This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," June 11, 2017. 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 over the James Comey testimony with some journalist saying he damaged President Trump and other saying he confirmed that the president did nothing illegal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN: The president brings in the FBI director and says please stop your investigation.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN: Right.
TOOBIN: If that is an obstruction of justice, I don't know what is.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS: Oh, what the president was doing was trying to sort of seduce him but seduction is not an impeachable offense, well perhaps in the '90s but it's not anymore.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: If you are a Republican, I think you have got specific things you can feel as if you can defend the president on, but atmospherically big picture, this is still a horrendous day for this president.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: And politically, I thought it was damaging to the president.
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC: Today was - really was, as it was predicted to be, the worst day of the Trump presidency and Donald Trump knows it.
GREG GUTFELD, FOX NEWS: The media and the left, they wanted Watergate, they got a water balloon because everything we found out about Trump, we already know.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: What standard should the press use in judging the president's conduct in the Russia investigation? The president heading back at a news conference...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No collusion, no obstruction. He's a leaker and frankly James Comey confirmed a lot of what I said and some of the things that he said just weren't true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: But the media hardly buying his claim of complete vindication, Comey also going after the New York Times.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JIM RISCH, R-IDAHO: That report by the New York Times was not true, is that a first statement?
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: In the main, it was not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Is he right? And there was this striking admission from the former FBI chief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Was leaking against Donald Trump, does that undermine Comey's credibility?
Plus, Bill Cosby finally on trial for sexual misconduct, did the media still care about the excruciating allegations against America's tainted TV dad or are they treating this like an old rerun?
I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."
It was a build-up of Watergate proportions with all the broadcast and cable news network's carrying the senate hearing in which the former FBI director made a series of allegations against the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: The administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray. Those were lies, plain and simple. I don't think it's for me to say whether the conversation I have with the president was an effort to obstruct. I took it as a very disturbing thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage of this very intense week Gillian Turner, former White House official in the past two administrations; Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist; both are Fox News Contributors, and Juan Williams, a Fox News political analyst and co-host of "The Five."
Gillian, is the media a takeaway from this hearing that it was a terrible, horrible day for Donald Trump to be called a liar by his own former FBI director or it's not the whole picture?
GILLIAN TURNER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think the bigger takeaway for the news media at large coming out of this hearing was that it was an early Christmas gift. I mean 19.5 million people apparently tuned in to watch this live on television. Journalists had stuff to write about and pontificate about for days leading up to it. It was - it was a sort of ratings and interest-generating bonanza.
So, I think that's the biggest takeaway actually for the media outside of who was right, who defamed who, who is wrong, who leaked what? The big picture here is that this is really like a news story relating to the administration that was of Super Bowl like proportions.
KURTZ: It was good for the biz, Mollie...
TURNER: It was definitely good for the biz.
KURTZ: ...does the Comey indictment of Donald Trump, but that's what it was a political indictment, happened to match the media narrative that the president is engaged in some terrible cover-up?
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, SENIOR EDITOR: Well, that's one of the dangers with the hype that we saw leading on - leading up to this. I mean this network and other networks ran countdown clocks which kind of makes it...
KURTZ: For days.
HEMINGWAY: For days.
HEMINGWAY: ...which makes the journalistic impulse be to get something major out of this. It's not that there wasn't major information that comes out of this, but it wasn't necessarily what the media were expecting. I mean you had the story lines going into this that there was collusion between Russia and Trump, that was completely blown up by the testimony.
But, we have another story line that we should also be pursuing which deals with sort of surreptitious campaign by current or former Obama officials and other people in the administration to leak information selectively in such a ways to make things sound nefariously with a lot of information that way.
But, because the media kind of went into this wanting it to be a really bad day for Donald Trump, they think it's somehow news breaking that some people think Donald Trump doesn't tell the truth as opposed to something we've known for a very long time, I think they missed some of the other really big storylines that are - that are - that we learned a lot more onto.
KURTZ: By basically saying the narrative had largely been said in advance. Juan, let me play for you what the president said the day after the hearing respond some questions from ABCs, Jonathan Karl.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: So, he said those things under oath, would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of these events?
TRUMP: 100%. I didn't say under oath. I hardly know the man. I'm not going to say I want you to pledge allegiance, who would do that? Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance under oath?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Well, you're not under oath here, but...
KURTZ: ...what's been the media reaction to that account by the president and also to the Comey hearings as a whole?
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS: Well, it's Comey versus Trump and so you have - it's like a wrestling match and you have people who aligned with the hero, and their hero could be and remember in previous incarnation, Jim Comey was a hero to the left, remember going back to the Ashcroft Justice Department and then he was a villain to the left in the Clinton situation, now he's a hero to the left to the again in this situation, but Trump has his backers.
And I don't think there's any question if we just focus for a moment, Howie, on the media you could watch different channels. I'm here citing my Fox Five co-host, Dana Perino who said if you watch one channel you would read that Trump was totally vindicated which is Trump's language. But, if you watch other channels and if you read newspapers and specific the big newspapers, you would think this was a man who was facing charges from the former FBI director that he was a liar and undercutting his administration's veracity.
KURTZ: What do think do were - did the high-ground here which is what standard are the media using? It may of course depend on where you sit on the political fence because one standard seems to be that there was a cover-up, but a cover-up of what? It still seems at this state to be no evidence of anything at the bottom of this meaning this alleged collusion with Russia but nothing is proven?
TURNER: So, to bolster Juan's point and Dana's in speaks to your question, this was the most polarized coverage of a news story I think we maybe ever seen in the sense that...
KURTZ: Well, at least since last week.
TURNER: Well, I certainly think in a sense, it was more polarizing than even the election cycle because that's supposed to be polarizing.
TURNER: And that's the whole point, you're supposed to figure out...
TURNER: Exactly. This is not supposed to be that and it turned out to be that way. What I'll say about Director Comey is that it's fairly regular at this point for a current former senior government official to try and really bend and shape and provoke certain outcomes in the media to try and benefit themselves. What was a little bit unique here, is the degree to which we saw a former FBI director actually try to incite the special investigator essentially and potentially a criminal investigation of the president.
KURTZ: Which he acknowledged.
TURNER: Very skillful political machinations there.
KURTZ: Do we have a reality check here on the hypocrisy (ph) question, but it seems to be that some liberal commentators are saying what Donald Trump did was horrible, it doesn't matter if it leads to impeachment or not. And some Conservative commentators are saying, "Whatever Donald Trump did is ok because he didn't break the law."
HEMINGWAY: Well, it does seem that people aren't letting the facts determine how they cover these things and there is a lot of difficulty here and that we do need to put things in context. I mean, there are these issues of truth telling that really are important and Donald Trump does have a history of being fast and loose with how he talks about things.
In some ways, the most surprising thing about this whole testimony, was that he was telling the truth when he wrote in the firing letter that Jim Comey had told him three times that he wasn't under investigation, something that Comey's very close friends told us was not true.
So, Comey who has presented himself as this Boy Scout goes and gives testimony that made him seem like a Grade A bureaucratic operator leaking documents, leaking government for political purposes and so if you think that Donald Trump had a lot of credibility to lose, you think that that was a bad day for him. If you think that Jim Comey had a lot of credibility to lose and I would say he did, it was a much different day.
KURTZ: Right. You know, it is true that some of what James Comey said was helpful to the president because it did confirm part of...
KURTZ: ...the president's account and Comey himself said we play at the top, you know, I'm not suggesting obstruction here, although clearly he was I think helping others might draw that conclusion.
WILLIAMS: Right and specifically Robert Mueller, who is now the special counsel in this case, Howie but I think that what we have to keep in mind here is that, you know, just in the situation Mollie was discussing, did in fact Jim - did Jim Comey say, "hey," to Donald Trump, "you're not investigation". He confirmed that he said that.
WILLIAMS: But then the fact that he described the meeting with Donald Trump in terms where other people are asked to leave the room where he's - where Donald Trump, the president says, I hope you can see your way to letting -- suggest that in fact now Robert Mueller will investigate whether or not in fact Comey - I'm sorry that President Trump...
WILLIAMS: ...is guilty of some obstruction.
KURTZ: All right, let me get a few more things in things in here. So, on this question of how the media portraying Comey, Mollie sort of ended this I've looked up some of the newspaper cuts New York Times said that he was a Shakespearean figure; Washington Post front page headline, blunt and foxy. The president is large portraying Comey as something of a hero. He's got the white hat according to most of the media narrative, true or false?
TURNER: True and false. Because, what I took away from this hearing was all my preconceive notions about the FBI director is really that number one he is a very skilled political operative. He is clearly somebody who knows how to achieve objectives and goals he wants in the Washington universe of things, but he's still not a part of them. He is still...
KURTZ: But the press likes that - the press likes somebody...
KURTZ: ...who even if they are leaking who is kind of seen as a savvy Washington operative...
TURNER: ...but you can do that - he is showing that you can do that with still -- without being a partisan because he is really angered and alienated people on both sides of the aisle at this point.
HEMINGWAY: This is the whole problem now with the media coverage of this. They have - they have incentives to be friendly to leakers. We actually have evidence from this hearing that he had leaked as early as April. There was a story in April in the New York Times about how Comey felt about a conversation with Lynch. He referred to that in testimony, so we know that he was somehow getting his word out to New York Times.
HEMINGWAY: Then - and we also have information that he gave false testimony when he said that he had never kept notes on a previous president. Well, Barton Gellman wrote a book that seemed to take notes from Jim Comey's meeting with George Bush there. When the media aren't skeptical enough of someone that - I know they like - I know they like Comey and I know they want him to give them the goods...
HEMINGWAY: ...that can get this guy impeached, but they're not being skeptical enough because they need to - they need to analyze what he's saying whether it's truthful and where it's not truthful.
WILLIAMS: But, Mollie it's not Jim Comey. You know, I've - this narrative which has Jim Comey versus the president, let me just suggest there's one man in office who's the leader of the free world, that's the President of the United States. Jim Comey now is a former official. He may have a grudge. He may be a fired guy...
WILLIAMS: ...but his credibility versus Donald Trump, I don't know, but you'll be the judge.
HEMINGWAY: But we have - we have - we have this overarching narrative that goes back months of intelligence officials...
HEMINGWAY: ...selectively leaking information to make it look like...
WILLIAMS: ...people leak all the time in this time.
HEMINGWAY: We have to deal with this as a media question whether the media are being responsible when they are just receiving these leaks that were design to make it seem that Donald Trump was under investigation for collusion with Russia when that's the one thing that we actually learned from his testimony wasn't true. That's a media...
KURTZ: I need to jump in, people leak all the time in Washington, but Comey I think has always presented himself as kind of like the by the book prosecutor who didn't engage in that sort of thing.
KURTZ: And so what was always shadowed here was Comey talking about Loretta Lynch and how she instructed him to call the Hillary Clinton email investigation a matter, not an investigation, the president didn't care. Comey was right, we called it investigation was overlooked story of the week. The president nominated Christopher Wray to be the new FBI director that story lasted about two until it was swallowed by the Comey Hurricane. All right, let us know what you think, email@example.com.
When we come back, Comey's harsh criticism for the press is that hearing and later did the president stay off Twitter on the day of the hearing but then ward back, why so much media criticism over his tweets?
KURTZ: Jim Comey hit the press pretty hard during his senate testimony singling out the New York Times, but also other outlets that report on classified information and the Russia probe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: The people talking about it often don't really know what's going on, and those of us who actually know what's going on are not talking about it.
JAMES LANKFORD, REPUBLICAN SENATOR: Have there been news accounts about the Russian investigation, about collusion, about this whole event or accusations, as you read the story you were stunned about how wrong they got the facts?
COMEY: Yes. There have been many, many stories purportedly based on classified information about - well, about lots of stuff but especially about Russia that are just dead wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Mollie Hemingway, Comey particularly unloaded on this New York Times story from February headline, "Trump campaign aides have repeated contacts with Russia intelligence." The Times did do a story on that but didn't get a whole lot of media coverage as he was attacking the New York Times?
HEMINGWAY: Yes. It was interesting how much of what Jim Comey said about the media. It didn't get reported by the media. He really said that they have had problems with how they report. He didn't specify how this story was wrong in the New York Times and they didn't really do much to check it other than reread their story. They said they couldn't contact their sources again and that he had given them no information, so they weren't going to change their story.
But, it does speak to the problems with anonymous sources. We have has had so many stories using selective leaks from anonymous sources, that nobody else can verify that it have turned out to be wrong. This is one where Jim Comey claims that the story was wrong. He also referenced to, I think it a Washington Post story about being duped by an email that he wasn't duped by.
There are also just the overarching narratives that he was going to claim in testimony that he had never told Donald Trump. He was under investigation, sorry for the double negative there, which all turned out to be not true. This is just a pattern of problems with anonymously-based stories and the media need to stop relying so much on the anonymous sources and start getting some people on-the-record because their story sure seem to change when they do.
KURTZ: Well, let's take a look at New York Times reporter, Michael Schmidt, the author of one of the - to that story pushing back against the Comey criticism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL SCHMIDT, NEW YORK TIMES: We have never been given an explanation by the FBI. We went back to the FBI today and said please clarify for us, tell us where we were wrong, and they did not provide us that information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Well, I have had lots of instances in my career, I'm sure you knew, as well as somebody said that story was totally wrong. You will say, OK, I'm willing to correct what was wrong, but you don't get specifics. So, it is hard for the Times to deal with that.
WILLIAMS: But, this is "MediaBuzz," and Howie Kurtz, so let's get to it. One, the New York Times says that they believe that it's rooted in the characterization of the contacts within - with people in the Trump campaign specifically were they Russian intelligence officers and the FBI has characterized by the New York Times a very black and white characterization of who is a Russian intelligence officer. And it could be that if you're in a...
WILLIAMS: ...banking business and having contacts...
WILLIAMS: ...you are not considered by the FBI an intelligence officer.
KURTZ: Gillian Turner, having worked on these matters when you were in the White House, what do you think of Comey's point about the sources who talk are often on the periphery and don't know and the sources who really know aren't talking to reporters?
TURNER: I was glad he said that because that's how - that's my perspective as a former government employee. What I will say though, you know, on the point of people who don't know are sort of talking about this the most that was absolutely my experience at the White House. People who have top secret security clearances and are dealing with this type of information on a daily-hourly basis are not going to be the ones who are clients run to any source - any points of contact in the media whether trusted or not to talk about the stuff because they are the ones who sort of appreciate the extent to which this actually affects, you know, American lives and Americans well-being. So, I've - I was happy to hear him say that.
HEMINGWAY: Having said that if you believe the media reports themselves, they were placed - they were saying that they were being leaked to by high- level former Obama officials...
TURNER: High-level is the key, that means political point of view.
HEMINGWAY: ...and in fact when you looked at - you looked at the dossier story that was something known by very few people, that would have been intelligence chiefs or very few other people. It is the height of silliness to see Jim Comey saying, "Oh, you know, people who know don't leak. When it seems like that story was leaked precisely to undermine the president.
WILLIAMS: But, the dossier story...
HEMINGWAY: The present...
WILLIAMS: ...now, he said he refused to comment on. I thought he was going to blow that out of the water, Mollie, he didn't.
HEMINGWAY: And he probably doesn't want to comment on it because the FBI should have had nothing to do with that silly dossier and there were - and there was a lot that media people should be looking into with that dossier story.
KURTZ: This is a dossier that have not been confirmed and put together by an ex-spy, a lot of bunch substantiated charges. Comey kind of put it in play by putting it in his opening statement. By the way, I agree with you about anonymous sources, but the leaked stories that Washington Post and New York Times about Comey's version of this context with President Trump did turn out to be true probably largely because they were leaked by Comey or people close to him. Mollie Hemingway, Juan Williams thanks very much for joining us this Sunday.
Up next, remember infrastructure week is the press all but ignoring the rest of the Trump agenda.
And later, Bill Cosby is on trial but was he convicted long ago by the media?
KURTZ: When scandalous allegations enveloped a president what's the impact on the people around him? Gillian Turner has worked for the White House under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, so when one of these huge controversies explodes how distracting is it for the staff?
TURNER: It's 100% distracting and I would say it verges on sucking all of the air out of the room no matter where you are at the White House. So, if you are someone who is trying to implement a domestic-political agenda or message to the American people or work on...
TURNER: ...U.S. foreign policy, it makes your job a thousand times harder.
KURTZ: And they also...
TURNER: No matter what...
KURTZ: ...which totally focused on coming up towards the American people, but meanwhile not only is it eating up, you know, the available ink, you know, news space and air time, but you might have to worry about hiring a lawyer yourself depending on your job?
TURNER: Well, I - certainly, some people and certainly political appointees inside the administration will often do that hire a communication's person or a lawyer whatever it maybe to help them shore up their own defense in a case like this. But, something here that's so clearly in the sort of national security realm of scandals, what happens to the folks who are working these issues inside the White House is they lose their number one advocate.
They lose the main voice in the room that counts and that's the president, so it means that if you are somebody who's working on non-Russia related U.S. foreign policy be it trade, be it anti-terrorism, be it counter proliferation, you have to -- the president is ex'd out. You saw just two days ago standing up there with the President of Romania, no one cares. No one care who he is standing next to...
TURNER: ...or what they're talking about...
TURNER: ...they want to talk about Russia.
TURNER: So, if you're someone who's working on Romania policy, you've got to look elsewhere. You've got to look to the secretary of state, the national security advisor...
KURTZ: I see. You lose the biggest megaphone in the White House.
KURTZ: But, you set me up for my final question which is, this is supposed to be infrastructure week. The president did in fact hold meetings and give several speeches on infrastructure, but the media attention was so focused on Comey and Russia. Here are - when he was speaking, I believe on Friday about infrastructure, here are two banners that went up on the screen. CNN, Trump speaks live after calling Comey a liar. MSNBC, Trump talks infrastructure after blasting Comey, and that kind of speaks to your point.
TURNER: Yes, if you're that team that put together infrastructure week...
TURNER: ...and you're excited to roll it out this past week and deliver some results and some commitments to the American people, it was a mightily depressing week for you as you realized no one in the international news media or the domestic media particularly cared about what you had to say. It's that kind of a thing that it doesn't make people's jobs...
TURNER: ...impossible, but it makes them a lot more difficult.
KURTZ: Yes, I just say that at the same time there is some responsibility on the part of the media to keep reporting on things that actually affect the lives of most Americans and not just Washington scandal...
KURTZ: ...stuff. Gillian Turner, great to see you, thank you so much.
KURTZ: Ahead, some media outlets report on what Jim Comey was going to say at that hearing. How did they get it so wrong? But, first is the press going easy on Comey for admitting he's a high-level leaker? Ed Henry is on deck.
KURTZ: James Comey wanted to get his side of the story out after President Trump fired him more specifically the memo he wrote alleging the president suggested he end the investigation of Mike Flynn, so he had a friend in Columbia Law School share with the New York Times of why did Comey behind that curtain event (ph) of immunity?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROY BLUNT, REPUBLICAN SENATOR: So, why didn't you give those somebody yourself rather than give them through a third-party?
COMEY: Because I was worried the media was camping at the end of my driveway at that point and I was actually going out of town with my wife to hide and I worry it would be like feeding seagulls at the beach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us now in the studio is Ed Henry, Fox News Chief National Correspondent, seagulls, huh?
KURTZ: So, Comey admits to this incidence of leaking...
ED HENRY, FOX NEWS: Yes.
KURTZ: ...FBI guy, he's got his fingerprints on a lot of these other leaks...
KURTZ: ...and doesn't this kind of dent his halo a little bit in the way the media have been...
HENRY: It does.
KURTZ: ...analyzing (ph) him?
HENRY: Look, I mean on one hand, he certainly has the ability - as any American citizen to help - to tell his side of the story. And, I think, James Comey was pilloried by this White House. He has a duty to speak out, tell his side of the story, but this idea that he's a white knight, this idea that oh, he's shocked - shocked by leaks.
I went back and looked at the record and I think a lot of people have missed this. May 3rd, he was under oath, Senate Judiciary Committee before he was fired and James Comey was asked by Chuck Grassley, have you ever been an anonymous source of news report about matters related to the Trump investigation or Clinton investigations? Never.
Followed up, have you ever authorized someone else at the FBI to leak information in either of those? He says, no. And then finally he said, are you aware of any classified information related to the president or his associates leaking out? Not to my knowledge. This was before he got fired. Not to my knowledge is kind of an odd answer, number one.
HENRY: But, number two, the idea that Grassley asked him whether he had allowed others to leak anything and he said under oath no, no, no. Hang on a second, now the playbook according to James Comey, in this latest hearing is, I can use somebody over at Columbia. Do you even really believe that was the first time James Comey did that? It sounded like someone who had been leaking a lot before.
KURTZ: Yes, it's the leaky town, but nonetheless...
HENRY: But, as FBI director you are not supposed to be giving out...
KURTZ: All right, so you spent many years at the White House trying to ask tough questions of the president and other officials. Let's look at when President Trump was kind of deciding to call on ABC Correspondent, Jonathan Karl.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Shall I take one of the killer networks that treat me so badly as fake news? Should I do that? Huh?
TRUMP: Go ahead, John. Be fair, John.
KARL: Oh, absolutely.
TRUMP: Remember how nice you used to be before I ran?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: So, how much does that get you off-balance? Is that what the president was trying to...
HENRY: ...and President Obama would do that to me sometimes. He needled you and you got to just stick to what you want to ask and be as fair as you can. And, by the way, I think John Karl doesn't really fall into the category in fairness that the president was lumping. There are plenty of people in mainstream media who have been beating this president at all cost, not giving him a fair shake.
I, actually, think John Karl is one of the folks who tends to give him a fair shake, number one and number two, he asked a tough but fair question that you'll live a lot of news because the president offered up that, you know, testifying under oath..
HENRY: ...to the special counsel that was a big deal...
KURTZ: That was a good...
HENRY: ...it came from a fair reporter.
KURTZ: ...that was a good instinct and the president could have deduct it but he didn't. We mentioned early the show this dossier - this unverified - remember this thing the "BuzzFeed" printed most...
KURTZ: ...mainstream media organization wouldn't even touch...
KURTZ: Yes, so Comey in his written testimony which he had put out a day before the hearing which is also an interesting move worked something in about this allegation and I never talked about this because this is completely...
KURTZ: ...as about the Russians' claim that the president might have been involved with hookers on a visit to Moscow.
KURTZ: So -- and you have seen Don Lemon saying, wow, one really uncomfortable phone call, President Trump calls James Comey to talk about - he hasn't been involved in Russian investigations...
KURTZ: ...Comey kind of opened the door for the media coverage...
HENRY: Yes. On one hand, I think it was an unforced error by President Trump. I guess he was president-elect at that time or maybe president already when he talked to Comey and threw that out there because when you deny something salacious like that...
HENRY: ...it allows someone to say, well it's out there.
HENRY: ...he said so, but look at Don Lemon, I was looking at something else that he did last week. This gives critics like Lemon to just pile on the president. May 25th, when Theresa May was going down her majority in the parliament, Don Lemon kept saying, "a key ally of President Trump is going down". First of all, it's a key ally of America...
HENRY: ...it's not really Donald Trump...
KURTZ: That's not why she...
HENRY: ...and that's not...
KURTZ: ...was the majority.
HENRY: ...and, by the way, has he already forgotten about a week and a half ago, Theresa May was blasting President Trump for the intelligence leaks? They were at odds. CNN and everyone else was reporting that time Theresa May couldn't stand Donald Trump. Now, it's a key ally is going down. There are people in the media who will stop at nothing even if it's unrelated to Donald Trump.
KURTZ: Last question on tweeting, president does a lot of it. He didn't do it today at the Comey hearing. He didn't do it the next day and earlier he took a lot of heat for picking a fight on Twitter with London's mayor...
KURTZ: ...the British terror attack, so that prompted some tweets, let's put one of them up on the screen from President Trump, "the fake MSM, mainstream media is working hard -- so hard to get me to not use social media. They hate that I can get the honest and unfiltered message out." Wait a minute did journalist really not want him tweeting? Has this been a...
HENRY: No, no. we love him tweeting, yes.
HENRY: I think a lot of this becomes a big distraction for everyone including the president. Should the president be tweeting?
HENRY: Social media is there. It's a reality. He can use it however he wants whether we like it, don't like it, or whatever. The bottom line though I think is and you could say that you can never say this enough. This president sometimes does spend too much time tweeting about saying, "James Comey is a leaker"...
HENRY: ..."he's a bad guy."
HENRY: Sure, get your side of the story. I said at the beginning that James Comey can tell his side. The president can tell his side. But, tweet more about jobs and healthcare and things that matter...
HENRY: ...which he actually should point out, the president did this morning.
KURTZ: Yes, it does...
HENRY: ...but does -- will he stick to that the rest of the week?
KURTZ: I think the journalist actually loves this where he said make a of lot news. Ed Henry, great to see you this morning.
KURTZ: It was rather strange, by the way, when Brian Williams said a source told him, they're not sure President Trump knew there were Americans stationed that Qatar. MSNBC might have reviewed Trump Saudi Arabian speech portion that work actually carried president said, Qatar which hosts the U.S. central command is a crucial strategic partner. Williams later acknowledges on the air.
All right, ahead on "MediaBuzz," another journalist fired for going nuclear on Twitter this time over the London terror attack.
But, first the media outlets predicted Jim Comey would insist - would insist that he never told the president he wasn't under investigation, why leaks can be risky business?
KURTZ: In the roundup to the senate, some networks relied on unnamed sources to preview what Jim Comey was going to say and boy, were they wrong?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: Tonight a source familiar with Comey's thinking tells ABC News that the former FBI director will directly contradict what the president wrote in the letter notifying him he we was fired.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN: He will say that he never assured Donald Trump that he was not under investigation that that would have been improper for him to do so. In his written testimony today, he did not do that and we have corrected our story online to reflect this written testimony.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us now from New York Amy Holmes, Political Analyst for Rasmussen Reports and Jessica Tarlov, Senior Research Director at Bustle Digital Group and a Fox News Contributor.
Amy, how did two major networks, CNN and ABC in this case, report based on sources supposedly familiar with Comey's thinking the opposite of what he actually is going to testify?
AMY HOLMES, RASMUSSEN REPORTS, POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't know how they did it, but they did it at length. I mean, CNN went - apparently, went on for hours and hours with this false news and, you know, when they found out that it was false, you know, given Mr. Comey's testimony they didn't actually correct the record. They didn't say we were wrong. We got that totally wrong.
And, in fact, James Comey confirmed that he told the president on three separate occasions that he was not personally under investigation, but if you notice, Howie, these stories always tend to go in one direction and that's against the president. So, you even see the bias when the stories don't get it right.
KURTZ: Well, CNN lawyer, Borger did set the record straight as we just saw, but Jessica...
KURTZ: ...how much does this sort of blunder and, you know, come on, we're all going to find out about Comey's testimony the next day anyway.
JESSICA TARLOV, BUSTLE DIGITAL GROUP SENIOR RESEARCH DIRECTOR: Yes.
KURTZ: How much do you think it undermines the reputation of the media?
TARLOV: Oh, I think it's extremely dangerous for the reputation on the media for two reasons. First of all, we want to make sure that the truth is out there. I mean especially after a campaign like we follow the last 18 months and the beginning of the Donald Trump Presidency, we know how important the truth is and of what value that is, so that's the first reason.
The second reason and this is kind of what Amy was talking about and what she just said is that we need to make sure that the narratives are honest here, and we know each side is going to go for the information that they want to hear for instance. So, Donald Trump can get up there and he can say, hey, look, CNN is fake news. They said this thing that wasn't true and media took them a little while too longer to correct it.
They can say Trump has been vindicated here. We can see he wasn't personally under investigation or focus on Loretta Lynch instead of talking about the fact that Director Comey felt like he was being pressured to stop the Flynn investigation, that he called him a liar several times in the testimony. So, it allows everybody to pick and choose their narrative and that's what the media should be doing. They need to be objective and honest and own a mistake immediately.
KURTZ: Speaking of picking and choosing a narrative, let me hold up the cover here of "New York's Daily News," you can see up on the screen and you've just got President Trump's face and you can see the word pretty big typed, "liar" and there were a lot of headlines like that Comey calls Trump a liar and he did at times, but Amy, do you find -- did you find the coverage to be rather one-sided?
HOLMES: Listen, Howie, if James Comey had showed up in spandex in a wrestling match to vanquish their arch rival, Donald Trump, they couldn't have been happier and they of course, you know, when you see headlines like that, you know, there has been reporting actually on Conservative blogs that showed that James Comey in fact, maybe have been misleading the senate intelligence committee particularly when he said that Donald Trump is the only president he ever had to take notes about.
And, now, you see some additional reporting say from powerline.com that founds that you - we find out that James Comey actually took notes about meeting with George Bush. And I can tell you that on Friday, on another network TV anchor she assured me that George Bush would never take a private meeting with someone in the White House. And, then we come to find out that George Bush did exactly that, with guess who, James Comey.
KURTZ: All right. Well, let me get to Jessica here because the media takeaway from this hearing seems to be that Comey is the courageous guy who told the truth...
KURTZ: ...and Trump must be lying, even Comey did, you have to acknowledge confirming some of what the president had maintained and then you have some Conservatives on Fox and Elsewhere now making Comey the bad guy...
KURTZ: ...calling him terrible names. This kinds of speaks to your point about each side taking away and the media what they want from this hearing?
TARLOV: Yes, absolutely and as I said, I think it's incredibly dangerous. There were plus points for Donald Trump there. I think, you know, people like Marco Rubio certainly helped him out with his line of questioning.
KURTZ: I mean why is it - why is it dangerous - giving that you're thinking on that, why is it dangerous?
TARLOV: No, it's dangerous because I think that the American people are lost here. I mean, when you see poll-after-poll shows mass confusion about it, you know, people on both sides depending on where your partisan leanings are saying, oh, no, Donald Trump has totally told the truth. They are - the Russian investigation is a total nothing burger versus the other side saying, oh, we are heading towards impeachment.
And that's just not a healthy place for society to be. We do want to talk about jobs and the economy, I know that was mentioned in your segment with Ed Henry that finally this morning Donald Trump started tweeting about that, those some of those numbers appear to be inaccurate even there, but you know, Americans want to know how much money is going to be in their pocket.
They want to know if they'll have Affordable Healthcare and when we get lost, and then you (ph) shy of this, and when the media is constantly feeding that I think it's -- it's not a great safe for...
TARLOV: ...normal civil society.
KURTZ: ...let me jump in and I want to get to this other hearing this week. Here's Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats when asked whether or not he felt pressured at all on this FBI matter by President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN COATS, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR: I have never felt pressured to intervene or interfere in any way and shape -- with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relationship to...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: I need a brief answer from each of you. Amy, did that get enough coverage?
HOLMES: Well, I think it was pretty explosive when it happened and there was coverage, but there was just so much of the build-up for the James Comey hearing where the media was hoping...
HOLMES: ...that they were going to get the smoking gun that...
HOLMES: ...was going to indict President Trump, so I think this hearing was overshadowed but I would also say that...
KURTZ: OK, I got to jump in - I got to jump in, Jessica?
KURTZ: ...last word at Coats and Mike Rogers, the NSA (ph) refused answered questions and I think that...
KURTZ: ...was the key element of the coverage, your thought?
TARLOV: It absolutely was the key element of the coverage. I think James Comey, obviously you know, that was the big highlight of the week, but we need to hear more about why these people will testify that they didn't want to talk about that and were dodging questions there and like what the, you know, we if need follow-up obviously on...
KURTZ: All right.
TARLOV: ...what happened with James Comey as well.
KURTZ: Great to see you both, Jessica Tarlov, Amy Holmes.
TARLOV: Thanks a lot.
HOLMES: Thank you, Howie.
KURTZ: After the break, stunning testimony as Bill Cosby finally goes on trial for sexual assault, but much of the media just moved on.
KURTZ: Dozens of reporters packed the Philadelphia courtroom this week for the trial of one of country's most famous TV celebrity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial now underway, the comedian once known as "America's Dad," arriving with one of his TV daughters.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Andrea Constand yesterday said she trusted the actor comedian. She said the alleged assault made her feel humiliated and confused.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: That woman, Andrea Constand, said the comedian gave her three pills during an encounter 13 years ago and that while she was in a haze, he sexually assaulted her in a way that it went well beyond groping. Constand testify that, "I just wanted it to stop". Cosby's lawyer pressed her about inconsistencies in her earlier accounts and jurors heard from a police interview in which Cosby claimed the sex was consensual.
Let's talk this up with Carley Shimkus, reporter for Fox News 24/7 Headlines on SyriusXM from New York. Carley Shimkus, welcome.
CARLEY SHIMKUS, FOX NEWS 24/7 HEADLINES: It's good to be here.
KURTZ: There are dozens of women making allegations against Bill Cosby was once the biggest story in America. Now, that he's actually on trial, do you think appetite has been somewhat reduced?
SHIMKUS: Yes, you're actually right. And the reason for that is really twofold. The first being largely political and due to this exciting political time that we're in right now...
KURTZ: You're saying it's still Donald Trump?
SHIMKUS: Yes, I would - yes, I would even go so far to say yes as the biggest winner of James Comey's testimony is Bill Cosby. I mean, every network had a countdown clock, bars across the country host to Comey doing party, so there was very little room for anything else in the news cycle this week.
But also, various polls, Howie, show that due to the number of allegations against Bill Cosby, a lot of people across the country have turned on him. They don't see him as a good guy and many people have already formulated their opinion on how they want the trial to go. So, there isn't really that desire or need to, you know, watch every single twist and turn on television.
KURTZ: Well, it would be different if there were cameras in the courtroom but I would think if you did - if you thought Cosby was guilty, you would want to tune in see him brought to justice by what's being alleged here by Andrea Constand and another woman who testified that Bill Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her is really pretty chilling stuff. But, at the same time, it's a couple of years since these allegations first surfaced. Do you think there is a certain numbness factor for the media and perhaps to the public?
SHIMKUS: I think that's a really good point and I think when you look back at this trial, the headline will be the number of women that came out against him, why it took so long and how this could have possibly happened for these women to come forward, as opposed to what the outcome of the trial is and, you know, the interesting point in this whole thing is that as blunt or morbid as this may sound trials in America especially these high profiles have trials, usually rate really well on television but that's not really the case in this one.
I mean, the O.J. Simpson trial of course one of the biggest in America and of course I'm not talking about a murder trial but we are talking about the fall from grace of one of America's favorite TV fathers.
SHIMKUS: So, I think that, you know, because of this really unique political time we're in there's more of an appetite for that sort of television than what we're seeing in the Cosby case.
KURTZ: Right. Again, the lack of video does diminished I think the appetite...
KURTZ: ...you saw on cable news...
SHIMKUS: Yes, you're absolutely right.
KURTZ: Right, but let me ask you this because Bill Cosby contends that the sex was consensual to Andrea Constand. Defense lawyers have been trying to poke holes in her story's inconsistencies...
KURTZ: ...in her early accounts and why did she have contact with Cosby after the alleged assault? But, I think, the presumption is that he's already been convicted in the court of public opinion and by the media some would say, but that doesn't mean that the legal verdict is going to go that way, so there could be a surprise here.
SHIMKUS: No, you're absolutely right and the defense attorneys were very successful in like you said, poking holes in her story saying that she was - they're trying to paint a picture of her being enamored by his celebrity, that he -- she did get some dates wrong. Also, that she, you know, kept in contact with Cosby after she made the allegation at the same time. Cosby is also saying that he is a victim of racial discrimination. So, that's something that he has come out and said, I'm not sure if anybody really believes that considering that some of his victims...
SHIMKUS: ...were Caucasian and African-American.
KURTZ: Right. Well, the story is far from over. Carley Shimkus, thanks very much for helping us breaking it down.
SHIMKUS: Thank you so much.
KURTZ: Still to come CNN dumps one of its hosts over an anti-Trump treat with a four-letter word and a full-pledged media field Sean Hannity versus Joe Scarborough, that's next.
KURTZ: We told you last week how CNN host Reza Aslan had tweeted after the London terror attack and claiming this up, that President Trump is a piece of blank and an embarrassment to humanity. I did not see how he could continue to be employed. Well, CNN quietly dropped Aslan late Friday declining to renew his show.
And here's one from the Right, which led Breitbart to fire staff writer, Katie McHugh after she tweeted, "There will be no deadly terror attacks in the UK if Muslims didn't live there, #londonbridge." The conservative website which has been trying to broaden its base and the Trump bureau had no comment but McHugh was unapologetic on Twitter saying, "Breitbart News fired me for telling the truth about Islam and Muslim immigration."
Jim Comey versus Donald Trump isn't the only high-profiled battle this week, there's also a Sean Hannity versus Joe Scarborough. Now, the MSNBC morning host and his partner and fianc,e, Mika Brzezinski, have been ratcheting up their criticism of the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKA BRZEZINSKI, AMERICAN TELEVISION HOST: I think he's such a narcissist. It is possible that he is mentally ill in a way and that this is on the table, I said it months ago...
JOE SCARBOROUGH, CO-HOST OF MSNBC, "MORNING JOE": Yes.
BRZEZINSKI: ...and now everybody is turning to say it like it's new and it's Ok to say...
BRZEZINSKI: ...he's not well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: That and similar broad sides from the former Republican Congressman during on-air rebuttal from the Fox Prime Time host.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, AMERICAN RADIO AND TELEVISION HOST: All right, Liberal Joe Scarborough emotionally enhanced now calling the president of the United States a smack. Now, for months, one cable show with some of the most absurd and frankly emotionally, a little unhinged coverage has been none other than MSNBCs, Liberal Joe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Scarborough poked back on Twitter, "Comrade, your continued obsession with those who refuse to be apparatchiks for Russia suggests resentment and envy. You are obsessed." And Hannity then tweeted that Scarborough was an Obama suck-up and a disgrace. Now, Joe and Sean have diametrically different views of President Trump but both of them have one thing in common. They love a good brawl.
That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz," I'm Howard Kurtz. Thanks for joining us. We hope you like our Facebook page, check out the content there, have a dialogue with me, also continue that on Twitter @howardkurtz. Go to our home page and download our podcast, you want to listen to the show on the way to work or whenever you have more time.
Great to see you, we are back here next Sunday. You know, I'm going to say now, we'll see you then with the more stuff on Trump and the media coverage. See you then with the latest buzz.
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