Published July 17, 2017
This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," July 16, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, the media are ablaze over Donald Trump, Jr. as the New York Times reports and the president's son confirms that he met with the Russian lawyer who he has was told had opposition research on Hillary Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
JAKE TAPPER: It suggests on its face a willingness to collude with Russia, a foreign adversary of the U.S.
DON LEMON, CNN: This interview is like his, I think, the 5th attempt to defend the indefensible. Don, Jr. is the latest person in the president's orbit to mislead you, the American people about their context with Russia.
JESSE WATTERS, FOX NEWS: Meeting with the Russian lawyer is not treason. Listening to someone dig dirt on another opponent is not treason.
SHEPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS: If there is nothing there and that's what they tell us -- if all of that why all these lies, why lie after lie after lie?
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: In any normal political circumstances, we would be at the end already -- the end of the road with the clear admission of guilt. The worst case scenario, yes, we did it.
ERIC BOLLING, FOX NEWS: Trump derangement syndrome out in force today all day long. Donald Trump, Jr. broke no laws, likely broke no ethics -- election ethics' rules.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Don, Jr. defending the 2016 meeting, which he says went nowhere with Sean Hannity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP JR.: In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently. Again, this is before the Russian mania. This is before they were building it up in the press. For me this was opposition research.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Are the emails about this meeting as damaging as the press is saying? Why did Don, Jr. hold them back until the Times was about to publish them. Are liberal commentators going too far in saying he may have broken the law? And does this change the media narrative about the Russia investigation?
Brit Hume and Former Bush White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer join our discussion. Joe Scarborough says he is leaving the Republican Party and announces it with that other Trump critic, Stephen Colbert. Is this the latest form of anti-Trump protest?
Plus, did an MSNBC contributor really ripped Ivanka for what she wore to the G-20? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."
It was the emails that boosted the story into the stratosphere. The intermediary, this British tabloid actor, PR guy, Rod Goldstone said the Russian lawyer would provide Donald Trump, Jr. with documents "that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia" and that this is high level sense of information was again quoting part of Russia and its government support for Mr. Trump. Don, Jr.'s response? I love it.
The Moscow lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, offered a different account in an interview with NBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NATALIA VESELNITSKAYA, RUSSIAN LAWYER (through translator): I can tell you right now, I have never referred to any compromising information about Ms. Clinton.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did they get that impression?
VESELNITSKAYA (through translator): It might be that desire to see that in my story.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: The president's son accused the media of desperation and more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They're trying to drag out the story, no offense, you know...
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Yes.
TRUMP: ...they have it. They want to drip a little bit today, drip a little bit then, so it's like, here it is, I'm more than happy to be transparent about it and I'm more than happy to cooperate with everyone.
HANNITY: So, as far as you know -- as far as this incidence concern, this is all of it?
TRUMP: This is everything? This is everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage Gillian Turner, Former White House Official in the past two administrations; Katie Pavlich, editor of Townhall.com; and Joe Trippi, Democratic Strategist; all are Fox News Contributors.
Gillian, Donald, Jr. essentially confirmed the basic details of the meeting with the Russian lawyer, something is still dispute. So, is it fair to say that this is another case of fake news?
GILLIAN TURNER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL: Well, he basically confirmed the details of the meeting in four separate disclosures. So, there is something to be said for the drip, drip, drip nature of this none on the part of the media, on the part of him. My bigger concern with this issue is to me, these meetings are a matter for concern.
They constitute in the worst case scenario a national security issue. But, the media has so far so grossly over exaggerated many of the scandals when it comes to this administration that the average person is going to look at this and think, oh, it's another -- this is another Trump Administration scandal. The media is losing their minds.
KURTZ: If everything is in 11, then nothing is in 11...
KURTZ: ...might often say. OK, let's take a look with the president had to say when this came up at a news conference in Paris.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I do think is, I think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting. It's called opposition research. Honestly, I think the press made a very big deal over something that really a lot of people would do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: The press making a very big deal about it. Is the press making too big deal about it?
KATIE PAVLICH, EDITOR OF TOWNHALL.COM: I think the emails are a big deal, because of what exactly the email say talking about this coming from a high-level government source from Russia saying it was -- to help his father's presidential campaign. I mean, that is the first issue. The second issue is the changing story coming from Donald Trump, Jr.
KURTZ: It's also about the drip, drip, drip.
PAVLICH: Alright, and it's coming from him. Sean Hannity asked him specifically, is there anything else and he said no, this is it.
PAVLICH: And yet, here we are days later, we know that it wasn't just one or two people in this meeting. The meeting wasn't about adoption. There were four, five, six, seven, eight people highest level of the Trump Campaign in this meeting and we still don't know what they talked about.
And, in terms of the president, the question has been, all week, what did the president know. Was he told about this meeting? The Trump camp denies that the president knew this. But, the president himself somewhat implied, maybe I was told about this. So, certainly it's unclear.
KURTZ: Well, we'll come back to that. But, Joe, it seems that the media rather than just reporting this as an embarrassing -- possibly, politically damaging episode, quickly shifted to is it illegal and kind of gleefully, according to some Democrats who are saying, oh, it maybe treason. So, I wonder whether, you know, this is a real story that again is going to the media hype machine.
JOE TRIPPI, THE DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, it's a -- one, it's a real story but two, it's going to go through the media hype machine partly because the opposition Democrats are going to take advantage of it. But, the other thing, I agree with Gillian, look when -- everything is an 11, when the 29-second handshake is getting repeatedly run on cable...
KURTZ: You're referring here as the president and the first lady of France?
TRIPPI: The 29-second handshake...
KURTZ: It was horrifying, wasn't it?
TRIPPI: Yes. It's like -- when that's like a big deal, it detracts from when this really is a big deal partially because Donald Trump, Jr. didn't - - it wasn't everything and it keeps dripping out. That's a problem.
KURTZ: Just to clarify, so you have the initial statement on Don, Jr.'s part. I am told that he wanted to actually put out a more detailed statement that this is what White House Officials came up with saying that the meeting was primarily about, you know, this Russian lobby adoption related issue.
Then, came the second statement, which said, yes, you know, we were told as they were told that there was oppo research on Hillary Clinton. And then he posted the emails on Twitter after being told the New York Times was about to publish them and then day after day after day and then we get this on Friday, take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: NBC has learned there was someone else in that controversial meeting. Also in that June 9th meeting at Trump Tower, was another person with alleged ties to Moscow, a Russian-American lobbyist -- a former Soviet Counter-Intelligence Officer, suspected by some U.S. Officials of having ongoing ties to Russian Intelligence.
KURTZ: Oh, a former Soviet Counter-Intelligence Officer, doesn't this sort of thing as it dribbles out fuel media suspicion that we're not getting the whole story?
TURNER: Of course it does. I would say that these kinds of details are really -- like who exactly was in the meeting, was it six, seven, eight people, are really important to an investigation. And those are -- those standards will be upheld in a court-of-law in the ongoing case in the investigation.
But, when it comes to the court of public opinion, of the American people as reflected by the media, they're actually holding the administration rightly so to a much higher standard. They want to know that generally their president -- their commander-in-chief is acting with integrity at all times, is acting with transparency and is putting the national interest at the forefront of everything he is doing.
And it's this kind of story that really calls that into question. And, I think that's what the media is grappling with as a whole right now.
KURTZ: All right, so Time Magazine put up the cover has got Donald Trump, Jr. on the cover red-handed probably something about the media mind- set here Katie Pavlich. And is there a sense -- I mean, look, the position of the president and the Trump Campaign is oppo needs to go on all the time...
KURTZ: ...yes with the Russians but nothing happened. But, is there a sense among many of the pundits that, uh-huh, this time we got them. They've been saying no collusion, no collusion, no collusion...
KURTZ: ...there was this, at least, attempted collusion.
PAVLICH: Well, then this is why the administration and the Trump Campaign would argue they aren't going to come out and continue to talk about the story because even in the case of Don, Jr. releasing the emails, they are coming in saying, well you got caught, you were lying, but there is some credibility to that in the sense that the story has changed multiple times.
But in terms of the credibility factor here, the administration doesn't have a lot of credibility on the story because of the changing narrative and the media quite frankly doesn't have very much credibility because we've heard this storyline before, alleged ties to the Kremlin, alleged ties to counter-intelligence, excuse me, operations in Russia and those stories have been wrong. And so, as Gillian was saying...
KURTZ: Wrong or exaggerated or...
PAVLICH: Right. Someone watching...
KURTZ: ...the core here.
PAVLICH: ...someone watching those -- OK, the administration can't get their story straight, the media certainly can't either. Who are we supposed to believe on this? We'd like to focus on other things like ObamaCare.
TRIPPI: But the other thing is just the continuity of their response throughout this, you know, Flynn -- I mean the coverage of Flynn and that wasn't true. There were no meetings, and it turned out he lied to the vice- president, he's gone. I mean, then you -- OK, Sessions recusing himself. So, this is -- this is the first time where it wasn't the "fake news media" saying something. It was emails provided by Donald Trump, Jr. and so I think...
KURTZ: There have been...
TRIPPI: ...having those -- that fact that a lot of the media -- a lot of journalists like jump on that because it was -- it was something that the White House couldn't pushback against.
KURTZ: There have been a number of Conservative commentators and news organizations that have said, well yes, this looks pretty bad or we can only give the president his people the benefit of the doubt and some of these were never Trump person in the campaign.
At the same time, when you have pro-Trump commentator saying, well, you know, the bottom line is the lawyer it's not illegal. It seems to me that's not that a great offense, I mean this is probably not illegal. I don't think there's any great liability here but it doesn't mean it doesn't look bad.
TURNER: Well, and that's the point I was trying to make less eloquently than you previously which is that in the court of public opinion, people want to not just know that the president of the United States and his team are following the letter of the law.
But, that they were actually acting -- again, in the national interest with integrity, in all their interactions especially in their interactions with foreign adversaries, and so this is exactly the kind of story that fuels mistrust and skepticism and doubt about the president.
KURTZ: You mention...
TURNER: ...and that's what it makes it so dangerous.
KURTZ: OK, you mentioned questions -- I think the whole coverage and experts is going to be what did the president know?
KURTZ: And when Yahoo's, Mike Segar (ph) that Trump lawyers were told more than three weeks ago about these emails and the meeting which also included Jared Kushner as we'll talk about and Paul Manafort, that may shift.
But, it also strikes me that now we've all these colorful characters, the British P.R. guy and he represented the popstar whose father was politically involved and the P.R. guy, Rob Goldstone, he's kind of like the Kato Kaelin of the soap opera, does that make it...
KURTZ: ...a more interesting story for people whose eyes may have been glazing over about all this?
PAVLICH: Oh, it certainly makes it more interesting that's for sure, but in terms of -- with the Trump Campaign in retrospect looking back they probably wish that they didn't let so many people like this close to the top tier of the campaign.
I mean, looking at the meeting itself, if it was really a low-level meeting, it wouldn't have been Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and Donald Trump, Jr. at the meeting. It would have been a low-level staffer or in an intern going and yet here we have the meeting with this cast of character...
KURTZ: All right, let me get a break here. We'll have more on this after the break ahead Ari Fleischer on how this White House deals with the press. But, when we come back, why are some of the media now making this Russian meeting story about Jared Kushner?
KURTZ: Well, Donald Trump, Jr. setup that campaign meeting with the Russian lawyer. Many in the media want to make the story about Jared Kushner who sat in on part of the meeting and has become the target of liberal attacks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC: Jared Kushner is in more legal trouble for that meeting than Donald Trump, Jr. is or than Paul Manafort is much more five years more. Now, I know people would wonder, well, who would do that to their brother-in-law? Who would leak a story that makes their brother-in-law look like an idiot, even if their brother-in-law is an idiot?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Lawrence O'Donnell in his inevitable style. Well, Katie Pavlich, by all accounts, Jared Kushner did not engage meeting and he left there for a few minutes, now it's fair to criticize him for not disclosing the meeting on his security clearance form. His lawyer says that was submitted prematurely and was later amended with more than 100 (ph) other contact, but why is the press now trying to make this about Jared?
PAVLICH: Well, there was an allegation that the emails came from Jared Kushner's legal team, that was the allegation, so that is part of the story, but...
KURTZ: Well, I think it's -- I think it's confirmed that they discovered these emails in the course of...
PAVLICH: Right, exactly.
PAVLICH: So, that's why he is coming into this a big way, but the issue is that Jared Kushner is the reason why Donald Trump won the presidency. He had an operation going on to target voters. He was behind, you know, the strategy of getting Donald Trump elected in places like Michigan and Wisconsin and he was behind the scenes for a reason.
He didn't go out and cause problems for president on the campaign trail or now. The media hates Donald Trump, they want to take him down and they know that Jared Kushner is really the guy running the show at the White House and the one telling the president what to do.
TRIPPI: Well, I think this is much fundamental. He, Jared Kushner, is the only one of the three in the meeting that is in the White House...
KURTZ: You know, as the White House official.
TRIPPI: ...has a security clearance...
TRIPPI: ...does all those things. I mean, so I think that's what the sort of sea change in the emails is that now the investigation or the evidence has implicated him.
KURTZ: And he's not only a senior and influential White House Official, but he is the president's son-in-law and I think...
KURTZ: ...all of those in the media who would love to attack the president on this, feel that they would like to scuff up Jared Kushner. And so, it strikes me since it wasn't his meeting, I mean you can say, yes he sat there and then he left, but it strikes me as the focus is a little unfair. You disagree?
TRIPPI: I think, again because he is the only one of them that's in the White House that that's why the focus has come to him, fair or unfair.
KURTZ: I think, and you will correct me if I'm wrong, that many in the media resent Jared Kushner because he's a young wealthy guy, he's got huge responsibilities in this administration obviously the that he is married a Trump, his wife is there, and he almost never gives on-the-record interviews to the press and so he's an easy target. And this kind of keeps his head down (ph) does his job.
TURNER: Well, he is an easy target. I agree that the media seems, as a whole, terribly, terribly biased against him. But, that said he's got a target on his back not just because he's young and he's wealthy and he's successful and married to the president's daughter, he's got a target on his back because the president has made him a foreign policy adviser, not unofficially, not behind the scenes, an actual foreign policy adviser...
TURNER: ...and he -- I would argue...
TURNER: ...I would -- he's an envoy for Middle East peace. He has travelled to Israel and the Palestinian territories representing the president. He's travelled with the secretary of defense to Iraq and met with foreign heads of state there. He's been involved in every foreign head of state visit to the White House...
KURTZ: ...much of influential people and other administrations who don't get this kind of negative press treatment...
KURTZ: ...just the fact that he's got...
TURNER: They don't -- maybe they don't get the negative press treatment but, they get that attention and focus...
KURTZ: Yes, that's clear.
TURNER: ...and rightly so.
TRIPPI: And none that I know of took three times -- three attempts to fill out their forms correctly and only admitted altered the forms once evidence came out...
KURTZ: Right. Well, that was...
TURNE: You know what would happen -- what would happen to any civil servant, in Jared Kushner's position, would be that there's security clearance would have been revoked.
KURTZ: Let me come back to the coverage in this with you, Katie, when people go on television who are sympathetic to the president and they say, well, you know, Hillary Clinton did this, did that in Hillary Clinton's emails and Hillary Clinton and Ukraine, those may be legitimate stories...
KURTZ: ...but is it basically a deflection?
PAVLICH: I think it is. I mean, yes. The Clinton's did a very bad thing, that's why people voted against her to put Donald Trump in the White House. There's argument that because Hillary did it too then it's fine for Republicans to do it after they've been campaigning against the Clinton's for 20 years.
It doesn't seem like a standard that Republicans should want to live by. If it's not OK for Hillary Clinton to do it, Republicans shouldn't think it's OK for them either.
KURTZ: Washington Post, ABC poll out this morning, 63% say the Russian meeting was inappropriate including 1/3 of Republicans and by the way, you know, how President Trump's meetings or conversations with foreign leaders often seem to leak London "Sun" reporting today on the transcript of his conversation with British Prime Minister, Theresa May, possibly about the possible visit to London.
"I haven't had great coverage out there lately, Theresa", says the president. And she replies awkwardly, "Well, you know what the British press are like". Katie Pavlich, Gillian Turner, Joe Trippi, thanks very much.
Ahead, Brit Hume suggested this meeting was kind of a farce. What does he say now about the media coverage? Up next, White House Aide, Sebastian Gorka ridicules CNN's ratings on CNN. What's up with that?
KURTZ: One White House Official making the TV rounds on the Russia probe this week is Sebastian Gorka who made a point of dumping on CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEBASTIAN GORKA, WHITE HOUSE AIDE: Let's let the viewers judge to decide that you are on our 13th place in National Ratings behind "Nick At Night" which is at 11.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: You used that line Monday and, you know...
COOPER: ...it was sort of mildly amusing (ph) on Monday.
GORKA: ...I think, 4 million viewers, you barely describe (ph) to 200,000.
COOPER: But I think it's funny that you have enough time in the White House, which is apparently you're so busy you are able to sit around read Nielsen numbers.
GORKA: No, I get a really good prep from my team, because the White House press team is superb.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My suspicion is because he gives interviews like that insults us the way Donald Trump...
COOPER: ...insults, it's like Don Rickles...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
COOPER: ...like the Hungarian Don Rickles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Gillian, Sebastian Gorka also told CNN, Alisyn Camerota that people like cartoons, Nickelodeon more than they like CNN, does it makes sense for White House Official to do that and make an attack the ratings of the network he's on?
TURNER: I think that it makes sense from a political object for somebody from the administration who works on a communications and the press team to do this. I don't think it's appropriate or even -- I don't think it's even safe for somebody who is advising the president on counter-terrorism to take on that role. And I don't know if Dr. Gorka has assumed that role unilaterally or if he was instructed to assume that role, but...
KURTZ: Well, he told Hannity, let me just jump in, that somebody has to be the president's pit bull and reportedly the president has been very pleased with his performances. What do you think, just to turn us a little bit of about how Anderson Cooper handled it particularly coming back after Gorka is not there to defend himself in saying well, he's a Hungarian Don Rickles.
TURNER: I mean, that was kind of funny, but I'm one of those people that cringes when I watch cable news battles where people are really attacking each other like that. I never think that that's a good thing. And I don't understand why administration officials who don't even have press and media in their portfolio are the ones out front on this issue.
KURTZ: Well, because they are aggressive surrogates and CNN, by the way, is third in the cable news...
TURNER: But that's -- but here is the -- here is the difference, Howie, Sebastian Gorka as a counter-terrorism adviser is not a surrogate.
KURTZ: Well, if you...
TURNER: That's not...
KURTZ: ...the White House on TV or by definition in my book of surrogate, CNN, by the way, a third place in televiewers for cable news but the highest rated second quarter in history. OK, in a very different category, Kellyanne Conway, a contentious 35-minute interview with CNN's, Chris Cuomo, take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELLOR TO THE PRESIDENT: The snarky looks, the furrowed brow, the rolling of the eyes from so many people in your panel you know it, you guys have made a business decision to be anti-Trump. OK, the country...
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: And you guys have also made a decision -- you've made a decision to be antagonistic towards the media, to lump us all together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Your take.
TURNER: I think the issue is much bigger than Chris Cuomo versus Kellyanne Conway or Anderson Cooper versus Dr. Gorka. I think, really what this is about, is that the GOP for the first time maybe since Watergate since the 70s has a leader who is willing to go attack dog style on the media, and I think that that is working for the party. And I think there's an -- there's a...
KURTZ: Particularly, among Republicans, you're saying?
TURNER: The GOP, I think...
TURNER: ...there's a behind the scenes consensus among all the leadership, house, senate and White House that this is something that's working for them and that they actually appreciate and that's why we're seeing it go on for so long.
KURTZ: Gillian Turner, great to see you this Sunday. By the way, we're talking about rhetoric on television, Fox's Lisa Boothe, on "The Five", the other day said Hillary Clinton would literally sell her daughter to be president. I thought that was over the line and Chelsea, by the way, went on Twitter and said she disagrees.
Ahead, what's behind Joe Scarborough's big announcement that he's quitting the Republican Party? But, first the president tweeting, this morning, that fake news is distorting our democracy. Brit Hume is on deck.
KURTZ: President Trump is tweeting this morning from his New Jersey Golf Course with all of its phony unnamed sources and highly slanted and even fraudulent reporting "fake news" is distorting our democracy in our country.
Joining us is Brit Hume, Fox's Senior Political Analyst and Brit, when the president goes off on fake news especially fraudulent reporting, on this particular story about the Russian meeting, have all the essential facts been confirmed by his son and the emails that came out?
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS: The released emails are part of the story. They confirmed the truth of the event and everything that has come out of Trump World especially from Don, Jr. since confirms that the meeting occurred and the question is whether is what the meeting mean. It's not fake news. Now, the arguments about the extent of its...
HUME: ...and import -- yes, you can argue the one is fake news, but that's really not news, that's opinion and analysis, so I don't see fake news applied really here.
KURTZ: You said on-the-air at the beginning of this week that this whole business had elements of farce and was almost laughable, would the information has come out since said a little funny, have you revised your view a bit?
HUME: As a political matter, this is a big deal. But, as a legal matter and as a -- and as a wrongdoing matter, what we -- what we know about this, at least what we've been told about it does make it look like kind of a fiasco.
He was -- Donald Trump, Jr. gets lured into this meeting by promises of material about Hillary Clinton which apparently never materialized is the conversation turns to an issue of interest to the Russian Government which is...
HUME: ...which is this, it won't pretended to be an adoption advocate. What she really was...
KURTZ: Give her sanctions.
HUME: She was the U.S. -- she wanted sanctions with it.
HUME: And he didn't have any power to do that and he apparently said so. But, the meeting -- I mean, think of this, is this meeting was really going somewhere?
HUME: Does Jared Kushner get up and walk out after about seven minutes...
KURTZ: No, but this...
HUME: ...and Paul Manafort sit there...
KURTZ: Yes, on his phone.
HUME: ...on his phone the whole time.
KURTZ: Does was the tone of the coverage overheated in light of what we know?
HUME: The tone of the coverage is overheated to the -- and the reaction I would say including the coverage is overheated to the extent that we had the man who ran for vice-president just a few months back.
Less than a year ago call said we're now getting towards treason and add question (ph) see wide coverage and, you know, the coverage was kind of not necessarily sympathetic to that but not sympathetic either.
It was an extraordinary statement. There have been extravagant conclusions are being drawn...
KURTZ: Right, right. And Democrats like Tim Kaine are fuelling them. Now, you got into a little bit on Twitter over metaphor which is if someone tries to rob a bank and you get there and the vault is empty, have you done something wrong and some people were debating with you over well bungled attempt at collusion with Russia is still...
HUME: Collusion, nonetheless.
HUME: Well, I, you know, it's a semantic argument, but my thinking about this is the analogy that I thought was overdrawn was the one where you go to the bank and you break into the vault and you don't find anything in there and therefore this is -- well, this doesn't -- I just still think this reaches that level.
This looks like Trump Jr. and his unbelievable naivet, was willing to sit down with this woman to discuss the presentation of this opposition research...
HUME: ...and he gets to the meeting and no apparently (ph) -- so, as far as, we know, no opposition research of any consequence was presented and the effort to do with the woman really wanted to do went nowhere.
So, it looked to me more like -- if you're going to use the bank robbery analogy that you had a meeting to discuss with that hold (ph) the bank robbery and you didn't end up with a plan and you didn't up doing anything.
KURTZ: All right.
HUME: That's my argument.
KURTZ: So, the president's -- one of the president's lawyers, Jay Sekulow did the full Ginsburg today that will reference to Monica Lewinsky's lawyer doing all five Sunday show, Sekulow was on all of these programs, let's look at some excerpt of those appearances.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP LAWYER: You know that goes on in campaigns all the time. Opposition research is a big part of campaign...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't go on with the Russians all the time, Jay.
SEKULOW: Well, no -- but, look this was -- here's what happen. First of all, nothing happened and there have been no exchange of information.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn't it important whether or not it's legal, whether or not it's wrong, whether or now it's ethical?
SEKULOW: The legality was the meeting and what took place legal or not, we of course and as almost every legal expert say it's not illegal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Do these appearances and the emphasis on well it wasn't illegal, which is probably was not, is that helping the president's case?
HUME: Well, you'll never really -- I mean, there are two ways to look at this as a sort of a legal matter which is important, you know, if they did something illegal...
HUME: ...that's a big deal and even sort of whether it's a legal matter or even impeachment material which doesn't require necessarily illegality as we think of it not a violation of the criminal code. And the second way to look at it is what about the political effect of this. In other words, whether it's legal or not, there's a propriety issue. Is this the proper way to behave...
HUME: ...is this the ethical way to behave. The answer to that I think is assuredly no.
KURTZ: Well, there is one other advantage in having someone like executive (ph) out there and that is you don't have Sean Spicer or Sarah Huckabee Sanders or White House officials...
HUME: ...and, you know, he's into bad (ph) even that's fine but you never really on good ground politically when what you're saying is what your client or the president, you're supporting did was not illegal.
KURTZ: Not correct.
HUME: But, there have been so many claims...
HUME: ...made and...
KURTZ: ...to combat that, yes.
HUME: You want to combat that.
KURTZ: One more tweet, excuse me, tweet from the president this morning, Hillary Clinton can illegally get the questions to debate and delete 33,000 emails but my son, Don is being scorned by the fake news media, there was that incident with the CNN debate. Does this kind of deflection please the president's supporters?
HUME: And probably does, but his problem really now is not one that I think can be solved by tweeting. The problem is that the meeting was never previously disclosed. And when it was disclosed, details were omitted although I don't think they added anything to it and I'm not sure it was a dishonest withholding of the information.
KURTZ: Right, but the dribbling out didn't help.
HUME: That's right, it didn't help. So, we're now in a situation where you have probably not much of a legal problem but a serious political problem. And the kind of what about ism (ph) is about saying, well about what they did?
HUME: You know, that makes a talking point for the supporters but it doesn't change the question which is, OK, what came of this? Was there really a collaboration...
HUME: ...between the Russian Government directly or indirectly and the Trump Campaign? These tweets don't go to that question. And that's the question that has to be answered and that's why this isn't going away any time soon.
KURTZ: I see a lot of approach will come here (ph) saying, what about Hillary Clinton? It's not that that's not legitimate but did does seem to be the question and she's not president.
KURTZ: Brit Hume, great to see you this Sunday, really appreciates it. Ahead on "MediaBuzz", Ivanka Trump with the G-20, did an MSNBC Commentator really say Ivanka Trump let down the sisterhood with a girly outfit? But, first Ari Fleischer, who's been in that podium, on whether it's a smart to move most of the press briefings off camera.
KURTZ: Let's take a little deeper on how President Trump is dealing with the media uproar over his son especially now that most of briefings have been moved off-camera. I spoke earlier with Ari Fleischer, the Former White House Press secretary for George W. Bush and now a Fox News Contributor from Connecticut.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Ari Fleischer, welcome.
ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY, GEORGE W. BUSH: Thank you, Howie.
KURTZ: Good to see you. When the New York Times goes to Donald Trump, Jr. and says we're about to publish your emails, and we'd like to have your comments, and then he pre-empts the paper by posting them on Twitter feed, what is the fallout from that?
FLEISCHER: Well, the fallout is pretty tough, because what newspapers and media have an obligation to do is go to a source and say, we have info. In that way, they can have a story that includes your reaction to and that's good for people on my side, the communicator side of the podium.
But, if you then take that and pre-empt the media, the next time the media needs something from you they're going to call you 10 seconds before they have to file their story, they will get your quote, and they'll hit send and that doesn't help you in the long-term.
KURTZ: Right. As a matter of White House damage control with the press, something you have some experience with, how damaging is it when in the case of the president's son, his first statement -- the first White House statement with the New York Times that say, "Well, the meeting is primarily about adoption."
And then the second statement says, "Well, we were told that this Russian lawyer, you know, had some oppo information on Hillary Clinton that was a pretext", and then on Friday, NBC reports there was another person in the meeting, obviously a former Soviet Military counter-intelligence officer, how does that help the White House case to have it dribble out like that?
FLEISCHER: This is a classic case of how not to do it. You know, the lesson that Bill Clinton's White House taught everybody how to do this was that when you have damaging news, get your arms around it yourself, put it all out in its entirety and do it yourself and do it on day one.
Instead, the Trump White House did the exact opposite. They are the ones who stretched the story out from a one-day story into at least a four- or five-day story. And so, I just don't understand the White House's thinking that they could keep those additional details secret.
Shortly, they should have learned by now the press is never going to stop digging.
KURTZ: Right. And there are a lot of leaks in this government and eventually these details would leak out, so get out it ahead of it yourself, turn it into a one- or two-day story as you say. You know, this whole question of the way this story about Donald Trump has oozed out, came up in a briefing the other day with Sarah Huckabee Sanders, take a listen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah, I want to ask you, this drip, drip, drip is undermining the credibility of this administration. Do you perceive that?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think it's actually undermining the credibility of the media because they drip, drip, drip a lot of things that don't seem to have much to -- much to do about nothing.
KURTZ: Undermining the credibility of the media not the White House when the story comes out piece-by-piece-by-piece?
FLEISCHER: Well, here is the core issue and that is how significant is this meeting or is it not significant at all. And, Howard, I would say to you, it's somebody who has been critical of the Trump White House and the Donald Trump, Jr. how they've handled this unless.
And until there is evidence that Donald Trump or his campaign collaborated with Russia on the hacking of the Democratic National Committee emails or Podesta's emails and/or work with WikiLeaks on this dissemination, that's the collusion -- that is the damaging collusion.
This meeting was bad judgment. It should never have been done. It was foolish. It was open into Russia that nobody should open to Russia. But, I don't see the crime in the meeting and that's I think...
FLEISCHER: ...the distinction that the White House wants to make here. I think it's a valid distinction.
KURTZ: I'm not saying...
FLEISCHER: It doesn't forgive in having the meeting.
KURTZ: ...anything illegal, but it does not look good. I think we can agree on that. Now, you may have noticed that was an off-camera briefing by the Deputy White House Press Secretary, somebody who stood (ph) that party many times.
They've now moved most of the briefings to audio only. They seem not to want the televised briefings. Now, that may cut down on grandstanding by TV reporters, I'll agree (ph) with you that. But, does it also inhibit the administration's ability to get its message out?
FLEISCHER: Well, you know, Former Press Secretary to Bill Clinton, Mike McCurry and I have long advocated taking the briefing off of live TV, let the cameras media in the room, but embargo it all, so you cannot use any of it until after the briefing is over. The purpose being is to tone things down, so it's not such a red hot TV show.
And frankly, I think everybody in Washington then needs a tone down. Everything is so fast, so furious, so dramatic, so breaking news, so red hot and that's not what the country wants out of Washington.
And so taking the briefing off, downplaying it to some degree is good for the body politics, it's good for the White House, it's good for the press corps, and it will take time though because this White House is still pretty red hot...
FLEISCHER: ...and so, the issues are hot.
KURTZ: Let me -- let me...
FLEISCHER: But, I think still it's fundamentally the right thing to do.
KURTZ: I've got half a minute, Ari. You, some years ago worked as a contributor to CNN, President Trump as you know, constantly bashing CNN as fake news, do you buy that assessment, fake news?
FLEISCHER: Well, I think the media makes a lot of mistakes and that's how I phrase it. And if I see somebody do something wrong, I say that. I do think the mainstream media, Howard, is largely liberal. I think there's no question about that. It's so much easier to be a Democrat dealing with the mainstream media than it is to be a Republican.
KURTZ: And Ari Fleischer, you would know from your years of service in the Bush's White House. Ari Fleischer, brand new Fox News Contributor, thanks very much for joining us.
FLEISCHER: Thank you, Howie.
KURTZ: After the break, MSNBC, Joe Scarborough bailing on the GOP, but why would he do it on CBS? Plus, did Pat Roberson give the president the friendliest interview ever?
KURTZ: Joe Scarborough is constantly talking on his MSNBC Show about having been a Republican Congressman from Florida, but now the Trump friend turn fierce critic in a sit down with Stephen Colbert has kissed the party good-bye.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE SCARBOROUGH, "MORNING JOE" CO-HOST: I mean, you have to ask yourself what exactly is the Republican Party willing to do. How far they're willing to go? How much of this country and our values are they willing to sell out?
STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT" SHOW HOST: But, aren't you a Republican?
SCARBOROUGH: I am a Republican, but I am not going to be a Republican anymore. I've got to become an independent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us now from Chicago is Carley Shimkus, a reporter from Fox News 24/7 Headlines on SiriusXM Radio. So, given the animosity between Scarborough and his Former Friend, Donald Trump and it's mutual given those presidential tweets about psycho Joe and Mika's facelift...
CARLEY SHIMKUS, FOX NEWS REPORTER, SIRIUSXM RADIO: Yes.
KURTZ: ...is this about grabbing attention or sticking it to the president?
SHIMKUS: Grabbing attention, 100%. First of all, I don't think the Republican Party is really broken up about him leaving considering he even called the party disgusting during his interview with Stephen Colbert. But, aside from that, making this announcement on a late-night show in front of an audience that probably doesn't like the president either seems like a total ratings' grab and it also seems kind of like a cheap and easy way to get a round of applause.
KURTZ: Well, he certainly got that applause and you kind of skip ahead right...
SHIMKUS: He sure did.
KURTZ: ...ahead to my next question, which was I can't imagine that the MSNBC bosses are thrilled that Scarborough was going to make this kind of news and get written (ph) up a bit does it on CBS and not on his own show.
SHIMKUS: You know what, that is -- that was kind of an interesting sort of whoopsie daisy sidebar to this whole thing, is that making this announcement on CBS gave Stephen Colbert show, I think a 2-month ratings high; however, I don't think he walk in to the interview thinking he was going to make this big announcement and do that, so NBC execs can't really be too broken up about it...
SHIMKUS: ...but it does prove that he is loving this attention and that he's loving this whole feud that he has with the president. If he made this announcement on his own show...
SHIMKUS: ...it could have just gone off with the passing comment instead of the media moment that he created on doing it on late night.
KURTZ: Right. But, just briefly, I mean, George Will, when he was at Fox last year also left the Republican Party, I mean however much of the attention get to this might be, it could be that Joe Scarborough simply feels that he doesn't want to be part of what is now Donald Trump's Republican Party. I mean, he could...
SHIMKUS: But, you know...
KURTZ: ...he could be sincere about that.
SHIMKUS: Yes, right. And who knows what's in his heart and in his mind, but you can also make the argument that it does weaken the brand of their show. I mean their show was based on the fact that Mika Brzezinski plays this hard-core Democrat. He's sort of a savvy Republican and now that he...
SHIMKUS: ...does it really associate with the party anymore, that sort of goes away...
KURTZ: Right, yes.
SHIMKUS: ...that dynamic no longer exist.
KURTZ: Great point. And Mika is saying she's still a Democrat. All right, so the president was interviewed this week by Pat Robertson on CBN, and let's show you a little bit of that.
SHIMKUS: All right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT ROBERTSON, AMERICAN MEDIA MOGUL: One is this a nick (ph) with this ObamaCare has got to go and be in the be replaced...
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Right.
ROBERTSON: ...number two, we've got to have a tax code especially for small businesses...
ROBERTSON: ...corporate tax, how far along are you? And if you get healthcare and tax reform, you are guaranteed another four years in office if you wanted.
TRUMP: Well, then I'll see you with the inauguration.
ROBERTSON: I want you to know, there are thousands and thousands of people praying for you all the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Oh, yes, I get that Pat Robertson was awarded (ph) as a friendly interviewer and the president has some strong evangelical support. Was that much of an interview?
SHIMKUS: Yes, it was a softball interview. But, I do think it was a good idea for the president. I mean, he's had a tough week and the first line of the interview, Pat Robertson said, "I'm so proud of everything you're doing." When was the last time we heard a member of the media say that to the president. I about passed out. So, this did take the attention and the focus a little bit off of Russia and healthcare for a while. So, it was a strategic...
KURTZ: Got it.
SHIMKUS: ...move on the part of the Trump Administration...
SHIMKUS: ...but, you're right, kind of a softball interview.
KURTZ: I'm sure the White House was very happy. Pat Roberson run for president once he's a Republican. I'm sure he was happy to get him interviewed. Carley Shimkus...
SHIMKUS: There you go...
KURTZ: ...always great to have you, thank you so much.
SHIMKUS: Good to be here.
KURTZ: Still to come, a double fault by the "Wall Street Journal" at Wimbledon. And the president's daughter in the spotlight again, an MSNBC Contributor takes a luck at Ivanka over her clothing.
KURTZ: The "Wall Street Journal" is regretting a tweet about the Wimbledon Tournament having to do with a little flap involving an 18-year-old male tennis player. Here's what the journal put up, "Something is not white at Wimbledon", a player failed his pre-matched under garment check. Something is not white with a picture Venus Williams.
The paper later said a tweet for morning (ph) our story on Wimbledon's clothing rules was seen by some as insensitive. This wasn't our intent. We have deleted the tweet. It was a classic unforced ever, way over the line, and a bomb that (ph) Venus lost the final yesterday.
We talked last week about Ivanka Trump drawing media criticism, totally unfounded in my view, for sitting in briefly for her father at the G-20 Summit. But, Joan Walsh, an MSNBC contributor and writer for "The Nation" has taken this argument to a whole new level saying that Ivanka's dress was, well, a cultural problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is sitting in for her father at the G-20.
JOAN WALSH, "THE NATION'S" NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Right, with big bows on her sleeve. I mean, I don't mean to sound sexist, it can be dangerous to comment on what women wear, but the fact that she sat in for her father in a dress that was so incredibly ornamental was such a contradiction in terms.
And I think that what we see that in patriarchal authoritarian societies daughters have great value. They are property. That's not a dress that's made to go out in the world and make a difference. That is a dress that is designed to show-off your girliness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Seriously? Big bow, too ornamental, too much like property? I agree with exactly one-half sentence there, it can be dangerous to comment on what women wear.
That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz" I'm Howard Kurtz. Let us know what you think, firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out our Facebook page, we've post a lot of original content there, give us a like, and continue the conversation on Twitter @howardkurtz. We love to hear from you.
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