Storm over Giuliani interviews

This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," May 6, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, a media explosion as Rudy Giuliani goes on Fox News and changes President Trump's defense saying he did reimburse lawyer Michael Cohen with that six- figure hush money payment.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Having something to do with paying some Stormy Daniels woman $130,000? I mean, which is going to turn out to be perfectly legal. That money was not campaign money. Sorry, I'm giving you a act now that you don't know. It's not campaign money. No campaign finance violation. Funneled through a law firm and the president repaid it.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS: I love Rudy, but they better have an explanation for that. That's a problem.

ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS: If Rudy wants the public to believe that Donald Trump reimbursed Michael Cohen $130,000 and didn't know what it was for, didn't know that it was going to silence Stormy Daniels, that is unworthy of belief.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN: It's not believable that Michael Cohen would make this payment to Stormy Daniels, not tell Donald Trump. I mean, you know, how stupid do they think we are.

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS: The American people don't care about this agreement. There is a reason why the president's approval ratings are ticking up.


KURTZ: Should the media be insisting there is a credibility crisis. Reince Priebus, the president's former chief of staff weighs in, a "Media Buzz" exclusive.

A New York Times scoop on leaked questions from the Mueller prosecutor said that Trump lawyers unleash a flood of coverage about the Russia probe on whether there will be a presidential interview.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: I am told by my sources tonight that the New York Times is full of crap. That those are not -- a lot of those questions are not the questions that the special counsel is asking.

JULIE BANDERAS, FOX NEWS: Fox News now obtaining a list of questions for President Trump from special counsel Robert Mueller.

GREGG JARRETT, FOX NEWS: These questions look like they were prepared by a first year law student who flunked out for being patently stupid.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: Bob Mueller, special counsel Mueller knows everything. He is the closest we are going to come to a God-like figure, omniscient.


KURTZ: The pundits are taking sides, for and against the special counsel. Plus, Charlie Rose facing new accusations of sexual misconduct from 27 women. We spoke to the Washington Post and CBS management was warned on at least three occasions.


GAYLE KING, CBS NEWS: I feel sick to my stomach and I don't know what to say about this. You know, when the story first broke, I said Charlie was my friend. I still consider him a friend. You can't ignore what these women are saying. That's also part of my anguish here, to know that women were hurt.


KURTZ: Did CBS executives tolerate such misconduct from one of their biggest stars. I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "Media Buzz."

It was one month ago that a reporter asked President Trump on Air Force One about his lawyer Michael Cohen paying off a porn actress in the final weeks of the campaign.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Then why did Michael Cohen make this if there was no truth to the allegations?

TRUMP: Well, you have to ask Michael Cohen.


KURTZ: Michael Cohen denied to me and other journalists that he was reimbursed with a payment. That line of defense changed when Trump had Rudy Giuliani sit down for two high stakes interviews on Fox.


GIULIANI: He didn't know about the specifics of it as far as I know. But he did know about the general arrangement that Michael would take care of things like this.

STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS: So, there were no campaign violations because it was out of Donald Trump's pocket.

GIULIANI: That makes it nice and clear, but it wasn't for the campaign.

DOOCY: Right.

GIULIANI: It was to save their -- naturally, a marriage as much as this -- the reputation.


KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage, Emily Jashinsky, commentator writer for The Washington Examiner; Mara Liasson, national political correspondent for NPR and a Fox News contributor, and Philippe Reines is a former State Department official and longtime Hillary Clinton adviser.

Emily, mediocre train (ph) Rudy's interviews as being basically a PR disaster and they say triggering a credibility crisis in light of the president's earlier denial and I don't even see many defenders on Fox on this point, your thoughts.

EMILY JASHINSKY, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Yes, it's just hard to defend that. I mean, I think one of the key moments is when you see Sarah Sanders at the briefing the next day. Even she was not aware of something that Rudy Giuliani was going on national television and talking about that is very pertinent to all of these questions.

And so, if we look at the Trump campaign and the Trump administration, you know, characteristic fault. If there's one thing, it's just this ungovernable, undisciplined media strategy, and this was the height of that. And it's so many mistakes that didn't (ph) happen and that can be controlled if they didn't - if they were able to control some things like this.

KURTZ: Giuliani then of course having to (inaudible) written clarification. He was talking about his own understanding of the president's knowledge. Philippe, you write that Rudy's sin was telling the truth and you say it has something to do with his being on fox.

PHILIPPE REINES, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I think he feels very comfortable when he's talking to you or he's talking to Hannity or he's talking to any host. He feels like he's in his living room and he's just hey guys and he's (inaudible) a little bit. I, you know, before I get sharply critical, I voted for Rudy not just twice but three times, including his first failed mayoral race.

KURTZ: Which I covered.

REINES: And he, you know, he wants to be president. He still wants to be president. I don't mean that he's going to run, but this is not a lawyer that you're watching. This is someone who just likes the sound of his voice. And before we came out I was seeing he did even more damage this morning. He said that he thinks Michael Cohen probably did this other times, which is not exactly on message.

KURTZ: Right. George Stephanopoulos on ABC said is it okay to lie to the press and Rudy said, well, you know, a few presidents who did that. I don't think this president has done it. But in any event, that's not the crime. So Mara, talking about - well I covered Rudy for Justice Department and when he was running for mayor. He's a very media savvy guy, but he makes an unforced error here.

For example, Jared Kushner is disposable as a man, but Ivanka is a fine woman. The FBI agents who raided Michael Cohen, storm troopers he said. And finally, he said Cohen made the payment just so to save his marriage or reputation. Of course the press is going to jump on all of that.

MARTHA LIASSON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, of course. The thing that was so interesting about the media coverage of this week is everyone took a break from their regular programming. There wasn't going into two corners. One corner is saying Giuliani did great, you know, and other people saying, oh, he's here, but everybody was agreed. Even Sean Hannity's reaction, he was stunned. And people are just -- their mouths are on the table wondering what they are going to do next.

But Rudy, let me just say this, he's a giant figure in American politics and certainly in New York, but sometimes maybe he's not perfectly fit for this role of being the president's top legal strategist.

KURTZ: We will see about that. So now with this sort of a kitchen sink approach for example, the kind of eccentric Dr. Bornstein who came out this week and said Trump dictated the letter saying how healthy he was. And so, people are talking about credibility, but it's not just the (inaudible) liberal media. "Wall Street journal" conservative he editorial page says Mr. Trump is compiling a record that increase the likelihood that few will believe him during a genuine crisis. Is that overstated?

JASHINSKY: No, I don't think so at all. I think we see this happening when you have a president on tape. When people can see that you're saying no and they have the tape of Rudy Giuliani, and this is why there is just so many things that are avoidable mistakes that he didn't -- Rudy Giuliani did not have to got there and contradict. He should have known that the president was -

KURTZ: Well, and that was a strategy to make sure that it wasn't seen as a campaign violation and instead sort of like biting the bullet, but look, Trump supporters are convinced that the media are endlessly nitpicking everything that he says and many of them don't care about Stormy Daniels and they don't care if it was a cover up by Stormy Daniels. They say, hey, Bill Clinton lied about sex. So that's why, you know, you don't see the president dropping precipitously in the polls.

REINES: Yes. I mean, so far he has faced no consequences to lying so often. It's not just the president. He's setting a tone for his administration, but particularly the podium where Sarah Sanders comes out or Sean Spicer just starting that first day. But you got to figure one of these is going to catch up with him and ironically --

KURTZ: Exactly. He says a lot of this is fake news and people who support the president say, yes, I don't believe the media and we're not very popular, let's face it.

LIASSON: It might never catch up with him. There is a difference between legal jeopardy, which Giuliani might have increased, and political consequences. You heard Brian Kilmeade say Trump supporters don't care about this and he's right. But at some point, he's going to need to go to the American people or the world and say, here is the crisis, I need you to be with us for this reason, and people aren't going to believe him, even if his approval ratings don't drop at all.

REINES: Now, what's worse is that it might be something like an attack or something where the FBI or CIA giving a judgment after two years of him saying they don't know what they are talking about, they're out to get me. That's going to be a very difficult situation.

KURTZ: What I'm saying, I'll let you get in here, Emily, is that there is a sort of a bubble that many journalists live in, and in that bubble, President Trump has a lot of trouble telling the truth because we have so little credibility with much of the country that is not necessarily universal verdict across America.

JASHINSKY: That is absolutely true, and there is an important distinction between the president's base, which I think is swollen sort of various (inaudible) probably around 30 percent of the country and the rest of the country. And that base is usually impervious. There is little that can be done to chip away their kind of --

KURTZ: Since Sarah Huckabee Sanders mentioned a couple of times that she did take a lot of heat at the briefing after Rudy's appearances. Let me call you a little bit for this for you Mara (ph) to ask you about (inaudible).


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Has denied and continues to deny the underlying claim and again, I've given the best information I had at the time.


KURTZ: The question was from Jim Acosta of CNN, were you lying to us at the time or were you in the dark? So, a lot of your fellow correspondents are saying while Sarah Sanders is lying or is an accessory to lying, is that true.

LIASSON: I think she is in the dark more than she is lying. I think what she just - I think press secretaries even ones in an administration that is set out to undermine the credibility of the press like this one do not want to lie from the podium. They don't. She says often this is the information I have or I haven't asked the president about this.

KURTZ: Yes, or I refer you to the lawyers, yes.

LIASSON: I refer you to the lawyers. Being in the dark is a better place for her to be than lying and I think she is in the dark, but that also raises questions about how helpful and -

KURTZ: Maybe a better place, but it's not a comfortable place to be. All right, so New York Times obtains those 49 questions that the Mueller prosecutors wanted to ask the president, and at times made it pretty clear that these were notes taken by Trump's legal team and then provided this to someone else who provided it to the paper (inaudible). President Trump tweeted this was so disgraceful, but the leak pretty much appeared to have come from his hide.

JASHINSKY: Yes, and that's why we're at this game that we're playing every week about who is strategically leaking all these information, whether it's about the special counsel, whether it's about palace intrigue, we to go back and play this game every week. It's like playing clue, you know, we're trying to pick up the clues and see where the leaks are coming from. It's ridiculous and distracting.

KURTZ: The reaction of many pundits believes from right was, oh, Mueller has got nothing. These are all areas that we know about. He doesn't have any sort of hidden smoking gun. And the reaction on many on the left was, wow, these questions are so broad, there is no way a president should sit down with him. So, very different takes on those notes on the questions.

REINES: All right. The first thing that struck me was if Hillary Clinton had been given the questions before her FBI interview, I think it would have rained hell down on us.

KURTZ: It's not unusual for prosecutors to say these are the areas we want to concentrate on so we're (inaudible) to prepare.

REINES: I think it would have been portrayed as -- yes. The questions themselves show the severity of what's happening and I think we don't know what we don't know about what Bob Mueller is doing and those questions reinforce it. I imagine the lawyers who sat there taking notes were probably thinking, well, he's interested in areas that we thought were closed.

KURTZ: I covered law enforcement for a long time and I've never seen something like this leaked. They might be handed from prosecutors to lawyers or defense lawyers, but never seen this come out typical of what we all go through this. All right, there was an NBC story during all of the, you know, near saturation coverage about Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels' hush money. Let's take a look.


KASIE HUNT, MSNBC: We are going to start off our show with some big breaking news, an NBC exclusive investigation. We are learning that federal investigators wiretapped the phone lines of Michael Cohen, the president's long-time lawyer.


KURTZ: And Mara, there was no wiretap. It was a lot of Cohen's calls. He sais something called a pen register. Everybody picked this up for hours and NBC had to correct the story. How bad a mistake was that?

LIASSON: It's bad. Every mistake is bad because the press is under a microscope mostly from the Trump administration and Donald Trump who wants to undermine our credibility in general. It was bad. It was just a basic unforced error. Just check. Yes, they had a register of the calls. No, they didn't have a wiretap of the contents.

KURTZ: And then open the doors -

LIASSON: But it was corrected. It was corrected.

KURTS: It was corrected hours later in the show.

LIASSON: I'm not saying that as a defense. I'm just saying --

KURTZ: But I saw it on every other channel like NBC is reporting, and then the president -

LIASSON: Yes. And I can only say NPR didn't go near it because we didn't have it, in our defense.

KURTZ: All right. But sometimes it's a very good approach. It gave the president the opportunity to tweet, NBC News is wrong again. Problem is he says, the sources probably don't exist. They are fabricated fiction, opening your self up for that. Let me get a break here. All right, if you live in the Washington area I'll be speaking at a luncheon this Thursday. You can get tickets at I'll be signing copies of "Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War Over the Truth."

When we come back, the journalist (inaudible) over John Kelly and the alleged idiot comment.

And later, Reince Priebus who previously held Kelly's job and the media controversies surrounding the current chief of staff and his former boss.


KURTZ: John Kelly is calling total B.S. on an NBC report that he has repeatedly called the president an idiot, but that account getting plenty of coverage.


PAUL BEGALA, CNN: I don't think we have ever seen a chief of staff deriding the president's intellect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you know, once again you've got a story with four blind sources. Of course, there is no question about this, kind of a cottage industry both within the White House and outside of it that is out to get General Kelly.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC: With the highest level of principles apparently called the president idiot and a moron, and yet the White House turns around and says, you terrible people, bad people in the press, it's all you.


KURTZ: Emily Jashinsky, whether John Kelly or did not call the president an idiot, shouldn't more journalists be asking about whether NBC's four anonymous sources are out to get John Kelly and maybe get him out of the White House?

JASHINSKY: They absolutely should and we have to ask this question time and time and again because in the "Washington Examiner" we had John Kelly's deputy come out on the record then John Kelly come out on the record --

KURTZ: And denying it.

JASHINSKY: Denying it. This just shows you how seriously they took this story. It's a big deal.

LIASSON: Just along the same line, I was sitting down with Larry Kudlow around the same time talking about obviously economics. Out of the blue he said, now I want to go on the record and he talked about not just how this was a horrible abomination, the story, but he knows who leaked it and they're Trump people -- we put this on NPR. They're Trump people outside of the White House who leaked it.

KURTZ: Well, that's not entirely the way it was (inaudible), but Carol Lee, one of the NBC reporters say the source's motivations don't matter as long as it's true. But in a White House so torn by inside and out (ph) would suggest it does matter to help people understand. So look, its news if the chief of staff questions his boss' intelligence. If that's true, it's news when (inaudible) NBC that said Rex Tillerson called President Trump a moron.

LIASSON: Which he never denied.

KURTZ: If true - that's because he lost his job (inaudible) - let's say you were still at the State Department and the press was quoting ax grinding sources that say, well, , you know, Philippe really got mad in the meeting and he calls somebody an idiot or crazy.

REINES: Me, call someone a name?

KURTZ: Yes, I know. So out of character, but if that had happened -

REINES: Well, it depends. If I worked in an environment -- first of all, I would like to think that I would not be calling my boss an idiot. But I think we've all probably (inaudible), but I think the problem is as they touched on it, is that this is not a coherent group. They are out to get each other. So, this isn't so much about to me the sourcing.

It's about which one of them is out to get the other. And that's why I believe all these sources because the theme for 15 months now has been they all hate each other and they all want each other gone.

KURTZ: There are a lot of feuds going on in the White House and, you know, interesting for the press to cover but I think sometimes we're to be used by people who have an agenda which is to get someone else or even make the president they work for look bad.

REINES: Actually to answer your questions and say it's four years in the State Department, that never happened. It never happened nor because I have friends who closed ranks because I didn't say it. If I had said it, I do think people would have closed ranks.

JASHINSKY: So jump in quickly on the motivation quote. It doesn't matter what the motivation is as long as it's true. That's hilarious because the motivation in a lot of times it goes whether or not the story is true. So you have to be talking about it. You have to consider it.

KURTZ: You have to consider it in making that judgment about veracity, really, and I reported this week and look, John Kelly may stay. Obviously there's been a lot of tension in the relationship. By report this week (inaudible) goes, the president has actually talked to Corey Lewandowski about the possibility of him becoming chief of staff. Not likely to happen. Lewandowski likes making money in the private sector and also he has a lot of enemies in the White House.

REINES: That was just (inaudible).

KURTZ: OK, all right. We'll leave it there. Philippe Reines, Mara Liasson and Emily Jashinksy, thanks for coming by this Sunday.

Ahead, Reince Priebus now an informal advisor to the president and (inaudible) the barrage of negative headline, but up next, sweeping new allegations of sexual misconduct against Charlie Rose over decades and CBS executives were warned. How did this go on for so long?



KING: I don't know what more we can do to Charlie Rose except a public flogging. He's gone. He's not coming back to CBS News.


KURTZ: It was a chilling account in the Washington Post, 27 more women making graphic allegations of sexual misconduct against Charlie Rose who was fired by CBS and PBS five months ago. There are accusations of groping, forcible kissing, exposing himself and more. Rose, limiting himself to a one sentence response claiming the story inaccurate and unfair. Perhaps the biggest revelation, CBS management was warned of his conduct at least three occasions and basically did nothing.

Joining us now, Sara Fischer, media reporter for Axios. So, Gayle King says, hey, there's nothing more we can do to Charlie Rose. Doesn't the network owe the public an accounting of what happened and why it was allowed to go on for so long rather than for waiting for organizations like the Washington Post to come in and explain this?

SARA FISCHER, AXIOS: Well, we're seeing that they're starting to do so. So they have made a few comments to the Washington Post. He did that report as well, saying that when it comes to those three instances in which managers were notified, all three of them had different peculiarities as to why we didn't hear about it.

So the first instance was in 1986. We know that that person who they had reported about was anonymous. They didn't disclose the name -

KURTZ: Right.

FISHCHER: We can't comment if you're not going to give us the name. The second instance with Chris Licht, they said that Chris went to Charlie directly, which in time was in line with the company's protocols which is why it wasn't outdated ().

KURTZ: He just thought he was a top producer there.

FISCHER: He was the top producer, yes, exactly. And the third instance was with their current executive producer, Ryan Kadro who sort of disputing the account that we see on the Washington Post. So they're trying to come back and explain this, but as you can see it's kind of nuanced all these issues.

KURTZ: Well, you know, just some terrific reporting on the story, holding it up here. One of these women, Sophie Gayter, was 23-years-old. She said this was just a few years ago. She worked for "60 Minutes." She walked down the hall, Rose grabbed her butt. Quote from her is, people said what they wanted to you, people did what they wanted to you.

And now, another woman named Reah Bravo, who was the source for the original Washington Post story about Charlie, writing this week, I would expect CBS executives to have known. The man's secret was reliably as open as a waffle house. So apparently, there is a lot of chatter about this which does raise questions again about CBS now as there is lack thereof.

FISCHER: Yes, but top executives continue to say that they did not know and that they weren't aware. One of the things that they'll tell you is that upon the time of his firing, there were no H.R. complaints that had been filed. One could assume however that potentially the reason there were no H.R. complaints that were filed is because as we have mentioned, it was not part of the company's protocol to bring it to H.R. at the time.


FISHCER: So, it's a very complicated situation that yes, at this point, top executives say that they had no idea.

KURTZ: PBS executives, producer of Rose's show also ignored the complaints from women according to this latest story. Now, three of these women have filed suit against Charlie Rose involving their dismissals or difficulties. And so, it's so graphic and this guy is such a big star for so long, I mean, isn't it -- doesn't CBS have to do more to restore confidence, have an outside investigation rather than just saying we, you know, we fired the guy and now we're moving on?

FISCHER: They said a few times that they're trying to make some updates to their policies to take this stuff a lot less seriously.

KURTZ: What is your reaction as a woman to reading some of this, about the groping and the exposing and the kissing and so many different women making those allegations?

FISCHER: It's hard. You want to know that if you are a woman, if you bring this up to your employer that they're going to be able to help walk you through the best way to address this and I think be ignored. I think some of the previous reporting about the PBS executive who now says she deeply regrets not doing more was particularly disturbing as woman. If this young woman comes up to you -- some of these girls are 21, 22, alleging misconduct with somebody who's 50 years their senior -


FISCHER: -- you want to know that you are employer is going to be taking that very seriously. And to share that they're not is incredibly disappointing.

KURTZ: Yes, that's the (inaudible) as almost all these women with a lower level jobs, they were in their -- earlier in their 20s and Charlie Rose was a superstar there. All right, Tom Brokaw, you know, we talked last week about allegations from former NBC reporter Linda Vester, forcible kissing on a couple of occasions. He wrote an angry letter denying that. He's forcibly denied it.

So now there's another woman, former reporter named Mary Reinholz, writing in a New York newspaper "The Villager" about what happened what she says 50 years ago. Abruptly she says that Brokaw - we can put that up -- he was embracing me, giving me a French kiss. I pulled away reminding him that he was married. Look, Tom is an icon in this business. I covered him for years. A lot of people respect him. Overall, this is receiving remarkably little coverage, do you think?

FISCHER: It's not receiving as much coverage, you're right, and I think one of the reasons could be that there's a ton of backlash against the reporting. You saw that there was a letter signed by over 60 female executives, former and current producers, saying that this is not right. I mean, some of the people that signed the letter were incredibly high-level including Angela Mitchell, Kelly O'Connell.

So, you can imagine that when there's that much backlash, it's harder for the media to confront the story. But I will say, it doesn't make it any less important for coverage. I mean, any time there is an allegation of sexual harassment, the media should be looking into it.

KURTZ: Right. I mean, it's great that Tom's colleagues are supporting him, but they don't necessarily know what happened in these particular incidences, some of which are decades ago. Sara Fischer, great to see you.

FISCHER: Good to see you.

KURTZ: Thanks for coming by.

The New York Times by the way positions itself as a crusader against sexual misconduct in Hollywood and in the media, but the paper is saying very little about the abrupt resignation of its own metro editor, Wendell Jamieson, citing privacy concerns. And he said all in that quote, I regret and apologize for my mistakes.

Executive editor, Dean Baquet, told the metro staff according to Vanity Fair, I feel like S as a leader and a journalist not answering questions that I have Sarah Huckabee Sanders answer. To his credit, the Times run a next day news story quoting sources that say at least three female staffers accused Jamieson of inappropriate behavior. What's inappropriate is for newspaper executives to investigate such allegations in other newsrooms and minimize their own.

Coming up, Reince Priebus and why the White House is such a leaky place as he well know. Then later, the fallout from that disastrous White House Correspondents dinner, was there a bit of hypocricy --


KURTZ: The media are watching investigations, and his successor under fire. I sat down with Reince Priebus, President Trump's former White House Chief of Staff here in Washington.


KURTZ: Reince Priebus, welcome.


KURTZ: The press is on fire over Rudy Giuliani going on Fox News and saying yes, the President reimbursed Michael Cohen for that hush money payment. You're with the RNC during the campaign, did you know about any payment?

PRIEBUS: No. I didn't know about any of it, and you know I don't think the others in the campaign did either. So number one, we didn't about it. But two, I'm not sure you know what the truth is, whether there was a payment made or not the President. Obviously, I believe the mayor. I know that he wouldn't go on TV and say anything that wasn't true, but in today's world with so many different people saying different things. I don't know if we actually know yet the truth of it. But I, myself didn't know anything about it.

KURTZ: OK. So here we have New York Times saying Mr. Trump's history of (Inaudible) have been extensively document, but the string of factual distortions that came to light this week could come back to haunt him. Is that kind of broader indictment fair or unfair when it comes to the President's credibility?

PRIEBUS: Well, first of all, you know I come from Wisconsin. And I can tell you that this is not something people are sitting around the dinner table talking about. When you look at what President Trump has done, when you look at the accomplishments of what he's put in place, when he's running in 2020 those are the things he's going to talk about.

He's going to talk about ISIS. He's going to talk about the economy. He's going to talk about jobs, wage growth, the Supreme Court, the federal bench.


PRIEBUS: These are the issues he's going to be judged by.

KURTZ: So if it's true that the people of Wisconsin are not sitting around talking about this sort of thing. Why does it get so much coverage, and you talk to the President regularly, is he frustrated by this?

PRIEBUS: Well, I think the frustration of someone like me or Republicans or Trump supporters, you name it, is that if you look at the accomplishments, which is what most Presidents should be judged by, it's fair to say that he's on a trajectory to be incredibly successful. And I am not spinning for the President.

I don't work for the President anymore. I have no reason to spin for the President, other than laying out the facts that what he has done as President, regulations, the economy, judges, ISIS. Look at North Korea. We are on the brink of something extraordinarily historic. And to me, why, because...


PRIEBUS: Because Trump is money.

KURTZ: Trump is money for the media?

PRIEBUS: For the media. And everyone is making money. Everybody -- look, whether people love Trump or hate Trump, they are obsessed with Trump. There is a reason why the cable networks are 24/7 Trump. Either Trump haters or Trump lovers, but it is 24/7. Newspapers like the New York Times, the Washington Post, all across this country, you name it.

Cable companies, they are making more money now than they've made in decades, and it's because of one person, and it is President Trump. It makes money.

KURTZ: So come back to my original question. If you feel and he feels like he's accomplishing a lot for many Americans. The coverage is about Mueller and Stormy and credibility and all of that. How much does that frustrate him?


KURTZ: Fake news and CNN.


PRIEBUS: I don't want to speak to the President about whether he's frustrated or not. But I will say I have never seen a politician, if I can call him that, capable of taking more incoming and more issues and more bombs coming at him that would have sunk almost any other politician, and they do, one of them. He can take 20-30 at a time and keep going. Look, it's never good. It's not positive to have these stories out there spinning and spinning and spinning.

KURTZ: Your successor as Chief of Staff, John Kelly is calling BS, says word on an NBC that he repeatedly called President Trump an idiot. Having been the target of some pretty nasty leaks when you were in the White House, what does it tell you that several sources are anonymously bad mouthing John Kelly?

PRIEBUS: Well, look, I don't think quotes are made up. But I think there are nefarious people out there that make trouble.

KURTZ: People with agendas.

PRIEBUS: Maybe people with agendas. Maybe people that for whatever reason they are not happy with the Chief of Staff, and maybe they weren't happy with me when I was there. And I was you know going to be fired every three weeks, right?


KURTZ: Three days. I would read the stories saying the knives are out for Reince and you'd be gone by sundown.


KURTZ: Do you think the press should publish all those stories, obviously...


PRIEBUS: Well, I think the press should -- I think things are like that. I the press should discern a little bit more as to whether or not a particular story has value to the reader, and I think there is such a rush and there is such a -- I could go back to the money statement. There is such interest, money, and intrigue over any little thing that's published that involves President Trump, that there is enormous pressure to whatever anyone says or the gossip of four people that's confirmed by this person and this person.

Now we are going to write an article about it, and it gets tremendous coverage. So what do you value success, is success coverage, clicks, interest, or a success writing a thoughtful article about a Chief of Staff that you know...

KURTZ: But coming back to General Kelly, when he came in there was a wave admiring press. He was going to impose military discipline in the White House, and I think he did accomplish a lot. But now, there are all these negative stories and predictions that he's on the way out. So since you went through this, I want to ask you, do you think the press underestimates how difficult it is to be Chief of Staff under President Trump?

PRIEBUS: No, I don't think they underestimate it. I just think that you go where the interest is. And I don't want to sound repetitive, but you go where the clicks are. You go where -- there is so much competition in the media. And so look -- and the other thing is the President is basically the Chief of Staff. I mean he really is.


PRIEBUS: I used to joke that I was the chief of stuff. The President is the Chief of Staff.

KURTZ: It's another way of saying he didn't really empower you to run the show.

PRIEBUS: I am not saying that. I am saying I knew and I think General Kelly knows that we worked for a very intense, hands-on person that wasn't going to be satisfied being out of the loop on certain aspects of the job. He doesn't like being out of the loop. That's not a bad thing.

KURTZ: But unlike the President, you don't say that these reports of (Inaudible) and infighting and scandal are fake news. But you do sometime the coverage is unfair.

PRIEBUS: I think some of it is probably fake, but I can't figure out what's fake and what's not.

KURTZ: Reince Priebus, thanks very much for sitting down with us.

PRIEBUS: You bet, Howie.


KURTZ: Reince Priebus also talked about what would happen if President Trump (Inaudible) primary challenge in 2020. We'll put that up on our home page on Monday. You can take a look. After the break, Saturday Night Live provides a platform for Stormy Daniels. Hasn't this show become just openly anti-Trump?


KURTZ: With major news outlets threatening to boycott the White House Correspondents Dinner over last weekend's fiasco with a cursing comedian, the media reaction has been intensely partisan, with the left attacking President Trump who wasn't even there, and the right attacking Michelle Wolf.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it Sarah Sanders? Is it Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Is it Cousin Huckabee? Is it Auntie Huckabee Sanders? Like what is Uncle Tom for white women who disappoint other white women.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michelle should have had the decency not to comment on women's appearances in any way, shape or form. She is a comedian, for god's sake, not the President.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Had a conservative said the things that Wolf said about a Democratic administration, they would be road kill by now. They'd never work again.


KURTZ: Joining us from New York, Kat Timpf, a National Review Writer and Fox News Contributor. So let's start with the commentators on the left who were defending Michelle Wolf. There were some clearly some crude, personal, harsh comments against Sarah Sanders, against Kellyanne, against Ivanka, and justifying it by saying oh, you know, they were all a bunch of liars and they're evil and whatever.

What would they have said if such jokes were made against, oh I don't know, Barack and Michelle or Bill and Hillary?

KATHERINE TIMPF, FOX NEWS, CONTRIBUTOR: Of course, they would not have had the same reaction. Obviously, because this was a woman on the right, they were able to get away with a lot more. Now, to be fair, also there is a little bit of hypocrisy because lot of people who are saying that it was an outrage don't say that when President Trump makes fun of somebody. So basically, everybody's hypocritical when it comes to this situation.

KURTZ: Yeah, well that was next question is -- you know people on the right who are just savaging Michelle Wolf as the despicable betrayer of the sisterhood. You feel, and you have written this, that those folks, many of those commentators give the President a pass for some of the things that he says.

TIMPF: Right. President Trump has made fun of Mika's looks. He made fun of Carly Fiorina's face. He's made fun of Rosie O'Donnell. And everyone was silent. But when a comedian who was there is to roast people, that's why she was hired to be there, makes fun of Sarah Huckabee Sanders then that's an outrage. Either it's an outrage all the time or it's an outrage none of the time.

KURTZ: Right. It's selective moral outrage.


KURTZ: And I have the impression...


KURTZ: It kind of drives you crazy.

TIMPF: It drives me absolutely nuts to see this, because it's not consistent. I do think that Michelle Wolf's jokes are mean. And I think goes without standing, but she is also comedian and not the President. And I think that the President generally should be held to a little bit higher of a standard than a random comedian.

And people who have had problems with the way she treated Sarah Huckabee Sanders should have some problems with that way President Trump has treated women in the past.


TIMPF: The only difference is the partisan difference.

KURTZ: Well, I think it's fair to direct some outrage at the White House Correspondents Association which hired Michelle Wolf, knowing full well had history of crudeness and she was very anti-Trump. Hasn't apologized and now you have you know CBS and the Hill and others saying we're not coming to this in the future unless there are major reforms.

And doesn't it play into the President's hands by showing the media to be the symbol of that dinner now and it looks to be like a whole lot of media bias, liberal bias.

TIMPF: Ironically enough, I do think that President Trump actually came out of this looking like a nice guy. Sarah Huckabee Sanders came out looking very nice and like a victim. And even some people on the left said who came out to say this was inappropriate. But the White House Correspondents Dinner, I completely, knew what they were getting into when they hired Michelle Wolf. So for them to disavow her after the fact, that's kind of a joke to me.

KURTZ: Do you see the same sort of selective outrage and the commentary about, for example, imagine if Barack Obama were under a Special Counsel investigation and accused of having his lawyer pay money to a porn star, would we see conservatives and liberals switching sort of sides and some of the outrage that they've -- were in defense of the President that they have expressed.

TIMPF: We know for a fact they would switch sides because we saw that with Bill Clinton. Back then, Democrats were saying OK, he just lied but it was sex. It didn't hurt anybody. And everyone on the right was saying this is an outrage. The President's immoral. And now we are seeing the exact same talking points on each side, except they are just flipped.

KURTZ: Yeah. And (Inaudible) it's obviously a little bit different because Clinton had sex while he was President. All right, so "Saturday Night Live" last night does this Stormy Daniels skit and did not use an actress. Let's take a brief look.


ALEC BALDWIN AS DONALD TRUMP: Come on, Stormy. Stop making such a big deal about this. Everyone knows it's just an act.

STORMY DANIELS, ADULT FILM STAR: I work in adult films. We are not really known for our acting.


KURTZ: So, Kat, does SNL putting on Stormy Daniels herself kind of remove any last pretense that this program is not (Inaudible) anti-Trump and it's just about comedy.

TIMPF: Yeah, absolutely. It's very, very anti-Trump. And it's not as funny because of it, because we already know where all the jokes are going to be going. We don't watch a sketch and see Alec Baldwin and say, oh, I wonder what the punch line is going to be here. The punch line is going to be, oh, the President is an idiot. The President is a liar.

And the bottom line is the people who are watching it and enjoy it, they are going to President Trump no matter what. But the people who support him, they don't care about Stormy Daniels. They don't care about any of this so it's not like they're changing any minds with any of these sketches.

KURTZ: Right. It's not Alec Baldwin hasn't made it clear that as a person, he detests President Trump.


TIMPF: You can tell by the way he acts, yeah.

KURTZ: Yeah. I wouldn't have any problem with the Stormy actress, but Stormy Daniels herself, really?


TIMPF: Had enough Stormy Daniels.

KURTZ: I think our viewers might agree with you. Great to see you, thanks very much.

TIMPF: Thank you.

KURTZ: Now the U.N. marked World Press Freedom Day with an ad, which ran on MSNBC, urging people to consume lots of media. Don't just watch MSNBC, it says. Read the Guardian. Read the Atlantic. Watch CNN. Read the Wall Street Journal and so on. Twenty five news outlets in all, but America's biggest cable news network outlet somehow didn't make the cut. Does the United Nations have something against Fox News? Still to come, is it fair to attack Sarah Huckabee Sanders for wrong answers when she's not given the right information. We'll drill down on that in just a moment.


KURTZ: Sarah Huckabee Sanders got pounded in the White House Briefing Room after Rudy Giuliani acknowledged the President's reimbursement of that hush money payment on what did she know and when did she know it.


FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, DAILYMAIL.COM: When did you specifically know that the President repaid Mr. Cohen for the $130,000, you personally.

SANDERS: The first awareness I had was during the interview last night.


KURTZ: Joining us now, Francesca Chambers, White House Correspondent for So in asking that question, were you trying to establish that Sarah Sanders was out of the loop, or that she was providing reporters with misleading information.

CHAMBERS: I was trying to find out whether or not she had been in the loop. Prior to asking that question, I had been told that White House officials were surprised by Rudy Giuliani's comments. But it wasn't clear to that point whether Sarah Sanders was one of them.

So I wanted to know what she knew and when she knew it. And she directly said at that point that she did not know about that payment until Rudy Giuliani's interview, which tells you a lot at this point about the communications strategy that's taking place inside the White House on this issue.

KURTZ: Right. Now you can certainly say the White House undercut her by sending her out to answer these questions earlier without giving her the full story. But the reaction in some of the press, I mean CNN Analyst David Chalian said after that briefing, Sarah Sanders made it so painfully clear that she has lost credibility with the American people, with the reporters in that room. Do you agree with that?

CHAMBERS: Well, it's actually not unique to this presidency for White House press secretaries to not be in the loop on some of these things, because it makes it a lot easier for them to go out there and say, well, I haven't spoken to the President about that matter. So they don't have to go out there and say some things that are not truthful.

They can say well, I haven't about this matter because they haven't spoken. I can't tell you how many times in the Obama administration Josh Earnest said that to us.

KURTZ: Yeah. And you know I mean (Inaudible) struggled with this during the Clinton scandals. I read about this in a book, Spin Cycle. He wanted to be out of the loop. He wanted to defer questions to lawyers because he wanted to preserve his own credibility and not become a witness to the investigation. But in this case, I see a lot of commentators attacking Sarah Huckabee Sanders as a liar, as if she knew she was providing false information. How does that strike you?

CHAMBERS: Well, she said in that briefing that she was giving the best information she had at the time. And again, in that interaction, she admitted that she had been 100 percent out of the loop. But you're talking about the strategy here. And the White House has tried very hard to keep the President's personal matters away from what they see as White House matters.

She -- we call her President Trump's but she is the White House spokeswoman, and she is there to talk about the White House. At least, that's how they are personally delineating it. So she was not involved in that conversation with the President's personal attorney, and was there for also clearly left out of the strategy about what he was going to say on the television.

KURTZ: Right. And you have (Inaudible) piling on, and (Inaudible) on CNN saying she should resign. So if we establish that she didn't know and therefore, it's probably unfair to call her a liar, but does it also make her less effective standing behind the podium because there are things she has just not been told?

CHAMBERS: I think it's going to be difficult for anyone who is behind that podium in this administration, because sometimes the President tweets things that directly contradict things they said, or again in this case, he's strategizing with his personal attorney and she is not in the loop on that conversation, because part of the reason they don't want her involved in that conversation.

But another point I want to make is that when Sean Spicer was in the chair, everyone wanted to get Sean Spicer out and they wanted Sarah in the chair. Now they want Sarah out. Who would even replace Sarah at this point, potentially (Inaudible), who knows?


KURTZ: All right. We'll leave that for another time. Francesca Chambers, thanks for joining us. And that is it for this edition of MediaBuzz. I am Howard Kurtz. Glad you are watching. Let's continue the conversation on Twitter @howardkurtz. Hope you like our Facebook page, check it out. Give us a like. I post a lot of my daily columns there, original videos, respond to you.

I mentioned earlier the Reince Priebus interview on our home page. We do some of these live extras. We'll see you back next Sunday with the latest buzz.

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