This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," July 8, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: We'll have a report on the rescue efforts in Thailand in just a moment. But also on the Buzz Meter this Sunday, a tsunami of prediction and pontification as President Trump prepares to pick a Supreme Court nominee tomorrow and the media investigates the candidates and warn of the potential impact on abortion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Every person on this list has been vetted by the Federalist Society yes (ph) to say that they would be willing to overturn Roe v. Wade. This a whirlwind (ph) --
JOHN PODHORETZ, NEW YORK POST: I think people are overestimating the importance of Roe here. I have to say that Roe is a calling card for the left in this battle, not for the right.
BETH FOUHY, NBC NEWS: I think it would be a genius choice for Trump to pick Amy Barrett. Just on the virtue of the fact that if Roe is going to go, he can point to a woman, a woman who brought it down.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS: The left is really at a desperation point. A DEFCON 1 for them on the desperation scale. They are not going to be able to stop Trump's next nominee from being on the court. So they take these, you know, certain glancing blows initially about her faith and now it's, oh, she is a member of a cult.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: Is this coverage unfair? Is the press digging into the candidates' backgrounds or engaging in oppo research? Most of the media cheer the firing of Scott Pruitt over a series of scandals including many conservatives, and question how the EPA chief hang on for so long.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The things Mr. Pruitt is accused of are really outrageous. They are egregious. They are shocking even by Washington standards. This is a very corrupt place. And he stood out.
BRAD BLAKEMAN, FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH DEPUTY ASSISTANT: This guy should have been gone a long time ago. I'm glad the president cleaned the air at the EPA.
HAYES: Pruitt's extraordinary list of ethical scandals prompted a debate among historians whether he's the most corrupt cabinet member in the nation's history.
CHALIAN: This guy proved to be the swampier than anybody we have seen in Washington in quite some time.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: Was Pruitt toppled by good investigative reporting or do journalists target the man aggressively overhauling the EPA? Plus, Alan Dershowitz joins a (ph) media mockery for saying many liberals on Martha's Vineyard are shunning him for defending President Trump. He calls it McCarthyism. I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "Media Buzz."
This is a Fox News alert out of Thailand where rescue efforts are under way to free those 12 boys and their coach who have been trapped for just over two weeks. This is a story that has riveted the world's attention. Let's get right to Jeff Paul who is in Thailand with the latest. Jeff?
JEFF PAUL, FOX NEWS: The concern right now is the rain. It is pouring here in Mae Sai, Thailand and that is only creating more urgency to get the remaining eight boys and their coach to safety.
What we know right now, four have been brought to safety. It took several hours to get them out there. Now, they are getting medical attention in a hospital. We are also learning that along the way, all oxygen tanks that were set along that route in that cave were used just to rescue those four boys. Because of that, it is going to take at least another 10 hours to prepare crews for the next stage.
We also want to mention that it took a lot less time to get the boys out than anticipated. They originally told us around 11 hours to get those four boys to safety. We are now learning that it took seven hours and 40 minutes. It speaks to the collaboration here, both the international divers from around the world and the local officials here in Thailand. Back to you.
KURTZ: Jeff Paul in Thailand. Thanks very much. More updates ahead. Media outlets have essentially been vetting the Supreme Court candidates to the president's prime time announcement tomorrow. According to unnamed sources, they say and who really knows for sure, that Trump's three top contenders are all federal appeals court judges. Brett Kavanaugh here in Washington, Amy Coney Barrett in Chicago, and Raymond Kethledge in Cincinnati.
Joining us now to analyze the coverage: Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist and a Fox News contributor; Susan Ferrechio, chief congressional correspondent for The Washington Examiner, and Mo Elleithee, a former DNC official who runs Georgetown University's Institute of Politics and is also a Fox News contributor.
Mollie, are the media succeeding in making this whole Supreme Court debate that is going to explode tomorrow almost entirely about Roe v. Wade?
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: That has been a focus. That has been a major talking point for one of the political parties involved. And it is sort of a proxy for the larger issue in place.
Now you think that to how Donald Trump was elected, he was elected in part because he put out a list of a type of nominee that he would -- a list of the actual nominee that he would put out, would be chosen from a certain list he made public.
An unprecedented amount of transparency. So we know a lot about these people. What we know about them is that they do have a different approach than the judicial activism that has brought some of the more revolutionary social progressive changes that the court has brought. They would be originalists and textualists and all of these people will be that way no matter which one is chosen.
KURTZ: On the media coverage, Mo, are liberal commentators being alarmists or maybe trying to rouse their side in sort of assuming that a fifth pro- life vote and whoever is picked, I think it is safe to say that the court will have that, does it mean that Roe law of the land since 1973 will be tossed out?
MO ELLEITHEE, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY'S INSTITUTE OF POLITICS: I think it's a legitimate question. First of all, it's one that the president brought up himself back during the campaign when he said that anyone that he appointed would be someone that would be opposed to Roe v. Wade.
And so he opened the door to this entire line of conversation himself during the campaign. Secondly, there are cases that are in the pipeline now that it is not a stretch to believe would make it to the Supreme Court that will deal with these issues head-on. Does it mean that any of them could outlaw abortion across the land?
I think that is unlikely. Could it throw it back to the states and now we are back to a case where women in some states have this right and women in others don't? That's an open legitimate question. So I do think that it's a legitimate question and I do think it is something that yeah, the left and Democratic Party can use to rally its base in the election.
KURTZ: Well, throwing it back to the states would in effect media overturning the Roe. But Susan, what do you make of all this media handicapping based on these sources, where Brett Kavanaugh is a front runner or maybe he is slipping a bit? Politico says Amy Barrett's stock is dropping her. Her interview with the president didn't go well. As if this were an election based on polls.
SUSAN FERRECHIO, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, I think a lot of it comes from leaks from the White House too. They are setting up that way to --
KURTZ: From people around the president who may or may not know exactly what he plans to do.
FERRECHIO: And from people who want a certain candidate out front. For all we know it will be someone not on that list. I think that is part of the issue too. And getting back to what you were saying about the legitimacy of the question, Roe v. Wade, perfectly legitimate to talk about. I don't think it has been covered in informative way.
We are not talking about what it really has to do which is more about funding abortion versus whether Roe (ph) and also we are not even looking at big important issues like what he or she would think of overturning Obamacare provisions, things like that. All of that is being ignored.
KURTZ: It is being overshadowed to say the least. But now, there have been numerous pieces about Judge Amy Coney Barrett, whether her devout Catholic faith will influence her rulings on the bench, Dianne Feinstein raised this in confirmation hearings last year, and her membership in this tight knitted Christian group called People of Praise. What do you make of the media, the number of stories about this focusing so heavily on that?
HEMINGWAY: In the same that we see the media and the Democratic Party just walking together in their focus on Roe v. Wade, we also see the Democratic Party and the media walking together in the way they cover Amy Coney Barrett. She is a Roman Catholic. She is also part of a group that has a bunch of Catholics in it.
And the way that it has been portrayed is a super nefarious group outside of Vatican control. The Vatican, the pope just appointed one of its members, the auxiliary bishop of Portland in 2014. So it's clearly not a group that's that renegade. It's not the (INAUDIBLE) cover religion in this. You should cover religion.
And it is a very important issue not just of the candidates but also in how they -- how they allow religious liberty to thrive in a land. But the way that it is covered has been a little bigoted in certain cases and activists which is not appropriate for journalists.
KURTZ: Mo, it seems like the press wants a battle over religious liberty in this nomination because it is a better story plus a debate about the optics of having a woman who might or might not cast for siding five-four vote on the question of abortion. What's your take on the way she's covered?
ELLEITHEE: Loo, I think she is being vetted the way Supreme Court nominees or candidates or perspective Court nominees have been vetted --
KURTZ: By the press.
ELLEITHEE: -- by the press, you know, for decades now. One, I don't think that there should be any sort of religious test. And I think people who focus on that are doing so a little too much. She opened the door in one of her previous writings when she talked about how Catholic judges might need to recuse themselves when it comes to death penalty cases.
KURTZ: In certain cases.
ELLEITHEE: She has walked away from that. So, she is the one that first injected that conversation. But I do think it can go too far. I do think that anyone who opposes her should focus on her record and not on her religion.
KURTZ: Or the fact that she has seven kids and so forth. Also Brett Kavanaugh, a guy who worked for Ken Starr, who wrote the section of report saying the president can be impeached for lying, has since written that president shouldn't be distracted in an investigation. So there is all this sort of standard reporting when you sense the press is trying to scuff up these nominees a little bit.
FERRECHIO: That's standard practice, I think. It is a Republican nominee. So in think the mainstream media always goes a little harder at Republican nominees, in my opinion, than they would if say an Obama nominee where they might try to shine the person up instead of scuffing up. So I think that that is a legitimate thing.
KURTZ: Thanks for (ph) picking up my analogy. Let's move to a number of prominent conservative commentators. These are people like George Will, a syndicated columnist, Steve Schmidt who ran John McCain's 2008 campaign, Max Boot of Council of Foreign Relations.
All writing pieces saying on television that they are so never Trump, that they want the Democrats to win in the fall. They are telling people, vote for the Democrats. These people had all been like former Republicans. Your take?
HEMINGWAY: What I'm kind of interested in this from a media angle is just the predominance of never-Trumpers that we see in newspapers and in media outlets. In the real world, they represent an incredibly small fraction of people. In the media world, they dominate everything.
I mean, you look at newspapers that don't have a single columnist to represents the average Republican voter even thought the average Republican voter elected the president who is in charge of a lot of stuff. So, these people get a lot of prominence for a pretty minority opinion and they seem to be praised by people in the media.
KURTZ: On that point, Susan, and I respect them. These are serious people and they are standing up what they see as principle. They don't like where Trump has taken the GOP. But they get a lot of favorable publicity as Mollie said. They get MSNBC contracts. Max Boot has a CNN contract. And they command new respect from the left.
FERRECHIO: They get a lot more airtime. I think they are high-value guests at many of the cable outlets because they can say look, we found a Republican here. It isn't just anybody. A Republican who hates Trump. And better yet, a Republican who says vote for a Democrat. Could there be a more high-value guest?
There is a real and valuable market for these people. I am not saying that's the reason they have these opinions, that's the reason they switch tides and are saying vote for Democrats. But it is going to keep them on the air and, you know, that is something you can't deny.
KURTZ: Well, Mo, do you welcome them to your cause even though they say they are not Democrats, but they want a Democratic Congress to serve as a check on the president?
ELLEITHEE: I don't for a moment think George Will will become a lifelong Democrat. But I do think that there is a very small -- I agree with you that this is a very small minority of people within the Republican Party who believe that the party has shifted away from its core, shifted away from what it has long stood for and believe that it needs to be -- the party needs to be blown up in order to be rebuilt the way it used to be.
It does remind me a little bit of some of the conversations. He didn't go this extreme. But some of the conversations from then candidate Donald Trump when he was being asked early on in the primary process, if you aren't the nominee, will you pledge to support the nominee? He said, look, I don't know.
ELLEITHEE: I am not saying it's apples to apples. But I am saying some of the conversations reminded me of that when he was not pledging to stick to the party if he didn't believe it represented his perspective.
KURTZ: My problem is some of the overheated language because these people do not like the president. Max Boot saying Republicans are white nationalist party with a conservative fringe. All right. Good conversation. Let me get a break. When we come back, Scott Pruitt forced out at the EPA. A casualty of solid reporting or media bias?
And later, a flood of press speculation as Michael Cohen goes public with George Stephanopoulos. We will have some reporting on what signal he is sending.
KURTZ: This is Fox News alert. Four out of the 12 boys trapped in a cave in Thailand for 15 days have made it to safety, have been taken to a local hospital. Divers help to navigate this incredibly treacherous path with flooded and narrow chambers. Rescuers planning to get three more boys out in the next 10 to 20 hours. Amazing story that riveted the world. More updates as we get them.
The media's mounting allegations against Scott Pruitt ranging from petty to profound have led to 14 investigations. But for many months, he still seemed to have President Trump's backing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Scott Pruitt is doing a great job within the walls of the EPA. I mean, we're setting records. Outside, he's being attacked very viciously by the press, and I'm not saying that he's blameless, but we'll see what happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: It didn't help when an EPA whistle blower, a former deputy chief of staff, started doing TV interviews.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN CHMIELEWSKI, FORMER EPA DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: I love the president, but Scott Pruitt, I mean, everything I witness, I couldn't be a part of anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: The president announced the other day on Twitter, without a word of criticism, Pruitt was out at the Environmental Protection Agency. Susan Ferrechio, stunning number of allegations. This has by The New York Times and Washington Post, also ABC, CNN and others.
I mean, asking officials at DNC (ph) to get his wife a $200,000 job at Chick-fil-A and others, $50 a night room owned by a lobbyists, $43,000 soundproof phone booth, aides driving with sirens and lights to get his favorite lotion. I don't have time for everything else. Was is this by and large in your view solid reporting?
FERRECHIO: Yes, it was, but it was instigated by a desire to take him down because of something that he was doing. He was trying to take apart the Obama era EPA regulations and he accomplished a lot of that.
And I think that fueled the investigatory desires of journalists to try to take him down and outside groups to try to -- and people within the EPA to try to take him out for that very reason. He made himself a very easy target. But he would not have been the same level of target if he had a different job within the administration.
KURTZ: Mo, Scott Pruitt said in his resignation letter, he is resigning because of the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on us. But most attacks were mainly rooted in new stories what he chooses to call attacks.
ELLEITHEE: Yeah. I think I am going to disagree a little bit that this was driven by ideological agenda. I think this was driven primarily by Scott Pruitt's actions, buy his alienation of many on his own staff who then went to the press who did some really good investigative journalism.
If you supported Donald Trump because you believe that he was going to drain the swamp here in Washington, D.C., you should be appalled by Scott Pruitt. Scott Pruitt was the swampiest person D.C. has seen in quite some time.
FERRECHIO: Maybe we are only seeing how swampy he is because so many people are interested in taking him out. That has a lot to do with who gets investigated. You can't tell me that there weren't people who are pretty swampy in the Obama administration that we never heard about because nobody cared.
HEMINGWAY: Let's take an example. You mentioned one of the scandals is that he paid $50 a nigt for a room. That was a room that was approved through the ethics office, yet it became a huge story.
In the Obama administration, you had a cabinet member who I believe paid nothing for a room, Timothy Geithner. He is also someone who never paid his income taxes and it was barely a story. And it certainly didn't -- you didn't see this energy and this drive to take someone down.
KURTZ: Let's go to the big picture, Mollie. First, I want to say that Pruitt's resignation was barely covered on Fox, in prime time or early next morning. I think I had a chance to talk about it on "The Ingraham Angle." I think that was a mistake. But, you said that this was a win for the resistance.
And so my question is, you are saying it was some kind of coordinated effort by the media for ideological reasons because if most of those stories were true, partisan sources always come to reporters with dirt on people they don't like?
HEMINGWAY: In fact, if you look again at the previous administrator, many of the things that were brought up by investigative reporting here were brought up at other outlets, not mainstream outlets but conservative outlets such as the travel budget of the previous EPA administrator under Obama was $600 -- $700,000 during her tenure.
She deleted text articles and impeachment were drawn up against her. There was the mishandling of the Colorado mine crisis which flooded the Animas River. There was the Flint water crisis. And yet you didn't see The New York Times and Washington Post pushing a drumbeat against her.
I am not saying that that means that what Scott Pruitt should not be covered. But I think what readers and viewers would like is to see more evenness in how things are covered. If you really care about the swamp, cover it no matter who is in charge.
KURTZ: Every swamp should be covered regardless of who is in charge of the said swamp. But, you know, if the stories were true and he alienated his own staff, Trump wouldn't have fired him, National Review wouldn't called for his resignation, White House officials including John Kelly wanted him out, and Laura Ingraham tweeted two days before the ouster, Pruitt is the swamp, drain it. So, he had lost support among his own side and among journalists and commentators on his side.
HEMINGWAY: Yeah. So, there is not just the issue that the resistance had a very coordinated campaign which actually was covered by the media when it started in March and it actually started from the time he began. He lost the support of his own people.
He also handed the ammunition to his critics. It's a multilevel story. But we shouldn't forget to cover the coordination that was involved in bringing him away in part to give credit to the resistance for a victory that is rare for them.
KURTZ: In media terms, he was awful at defending himself. He did that one interview with Ed Henry where he was defensive and then he sort of stopped talking. And so EPA often didn't respond to the substance or one reporter was insulted. So that didn't help either.
ELLEITHEE: If you look back, future press secretaries and communications directors are going to look back at this as a textbook case on how not to handle criticism.
KURTZ: Don't call reporter a piece of trash.
KURTZ: -- calling with information.
KURTZ: Interestingly, it was said, it was reported that the one story that pushed the president over the edge was that Pruitt wanted him to fire Jeff Sessions so he could become attorney general. That might have been the final straw.
FERRECHIO: I think what is interesting now is what is going to happen to his successor?
FERRECHIO: Can he keep himself scandal-free and if so, you know, let's see how the media respond to him. Let's see how outside groups work and try to take him out.
FERRECHIO: Then we'll get a clear picture of the motivation behind all these investigations.
KURTZ: Right. This is the qualified deputy who doesn't have any of this baggage. So this might be a truer test of the future coverage of the EPA. Mo Elleithee, Susan Ferrechio, great to see you. Mollie will be back a little later.
Ahead, the media poking fun at Alan Dershowitz for saying his defense of the president is ruining his social life on the Vineyard. Is that fair? But up next, ABC's highest profile investigative reporter is out. And The New York Times accuses its own reporter, Ali Watkins, of unacceptable conduct.
KURTZ: The New York Times is giving Ali Watkins another chance. She is a reporter whose phone e-mail records were searched by the Justice Department as part of a leak investigation that led to the indictment of a former Senate intel community official who was having an affair with her.
The paper is reassigning her from the Washington bureau to New York. Executive editor Dean Baquet said, "we are troubled by Ali's conduct, particularly while she was employed by other news organizations. For a reporter to have an intimate relationship with someone he or she covers is unacceptable."
He said the Times is also bearing some responsibility. Watkins said she regretted putting the paper in a difficult spot and, quote, should handled aspects of my past relationships and disclosures differently.
The Times investigation found the 26-year-old reporter told BuzzFeed and Politico only that she was dating a man in the intelligence community, not naming the official at the committee she cover. And didn't tell Politico when she started dating a second committee staffer after a breakup, nor she told the Times the government had seized her records last February. Baquet said the Times can a place that allows for second chances.
Brian Ross is leaving ABC News after a major blunder about President Trump and the Russia probe. This was back in December. The network suspended Ross for a month for reporting that Trump had directed Michael Flynn to contact Russian officials during the campaign when it actually took place after the election, nothing wrong with that.
Ross who apologized at the time says he doesn't plan to leave investigative reporting. He won numerous awards in his 24 years with ABC but has made other high-profile mistakes.
There was a moment of silence in newsrooms across the country to remember the five people who were killed at the Annapolis Capital Gazette by a crazed gunman who hated the paper for writing about his past conviction.
The newspaper said in an editorial that anyone expecting national consensus to come from the death of five community journalists in Annapolis will be sorely disappointed. We can only hope they will agree with this simple statement. This madness must stop, says the paper.
Ahead, is Jimmy Fallon, the only late-night host who hasn't been savaging Donald Trump, now turning on him? (INAUDIBLE) is up next on the latest warfare between the president and the press.
KURTZ: Fox News alert. Four of the twelve boys that have been trapped in a cave in Thailand for fifteen days, a devastating heartbreaking 15 days, they are now above ground and recuperating at a local hospital. Authorities say they will need another few hours to prepare to rescue a second group of boys.
We bring you more updates of this heartbreaking and cliffhanger throughout the day. President Trump is escalating his attacks on so-called fake news in part over the coverage of the North Korea talks, which may be taking a turn for the worse. Joining us now is Brit Hume, Fox News Senior Political Analyst. And Brit, before the latest meeting with the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the President had tweeted many good conversations with North Korea, no nuclear testing in eight months.
Only the opposition party, says Mr. Trump, which includes fake news is complaining. If not for me, we would be at war with North Korea. Does that seem a little different now that the North Koreans have said this latest meeting was regrettable and that Pompeo was pushing unilateral and gangster-like demands?
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS: Well, it depends on who you believe here. Pompeo indicated basically that this is kind of -- this meeting went about as he expected. Progress was made. Significant issues were discussed. They broke it down into working groups.
HUME: The multitude of issues that would have to be negotiated to bring this outcome about. He seems to think everything is fine. The North Korean officials put out this blustery statement, the kind of we are accustomed to hearing them through the years. So the question arises, whom do you believe?
KURTZ: Right. But the press has been skeptical. I thought the coverage of the summit was very negative. But -- because North Korea has made promises and broken them before.
HUME: Oh, yeah.
KURTZ: And then now he's using that old Steve Bannon phrase opposition party.
KURTZ: Because we don't if this will end up going down in flames.
HUME: I don't have a lot of sympathy for the President saying that the press is the enemy of the people or the opposition party and so forth. He has legitimate grievances against the press. I don't think there is any doubt about that. It would be far better if he were specific about them and identified particular stories and things that have not turned out to be true.
But he chooses this sort of blunderbuss approach. I don't think it works very well. But I also don't think that he poses any kind of a serious threat to the free press in this country.
KURTZ: Well, that's an important distinction. And you took some flack online after re-tweeting what someone said about a Gallup poll that said only 23 percent of Democrats are extremely proud to be American. You tweeted hate, maybe too strong a word but they sure don't love it and then you deleted the tweet.
HUME: Right. Well, I am always -- in the rare occasions when I'm asked to give a graduation speech, I always say the same thing. Own your mistakes.
HUME: I made a mistake here. I over read that poll, overstated its conclusions, and I felt obliged to -- people pointed that out to me and I immediately realized that I had. And so I deleted the tweet, explained the mistake.
KURTZ: And you said you had.
HUME: I said I had, yes.
KURTZ: But you didn't do it quietly.
HUME: I deleted then posted a separate tweet explaining the deletion.
KURTZ: That's the definition of owning a mistake. Let's get to some of these Presidential tweets. Let's start with this one. Twitter says the President is getting rid of fake accounts at a record pace. That's true. Will that include the failing New York Times and propaganda machine for Amazon, the Washington Post who constantly quotes anonymous sources and in my opinion don't exist.
They will both be out of business in seven years. I've never heard that particular timeline. In fact, both papers are doing quite well with subscriptions because of Donald Trump.
HUME: That's right. And I don't -- he's always talking about the failing New York Times. The New York Times ain't what it used to be, but it ain't failing. And the Washington Post under Jeff Bezos has very deep pockets behind it. It's not going anywhere anytime soon in my judgment. So I think that's one of those predictions that are not going to pan out, and I don't really see the point making it.
KURTZ: Well, seven years is (Inaudible) remember. At least at a rally, the President did say that only 75 percent of journalists are downright dishonest. So there is hope for the other 25 percent. All right, another one hits a similar theme. Let's put this one up.
Washington Post is constantly quoting anonymous sources that do not exist. Rarely do they use the name of anyone because there is no one to give them the kind of negative quote they're looking for. They are a disgrace to journalism, but then again so are many others. Does the President really believe whether he likes to reporting of the Post that these sources are made up and the journalists just invent these things?
HUME: I hope not, because look, I have been in this business a long time and I have had my differences with a lot of my colleagues. I don't believe that they make up non existent sources. I just don't think that happens. Now they get things wrong. They may rely on the wrong sources. They rely way too much on anonymous sources.
HUME: That's true. We even see instances, Howard -- there is one I noted only yesterday where anonymous sources are used for simply straight out attacks. In other words, (Inaudible) you have use anonymous sources because the only way to get the information that is to say -- the only way to determine what happened, things that are factual.
There was a piece in Vanity Fair based on an interview with a Wall Street big shot from his seaside home, which is an all out attack on Trump personally wasn't a particular fact, and the guy was never named.
KURTZ: He was never named.
KURTZ: He gets to call the President of the United States a pathetic blank.
KURTZ: Beginning with D. And that's the whole piece.
HUME: Right. That was the piece.
KURTZ: Yeah. I couldn't.
KURTZ: On record.
HUME: On -- in my business, when I came along as a reporter, anonymous sources were frowned on. We used to (Inaudible) stories written based on anonymous sources as dope stories, in other words and were worth less. And anonymous attacks, with people attacking people personally from behind a (Inaudible) anonymity this wasn't done. And it shouldn't be done.
KURTZ: Well, sometimes I think you'd its necessary for investigative reporting, but.
HUME: That's a different matter (Inaudible) personal attack. If you, you know allege something happened, and you are afraid for your job and it's the only way to get the information out. That's one thing. But to allow somebody to sit in an armchair by the seaside resort and attack the President personally is a different matter entirely.
KURTZ: Well, I don't know which Washington Post story triggered that particular Presidential streak, but I think you should follow Brit Hume (Inaudible) say which story you're talking about and we can debate the fairness of it, Brit, always great to see you.
HUME: Thank you, Howard.
KURTZ: Thanks so much for stopping by. Coming up, Alan Dershowitz getting the cold shoulder on Martha's Vineyard for defending the President, is that actual news. It seems to be. Plus, Jimmy Fallon had been the only apolitical host in late night. Is he now jumping on the anti-Trump bandwagon?
KURTZ: Alan Dershowitz who regularly defends President Trump on TV in the Russia investigation says McCarthyism has come to the Martha's Vineyard, where he's had a summer home for 25 years, a liberal lawyer riding (Inaudible) and some of his old friends are shunning him. And that made the front page of the New York Times.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am making the same arguments about civil liberties I have made for 50 years, and that I would be making if Hillary Clinton had been elected President, and people were trying to impeach her. I don't care about parties. I've been invited to too many. But at a party this week on Martha's Vineyard, a woman said if Dershowitz were here tonight, I would stab him through the heart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: That sounds a little extreme. Joining us now, Emily Jashinsky, commentary writer for the Washington Examiner, and Adrienne Elrod, Democratic strategist and former Hillary Clinton campaign official, Emily, the world will not remember that Alan Dershowitz faced a chilly summer on the Vineyard, but what does it say about the ongoing sort of culture war against Trump or Trump defenders.
EMILY JASHINSKY, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: That's exactly why the story is important, because Alan Dershowitz struggles in his socialist struggling in the enclave of liberal elitism actually says something about the state of where liberal elites are, and that there is this intolerance. And what's interesting about Martha's Vineyard, you know Alan Dershowitz, someone who literally donated to Hillary Clinton's campaign.
JASHINSKY: Those are powerful people on Martha's Vineyard. And so looking at the way that they are treating Alan Dershowitz, you can see that this is an attitude that's reflected in the corridors of power in this country, and that's a problem.
KURTZ: Now, avoiding someone when you're sipping Chardonnay is not the same thing as you know kicking Sarah Sanders out of a restaurant or hounding other Trump aides, OK. But this is a self-proclaimed liberal Democrat, voted for Hillary. He says he just defends the President on civil liberties ground. But what do you make of all the coverage that this has gone as if it's just you know this a huge story.
ADRIENNE ELROD, FORMER HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN OFFICIAL: Well, (Inaudible) talking about you know during the break. I think I've talked about this actual story, which by the way appeared on the A1 of New York Times this week, five times on television on different networks and different segments this week. And to me, that shows you exactly why so many Americans in Middle America cannot exactly identify with publications like the New York Times, because they have never been to Martha's Vineyard. They don't understand why it's something like this is even news worthy, why it's on A1.
KURTZ: Well, it wasn't just a front page story. Yesterday, there was another New York Times story written by a reporter who happened to be going to Martha's Vineyard for vacation, kind of an absurdly favorable interview with Dershowitz. I mean I was starting to feel a little sorry for Dershowitz.
KURTZ: But he told the Times look. I am enjoying this. It's a red badge of courage. So it's Alan Dershowitz himself who stirred this up.
ELROD: Sure, of course. No, absolutely, and again, I am an avid reader of the New York Times. But I cannot understand exactly why, besides the fact that this is you know Alan Dershowitz maybe you know helping the story stay relevant, why it is actually being covered by the media.
KURTZ: Well, for the record, I've never been to the Vineyard. But I will bet a lot of New York Times readers go to places like that. But you know it's almost like -- again, it's not the most important story we're covering this week. It's almost like a microcosm of intolerance.
It's like when people un-friend you on Facebook because they don't like if you're pro-Trump or anti-Trump. And it says something about how politics has kind of infected everybody's social lives.
JASHINSKY: Right. And in fairness to Dershowitz, this actually came out of a very sharp column that he wrote about how the bar for social tolerance has been lowered, so that someone who is a liberal Democrat who just happens to come with a different perspective on Donald Trump is now being isolated and pushed out. So I think it came from a fair place.
Now, I as a conservative dislike as much as anyone you know this idea we need to be sympathetic to wealthy, powerful people who are being pushed you know out.
JASHINSKY: But does -- there is a statement there. So I think it was worth consideration, maybe not on the front page of the New York Times.
KURTZ: Well, at least more op-ed pieces of the New York Times.
KURTZ: Anyway, let me get to this dust-up between President Trump and Jimmy Fallon, whose really the one host on late night who wasn't -- you know unlike Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, and Seth Meyers, and Jimmy Kimmel, running out of names here, who wasn't regularly beating up on the President. Let's show that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: OK. Were you able to hear that? OK, maybe we can get that from you later. So basically, Emily, the -- Jimmy Fallon seems to be joining the ranks of those who -- well, he was nice to Trump. He feels bad about the criticism. What do you make of it?
JASHINSKY: Well, Jimmy Fallon is a liberal, you know. There was never any point where he was conservative or defensive of Trump, but this story actually goes nicely with the Alan Dershowitz story, because Jimmy Fallon was out with an interview this week talking about how you know he actually (Inaudible) talking about the isolation that he experienced after he ruffled Donald Trump's hair, as we just saw, because people said it humanized Trump.
JASHINSKY: And that was you know there was sort of peer pressure on him to go you know completely against Trump. And to be Stephen Colbert, whose show became a platform for anti-Trumpism. Jimmy Fallon's show, he wanted to just to be kind of fun and lighthearted and just funny, a good time for viewers. And so now there might be indications that he's saying it's working for Stephen Colbert. Let me bring in on to my show.
KURTZ: OK. Before we go to Adrienne, I think people should actually hear what was said. Sorry for the technical difficulties. Let's roll that again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
TRUMP: I go on the show. I agree. Do whatever you want with my hair. Go ahead. Let's go. And that was it. What is it, a year and a half, two years later he's now apologizing because he humanized me? And he really hurt himself. So I said to him today on social media, I said Jimmy, be a man. Just relax. Just relax.
JIMMY FALLON, THE TONIGHT SHOW: When I saw that Trump insulted me on Twitter, I was going to tweet back immediately. But I thought I have more important things to do. Shouldn't he have more important things to do? He's the president. What are you doing? You're the president.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: So Fallon loving the attention. And by the way, this is serious stuff because the Tonight Show used to be number one (Inaudible) replaced by Colbert with a more overtly political and anti-Trump brand of humor.
ELROD: Yeah. I mean look, I think that what we might be making too much of this. I mean Jimmy Fallon, to the point that you made earlier, was the one host that was still willing to have Donald Trump on, didn't have him on and got flack in Hollywood. There is a huge -- the resistance that the Democratic Party has formed.
A lot of it is you know really a (Inaudible) on the west coast and east. So it's not a surprise that he would say you know I regret having him on.
KURTZ: Regretted playing with him, his hair.
ELROD: Yeah, and humanizing him. I don't know. I think it's much ado about nothing. And I think that there is probably some pressure from a lot of the -- his audience base.
KURTZ: But here is why it's not entirely much ado about nothing, because millions of people watch these shows and a lot of people who are not political junkies get their political fix from these shows, and the videos playing online. So I think it's not as important as Alan Dershowitz, but.
KURTZ: Adrienne Elrod, Emily Jashinsky, thanks so much. After the break, Michael Cohen scrubs any mention of Donald Trump through his Twitter account, and the pundits try to figure out what does it mean.
KURTZ: A Fox News alert. Four out of the twelve boys trapped inside a cave in Thailand have now been led to safety. The boys and their soccer coach entered the cave 15 days ago. President Trump tweeting a short while ago, the U.S. is working very closely with the governor of Thailand to help get all the children out of the cave and to safety, very brave and talented people.
Complete update coming at the top of the hour. Michael Cohen's off-camera sit-down with ABC's George Stephanopoulos unleashed a tidal wave of speculation about whether the President's long time personal lawyer is now turning against him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this is where he also stiffened (Inaudible). He actually straightened up in the seat and then said this. I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone's defense strategy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The one thing we know about Michael Cohen is that it seems like he'll throw anybody under the bus. Is he trying to send a message to President Trump by saying don't try to railroad me. Don't try to throw me under the bus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're still going to back the truck over him, whether he's a nice person with a (Inaudible) family or not. The President's still going to back the truck over him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Mollie Hemingway, a lot of talk about buses and trucks there. Obviously, Michael Cohen is sending a signal to Donald Trump that he'll no longer take a bullet for him, but since no one in the media knows exactly what he's saying (Inaudible) of speculation.
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, CONTRIBUTOR, FOX NEWS: Yeah, not even true. That's a reasonable thing to say. I mean he spoke a great deal and he's under a great deal of stress. He's under investigation. But what was interesting that I thought came out in that interview, was that he said once again that contrary to what was reported by so many media outlets he was never in Prague.
He never colluded with Russia with treasonous collusion. That's the entire reason why we know him and why he's under investigation. And yet nobody pulled that out. But then they are trying to read these tea leaves about everything else he said.
KURTZ: And lots of different, conflicting interpretations about who is going under the bus, who is not going under the bus. But let's move from speculation and reporting, because based on my reporting I can say that Michael Cohen in preparing for that interview chose his words and phrases very deliberately and wanted to send a message to President Trump.
It's kind of taken a direct shot at him on things he doesn't normally talk about. For example, he said I don't agree with those who demonize the FBI. I respect the FBI, which of course, there is (Inaudible) home and hotel. He said I choose to believe our intelligence agencies. And I repudiate Russia or any other foreign government to interfere and meddle on our Democratic process.
He said simply accepting the denial of Mr. Putin is unsustainable. None of that was any accident. He rehearsed for this, very much wanted to send a message to the President. And not only is he is own man, but that he is trying for reasons of his own reputation, to kind of distance himself from the guy who he worked for.
And then the -- there was a sort of a second round of this when Cohen changed his Twitter page and removed all the references to Trump, kind of like on Facebook after a breakup or something. Do you think maybe we are overdoing this?
HEMINGWAY: Well, what is interesting about that too is usually when you leave a job you do update your LinkedIn profile and what not to indicate that you.
HEMINGWAY: So everyone had all this -- oh, he said he's no longer the President's attorney as of June 2018, which is also just his job status. He's no longer the President's attorney. So it's perfectly fine to note it. But again, I think we should be thinking of the larger story. The larger story is that we were told for many years by many people in the media and by anonymous sources that there was treasonous collusion with Russia to steal an election.
Do we have anything that supports that at this point? We have had so much activity from Special Counsel. We have Cohen under fire. We have various other people under fire. But what they are allegedly under fire for still has nothing to do with that overarching story that led to all of the drama that we have had in recent years. I think journalists should take a step back and think about that, and think about how well they've covered that story and how well they're being honest as it seems to sort of fall apart.
KURTZ: Right. Well, Cohen (Inaudible) involvement in writing a letter to try to get a Trump Tower in Moscow project restarted, didn't really know anybody there, and so it didn't get restarted. He does have you know some exposure on the payment to Stormy Daniels, the $130,000 hush money payment for which he was reimbursed by the President.
But one of the reasons, Mollie that he wasn't appearing on camera and it was on the record but off camera interview with Stephanopoulos is that he didn't want to have to say again and again and again, I can't comment about the investigation. So all this showing a lot of strategy really (Inaudible) Rudy Giuliani on Sunday's shows today, saying (Inaudible) the President wants to testify but we the lawyers are holding him back.
Got to leave it there, great to see you as always, that's it for this edition of Media Buzz, I'm Howard Kurtz. Let's continue the conversation on Twitter @howardkurtz and on Facebook. Hey, I'm launching a podcast called Media Buzz Meter. We're going to have a lot of fun riffing on the five biggest or most fuzzy or most fascinating stories of the day.
You could check it out now at Foxnewspodcast.com. The official launch is tomorrow -- also available on iTunes and Google. Thanks for watching as we rock and roll with the breaking news. We are back here next Sunday. See you then with the latest buzz. Bye for now.
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