Bolton bashed over his book; double standard for Trump rally?

This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," June 21, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: This is "Media Buzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. We will get to the Oklahoma rally shortly. There's one brief section in the new John Bolton book that caught my eye. President Trump has reported to have said last year that journalists should have been jailed to force them to reveal their sources, quote, "these people should be executed. They are scumbags."

Let me take a stand here and say I'm very strongly against the execution of journalists. Former national security adviser charges that his one-time boss did improperly pressure Ukraine as Democrats charged during impeachment and that he asked Chinese President Xi for help getting re-elected. While the Trump Justice Department is suing to block the book, a federal judge refused yesterday to issue an injunction.

Bolton and his publisher simultaneously leaked copies to New York Times and Washington Post, placed an excerpt in The Wall Street Journal and taped an interview airing tonight with ABC's Martha Raddatz.


MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: You described the president as erratic, foolish, behaved irrationally, bizarrely. You can't leave him alone for a minute.

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I don't think he's fit for office. I don't think he has the competence to carry out the job. There really isn't any guiding principle that I was able to discern other than what's good for Donald Trump's re-election.

LAURA INGRAHAM, INGRAHAM ANGLE HOST: And I guess we now know why Mr. Bolton is so angry. Trump didn't want to bomb everyone like a lot of neo-cons want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It hurts the country. And if you are Republican and you're doing this, you're just basically saying I'm going to do what I can to get Joe Biden elected. That goes against everything that John Bolton has done his entire career.

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, THE LAST WORD HOST: Every bit of Donald Trump's disgrace in office is now also John Bolton's disgrace. Because by refusing to testify to the impeachment inquiry, John Bolton violated his oath of office to support and defend the Constitution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Bolton could spend the rest of his life, trying to wash the blood off his hands. And it would be there still, and now, Bolton is attempting to literally cash in on betrayal of his country.


KURTZ: Joining us to analyze the coverage, Ben Domenech, founder and publisher of The Federalist, Susan Ferrechio, chief congressional correspondent for The Washington Examiner, Capri Cafaro, former Democratic state senator who teaches at American University and author of the forthcoming cook book, United Weed. Ben, I know you're not a fan of John Bolton.

But would you agree that the charges he levels against the president in this book, "The Room Where It Happened" and how he dealt with foreign leaders and sought favors from foreign leaders, is a pretty big story for the press?

BEN DOMENECH, THE FEDERALIST: Of course, it's a big story. And this book deserved to be published. Let's be clear about that. But it reveals a Bolton that I think vindicates a lot of assumptions that his critics have had about him for a long time, someone who is very catty, someone who never let's go over grudge.

Basically, you have meeting notes. And then you have John Bolton's description of why he was right and everyone else was wrong. As David Ignatius at the Washington Post put it, he can't go 12 pages without criticizing Jim Mathis. He criticizes Nikki Haley. He criticizes everyone around him. Bolton is always confident that he's 100 percent the right and honorable person in the room.

And I think people can, you know, take away from this book what they will about his attitude towards the president who frequently questions his assumptions, and really didn't want to go along with the agenda that he has. Is this a big story? Yes, but I also think that it's a big story about the fact that the president even hired him in the first place, someone so inconsistent with the approach that he had when he was in running in 2016. 
And I think that that raises a lot of question marks about the team that he has.

KURTZ: Capri, in the book, Bolton says Trump asked President Xi -- told him that it would help his re-election if the Chinese would boost their wheat purchases from the U.S. And also, that he was fine with Beijing building lots of concentration camps with the persecuted Uyghur Muslims. 
But should the press be weary of these kinds of allegation because President Trump says he fired Bolton?

CAPRI CAFARO, EXECUTIVE IN RESIDENCE AT AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: You know, I think what's going to happen here is that the press is acting, I think, much like aspects of the American public. What we are seeing is very, I think, pointed views on this. It's not about the veracity of John Bolton. 
It's about whether or not individuals believe that President Trump could have done or said the things that John Bolton said that he did in his book.

And so I think the press, if you're on the left and you don't believe -- and you believe that President Trump could have said, yes. China, help my re-election. Yes, I support concentration camps. Then that is the angle that you're going to go with. And if you're on the right, you're going to say, well, look, John Bolton was fired.

It's, you know, sour grapes. You know, he's an opportunist. He got a $2 million advance. We need to take what he says with a grain of salt. The American public, I think, is in those same two camps as well. What we are missing from the analysis is an analysis. We are not seeing critical thinking and critical analysis of this book and its contents in the press.

KURTZ: Right. Of course, a lot of people in the business haven't yet read the book. Susan, there's also things in there. Bolton saying Trump wasn't sure that Finland was an independent country. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, by the way, putting out a statement saying he's a traitor who is spreading lies and half-truths. But when the president tweets that Bolton is a wacko, a disgruntled boring fool.

Let's see, a liar, an incompetent, a sick puppy, and yesterday despicable. 
Isn't he pushing the coverage and helping drive book sales?

SUSAN FERRECHIO, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: And that's what he always does. He punches back pretty hard. He does not let these things go. And kind of gets down in the dirt with people. And in this instance, a book like this is obviously going to drive someone like President Trump completely batty. And he's showing it on Twitter.

I think in this instance, though, it's probably a good idea for to president at least try to refute some of the claims Bolton is making rather than saying absolutely nothing. He has got members of his administration, not just Pompeo but saying they were in the room with Bolton. And none of these things that Bolton is claiming happened.

I think the president should also come out and say whether this is true or to try to push back without the insults. But at this point, this is all baked in with the president. He does get down the dirt with people. He fights back pretty hard. His base loves it. So nothing new here with the way he's responded.

KURTZ: All right. Now, I mentioned a judge refusing an injunction yesterday. But saying the book is potentially criminal but ultimately allowing publication. I've been saying all week given the Supreme Court rulings against prior restraint, Ben, that that the book was unlikely to be blocked. Here is the president's take on that ruling. Let's watch.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I mean the book is out. I would say -- I would have said even a week ago pull it back, because you probably had your copy. Everybody -- he leaked it and he gave -- did a very bad thing. It's really treasonous, OK, what he did but the book is out.


KURTZ: President speaking with Fox News' John Roberts. Ben, I've read much of this book. I don't see any classified documents or intelligence. But the president says the conversations they had about foreign policy should be considered classified. Does it go too far to call John Bolton's actions here treasonous?

DOMENECH: Yeah. I think it does go too far. I think the president, though, is you know always works at 11. I think John Bolton does, too. And my big question about this book I think the better position to take with this would be to put forward people refuting the claims that he makes in the book. There are actually numerous factual problems in the book, from my perspective, including basic things like the spelling of Congressional members' name and things like that that would have thought would've gone over with a fine-tooth comb that indicate potential problems underneath it.

I do think that this is a book, though, that deserved to be published. It deserves to get out there. And people can assess in future administration will assess whether they can trust John Bolton as someone who they can bring back in the government in the future. I kind of think that this is him going on a path that doesn't allow that sort of thing to happen.

KURTZ: Yeah. Well, the book is number one on Amazon. Capri, my real feeling is that the Justice Department suit wasn't really serious about blocking publication because it didn't include the publisher, Simon and Schuster, as a defendant. And I think it's more aimed at the president trying to make sure that the proceeds from the book are frozen and John Bolton doesn't make a dime on this book, your take?

CAFARO: I totally agree with that, Howard. And we've seen this in previous instances with, I believe for example, the author that wrote the book about SEAL Team Six. You know, the book was not blocked, but that individual had to give the proceeds back. And I think that by in large a lot of people, Democrats and Republicans alike, see this John Bolton book as essentially as a cash cow for John Bolton or else he would have testified if he was this, you know, concerned and had all of this information.

He would have testified without a subpoena. This is the kind of criticism we are hearing from people like Adam Schiff and Speaker Pelosi. And so I think that President Trump is trying to hit John Bolton where it hurts and that's in the pocketbook.

KURTZ: And Susan, the judge also said, well, the horse is out of the barn as far as the book. I mean, here it is. By leaking copies, obviously, to The New York Times and Washington Post, by putting an excerpt in the journal, didn't Bolton essentially render the suit moot because the consents are out there already?

FERRECHIO: It's all out there. All, you know, all the juicy parts have been fully exposed and written about and chewed over by everybody. We have all seen it. I guess it would be on principle now to continue this to try to block the book and to set a precedent, I guess, for future books that others might try to write about the president. I think that's an important point here, too.

There have been a string of officials that have come out of the White House with negative things to say about the president. And Bolton is setting a pattern here where, you know, you can make a lot of money if you write a book about President Trump while he's still in office.

KURTZ: Right. Now, Bolton's position is that he complied with the security and took things out of the book. Just a kind of once-around here, we'll start with Ben. How is it -- I'm sure that you will enjoy the question, that some media liberals who excoriated Bolton as a crazed warmonger during the Bush years and now praising him as a courageous truth-teller.

DOMENECH: Oh, it's amazing, Howie. It's totally predictable and it has happened with so many officials in this administration. I think that with Bolton, though, it's particularly amusing just given the level of rank or that he inspired among the press and how he's being received in open arms now that he is telling a different tune.

KURTZ: Right. And Capri, you touched on this earlier. We saw some sound bites at the top. Many on the left are just angry at Bolton for not testifying and for saving it for the book, meaning a big pay day, and so he's almost like a man without a country, politically speaking.

CAFARO: He certainly is. And hopefully, I think for that reason he put all of his eggs in the Simon and Schuster basket with this book. And I hope he didn't pay -- already spent his $2 million advance because he may have to give it back.

KURTZ: Right. Well, he could if he ends getting any money, he could more money is a big best seller. Susan, in the book, it also says that Trump told Turkey's Erdogan that he would try to get corruption charges dropped against a Turkish firm by replacing people at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan. Now, it so happens that Friday night Attorney General Barr fired the U.S. Attorney right now, Geoff Berman, who is a Trump appointee by the way, not an Obama hold-over.

Berman refused to go. President yesterday said you're fire. Now, he's going to be out of there. The New York Times says this is a crisis, because the southern district, of course, in New York, is it a crisis?

FERRECHIO: Well, I think you're going to see Congress start to -- at least the Democrats look into this. You might even see some of the Republicans over in the Senate like Chuck Grassley want to know more about what's going on here. It's certainly -- the timing is not helpful for the president. So I fully anticipate Congress is going to want to learn more.

They'll be sending requests for information or potentially subpoenas to find out what's going on. So it's serious, yes.

KURTZ: As the media keep pointing out, that office in New York has been investigating Rudy Giuliani. We don't know if anything will off that. But at the same time, all 93 U.S. attorneys serve at the please of the president. He does certainly have the right to do this. When we come back, President Trump's rally yesterday in Oklahoma, why the media made it largely about Coronavirus, and later, the coverage of the president's order to reign in abuses by the police.


KURTZ: President Trump held his rally in a Tulsa arena last night. And the media's main focus is that there were thousands of empty seats as the cameras kept showing. This followed fierce criticism that he'd exposing his supporters to the Coronavirus and accusations of a blatant double standard by the press.


TRUMP: I've been watching the fake news for weeks now and everything is negative. Don't go. Don't come. Don't do anything today. It was like -- I've never seen anything like it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been talking to people in Oklahoma who are terrified. They're literally scared for their lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The media is rooting for a side. And it's not yours. 
That somehow if you go to a Trump rally, you will die. But if you go to a protest, you will live.

DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT ANCHOR: The Trump campaign is not interested in protecting your health. The rally is strictly about President Trump and his need to be the center of attention before adoring fans.

SEAN HANNITY, HANNITY HOST: By the way, there are some in the mob in the media and others. They don't want the president to have a rally. I said, OK. There's a simple solution. Just call it a protest. Nobody will complain.


KURTZ: Ben Domenech, about a third of the arena was empty, which means that
10 or 12,000 people did show up, plans to address folks outside, overflow crowd were dropped because there weren't many people outside. Most of the coverage was sort of in line with this New York Times headline. Trump rally fizzles as attendance falls short of campaign's expectations. And I have a sense the pundits are sort of enjoying this.

DOMENECH: Absolutely, they are. I mean, I think the media got what they wanted out of this. They spent the past couple of weeks putting all types of scary headlines out here about how this event was going to be a super spreader. What's interesting, Howie, is I was actually at the last Trump rally that he had before all of this happened in South Carolina.

He had roughly the same amount of people there that he actually had in Tulsa last night in terms of that arena. This is kind of a normal size for them. But I think that the campaign made a mistake in terms of boosting up the expectations that they had for the size of this event beforehand. And, you know, frankly, the president looked a little rusty to me in terms of his ability to connect with the crowd.

He does, you know, enjoy these events but he always wants to have kind of dominant show of force in terms of his supporters. I think the media got what they wanted here and scared a lot of people away.

KURTZ: Susan, CNN and MSNBC talked about the rally all day long. They had reporters at the rally. But when Trump actually came out, CNN didn't take it at all. MSNBC --


KURTZ: Fox carried the 90-plus minutes. Can you explain the logic to me if it's a story worth talking about all day long?

FERRECHIO: Well, the story is about the rally, not what Trump has to say. 
And I think Ben is absolutely right that, you know, the way the media has covered the president's rallies even prior to the pandemic. It's always been about whether he can bring in a big crowd, the size, the energy, the way he draws from the crowd.

And so as of yesterday, the story kind of shift a little bit because there were these huge expectations. They thought there were going to be a million people. It turns out that there was some high jinx (ph) going on where people were buying up tickets in -- or making phoney reservations to go to the rally. And I think the pandemic issue is another thing that the press really we wanted to cover here.

How many people were going to show up to go to an indoor rally? This is not an outside protest. It's an indoor rally in the middle of a pandemic.


FERRECHIO: That was the story more than president's stump speeches which tend to be similar from one speech to the next.

KURTZ: So Capri, the Trump campaign blamed the media. And radical protesters for low turnout, reporters there say there weren't many protestors at the entrances. The president earlier in the week had blamed the far left fake news media for trying to COVID-shame him on the rallies. 
And then during protests in the wake of George Floyd's death, you heard very little of the Coronavirus and almost all you heard about the Oklahoma rally.

CAFARO: Right. This is a really interesting dichotomy, I think. And I think that there are two things going on. One, I think that there are aspects to the media whether they are -- you want to call them mainstream media or the left-leaning media that basically have made a moral judgment call here that the rally -- President Trump's rally is about President Trump and is a selfish action to bring people in to fuel his ego, whereas the people that were going out to protest.

They had a more altruistic goal and they're doing it -- putting themselves in harm's way for the greater good. I noticed actually that CNN is very sensitive to the fact that they were getting called out on this kind of dual coverage. And both Brianna Keilar and I believe also Jake Tapper actually mentioned this, saying I know the people are going to say that we are covering the protests differently.

Then the rally, but one is indoor, one is outdoor. You know, people are waiting masks outside. There's no requirement for the masks on the inside. 
So there are aspects to have media recognizing that they are getting called out. And they are trying to address it which I find interesting.

KURTZ: Yeah. I'm concerned of mass gatherings of all kinds, whether they're protests or at the rally. All right, quick back and forth here, Ben. Vice President Pence said a couple of days in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. The media tried to scare the American people on the virus. It's been a success, a cause for celebration, not the media's fear-mongering. Do you think the media has been fear-mongering about this?

DOMENECH: Well, I think we've seen both sides of this. We've seen both the downplaying that was you're responsible. And the fear-mongering that's irresponsible. You know, to the point that was just made by Capri, you know, think about the fear-mongering we saw from the media from all these other outdoor events, you know, beaches reopening and the like.

That have clearly been shown to be kinds of super spreaders that they were saying at one point. I do think that we can be optimistic about a lot of things. But we still have to take this seriously. And so Pence is obviously making an argument that none of the rest of the media's going to run with. 
But on the fundamentals, he's actually right here.

KURTZ: Right. A Wall Street Journal report a fact check, some of Pence's in the journal op-ed. Capri, just briefly, how is it fear-mongering or is it fear-mongering when 121,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and states right now are seeing their highest seven-day averages?

CAFARO: I think that the facts are not fear-mongering. It is how they are couched that potentially could be fear-mongering. Ultimately, I think Americans, you know, need to be making their own decisions that are the best in the public health. As far as Vice President Pence, he was really lambasted particularly on the left for having to post box and others with this op-ed basically saying that he was irresponsible and, you know, sending Americans to slaughter at COVID-19. I myself, you got to be careful. Wear your mask, all that stuff, but that's just me.

KURTZ: All right, good advice. I think Americans are still concerned actually about the Coronavirus. It does tend to be a partisan split. Capri and Susan, thanks very much. Ben, stick around, because up next, Google tries to punish The Federalist with help from NBC. Is that truly ideological? And later, the coverage of those two Supreme Court rulings that went against the White House.


KURTZ: The Federalist has been fighting back against a move by Google that threatened to cost the conservative site much of its advertising revenue. 
NBC tried to blow the whistle on the site by telling the tech giant of a finding by a left-wing British outfit that appeared to center on a federal piece headline. The media are lying to you about everything, including the riots.

But Google never actually imposed a penalty. And we are back with The Federalist, Ben Domenech. Do you see Google as being all too willing to stick it to a conservative website? And given the way it dominates the online end market, how seriously would this have damaged The Federalist if Google had imposed this financial penalty?

DOMENECH: Well, it would have been a significant hit to us. Certainly, we could have survived it. But it would be significant. Look, Howie. We've been warning for years about the kind of silencing and de-platforming effort that we have seen happen in American academia. Now, as expected, that has migrated into the halls of the most powerful media corporations.

And in the case of Google, the most powerful company in the world. In this story, we saw a left-wing reporter at the behest of a left-wing organization, a foreign left-wing organization, trying to get The Federalist de-platformed for our content. Now, as happens, because we were able to intervene in different ways, pushed back against it.

This didn't end up playing out. But it got a lot closer than you'd expect. 
And it shows how easily these tech giants can be manipulated by leftist activists who don't believe that you should have any platform for an alternative view.

KURTZ: But in terms of NBC's role, I mean, NBC was quite open about the fact that it kind of bought this information to Google. Called you a far right sight, what do you make of a news organization trying to stick it to a news opinion and commentary outlet that happens to be conservative?

DOMENECH: Well, the reporter in question even tweeted out thanks for collaboration to the left-group in question, clearly trying to indicate that she was trying to blow the whistle on something she believed shouldn't even be allowed to exist in terms of our publication. Look, I think this is just a huge warning.

And the reaction that we've seen from politicians, both on the left and the right to this, has been one of significant frustration and concern about these new ramifications for potentially lots of different media outlets that survive thanks to the Google ad platform. I think you are going to see additional questions about this brought in hearings that Google participates going forward.

Attorney General Barr spoke about it with Maria Bartiromo this morning, their own concerns about Section 230 reform, potentially opening up a lot of the aspects of this. I think that we are going to see a real reaction from government. And this was a warning shot for everybody who has views contrarian to the existing corporate media narrative.

KURTZ: I've got half a minute. NBC said and your site seemed to agree that it was about a piece criticizing the media coverage, actually naming an NBC contributor of the protest of the riots. But then Google came back and said, no. This was about your comment section, which was it?

DOMENECH: I think that this might have some spin on Google's part to try to find a different to make it not about content. We've removed our comment section for the moment. But we will be bringing it back. We do not believe that people should be prevented from sharing their views just because internet, big-tech giants think that that's inappropriate.

KURTZ: All right. Ben Domenech, good to see you, thanks very much for doing double duty this Sunday.

DOMENECH: Great to be with you.

KURTZ: Next on MEDIA BUZZ, mixed media reviews for the president's executive order on policing, even on the left. And coverage of the protests after an Atlanta officer is charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a black man.


KURTZ: As the country struggles through another week of racial protest and violence, President Trump unveiled an executive order on police reform and drew the slightly mixed media reviews.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To all of the hurting families, I want you to know that all Americans mourn by your side. Your loved ones would not have died in vain. We are one nation. Americans want law and order. They demand law and order. They may not say it, they may not be talking about it, but that's what they want.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Donald Trump did something that he would not have done but for these protests. He took some government action against police brutality.
We are winning. Donald Trump had no plan a month ago to work on this issue at all.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: President Trump did not address the issue of systematic racism in American policing because he and his apologist and his top aides don't believe it exists.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Pay no attention to Trump's actual accomplishments, the outcomes, none of it. Just ignore it all. Instead stick with this twisted fantasy that President Trump is really in his heart of hearts wants to work against people of color.


KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage in New York, Kat Timpf from Fox's "Greg Gutfeld Show" and host of Fox Nation's "Sincerely, Kat," and here in Washington, Richard Fowler, radio talk show host and Fox News contributor.

Kat, some liberal commentators are actually kind of sort of crediting President Trump for at least taking a first step on police reform.

KAT TIMPH, FOX NATION HOST: I think that's really great to see because personally, my views on criminal justice reform have been for years, been a huge issue for me for a long time, are not really represented by either major party. I would like to decriminalize all drugs. I would like to see victim of crime not be treated as something in being incarcerated for. But at the same time, when I see progress, you have to be happy about it.

If I looked at every bill or every piece of legislation that came out of these major parties and just got mad about what was it in them, I would be mad all the time and that's no way to live. So I think that this is --

KURTZ: We don't want to see that.

TIMPH: -- a great thing. No, I mean, it didn't have everything I would have liked, no. But it has more than we had before and that's excellent.

KURTZ: Richard, the Trump order is mainly about using a federal fund to create incentives, creating national database. It doesn't plan police chokeholds as the democratic bill does. But it's impossible not to say that the president has done nothing or is doing nothing.
RICHARD FOWLER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: You're right, it is impossible that the president has done nothing. This is a good, I guess, first half a step maybe. I think my biggest problem with the executive order while I'm happy the president finally made some actions around reform in policing was in the chokehold statue of the executive order which I've had a chance to read.

It sort of has this -- I wouldn't even call it a loophole, I would call it a gaping hole that says an officer can use a chokehold if and when they feel life their life is in danger. And the problem with that doctrine is this. It is every time we've seen these cases come up, whether it be the case of Alton Sterling, whether it be the case of Eric Garner, whether it be the case of George Floyd, whether -- all of these cases, you hear officers repeat over and over again, well, I felt like my life was in danger.

I think one of the other cases I didn't mention, the case of Laquan McDonald where there were multiple officers and one young man with a knife, right? And so there were multiple officers. Their vehicles were there. And yet still, they said that their life was in danger and they chose to shoot him.

KURTZ: Right.

FOWLER: And so we got to figure out how we do it right.

KURTZ: Yeah, it doesn't solve the problem. Kat, how much has been the overwhelming media coverage of police brutality and racism create an atmosphere where we even see Republicans have a bill, Mitch McConnell came out and said this is not just messaging, we want to compromise, we want to pass a law? Is coverage a big factor there?

TIMPH: I think that it certainly is and it's not just -- it's not just on the federal level, either on the local level, for example, in Tennessee, this is something I've been writing about for years, draconian drug-free school zone laws.

For years, you could get huge, huge penalties just for happening to be near a school even if you were at your own home. And these laws, mandatory minimums that put you in prison for a very long time. Look at the case of Calvin Bryant, for example. He is free now but he has spent way too much time there in prison. They were intended to punish people who were having drugs around kids. If someone is in their own home --

KURTZ: Right.

TIMPH: -- they are not going to be -- it's not going to affect the kid. So now, they have to --


TIMPH: -- in order to institute the mandatory minimums, has to actually affect the child, local level. Things are changing and it is good to see the change. When we focus on solution --

KURTZ: Let me jump in.

TIMPH: -- that is when we do the best.

KURTZ: All right. Just briefly, Richard, I want to get to Atlanta. Haven't we seen these media waves before such as after a mass shooting where everybody talks about reform and then after a few weeks, if nothing happens, the press moves on and the issue fades?

FOWLER: Usually but here is why this issue is different. I think this time around, after people watched the tape of George Floyd where the police officer had his knee in his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, we are in a different lexicon. This is layered on top of the fact that we have the
COVID-19 and COVID-19 has impacted African-American households more so than any other subgroup population. So we have -- disproportionately rather.

And so we have a real -- there is a real moment here that the media will continue to have to cover because people will continue protesting until they see action --


FOWLER: -- both on the state and local level, as Kat pointed out.

KURTZ: All right. So let me turn now to the charges filed this week by county prosecutors in Atlanta in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, one of the officers charged with murder. I still can't believe that finding a drunken guy in a car somehow escalates into a situation where he ends up dead.

But at the same time, when we look at the surveillance video that everybody seen many times, Brooks did get into a scuffle, one of the officers took his stun gun, was fleeing, turned back and fired it at one of the officers. 
So Kat, are the media kind of dismissing the argument that this officer might have been fearful for his life?

TIMPH: I think that nothing really shows the desperate need that we have for nuance in discussion than a case like this. You watch that video, it's absolutely awful, as you said, for a DUI arrest to end up with someone dying. You see him being shot in the back. It's horrific, absolutely awful. 
I have said that, people said, well, maybe you shouldn't drive drunk and take a cop's taser. You know, I agree. How are those mutually exclusive?

KURTZ: Yeah.

TIMPH: Rather than hurling these things at each other, we need to have focus on solutions because that's how --

KURTZ: Right.

TIMPH: -- we stop these things from happening again.

KURTZ: Right. Of course, he wasn't driving at the time. He is in a parking lot. Richard, the president talked about this case. I want to play the sound for you and have you react on the other side.

D. TRUMP: I thought it was a terrible situation but you can't resist a police officer. You know, if you have a disagreement, you have to take it up after the fact. It was a very sad -- very, very sad thing. I hope he gets a fair shake because police have not been treated fairly in our country.


KURTZ: So Richard, some in the press are saying, well, the president is so pro-police, he doesn't really care about Rayshard Brooks, what he did say was a terrible thing. Your quick thoughts?

FOWLER: Listen, it was a terrible thing, but where I disagree with the president, when would Brooks have a chance to take it up after the fact? 
The officer involved in this case has a record of misconduct, a record of excessive use of force. So it clearly wasn't taken up after the fact. Not to mention the fact that he opened fire in a crowd where two people's vehicles were hit.

So he endangered the lives of every citizen that was in that Wendy's parking lot, which speaks to the problem. We have to condemn wrong when it's wrong. When police officers do wrong, just like when other folks do wrong, we got to condemn it, and not only we have to condemn, we have to ensure --

KURTZ: All right.

FOWLER: -- that we act upon it because we are a country of rules and laws.

KURTZ: All right. Good conversation, guys. After the break, some on the right unloading on two conservative justices after the Supreme Court rulings on gay rights and the dreamers along with a presidential tweet storm. We will look at the coverage, next.


KURTZ: Two Supreme Court rulings, both of them setbacks with the Trump administration, got huge coverage this week. Much of the media focus is on Trump appointing Neil Gorsuch, who went against the president on a gay rights ruling. As did John Roberts, who also wrote the decision saying the administration didn't take adequate steps to end the DACA program, which has protected the dreamers from deportation.

The president ripped these rulings, calling them "shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives."


JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: The violent rhetoric is the sort of thing you would expect from an authoritarian leader from an autocrat trying to incite violence against judges.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Just like in the case of Obamacare, it was Chief Justice John Roberts joining the four liberals on the court to make a highly technical, ridiculous to me argument that benefited the Obama administration.


KURTZ: And the president made it personal, tweeting, "Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn't like me?" Kat Timpf, some conservative commentators are really harsh at personally criticizing Neil Gorsuch and John Roberts. Didn't they pledge to review everything on case- by-case basis? Roberts called it balls and strikes. Should pundits be sort of slamming them as betraying the cause when they're supposed to act as justices?

TIMPH: Right. The Supreme Court is not supposed to be political one way or another. They are not supposed to like you or not like you. It's not supposed to be about that. But again, the whole discussion was political on someone who stands with dreamers. These people are not criminals. They came here as kids, illegal entries and misdemeanor, but they came here as kids. 
If your parents say you're moving, you got to move, right?

But then at the same time you look at it, this was done by executive order, why couldn't it have been done by executive order? So if you keep the focus on the actual law, it would be better than making it so political, the way that we see both sides doing when we discuss these things.

KURTZ: Right. The case began with much-criticized Obama executive order. 
Richard Fowler, aren't the media which largely support gay and transgender rights as well as the dreamers kind of impressed with Gorsuch and Roberts because they voted the way that they prefer?

FOWLER: I'm after if the media supports and doesn't support them. I think the media is covering where the American people are. I think if you look at both of these issues and you were to do a poll amongst majority of Americans, they would say they're in support of gay folks, LGBTQ Americans not being fired from their jobs and protected by the law.

And they are also in favor, as Kat just pointed out, for dreamers who came to this country in no fault of their own staying here. But if you read the rulings, right, of Justice Roberts in the DACA case, he is very clear this is not about the political nature of DACA, this is about how this administration operated.

And the media, I think, has missed that coverage, because this is a larger problem, whether it's John Bolton's book, whether it's other issues. The problem here is how Donald Trump and his administration operate. Do they abide by the law? Do they follow the rules? And a lot of times they don't. 
And this is why the Supreme Court ruled against them in this particular case.

KURTZ: It is true this was a procedural ruling. Trump actually said it was kind of a victory because they just have refile the paperwork. But it was a setback. No question about it. Kat, immigration kind of faded as a hot political issue. Do you think the media now going to seize on this and try to make the fate of the dreamers and immigration more broadly a hot campaign issue going into the fall?

TIMPH: It may. I never try to guess anymore because things change so quickly. But I think that part of the confusion --

KURTZ: Take a guess.

TIMPH: -- also comes from some of the reporting. New York Times first headline on this was that Supreme Court says Trump can't end DACA, and then it was changed to can't immediately end DACA. So it was more complicated. 
We got to focus on the law and not just political.

KURTZ: Richard, you talked about the dreamers and the media loves this controversy. But I think the reason this may not go on forever is that nobody actually really, whether it's Donald Trump or the Republicans and Democrats, wants to kick 700,000 to 800,000 dreamers out of the country.

As you say, they were brought here as kids, it wasn't their decision, you can certainly criticize the parents for breaking the law. I wonder how much that is reflecting in the coverage. I mean, Trump ended the program but he says he wants to forge a compromise.
FOWLER: I hope there's a compromise and I hope nobody wants to kick these
700,000 almost Americans out of this country. But let's be very clear. This president tweets every single day law and order. And here lies the problem, he's a hypocrite because he doesn't abide by the same law and orders that he tweets about because if he did, then his decision on DACA would have stood, right?

If he did, we wouldn't be having every time we go to Supreme Court ruling against the president because he's chosen not to follow the rules even though he's asking the American people to follow those rules.

KURTZ: Kat, I got about 20 seconds. I don't think it makes the president a hypocrite that he tried to end the program that was imposed by executive order, and of course the Supreme Court has final say. Quick thought?

TIMPH: I think that for the dreamers, they need the protection to be done -
- that can only be done through Congress. I think they should legislate something here rather than get in these political fights over executive order here, executive over there. It didn't make sense. He couldn't undo it but Obama could do it.

KURTZ: Right.

TIMPH: Let's end the debate by doing something at the legislative level because it's Congress's job to do that.
KURTZ: It's when Congress --

FOWLER: I agree there.

KURTZ: -- that the courts have to act as legislators. I got to go. Richard Fowler and Kat Timph, thanks very much. Still to come, Trump campaign wants to help pick the debate moderators and Twitter clashing with the president again over a bogus CNN video. Stay with us.


KURTZ: It's no secret President Trump wasn't especially happy with the moderators of the 2016 debates who were tapped from NBC, ABC, CNN, and Fox. 
Now, The New York Times reports his campaign is asking the commission on presidential debates to let him and Joe Biden pick the 2020 moderators with each being able to veto a certain number from the other site.

That's contrary to why the bipartisan commission was created to take politics out of such decision, so we will see. And the Trump campaign wants four debates, not the usual three, the kind of a request that a challenger usually makes to get more exposure.

Twitter has again slapped a warning label on a presidential post in which Trump used obviously doctored video to take a whack at CNN and the media.




KURTZ: Twitter said this violated its policy against manipulated media. 
Now, both Facebook and Twitter then removed the video on copyright grounds after complaint from a parent of one of the toddlers. CNN said it covered the original story which is very touching. It showed the two toddlers embracing each other and urged the president to be better. Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended the video when pressed by CNN's Jim Acosta.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It seems as though he's exploiting children to make some sort of crashed political point. Why is he sharing fake videos?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He was making a point about CNN specifically. He was making a point that CNN has regularly taken him out of context. I think the president was making a satirical point that was quite funny.


KURTZ: Well, whether you find it funny or sad, Trump knows how to get attention. The fathers of those kids though are pretty upset.

ABC News has suspended top executive Barbara Fedida after Huff Post reported she made a series of insensitive and sometimes racist comments. 
The site says that during contract talks with GMA anchor Robin Roberts, for example, Fedida said it wasn't as if the network was asking her to "pick cotton."

Huff Post also reports that Fedida said of Candice Gibson, then a network anchor, who is black, that ABC spends more on toilet paper than we ever would on him. And because of Fedida, the network has said to have spent millions of dollars on settlements with former stars and staffers.


SUNNY HOSTIN, ABC HOST: I was really disappointed and saddened and hurt when I learned about the racist comments that were made allegedly about me and my colleagues and my dear friends.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, ABC HOST: I don't think she's a racist. Everything I know about her doesn't say that she has this in her.


KURTZ: ABC says in a statement, "There are deeply disturbing allegations in this story that we need to investigate. These allegations do not represent the values and culture of ABC News."

Fedida says, "She is proud of my decades of work of hiring, supporting, and promoting talented journalists of color. And, unlike these heartbreaking and incredibly misleading claims about me, that track record is well-documented and undeniable."

Very unfortunate situation that ABC is taking it very seriously. That's it for this edition of "Media Buzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. We hope you will like our Facebook page and let's continue the conversation on Twitter. Check out my podcast "Media Buzzmeter." You can subscribe at Apple iTunes or get it on your Amazon device. We are out of time. We are back here next Sunday at 11:00 Eastern. We will see you all then with the latest buzz.

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