Published November 13, 2017
This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," November 12, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On a buzz meter this Sunday on media earthquake over a Washington Post report that Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore sexually molested a 14-year-old girl decades ago and he meets back by saying this garbage is the very definition of fake news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
JESSE WATTERS, FOX NEWS: Even just the allegations itself is not just one person it is multiple people so the whole cloud, the whole stench around this guy, I don't see how he can represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate.
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC: Roy Moore who has lived his whole life as the holiest man in American politics stand accused tonight of a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. And he is still a candidate to serve time in the United States.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: A 32-year-old molesting a 14-year-old girl is disgusting and that is something we should all agree on should transcend politics.
DAVID WOHL, ATTORNEY: The timing of these acts allegedly one month before the election makes them highly suspect and let me get this straight, this act allegedly took place in 1979 and the first time she discloses is 38 years later.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC: The depths and depravity of conservative media outlets that defend someone like Roy Moore, who is now known to be a pedophile, unless you don't believe the women.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: With President Trump, Mitch McConnell and others say Moore should quit the race if the allegations are true. How strong is the Washington Post story? Which puts four women in the record saying the former judge pursued them while they were teenagers. President Trump says he believes Vladimir Putin is sincere in denying any Russian hacking. Are this the gaps being portrayed by the press?
Louis C.K. apologizes for sexual misconduct after the New York Times report accusations from several women.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
All right I get it. It sucks going out with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: And a story leads to the cancellations of his new movie and several TV. A stunning account of how Harvey Weinstein's private detectives to try to intimidate his accusers and the journalists who were on his trail. I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "Media Buzz."
The Washington Post story on Alabama Republican Roy Moore is based on a series of on the record interviews with Lee Kaufman who says she was 14 when Moore a 32 year-old persecutor who befriended her and sexually accosted her. Here is a Washington Post report as her description of what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETH REINHART, WASHINGTON POST REPORTER: The first time there was kissing. The second time he took she took off her clothes. He took off his own clothes.
JUDGE ROY MOORE, R-ALA.: I have not been guilty of sexual misconduct with anyone. These allegations came only four weeks before the general election of December 12, why now?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: So the other women told the post on the record that Moore pursued relationship with her when they were between 16 and 18, but nothing was involved more than kissing. Joining us to analyze the coverage. Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at the Federalist and a Fox News contributor, Juan Williams co-host of The Five and Erin McPike, senior adviser to media group of America on Independent Journal Review. Mollie, let us take a look at this Washington Post story, four women who don't know each other, who didn't put this out. The Reporters came to them. Lee Corfman said she was 14 at the time and she voted for Donald Trump. Is this like an orchestrated campaign against Roy Moore?
MOLLIE HEMMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: I think this is an important story. But this is a media environment where many other stories about sexual assault that are well-source have fallen apart if it was three years ago when Sabrina (inaudible) wrote the coverage story for Rolling Stone about a gang rape at UVA. They media praised her for her story and praise the courage that everybody involved in a sort of reflexively accepted the story and it came out to be misreported. The fraternity that was malign $1.6 million, a dean who is malign $1.3 million. Well there is a different standard on that. But people are used to sexual assault not being as credible as they are first presented. The UVA or the duke lacrosse team was also accused of a gang rape, that story fall apart. The people who were accused were actually declared innocent. There is a media environment where people aren't necessarily going to accept whatever they hear from a media outlet just because they are told.
KURTZ: The Washington Post talked to two friends who she told she was dating an older man. On the radio with Sean Hannity Roy Moore went through all this, and it was politically motivated and so forth and then he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: Do you remember dating girls at that time?
MOORE: Not generally, no. If I did, I am not going to dispute anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: That was not a hard denial.
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS: No and so much of what he said to Sean Hannity was emphatic. Then he said that. I think what you just played introduce that into the viewers mind what Roy Moore is exactly disputing. It's not ok to be going out with teenaged girl.
KURTZ: And then there is this tweet from Roy Moore whose senate election battle is next month. The Obama-Clinton machine's liberal media lap dogs just launched the most of vicious and nasty attacks against on me, I ever face. What does this have to do with Obama and Hillary?
ERIN MCPIKE, INDEPENDENT JOURNAL REVIEW: Absolutely nothing, here is the thing, to your earlier point about this story that broke down, that was three years ago and a lot happen since then, I think the important thing in this story is that you had all four of these women on the record, not only that, the Post interviewed Kaufman six times. They talked to the friends of the other women involved, because they wanted the story to be airtight and controlled. That story is airtight.
KURTZ: I take your point Mollie, that not every allegation is true. Some are defending Moore but mostly not. They are saying he should quit the race.
HEMMINGWAY: Certainly this is a well time hit and it is a very difficult thing for people to talked, I mean stories about sexual assault are always very difficult to report and a very difficult to respond to. And it doesn't mean when you take it seriously that you just reflexively accept claims or denials. There has been quite a bit of fervor about this story, not as much calm thought about it. But it's a very difficult story and these are very serious allegations.
WILLIAMS: Mollie, heart of this, in the political context, the journal stories you cite, yes. But the loss of a Republican seat in the U.S. senate to Dough Jones a Democrat, and right now that race is very tight. And to say the Democrats or some political apparatus by this mean Democrats set this up to defeat Roy Moore, the problem is people are saying exactly how is Ms. Corfman a part of the machine. What is in her interest to come out and expose herself to the kind of criticism and the allegations that she is part of the Democrats at this point? She is a Trump voter.
KURTZ: Here is part of the criticism, interestingly the Moore campaign gave this story and it ends to Breitbart. But then you have Steve Bannon, the chairman of Breitbart saying this and harkening back to the fact it was The Washington Post who broke the "Access Hollywood" tape about Donald Trump. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, CHIEF STRATEGIST TO THE WHITE HOUSE: Is it just a coincidence that the Bezos, Amazon, Washington Post did the Billy Bush hit? And they did a hit on Judge Moore? Just a complete random thing in the universe, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: That is based on the Washington Post. What do you make about that line of criticism that because the Post had broken the story about candidate Obama. That this story should be suspect?
MCPIKE: More campaign obviously went to Breitbart but before the Post broke the story, I have seen campaigns try to get ahead of stories before, but not like that, to actually reveal everything in the story that is going to be coming out. That seem to me a bridge far that I have never seen in across before.
KURTZ: Let's talk about selective outrage in the media. You have pundits denouncing Roy Moore. He has been removed from the state Supreme Court in Alabama. Then Democrats when they are accused of sexual misconduct, then they are saying the allegations are true so it seems a lot of people that the reaction can be partisan depending on who is the targeted of this accusations.
HEMMINGWAY: It doesn't just seem that way. It is that way. I just want to remind people that George Stephanopoulos pulled the original Bannon trick here are probably original trick of going to Breitbart when the Washington Free Beacon had the story about him giving $75,000 to Hillary Clinton. They ask him for comment, he end up Politico instead, but this is such a bigger context. People are pretending this is just a story, about you know very genuine story about this person. The Washington Post has taken a position itself as part of the resistance. They had decided to take a very hostile opposition stance towards the President and that means the president agenda, the Republican Party in general. So people are skeptical about the timing, they are skeptical about just the story itself. It's somewhat unfair, because the story should stand or fall on its own merits. Part of a larger context where the Post has been so oppositional.
MCPIKE: Can I jump in for a second. To your question to Molly that it's based on partisanship, I take issue with that and here is why. On Friday in Colorado, broke a story about a state representative who is a Democrat, named Steve (inaudible) who another Democratic state representative by the name of Winter accused of aggressively sexually harassing her at the end of last year. In the same story breaking it, the Democratic Speaker of the House called for that representative resignation and she said I believe there should be extremely high standards of conduct for the state legislature. If you are calling for the resignation of a member of your own party in the story breaking.
KURTZ: There are some way exceptions where people take on, Mitch McConnell didn't wait long before going after Judge Roy Moore. By the way when it is Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky a lot of liberal pundits and politicians made excuses for the President. But just to finish on the Washington Post, so yes the editorial page which is run by a separate editor, clear liberal editorial base, I understand people take issue with the Post reporting, but this doesn't necessarily make the story untrue. You have to look at the evidence, the interviews with the four women. Do they have partisan motivation? Again they voted for Donald Trump and George W. Bush.
WILLIAMS: that was my point and the second point to make here is at some point, given Roy Moore's evangelical's projection that he is a man of god and standing on the Ten Commandments, it's difficult for people in the Bible belt in Alabama to make a decision here. When it comes to questioning the resistance, if you are looking at that story in and of itself in terms of the sourcing and in terms of people on the record as a reporter, I have been a reporter for a long time, that story is pretty stuff.
KURTZ: Of course a lot of people they are not going to believe the media or hey this is 38 years ago and before we get in to break, the Democratic mayor Bill de Blasio re-elected to a second term in New York. Look at the tabloid covers, tabloids are not fans of Mayor De Blasio and they show it in their headlines. All right when we come back, the media pouncing on the President's controversial comments about Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin. We will look at his Twitter diplomacy and later, Dana Perino on the press corps doing battle with Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
KURTZ: President Trump is getting modest coverage of his trip to Japan and South Korea, China and Vietnam ta is until this weekend's he went on a tweet storm and included this missive on North Korea leader. Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me old while I would never call him short and fat, oh well, I tried so hard to be his friend ad maybe someday that will happen. Mollie Hemingway, this is an unusual form of presidential diplomacy, but the press is reaping this is somewhere between undisciplined and nutty.
HEMMINGWAY: Yes, funny because twitter just doubled its character count, I thought it was a horrible idea that seeing what you can do with twice the Twitter characters that really does make a case for redoubling it is a perfect example of how everyone seems to hear Donald Trump differently depending on your perspective and you might think when he says something like this it is horrific and awful and on about a leader in the World War III or you think it's really funny. I think the media issue is that so many people in the media reside only in one camp. It seem you only hear it as a threat, and a danger and it don't really hear it as so many other people not just in the country but the world hear it.
KURTZ: Whether it was wise or not Juan, the press is still unaccustomed to the fact that President Trump does not speaking carefully scrubbed diplomatic phrases especially on the Twitter.
WILLIAMS: Yes, but this goes beyond that, I mean the question is you know, these are now official documents as to his Twitter account is not as old something discovery will so it's real and comes from a Commander-in-Chief and it comes from the leader of the free world so yes it is funny and it is like schoolyard, if you and I Howie are staying at a schoolyard with joking is fine, but when I am leader of the free world and I start talking in those times I think the concern is people does he have control and then the people say that is partisan, it is not partisan, they are just worried.
KURTZ: It is also part of this controversy is what the President had to say or didn't have to say about Vladimir Putin whom he met with at the Asian pacific conference. So let me set this up, the president talk to the reporters on a plane trip in Vietnam and he said to reporters, he said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did. I believe when he says that he means it. He then tried taken in appearance with reporters to walk it back just a little bit. Look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: What I said I believe he believes that. That is very important for somebody to believe. I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election. As to whether I believe it or not, I am with our agencies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Is this a misstep or miscommunication, something in between?
MCPIKE: Not in the communications. He obviously walk it back. There is a lot of believing in there. So it is hard to believe what to believe, because there is so much believing. I want to go back to the tweets for just a second, because John Kelly was asked about this by reporters on the trip. He said I tell my staff not to worry about this tweet. I am not getting any questions about the tweet. And that is something that a number of administration staff has done. When Sean Spicer was press secretary he always use to say at the podium the tweets speak for themselves and that is what Sarah Huckabee Sanders says. So they obviously know the tweets area problem and they don't want to take questions on that.
KURTZ: The transcript does suggest Mollie that Donald Trump believes Putin. If you look at the transcripts of people who heard the audio like Fox John Roberts say the inflection makes clear that wasn't Trump's meeting, White House by the way wont released the audio so we can't hear it for our show.
HEMMINGWAY: They should release the audio. I don't really think that what comes made sense there. Either the original comment or what he was saying in the walk back. It's also true that you see media respond to things he says or tweets and they overstate what they are saying. It's better to take a step back and look at the larger issue of the relationship with Russia. He did not -- it's very difficult at a time like that. His original statement or his (inaudible).
KURTZ: And that is the larger context Juan, because another tweet President said only haters and fools would be opposed to a good relationship with Russia.
WILLIAMS: Well, thing here is that, again the context to the story is so important. We are in the midst of a probe as to the extent and dangers of interference in the American election by Russia. You think, how is that possible given what the intelligence agents have reported? His own intelligence agencies, his own CIA Director. This man has nuclear weapons.
KURTZ: Yes. Most of Presidents do. Juan Williams, Erin McPike, thanks very much. Mollie we will see you later. Ahead, a bombshell report of Harvey Weinstein using private detectives to intimidate journalists investigating his conduct. Up nest new allegations to the Justice Department is trying to block AT&T from buying CNN, will this impact that mega merger?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: AT&T is buying is buying Time Warner and CNN a deal we will not approve in my administration, because it is too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Several news outlets reported this week that the Justice Department might be pressuring the AT&T to sell of CNN in exchange for federal approval to but the networks parent company Time-Warner, but is that true? Joining us now Shannon Pettypiece, White House correspondent for Bloomberg news is that conflicting reports here this one is from New York Times front page headline Trump versus CNN we all know the President Clinton's considers CNN to not have high journalists standards, what do you make of that?
SHANNON PETTYPIECE, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Our reporting in the case very strongly that the Justice Department is putting pressure on AT&T to find a way to move forward with the deal with how only the Turner Broadcasting network which owns CNN and TNT and TBS in another few other channels that the Justice Department want AT&T to find a way to do this deal by (inaudible) Turner or creating some sort of joint venture or some way that you can go to without Turner and CNN in the package.
KURTZ: KURTZ: White House by the way said the persons had no contact on the Justice Department on this issue now another version denied by the CEO of AT&T is a big company offered to sell CNN, but then there is also a version of the Justice Department did what you said so Turner broadcasting including CNN or sell of Direct TV, my question is. Aren't these sort of the normal kinds of concerns that come up in anti-trust negotiations rather than a plot to get CNN to be sold?
PETTYPIECE: What is different about this is typically the anti-trust regulator involved when two competitors bind in each other and the result of that merger could create a monopoly. Ford buying GM, ABC buying NBC, those type of deals. In this case AT&T and Time-Warner aren't direct competitors. This is what they call a vertical merger. The concern as we can decipher from the Justice Department. If AT&T own the Turner content of CNN and TDS and all of those other channels they will be able to say to consumers they were not going to let you know if any other providers want to carry CNN, they can do have to get AT&T Direct TV if you want to have CNN.
KURTZ: My point is that, you can lead the way but that is a classic concern it is not a political attempt to silence CNN.
PETTYPIECE: It is a little bit different in this case, because they are not real direct competitors.
KURTZ: Right. Let me move you to a trip back in China where President Trump and President Xi walk off without taking reporter's question, take a brief, look at that.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters it was she who did not want to have a q and a with reporters. Since previous president although there is an exemption Barack Obama his first trip to China insisted to the Chinese we are going to take questions, what kind of signal is that send?
PETTYPIECE: Well the Barack Obama administration officials were on the record talking about this very issue, they had a very similar situation as he suggested where they did not take questions on the press in the first press conference with Chinese, they learned from that they felt it did not send a signal. I'm sure this will not be the last time President Trump is in China. So we will see what they do next time, but it sounds like it's one of those common mistakes an administration can make early on when they don't know there is a way to pressure the Chinese.
KURTZ: How much do you want to pressure the Chinese when you need the Chinese help on North Korea?
PETTYPIECE: Right. Is that what you want to go on the mat, or if you want to fire one of your bullets.
KURTZ: Shannon Pettypiece it is great to see you, thanks so much for joining us this Sunday. Ahead. New testimony appears to knock down the most of salacious part of the unverified Trump dossier. That is later, but Louis C.K. apologizes after New York Times story on his sexual misconduct cause the comedian his new movie.
KURTZ: The New York Times story on sexual misconduct by Louis C.K. has prompted the Orchard production company to cancel his new movie "I Love You, Daddy" about an older actor pursuing a 17-year-old girl.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leslie Goodwin?
CHLOE GRACE MORETZ, ACTRESS: Ain't that weird?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not that weird. He likes young girls.
MORETZ: Yes he does.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: China.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody is a pervert. I'm a pervert. (INAUDIBLE) pervert. Who cares?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: The Times quoted five women, four of them on the record, who are saying the comedian masturbated in front of them or during a phone call or asked to do so. Now, in an apology, Louis C.K. said he'd asked permission to expose himself but took advantage of his fame, "which disabled them from sharing their story and brought hardship to them when they tried because people didn't want to hear it. There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for. I've brought pain to my family, my friends, my children, and their mother."
HBO, Netflix and FX Networks owned by Fox's parent company, cancelled projects with Louis with FX saying he'll no longer receive any revenue from for joint productions. Joining us now from Los Angeles, Matt Belloni, editor of the Hollywood Reporter.
Matt, the Hollywood Reporter actually broke the news of Louis C.K.'s movie premier being cancelled just before the New York Times posted that story with the allegations from the women. And then as I said, Louis issuing this full (INAUDIBLE) apology. Did he have much choice?
MATTHEW BELLONI, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: No. I mean, this is an issue that is roiling the entertainment industry and we're seeing people acting very quickly to respond to these allegations. FX the next day canceled not just the Louis C.K. program but all the programs that he has an involvement with, he will be taken off of. So, that's a pretty swift move for a network that has been in the Louis C.K. business for a decade now, very intertwined with them.
KURTZ: Right. It shows you the swiftness of the actions in this environment. Now, Louis had faced sexual harassment allegations for years, rumors I guess I should say. But it took the New York Times, which also broke the Harvey Weinstein story to get these women on the record, which I think is the key to any of these stories.
BELLONI: Absolutely. And this is -- the Louis C.K. thing is something that had been rumored in comedy circles for years. I had even heard the rumors, you know, no one has said so publicly but there had been allusions to this and obviously his comedy touches on this kind of rumor and the sex talk and such.
So, people wondered but again, it's a case of women coming forward on the record to tell their stories. It's a very courageous thing that these women did and that's what broke the tide here.
KURTZ: Right. Now, Ronan Farrow has this extraordinarily well documented piece in "The New Yorker" this week about Harvey Weinstein hiring these private detective agency to get in touch with, intimidate and tend to undermine some of the accusers of the movie mogul, but also journalists who are working in the story. Does that fit with your understanding of how Weinstein operated?
BELLONI: Absolutely. This is a remarkable story because it really shows how this kind of behavior was kept under wraps for decades. I mean these are former Israeli Mossad agents who are being enlisted to target these women and journalists and Harvey Weinstein was getting journalists to help him. You know, there's a part in there about the editor of the National Enquirer being enlisted to help Harvey Weinstein attack these potential accusers.
They dug up dirt on various editors of different magazines. He would try to do book deals with people to take them out of play. I mean, this is a very sophisticated and in my opinion sinister operation.
KURTZ: Sinister is a good word but how could a movie mogul use these kind of tactics, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to these private eye outfits which would use fake identities, bogus firms, contacting journalists and have it remain sort of secret?
BELLONI: You know, I didn't know this was going on. I think a lot of people in the entertainment industry didn't know this was going on. Everybody I talked to around Hollywood was shocked by this article, that this was the length through which you go. We all knew Harvey had very expensive lawyers.
David Boies is a $1,000 an hour attorney. He had Bert Fields in Los Angeles, another $1,000 an hour attorney. These guys were very powerful and their job was the keep Harvey out of the news in a negative context. But we had no idea that David Boies, you know, who represented Al Gore in the recount was signing this authorization to do these kinds of things. I mean, it's unbelievable.
KURTZ: Yes, I'm glad you brought that up because David Boies is kind of a well-known super lawyer and he also argued the gay marriage case before the Supreme Court. So he's working for the New York Times and then his firm, his law firm hires one of these private eye outfits which then is trying to stop the New York Times from publishing the Weinstein story.
The Times fired Boies when this came out and issued a statement -- let's put it out -- "We consider this intolerable conduct, a grave betrayal of trust and a breach of the basic professional standards that all lawyers are required to observe." Boies said he didn't know the details what the private eye were doing but he admits to The New Yorker that he made a mistake.
Finally, we still have Kevin Spacey, he's been dumped from "House Of Cards" where he played the rogue president. More allegations against him, including one from a former Boston TV anchor, Heather Unruh, who is talking about a sexual assault, alleged sexual assault on her 18-year-old son last year. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HEATHER UNRUH, ACCUSER OF KEVIN SPACEY: To Kevin Spacey, I want to say this, shame on you for what you did to my son.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: So Matt, when Spacey goes off to a sex rehab and he hasn't addressed any of these except for the very first actor who came out and then he said he didn't remember but he was sorry if it happened and he was drunk, are the media justified in assuming he doesn't have a response that he must be guilty?
BELLONI: Well, we reached out on every one of these allegation instances and the fact that he hasn't put out a statement is somewhat telling. I mean I think a lot of the strategies for these people had been to do one statement and then from then on they ask that the original statement be included in the article. Harvey Weinstein did that.
The Kevin Spacey situation is a very serious one. This is one when there could be criminal charges against him. I know the police and a couple of jurisdictions are looking into this. When you don't have much to say, typically that's when you don't do a statement.
KURTZ: Right, that's when the publicist suddenly zips it. And it's kind of just remarkable because a couple of weeks ago Kevin Spacey was on top of the world. He's President Frank Underwood in the Netflix series. He's got all these projects and now, more allegations keep coming on. I keep looking at the Hollywood Reporter and you know, half of the page are these kinds of cases. Matt Belloni, thanks very much for joining us this Sunday and getting up and early for us.
BELLONI: Thank you.
KURTZ: Good to see you. Coming up, the media that pummeled Sean Spicer now slamming Sarah Huckabee Sanders complete with some sexist insult. Dana Perino is up next.
KURTZ: Sarah Huckabee Sanders is starting to get the Sean Spicer treatment from the press with a twist. Some pundits are mocking her appearance as well as her performance as press secretary. Liberal New York Times columnist Frank Bruni ridiculing her enunciation while writing, "She is awful at this, but that makes her an excellent fit for an administration win which mediocrity, inadequate experience and nepotism run rampant." And then, there is SNL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Halloween is over but I see some of you guys are still in your journalist costumes. Sorry about that one but...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah, you've continually denied any connection between the Trump campaign and the interference by the Russian government.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you all are obsessed with this. It's freaking lame.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Wow, I spoke earlier with Dana Perino, host of the new show, "The Daily Briefing," co-host of "The Five" and of course White House press secretary for George W. Bush.
KURTZ: Dana Perino, welcome.
DANA PERINO, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SECRETARY: Thanks Howie.
KURTZ: Now, White House press secretaries as you know are always on the front lines, but some of the press are now criticizing Sarah Huckabee Sanders, calling her a liar, even criticizing her appearance as in that "SNL" clip. Does this go too far?
PERINO: Well, yes, of course. I think so. You know, when I was press secretary I don't think anybody at "SNL" even knew my name, and that's how I liked it. But we are living in a different time, right, and everything that Sarah Huckabee Sanders says and does is scrutinized. I would like for reporters, you know, to point out specifically where did they think she lied.
I don't actually see direct accusations of that. It's more of like they just assume that she is and I can tell you that press secretaries cannot do their job if they lie at all. It just does not happen.
KURTZ: Now, given the battering that Sean Spicer took and he made some mistakes and sometimes Sarah Sanders has to stretch a bit to defend controversial statements by White House folks including her boss. Is there any Trump press secretary who the media would find acceptable in this environment?
PERINO: I don't know. I think in a way, you know, I had asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders a couple of weeks ago when I interviewed her when I got a chance to fill in for Chris Wallace, if indeed the hostility was actually a little bit less than it seemed, and she said no, the hostility was there. And I think in some ways the media believes that it goes both ways and I think that that's partly true.
We are in a very hyper charged environment, but that said, I do also hear from reporters at the White House that she does a very good job of working with them on several things that are important for example logistics, making sure the reporters are going to be in the right place at the right time in order to get what they need from the president to do their jobs.
PERINO: That matters and I think in some ways she has figured out a way to use a little bit of that charm and humor that you see. And I think if she dialed that up a notch it would be useful.
KURTZ: Right. She is certainly not shy but criticizing the press at time.
KURTZ: No, a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, David Horsey wrote the following, saying "Sanders looks more like a chunky soccer mom who organizes snacks for the kids' games. Rather than the fake eyelashes and formal dresses she puts on for news briefings, Sanders seems as if she'd be more comfortable in sweats and running shoes." He apologized and here is what he said to Megyn Kelly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGYN KELLY, HOST, NBC MEGYN KELLY TODAY: What could you have been thinking? What could you have been thinking?
DAVID HORSEY, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, L.A. TIMES: I grew up in the same sexist world everybody else did and stuff just comes up. Real men apologize. You say, OK, I did something ridiculously wrong and offensive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Now, in that interview, Megyn also castigated him for saying in that column referring to female journalists at Fox as blond Barbie dolls. I knew you'd appreciate that, but how did the L.A. Times editors approve this column for publication?
PERINO: Well maybe they just weren't paying that much attention. And again, we are in this weird environment. I was raised to never say anything derogatory about people at any time that's why, you know, I've uncomfortable with politics of the last couple of years.
It's just not something that I think is necessary. It doesn't help anybody get anything done. It makes people feel badly about politics in Washington, D.C. It's just totally unnecessary. Shots can be taken at people for things that they've said or things that they've done or decisions that they've made. I think that any comment on physical appearance is out of bounds. And he was right to apologize and Megyn was right to grill him.
KURTZ: Right. Now, when the press goes after Sarah Huckabee Sanders for -- because she is defending comments by let's say the president or the White House officials that they find indefensible, isn't that part of the job of press secretary and you must have --
KURTZ: -- felt at times to be caught between the press and the bosses.
PERINO: Yes, but not in this way. I mean I don't remember ever having a situation like this. We had other situations which is that, you know, we were a nation at war, we are taking on casualties and that caused a lot of hostility. And I always found that the best thing to do is to explain the president's decision, be able to respect the decision-making process.
But I also think that the media will in that room give you a little bit of a break if for example you say along the lines of I understand why you're asking the question. What I'm going to tell you is x or y, whatever it is she says, and I think there are ways to show that look, I get it. I know why you're asking that question.
But I'm not going to have to be putting myself out there all the time defending actually every single thing that's tweeted or said. I don't think that is actually the job of the press secretary. I think it is to advocate for the country, for the president, and also to protect the rights of the media to ask questions of its government.
KURTZ: Right. You're giving away a little bit of the secrecy which is you don't necessarily need to personally defend every controversy. That's not necessarily the job of the press secretary. But you're right, the culture has certainly changed. Dana Perino, thanks very much for joining us from New York.
PERINO: Thanks Howie.
KURTZ: There was a time when "SNL" didn't know the press secretaries. Fascinating. After the break, the latest leak in the Russia probe may discredit an x-rated part of that Trump dossier. How an unsubstantiated allegation made it through the mediate filter.
KURTZ: We got unverified Trump dossiers back in the news. NBC reports and other outlets have confirmed that Donald Trump's long-time security director, Keith Schiller told House investigators that when they were in Moscow in 2013 an unknown Russian or perhaps Ukrainian man offered to send five women to Trump's room, an offer that Schiller says he immediately rejected.
And we're back with Mollie Hemingway. So, if Trump's security guy is telling the truth, does this knock down a key element in this unverified dossier written by an ex-British spy?
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, SENIOR EDITOR, THE FEDERALIST: Well, I'm not sure about knockdown but yes, think about this. You have the bodyguard saying he was offered prostitutes for Trump, laughing about it, saying no, telling Donald Trump about it, then laughing about it.
KURTZ: They joked about it. Yes.
HEMINGWAY: And then compare that with this dossier, it's just a profoundly different story and it's a really good reminder of how this dossier has been handled by so many people in the media, ever since the first stories came out and particularly in January. It has been treated as this highly incredible document that should be taken so seriously.
And we're told by some reporters that we can't tell you the details but some of it has been verified. And yet story after story after story that comes out shows that this was not a really good piece of intelligence and that there aren't ways to independently verify it apart from supposedly some people saying trust us, it was a good document.
KURTZ: Yes, and here's what's so (INAUDIBLE), when BuzzFeed published this dossier back in January, we're all saying we don't know whether this is true but her it is. Other news organizations said, oh, you know, we can't do this, we can't verify it, we're not going to publish it, we're not going to embrace it. And yet, everyone seems to know about it and I avoided writing about it or talking about it.
This notion that Russians on this trip, which is about the Ms. Universe pageant provided Donald Trump with prostitutes to engage in a certain activity, how does that seep into the media culture when everyone is saying, except BuzzFeed, that we should not report this.
HEMINGWAY: Well, it's such a bigger story too. People know about this story. They knew of about it by the time BuzzFeed published because they -- many people had been briefed on it by Fusion GPS or still (ph) the people who are involved in creating it.
KURTZ: Fusion GPS is the oppo research firm that --
HEMINGWAY: That created the dossier.
KURTZ: That paid for this research.
HEMINGWAY: And again, if you just take a step back. This has been driving our coverage since January. This idea that this dossier was beyond reproach, that it was taken seriously by our intelligence agencies. In just the last couple of weeks, we've had some major undermining of that narrative. We learned it was a Clinton campaign operation all along.
KURTZ: Well, in the sense that the Clinton campaign paid Fusion GPS, which in turn paid for this dossier. That's important.
HEMINGWAY: Yes, and we've learned just recently that the big story about it, the big thing that's supposed to substantiate the Russian collusion narrative is that Donald Trump, Jr. met with certain Russians, but now we know that those Russians were aligned with Fusion GPS, that they met with Fusion GPS just before the meeting and just afterward.
These are really interesting developments and I'm kind of surprised that a media complex that has been so interested in this Russia narrative and the dossier story aren't interested in this later developments that seem to cast it all in a much different light.
KURTZ: Many unanswered questions about Fusion GPS, but just briefly, so now Trump associates are then put in the position of saying, oh now, there were no hookers, it never happened when the bodyguard said that never happened. And we only know this now because of a leak about his testimony.
HEMINGWAY: Right. And everybody had so much fun with this salacious detail in this dossier. It was in fact the only thing that people really hung on, whether it was late night shows or media outlets, making jokes and what not.
Donald Trump himself addressed it in that first press conference right after this was all put out there. And it's all based on it turns out, well from what we know, it doesn't sound like it's based on much.
KURTZ: Classic case study. Mollie Hemingway, good to see you this Sunday. Still to come, Disney tries and fails to retaliate against the L.A. Times and President Trump and the phony fish tail. Stay with us.
KURTZ: I want to nibble at this fish story because it's such a classic little example of how some in the media generate a bogus anti-Trump narrative. The president, Japanese Prime Minister Abe were at a famous koi pond feeding the fish narrative -- that's what you dd. And this what the press full footage shows. Take a look. There they are, very polite, waving, feeding the fish.
Now, a CNN headline said Trump feeds fish, winds up pouring entire box of food into koi pond. Bloomberg White House correspondent Justin Sink tweeted that Trump and Abe were sporting (ph) fish into the pond when Trump just decided to dump the whole box in for the fish. New York's Daily News said, President Trump was criticized for throwing an entire box of fish into a koi pond during his visit to Japan.
A major diplomatic incident, right? Except here's what the pool camera missed as it swung away, Abe dumped his whole box of food first. Donald Trump was just following his lead, wow. Sorry, this was a tall fish tale and too many news organizations went for it, hook, line and sinker.
All right, score one for journalistic solidarity, Disney retaliated against the L.A. Times over an article it didn't like on the company, using its clout to extract lucrative deals from its hometown of Anaheim saying the Times had showed a complete disregard for journalistic standards. The punishment, Disney barred all L.A. Times writers from advance screenings of its movies. But the New York Times, film writers for the Washington Post and the Boston Globe and others quickly joined a boycott against all screenings of Disney movies as a way of supporting the Los Angeles Times.
Disney has now backed gown and ended the ban on L.A. Times and it's really sad that Disney, which owns ABC and ABC News thought it was somehow OK to penalize a newspaper for aggressive reporting unless they benefit from stories about these advance screenings of movies, that's the game.
And that's it for this edition of "MediaBiuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. Thanks for joining watching. Continue the conversation Twitter @HowardKurtz. Let me know what you think by e-mail. We hope you like our Facebook page. Give us a like. We post a lot of content there, segments from the show, other videos I do during the week, the columns I write every day for the Fox News website. So, we like to sort of engage in the dialogue there. We are back here next Sunday. We'll see you then, 11 o'clock Eastern with the latest buzz.
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