This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," June 17, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, ladies and gentlemen, your White House press corps.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: That is really a disgrace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): Mr. President --
TRUMP: And yet if you go --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: President Trump besieged by questions on the White House lawn after a "Fox & Friends" interview. He says he's been exonerated by the I.G. report on James Comey. But the media reject that claim as investigators find Comey was insubordinate in breaking the rules during the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe in a devastating text from a rogue FBI agent saying, quote, we'll stop Donald Trump's election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: James Comey launched the greatest October surprise in the history of American politics and it ripped to shreds Hillary Clinton's campaign.
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: The bias and there was a lot of it was against Donald Trump and his campaign, and there is an enormous amount of that on display in this report.
DON LEMON, CNN: So here is the irony. The action of the so-called deep state is unfounded conspiracy against the president that is touted by the White House in a number of different ways actually seems to have worked in favor of the president.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: There really was a scheme to protect Hillary Rodham Clinton from being indicted and smear and slander then candidate and president-elect Donald Trump and now president at all costs.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: But the I.G. report also claims Comey wasn't influenced by political bias. We will look at the spin war. Trump rips the coverage of the Singapore summit and says so-called fake news is our country's biggest enemy. Yes, he said that after meeting with Kim Jong-un as liberal commentators denigrate his diplomacy.
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CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: These are awful people and he wants to become best friends with them.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN: I found it rambling. I found it at times incoherent. I found it giving away more than having got.
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC: We have never seen a more naive and trusting American president in a summit meeting with a foreign leader of any country in history.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS: The elites on the left want this president to fail to hell with nuclear war. We have to have nuclear war to get Trump to fail. I think half of America are OK with that. I'm not exaggerating.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: Does the coverage betray a double standard or are journalists just underscoring the vagueness of the agreement with North Korea? President punches back at Robert De Niro who dropped the F-bomb at him at the Tony Awards. Is there any limit to Hollywood hatred for Donald Trump? Plus, my debate with actor and activist Rob Reiner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: After the election, you called the outcome the greatest attack on this democracy since 1941.
ROB REINER, ACTOR AND ACTIVIST: I think I not only agree with that but I would go even further.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: About his angry rhetoric towards the president and his criticism of the press especially Fox News. I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "Media Buzz."
The Justice Department's inspector general ripped James Comey in that report, finding that the former FBI chief broke all kinds of rules in the Hillary Clinton investigation but not motivated by political bias. And the report uncovered new texts between those two rogue FBI agents having an affair, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. Page says Trump is not ever going to become president, right? Right? Strzok: No, no he won't. We'll stop it.
President (INAUDIBLE) Friday first with Fox's Steve Doocy and then when surrounded by a scrum of shouting reporters.
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TRUMP: You go into the FBI and take a poll of the real FBI, not the scum on top, not Comey and that group of people who were total thieves.
STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS: What you have seen so far, should James Comey be locked up?
TRUMP: Well, look, I would never want to get involved in that. Certainly they just seem like very criminal acts to me. I think that the report yesterday, maybe more importantly than anything, it totally exonerates me. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage: Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist and a Fox News contributor; Sara Fischer, a media reporter at Axios; and Marie Harf, Fox News analyst and former spokeswoman for the Obama administration.
Mollie, that scrum, the press in the White House looked like an out of control kindergarten that needed a time out. But as most of the press has acknowledged, this inspector general report, put a serious stain on Jim Comey's reputation. At the same time, the press saying the president was wrong when he said he was totally vindicated because the report didn't examine whether there was collusion or obstruction with Russia.
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: This is a really good time for people to actually read the report before they talk about it. And it is true that this was focused really on the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe although there was a lot because the same people covered the Hillary Clinton e-mail are -- the same people investigated the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe as investigated the Donald Trump probe.
There is a ton of overlap. And throughout this report, you have people openly talking about just breathtaking bias that they have in favor of Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump and pledging, promising that they will prevent him from getting elected. At the same time, they are ramping up this investigation of him.
So that is exonerating of Donald Trump. It is not fully an exoneration but it one of his main arguments is that the Department of Justice and FBI have had widespread problems with the decision making bias and other problems that affect the investigation.
KURTZ: At the same time, Marie, Jim Comey was a media hero at least until his book tour. And so I think pro-Hillary commentators must be happy that the I.G. slapped him down and revealed that he sat on the last minute charges, the Anthony Weiner laptop and e-mails for more than a month before popping it in the final days of the election.
MARIE HARF, FOX NEWS RADIO: Right.
KURTZ: So, your reaction to that.
HARF: I think there is something for everyone in this I.G. report. Mollie is right. People should read it. A bunch of of these are true. These FBI officials do have text messages that look terrible. They give the impression of bias. The I.G. report also found no evidence that those political leanings impacted the investigation.
Jim Comey I think comes across very badly as a Democrat. Reading what he did which did hurt Hillary Clinton politically, even if that wasn't his intention, reading his sanctimonious decision making processes is very hard for me.
So I think sort of how you look at the I.G. report for the opinion commentator is based on where you sit politically in many ways but the president said a number of things about the report that are not accurate and it's on the media to call those falsehoods out when he does that.
KURTZ: And speaking of the media, they also have a cameo (ph) in this report, Sara, the I.G. said, I couldn't even dig into all the leaks because there are so many of them. Dozens of FBI staffers having contact with journalists including they flout ethic rules, this is according to report, by accepting sports tickets from journalists, by playing golf with journalists, accepting meals and drinks and going to private social events.
SARA FISCHER, AXIOS: It's incredibly contentious. If you're at the FBI, you are obviously not supposed to be doing those things. What does it mean for the media? Are they supposed to be funding the sport events and funding meals? I mean, every --
KURTZ: Short answer is no, I'm not. I mean, it almost seems like something called a bribery.
FISCHER: I mean, the media, you are given some budget to take out sources. Maybe a coffee or a lunch. But it is unprecedented to hear about some of these events. Golfing, sporting outings. I mean, I am a reporter, I have never taken a source out golfing.
KURTZ: Right. It is --
HARF: (INAUDIBLE) taking golf.
HEMINGWAY: The Justice Department recently went after a congressional aide and a reporter because they care enough about leaks apparently over there, when they have their own huge problem right underneath their nose. And they are not doing anything about it.
HEMINGWAY: That's one of the things the I.G. said. He said it's such a big problem. Nobody knows what to do. You know what? They should be doing that well before they grab the reporter and congressional aide.
KURTZ: It's a former Senate intel agent who has been indicted and the reporter who now works for The New York Times. So, this is all unfolding as Paul Manafort was taken to jail, waiting trial because of witness tampering. But let's come back to these incriminating texts with Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
We've seen lots of really biased texts before. We hadn't seen this one. I guess it was somehow held back. But I think it has made a lot of headlines because it's just so over the top whether or not they were actually able to carry that out. These people hated Donald Trump.
HEMINGWAY: Yeah. First of all, I do want to make one point that the I.G. specifically said that they couldn't determine that waiting to handle out Weiner laptop was a decision free from bias to basically strongly suggests that Peter Strzok was so biased that he made a bad decision on trying to pretend that those e-mails haven't been found on Weiner' laptop and instead focusing on the Russian investigation.
It is also true that there weren't -- these weren't just about Peter Strzok and Lisa Page' texting their extreme bias. There were five different people involved in this probe that were texting really extreme things, insults against people who voted for Trump, against Trump.
The attorney who was actually asking Hillary Clinton questions during that interview she had said, I am with her when he did that. So again, it's not necessarily -- the I.G. is careful to say, there is not hard evidence, but he said I am with her, therefore I'm letting her get off. But I think reasonable people can say this level of bias is very problematic for two very politically sensitive investigations.
KURTZ: It is not a surprise, Marie, that journalists and pundits are cherry picking the evidence because as you say, there is something here for all sides. I think the only common denominator is that Jim Comey had very flawed decision making and was doing things like holding press conferences about none that means that he shouldn't be doing it.
KURTZ: So that enables each side to say well, you know, here is evidence that supports our contention.
HARF: Right. Right, this is the system we live in right now in terms of partisanship. What Jim Comey did was end up hurting Hillary in July and in October even if that wasn't his intention.
KURTZ: Right. The other side would say he didn't hurt Hillary because he didn't bring charges against her although he did hold the press conference.
HARF: Right. And trash her which the I.G. says was not good practice. What's interesting is law enforcement and the FBI have historically been much more conservative. They are nonpartisan but they traditionally been much more conservative if not Republican leaning. So yes, these messages look terrible. But we have to rely on the I.G.'s determination that they did not find any horrid evidence that this bias impacted the investigation.
HEMINGWAY: I just pointed out there was an example where they said that they did believe that bias had affected that decision. And overall --
HARF: No, they did not see that they believe bias impacted it. They cannot determine why they waited so long to look at Anthony Weiner laptop which again had the effect of hurting Hillary.
KURTZ: We are still talking about the Anthony Weiner laptop. One more point on this, Sara, and that is minutes after this report was made public, New York Times published online an op-ed by James Comey that was obviously ready to go. It strikes me as pretty close to collusion?
FISCHER: If you take a look at this, it was really minutes after. There were social cards ready on Twitter with quotes from James Comey. So it gives the appearance that The New York Times was sort of willing to take James Comey's op-ed and publicize it, et cetera.
You had people on the right including Sean Spicer asking, would they have done this for a Republican? And also takes into consideration, what is James Comey's media strategy here? I mean, he couldn't just put out a statement that goes to The New York Times with an op-ed, a paper that is so intertwined with a lot of this investigation.
KURTZ: And his own leaks earlier.
FISCHER: That's right. It's a little bit of a question.
KURTZ: I want to get to this and that is, you know, we are going to talk on next segment more about this. So, the president comes back from North Korea and he puts up this tweet, really harsh words for the media. Let's put it on the screen.
"So funny to watch the fake news especially NBC and CNN. They are fighting hard to downplay the deal with North Korea. Five hundred days ago, they would have begged for this deal. Looked like war would break out. Our country's biggest enemy is the fake news so easily promulgated by fools."
So, when he says biggest enemy, I have a problem with that. I think it's beneath the president. It's fine for him to attack when he thinks it's unfair coverage. I like to get your weighing on this.
HEMINGWAY: To be clear, he does say that fake news is an enemy. And I think everyone on left and right agree that fake news is a problem. And just speaking --
KURTZ: (INAUDIBLE) for major news organizations.
HEMINGWAY: But we do need to make sure that we are telling accurate news. We will talk about North Korea in a minute. But even on this I.G. report, we had two major story lines that have been pushed for much of the last year or more. One, that it was wrong to fire James Comey and there was criticism of Rod Rosenstein for recommending that.
This I.G. report absolutely confirms everything he said about Rod Rosenstein's bad decision making and failure to adhere to policy, his usurpation of authority and the like. We've also been told a lot of news about how you're not allowed to criticize the FBI, that they are beyond reproach.
And I am sorry but this report shows that they are not beyond reproach and that criticizing the FBI and caring about what they are doing is something that the media should be doing more of, not less.
KURTZ: Biggest enemy? All right, bigger than Kim Jong-un? Bigger than Vladimir Putin?
HARF: No. The president uses the term fake news as you said, Howie, to go after media organizations to report stories he doesn't like. There is a problem with fake news that is fake. That is not what he is talking about.
And to link the North Korea summit and his flowery talk about how great Kim jong-un is, calling the American press the greatest enemy in our country, I think that should disturb everyone on the right, on the left, and the center. It may be loose talk on Twitter but has consequences. We have seen --
KURTZ: I want to get Sara in. I see a distinction between fake news and biggest enemy. Your thoughts.
FISCHER: I mean, absolutely there is very big distinction between fake news and biggest enemy. I think you just have to look at this as part of Trump's playbook. He knows that pinning the media as part of the establishment helps drive that populist movement that got him elected. It is a tactic that he is going to use time and time again.
If he can diminish the fake news mainstream' media, he can get the American people on his side. That is just part of the way he operates.
KURTZ: A fairly successful tactic for him. Let me get a break here. When we come back, media coverage of the much-awaited North Korea summit has been strikingly negative. How much of that is personal? And later, Rob Reiner on why he is slamming the media especially Fox for their coverage of President Trump.
KURTZ: There is absolutely no question that Kim Jong-un is a brutal ruler. President Trump's detractors in the media were quick to challenge the praise he heaped on the dictator.
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TRUMP: Kim is a very talented man. He loves his country very much.
He's got a very good personality. He's funny. He's very, very smart. He's a great negotiator.
Really, he has got a great personality. He is a funny guy. He is a very smart guy. He is a great negotiator. He loves his people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Several journalists pressing the president about dealing with such a murderous tyrant including Bret Baier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: You know you call people sometimes killers. He is a killer. I mean, he is clearly executing people.
TRUMP: He's a tough guy.
BAIER: But he's still has done some really bad things.
TRUMP: Yeah, but so have a lot of other people done some really bad things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Many pundits especially on the left seemed upset or outraged that President Trump meet with this guy given his human rights record.
HEMINGWAY: Yeah, it is upsetting to hear someone who is so bad be praised by the president and that is something that is very worthy of coverage.
KURTZ: Who knew he was so funny?
HEMINGWAY: But it is worth keeping at all in context too. So we had a president who was absolutely bashing Kim a year ago when he was in Seoul. Gave that speech that really took him down a notch. Flattery is a component of diplomacy. It's also a component when dealing with something as important as nuclear disarmament.
I think the president thinks that it is more important to have nuclear disarmament even if that requires some flattery of a dictator than to make this the time when we talk about human rights violation.
KURTZ: And on that point, Marie, I mean, you worked in the Obama administration. The press was largely supportive when President Obama met with Raul Castro to normalize relationship with Cuba, major human rights violator. So this kind of screams double standard.
HARF: Well, what's been interesting is Republican commentators and the press were very critical of our administration for not, for example, raising human rights with the Iranians during the Iran nuclear negotiation. Some of those same commentators now are not saying much of anything about Donald Trump.
KURTZ: Sounds like you're saying there is hypocrisy on both sides.
HARF: Isn't that shocking, Howie?
KURTZ: Also on your side.
HARF: Well, what's interesting is I think that Donald Trump's language -- Mollie is right. His language was so extreme little rocket man, fire and fury. Flattery can be part of diplomacy. But it was so striking, especially coming out of the G7 with our allies, where the president was so critical with someone like Justin Trudeau.
KURTZ: Yeah, Justin Trudeau.
HARF: And then, you know, very nice to Kim Jong-un.
KURTZ: Sara, aren't there lots of legitimate criticism being made by the press such as, the joint statement was kind of vague, including I think about verification or inspection or deadline, all to be negotiated, the president didn't get much of a turn for suspending military exercises in South Korea. Those are not anti-Trump. I mean, those are the questions that journalists should ask.
FISCHER: They are completely without question. Mollie makes a good point that sometimes flattery can be good for diplomacy. I think the question that journalists are asking is where is the diplomacy? If you take a look at the way that the --
KURTZ: So having a summit meeting that no other American president has ever talked to is diplomatic?
FISCHER: It is diplomatic. But if you take a look at the agreement that is coming out, the statement that is coming out of it, some parts can be a little bit confusing. It says that they are going to denuclearize the same rate as the United States is denuclearizing. That was not the point of this. It was to get North Korea to denuclearize. So, there is a little bit of confusion.
KURTZ: Even the president said it was the first step. We will have to see what happens. You know, some of criticism comes from the right, Mollie. Blogger Erick Erickson wrote that Trump antagonized the G7 then made kissy face with a man who routinely murders his own people. Had Barack Obama done that, says Erickson, the Republicans would be demanding his impeachment.
HEMINGWAY: And there is truth to that. And I think that one of the things that is interesting that is happening on the right is the separation between sort of more militaristic conservative interventionist type and people who seem to be tired of that type of approach to foreign policy.
You did see a lot of the same people who criticize Barack Obama meeting with Castro, criticizing the way that Trump was with Kim. There is this other stream that doesn't get a lot of coverage in the media which is a more realist approach to foreign policy that does seek to have a different approach. I just want to say one thing about the media's criticism of the praise of Kim.
It would be much easier to believe that they were genuine about this if they hadn't spent that entire Olympics praising the sister of Kim and talking about how happy (ph) she was. And I think that people have a hard time believing or taking them seriously when they were doing that and then a few months later criticizing Trump.
KURTZ: Marie, some of the criticism to the president was just personal like Trump was incoherent, Trump was naive, Trump was hoodwinked, says New Times Nicholas Kristof. And it just reminds me of how visceral some of the coverage is about this president.
HARF: We have to separate out commentators. Nicholas Kristof --
KURTZ: Yeah, sure.
HARF: -- opinion comments.
HARF: And I think the media needs to be careful when they are criticizing diplomacy because you can criticize the statement for being vague, short on specifics. I think we need to be careful not to get into personal attacks.
But Donald Trump makes so much of his attacks and his commentary about everything very personal. So we are living in this age now where his language feels so personal. We in the media need to make sure we are focusing on substance. KURTZ: But if that is the case, Sara --
HARF: And personality does matter too in diplomacy, Howie.
KURTZ: OK. If that is the case, do the media fall into the trap of using extreme terms to match what they see as the president's harsh rhetoric?
FISCHER: Sometimes they might and that's part of the problem here. We need to make sure that -- as Marie was saying -- as part of the media, you can distill (ph) the two. But I think at the end of the day, we did see a lot of personal attacks from the way that the president was handling this diplomacy from the media.
KURTZ: Right. One more thing that just sort of drove me crazy. We are going to play a soundbite in which the president had a light moment in which he was talking about Kim Jong-un. Let's roll it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I mean, he is the strong head. Don't let anyone think anything different. He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: OK. That was a joke. And yet it became the lead anecdote in The Washington Post, in Politico. The president gets no room for humor or you can say, well, he was serious. He was not serious. I have seen him for a long time. He says a lot of controversial things. You don't have to pick out the jokes. Marie Harf, Sara Fischer, Mollie Hemingway, thanks very much.
Ahead, the media have a new four-letter word for Donald Trump's Republican Party. Many are calling it a cult. Really? But up next, a beating war (ph) shaping up for Fox's entertainment properties and an unfair media attack on Kimberly Guilfoyle.
KURTZ: What began a gossip column has now been confirmed. Kimberly Guilfoyle, co-host of "The Five," is dating Donald Trump, Jr. The Daily Mail ran pictures of the couple. But a friend of the president's son who has been separated from his wife for more than nine months, says they haven't hidden the relationship.
Kimberly is a commentator, a long-time friend of the Trump family, a vocal supporter of the president, who is free to date whoever she wants. It might have been better in retrospect if she has mentioned the relationship on the air. But she plans to disclose it if there is any specific discussion involving Donald Jr.
What is absurd is for New York Daily News columnist Linda Stasi in a mean-spirited piece that erroneously describes Guilfoyle as a reporter to demand she be fired. Staci sort of apologized for writing that Guilfoyle would be better off picking grapes, saying she didn't know Kimberly is part Puerto Rican.
Donald Trump Jr. questioned why Daily News editor approved the piece, tweeting, I guess hypocrisy, sexism and racist rhetoric are alive and well there. And even his estranged wife, Vanessa, tweeted, the lengths people will go to to attack a woman simply because she is dating Don.
The era of mega-merger is now a planus (ph). The deal that Disney had to buy the entertainment properties of 21st Century Fox is now being challenged by Comcast which owns NBC and has made an all-cash bid that is 19 percent higher than the Disney offer. This was the immediate outcome of a federal judge approving despite President Trump's personal opposition, AT&T's $85 billion takeover of Time Warner, whose networks include HBO and CNN.
Maybe it is just a coincidence, that word leaked to Vanity Fair that CNN president Jeff Zucker has a contract that runs through 2020. But even if AT&T leaves CNN alone, a company that controls the pipes that carry television and the web as does Comcast is getting deeper to controlling content which could mean higher prices and fewer voices for consumers.
Ahead on "Media Buzz," I asked actor and director Rob Reiner why when it comes to President Trump, he is throwing out word like treason. But first, Robert De Niro drops the F-bomb on the Trump and the press start using the C word against the president, saying he is leading a cult.
KURTZ: The media have a new, eye-catching term for the Republican Party under Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: (Inaudible) it has devolved into a cult.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The primary voters in the Republican Party have devolved into a Trumpist cult.
MATTHEWS: The Republican Party becoming more like a cult than a political party. Well, that's hard news for the Republicans. You're in a cult. This is Jonestown?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump is accused of leading a cult.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) to believe that something like CNN is more a threat than North Korea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: (Inaudible) Senator Bob Corker who said this could reporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's almost becoming a cultish thing. It's not a good place for any party to end up with a cult-like situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Except that some pundits were using the word way before that. Joining us now Emily Jashinsky, Commentary Writer for the Washington Examiner, and in New York Cathy Areu, Publisher of Catalina Magazine and a former Washington Post Magazine Editor, Emily, the new four letter C word, many in the media adopting this label that the Republican Party is in fact some kind of Trumpian cult. What does that tell you about the journalistic mindset?
EMILY JASHINSKY, WASHINGTON EXAMINER, COMMENTARY WRITER: Well, I think there is some glee that Bob Corker gave them the language, that this language is out there and it exists. And I think that there is a need for some perspective. Do I believe there is a little bit too much deference to the President? Absolutely, but a lot of this started with the Mark Stanford results in the election. He got 46 percent of the vote in the state that President Trump is pretty popular in the Republican primary.
So I think it's too early say that there is some sort of cult around Donald Trump. I think it's short-sighted. And so I think it's interesting that the media is so excited to latch on to this.
KURTZ: And Cathy, the Washington Post op-ed (Inaudible) but even well before Corker, I did a little Google search. The New York Times editorial last week, the cult of Trump, Axios in February, the cult of Trump, National Journal last year, Trump's cult overwhelms the GOP, your thoughts on that word.
CATHY AREU, CATALINA MAGAZINE: Yeah. I guess it's hard with a kick in the egg here. So I guess the press did it first, but the GOP has jumped on it so now everyone's kind of owning this word. And Trump does have followers as if it were a cult. But journalists -- right-leaning journalists, George Will was talking to Bill Maher about this and he was describing it as maybe not so much as a cult as a culture of fear.
So it's interesting that now journalists have taken the word cult and now they are dissecting it and analyzing it and take it to the next level.
AREU: Is it really a cult? Now what is it? So we might have a brand new word. We are moving away to the c-word and moving to another word. So I think journalists are taking it to the next level.
KURTZ: Yeah. You know, Emily, I don't have any problem with the underlying analysis that most in the GOP now follow this President, either because they agree with him or because they fear him or fear of losing their jobs. So they flip flop on certain you know hot button issues. But when you think about this word cult, I mean it suggests you know it's spooky.
KURTZ: It's a cult of people who are in it must be mindless and delusional, and yet, media (Inaudible) Trump (Inaudible) about in relation to Trump.
JASHINSKY: That's exactly -- it's what it implies about the Republicans. And what's so interesting about this is this is a President who is actually really popular with Republican voters. And they have to answer the politicians in this alleged cult have to answer to Republican voters. So just logically of course, again I think there is too much deference sometimes. But it makes sense. And to keep that perspective is I think the media is more excited to use this (Inaudible) towards Republican politicians into actually look at what's going on.
KURTZ: OK. I just think you know turning to black magic is not a good look. So let me play this for you, Cathy. I want to talk about the fallout from Robert Deniro last weekend, saying this at the Tony Awards.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT DENIRO, ACTOR: I am going to say one thing (Inaudible) Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: So it's almost like he's a caricature of a Hollywood liberal. He just comes out with this crude thing to say. No sophisticated analysis. Is this because the award shows have become such routine for Trump bashing that you have to be more and more profane in order to just get some attention?
AREU: Well, he used to be known, Deniro was so quiet that you would call him shy. He was not like this before. And it seems like with the Trump administration, with this new Presidency, he has really come out of his shell. And this is the latest.
KURTZ: I will stop you right there. I will stop you right there. This actor, renowned actor goes on national television and uses the F word against the President of the United States and you're saying he's come out of his shell?
AREU: (Inaudible) I think cussing on TV like that is a little extreme. But then the President writes and says -- I think he said was it dumb?
KURTZ: Let me tell you what he said. The President tweeted that Deniro is a very low IQ individual.
KURTZ: -- received too many shots to the head by real boxers in movies. So let me turn to you, Emily.
KURTZ: CBS bleeped the word. But everyone knew what he was saying, and everybody could hear it online. And what I find equally disturbing was that he gets a standing ovation.
JASHINSKY: Well, that's -- so I didn't (Inaudible) right. And I thought of course. This is one of our award shows now. It is Hollywood exhibiting the outrage about Trump, and they're just trying to literally trump each other with the award show. But when I read that there was standing ovation (Inaudible), I was actually really surprised that they were able to muster that amount of enthusiasm, knowing what this is going to look like to the rest of the country.
KURTZ: All right. Let me get to this other incident in the White House press room. Of course, there has been a big debate about immigration and separating children from families, and the press has been up in arms about that. So Brian (Inaudible) in the White House press room just interrupts. He's not even called on delivers this rant to Sarah Sanders. He is local newspaper editor, Playboy columnist, and CNN contributor. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't you have any empathy for what these children are going through.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brian, settle down. I'm trying to be serious (Inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know you want to get some more TV time (Inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have nothing. They come to the border with nothing (Inaudible). You're a parent of young children. Don't you have any empathy for what they go through?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: CNN, Emily, later put its contributor on the air and said boy, you were passionate about that.
JASHINSKY: Passionate. (Inaudible) and boring performance, you know he wanted the attention more than he wanted the answer. And while I think Sarah Sanders talks about her kids a lot, sometimes in a political context. So I think the question at heart of what he was trying to do is fair, but this was performed. It as theater and much less interested in substance than attention for Brian Karem.
KURTZ: And Cathy, you know Brian Karem later said well, I was hearing BS, and I'm only human to explain this outburst. If you want to be an advocate in this issue, be my guest. But if you're going to in the press room as an accredited journalist, I'm going to you a question, a real question.
AREU: Right, right. And I completely agree. I've been in that room. I am (Inaudible). When you're a journalist -- I mean rule number one of journalism is don't put yourself into the story. You are there to collect facts and then give the facts to your audience, your reader, your viewer. So he broke every rule of journalism by making it about him self, making it personal about the press secretary. Sarah Sanders was very professional. So he did not respect.
KURTZ: All right, a rare moment of agreement. Cathy Areu, Emily Jashinsky, thanks for a great conversation. Coming up, I go toe to toe with Rob Reiner on his harsh Hollywood (Inaudible) against President Trump and his unhappiness with the media and that includes Fox.
KURTZ: Rob Reiner is an unabashed Hollywood liberal and actor and activist, who uses harsh rhetoric about Donald Trump and has to (Inaudible) of the coverage of the President. We sat down here in Washington to talk about that and the new film he directs and stars in, Shock and Awe, about the media's failures, except for one news outlet in the build up to the Iraq war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Rob Reiner, welcome.
ROB REINER, ACTOR AND DIRECTOR: Thanks for having me.
KURTZ: You're a fierce critic of President Trump (Inaudible). I get it. But Robert Deniro goes on the Tony Award stage and says F Trump and gets a standing ovation. Can you see how that would be offensive to the 45 percent of the country that supports this President?
REINER: Yes, and I can also see how it's offensive to some of the people who don't support the President. You know listen. Everybody is entitled to you know free speech. They can say whatever they want. But I don't think that is particularly helpful for those of us who don't want to see Trump in office and don't want to see him continue to be in office.
KURTZ: Let me ask you about some of your own words. You tweeted the other day when an American President attacks our closest allies and embraces enemy a hostile enemy powers you say he's in a conspiracy to commit treason, now so because you disagree with Trump's foreign policy, which you have every right to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REINER: I don't say he is. I said one can only conclude. And there is a big difference.
KURTZ: That's a fine distinction.
REINER: It is a fine distinction. But I don't know whether or not he committed treason. That will be something that we either discover or don't discover as Mueller's investigation, which unfortunately the house and senate investigations are not moving along. So we'll have to see what happens.
KURTZ: you don't see that as an overly inflammatory word to use about a President?
REINER: It is a very inflammatory word. But if it turns out to be -- let's put it this way.
REINER: But let's put it this way. From what I see right now, there is a lot of blanks that need to be filled in for sure.
KURTZ: After the election, you called the outcome the greatest attack on this democracy since 1941. I was kind of stunned by that because you are comparing the lawful election of a candidate who won the Electoral College to the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. Now that you're older and wiser, was that going a little too far?
REINER: No, actually I feel a little bit more -- I think -- not only agree with that, but I would go even further, because we are not talking about -- when we start looking at what happened to America, people have to really understand this. And this is one of the most of difficult parts of understanding the Russians.
KURTZ: Rob, we had an election.
REINER: No, I understand that.
KURTZ: You are comparing it to 2,000 Americans being killed at Pearl Harbor.
REINER: I am not talking about the election that we had and electing Donald Trump. I'm not talking about. What I am talking about it's really important to understand this, because this is the key to what's here. We are talking about a foreign enemy power influencing an election. In the world of cyber warfare, it is insidious. And we don't necessarily feel it.
We do know the capacity. We are learning the capacity, not just from a disinformation campaign or active measures, which the Soviets and the Russians now have been doing it forever.
KURTZ: Just to clarify, you're comments are aimed more at Russia and the meddling.
KURTZ: The undeniable meddling in the election. All right, I'm glad we clarified this.
KURTZ: Let's talk about the press for a moment. You recently (Inaudible) Fox News with Alex Jones and some others in what you call it state-run media.
KURTZ: All right. So it's actually state-run media that backs up the President. I presume you know that Fox has a thriving news division with Chris Wallace and Bret Baier.
KURTZ: With a whole bunch of reporters.
KURTZ: So I think your label was too broad.
REINER: Well, I also tweeted out about Shepard Smith, and by the way, I have met Shepard Smith. He's a great guy and he is reporting the news. There is no question about it. He is telling the truth, and so does Chris Wallace. And you know I haven't seen as much of Bret Baier, but I believe he probably is too.
REINER: And I do know there is a difference between a news reporting and opinion and editorial and all of that. But what I am saying is the editorial part of Fox News which is, you know Hannity, and Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham.
REINER: Those shows are not just -- they are really in support of Trump. And that is -- Fox News has a good rating, has a very strong rating. So there is a chunk of media that is verbally and overtly in support of Donald Trump. That's just true.
KURTZ: Well, there was a chunk of media that was overtly in support of Barack Obama, including places like MSNBC. But let's turn to the press conduct in the run-up to the Iraq war, which is the topic of Shock and Awe. It's a story I covered intensively.
KURTZ: You are playing John Wolcott. He was the Washington Bureau Chief (Inaudible), an old colleague of mine. In terms of name ID, would you concede that Tom Hanks had an easier time paying Bret Bradley and you playing John Wolcott?
REINER: Well, here's the funny thing about that. I wasn't supposed to play that part. That was -- Alec Baldwin was set to play that part. And we had been shooting for a week with Woody Harrelson and Tommy Lee Jones, and on the Saturday before he was supposed to shoot on Monday, he called and said he's not doing it.
KURTZ: He dropped out.
REINER: He dropped out. I said oh my god, what do I do? So my wife, Michelle who is one of the producers with me, she suggest that I play the part. And I thought oh my god, I don't know. I don't like directing and acting. And I then I realized I'm playing you know -- I said I am available so I will do it. And then she says to me the one bit of direction I got. Because I'm playing John Wolcott, she said try to be less Jewish. And I thought I don't know, I am from the Bronx. I will see what I can do.
KURTZ: All right.
KURTZ: That was a work in progress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: More of my conversation with Rob Reiner in a moment as we debate the media's sorry record during the run-up to the Iraq war.
KURTZ: More now with Rob Reiner as we turn to his new film about the press, the Bush administration, and Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: So you say the media weren't tough enough in the run-up to the Iraq war. They were not just tough enough. They were nonexistent.
KURTZ: There were some exceptions. There were stories that the Washington Post (Inaudible). In one scene, you playing Wolcott called the Philadelphia Inquirer and (Inaudible) and you complained they are not running your stories.
REINER: Right. And that was the case.
KURTZ: What was behind that?
REINER: Well, that actually happened. I mean Knight Ridder news service was supplied to a number of newspapers around the country, and we talk about it in the film, that they were represented by a lot of military bases that got there. And they you know -- (Inaudible) my character says we don't write for people who send other people's kids to war. We write for people whose kids get sent to war. And so we were concerned that ours -- the Knight Ridder stories were not getting out. And many of the Knight Ridder papers did not print.
KURTZ: They're not getting out because.
REINER: They didn't print them.
KURTZ: Yeah, but even in the broader media, were they not getting a lot of pickup because of the mindset in the mainstream media (Inaudible) Bob Woodward told me after the war that he was part of the group think, because obviously the Bush administration sold this war very hard.
REINER: Right, right. Two reasons, one is that we were swept up in patriotism, 9/11. And people just went with the group think. The other thing was the Bush administration, in a smart way and from their standpoint, they never responded to these articles. They gave them no oxygen. They didn't refute them. They didn't talk about them, so it never got any attention.
KURTZ: The underlying assumption, it was more than an assumption, the film was the Bush administration was lying about Iraq.
KURTZ: But that as opposed to cherry-picking intelligence as opposed to not being skeptical about the intelligence. But even John Wolcott says in an interview, to this day says he doesn't know that people are lying. That seems like a bit of a stretch on your part.
REINER: Well, we were saying that Cheney lied. We say Cheney lied at this one thing about the idea in general because he had -- he talked about a connection between Mohammad Atta, Iraqi intelligence which didn't exist. He talked about they were on the verge of getting a nuclear weapon. They talked about aluminum tubes.
KURTZ: -- that turned out to be untrue however terrible that is, is that necessarily the same as lying deliberately peddling falsehoods.
REINER: Yes. That's true. But if you do know that you've already made an assumption that you want to go to war and that you are crafting bits and pieces of intelligence in order to make that case and ignoring the vast amount of intelligence that says we're not sure about this. We don't have good intelligence because we haven't been inside Iraq with weapons inspectors in four years. I would argue that you're lying.
KURTZ: At the same time this President has gotten overwhelmingly negative coverage. He did during the campaign. Everybody acknowledges that. You should in fairness be also a part of messaging for fair and independent coverage.
REINER: He got a lot of negative coverage. There is no question about it. But I don't think in the -- during the primary season and even during the general, he got the kind of -- there is one thing to say negative coverage and one thing to say due diligence and scrutiny, real scrutiny. I don't think he got that.
KURTZ: You recently had a very civil debate with Anthony Scaramucci. Are you going to do some kind of an odd couple show?
REINER: Oh, god. Oh, my god. You know I didn't know, because I was going to go on (Inaudible) show, you know. And they said well, Scaramucci. I didn't know he was going to be there. Are we going to do a show like you know Crossfire?
REINER: You know Anthony (Inaudible) you know no, I don't think so.
KURTZ: I think you are giving it thumbs down.
REINER: Yeah, probably not.
KURTZ: Rob Reiner, thanks very much for.
REINER: Thanks for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Shock and Awe hit theaters next month and is available now on Direct TV. Well, that's it for this edition of Media Buzz. I am Howard Kurtz, Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there. Have a great day. I'm going to hang out with my girls later. We hope you'll like our Facebook page. Check it out. Give us a like. We post my daily columns and original videos there. And I'm sure you'll let me know what you think Twitter @Howardkurtz about any aspect of the show or the coverage of what's in the news.
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