Media on Trump's bandwagon?

This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," April 24, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: President Obama and Angela Merkel talking to reporters in Germany. They reviewed the international issues they had discussed, Libya, Syria. The president made a point of congratulating the German leader for her role in dealing with the migration crisis in Europe.

He also noted that the politics are different  --  or difficult I should say here in the United States. They talked about Ukraine as well and President Obama touched on climate change. We're going to take a break at this point  --  or keep going. I'm sorry. We're still not ready for the break.

The president is kind of  --  is kind of a farewell tour as he did this with David Cameron in London a couple of day s ago. He talks about the emphasis on the future, there's much more to do in the remaining nine months of his term, at the same time there is a wishful quality as President Obama talks about his relationships with these European leaders, as he talks about the way in which they have cooperated despite obvious bumps in the road.

The British kind of resented the way that the president tried to insert himself in the debate about whether the U.K. should leave the European union and of course there was no mention today in this great relationship between President Obama and Angela Merkel as far as the spying situation where it was acknowledged that U.S. Officials had eves dropped on the German Chancellor's cellphone.

What are we doing now? Okay. There we go. There's the Spin Cycle animation and joining us now to talk about the campaign to replace Mr. Obama, Lisa Boothe, a Republican strategist and columnist for the Washington Examiner, Kirsten Powers, a Fox News Analyst and columnist for USA Today and Rebecca Berg, national political reporter for Real Clear Politics.

Lisa, the last few days have been nominated by talk about this secret tape. This is an audio tape involving Paul Manafort, Trump's convention manager talking to GOP leaders. Now how had that happened to be leaked to the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MBC, I lost track, in which he said things like Trump has been playing a part, the image is going to change, you'll see real depth of process. Some people said, "Wow, it's all an act. He's just playing the role." Is this standard stuff or some kind of bombshell?

LISA BOOTHE, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, nothing is truly off the record and these guys are experienced political hands so they have to know that but the tale of two Trumps has.

KURTZ: Manafort knew this would leak.

BOOTHE: Yes, and it's in  --  and Howard, the tale of two Trumps has been out there. This is something that if you her Ben Carson had said something to the effect there's two Donald Trump, Donald Trump has put this out there as well.

But ultimately this isn't going to hurt him, because what Donald Trump has done so effectively has earned him $2 billion in free media because the second the headlines say a kinder more gentle Donald Trump, he turns around and says lying Cruz and crooked Hillary.

KURTZ: You  --  that was the headline on a column that you wrote after interviewing Trump in USA Today. Did you see a more reflective, a more restrained Donald Trump in your interview?

KIRSTEN POWERS, FOX NEWS ANALYST: I mean, he certainly was more restrained I think than when we see him going off on people. But I also think we have seen him be restrained in a lot of his election night speeches.

So there are these two sides to him, but I feel like the leaked tape was basically saying what Trump had said to me, it's just a different way of saying it, which is what he said was - you know, because I said, "Look, there are a of people to agree with a lot of things you say about -- even democrats on the issue, why not get rid of the other stuff?" And he said, "Well, if I did that we wouldn't be talking right now because I had to do this to get rid of these people I was running against."

Now whether you agree with that or not, he was essentially saying what Manafort said, you know that there was a role he had to play to try to get the nomination.

KURTZ: I just like to say that television anchors are also not exactly the same when they are in front of the camera when they are private and a little more reflective, most or at least. Rebecca Berg, So Trump wins this huge victory this week in New York, 60 percent of the vote, about 90 of the 95 delegates and suddenly, did the press coverage interview changed dramatically from Trump is in trouble to Trump has this thing pretty well locked up?

REBECCA BERG, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Oh absolutely and in total disregard for the delegate math, I mean, if you looked at the projections that most people had going into the New York primary, most people predicted Trump would end up with 80 or so delegates, and so he won ten more than that. It doesn't really change the state of play that much.

KURTZ: So you think the press overreacted to the New York primary landslide?

BERG: Oh, absolutely. It's like people watching a tennis match who look one way when the ball is on that side of the court, he looks the other way when it's on the other side. We have a short attention span. It's one of our flaws in political journalism.

KURTZ: Kirsten, the Ted Cruz this week talked about the lap dogs and the media for Donald Trump. Network bosses he said want Trump to win because they're partisan democrats who think he'll be clobbered by Hillary. Do you buy that?

POWERS: I'm sorry, that just has not been the world that I have been watching in the media. I don't think that they're even remotely lap dogs for Trump. I think he has gotten very harsh coverage frankly and have spent.

KURTZ: Especially from the ideological pundits on the right and left.

POWERS: Absolutely. I mean, he's got hit from every side possible. I don't think he has had it easy. Part of the reason that people feel that Trump has it locked up is because if you look at the states coming, there.

KURTZ: On Tuesday. Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland.

POWERS: With Cruz is going to be picking up delegates, we've already sort of moved from his area of the country.

KURTZ: One of the reasons Lisa, that Trump gets a lot more play in the press is that he does a lot more interviews than Ted Cruz does and just this week, Trump has talked to the New York Times at length, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The Hill, that's one of the ways why  --  that he comes to dominate the press coverage.

BOOTHE: Well, absolutely and look, I think that Senator Ted Cruz is making a mistake here when he condemns the media. Sometimes it can help you if you do that like it did during the CNBC debate when the moderators were widely pended. It was Senator Ted Cruz's condemnation of those moderators that drew up headlines the next day.

But when you saw in the instance, for instance, with his interview with seen Hannity, it hurts him because it's a misfire and he's perceived as a baby. He did the same thing with Chris Wallace when he said the questions were mean and threatened to walk off the stage during the January Fox News debate.

KURTZ: Right, suggested Hannity was a Trump supporter and surely he took some  --  on board about that. All right, we'll be right back with more "MediaBuzz" right after this.


KURTZ: With two days to go until the voting begins in Pennsylvania and four other northeastern states, Fox is airing a town hall tonight at 8 o'clock Eastern. Joining me now from Philadelphia the moderators, the host of America's Newsroom Bill Hemmer and Martha MacCallum get to that town hall in a second. Hey Bill?



KURTZ: Great to see you guys. Isn't remarkable when you do your morning show how many of the campaign segments are either about Donald Trump or driven in some way by Trump?

HEMMER: Yes, I think not just our show but I think the country is probably caught up in that same conversation, Howie. But you know, we came to Philly to hear from viewers, to hear from voters because Tuesday is an enormous day.

I mean, you thought New York was big on Tuesday? That was one state. We have five on Tuesday. It could set -- it could set the arc for the rest of this primary season.

KURTZ: Martha, is this an effort to.

MACCALLUM: You know we're looking at John.

KURTZ: Go ahead.

MACCALLUM: We're looking at John Kasich tonight and Ted Cruz who really have to make their argument to the American people on Tuesday that they deserve to stay in this race and they also have to convince their party that they need to stay in this race and that a contested convention is essentially worthwhile for the republican party and that argument is getting increasingly tough.

So we're going to hear from viewers tonight. We're going to hear from people in the local area who will be here. We expect 300 people tonight in this really historic spot that we are in to talk about the future of the country, Howie.

KURTZ: Hearing from viewers, I like that approach, Bill, because it sometimes seems to me it is under this closed bubble of candidates, campaign operatives, media prognosticators and you're going to actually find out what's on the mind of at least some of the people in Philly.

HEMMER: Listen  --  I mean, where can you go where someone is not talking about this election, you know, be it republican or democrat? It has captured the imagination of so many, Howie and it's happened at a much earlier stage and I for one, I love to see that. You know, the process in action here and in a city where they wrote democracy literally.

KURTZ: But Martha, I'm asking for a friend. Whenever you talk about Trump or do interviews on your show about Trump, do you get deluged by e-mails and tweets both fiercely pro-Trump and fiercely anti-Trump?

MACCALLUM: Oh, Absolutely. I think we all experience that. And I think in a way it's a testament to the fact we are keeping it down the middle because you can  --  you know, with one interview, you can get a response that says that you know, you're obviously pro-Trump or obviously pro-Cruz.

The people who are supporting these candidates are intensely passionate about them. And it's really tough to imagine, Howie, how all of that gets sorted out. How in the end any of them are okay with migrating over to the other side.

I've never seen people so dug in and so sort of married to their candidate in such a passionate way that they see pretty much anything that's going on in the media as either you know, doggedly against their person or passionately for them. It's a real challenge but it's one that we take very seriously. But I have never seen anything like it.

KURTZ: Tonight to put it better. It means everybody in the country is engaged, but boy, they have very strong opinions including about the media. Well, just a reminder for viewers, 8:00 P.M. tonight, Philadelphia Fox's live town hall meeting, Cruz and Kasich will be there. Bill and Martha will be moderating. Great to see you guys.

HEMMER: Thank you, Howie, #foxnewstownhall. You can't forget the hash tag.

KURTZ: All right, more "MediaBuzz" in just a moment.



DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Those people  --  look at those cameras zooming. They are the most dishonest people in the world. Do we like the media? Do we hate the media? OK, now I don't hate anybody. I love the media, they are wonderful.


KURTZ: Kirsten Powers, Donald Trump went on to say that maybe without the media, he wouldn't be where he is. Why is he still beating up on the press when everyone else thinks their presence got up in his corner?

POWERS: Because it's a great applause line and it's something really the republicans have been doing for a long time, that the liberal media is out to get them and I think it's something that works. So he does it just because I think he knows the crowd loves it.

KURTZ: All right, so Lisa Boothe, Hillary Clinton clobbered Bernie Sanders in New York, her adopted home state. And it seems now the press does says that well, she pretty much got this wrapped up as a matter of math and the tone of the commentary has gone to why doesn't Bernie get out, why doesn't he tone things down? What is Bernie want? Is that the right question for reporters to be asking?

BOOTHE: Well, I think it is. I mean, I believe she only needs about 20 percent something to actually clinch the nomination outright. So I think that's a fair question and obviously Bernie Sanders is staying in because he wants to drive the narrative to the left and he's been successful in forcing Hillary Clinton to the left on issues, you know, economic issues and essentially name the issue and Hillary Clinton has flip-flopped on it.

KURTZ: What do you think about this leaked story about Hillary Clinton is now vetting or beginning putting together a list of V.P. candidates and aides, tell the Boston Globe that women will be her list, therefore the whole Elizabeth Warren thing gets started up again. Is this kind of a ploy at this stage that the press fell for?

BERG: It absolutely could be so much of the vice presidential selection process is about shaping the media coverage of the candidate and about sending a message potentially. So it might be true that Hillary Clinton is considering Elizabeth Warren as her ticket.

It might be more true actually that she's trying to send a message what would be wrong having two women on a ticket together because we've had same sex tickets for as long as politics have been around and we've actually.

KURTZ: Or if she's just trying to get all of us to talk about it. Kirsten, it's hard for Hillary Clinton to get good press. I mean, she wins big in New York and the Washington Post headline is Hillary Clinton won New York but her image is under water and going to the national polls, which over the two point lead over Bernie Sanders, even if she's a commanding lead in the race.

POWERS: She does have a commanding lead but she also has some obvious challenges. I don't think there's anything wrong with covering that, that she  --  and I think this Elizabeth Warren  --  is sort of floating this Elizabeth Warren and also  --  it's something that's trying to appeal to the Sanders people, of course, to say, you know, that she would be open to something like that might be something that's appealing to them.

So I think she does have repair work that she needs to do. Donald Trump obviously has repair work that he has to do. I don't think that's negative coverage per se to point that out.

KURTZ: Just to have a few seconds, but  --  so Hillary Clinton is not going - could be coroneted by the media maybe in mathematical terms. She will be --  but Bernie's limited success has shown problems with her candidacy?

BOOTHE: And we're seeing the weaknesses that we saw in 2008. Remember the NBC debate when she  --  Hillary Clinton was asked if she was likeable enough. We're seeing that again and Bernie Sanders obviously has had the enthusiasm but she's had the superdelegates in the establishment on her side.

KURTZ: Press loves that question, likeable enough. It was asked to Ted Cruz as well by Time Magazine. Rebecca Berg, Kirsten Powers, Lisa Boothe, thanks very much. The Kelly Ripa soap opera in just a moment, when we come back.


KURTZ: So Kelly Ripa  --  Kelly Ripa of Michael Strahan and Kelly Ripa fame, boycotts her own show, walks off and there's a lot to talk about it, joining now by Melissa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter in New York. There we go, I see the picture now. So why did NBC blind side Kelly Ripa with the news that her host of four years Michael Strahan is being moved to Good Morning, America?

MELISSA GUTHRIE, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Because she got so angry when they took him for a part-time gig, that they were afraid what she would do this time when they're taking him all together. So they decided to wait until the last minute to tell her.

KURTZ: Well, that certainly back fired and puts Michael Strahan in the awkward position of talking about how much he loves Kelly Ripa, let's take a brief look at that.


MICHAEL STRAHAN, 'GOOD MORNING AMERICA' SHOW HOST: I really want to thank of course, Kelly Ripa, because Kelly. Yes, Kelly welcomed me here and I've learned so much from her and she just been an amazing influence on me and this has truly changed my life to be here with her.


KURTZ: And she's not even there. How awkward was that?

GUTHRIE: I know, very awkward.

KURTZ: And do they  --  don't think they like each other, do they?

GUTHRIE: No and their relationship further deteriorated when he got the part-time gig on GMA and they told her at that time that it was just temporary. But I heard several months ago that they wanted more Michael Strahan on GMA, which as we in the media know has had some ratings issues lately.

KURTZ: Right, it's a number one show but ratings are going down and today's show is coming up. So how much is driven by the fact that NBC might just decide to take Kelly Ripa's hour and make GMA three  --  you know, give it a third hour?

GUTHRIE: Well, I mean a third hour, GMA has long been a desire at NBC for years and years and years because of the financial upside of that. And the syndicated market, the financial upside has been going down.

So look, I think they would like to have a third hour. They say there are no active plans for that. Live is still very successful and it's still making money, GMA more important that makes more money.

KURTZ: Just briefly, this reminds me the Today Show batching the firing of Ann Curry, because everyone has to act in television like they love each other and kind of the married kiddie couple, and now the ugliness is all out in the open, your thoughts?

GUTHRIE: Well, and I  --  and that's what everybody is looking at for Tuesday when Kelly returns to the show. What's their relationship going to be like? Look, remember, they haven't gotten along for a while and it hasn't showed on the air. So there's a good chance it still might not because Kelly knows that she needs to protect her own brand too.

KURTZ: Well, I'll be tuning in and see how that chemistry goes. Melissa Guthrie, thanks for joining us on this abbreviated show from New York. That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz, thanks for sticking with us.

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