Deep media divide over impeachment

This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," September 29, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On Buzz Meter this Sunday, Nancy Pelosi spurred by reports in the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, launches an impeachment investigation as the transcript of President Trump's call to Ukraine's leader sparks all out partisan warfare on the airwaves.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: My God, it is just flagrantly corrupt. Notes reveal an open and obvious abuse of the totality of the United States foreign policy.

GREG GUTFELD, FOX NEWS HOST: The media sites are growing clamor, right, growing clamor for impeachment. They are the growing clamor for the last three years.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: If the allegations of a whistleblower are true, the country is now in a place it has not seen since Watergate.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: You might be forgiven for not understanding why would the president be impeached for a story that the Democrats literally can't explain.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: It's really shocking. It's shocking. You think after all of this time we would all be incapable of being shocked. And yet, Donald Trump says, talk to my attorney general.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: I will predict tonight they have done Donald Trump a huge favor. It will all backfire and blow up right in their face. This has everything to do with the left's unyielding, unhealthy, what is an obsessive-compulsive hatred of President Trump.


KURTZ: We will look at these questions. Are many in the media rooting for the president's impeachment? Why did The New York Times disclose that the whistleblower is a CIA officer, even if Trump privately compared him and those helping him to spies?

Are media commentators on the left being purely partisan in saying Trump pressured Ukraine's president by withholding military aid and are they largely downplaying questions about the conduct of Joe Biden and his son Hunter?

Are media commentators on the right dismissing the rough transcript despite the fact that Trump repeatedly asked Ukraine's help in investigating the Bidens and the 2016 hacking of the Democrats? What about Trump accusing the fake news media of working with Democrats to exploit a "nothing call?" And will the saga so dominate the coverage for months that just about everything else will be blotted out?

I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "Media Buzz."

One week after the first report of a whistleblower's complaint in The Washington Post days after The Wall Street Journal described the controversial call in which President Trump asked Ukraine's leader about investigating Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dropped her opposition and announced an official impeachment inquiry.

The president dismissed the allegations, ripped the whistleblower, and denounced the press.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was no pressure. The way you had that built up, that call, it was going to be the call from hell. It turned out to be a nothing call.

All they are talking about is nonsense. If you look at that, it was -- it's all fake stuff that the media makes up with the Democrats which are their partners.

It's a disgrace to our country. It's another witch hunt. Here we go again.


KURTZ: In the transcript of the call, Trump said this to Volodymyr Zelensky. "There is a lot of talk about Biden's son. That Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it. It sounds horrible to me."

The media are now laser focused on impeachment with Pelosi all over the airwaves.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I think where they're going is a cover-up of the cover-up. And that's really very sad for them. To have a Justice Department go so rogue --


KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage of this very intense week: Guy Benson of, a Fox News contributor and host of the "Guy Benson Show" on Sirius XM; Susan Ferrechio, chief congressional correspondent of The Washington Examiner; and Juan Williams, co-host of "The Five."

Guy, the transcript has the president's words about investigating Biden and his son, also asking for a favor and looking into the democratic hacking in 2016 after Zelensky says, we would like to buy some missiles. The partisans (INAUDIBLE) from it's a crime and outrage too. It's nothing -- nothing to see here, no quid pro quo. Do the president's words define the story when you try to cut through the spin on both sides?

GUY BENSON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR, POLITICAL EDITOR FOR TOWNHALL: Yeah, I think you have to look at the transcript itself and what the president said. You talked about these two polarities where it is like, OK, he needs to be thrown out of office or this is a nothingburger. I think the truth lies somewhere in between because we see in black and white what the president did.

He made an "ask." It was an inappropriate "ask." You can call it abuse of power. I don't think it's something that is necessarily impeachable, but it's pretty clear the way the media is rooting for this one because they wanted to basically un-president him from the very beginning.

I think there is a cry wolf scenario here that is a problem for the left and for the media because this seems like a legitimate story to me. There have been others that have also gone 11 out of 10 on the crazy scale in terms of panic in this town that didn't pan out.

KURTZ: I would agree that the relentless hyping of the Mueller investigation, not that it wasn't the origin of the story, created a certain Trump scandal fatigue. And so Juan, the president says, perfect call, nothing call, being overblown by the fake media and their partners, the Democrats. Given the history of media coverage, don't a lot of Americans believe that?

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, I think that there is a lot, especially on the right, cynical attitude towards the press. By the way, this is exploited by people on the right because they constantly say to their audiences, you can't trust the press, trust me on the right.

But I think what we are seeing here is a little bit of the partisan divide that you have said this morning, the guy has referred to. People get away from the simple fact and say, oh, it's the press's fault, even though from my perspective as someone who has a career as a reporter, you can't fault reporters for reporting the news. I don't think there is any question President Trump and the question now of impeachment is the news.

KURTZ: Impeachment may or may not end up backfiring on the Democrats, but has Nancy Pelosi who held the line against impeachment for so many months until this been generally praised by the press for making this move?


Yes. They've also given her a complete pass on the procedure she's using which is skipping over the formal vote which gives her the sort of maximum flexibility. It gives her an out and removes accountability. The press has really given her a pass on that. I think they are also giving a pass to the way they've shifted the whole thing over to the Intelligence Committee and away from the Judiciary Committee which traditionally handles without --

KURTZ: Right.

FERRECHIO: -- without exception. There may be one case for about 150 years ago. It has always been handled by Judiciary. That was not going well. Why? The message was not selling to the American people. It was turning into theatrics. It was getting a lot of criticism.

KURTZ: Yeah.

FERRECHIO: Handing it over to Intel Committee where they can control what's public and what's private. All those things give them maximum control over the message.

KURTZ: Pelosi may have wanted Jerry Nadler to be the face of this. Let us go to The New York Times which basically partially outed the whistleblower, saying CIA officer previously assigned to the White House, his lawyer said that was reckless and could endanger his life.

Since this is the guy who went through official channels and wanted to remain unanimous, should the paper have done that?

BENSON: I think it's a jump all journalistically. It is a tough call because it is newsworthy, who is this person, right, because there were reports that the inspector general was concerned that they were at least attached to a campaign against Trump or was -- I don't know --


BENSON: Exactly, political opponent on some level, so the fact that this person is a CIA officer is interesting and newsworthy. I do suspect that if this were not someone going through official channels but were going through, let's say, I don't know, The New York Times --

KURTZ: Yeah.

BENSON: -- to leak, they would be jealously guarding his identity and they would be against exactly what they did.

KURTZ: Right. Dean Baquet, the Times editor, tried to pre-empt the criticism. He was talking about being courted in the original story as saying we are doing this because his role is essential to understanding whether the president abused power and the way that the White House covered it up.

Interestingly, the whistleblower's complaint, Juan, says that he has no first-hand knowledge and the rules were changed, so you didn't have to have first-hand knowledge to file such a complaint --

BENSON: That's a weird thing.

KURTZ: That's why I pointed it out, heard from White House officials who were disturbed by Ukraine call and locked down the records of the special classified area. And so if this is boomerang, if this is being used as a weapon against the president, it is possibly some presidential aides were the ultimate source of this.

WILLIAMS: This is a very interesting point because if you recall, there were actually news reports about previous conversations that President Trump has had with foreign leaders --

KURTZ: Which leaked.

WILLIAMS: Yes. And they leaked. And the only way they can leak to reiterate your point is through White House officials. It's not as if the White House, the Trump White House is sealed. They have lots of leaks and a lot of people are acting on self-interests and grudges.

A lot of people in fact this week were pointing fingers even at John Bolton, the former national security adviser. That's inside base law but to your point, I don't think that you can hold The New York Times anything but accountable for this leak about who this man is because I do think that it is very dangerous and, again, I wonder why they did it.

KURTZ: Yeah. I would agree. I also think it is inevitable his identity will leak and then he will become the focus. At the same time, you know, we have the transcript. We sort of don't need him as much anymore but he's part of the story.

Susan, the president, there was leaked video obtained by several news organizations of breakfast that he had in which he had some pretty harsh things to say about reporters. Take a look.


TRUMP: You know, these animals in the press, they're animals. They're absolutely some of the worst human beings you'll ever meet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Thank you.


TRUMP: They're scum. Many of them are scum.



KURTZ: Your reaction to that and also at the same breakfast the president saying that the whistleblower and the people who gave the whistleblower information are close to spy and you know how we used to handle spies and treason.

FERRECHIO: First, the president has felt he has been under attack since the day he took office.

KURTZ: Yeah. And during the campaign.

FERRECHIO: You could outline many parts of that that support that theory, OK? So, we know that. We know that the president does go after the president after that. The press is not friendly to him. They never had been. They have investigated him more than any other president.

So that doesn't surprise me that he says that, but you really sense the hostility building here between the president and the press at this point. I don't think there's anything you can do about that.

The question about whether the whistleblower is a spy, again, this is a guy who has had his phone calls leaked, things going on in the office leaked by White House, it's really incredible what goes on in terms of his own staff not supporting him.

KURTZ: Right. White House aide Stephen Miller said on "Fox News Sunday" today that the whistleblower was a deep-state operative. But of course we do not know the man's identity.

So let's get to the Biden part of this. Trump and his allies said that what Biden did is the real scandal, openly pressuring Ukraine, using federal money as leverage when he was vice president to fire a controversial prosecutor who had a case against Ukrainian oil giant that was paying big bucks to his son Hunter Biden, although Hunter Biden was not personally accused of wrongdoing. Is this on the same level? Should the press be paying more attention to it?

BENSON: The Trump people want to say it is only the Biden stuff that is the real scandal and a lot of the press want to say it's -- the Biden stuff doesn't really matter, it's just a Trump story. And again, I don't think either one of those is exclusively true. We can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can say what the president did in this request is a problem.

But also there are serious questions that Biden needs to answer. So far, he really has hunkered down and done nothing. When Trump is out there talking to the press constantly, Biden is not talking at all. I would like to know, for example, how does the point person for the Obama administration on Ukraine policy, the vice president of the United States, how does his son get hired by this gas company for 50 grand a month with no relevant expertise whatsoever? Come on.

KURTZ: There is no question it smells bad. It looks like trading on his father's name. By the way, the president tweeted hours ago, "Fake news doesn't dare mention crap Democrats." But in fairness, there is a full page story in The Washington Post today, starts on the front, Ukrainian gas tycoon and the vice president's son, it says that it looks unseemingly, but it also says ultimately no wrongdoing by Hunter Biden himself. Your thoughts on the coverage over Biden story.

WILLIAMS: Well, I guess it comes back to the sort of the partisan echo chambers because if you go to the right now, if you tune in to talk radio, if you look at the websites on social media, the focus is on Joe Biden. To me, to my mind, this is an effort to distract from the idea that the real story here is this phone call between the president and the president of the Ukraine.

KURTZ: Maybe --

WILLIAMS: On the left, though, I would say --

KURTZ: Yeah.

WILLIAMS: -- there seems to be this again this tension, this kind of frenzy, oh, my gosh, you know, finally got him, right? And I don't it's -- I think it again weakens us as journalists to have the impression created that we didn't. I think we should say people did pay attention to Hunter Biden and that there's nothing been found.

KURTZ: Well, but there are stories as far back as 2015, but clearly not getting this level. There's been some giddiness on some programs of MSNBC. Impeachment is a really serious and somber thing for the country. Susan, I think the White House and its allies have some success in shifting the media spotlight from Trump to Biden, but the coverage of impeachment -- I got half a minute -- now kind of totally overshadowed that?

FERRECHIO: No, not necessarily because, OK, it will as it turns to the House, I don't think the Biden story is going to die down. I don't. I don't think the Trump administration is going to allow it. I don't think the right conservative media will either. If this thing ever makes it to the Senate for trial, you can bet that we are going to hear a lot more about Hunter Biden and Joe Biden.

KURTZ: Bottom line, two competing story lines. Let me get a break here. When we come back, the press is challenging Rudy Giuliani's dealings with Ukraine and he's fighting back. Later, the president's former deputy campaign manager on the media's impeachment fever.


KURTZ: Rudy Giuliani, who has openly pushed the Biden-Ukraine story for months including on this program, turns out to be a key player in the current drama. The president asked Ukraine's leader to work with him but Giuliani insists that's not the real story.


RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Why are we talking about us and not Biden? Because the media in this city is corrupt, that's why.


KURTZ: So why did Trump's personal lawyer play such a crucial backstage role? He responded to critics quoted by The Washington Post.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: "Rudy, he did all of this," one U.S. official said.


INGRAHAM: "This s -- show that we're in. It's him injecting himself into the process." Insiders are saying you mock this up, your response.

GIULIANI: Man, I really did. And you know who I did it at the request of? The State Department. I never talked to a Ukrainian official until the State Department called me and asked me to do it.


KURTZ: Guy, with the press so focused on Rudy Giuliani, he's right, he has cover here. He does have, you know, texts, e-mails from the State Department asking him to do these meetings. But the question from the media then is, why is the Trump State Department asking the president's personal lawyer to do this kind of digging?

BENSON: Yeah, that's a very good question and it's a question that needs to be answered. Another question that I would love to hear answered at some point and this is more of a political question, why does the president keep allowing Rudy Giuliani to go on television every single day?

I mean, it's great for us and he will sit here and he will talk for 15 or 20 minutes if given the time and he can be entertaining. But I think on the whole, it doesn't strike me as terribly helpful all the time.

KURTZ: On that point, he was on ABC this morning. He was on Maria Bartiromo's show. But look, that is his mission. He goes on and he makes charges, defends himself. He is controversial. Sometimes, he gets hot, occasionally makes mistakes. If his reputation gets scuffed up in the process, I don't think he cares. I think he sees himself as taking a lot of flak that otherwise would be aimed at President Trump.

WILLIAMS: Exactly right. I saw a clip this week. The clip was someone saying, why were you doing this? Who were you doing this for? And his response was, I am working for President Trump.

KURTZ: Mm-hmm.

WILLIAMS: He's President Trump's defense lawyer.

KURTZ: Mm-hmm.

WILLIAMS: So to Guy's point, as an observer of the media, you know, I think to myself he doesn't look that great. If he was representing me, I would have questions about him as my representative because at times he seems unhinged. But on the fact that he goes out there and makes an aggressive, I would go beyond aggressive, zealous attack on the president's critics, I think that's valuable.

KURTZ: Well, the press used to admire Rudy when he was U.S. attorney and then when he was mayor of New York especially after 9/11. Now, he is Trump's lead TV lawyer. It is what he is. Many pundits dismiss him as overzealous. He told Atlantic's Elaina Plott, it is impossible that the whistleblower is a hero and I'm not. And I will be the hero. These morons - - when this is over, I will be the hero.

FERRECHIO: Yeah, if he was working for a Democrat. I mean --


FERRECHIO: I'm sorry but he said this morning on Maria's show, look, I'm acting as the president's defense attorney and what I am defending him against? I am defending him against the charge that in 2016, my client, the president, colluded with the Russians to win the election. I'm out there to prove it was something else going on, that the Democrats are really behind a lot of this collusion.

And that's what he said he's doing. So, what do we do in the media? What's our role? Should we be listening to the defense attorney a little more closely? Should we be following on the things he's talking about a little more closely or should our attention just be turned on whatever the president did on the phone and whatever other collusion or corruption things involved the president and not what his so-called defense attorney wants him to do?

KURTZ: What about Giuliani's point that the media -- he made the point again on television -- are protecting Joe Biden, that, you know, they are not aggressively investigating Biden because they like him and he's a Democrat, whatever?

BENSON: Politico looked into that whole situation and The New York Times did pretty aggressively as well. I would like to hear a little bit more of a drumbeat of criticism from the press about the evasiveness of Joe Biden not answering any questions on any of this that at some point can't last. But I feel --

KURTZ: He hasn't done any interviews this past week. Even on the trail, he has talked to reporters but --

BENSON: Right. But I am saying if there were -- if it were a Republican in the bunker on this, I think there would be lots of loud screaming about -- also one of their very quick point, it is true that the Ukrainians did, in fact, meddle in the 2016 election on behalf of Hillary Clinton and against the Trump campaign.

It looked like there were some anchors and other networks who did not even know that was a thing that happened even though it wasn't I think part of the context of this current --

KURTZ: What about Bill Barr? Many pundits are saying he should recuse himself because the president brought him up in his conversation with President Zelensky although it is not clear that he did very much on this.

WILLIAMS: No, but I think that lots of people are concerned about the way the whistleblower complaint was handled because if you recall, Howie, it goes from the director of National Intelligence Office where the inspector general thought that it was an urgent and critical concerned, but they checked on it with the White House, eventually with the Justice Department that told them it's not urgent, no need to reveal it. People felt that's part of the cover-up.

KURTZ: So many story lines here. Chris Wallace disclosing on his program this morning that the two other Washington lawyers, former Justice Department official Joe diGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing, have also been working to dig up opposition research on Joe Biden working with Rudy Giuliani. So there are a lot of threads here.

Panel, thanks very much. Ahead, what impact will impeachment have on the coverage of the democratic campaign? But up next, MSNBC cuts into a Trump press conference twice to call him a liar. And as you guys were saying, some cable news segments get way overheated.


KURTZ: -- MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace did exactly what she and colleagues did during William Barr's testimony, broke in in the middle to accuse people of lying in this case while the president was still speaking.


NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: We hate to do this, really, but the president isn't telling the truth. These allegations against Joe Biden and Hunter Biden that he's repeating have been investigated by the Ukrainians. What's amazing is that what Trump appears to be trying to do is to turn his own impeachment into a big deflection.


KURTZ: Her factual point was correct, but couldn't a former Bush White House aide have waited until at least the president had his say before unloading on him? MSNBC then went back to the presser when Trump yielded the floor to Mike Pompeo while he spoke in again.


WALLACE: Whatever is coming out of the White House is not coming from the president because what he's disseminating are lies, attacks and deflections.


KURTZ: Remember, this is daytime news coverage by a news network. Look, I don't care if Nicolle Wallace wants to attack Trump every single day, she is an opinion person, but at this press conference, there wasn't even the pretense of fairness by MSNBC.

Now, shouting matches are hardly unknown on cable news but the decimal levels seemed to have gone even higher as the Democrats begin their impeachment probe with the president. Rudy Giuliani has had his share of heated debate, shall we say. At Laura Ingram's show, the president's personal lawyer and a key figure in the Ukraine drama really got into it with former Chuck Schumer aide, Chris Hahn.


GIULIANI: You usually say incredibly stupid things.


GIULIANI: Yeah, and -- by the way, do you have any idea that the State Department --


GIULIANI: Shut up!


GIULIANI: Shut up! You don't know what you're talking about. You don't know what you're talking about, idiot.

HAHN: I do.

GIULIANI: The State -- no, you don't.

HAHN: I wish you would stop.


KURTZ: There was more but you get the idea. Obviously, no one gets his message out if both guests are shouting over each other.

Emily Tisch Sussman, a democratic activist and former official at Think Progress, was on MSNBC the other day when she said this about the competition between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.


EMILY TISCH SUSSMAN, DEMOCRATIC ACTIVIST: I actually heard someone saying that I thought was an interesting point, that basically at this point, if you are still supporting Sanders as opposed to Warren, it's kind of showing your sexism because she has more detailed plans and her plans have evolved. I thought it was an interesting point and I think there may be something to it.


KURTZ: Well, that went viral. Seriously, can't liberal voters choose Bernie over Elizabeth without being called out as sexist? Is it insufficiently (INAUDIBLE) to actually back a man if you think he's the best candidate? Come on.

Next on "Media Buzz," Trump adviser David Bossie is here with the White House perspective on impeachment, the whistleblower, and the press's role in this drama.


KURTZ: In a tumultuous week over a Ukraine uproar, and now the Democrats pushing hard toward impeachment.

Joining us with the White House perspective is David Bossie, President Trump's former deputy campaign manager, president of Citizens United and a Fox News contributor.

And Dave, most of the media as you know are portraying President Trump's call to Ukraine's leader as widely inappropriately to bring up an investigation of Joe Biden after he personally froze military aid to that country. New York Times has a full page editorial, full page in size, why are they wrong?

DAVID BOSSIE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, the rush to judgment here is just out of control, the Democrats have no facts. Look, let's talk about the media for a second, they are so breathless in their desire to destroy this president, they're acting, they're continuing to act as super PACs for the Democrat Party. That as clear as I can make it.

Let me just give you a couple of headlines, Howie. NBC News, shell shocked, White House struggles to find impeachment footing. Really? The president just went through three years, 1500 subpoenas and 500 search warrants and hundreds and hundreds of --


KURTZ: Sure, but there are some who think he should have a war room to deal with this new environment.

BOSSIE: I understand and if you look at the Clinton model, how they -- how the press has used to having him handle it, you look at George Papadopoulos, Paul Begala and James Scarborough, and David Kendall (Ph) and James Sherburne (Ph), the pack of killers is what Bill Clinton brought together, and inside and outside operation.

This president doesn't feel that he needs that, he is doing fine --


KURTZ: Because he told some press five times a day.

BOSSIE: -- the way he does it. He does it himself --


BOSSIE: -- and he does it through his Twitter account.

KURTZ: Since you brought up that era, you were a criminal investigator in the 90s digging into Bill Clinton and various scandals. If President Clinton had called the foreign leader and said, suggested investigating Bob Dole, for example, you would be on fire and you would be leading the impeachment charge.

BOSSIE: Well, look we would have obviously had questions about it but I don't know that Speaker Gingrich at the time would have went out before the transcript of the call was even released, OK, with the hyperventilation of that transcript he's going to mention Biden eight times. He's going to have a quid pro quo, there's going to be pressure, none of those things happened obviously.

So, this -- look, this president does -- he talks the way he talks to people, it is not a problem. The president can ask anything he wants. There was nothing wrong in this call. What's wrong is the desire by the Democrats on the hill to impeach this president at all costs, they've been trying it since before he got elected and this whistleblower, he is going to have, he or she is going to have a lot of questions to have to answer.

KURTZ: So, the president and Rudy Giuliani are saying, look, the real scandal is Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, what they did in Ukraine, and look, Biden's son did, taking a job with this oil giant with no relevant experience in the area while his father was V.P. It smells bad, it seems like trading on the family name.

BOSSIE: Of course.

KURTZ: But no investigation has found Hunter Giden (Ph) -- Hunter Biden, excuse me, guilty of specific wrongdoing. Isn't this a classic case by your side of political deflection?

BOSSIE: No, no, this has been going on, the Biden inquiry, we've demanding investigations into Joe Biden and Hunter Biden for a long time. I have Citizens United has multiple, multiple four-year lawsuits over this material because we can't get it out of the federal government, they will not give it up.

KURTZ: The media have covered the Biden story but perhaps not with the frequency and the intensity that you would like.

BOSSIE: No. You look at what's going on. They've lost their collective minds. They want to defeat this president next November using impeachment. Al Green, the congressman from Texas said it in his own words that we must impeach him in order to not have him get reelected.

This is all political, it's all politics, that's what this is about.

KURTZ: You think the media are largely positive toward impeachment? And Nancy Pelosi as you remember, she is the one who had been holding the line, and now that she has been for it, there are over 218, they have 225 Democrats, that's the majority of the House that could bring the impeachment articles.

BOSSIE: They are a team. The Democrat Party and the mainstream media are working in concert together to undermine this president. They did all throughout the fake Russia collusion investigation over the last two and a half years and now they are breathlessly attacking this president without any facts. The New York Times --


KURTZ: You keep saying without any facts.

BOSSIE: Hold on, the facts are on our side on this thing, Howie, the only thing that has come out, the only thing is the transcripts to the call, which is not bad. There are no facts in there that are impeachable. People can -- you can argue, people can argue over the policy.


KURTZ: You can absolutely argue. You can absolutely argue that it's not impeachable but it's not nothing. Then isn't this the Russia play book, the president is doing is every year, going on offense, fake news --


KURTZ: -- enemy of the people, media leak --


BOSSIE: The New York Times. The New York Times editorial page just the other day, Trump impeachment inquiry is the only option. What are they talking about? That is before we have one single fact, there was no quid pro quo, there was no pressure, there was no seven or eight times of Biden mentions. There was no withholding of anything. This is classic Democrats.

Look, I want to know a little bit and I think this is where we're going to be headed which is who is this whistleblower? And are they on team Brennan, Clapper, and Comey? Were they part of the Peter Strzok insurance policy? Look, we have a lot of questions about this whistleblower and their credibility.

KURTZ: Well, let me --


BOSSIE: He or she is really going to be --


KURTZ: Well, we know now, thanks to the New York Times that it's a male and it's a CIA officer, why is the president attacking the whistleblower, who, by the way, we don't know the identity, even if it turns out that he is an anti-Trump partisan -- why is the whistleblower even still relevant because when the president --


BOSSIE: The whistleblower is relevant.

KURTZ: -- when the president decided to release the actual language, the rough transcript of this phone call, we and the media, the political parties can focus on that and not some whistleblower who didn't have firsthand knowledge.

BOSSIE: Yes. It's the same thing with Comey, and McCabe, and Clapper and Brennan and Peter Strzok and that cabal of folks inside of our government that wanted to defeat this president since 2016 and wanted to --


KURTZ: But why is this person --

BOSSIE: -- impeach him ever since.

KURTZ: Why is this person part of a cabal?

BOSSIE: We don't know that. And that's -- look, they are political --


KURTZ: But you're saying it. You're saying it.

BOSSIE: Look, we know that the inspector general has said there is some political animus, we don't know what that is yet, but that is going -- look, the motives of this whistleblower are going to be important and we're going to want to -- we're going to have to flesh that all out.

KURTZ: OK. I agree it's important and I also think that we're -- the president made the decision controversial in some quarters to put out the call, and we can all argue about it and that's why we have here to make the case.

David Bossie, great to see you.

BOSSIE: Thanks, Howie.

KURTZ: Thanks so much. And after the break Hillary Clinton is back on TV today and denouncing the man who beat her. Will the media be giving her a big platform during the 2020 race?


KURTZ: Joining us now from New York with a very different point of view is Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran Democratic strategist who once worked for Bill Clinton. And Hank, the media are all in on this impeachment story to put it mildly but only a few journalists seems to be are asking about whether Nancy Pelosi jumping on this band wagon could backfire on her party, why is that?

HANK SHEINKOPF, FORMER CLINTON-GORE CAMPAIGN CONSULTANT: Because it seems too logical that it won't. Look, it will, it's the timing is bad, it will take forever to get this accomplished. There'll be no trial in the Senate and the better way to have done this properly is they want to beat Donald Trump and pick up seats in the House would have frankly to wait and fight it out on the battlefield, that would have been much smarter.

KURTZ: Well, Mitch McConnell did say the other that there would be trial in the Senate, but leaving that aside, if it would be much smarter, if the ultimate goal for the Democrats is to get the president out of office and if he looks vulnerable in the election or at least they think they can beat him, why are they driving the impeachment train, you know, given the seriousness of these allegations?

SHEINKOPF: The allegation is serious, and frankly, there is an internal battle within the party. There are people who want to see it happen now and they think they can win this battle before November and they'll give them a bump and try to take the Senate back. That's not necessarily the case.

And frankly, you know, Americans have been pretty clear about the impact of foreign policy discussions of any kind in presidential elections and they haven't mattered much.

KURTZ: Well, that's interesting because Nancy Pelosi said during all the months when she was resisting pressure from her progressive wing that impeachment can work if it's bipartisan.

Well, it's not anymore bipartisan right now, President Trump has really high approval ratings among Republicans. So, shouldn't journalists ask wasn't she right in the first place, that one-party impeachment doesn't necessarily work.

SHEINKOPF: Howie, that's really the question. They should ask that question and be very, very analytical about it. The fact is Nancy Pelosi was right, the Democrats are wrong overall and this -- whether it backfires or not is not the question but it won't provide what they want. What they want is Trump's removal, it's not likely to happen unless you win it by election, you can't do it any other way.

KURTZ: What happens to any semblance if a Democratic in gender or any of the president -- and not that a lot was going on with the Hill but the president out there is saying now we can't do guns, we can't do infrastructure, we can't do a trade deal -- the coverage of that it seems to me will be utterly obliterated by impeachment, impeachment, impeachment.

SHEINKOPF: That's the good news for the president, nothing gets accomplished and he gets to get into a battle. And you know, an era event where news has really become entertainment and gossip unfortunately. He wins that gossip and entertainment argument, he's highly entertaining, there's a tremendous amount of gossip here.

Rudy Giuliani is the great defender of the president and he'll be very telegenic and create controversy. So, what is that do? It takes all eyes away from government and all eyes go to politics.

KURTZ: Do I see embedded in your response there, suggestion that to the extent that television is performance art that the Democrats, most of them are kind of boring or at very at least can't compete with the Trump show?

SHEINKOPF: The Trump show is ongoing show, it seems to be rewritten every day, it's got new acts, it's kind of Ed Sullivan, whatever you expect will be there and will be there with intensity and he's done very well at the Democrats, well, they kind of believe that this is not about entertainment and there's something else going on and they're missing the point. Trump entertains, they bore.

KURTZ: OK. Glad you're not holding back. Now Hillary Clinton was on Jane Pauley this morning, CBS Sunday morning talking about the man who beat her, let's take a look.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: I believe he knows he's an illegitimate president. It's like applying for a job and getting 66 million letters of recommendation and losing to a corrupt human tornado.


KURTZ: Now Hillary has been off the media radar for some time, is it helpful to your side that she's out there denouncing Trump again?

SHEINKOPF: Listen, she's not going to get much ink and she won't get a lot of attention because you know, someone who was a news man for many, many years, she's old news and she's not much news, not important.

KURTZ: Interesting by the way, Washington Post has story today saying the State Department is investigating dozens of current and former officials who sent messages to Hillary Clinton's private e-mail, some of which have been retroactively classified, state says this is routine, it took this long to get to it, others are raising questions about the timing.

So, finally, Hank, you know, many media outlets say that the Trump-Ukraine call bringing up Biden is absolute outrage, dirty trick, it violates the Constitution, I mean, we are seeing some pretty heated rhetoric.


KURTZ: Could it be like the Russia investigation that much of the country simply isn't that exercised about it?

SHEINKOPF: They're not exercised about it because it doesn't -- it's hard to make sense if it's not a single-fact issue, it's complicated, it has shades, it has nuance.

The most interesting to me though, is that, with the Manafort investigation, with all of these investigations, what we see is the more unseemingly side of political consulting and lobbying and consulting practices, generally overseas, that's not good news.

What the president is trying to do is through Hillary all over again. Trump is -- excuse me, Biden is Hillary because Biden is corrupt. Well, let's see if that works.

KURTZ: You just called out your political consulting profession which shows you're being very candid. And thanks for the candid commentary. Hank Sheinkopf, great to have you on the show.

SHEINKOPF: My pleasure.

KURTZ: Still to come, will coverage of the coming impeachment hearings wipe out just about everything else?


KURTZ: The press is obviously been busy chronicling the number of Democrats backing impeachment. And after Nancy Pelosi's announcement it soared past 218 more than half the house. But some pundits are also questioning the impact on her party.

Joining us now from Charlottesville, Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Institute of Politics. Let me start with this, Larry, I have a strong feeling that much of the media, most of the media are excited about impeachment not just because they think it would vindicate all of the investigative reporting on Donald Trump but because it will a major boost to clicks and ratings.

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Well, that was certainly true during the Nixon impeachment hearings, it was certainly true during the Clinton impeachment process.

Here's a little historical fact for you. The other impeachment of President Andrew Johnson in 1868, of course they didn't have television back then.

KURTZ: Of course.

SABATO: But the hottest ticket in Washington was the seat in the gallery, I mean, this is just the way it is, it's a big story.

KURTZ: Right. Well, no clicks during the Nixon impeachment. It's pre- internet but certainly curing Clinton. So, in fact, Bill Clinton after the House impeached him and after the Senate acquitted him in the early 1990s, 73 percent approval rating because it was essentially a one-party impeachment.

Are the media open to the possibility that this could all backfire on Pelosi and Democrats because if you look at polls, and I know you do, impeachment is not that popular with the overall electorate?

SABATO: I think they will actually be led by polls not just their own but others that they see and as you know we have an awful lot of polling. If the public responds negatively they want to be with that because it's reflected in their ratings, so they may be reluctant about it but I think they will follow public opinion if that's what happens.

KURTZ: So, it seems to me that, you know, by Pelosi authorizing because she was the one holding all of this back, Pelosi authorizing an impeachment inquiry, isn't she pretty much committed to having a vote and is it pretty obvious that any articles of impeachment would pass? Or you're suggesting that if the public really turns against this and the media starts to show skepticism that they might pull back and not actually carry through with the impeachment?

SABATO: Well, anything is possible at this early stage, I suspect they will impeach him. The key for Pelosi is whether she can get this over quickly, and she's trying, you know, I was surprised that they immediately said we're going to try to get this over by Thanksgiving in the house. We'll see. I bet that doesn't happen but that's what she said.

If they don't get it over by February 3rd which is the start of the presidential voting in Iowa, they're going to be in deep trouble.

KURTZ: Right. I know some people say well, they are rushing it, and obviously they want to -- they have him -- they think like they have the momentum now. But you've led me to my next question, which is, even if it happens, if it's all wrapped before the Iowa caucuses, what would be the impact on the 2020 Democratic primary race of all this wall to wall coverage on impeachment, every possible forum, won't it consume with the exception of Joe Biden who obviously is a player in this, wouldn't it consume most of the available media oxygen from almost all these other candidates?

SABATO: Yes, yes and yes. I mean, look, you've covered lots of stories simultaneously.


KURTZ: I like when the guests agreed with me.


KURTZ: I like when the -- that's good.

SABATO: Yes. Well, I've known you for a long time, Howie, I don't want to argue you through the segment. But look, the essence of it is that the candidates are trying to get out their message on healthcare and gun control, fill in the blank, and there's only so much air time and also people are getting tired of the campaign.

It always happens about this time. The same people are showing up for the most part on the debate stage for the once a month debate. So, I don't think they benefit from this, they'll only benefit from getting it over relatively quickly.

KURTZ: Right. I mean, again, Biden is sort of an exception and he's got to play some defense here because of the attempt to turn the spotlight on him. But if you are, you know, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren, I mean, not that they won't get some coverage but, you know, less than half a minute it seems to me that they are just going to make fewer headlines.

SABATO: And what -- what is to distinguish them from one another? They're all going to endorse the impeachment, so, I guess, you know, you say well, one used more strident language than the other, who cares. They are all going to agree on this subject, they need to get back to whatever is motivating their personal campaign's base.

KURTZ: Right.

SABATO: That's what will either get them elected or defeated.

KURTZ: Right. Biden has been a little bit less pro-impeachment but certainly says it should be looked at. Larry Sabato, great to see you.

SABATO: Thanks, Howie.

KURTZ: And that's it for this edition of "Media Buzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. Hey, check out my podcast, "Media Buzz Meter." You can subscribe at Apple iTunes, Google Play or You can get it on your Amazon device. We hope you like our Facebook page. You can check out my columns and videos there at Howard Kurtz with inevitable Twitter debate. I look forward to it.

We're back here next Sunday, this was a packed show, 11 Eastern. We'll see you then with the latest buzz.

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