Media’s D-Day assault on Trump
This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," June 9, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, President Trump draws a media praise but mostly media scorn for his European trip ranging from his soaring words of remembering D-Day to battling his detractors especially Nancy Pelosi here and abroad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He stayed on script, stayed on message, and I think rose to the moment.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There were thousands of people cheering. And then I heard that there were protests. I said where are the protests? I don't see any protests. I did see a small protest today when I came. Very small, so a lot it is fake news.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Why would Trump deny what is visible to the entire planet, the protests against him in the streets of London?
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: You are the president of the United States. You should be above that. You shouldn't be calling people like the mayor of London -- what did he say? A total loser or whatever.
GREG GUTFELD, FOX NEWS HOST: The media wraps after Trump calls the London mayor a loser. But that was after the mayor called him a "bigot."
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: He also called the Duchess of Susses "nasty," but he's trying to claim that he didn't, even though we heard that, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just humiliated the mainstream media and his critics who said that this trip was going to be a disaster. The media had egg in its face like I've never seen before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: What about the commentators who slammed the president for denouncing the House speaker in Normandy as a disgrace? That after she privately said that she would like to see him in prison.
Joe Biden does an absolute flip-flop, caving to pressure from the media and liberal activists after some pundits insisted his stance on barring federal funding for abortions was unacceptable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: He still believes in the Hyde Amendment. He still thinks that's good law. I think that is a position that will not outlive the Democratic presidential primary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: And less than 24 hours later, Biden caved. Are many journalists giving him a pass for taking what they deem the right position?
Plus, Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, these companies that were once so admired, now they are facing government investigations and crackdowns. How did the wizards of Silicon Valley screw this up?
I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "Media Buzz."
Nancy Pelosi was meeting with top House Democrats when, according to a leak to Politico, she said to President Trump, "I don't want to see him impeached, I want to see him in prison." That came up when Trump sat down with Fox's Laura Ingraham at the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy and said this about Pelosi an hour before his speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: How do you work with someone like that?
TRUMP: I think she's a disgrace. I actually don't thinks she's a talented person. I've tried to be nice to her because I would have liked to have gotten some deals done. She's incapable of doing deals. She's a nasty, vindictive, horrible person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: He was also asked about Robert Mueller and said the former special counsel made such a fool out of himself. Those harsh words in a solemn setting sparked a fierce debate on the airwaves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: We heard what was really on the president's mind in his own words when he used soldiers' graves as a backdrop to attack Robert Mueller and Nancy Pelosi.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Speaker Pelosi now apparently telling senior Democrats she would like to see Trump behind bars. Based on no actual crime, she wants a political opponent locked up in prison. That happens in banana republics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage: Guy Benson, political editor at Townhall, a Fox News contributor, and host of "The Guy Benson Radio Show"; Beverly Hallberg, president of District Media and a former television producer; and Clarence Page, columnist for "The Chicago Tribune."
Guy, Nancy Pelosi obviously really set the president off with that prison comment. But there is real anger among journalists and commentators. Not that Trump hits back, he does that all the time, but that he did so just before delivering his speech honoring the bravery of American soldiers at D-Day in 1944. Fair or unfair critique?
GUY BENSON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR, POLITICAL EDITOR AT TOWNHALL, RADIO SHOW HOST: Mostly fair, I think, because you see him launching these very significant political attacks and landing these haymakers and behind him are literally the graves of American soldiers who were killed during the D- Day invasion.
I think in terms of optics, that's something that he should have been more aware of. However, think about all the heavy breathing that was done in the media over the "lock her up" chants and think about the heavy breathing about oh, you're not supposed to -- when Republicans would critique President Obama when he was abroad.
You're not supposed to do that. Politics stops at the waters' edge, all of that that was supposedly something that was a norm in our politics. Here is the speaker of the House saying she wants to see the president in jail while the president is abroad, and the idea that he should just sit down and take that, I think, is ridiculous.
I think both sides are violating norms and one of those norms violations are one -- one end of that is getting far more coverage than the other.
KURTZ: Beverly, Nancy Pelosi's comments were actually made in private as a way of holding off Jerry Nadler and the pro-impeachment forces, but aren't the odds about a zillion to one that she didn't realize this would leak and leak quickly?
BEVERLY HALLBERG, PRESIDENT, DISTRICT MEDIA GROUP: I think it was purposeful on her part. The reason is when she has almost 60 members in her caucus that want to move forward with impeachment, she's really trying to tamp it down because impeachment is not going to be good for the Democrats for a variety of reasons.
So what I think she's doing with the messaging and having the so-called leak is to show that she is in solidarity with her caucus on their opinion of the president while trying to distance herself from the tactic of impeachment.
KURTZ: Right. Clarence, what the president's detractors in the media are suggesting is that when he spoke to Laura Ingraham and he told her that the interview was delaying the D-Day ceremonies, whether that turned out to be true is not clear, is that he's slamming Nancy Pelosi and Robert Mueller in that one minute, somehow he could not have been sincere in delivering the D-Day tribute roughly an hour later.
CLARENCE PAGE, COLUMNIST, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: I don't think it reflected on his delivery of the D-Day tribute. I think, as you just heard one critic say, he had the graves of the D-Day casualties behind him --
KURTZ: Did the optics bother you?
PAGE: That bothered me. I think it should bother people on Trump's team because it does not show the proper tribute on the 75th anniversary of D- Day. You know, I'm one of those draftees who couldn't afford a doctor to find bone spurs in my feet and it took me a long time to get over my resentment of those folks who did. And I don't think Donald Trump has gotten over it yet. We really see this.
KURTZ: Let's talk about some of the other skirmishes, I guess, for lack of a better word that really defines the coverage this week. So, when he went after Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, couple of days before the president landed, I kind of actually written an op-ed piece in The Guardian.
This sort of got sloshing. It's so un-British to be rolling out the red carpet for this guy. His divisive behavior flies in the face of the ideals America was founded on. And the president goes on Twitter, calls him a stone cold loser and was asked about it on Sky News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETH RIGBY, SKY NEWS POLITICAL EDITOR: Do you think that Sadiq Khan is a stone cold loser?
TRUMP: I think he has been not a very good mayor from what I understand. He has done a poor job, crime is up, lot of problems, and I don't think he should be criticizing a representative of the United States that can do so much good for the United Kingdom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: That was obviously a reporter for Sky. So Guy, the headlines mostly said, "Trump Attacks London's Mayor," as if that was the first blow.
BENSON: It was retaliation and Mayor Khan was making the case, "Trump is a bigot and shouldn't be welcomed here at all as the American president." So, again, we know how President Trump operates. I think he was rightfully upset by what the mayor said, and of course he is going to fire back.
I mean the idea that we are all clutching at our pearls, oh, my gosh, Trump attacked the mayor of London, look at what was said about him, think about what we've learned from the last -- I don't know, five decades of Donald Trump's adult life --
BENSON: This is of course what he was going to do. I think in this case, it was probably warranted.
KURTZ: Clarence, it seems one thing for critics to say, well, you know, Trump could have been focused on the big international problems and just kind of look past that, and that is not who Donald Trump is if you criticize him harshly.
PAGE: That's right. We knew that when he was elected. At the same time, we don't need to normalize it. I like the old days when American presidents went overseas and paid proper tribute to D-Day.
PAGE: I was not a friend of Ronald Reagan's politics but I love that speech he gave at Pointe du Hoc. You know, these are the kind of things that we expect of real leadership in the country. You know, the public has the right to elect the vote for or against the kind of president who represents them.
KURTZ: And then there is the Duchess of Sussex, so the whole Meghan Markle thing. The president had given an interview to the Sun. This was on tape. He was asked about she had once said she would move to Canada if he was elected. He said, I didn't know she was that nasty. Then he denied it. This came up with Piers Morgan on ITV because obviously this was a very big story in Britain. Roll it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: CNN and some of the other phonies, they went out and they took the tape and they even tried to, you know, disgorge it from that. So what happens is, they talked about nasty, but we were talking about nasty, she was nasty to me. And that's OK for her to be nasty. It is not good for me to be nasty to her and I wasn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: It was all this media handwringing. He's lying. He's gaslighting. He did say "nasty." What he is explaining is he meant that she had been nasty. In his mind, that is not the same as saying she is a nasty person.
HALLBERG: I think when you have to explain, you're usually losing, so him saying how he was using the term "nasty" --
KURTZ: That's a good point, Beverly.
HALLBERG: And also this isn't the only time we've heard the term "nasty" even on your show today. He also said that in reference to Nancy Pelosi. So I think it is his favorite word of choice in relation to women specifically.
So, once again, we could say that we don't Donald Trump to talk this way. He is going to do it, I'm not going to hold my breath, but this story didn't help him out. I think it is fair to cover it.
KURTZ: Let's pull back and take the 30,000 foot views. So, the president carried out his duties pretty well, I would say, overall. I mean, he had dinner with the queen. He wore a white tie. He chattered with Prince Charles about climate change. He didn't use the wrong fork. He gave a pretty good D-Day address, even quoting to some of his critics.
Yet the tone of the coverage was, well, he is exaggerating the size of his crowds or he's minimizing the size of the protests, and the spats and what critics in the media say are his screw ups and missteps.
BENSON: Well, I think many in the media as invested in his failure, so they are going to find narratives that further that failure in their minds and cover that and focus on it.
KURTZ: Did president help them?
BENSON: Of course he does sometimes. Of course he does sometimes. And that is part of my consistent critique of him for the balance of his entire presidency thus far and will be, I think, for the next year and a half.
That being said, you have to look at the totality of the trip, which I think overall was absolutely a success. The fact that it was treated as such and covered as such by the foreign press, which is not exactly a group of Trump lovers, I think is very telling.
And particularly the speech that he gave in Normandy was extraordinary. It was very, very well crafted and delivered speech that really rose to that moment that even Jim Acosta made that point. And to get Jim Acosta to say something nice about the president is, you know, I felt like I saw a pig fly by the window behind me.
KURTZ: And even Joe Scarborough said it was the best speech of Trump's presidency and he is hardly a Trump booster (ph) these days. I wonder whether the Beltway press is sort of stuck in this traditional mindset which is you have a president and maybe this reflects our culture, who ping-pongs between high and low.
He is sticking into Nancy Pelosi, he is talking about Meghan Markle, he is talking about Bette Midler, who also criticized him and he went back against her. And it was oh, my god, how can he do this when he is in London, when he is in France? And yet he is also carrying out the duties of commander in chief.
PAGE: He didn't mention Rosie O'Donnell, by the way, so maybe things are changing. No, things are not changing. This is Donald Trump. Again, we do this from the beginning. The coverage has been like coverage always is. The professional news people covered both sides. They gave broadcast speeches, et cetera. Commentators commented. And the viewers picked and chose what they remember and what they don't.
But Donald Trump did not just up with nasty on Nancy Pelosi. Nasty, vindictive, horrible, and the kind of person who is disgusting, a disgrace, I forgot that part, and that she doesn't negotiate. I mean, who walked out of the last negotiation in regard to infrastructure? It was Donald Trump. So, you know --
KURTZ: That was also interestingly in response to comments Pelosi had made to her follow Democrats about a cover-up. So, she has a way of getting on his skin. He hits back. The headlines often say, Trump denounces Pelosi. Now, the president was given some equal time, has been tweeting, no shock there.
Yesterday, Beverly, he tweeted, "Watched MSNBC to see what the opposition says. Such lies. No wonder their ratings along with CNN are way down. The hatred Comcast has is amazing"
This morning, the president at it again, this is interesting, "I know it is not at all presidential to hit back at the corrupt media, but if you don't hit back, people believe the fake news is true." That seems to be a little bit about to the criticism that he is often bashing the press even it steps on his message.
HALLBERG: And I think it is a valid criticism at times. So even going back to the D-Day speech, I am glad that there are more people who talk about it being a good speech. But a lot of the coverage is on things that he didn't even do that were incorrect.
For example, they talked about he was the one who delayed the start of the ceremony. The reports, it was actually the French president, and also where he signed his name on a joint letter with his allies. So these are those minor instances that happened --
KURTZ: What do you make of him saying, I know it is not at all presidential?
HALLBERG: Well, I don't think Donald Trump wants to be presidential. I looked at that speech as like, ah, if he would only do this all the time, and I think a lot of us think that. But this is his style. This s the way he is going to approach it. I actually think it would be better for people to not take his bait. I think it is when the others retaliate, that actually plays poorly on them.
KURTZ: It is sort of interesting to the criticism they usually ignore. Let me get a break here. When we come back, the president is declaring victory in that tariff showdown with Mexico and his myth that the press is not going along.
And later, Dana Perino will join us on navigating the media minefield on presidential trips abroad.
KURTZ: President Trump announced a last minute immigration deal with Mexico late Friday ninght in exchange for dropping his threat to impose a five percent tariff on all Mexican goods. The Mexican government is promising to help stem the tide of Central American migrants and house some asylum-seekers trying to get into the U.S.
The president is unhappy with the coverage, tweeting that there has been much false reporting -- surprise -- by the fake and corrupt news media such as Comcast/NBC, NY Times, and Washington Post.
And I thought that the coverage for the first day or so was pretty straightforward, Guy. Lead story today in The New York Times this morning is that the deal consists largely of actions that Mexico had already promised to take in prior discussions with the U.S. over the past several months, according to officials of both countries. The president is calling that another false report in the failing New York Times. BENSON: So, I think this is probably a legit scoop that the Times has printed. The way it is being characterized by a lot of journalists on social media is that aha, as we always suspected, Trump really got nothing out of all of this bluster, and he threw the economy into uncertainty and chaos for nothing.
I am not a fan of what he did vis-a-vis to tariffs. However, in the very New York Times piece, the people are pretending prove that he gained nothing. Here is paragraph ten. "The Mexicans promise to deploy up to 6,000 National Guard troops." It was larger than their previous pledge. So they increased the resources.
I flip all the way to paragraph 26 and 27, talking about in May, there were only a thousand Mexican National Guard troops, we are going up to 6,000, and the agreement states that the two countries will "immediately expand the protection protocols across the entire southern border when it comes to asylum seekers." So there's more resources and escalated timeline. These are actual concessions.
KURTZ: This is why we have Guy Benson on because he reads the 26 and 27 paragraphs, unlike a lot of other people.
KURTZ: The other line here, Clarence, a Washington Post columnist went on MSNBC and said Trump manufactured the crisis and then claimed victory. The New York Times has another piece, he is the hero of his own drama. CNN's Charlie Dent, more bluster than anything else. But even if all of that is true, shouldn't the press acknowledge that Donald Trump's confrontational negotiating style sometimes yields results?
PAGE: We see Trump has successfully sent out two messages here. One is at the New York Times front page that there is really nothing new here, folks, things are going along as they should. Whereas Trump himself says, ah, fake news, they are lying about me again. But we are making our victories anyway.
It goes out to his base. His base doesn't read The New York Times. Many of them whom I have talked to, really want to believe Trump when he speaks. And I know he exaggerates. He has got them on his side and he just has to reassure them. That is what he has done with Mexico talks. That is what much really happened here.
KURTZ: Right. Trump has done this before with Canada, with NATO. He tends to blow things up and then try to get a deal that he thinks is going to be better than the deal he would have gotten otherwise.
Let me turn now, Beverly, to the whole question of Vietnam, because after Pete Buttigieg, an Afghan war veteran, criticized the president, said he was lying about his bone spurs, that was what he got from Vietnam, there were a lot of stories about this. And it came up with Piers Morgan on ITV who asked him, would you like to have served when you were eligible for Vietnam draft?
What the president said was that it was a terrible war, very far away, nobody ever heard the country. By then, demonstrations are every day. It wasn't like fighting Nazi Germany. And when Piers pressed him about the firm (ph), he said, well, I wouldn't have minded serving at all, I would've been honored, I think I make up for it right now.
HALLBERG: Yeah. Part of the reason why he said he makes up for it is because of the spending to the military. I don't think that takes the place of somebody putting their life on the line to go fight. But I also think there is a double standard with the story because we've had plenty of presidents who haven't served.
Obama, Clinton, even the Democrat front-runner, Joe Biden, never served. He was able to get out of the Vietnam War because he had asthma. It was medical issue. KURTZ: Right. Obama wasn't (INAUDIBLE) in Vietnam. Bill Clinton certainly avoided the draft.
KURTZ: But none of this info is new. Do you think the press is going too far to bringing it up now, kind of trying to contrast it with D-Day?
HALLBERG: I think so because they wanted to point out he shouldn't have been there giving these types of speeches. I think it is trying to hit the president. However, they can't. But this is the double standard. Once again, you don't see Democrats covered the same way especially in this issue. If Joe Biden becomes our next president, I am not holding my breath that they will attack him on this. KURTZ: All right.
PAGE: We will see when Bill Clinton's draft letters turn up.
KURTZ: That was pretty big story. Clarence Page, Beverly Hallberg, Guy Benson. Thanks so much for coming by this Sunday, everyone. Ahead, left- wing Democrats and the press are piling on Joe Biden -- we were just talking about him -- for not completely towing the line on abortion.
But up next, President Trump (INAUDIBLE) for boycotting an American company. It has to do with CNN. And some striking findings on who you blame for fake news.
KURTZ: Maybe the media have largely grown accustomed to President Trump slamming private companies but this is pretty remarkable. When the president landed in London this week, he was perturbed to having to watch CNN, which is on across Europe. So he tweeted that "it is all negative and so much fake news, very bad for U.S." And then he added, "Why doesn't owner AT&T do something?"
The telecommunication giant has overseen CNN since winning control of Time Warner, a corporate takeover that Trump opposed during the campaign and which his Justice Department tried and failed to block in the courts.
But wait, there was more. "I believe that if people stop using or subscribing to AT&T, they will be forced to make big changes at CNN, which is dying in the ratings anyway." That was the president of the United States urging a consumer boycott of a major American company because he doesn't like the coverage of the network. There is no other way to describe it. There was some pushback obviously at CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: This is America. We don't presidents who punish companies because they don't flatter them enough. Does the president really want people to lose jobs so that CNN won't cover his lies as often? Yes is the answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: I often find CNN's coverage of Trump unfair, especially certain anchors and reporters in the shows, but that's not the point here. Maybe there would have been more of a reaction if people thought Trump was going to seriously push a boycott rather than just unleash a tweet or two. The market certainly shrugged it off. AT&T stock closed that day up more than one and a half percent.
The big headline, at least according to (INAUDIBLE), is that more Americans are worried about fake news than terrorism. Wow! But the details from the PEW research project are equally fascinating. Sixty-eight percent of Americans surveyed say that made-up news or information is causing them to lose confidence in government.
Majority, 57 percent, say political leaders and their staffs create a lot of made-up news. Almost as many points activist groups, all 36 percent, blame journalists. But here comes the partisan split, you know this is coming, 58 percent of Republicans say journalists create a lot of false news. That is nearly three times as high as the 20 percent of Democrats who agree with that.
Ahead, is Joe Biden really in another plagiarism scandal or is that media hype? But first, Dana Perino on the media warfare that follow the president to Britain, to France and to D-Day.
KURTZ: It has been a week of media highs and lows for President Trump on the world stage. Dana Perino went for this one, her boss, President Bush spoke at the 60th Anniversary of D-Day back in 2004. I spoke to the anchor of The Daily Briefing, co-host of The Five, and of course, former White House Press Secretary, from New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Dana Perino, welcome.
DANA PERINO, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Thanks for having me, Howie.
KURTZ: Do you think that the media gave President Trump his due for his speech or was the praise rather grudging?
PERINO: Well, it depends where you look, of course. I think that if I were the White House or even 10 Downing Street or the people that put together the event in Normandy itself, I think you have to be very happy with how this trip went. Absolutely, a net-plus across the board. I think some of the foreign press for President Trump was actually quite good. Here in the states, it was a mixed bag.
But even people who are typically critics of him said that the D-Day speech was one of his very best. Now, there were moments when you would say gosh, what does the media covering here, but in some ways, the President gives them a lot to work with.
KURTZ: Well, you kind of anticipated my next question, which was sort of a split screen nature of the coverage. So, even some of the Presidents detractors, maybe even some of his supporters, saying he performed pretty well at the official events, a big speech.
KURTZ: Why is he tweeting insults at Bette Midler? Yes, she attacked him first. Does he sometimes step on his own message?
PERINO: OK, so June of 2015, we're now four years in to President Trump either as a candidate or as President. And he's always going to do this.
PERINO: Whether he is jet lag or he's up in the middle of the night. And he knows that the press is going to cover his tweets. And he is creating his own split screens. But I think that necessarily works against him, it is not something new.
But if you were at the White House and you're looking at this amazing trip, you could be -- you could say to the President now, don't tweet because we won't have good coverage. He got good coverage and he also coverage of things that were happening back home, the tariff fight, of course. You had him talking about Robert Mueller and Bette Midler.
I mean, the President is always talking about all sorts of different issues. So he creates his own split screens. I don't think they can complain about that.
KURTZ: He does create his own split screens. He seems to do it just about every day. The biggest example where some of his critics are really almost apoplectic has to do with about an hour before he gave the D-Day speech. He did an interview with Laura Ingraham and he went after Robert Mueller. And he really went after Nancy Pelosi saying she was nasty, vindictive, a disgrace.
But of course, he just leapt from the day before that the House Speaker privately with the Democrats said she would like to see him in prison. So do you have any problem with the setting in which the President punched back at Pelosi?
PERINO: Look it was his opportunity of the day. That was the interview they decided to give. I think that you know he could have taken a pass on it and tweeted about it later, if he wanted to. But the President is always counter punching.
And I also have a feeling, Howie, that the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, probably was not at all surprised to see that that story leaked in Politico or she were surprised.
KURTZ: I agree.
PERINO: I'm sure she wasn't unhappy about it because she likes to get under his skin. She likes to think that she can rattle him. And when he responds, it creates a whole another round of stories that protect her in some ways because it looks like she is being tough against him, while there is all this pressure on her to try to go for impeachment in the House.
But look, even when George W. Bush was overseas, we were dealing with a lot of big issues, and in particular, the war. So it does happen. It is something that I would probably try to resist against, if I were in the office, but I'm not. I'm here. And I get to comment about it instead.
KURTZ: Yes, you do. In the same day, the Mueller investigation, the mainstream media and obviously, the Democrats are trying to keep it alive. We still have hearings and subpoenas, and people going through the report, even at this late date. But President Trump constantly talks about Mueller as he did in the interview with Laura. And so, is he helping to drive that story? Does he want to keep the Mueller story alive because he thinks is beneficial to attack the former...
PERINO: I think -- I think it is the latter. I think that if you look at what Rudy Giuliani's and the President's tactics from the beginning was to stay aggressive. The best defense is a good offense. A little sports analogy for you there.
KURTZ: I like that.
PERINO: And so -- and they've done it from the very beginning, right. It was a hoax from the beginning, and now, there was total exoneration. But now, it is a hoax again. It is just a constant stream.
If the President and Rudy Giuliani and his allies weren't out there talking about the Mueller report, they would leave all that space for the Democrats to fill. And I can understand why they want to push back. It takes up a lot of time but I almost feel like in their world, it is necessary. Because if they didn't do that, there is a vacuum.
KURTZ: Right. And finally, how much has the political world changed since the pre-Twitter era of the Bush White House even maybe the Obama White House where news and advisors and press secretary can talk to the President and say OK, here's our message for the day, don't get distracted by these petty fights, we need to show discipline. Is that even realistic anymore and would they use attacks coming in by the hour?
PERINO: Well -- one thing is you know I never knew how negative the reaction to my White House briefings were because I didn't have Twitter. And I'm quite grateful for that because my self-esteem is intact.
KURTZ: You're insulated.
PERINO: Things have changed quite dramatically.
KURTZ: You did not have a Twitter account.
PERINO: No, I didn't have a Twitter account. In fact, I said why would I even need a Twitter account? I don't want a Twitter account. Obviously, I need a Twitter account to post pictures of my dog, which I've continued to do.
And I see the benefits like a cost-benefit analysis that you do to any sort of social media. I do think this though, that the President has been able use social media the way that John F. Kennedy used television, or that Roosevelt used the radio. It's just the next generation. I don't know -- I don't know what comes next, but I hope I'm around to report on it.
KURTZ: I would never go back to the old ways. Dana Perino, great to see you as always.
PERINO: Thank you.
KURTZ: Thank you so much.
Ahead on Media Buzz, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, while they all may be coming under government investigation.
But coming up, Joe Biden's very rough week in the press, are the pundits helping his left-wing rivals?
KURTZ: Media pressure on Joe Biden was unrelenting after MSNBC reported that Biden still supports the Hyde Amendment, which bars direct federal funding of abortion. The former VP was sharply criticized on cable segments, in new stories, and op-ed pieces with one Washington Post contributor branding him unfit to lead.
And then, less than 24 hours after, Rachel Maddow said Biden's position would not stand, he caved. The Former Vice President changed the stance that his campaign had portrayed as a matter of principle, as some of his fellow liberals were kind of sympathetic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If I believe healthcare is a right as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes the right dependent on someone's zip code.
HILLARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's clearly the right move because it's the right position to take. He should've taken the position all along.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I've always thought that we are more interested in flip-flops. We in the news media, even voters are, I mean, people change our minds, it is kind of embarrassing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: But others, mainly pundits, in the pro-life camp were sharply critical of Biden's sudden shift.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This is a clear cave to the pressure that he was getting because it's not like he has gotten new information.
LISA BOOTHE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It makes him look weak, it makes him look inauthentic. All it took was a day of bashing from the left for him to capitulate and give up one of his allegedly core beliefs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage here in Washington, Buck Sexton, syndicated radio talk show host and in New York, Jessica Tarlov, a Fox News contributor.
And, Buck, there is enormous media pressure on Biden to change his position on the Hyde Amendment. There were quotes from leaders of pro-choice organizations, virtually no pro-life voices, virtually no one saying you know what, this is principled position by Joe Biden as a catholic Democrat.
BUCK SEXTON, THE BUCK SEXTON SHOW HOST: Well, I think the media was trying to direct him so that the base would be willing to go along with him. I think the media is much more invested in Biden. I know the polls show that number one than the general left-wing base has been to this point. And they're going to hurt their backs carrying so much water for him, because they're directing him to this now. But they also have to do the after action repair here. They're going to have to say well, what he believed for 40 some odd years, it turns out he didn't really believe that. But he's making the right move. And so now, we can continue to push him in this primary.
KURTZ: Jessica, even if you're pro-choice, there is an argument that for the millions of people who are strongly pro-life, they shouldn't have the tax dollars spent directly on abortion. But, as we saw, Rachel Maddow said no, this is not going to stand, he is not going to be able to hold this. And boom, she was right and he backs off.
JESSICA TARLOV, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. When you look at the polling in the general election, which is the conversation we've been having about Joe Biden, nearly 60 percent of Americans don't feel like our tax dollars should go toward funding abortion.
Joe Biden was running in the electability category, right. He was running a general election race in the Democratic Primary, which is why he was taking this more middle-of-the-road positions, not Medicare For All but fixing Obamacare, revising Obama's climate change plan to make it more aggressive, but not the green new deal for instance.
So what has happened here because of the liberal media, Rachel Maddow as we're saying here, and also an activist in the party as well as his former colleagues in the Senate and in the government is that it has pushed him into the regular Democratic Primary race and out of the general election.
TARLOV: I think that's extremely dangerous. And as I have pointed out, they're outnumbered -- there are a number of people who are running for President who have voted for the Hyde Amendment themselves...
TARLOV: ... that haven't been pushed to address that.
TARLOV: Why aren't you asking Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, why they signed those spending bills?
KURTZ: They voted for a lot of those budgets. And my favorite moment was Biden's national co-chairman, he goes on Chris Cuomo's CNN show, Wednesday, when Biden was still for the amendment, and said it is a matter of faith. And the next day, he calls the flip a profile in courage. The Washington Post noted that without comment. But both follow-up stories made clear that Biden cave to pressure. But very few commentators say you know people evolve, they change your minds, we didn't hear that he is weak, he cannot stand up to the liberal pressure. Instead, officials and others are quoted as saying well, we're glad he changed his mind. Let's move on.
SEXTON: Far be it for me to tell the Democrats what they should do in their primary. But I have to say I think that electability, they haven't learned the lesson of 2016 here. I think that Biden -- there is a lot of Obama nostalgia to be sure, but he doesn't have Obama's coattails to ride anymore.
You look back what he was in the past, and the media recognizes it. This is not a frontrunner guy. They just don't have anybody yet that the establishment has been able to get behind.
SEXTON: So they try to help him navigate. I think actually what was just said a moment ago I think is correct. They're trying to help them navigate the primary, the fight he's actually in, which is much more left-wing than the Democratic Party wants to admit.
KURTZ: Which is not -- which is not our job. And, Jessica, liberal Huffington Post headline, finally, Biden sees the light on Hyde. You know, the overwhelming tone of the coverage have bothered me. Just tell both sides.
KURTZ: There is only one acceptable position here.
TARLOV: Yeah, the other side of this that the media, which is always in the pocket of liberals, went after Joe Biden, voraciously here, which is what they did to the frontrunners with Hillary Clinton. If you look at the interview for instance, Chris Jensen going after Symone Sanders, who is a senior advisor to the Biden campaign, you see a level of aggression that I have not seen with any other candidate. So that's not about them anointing him or trying to get across the finish line. It actually seems to me like they're trying to systematically dismantle him...
TARLOV: Which is the opposite of the ongoing narrative.
SEXTON: I just think they are trying to get him back -- they were trying to be helpful to get him back on track because it's almost like he didn't get the memo about the DNC platform change from 2016.
KURTZ: All right. Let me jump in here because I got about a minute left. I want to get to the plagiarism story, which I thought Biden got a bum wrap, some staffers on his campaign...
KURTZ: Look for language from advocacy groups in drawing up the policy platforms. This not the awful embarrassing Joe Biden plagiarism scandal of 1987 when he stole a language from other politicians, he didn't even know about this.
KURTZ: Buck, let's start with you. And yet, it was like, you know, Joe Biden committed this awful episode of plagiarism.
SEXTON: I figure you oppose -- Joe Biden opposed him because he has been wrong in every foreign policy issue for 40 years, oppose him because he's a pure demagogue, because he has no particular accomplishments that will stand behind at this point. This is a staffer polling some stuff from online. It does hearken back to a bigger plagiarism issue for him in the past.
SEXTON: So I think this is why the media jumped on him a little bit. But this isn't going to stop him. Just like Joe Biden getting creepy and sniffing people from behind didn't stop him.
KURTZ: You worked that in. But that story -- but, Jessica, let me just mention that the Washington Post has this front-page story for Joe Biden's plagiarism is the one issue that won't go walk away. And yet, Politico then reported that a lot of 2020 Democrats have lifted materials from other policy organizations including Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders. So it is kind of a nonstory.
TARLOV: It totally is. This is what happens to people who are running upfront or maybe someone who isn't adequately liberal for the people who are writing about him, even though he is running this general election campaign, which I think is the smart place to be. He's the only candidate who is polling successfully with African-American voters, which is also something that does relate directly to the discussion about the Hyde Amendment, which we should highlight here, that this is an issue.
The Hyde Amendment penalizes people, women of color, and lower income people in this country, which is the core base for the Former Vice President. It is important.
KURTZ: I understand -- I understand the argument against the Hyde Amendment. I just think we need to tell both sides of that argument.
TARLOV: I agree with you.
KURTZ: Jessica Tarlov, Buck Sexton, great to see you all, thank you to both of you.
TARLOV: Thanks a lot.
KURTZ: After the break, the big tech giants among the most popular companies in America. How much are they to blame for the coming wave of federal investigations?
KURTZ: Suddenly, it seems the big tech companies are facing a spate of investigations. Multiple news outlets reporting that the Justice Department is considering an antitrust probe of Google and may look into practices by Apple as well. And the Federal Trade Commission is set to be gearing up for an antitrust probe of Facebook and also may look at Amazon, which raises the border question, how do we get to this point?
Joining us now from New York Brett Larson, morning anchor at the Sirius XM station Fox News Headlines 24/7. And, Brett, these companies were once so admired, their leaders were folk heroes.
BRETT LARSON, FOX NEWS HEADLINES 24/7 MORNING ANCHOR: Oh, yeah.
KURTZ: And now, they are costly criticized and scrutinized and facing investigations. How did they screw this up?
LARSON: You know, it's interesting because when Facebook started, when Google was still, you know, this new technology, we can remember a time of that. It was a great tool. Facebook connected us with our friends, and let us share our photos, and check in places we went, and get our news, which a lot of people do. Google, you could literally type in anything you want and get a treasure trove of information.
What we didn't realize is these free tools were taking every single click that we made, every article we looked at, everything we shared, every group we were part of, and it became a gold mine for marketers. And a lot of us knew that. A lot of us knew that was happening.
KURTZ: Right. We were so complicit. And I agree with that. But now, you have Mark Zuckerberg talking about cracking down on this information and hate speech, Google is trying to purge now thousands of what it describes as extremist videos from the YouTube unit. They all talk about privacy. Is it too late? Have they essentially lost the PR war?
LARSON: You know, it is -- it is that. You know, Facebook motto, move fast and break stuff. Google's motto, do no harm. Well, they kind of walk that back a little bit. Facebook and a lot of these tech companies, Apple included, and Amazon has done a much of the same thing, they moved quickly because they were in a space where no one existed. They were able to do all of this stuff without any oversight because they were a new technology.
And that's a good thing. We want new technology move forward, we want these ideas to blossom into these massive -- I mean, we're talking about trillion dollar companies now.
LARSON: Apple being the first one to make it, Microsoft hitting it last week for a brief period of time. But then, we all stepped back and we say, well, wait a minute. They may have affected the election. They may have found psychological data, the Cambridge Analytica thing really shown -- shine a bright light on just exactly what having all of this information.
KURTZ: A whole series of screw-ups, badly handled I might add. And now, you have Wall Street Journal columnist...
KURTZ: ... Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan who said we should break up Facebook, writing she got so annoyed when Mark Zuckerberg invited her to join a group of conservatives to talk about bias. She finally wrote an email calling him an imperious twerp. And that I think kind of captures why a lot of people are angry at these folks.
LARSON: Yeah, they are because we are now at a point where what are we going -- are we going to legislate a company because of the fact that they're really successful or are we going to step back and say, all right, we have got to put rules in place here.
And what's interesting is, you know, Facebook, 66 percent of Americans use Facebook. And that's just Facebook. We have to remember they also own Instagram.
LARSON: And WhatsApp, the messaging service.
LARSON: So, there is -- they've got a lot of access to a lot of eyeballs at this point.
KURTZ: Well put. And I think -- I don't see how you break up companies from the crime of being successful.
KURTZ: But these folks have made a lot of mistakes, a lot of this is self- inflicted wounds. But as you say, we all like the free services. Brett Larson, good to see you this Sunday.
LARSON: Howie, thanks for having me.
KURTZ: Still to come, how some of the media cooperated maybe even conspired to keep Jeopardy a secret when James Holzhauer was finally knocked off.
KURTZ: It was high drama this past Sunday when seemingly unstoppable Jeopardy champion James Holzhauer finally lost just shy of making two and half million dollars, unseated by a librarian named Emma Boettcher. But that episode was actually taped back on March 12, which means plenty of media people had to keep the secret as America watched the remarkable run.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX TREBEK, JEOPARDY HOST: Over to James now, he had 23,400. And his response was correct. His wager -- a modest one for the first time. If you came up with the correct response, you're going to be the new Jeopardy champion.
Did you? You did. What is your wager? Oh, gosh, $20,000. What a pay day.
TREBEK: Forty six thousand eight hundred one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: High-five. Holzhauer told the Action Network why he played such a modest bet on Final Jeopardy. There was tragedy involved. And the website had to keep it a secret.
Jeopardy told the New York Times before the show that aired Monday that Holzhauer will lose. And interviews with both him and Boettcher, Holzhauer said she played a perfect game. The Times agreed to embargo the story. But then, at 10:30 Eastern Time, that morning, Monday morning, a CBS station in Montgomery, Alabama, aired that Jeopardy episode. So it was sort of out.
The Times decided to publish its exclusive half hour later, but to hide behind spoiler alerts, so as not to ruin the event for the millions of people who are waiting to watch that night.
Still, I was amazed that this didn't leak. No one gave the press the Mueller report, since public interest -- well, was almost as high.
And that's it for this edition of Media Buzz. I'm Howard Kurtz. Boy, what that must have done for Jeopardy's ratings. Check out my new podcast, Media Buzz Meter. We start with the day's five hottest stories. And you can subscribe at Apple iTunes, Google play, or FoxNewsPodcast.com.
We hope you also check out our Facebook page. We post my columns every day, original videos made just for the web. And we'll continue the conversation on Twitter @HowardKurtz.
A lot to talk about today, Biden, the President, D-Day, European trip, it seems like even in the summer time, this news does not slow down. We'll be back here next Sunday. We'll see you then, 11 Eastern with the latest Buzz.
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