Media say storm a Trump test
This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," August 27, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: This is a Fox News Alert. Our continuing coverage of what is now Tropical Storm Harvey. We'll get to coverage of President Trump later this hour but for an update on the impact of what was a Category 4 hurricane. Let's go to Texas. Fox's Griff Jenkins is in Houston. Griff?
GRIFF JENKINS, FOX NEWS: This is -- what you're witnessing today is perhaps the worst flood event in Houston, Texas before it's going to be ever. I want you just to quickly get you to these images. We are on South 610 highway. We're on the western side of Houston. It's unbelievable. Gas pumps submerged. This street is literally a river. The water several feet deep, moving very, very rapidly.
This is the catastrophic life threatening event that they talked about, Howie and the Harris County Flood Control folks just updating in a press conference minutes ago that they've got some 24 inches of rain, the worst in 500 years on the history books. The bayous here in this area, one of the country's most flood prone parts, absolutely devastating this area hitting levels surpassed by Tropical Storm Alison or any other.
The Brazos River, the San Bernard River, just taking things ever and it is taking a real toll on the emergency services here. The rescues, we're seeing hundreds of water rescues. I want to take you over here. Those rescues -- the officials are pleading with the public not to call 911 unless you are in danger. If you are in our house, water is coming in, just get to higher ground. Get on the roof if you have to. How are you sir?
Folks out here they're asking people. They've said for a couple days now, please don't try and drive. What you're witnessing is lots of motorists absolutely stranded down at the end of this we had some four or five feet that these car have -- yes?
KURTZ: And Griff -- on that point, as you say, 20 inches of rain in the last 24 hours in Houston and surrounding highways and county and another possibility of 20 inches more. Given the fate of the flooding, the stunning picture that we are looking at, how much is that impeding the rescue efforts at this hour?
JENKINS: Well, it's greatly impeding the rescue efforts because let me just show you, they had some preparations for this event and they asked people to cooperate. But what we woke up to today, Howie, was the Harris County sheriff pleading with people on Twitter to not to call 911 unless they had life-threatening situations. Because people were tweeting directly at him, help, help, help, here's the address, there's two children. There is an elderly person here. And we witnessed Ed Gonzalez, Harris County sheriff saying please sit tight. We're trying to do everything we can.
In Galveston, south of here, they are calling -- pleading for people for more boats for water rescues. So, we are seeing hundreds of rescues playing out. Task force One is the lead here in Houston, but they're just having trouble because even as well as prepared as you may be for what the forecasters said was coming, it comes up so fast and so tremendous that they have trouble getting there. They've had, we learned in the press conference from the officials here just minutes ago, they've had more than 2,000 calls to 911 for rescues.
KURTZ: Wow, a lot of people stranded and awaiting help and it's probably going to be played out over days. Griff Jenkins in Houston, thanks very much. As we learned during Katrina, it's the aftermath of flooding and the rains that really causes devastation and sometimes loss of life. There were estimates of anywhere from two to five or more people's deaths now attributed to what was Hurricane Harvey.
For more on the hurricane, let's bring in our panel: Emily Jashinsky, commentary writer for the Washington Examiner; Mo Elleithee, Fox News contributor and a former DNC staffer and now runs Georgetown University's Institute of Politics; and Erin McPike, White House correspondent for Independent Journal Review.
Erin, in the run up to this hurricane making landfall, I saw on every network, I saw on every major newspaper, this is the first big natural disaster test for President Trump. Here's a deadly hurricane about to cause widespread damage and it occurred to me that on some level, the media have to make everything into a Trump story.
MCPIKE: Well, they do and you always see these sorts of primaries when you go into a big news event like this. I will say that for as much as the media often takes Donald Trump's bait, I would say that in this case, Donald Trump took the bait that the media put out there and I would point out some of these tweets.
Many people are now saying that this is the worst storm hurricane they have ever seen. Good news is we have great talent on the ground. Wow! Now experts are calling Harvey a once in a 500-year flood. We have an all-out effort going and going well. He's playing right into media's hands there and I thought that was a little bit over the top on his part.
KURTZ: Well, I think also the president trying to show that he's on the job. The White House releasing pictures of a teleconference between President Trump who's at Camp David and his cabinet and other senior officials to show that he's on the job, but if there were to be a federal government disaster or mishap or failure to respond, Emily, on the scale of Katrina, that would be a huge story. But the idea of framing it that way in advance struck me as a little much. Your thoughts.
EMILY JASHINSKY, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Yes, I think there are two things. I think that's absolutely true. I think there's one interesting angle to this which is that we elected a man who was not a politician before him and there is something yet interesting and that he has no natural disaster experience. And that didn't happen when you elect politicians. So I think to some extent it was fair.
But to the tweets, I actually think if I'm someone who's on the ground in Houston, that's not bothering me. In fact, that's something I want to hear. I want to see the president is saying that he's on top of it tweeting, you know, 10 times or however many times he has. That would actually make me feel a lot better to see the federal government's attention being paid to me.
KURTZ: I know it's early, the next few days are going to be crucial in terms of the rescuing which just we're looking now still at the pictures in Houston. But since there hasn't been any criticism so far of FEMA or the federal government response, and obviously the state of Texas is the lead responder here, I'm not seeing any stories saying the administration is doing pretty well so far. Is it only a story if the federal government screws up?
MO ELLEITHEE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I don't think anyone is really passing judgment on any of the response yet because we're still in the middle of it.
ELLEITHEE: I mean, look at these pictures that are just so devastating. And as we just reported, you see tweets coming from the local officials urging people to stay in place and that we're trying to get to as many of you as possible. And you see the governor putting out information on where people can donate blood. You know, that kind of stuff, it's happening in real-time.
I don't think, you know, you can pass judgment one way or another. I think the president is taking a little too much credit a little too early. What I would like to see him doing out there is praising the local officials, absolutely, but at the same time supporting them by reinforcing the messages that they are sending. That's what we all need to be focused at right now.
MCPIKE: That's absolutely right and I think that's part of my point that what I think that the president is doing on Twitter a little bit is look at me, look at me, look at me, I'm paying attention as opposed to re-tweeting local officials saying get out of this area. Get indoors. Do this, do that or the other thing.
KURTZ: Well, you know, I'm going to give the president some leeway here because, you know, it's not being discovered as a once in 500-year storm at least for Texas. At the same time, you know, during Katrina when all those people were trapped in the superdome and it was clear that the rescue efforts were not proceeding as planned, there was plenty of criticism even as the events were still unfolding, last thought.
JASHINSKY: And so I think there actually are several outlets who have run pieces, you know, saying Trump detours from hurricane tweets to tweet about NAFTA and there are, you know, people are saying Trump used Harvey as cover for the breaking news that happened on Friday night that was outside the hurricane. So, people are not afraid to be critical of him which I think is unfair at this point and there is, you know, some framing on liberal outlets that this has already been a disaster for Donald Trump.
KURTZ: Wow. OK. Well, we will continue our coverage, live coverage of the disaster and there's no other word for it in Houston. We'll also talk a little about the president's extraordinary attack on journalists and journalism when we come back from this break. Stay with us.
KURTZ: This is a Fox News Alert. We are look at devastating images from Rockport, Texas. That's where the hurricane hit. The mayor there is saying the small coastal town, 10,000 residents, took a blow from Hurricane Harvey right to the nose. That blow leaving homes, business, and schools heavily damaged, a lot of damage to structures there. And getting help to Rockport has been tough. Roads are covered in debris and toppled power lines. As many as 250,000 people in Texas are without power yesterday. That number has not been updated.
All right, turning now to some of the political events this week, President Trump at that rally in Phoenix issued the most sustained, the harshest, the most stain indictment of the journalists and journalism that he has ever done and I would say, that any American president has ever delivered. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You have some fair journalists. But for the most of part, honestly, these are really, really dishonest people and they are bad people. And I really think they don't like our country. I hit them with neo-Nazis, I hit them with everything. I got the white supremacists, the neo-Nazis. I got them all in there. Let's see. Yes, KKK. We have KKK. I got them all. So they're having a hard time. So what did they say, right? It should have been sooner. He's a racist. If you want to discover the source of the division in our country look no further than the fake news and the crooked media.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: What the president was doing there was arguing about his response to the violence in Charlottesville and he did it for about half an hour, Emily, and the media have been in an absolute uproar over the tone and substance in the president's remarks, but his supporters love it.
JASHINSKY: Yes. It is another one of those moment and this -- Donald Trump has been doing this since he first announced his candidacy inn 2015. I mean we had people say this rally could have happened in 2015 and his supporters cannot get enough of it and I'm telling you, if you go to other parts of the country, it doesn't even matter if they're Republicans or Democrats.
People are so deeply suspicious of the media. That plays incredibly well with them. And so I think that's what we saw on the president's frustration as somewhat understandable. I mean, I'm on the side that I think he absolutely messed up in his response to Charlottesville. It was disappointing but his frustration is causing him to lash out again and again.
KURTZ: Right. And the irony, Mo, is that at least the political fallout from Charlottesville to some degree was starting to fade by devoting so much time to it and arguing about the coverage. The president revived it as a story for days right up until the hurricane hit.
ELLEITHEE: It seems to me that this president -- and I've got people's frustrations with the media, right. We all see it. We see it in the polling and I think the media has a lot of improvement that it can do and he has a lot of self-reflection. But it seems to me what he's doing is trying to set himself up as at least with his base, at least with his supporters as the only arbiter of what is fact.
By raising even more doubt and feeding into doubt and suspicion in the media, make future reporting from them even more suspect. What I found ironic and disappointing is the president sitting on that stage denouncing the dishonest media but then lying about the media saying that look, the media is turning off the cameras so that people at home can't watch it. I'm watching him say this on cable news.
By talking about how the media misreported his statement, his initial statement in Charlottesville, reading it back but leaving out the part that everyone criticized. This is how he is actually -- it's an amazing feat of political jiu jitsu, right. He's calling the media dishonest while being dishonest about the media.
KURTZ: That was my question for Erin because, you know, the president is certainly entitled to hit back. He's entitled to say the coverage was distorted, he didn't like it. He actually was denouncing hate groups. And of course on that Monday statement, he denounced the KKK as he said, the neo-Nazis and white supremacists. But when he left out the part about there was blame on many sides for some other things did he -- certainly the president undercut his own argument.
MCPIKE: Oh I think he absolutely did. And to your point, he obviously is doing this for his supporters. But he is losing support on the margins. S this whole idea --
KURTZ: Based on what, polling?
MCPIKE: Based on polling, absolutely. And you're seeing Republicans start to turn away from him. So this idea that he can continue to inoculate himself from media attacks, that's going to start working for him less and less and less.
KURTZ: But now, what happens is and we've seen this pattern play out again and again and you know, obviously we'll continue to look at the floodwaters in Houston as we talk about the political coverage. What happens is that the media then react and some would say overreact. So let me play for you what some of the commentators and anchors and pundits had to say starting off with an instance on MSNBC where one of the hosts actually interrupted the president's speech to offer his critique. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
TRUMP: -- because look, what happens with them, if they're doing a story about me, I know if it's honest or false. --
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC: This is the president lying about the media. He is telling his audience that the media lies about him. The president just quoted his remarks on Saturday after Charlottesville and he falsely quoted his remarks.
DON LEMON, CNN: What we have witnessed was a total eclipse of the facts. He's unhinged. It's embarrassing and I don't mean for us the media because he went after us, but for the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- at his most destructive at his most self- destructive, the president willfully lying to a narrow band of his supporters.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: He called out their lies, their propaganda, their agenda and the fact that they are now just an arm of the radical leftist movement that is in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: Emily, we heard words like unhinged, lying, we heard Lawrence O'Donnell interrupt the president to say he's lying. Doesn't -- to some extent, doesn't that play into the president's hands when he says the media are so hostile that I can't get a fair shake and then some of them, not all, but some of them go over the top?
JASHINSKY: Unfortunately, yes, and that's exactly -- what Lawrence O'Donnell did is such a perfect example of that because we had everyone saying, you know, the president is lying, the media is not cutting away from the speech, and then Lawrence O'Donnell cuts away from the speech so it's actually this really perfect illustration. The other networks kept him on, but this is a perfect illustration of what we're talking about.
Donald Trump goes, you know, far and criticize the media harshly and then the media makes him look right and so there obviously is a problem and people need to, you know, take a deep breath and be more rational I think The media needs to take a deep breath and be more rational I think.
MCPIKE: You could make an argument to say that the president is allowed to say what he wants. He has freedom of speech just as we have from freedom of the press, to the point that some of these anchors are saying he's unhinged and what have you and you're seeing that immediate (ph) panel. Quite frankly and you probably have experienced this some as well, in conversations that I've had with a number of strategists, Republicans, Democrats, otherwise.
After the president will make some comments, I will hear from an aide on the Hill -- could be Democrat, could be Republican -- who will say to me, I really think he's not well. Some of the conversations that we had in Washington or on background that are off the record are just happening in real-time on television right now, which is really kind of interesting.
KURTZ: OK. Well, it's fine for people to have private, personal, confidential or conversations about and speculate whenever they want about how the president is handling this, that or the other, Charlottesville or other crisis. But when journalists go in front of the camera or like for print or the web, and say these things, I just wonder whether or not they are -- if they go too far, whether they are under cutting.
Let me play a brief clip for you. This is the one from CNN. Ana Navarro and I'll let you respond Mo, saying what you're saying as some people are saying privately about the president. Let's watch.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN: The only defensible excuse, the only defensible explanation is that he is not mentally well because if he is, then he is just such earn incredible self-centered, narcissistic, unfit jerk that it makes it that much worse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ELLEITHEE: Honestly, a good friend of mine. I would prefer that fewer people talk about the president's mental health because most of us aren't in a place to talk about that.
KURTZ: And he has none of that.
ELLEITHEE: But let me say this. There is a line. There is a difference between being an analyst and being a journalist. I am not a journalist. I get paid by Fox News to come on here and provide my perspective. I think too often on cable news that gets confused particularly by the viewer, right. The viewer oftentimes doesn't see a difference when a journalist like Erin and a partisan analyst such as myself --
KURTZ: Right. And you are entitled to your opinions but my question is --
ELLEITHEE: Now when the journalist and I think this is what I would like to see fewer journalists -- let people like me, the hacks or whatever you want to say, what I would like to see less of the journalists talking about how unhinged he is and more about how wrong he is when he's wrong. I think the best thing that the media can do, and I think it is a very important role for the media to do, is to call out the missteps and misstatements as they happen in real-time.
Maybe not cut in with your voice, but I love when they, actually in the chyron say that was but real-time facts --
KURTZ: Well you obviously (ph). Everybody loves it.
ELLEITHEE: But I think that is important.
KURTZ: All right, that's a fair point. I just think that we talk a lot about President Trump's credibility. The media also has a huge credibility problem though. It's all around things like he's make a way on and so forth. I think we undercut our own credibility at least those who do it.
We're continuing to monitor the aftermath in Texas of Hurricane Harvey. You're looking here at live pictures and we will be back with that and more about the coverage of the president and a few other issues in just a moment.
KURTZ: Fox New Alert, Houston emergency responders are making hundreds of rescues as heavy rain from Harvey continues to pummel America's fourth largest city. The Coast Guard also helping with urban rescue. The city's 911 services overwhelmed. Officials are urging the public to only call if people are in imminent danger. We're looking at days more of torrential rains and unfortunately what looks to be catastrophic flooding.
All right, let's go back to the panel and I want to make this point about President Trump when he was attacking the coverage of Charlottesville. He said that the media were ignoring some of what he had said in his repeated statements after the violence. They are such as racism is evil. So do you hear anybody report that I said that racism is evil? Here are some quotes we put together.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bowing to the pressure today, the president finally said this.
TRUMP: Racism is evil.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: And named some of the hate groups behind the Charlottesville events.
TRUMP: Racism is evil.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump condemning white supremacist and related groups today following uproar over his response to this weekend's racist violence in Charlotesville.
TRUMP: Racism is evil.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: Obviously we've edited those clips. He went on to talk about hate groups and so forth. So, at least on that point it is not true that the media ignored his own words, which were also carried live at the time.
JASHINSKY: Well, no, absolutely. It's not true at all. I mean the coverage he got from his response to Charlottesville was largely fair. He made -- that was his own problem. I'm a conservative. I was completely disappointed by how he handled that. He made cynical decision not to call the appropriate groups like he should have not to give them their due attention and their due credibility for what happened in Charlottesville.
KURTZ: But then the concern is he did name the groups and then went into the both sides, many sides.
JASHINSKY: Exactly. He just distracted from what he did right.
KURTZ: Right. On your point Mo, I would rather stick to the facts and say, look, the president said this, the reality of the coverage was that, then get into the, oh, he's mentally unstable and he's unhinged, you know, which is essentially you know, name calling.
ELLEITHEE: Yes. I don't think you need to do that. I think you can check him on the facts which with this president he gives plenty of ammunition to fact checkers.
JASHINSKY: Which is a lot more productive.
ELLEITHEE: Right. And I also do think it is fair to ask questions, right. Why did he not -- why did he come out on day one of Charlottesville with the both sides? Why did he come back out on day three after he cleaned it up on Monday -- why did he come back the next day with the very fine people comment? I think asking those questions is totally legitimate.
KURTZ: Right. Erin, on Friday night when the hurricane was dominating the news hitting Texas, the president then announced his pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio who was convicted of criminal contempt after he violated a judge's order to stop the practice of stopping Latinos based on suspicion they might be illegal immigrants. Did doing that, not just on a Friday night but in the midst of this whole thing, did he succeed in burying much of the coverage?
MCPIKE: I don't actually think so in part because there was so much lead up to it on Friday.
KURTZ: He had teased it a few days earlier.
MCOIKE: He had teased it. There had been enough reporting on it in preceding days and this was an expected move coming from President Trump. So that was if anything more of a staff decision to release it at that time I think because he's been teasing it. But obviously we're going to continue talking about it and I don't think the Friday news dump means what it used to mean because we live in this 24-hour news cycle and social media and so this is going to continue to get plenty of coverage going forward and we will talk about it throughout the mid-terms frankly.
KURTZ: And just to be clear, the president can pardon anybody he wants, but because this is a law enforcement official who's ignoring a court order, there's been a lot of criticism just briefly.
JASHINSKY: Very high profile law enforcement.
KURTZ: And so the media -- I think the media will catch up on the coverage of this. I don't think it's going away. All right. Again, let me give you another break. Looking at picture of Houston, flooding there, continuing, rain there continuing. More on that on the other side and we'll come back with some analysis of (INAUDIBLE).
KURTZ: This is a Fox News Alert. Tropical storm Harvey continuing to wreak havoc on Texas while left parts of the Houston area underwater. Officials are struggling to assess the damage in areas that took a direct hit from the hurricane. Steve Harrigan is live outside hard-hit Rockport, Texas with the latest. Steve.
STEVE HARRIGAN, FOX NEWS: There are scenes of devastation all along the route between Corpus Christi and Rockport. You can get a look at some of it behind me here. It's just a mix of trees being pulled up by the roots mixed in with houses and cars all mashed together. Most of these people obeyed a mandatory evacuation order. The number of casualties has been extremely low so far but that could change as search and rescue groups continue to go out there.
Officials at this point don't really know how bad it is. There's no power here. The roads are blocked by downed wires and trees so the search for people who could be injured and in need of help has been primitive so far. We saw some firefighters on foot going door to door with axes just trying to find out if anyone inside the houses or apartments was still alive.
Initial reaction to this devastation about people who have come back, they seem to be in sort of a daze. They've lost everything. But when you talk to them more they do realize that they are lucky than many of their neighbors. Howie, back to you.
KURTZ: Yes, well, I guess a major challenge is going to be people coming back and trying to rebuild houses, rebuild their lives. Also, there've been a lot of Coast Guard rescues in high water, people who are in boat, more than 32 so far. Can you tell us anything about that and other rescue efforts?
HARRIGAN: A lot of officials have told people in some of these towns like Rockport to just stay away at this point. They have no infrastructure, no utilities up and running so they're really more harm than good coming back, but you can't blame people for trying to come back and pick through any of the ruins or wreckage they see to try and find what they can recover.
The rescue efforts along some of the hardest hit places by the storm where that category four hit have really been hampered by high winds and trouble on the roads. We are seeing now the first convoys of military vehicles on the way so it should go from a volunteer rescue operation to a professional one in the next few hours. Howie, back to you.
KURTZ: That would a welcome development. Steve Harrigan outside the hard hit area of Rockport, Texas. Thanks very much.
Are the media Donald Trump's evil empire? That's what Rich Lowry says. I sat down with the editor of National Review and a Fox News contributor here in Washington.
KURTZ: Rich Lowry, welcome.
RICH LOWRY, NATIONAL REVIEW: Hi Howie, thanks for having me.
KURTZ: There has been a media drum beat along the lines of this new Republic headline. Every Trump official with a conscience must resign. This came into the news when Gary Cohn, the chief economic adviser coined the "New York Times" drafted a letter of resignation decided to stay put. What do you make of the press almost demanding, urging that people just leave the White House?
LOWRY: Well, some of it I think is probably well-intentioned that they're outraged -- generally outraged by what the president said but a l lot of it also is motivated by the belief you have high-level officials going, you're going to collapse the Trump administration. So, I think in a new Republic that has to be sort of at least in the back of their minds.
KURTZ: Whereas your view is that even if they don't agree with the president and everything it's important for good people to stay in government and to help run the government. So Gary Cohn telling the Financial Times, I believe this administration can and must do better and consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups, the hate groups of Charlottesville. And as a Jewish-American, he says, I will not allow neo- Nazis ranting Jews will not replace us to cause this Jew to leave his job. The tone for me is sort of like, that's a great guy but how could he not quit?
LOWRY: Right. Yes. I thought that statement was bizarre and it just speaks to how much media pressure there is, probably how much social pressure there is on someone like Gary Cohn. Well, OK, if you're upset with the president of the United States and don't think he performed appropriately in this moment you can quit, which apparently he considered doing.
You can talk to him in private and let your discontent be known and, you know, tell him ways he can improve. But just publicly airing it just seems very strange to me. You are part of what is supposed to be unitary executive so we see Trump do the same thing. You know, if you're upset with Jeff Sessions, call him in the White House and tell him how upset you are. You don't need to tweet at him, but it seems to be the age we live in.
KURTZ: A lot of freelancing in this administration. You write in "Politico" that the media are Trump's evil empire as in the Soviet Union days and also in the wake of Charlottesville, his lifeline. How so?
LOWRY: Yes. Well, one, I just think the media has replaced the Soviet Union in effect as the common unifying enemy of every faction on the right. It doesn't matter whether you're a religious conservative or a libertarian, whether you're pro or anti-Trump. Everyone considers the media in effect a domestic enemy.
KURTZ: So does that include "National Review" which is --
LORY: Well for some people, we don't include ourselves as part of that media.
LOWRY: But Trump, you know, has sort of a great EQ. He realizes what excites people, what energizes people and he got on to this. And Republican politicians have always criticized the media going back at least to 1969.
LOWRY: Agnew gave his excoriating speech about TV commentators, but Trump has taken it to a whole different level. And it's part of what bonds the Republican base to him.
KURTZ: Well in the same piece you say that Trump is outrageous. Again, you're not a big a fan of the president but that makes the media feel justified in the unrelentingly harsh coverage. Should they feel justified?
LOWRY: Well, look, I think there are a lot of stories that need to be told about this administration. I don't think this administration often is very truthful and there is a lot of incompetence and things that can be exposed and that's fine. That's what the media should do, but it's all through this haze of unrelenting hostility and hysteria, you know. Every other day, it's not just that the Trump administration did something wrong or Trump said something controversial. It's the end of the Trump era is upon us.
And so I think the media is actually worse than it's ever been and that helps Trump because it's his main foil. And the more -- clearly the more biased and hysterical it is, the easier it is for him to beat up on it.
KURTZ: And you made an observation about CNN and the tone of its coverage toward the president.
LOWRY: Yes, well CNN, they're clearly loving this, right. Trump hate watches CNN and CNN hate covers Donald Trump, right. It's just, look, you know --
KURTZ: And boosts (ph) its ratings.
LOWRY: Yes, in four hours and 32 minutes, tune in to hear Donald Trump attack us and then for the next five hours we'll say how outraged and dismayed we are that Donald Trump attacked us. And we're going to reap the benefits of how it works.
KURTZ: I guess that called synergy. Now, among the many harsh things the president said about the media at his rally in Phoenix, talking about the wake of Charlottesville, he said this. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: But for the most part, honestly, these are really, really dishonest people. And they are bad people. And I really think they don't like our country. I really believe that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: So when Trump says he doesn't think journalists like the country, does that go too far? Is that part of a culture where he undergoes behind foot of wars (ph)?
LOWRY: I think he does go too far. Our role at "National Review" has always been not too try to criticize intentions, you know, stick to the facts, stick to policy, but we're obviously way beyond that moment in our politics. And Trump is just -- he's the most intense and comprehensive media critic that our politics has ever seen. And if he feels as though he's embattled or feels though he is being attacked unfairly by the press which he feels most of the time, he's going to hit back because he always said press is hard so he's actually ramped up his rhetoric from where it was.
KURTZ: Well, just in half a minute or so aren't some of the media playing into his hand with calling him unhinged and mentally ill and the over the top criticism we just spoke about.
LOWRY: Yes, absolutely. So, the reaction again, not to pick on one particular network, actually on CNN to his rally where he said such things was to start openly speculating about the president's mental and emotional stability. So, this is how the cycle works. Trump amped it up a little bit and the media amped it up a little bit. And my advice to both sides would be let the other side punch itself out. Let the other side discredit self with its hysterical attacks. But neither side thinks they should have taken that advice.
KURTZ: A little ropy dope (ph) advice from Rich Lowry. Rich, thanks very much for sitting down with us.
LOWRY: Thanks so much Howie.
KURTZ: One story overshadowed by the hurricane has been the departure of Sebastian Gorka from the White House. We'll talk about that and continue our coverage of Harvey in Texas. Stay with us.
KURTZ: It's the Fox News Alert. Hundreds of thousands people are displaced at this hour in the wake of hurricane now Tropical Storm Harvey. Some coastal counties and inland areas are now dealing with the severe flooding and the storm weather system. Shelters have been set up in major cities outside the flood zone.
So another thing that happened while we were all paying attention to the hurricane is that national security aide, White House aide Sebastian Gorka out of the administration and there's been this sort of tussle because he insist to "Breitbart" where he's now returned, that he resigned. He had a stinging resignation letter saying that make America great people have been internally counted, systematically removed or undermined in recent months. But unnamed White House officials telling "Washington Post," "New York Times" and other outlets that Gorka was forced out. Which are we to believe Emily?
JASHINSKY: Well, so I think as the truth probably somewhere in the middle on this one, there's a little bit of soppiness in the media with language. So the White House says he was forced out. He didn't resign. It's not saying he was fired to be clear. And Gorka is saying he resigned. So the truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but I think there was a little sloppiness in the coverage on Friday night.
KURTZ: Erin, since he was Steve Bannon's guy and Steve Bannon has gone back to run "Breitbart" and his main job at the White House seems to be you said, as an aggressive cable news surrogate, going out and sticking it to the pundits. Wasn't it kind of obvious that the new chief of staff, John Kelly, would probably force him out?
MCPIKE: Yes, of course. Now look, I think Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka and others can still be very effective Trump surrogates from outside the White House since I believe that they will continue to do but it is fascinating that the White House went so far as to try to clarify this because usually a White House want to keep a lid on some of this internal staff drama and some of the strife in terms of getting people out.
I also thought it was pretty interesting -- this is a little bit off of that topic but how the White House is kind of handling things right now because in the middle of the week the White House put out a statement which was remarkable saying that the president and Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, are actually on the same page about things, because there's been a number of reports in the last couple of weeks that they're not getting along.
KURTZ: Yes. The "Wall Street Journal" saying that there's been a divorce between Trump and the GOP with his (INAUDIBLE) and other Republican senators. But you know, it's been great re-launch for Steve Bannon going back to "Breitbart" now with Sebastian Gorka's help because everything that they do, they criticized the president on Afghanistan and other issues. It's getting enormous amount of attention.
ELLEITHEE: Yes. I think that's right. I think "Breitbart" is going to see a renaissance of sorts, right. It's how going to be the official Trump news platform at least --
ELLEITHEE: -- yes, when he stays true to Bannon's world view, it's going to sing his praises. It doesn't seem like they're going to go after him as much as the people around him though when they disagree with the administration --
KURTZ: Well, the very people who Bannon was fighting with, Gary Cohn an Jared Kushner and others who he sees as the globalist wing of the White House. Let me get to one last thing. Of all the things the president said as we continue to look at these pictures in Houston. One thing the president said about journalism, I thought the fact he said some journalists don't like the country was among the most stinging.
Former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw put up this tweet, "Mr. President I've been a journalist for 50 years, never met one who didn't love you the USA. Many risk their lives reporting on U.S. values. Cheap shot." Quick thoughts from each of you, Erin.
MCPIKE: I thought it was a pretty powerful tweet on the part of Tom Brokaw and right quite frankly. And you know, you're going to hear more and more of that if the president keeps making comments like that.
ELLEITHEE: Yes, I agree. I mean it was the most disappointing thing I heard from his remarks. Look, I don't support Donald Trump. I think a lot of what he does is harming fundamental American institutions. But I don't question his patriotism. The president may have a problem. I think he loves this country, I just disagree with where he's taking it. I think the president doesn't like the media. Make your legitimate gripes with the media but to question the patriotism of other Americans is just wrong.
KURTZ: And again, those who support Donald Trump love when he attacks the media. It's a part of a cultural war but I do think -- I wish he wouldn't get into the motivations and the patriotism of journalists because I just disapprove that point.
JASHINSKY: I mean, I'm as critical of the media as anybody and I've never really encountered a journalist who I thought is fundamentally not a patriotic person. So I think that was over the line but I think he knows that that's something that amps the base up. That's a line that can (INAUDIBLE) people up and I think he knows exactly what he's doing when he says that.
KURTZ: Lots of criticizing in journalism, that is one that I would say we should leave alone, Mo Elleithee, Emily Jashinsky and Erin McPike, thanks with sticking with us with this hour as we continue to cover Hurricane Harvey. We will have more on the storm and its aftermath in Texas in just a moment.
KURTZ: This is a Fox News Alert. Continuing our coverage of Tropical Storm Harvey in Texas, joining me now by phone is Ed Gonzalez who is the Sheriff of Harris County, Texas which includes Houston. Sheriff, thank you for joining us. Given the continuing rains and the catastrophic flooding, give us your assessment of how bad the damage is in your metropolitan area right now.
ED GONZALEZ, SHERIFF, HARRIS COUNTY (via telephone): Well I think you said it well. It is catastrophic. We have many, many people still stranded, some on rooftops. We're trying to assess some of the hardest hit impact areas now with daylight. That does help us out a little bit. We're trying to deploy our boat and rescue teams out as quickly as possible. Obviously we can't do it fast enough for everyone. But we're trying to ask for people to just have a little bit of patience and we'll try to get to them as soon as possible.
KURTZ: Sheriff, are you coping with a limited amount of resources, and also, given the torrential rains, given the extent of the flooding, are the obstacles from the natural disaster also just making it more difficult for you to get the people who need help?
GONZALEZ: Well, we could never have enough resources for a storm this magnitude. The rainfall totals have far eclipsed the 500-year rain level mark so, for us it's just, you know, it's just an anomaly. So we have to work hard with what we have. We're getting it done anyway. We do have resources coming to be able to supplement and that's going to be of big help.
It's just so widespread. It's not concentrated on one area so, we continuously getting requests from all over to try to get assistance and you know, first responders have to navigate through some of those difficult water situations as well.
KURTZ: And Sheriff, how are you finding out about those who need rescuing whether they're trapped in their homes or on the road. What is the communications situation there?
GONZALEZ: Well we're still advising people to try to get through 911, the system was overwhelmed. So, some have not been able to get through. I have personally also connected with many of them via social media especially in my Twitter feed just to try to assist as best we can. The problem is not so much of receiving the information as to be able to get people to them sometimes. Obviously they're in some of the harder hit areas. So we're just trying to make do of what we got and trying to make it work.
KURTZ: And Sheriff, given the predictions that you're going to get a lot more rain in Harris County, Texas and the flooding is going to continue, do you see these rescue efforts as something that will, by necessity, have to continue for days before you can get to everyone who needs the help of your department?
GONZALES: Yes, exactly. I think this is going to be as someone described it more as a marathon and not a sprint and I think that's what's going to happen. The torrential downpours that we saw last night definitely will not help because our infrastructure will not be able to support more heavy rains that are coming our way so that makes it just extra difficult in trying to get to people. So, you know, we're extremely worried about that but we're going to do all we can to make it work and we'll get it done at the end of the day.
KURTZ: I'm sure you're all working way, way, way many hours in order to try to get to people and Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, thank you very much for taking time out from the rescue efforts to join us here on Fox News.
GONZALES: Thank you.
KURTZ: Looking at these pictures in Harris County which includes Houston, of the aftermath of just what's now being called a 500-year flood an I think it's going to get worse before it gets better. Still to come, some final thoughts from me on the coverage of Harvey.
KURTZ: This is a Fox News Alert. You are looking at live pictures from Houston where it continues to rain, torrential rains causing catastrophic flooding and we've been trying to cover that. We'll continue to cover that all day.
Hurricanes can be humbling, a reminder that man is sometimes no match for the forces of Mother Nature. They can also remind us of the political maneuvering that we sometimes obsess over can seem rather small in the face of such destructive fury. We expect our presidents, our governors, our mayors to perform in such crisis, as in Hurricane Katrina and Super Storm Sandy.
The current Hurricane Harvey is not a Trump story. It's not certainly a political story. It's a human story, one that can be well told by the media which provides such vital information and also perhaps at this time a sense of community. It is crucial as Texas struggles with the aftermath that the media stay on the story once the flooding recedes and the long painful process of rebuilding begins.
I remember going out on a reporting trip to New Orleans 8 months after Hurricane Katrina. Most of the media had moved on. Most of the country, most of the world had moved on and I was stunned there were entire neighborhoods that were still devastated where people still couldn't get into their homes, where houses hadn't been rebuilt. So, it's a long, painful process when something like this happens and the media, you know, which are famous for having a short attention span needs to stay on this story as the people of Texas try to cope with the aftermath and the damage and even the psychological toll of Hurricane Harvey.
That's it for this edition of "Media Buzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. Thanks for joining us as we've tried to balance covering both the politics and the storm which has had such devastating effect. Hope you'll like our Facebook page. We'll communicate with you there. We're back here next Sunday. See you then with the latest buzz.
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