're all right with the press running with this?

WILLIAMS: Yes, because guess what, somebody put their face and name who is an elected American official. In this case, U.S. senator putting his name to it and said here is what is coming.

KURTZ: Initially, I think some of this was just leaked and then he went public. I want to turn to so that we touch on this, the extraordinary spectacle of the leaders of North and South Korea meeting and talking about ending the war between them and perhaps moving forward with this denuclearization process if that is true.

Now, Donald Trump as you know, Mollie, battered by the media for months for taunting little rocket man and all of that. Do you think the press is now giving the president at least some credit with the caveats that we don't know was going to happen for the apparent progress on the Korean Peninsula?

HEMINGWAY: Yes, they're giving some credit. I'm not sure if it's as much as it should be. I saw The Daily Beast editor. He said let's be honest, if Obama were accomplishing this, we would be praising him.

And I saw that CNN asked this foreign minister of South Korea, you know, how is this happening so quickly, and he said well obviously all credit goes to Trump. And then to their credit, they wrote that story based on what he said.

But given that we were -- and we talked about it on the show, talking about how much the media said that Donald Trump was bringing us to the brink of nuclear war a few months ago which is rhetoric --


HEMINGWAY: I think it's important to give that same level of coverage about what has apparently turned out to be a pretty successful approach thus far, we have a lot that we don't.

KURTZ: Very fair assessment. Now, what everyone is buzzing about NBC is last night's White House correspondents' dinner. The president went to Washington, Michigan, talked to a rally and as you might expect, he had some unfavorable things to say about the press. Take a look.


TRUMP: They don't have sources. The sources don't exist in many cases. I could be up there tonight smiling like I love when they're hitting you, shot after shot. These people, they hate your guts.


KURTZ: All right. So he had a better time. But the media world is just filled with criticism out for comedian Michelle Wolf who was cursing with F-bombs on live television. Personally cruel, in my view at least, to people like Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kellyanne Conway who were there. You were at the dinner. I saw you. What's your take?

WILLIAMS: I thought that the level of sort of acerbic commentary directed at Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was sufficiently dignified to allow herself to be there, the president is not there --


WILLIAMS: She is sitting there as a representative of that administration. And I thought she honored us as journalists with her presence given the difficulty of the relationship which should be adversary but it's a difficult relationship.

And she decided to make herself available and present. And I think it was rude, you know, just as a human being, to -- if I started speaking about Howard Kurtz in that way, I don't think it's appropriate.

KURTZ: You could say whatever you want about me but rude is an understatement.


KURTZ: And the president tweeting every month saying it was a big boring buzz, the so called comedian bomb, he wants Greg Gutfeld to be the comedian next year.


KURTZ: I saw you there as well. What's your take on -- I mean, this came now I think to define --


KURTZ: -- what otherwise would have been a nice, you know, bunch of award for journalists kind of thing. This came to define the White House Correspondents' Association.

HOLLIDAY: I thought that exact same thing when I was looking at her this morning. She took it too far. Some of her attacks especially with Sarah Huckabee Sanders were very distasteful, made everybody uncomfortable. Journalists are among those who are most critical of this stand-up routine if we want to call it that.

But there is some really great parts of the dinner. Students are being honored, their scholarships. I thought Margaret Talev gave a really great speech about them meeting the president and how President Trump received these journalists warmly. Those things were overshadowed by some crude jokes that didn't need to be involved.

KURTZ: Overshadowed, obliterated.

HOLLIDAY: Obliterated, yes.

HEMINGWAY: I truly mean no offense, but I feel about the White House correspondents' dinner, the way that most journalists feel about people like me which is utter disdain. I thought that comedians' performance was not just rude, it was unfunny, which is the criminal issue.

And also, it's just such uneven comedy. Attacks on one group of people and just very light attacks on the media. If the White House correspondents' dinner wants to redeem its reputation, it needs to start being more heavy hitting against itself.

HOLLIDAY: Well, the president can also show up and slam (ph) the press. That would be welcome.

KURTZ: The president would turn down the invitation. All right, let me get a break here. I am getting some pretty nice online feedback for my new book. With Mother's Day coming up, let me put up a blog for "Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War over the Truth."

When we come back, the president attacking Jim Comey, his own FBI and Justice Department, and the media, all unloading on "Fox & Friends." And later, a former reporter's sexual misconduct allegations against Tom Brokaw and why NBC is struggling to address it.


KURTZ: President Trump was very on offense in that phone interview with "Fox & Friends" and he again went after Jim Comey and the Justice Department.


TRUMP (voice over): This is a big mistake, his book. He is guilty of crimes. And if we had a Justice Department that was doing their job and --

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS: It's your Justice Department. Mr. President, the Republican in charge -- you got a Republican running it.

TRUMP: I answer this all the time. What he did, Brian, was terrible. He leaked classified information in order to try and get a special counsel.

KILMEADE: He said it wasn't classified, Mr. President.


KURTZ: Shelby Holliday, when a president goes off like that on FBI and Comey, he says he is staying out of justice for now but he may not in the future, is he giving ammunition to critics and the media who think he is trying to influence the investigation?

HOLLIDAY: Absolutely, because he keeps playing with the idea that he might do something. And that hints that he might, yes, meddle in the investigation. I think it's a great point. I am glad he pointed out, it's your Justice Department. Everyone you're slimming (ph) here is a Republican in the Justice Department.

You have control over this, Mr. President. I think what people were surprised by not so much the words that the president said in that interview, but his tone. You just played the clip. You can hear how amped up he is. You know, some people described it as hysterical.

KURTZ: Well, it wasn't -- hold on, hold on. It wasn't hysterical. It was certainly amped up. He was loud. He was ticked off. This is his style. I want to --

HOLLIDAY: Of course, but you can tell how much it is bothering him.

KURTZ: That part I can't dispute. The Federalist dug up some key information from this report by the House Intel Committee Republicans about the whole dossier affair. It had to do with James Clapper, who was President Obama's director of National Intelligence, and the media. Explain.

HEMINGWAY: Last week, we talked about how James Comey's first memo said that Clapper asked him to do that briefing of the dossier to Trump. And he said in that memo, CNN is looking for a hook in order to justify writing about --

KURTZ: Correct.

HEMINGWAY: The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence had a report. Both Democrats and Republicans contributed to this actually, showing that James Clapper did give inconsistent testimony but admitted that he had been talking to Jake Tapper, one of the authors on that dossier story which got everything going in early January.

He lied about it. He had given conflicting information. We are starting to see some pieces of the puzzle put together that show that there was really high-level contact between journalists and key top officials during the Obama administration.

KURTZ: You are not saying that CNN shouldn't have reported it, but you're saying that it was done in order to push the story out, that that was Clapper was doing?

HEMINGWAY: I think it's a great example of how when you have anonymous sources asking you to do something to push their preferred narrative. You should be really skeptical about that and you should make sure that you are thinking through, why are they wanting to do something and whether your coverage accurately reflects the whole story.

KURTZ: Right. Now, Juan, you know, it was a big story for CNN to report that the president had been briefed on this dossier and given a two-page summary, some dispute about that. But it's pretty damning (INAUDIBLE) against Clapper especially if he didn't tell the truth initially about (INAUDIBLE) CNN where he now works as a contributor.

WILLIAMS: You're right, but I don't know that this is so different. Obviously, when you are a reporter in Washington and you're trying to get sources, if you can get to Clapper, you can get to Jim Comey as FBI director or Andrew McCabe, for example. McCabe was found to have lied about contacts with reporters apparently --

KURTZ: The Wall Street Journal, yes.

WILLIAMS: -- apparently unauthorized. But the idea that reporters, that Anderson Cooper or whoever is going at the sources and that the sources calculate about the impact of media exposure for a piece of information that was so explosive, it's not crazy. HOLLIDAY: I would like to add, we know that the man who wrote the dossier was briefing reporters including CNN earlier that year and that is likely why CNN had the information in the first place.

KURTZ: Right. But this thing about (INAUDIBLE) and Clapper not telling the truth, according to this report, and getting it to CNN raises a whole set of questions. Shelby Holliday, Juan Williams, Mollie Hemingway, thanks very much for coming by this Sunday.

Ahead, the president blows off last night's White House correspondents' dinner as we said and he (INAUDIBLE) media bashing rally. We will talk more about that. But up next, Tom Brokaw is angry and hurt over allegations that he sexually harassed a former NBC reporter, but Linda Vester says she was scared and traumatized.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice over): Troubling allegations. A former NBC correspondent accuses Tom Brokaw of making unwanted advances towards her two decade ago.


KURTZ: That was a "Today's Show" report. Linda Vester, a former NBC correspondent, is making gripping allegations of sexual misconduct against Tom Brokaw, allegations that the veteran anchor strongly denies. In interviews with Variety and The Washington Post, Vester said that in the 1990s, Brokaw groped here and then on two separate occasions in two different cities got physical with her.


VESTER: I grabbed the throw pillow and I'm like this, to show with all the body language I can muster that I'm terrified, I don't want him here, I'm not interested. He reached behind my head and tried to force me to kiss him. I pulled back with all the strength I can muster and stood up. And I said, Tom, I do not want to do this with you.


KURTZ: Joining us now in New York, Marisa Guthrie, TV editor for The Hollywood Reporter. Marisa, when you look at that very emotional 13-minute video interview by Linda Vester who later hosted a show on Fox News, doesn't NBC have a major problem on its hands?

MARISA GUTHRIE, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: It's very detailed. It's very graphic. It's very specific. And the allegations were substantiated by friends and journal entries. She paints a very troubling picture, absolutely.

KURTZ: Right. At the same time, I want to be fair to Tom Brokaw here, you obtained a letter at The Hollywood Reporter that the former anchor had written to some friend and colleagues at 4:00 in the morning apparently. We will put it on the screen.

"I was ambushed and then perp walked across the pages of The Washington Post and Variety as an avatar of male misogyny, taken to the guillotine, stripped of any honor and achievement I had earned. I am angry, hurt, and unmoored from what I thought would be the final passage of my life and career. She has unleashed a torrent of my of unsubstantiated criticism and attacks on me."

Brokaw obviously is entitled to defend himself but not really (INAUDIBLE) language in that note.

GUTHRIE: No. He really tore her down in that letter. And yes, he is entitled to defend himself. This is an allegation from more than 20 years ago. There is a second anonymous allegation also from around the same time period that was in The Washington Post story.

KURTZ: Right. A woman who is not named, yes.

GUTHRIE: A woman who was not named. I think what the letter represents is somebody desperately trying to -- afraid that they are going to lose their legacy. What it also represents I think is this kind of old school grandiosity that, you know, all the good things you've done in your life and all the accomplishments and Tom has both, obviously.


GUTHRIE: (INAUDIBLE) the handful of stupid things that you did. I mean, why are you in the hotel room of a 28-year-old correspondent? So I think that's what a lot of people are grappling with right now.

KURTZ: Right. You know, I covered Tom Brokaw for a long time. He had an amazing journalistic career. You can't completely whitewash this. I know that 60 plus women have signed a letter.


KURTZ: Support for Brokaw including Andrea Mitchell and Rachel Maddow and others. But let me just play one more soundbite from Linda Vester. You can respond on the other side.


VESTER: I was deeply traumatized by being groped and assaulted by Tom Brokaw. I was silent. And there was nothing I could to seek recourse. Because to have done so at NBC would have been the end of my career, full stop.


KURTZ: People say why she doing this now, but she is not suing, she is not asking for money. And NBC doesn't have an outside investigation of this or Matt Lauer or any of this. They are using an in-house executive.

GUTHRIE: Right. They are using Kim Harris who is the general counsel at NBC Universal. And that has been a criticism that they have not hired an outside investigator. Other networks have not. I know obviously Fox News did with Roger Ailes. So, yes, they are opening themselves up to criticism by not hiring an outside investigator.

KURTZ: Yes. Let me just jump in here because we are short on time. The Washington Post story also talked about other allegations against Matt Lauer, of course was fired about five months ago. Ann Curry went on the record saying she had told executives about a woman who claimed she was being harassed by Lauer.

And Lauer issued a statement saying many false stories about him. "I acted inappropriately as a husband, father, and principal at NBC." But any allegations say Matt Lauer's aggressive or abusive actions are false. Quick thought on that.

GUTHRIE: Well, I think that, you know, a lot of this is the man interpreting it differently than the woman because it has obviously a different effect on the woman when she is trying to fend off somebody who is in a position of power over her.

So I think, you know, a lot of -- I think it's good that we are having this conversation. And that's why I think the letter that all the women signed is an interesting inflection point because everybody has been terrified to talk about this.

KURTZ: All right. I think that's a really --

GUTHRIE: And we need to talk about it.

KURTZ: I totally agree with that part.


KURTZ: Marisa Guthrie, thanks. Ahead on "Media Buzz," New York Times' campaign reporter who says Hillary hated her, but she still wanted Hillary to win. But first, (INAUDIBLE) comedian is a disaster as we were just talking about the White House correspondents' dinner. Ed Henry is on deck.


KURTZ: Last night's White House Correspondent's Dinner turned into a travesty when a comedian Michelle Wolf turned in a crude and cursing performance that not trashed the President but such aides as Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is sitting right there on the dais and Kellyanne Conway.


MICHELLE WOLF, COMEDIAN: If a tree falls in the woods, how do we get Kellyanne under that tree? I am not suggesting she gets hurt, just stuck.


KURTZ: Joining us now, Ed Henry, Fox's Chief International Correspondent and a past President of the White House Correspondents Association. We were both there at the dinner. I've never seen a performance like that. She was not only nasty, but she was dropping f-bombs on live television carried by CNN and MSNBC. What's your take as someone who has gone through this process?

ED HENRY, FOX NEWS: Even worse, she was joking about abortion. I won't even repeat the jokes. They were so vile. Bottom line is I understand (Inaudible) as President. I respect her. It's a tough job. You are up there, you pick the comedian, and there is a first amendment in this country whether you like it or not. Sometimes you're going to say first amendment protects stupid and vile things as well.

However, I think it's long past time -- here we are you know hours later for the association to put out a simple one sentence statement, saying we do not agree with this, these personal, vile attacks on Sarah Huckabee Sanders who is a good person. Dare I say that if Hillary Clinton had been elected and Jennifer Palmieri were up there, and got all these personal attacks about your appearance. I won't even add.


HENRY: It's ridiculous. The association should apologize, period, stop.

KURTZ: OK. I agree with you on that. You know who else agrees with you is Andrea Mitchell, who just tweeted apology is owed to Press Sec, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.


KURTZ: Insulted my Michelle Wolff (Inaudible).

HENRY: We invited her to dinner. We should've treated her with respect. I don't need to say anything beyond that. It cast a stain on the whole event.


HENRY: We're talking about the first amendment. By the way, and I am hearing this on social media. I am not letting the President off the hook. When he said the press is the enemy of the American people months and months ago, that was not right. He should not have said that. You might disagree with individuals' stories to tar the entire media, including me, including you that we're the enemy of the American people.

I am not letting him off the hook about that. But we should show respect to the President. We should show Press Secretary. I shouldn't even have some to say that. That's elementary. And people right now are not doing that. And she is the Press Secretary. She is a professional woman who puts herself out there. Attack her for what she says about Syria, attack her on substance, do not attack her personally.

KURTZ: Right. And I get comedians are (Inaudible), but this was just so far beyond the pale. And by the way, Michelle Wolff not apologizing, she just went on Twitter.


KURTZ: Yeah. Well, she wants to be famous. She went on Twitter and said I was actually complimenting Sarah Sanders's eye makeup.

HENRY: Right.

KURTZ: Ridiculous.

HENRY: But here's my bottom line point. The White House Correspondents Association can be, could be, and should be better than a gutter comedian.

KURTZ: Right. And Margaret Talev of Bloomberg, the President is not apologizing.


KURTZ: We'll see if that changes.

HENRY: For tomorrow's briefing issue an apology.

KURTZ: Let me move to the President's Fox & Friends interview, because one thing that drew a lot of attention was what he had to say about his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. Take a look.


TRUMP: Michael would represent me and represent me on some things. He represents me like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal.


KURTZ: So a lot of journalists saying he previously distanced himself from that case, now he's saying Michael Cohen did represent him. Are journalists right that was (Inaudible).

HENRY: Well, I don't think it's a shock that Michael Cohen represented him. We know this. There are documents of people are kind of overplaying that. However, where the President continues to kind of misstep there I think you know from a media perspective, I have never seen any public figure comment on a legal matter and it go well for them.

Your lawyers tell you let that play out in the court. Don't get involved. And I think he pours gasoline on whatever fire might be out there when he comments. And so you know -- but on the other hand, I spoke to the President because it was take your daughter to work day, I think that same day. And he told me, look, I was on Fox & Friends for a half-hour and then every other network, he told me in private, played the whole thing.

And even though they were criticizing him, he doesn't care. He said everybody was talking about everything I had to say, and he told me he's going to do more of it.


KURTZ: He says Kellyanne Conway says he may call the Fox & Friends once a month and was on all the cable networks, almost in real time. Here's how CNN handled it. Let's put up the banner from the Don Lemon's show. We got that, President Trump's unhinged interview.

HENRY: You know this is where -- you know there -- I just again, I am not giving him a pass. I think his comments on Cohen probably didn't help him. But the bottom line is you see this with banners more and more.


KURTZ: Crazy, unhinged. The idea of fair and balanced coverage -- I am just laughing. It's not even close.


KURTZ: I know Don Lemon doesn't like him, but the banner is supposed to be a neutral headline. All right, you used to (Inaudible) questions at Presidents, take a quick look at NBC's Jonathan Carl, asking one the President didn't like.


JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: Mr. President, what about Michael Cohen, are you considering (Inaudible).

TRUMP: Stupid question. Go ahead, any other -- anybody else, please?


KURTZ: Pardon for Michael Cohen, stupid question says the President.

HENRY: Yeah, it's a fair question. It's in bounds. Again, the President has first amendment rights to say what he wants, by the way. I'm not criticizing that. But I know John Carl. I've worked with John Carl. I'll try to do a (Inaudible) kind of thing. I respect John Carl, and he's a fair journalist.

KURTZ: Yeah. I just didn't think it was a question that was going to get an answer.

HENRY: Yeah, but it didn't mean it was a stupid question.

KURTZ: All right. Ed Henry, good to see you last night at the dinner, good to see you today.

HENRY: Good to see you again.

KURTZ: Coming up, Joy Reid under fire for some really ugly anti-gay writings years ago, and after the break, New York Times reporter Amy Chozick on covering Hillary Clinton while resenting her own papers reporting on the email scandal.


KURTZ: Well, the intense focus on Donald Trump's war with the media, Hillary Clinton had some pretty hostile relations with her press corps, described by one reporter who included "She really, really hates me." Joining us now from New York is Amy Chozick of the New York Times, the author of the book Chasing Hillary. Ten years, two presidential campaigns and one intact glass ceiling.

Amy, you write in the book it felt damn good to bask in the girl power when Hillary Clinton clinched the nomination. You described your own coverage is neutral to positive. What part of the wet kiss is thrown, then you say when you wrote your last story after the election, you finally cried. So did you feel compromised at all as a reporter covering this candidate who you passionately believed in?

AMY CHOZICK, AUTHOR: Well, I want to clarify. I cried at the end because I was absolutely exhausted. And I make clear in the book it's not because Hillary lost. I mean look, if you read the book you know there was an incredibly contentious relationship between Hillary Clinton and the political press. And Hillary Clinton, specifically the New York Times and my position as the lead beat reporter.

I mean she had called the political press back in the 90s big egos and no brains. And I think that tension kind of carried over and really spilled over into that U.N. press conference where she had to address the private email server for the first time.

KURTZ: Well, since you bring that up, let me jump in and we'll come back to that. You say -- again, I'm just quoting from your book, the email scandal broken by the New York Times by the way, you initially thought it had no more national importance than Bristol Palin's pregnancy, and you went on to say that it was a non-story but you said I would regret and even resent that it became the only story. So you had some problems with coverage.

CHOZICK: No, I didn't compare it to Bristol Palin's pregnancy. I was comparing it to other scandals that I had covered to the volume of this scandal. I mean this is not specific to the New York Times. But you know the email server became the only story, and I think that there were plenty of other things the public should have known about Hillary Clinton, so eventually I did grow to resent that that was the only thing anyone was talking about. Positive or negative it's just the fact, there were probably other things.

KURTZ: Perhaps it was harder to tell other things about Hillary Clinton because she had such a tortured relationship with her and such little access to the press corps. But since the book came out, you know Chelsea Clinton says you got a few things wrong, including that she was popping the champagne cork on election night when she says she was home with her baby. That's a pretty key detail.

CHOZICK: Well, you know and I identify with Chelsea since I have my 8- week-old baby at home right now. Look, Howie, speak to the broader theme of the book, which is they were attacking the book before it even came out, and attacking the reporting in it. And I have a lot of respect for Chelsea. I've covered this family for a decade. I kept copious notes. I went above and beyond what most authors do, which is hire a fact checker.

So I think you know some of the fighting over champagne and hair treatment speaks to the broader themes of the book.

KURTZ: You write that Hillary Clinton's coterie of mostly male aides, sometimes taunted you, made crude remarks toward you. Now we know that one of them is (Inaudible) who was on this program last week, and I asked him about that. He said he pleaded guilty. But why didn't you name them in the book. You give them these various nicknames. It almost seems like you are protecting them.

CHOZICK: Well, as I've explained in the author's note, I didn't give these guys nicknames because I was protecting their anonymity. You've made a connection that you think one of them is Hillary's aide. The point is kind of a literary one.


KURTZ: I know who it is because you say in the book that he also played in the debates and he acknowledges.


CHOZICK: This wasn't about granting anonymity. This was about -- for a reader, an average reader. My mom's book club in Texas, for instance, these guys all have similar descriptions, white, clean cut, about the same age, they all played the same role in my life, which was controlling coverage, very much trying to get in my head.

And so as a literary device, they really became this kind of tragic, comic, Greek chorus. And so you know I thought for the story it would resonate with readers more to give them kind of monikers.

KURTZ: Here's a quote. I adopted Hillary's mood, I went around despondent and aggrieved, pissed off at the world, at my editors, at myself for not being likable enough.


KURTZ: That doesn't sound like fun.

CHOZICK: There is an instinct, a distinctly female instinct to want to be likeable. And I do think any campaign reporter who has been vetted with their candidate, there's often kind of you pick up the mood of the campaign, and that was a particularly joyless as Democrats describe it, joyless period in Hillary Clinton's campaign. And so when you are traveling everywhere she is and going to all these rallies, you can't help but sort of adopt that mood.

My colleagues on the Bernie bus were exuding this confidence of a budding insurgency. And we had the feeling of a dreary mechanical slog a lot of the time.

KURTZ: Right. I want to clear the air on one thing. You were on this program a year ago, excuse me, four years ago. And after Roger Ailes died last year, you wrote a piece saying that Fox gave you all this makeup and this was part of Roger Ailes' plan for sexting up female reporters. I mean I've been on every network and makeup people all try to make women and men look good. Looking back, any regrets about that cheap shot?

CHOZICK: Look, I love the Fox News makeup artists. They make me look great. I'm incredibly grateful. I am getting very little sleep with a newborn, and they really you know turned me into being almost TV ready, I think. That was not a shot at the makeup team who work hard. They are good at their jobs.

KURTZ: Well, they do work hard. And they are good at their jobs, which I was I thought it was an unfortunate anecdote. But I will say you are very candid in this book about your tortured relationship with Hillary and even your feelings about your newspaper. So, Amy Chozick thanks very much for joining us this Sunday.

CHOZICK: Thanks for having me.

KURTZ: Good to see you. After the break, a cultural milestone as one of America's great entertainer's is found guilty of sexual assault, the Cosby verdict next.


KURTZ: Bill Cosby's retrial on sexual assault charges have been getting remarkably little media attention until a verdict was announced.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A verdict in the retrial of comedian Bill Cosby, the man has now been found guilty on all charges against him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are under vindicated. We are validated, and we are now part of the tsunami of women's power and justice. We are not shutting up, and we are not going away. Get over it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thank you all in the media. You are the pillars of democracy. Without you, none of this would have happened.


KURTZ: (Inaudible) And joining us now from New York is Carley Shimkus, a reporter for Fox News 24/7 headlines on SiriusXM. So there has been almost a universal media celebration about this verdict, despite the fact that many journalists, including me had affection for him growing up, as a comedian, as TV's Dr. Huxtable. What makes this such a cultural moment?

CARLEY SHIMKUS, FOX NEWS: Well, symbolically this trial is really so important because Bill Cosby is the first famous man to be found guilty of sexual misconduct following the #MeToo movement. You know I would like to think and I do believe that he would have been found guilty regardless. But everything that happened with Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey could have been in the back of juror's minds, because now they know that this happens a lot and this happens a lot in Hollywood.

KURTZ: But on that point, he wasn't found guilty the last time before the #MeToo movement exploded, before Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose and so many other. Now there was another difference this time, was a different climate to be sure. But also there were several other Cosby accusers who were allowed to testify as opposed to just Andrea Constand, who was the focus of the prosecution.

SHIMKUS: That's right. So there were five other women that were allowed to testify against Bill Cosby in this case. And the DA even called those women the difference makers, because then prosecutors could sort of create the narrative that Andrea Constand was just part of a patter of behavior that Bill Cosby used. Also, Cosby hired a different legal team and they used a very different tactic, where they attacked the witnesses' character instead of their claims, suggesting Andrea Constand was a gold digger and calling another witness as somebody who slept around. So that sort of below the belt tactic did not work in this case.

KURTZ: Right, because he already had made a $3 million settlement with Andrea Constand.

SHIMKUS: Absolutely.

KURTZ: As this thing unfolded, I was reading some of it on the inside pages in the newspapers. I mean it received remarkably little media attention, was that because it came to be seen as old news and we have sort of been through with the first trial, or was it a misjudgment by the press.

SHIMKUS: You know I think that there were a couple of reasons, of course, there is so much news coming out of Washington right now. This is a retrial like you've said, so we've lived through this testimony before. Also, Bill Cosby is 80 years old. He's in poor health. And his legacy has already been destroyed. So the impact of a guilty verdict is much less than if this happened at the peak of his career.

KURTZ: Right. He'd already been convicted clearly in the court of public opinion and in the court of law. So finally, you know looking at this, though, I think there has been a tendency to think that this is now the precedent for other kinds of cases when it may be rather unique to Cosby as opposed to when you have a defendant who is not particularly famous.

SHIMKUS: Well, you know I do think that every trial will be you know judged fairly and equally. And you're right. People keep on calling this a precedent. I don't necessarily think that you can make that case. But I am sure that Harvey Weinstein did look at this verdict, and he did feel very nervous for his own future, because there are so many similarities between these two men and how often they used their power to assault women and how often this happens. Wherever Harvey Weinstein is right now, he's probably very nervous.

KURTZ: A very different climate. Carley Shimkus, thanks very much, great to see you.

SHIMKUS: Good to see you too.

KURTZ: Still to come, is MSNBC's Joy Reid telling the truth about some extremely embarrassing posts from her past? That's next.


KURTZ: Joy Reid, the MSNBC host apologized back in December after the discovery of some homophobic web posts that she had written a decade ago. But when media eye recently unearthed more posts from that era, mocking gay people and homosexuality, really ugly stuff. We came up with a rather far fetched explanation that she had been hacked, which would have to have occurred back when she was little known. And yesterday, Reid admitted that she can't prove any hacking.


JOY REID, MSNBC: I genuinely do not believe I wrote those hateful things because they are completely alien to me. But I can definitely understand based on things I have tweeted and have written in the past why some people don't believe me. I have not been exempt from being dumb or cruel or hurtful to the very people I want to advocate for. I own that. I get it. And for that I am truly, truly sorry.


KURTZ: I think it's pretty obviously now that we lied and it's received strikingly little coverage, but I certainly give her credit for the apology. That's it for "Media Buzz." Thanks for watching. I'm Howard Kurtz. Continue the conversation on Twitter @howardkurtz. Check out our Facebook page. We post my daily columns there daily, original videos. Give us a like, and look at our new home page, redesigned You can watch whole episodes. See you next Sunday with the latest buzz.

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