This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," November 5, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, President Trump still grappling with a growing media fallout over criminal charges in the Russia probe even as he urges a federal investigation of Hillary Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS: The president says this is all fake news. This serious stuff. It's not fake. Manafort and Gates are charged with enough jail time to put them in jail for the rest of their lives.
GREG GUTFELD, FOX NEWS: You can look at it two ways. No evidence of Russian collusion or no evidence of Russian collusion yet. That's all you got. There's nothing else. I do sense a bit of deflation in the media. They're disappointed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, the president of the United States tried to pretend the Paul Manafort's conspiracy against the United States or something that happened long before Donald Trump hired Paul Manafort to run his presidential campaign and that is just another Trump (INAUDIBLE).
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: Nothing of the Paul Manafort indictment had anything to do with the Trump campaign or Donald Trump. Is this all Mueller has? Because if it is, it's pathetic. But if the third man, this man, George Papadopoulos, who is looking more and more significant and perhaps more and more dangerous with the president's claim recently this morning that there was no collusion.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: The media world sharply divided on the impact of the first Robert Mueller indictment and whether a president should be publicly urging the Justice Department to investigate his former opponent.
Saturation coverage of a New York terror attack by Trump takes a sudden turn into divisiveness as the president tweets about a Chuck Schumer special and the Democratic leader hits back. Are the media fueling the polarization once again?
Is "House of Cards" collapsing? Netflix suspending production, cutting ties with Kevin Spacey after much (INAUDIBLE) sexual assault allegations against the actor. Will he apologize if he did anything wrong and comes out as gay? Why that is causing a furor as still more actors and filmmakers are facing new accusations?
Plus, an absolutely awful media attack on New Fox host Laura Ingraham for being too Catholic.
I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "Media Buzz."
Even as the media keeps digging into Robert Mueller's first indictment, they have opened a new front against President Trump taking aim at this repeated public comments that the Justice Department should go after Hillary Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I'm really not involved with the Justice Department. I would like to let it run itself. But honestly, they should be looking at the Democrats. They should be looking at Podesta and all of the dishonesty. They should be looking at a lot of things and a lot of people are disappointed in the Justice Department, including me.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN: We are back with the politics lead and President Trump's shocking statements on the rule of law in the United States of America, acknowledging and lamenting that he is not supposed to influence the Department of Justice or the FBI investigation.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC: Presidents don't have the power to individually prosecute for good reason. That is really what authoritarian regimes do. PAM BONDI, FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL: I saw a headline and it ran on a competing station. It said Trump wants to go after political enemies. No, President Trump wants the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage: Mollie Hemingway, senior editor of The Federalist and a Fox News contributor; Ed Henry, Fox News senior national correspondent and author of "42 Faith" on Jackie Robinson; and Marie Harf, also a Fox News contributor and a former spokeswoman in the Obama administration.
Ed, a bunch of front page stories challenging the president for loudly and repeatedly insisting the DOJ should investigate Hillary Clinton and the Democrats over the Iranian deal and other matters. Given that he is in charge of the DOJ and the FBI, is it fair game for the press to question this?
ED HENRY, FOX NEWS: Absolutely. He is now charting into territory that is very dangerous for him. I actually think (INAUDIBLE) the Mueller investigation may be winding down in some ways. Yes, there is heat there, but it may not be heat on the oval office. Why kick up a storm where it looks like you are influencing the Justice Department? Hands off, stay away.
But I will say this, where the president is right, which is a week and a half or so ago when Fox and others were talking about uranium one and Hillary Clinton, there was all this mocking in the mainstream media. This is not story about Democrats. And then the dossier and now Donna Brazile's book.
What I know is a couple days ago, Robby Mook, the former Clinton campaign manager, and Nancy Pelosi, the house Democratic leader, both said, we don't want to re-litigate the 2016 election. We have to look forward, not backward. Are you kidding me? They have re-litigated the Democrats this election --
HENRY: -- for basically 12 months now.
KURTZ: That was (INAUDIBLE) interview with Robby Mook. Now the journalists' consensus clearly is that President Trump is out of bounds here. He's in the position of trying to pressure law enforcement into bringing some kind of case against his political opponent, and he told Washington radio host Larry O'Connor the saddest thing that he can't directly tell the Justice Department want to do. Is this some media issue, is it real issue?
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: Well, it can be both, right? So, one of the things about Donald Trump is that he said something that might be a little bit extreme. And then there is a media overreaction to it that makes it look downright calm by comparison. We even saw that in these clips that we saw.
People overly stating what he has said or hyping it up beyond. He is making a very typical Donald Trump statement which is true. A lot of people are very frustrated that the Justice Department seems to have no eyes for corruption and crime when it involves a Democrat or they do a very good job of covering it up and letting it go and they turn this into an attack on the rule of law.
It is true, you know, Article II of the Constitution says it's the job of the president to see that laws are faithfully executed. It doesn't mean he can have no comments on how things are going. In fact, we have a very active bureaucracy and administrative state that acts almost unaccountable and the media seems to think that that's OK. They're unelected, they're unaccountable, and that's not a healthy situation for a Republic either.
KURTZ: It's certainly rather unusual situation especially talking about the person he ran against. Marie, has that eluded to -- there has been a lot criticism of Fox commentators and shows, some of them, for focusing heavily on past Hillary Clinton scales and controversies as if she was somehow president.
MARIE HARF, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. And I think this is the challenge. We've talked about this on the show numerous times. The press has new challenges now in covering a president that does breaks norms.
In fact, I think he (INAUDIBLE) on that. His supporters like that he breaks norms often. But the press is trying to cover a president who doesn't behave like any other president and who really pushes the boundaries.
This week, you also had people like Bob Corker, a fellow Republican, come out and very critical of President Trump's comments about DOJ basically saying that in a democracy, you don't go after your former opponent.
KURTZ: So (INAUDIBLE) the media are perfectly justified in --
HARF: Absolutely. Absolutely.
HEMINGWAY: It's also not true that this is a norm that has been broken by President Trump. I mean, you had in the previous administration the president endorsing Hillary Clinton while she was under investigation. I don't remember the media saying that it's inappropriate or it can color the investigation.
Or when he said that he thought Hillary Clinton should get away with it because she did not have intent. And James Comey came out and said, we're going to let it slide because she didn't have intent. You can't have more direction there.
HENRY: I think it was in "60 Minutes" where then President Obama said that he didn't think there was any national security problem with Hillary Clinton's e-mail server --
HENRY: -- and that was in the middle of the FBI looking at at this and so the other point I would make is when in terms of criticism of Fox and why you're covering uranium one and you think Hillary Clinton won, just because you lose an election, by the way, if -- I'm not saying she broke law, if you broke the law, the law should still be faithfully executed.
KURTZ: Wait. Let me --
HENRY: Whether you lose or not.
KURTZ: We eluded to Donna Brazile's book, and those who haven't followed, she is a former acting chair of the Democratic Party, saying that the process was rigged. That in her view, the Hillary Clinton campaign essentially controlled the day-to-day operations and financing of the DNC in a way that helped Hillary Clinton and screwed Bernie Sanders.
The day that Politico published that book excerpt was Thursday. There was nothing on the network evening newscasts. There was nothing on the next day New York Times. There was very little on CNN or MSNBC except for Chuck Todd and Jake Tapper doing interview with Elizabeth Warren who took it seriously. Washington Post had an inside paper piece. This is not someone name source (ph). This is not Brazile (ph). What explains this?
HEMINGWAY: It is interesting because there is outside interest in any Republican dysfunction. I mean if Bob Corker or Jeff Flake belch, we get massive coverage over it. But here you have the former DNC chair accusing the former Democratic nominee of some really serious shenanigans and how it affected the actual Democratic primary.
This is a really big significant story tied to the book release and there was no coverage in some of these networks. It's inexplicable.
KURTZ: I found it's (INAUDIBLE) as more of the book came out. Now --
HARF: It exploded now.
KURTZ: Yes, it has exploded. Going back to the indictments, you know, you have the media sort of switching from Manafort -- we are talking about (INAUDIBLE) Paul Manafort to this guilty plea by George Papadopoulos with the inconvenient detail that he was an unpaid, they say low-level advisor, who didn't seem to get much attention from his bosses as he would say, hey, I got Russian contacts, I can try to set up a meting between Trump and Putin.
HENRY: Yes, and look, I think -- I was on the show last week and I said that, hey, you know, the media was getting a little out of control with what these indictments may be. It was a day before the indictments came down. And I said it could be jaywalking.
HENRY: It gave me an idea on how much reaction there was from the left, you know, you can't say anything without people just completely pulling at it, oh, you can't be indicted for jaywalking. Obviously, I was talking about political jaywalking. Give me a break. And yes, as Judge Napolitano said, these are really serious charges against Paul Manafort and Gates, his associate.
But it doesn't mean that it's going to the oval office. I have the caveat, special counsels can go to a whole number of directions. I am not saying President Trump is off the hook. But if this is what they have, money laundering going back to 2005 and 2006, serious crime? Yes. Will it take down the president? Unlikely.
KURTZ: Well, you know, it's obviously a story for the media because George Papadopoulos obscurity (INAUDIBLE) may be he has become a cooperating witness. But I call this sort of a gang that couldn't (INAUDIBLE) because Papadopoulos certainly interested in when he was told supposedly, allegedly that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton. But nothing ever happened. It's like that Don Jr. meeting with a Russian lawyer and nothing ever happened.
HARF: We don't know that yet.
HARF: We don't know the whole story.
HARF: And this is the point. I think part of the reason there was such media outrage is that for months and months, Trump campaign and Trump administration spoke people have said there were no meetings with Russians, there were no discussions with Russians. Their story keeps changing. They haven't had a consistent story.
This week, we had a plea deal where there was a signed document that said the Trump campaign knew the Russians had Hillary Clinton's emails before (INAUDIBLE) but they didn't know that because they didn't (INAUDIBLE). This is actually a serious thing. And this investigation may not get to the oval office, Ed, you are absolutely right, but this is only the beginning.
And this is a serious story. This is evidence that the Trump campaign knew they had Hillary's emails. That is a fresh breaking news.
HEMINGWAY: We have had media story going on for a years saying we don't know, we don't know, we don't know. But everything that we find out seems to exonerate this entire narrative claim that the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia. You said that this signed document said that Russia had Hillary Clinton's deleted 30,000 emails.
HARF: I think that stolen emails.
HEMINGWAY: They claimed they had 30,000 of her deleted emails. That was what the document said. Well, we now know that they didn't have those. So, was there interest --
HARF: They thought they did.
HEMINGWAY: Sure. It's interesting to note that --
HEMINGWAY: It's not, and --
HARF: And it's all not nothing. It's not nothing.
KURTZ: We don't know what's going to happen, but we are trying to deal with what we already have. What we have now is a (INAUDIBLE) against Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman, and one side says well, this is terrible for Trump because he's such an important figure in the campaign. This is just the beginning. They are trying to squeeze him.
The other side says this is all about business dealings and offshore Cyprus accounts a decade before he joined the Trump campaign, nothing to do with the White House. It's back to what you're saying.
HENRY: This is the same set of facts where we started which is that I have talked with various senior people inside this administration who tell me that the president's thinking right now is he certainly has been itching to maybe go off on Bob Mueller.
Steve Bannon and others on the outside are encouraging him to fight. That this could be really bad. But then they saw the indictments. They saw the guilty plea. He went to the helicopter on Friday, leaving the White House to go to Asia. Who did the president attack? He did not attack Bob Mueller. Instead, he attacked Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department as we spoke about a moment ago.
Meaning, that this White House believes they shouldn't pick on Bob Mueller. Don't poke the bear because they don't think -- and they could be wrong. This could be proved wrong. But at this moment, they don't think Bob Mueller is going to have anything that is going to seriously damage this administration, so they are not going to poke the bear.
KURTZ: Your thought?
HEMINGWAY: The media should not view Bob Mueller as beyond reproach. We are getting a lot of media stories as if any criticism of Bob Mueller or the Justice Department is unacceptable. That is not an appropriate role for the media. They should apply the same skepticism towards Mueller and his indictments as they do any other person in authority or power.
KURTZ: I am going to endorse that and the same thing comes to Manafort indictment. Let's limit the speculation until we see how this plays out.
Ahead, Bill Bennett weighs in on the coverage of the president, the Russia probe, and other issues. When we come back, terrorist strikes New York. President Trump tweets and again the media debating whether a tragedy is being politicized.
KURTZ: The morning after an Uzbek immigrant who supports ISIS used a truck to kill eight people and injured dozen others in Manhattan, President Trump tweeted a message that triggered a fierce media debate. The terrorist came into our country through what is called the "Diversity Visa Lottery Program," a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based.
Mollie, so president jumping all over Senator Schumer on that, and that created a lot of negative media commentary because it only had been a certain number of hours since these people were killed.
HEMINGWAY: And I think there is an excellent case to be made for not going into politics immediately after something like this, you know, notify the next of kin, let people mourn the dead.
It is, however, the height of hypocrisy for a media that immediately politicize every single mass shooting which we have sadly saw many in this country to turn it into a referendum on gun rights to then say that you can't have any conversation about immigration policy and how that related to this attack.
KURTZ: I don't like it when either side plays the blame game and I said the same thing about the gun debate starting hours after Las Vegas. But the facts here that this was a bill which Chuck Schumer was a house member, one of many bipartisan co-sponsors was signed into law by George H.W. Bush in 1990.
HARF: Correct. And Chuck Schumer actually tried to get rid of it in a bipartisan immigration bill that went up to nowhere. So regardless of what the facts are, it's also the height of hypocrisy to say we can't talk about gun control or policy changes in the wake of these mass shooting, but let's talk about policy changes (INAUDIBLE) terrorist who mowed someone down with a truck.
We have to be consistent here. We shouldn't politicize -- we shouldn't. And going after Chuck Schumer -- it was his state, people in his state, I think that was really (INAUDIBLE) inappropriate. But there has to be a way to talk about how we can prevent people from being killed whether it is by guns or trucks.
KURTZ: So let me contrast to you, Ed Henry, how CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta dealt with this about a month ago, how we reported on Las Vegas attack and question to politics and more recently after what happened in Manhattan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN: He doesn't always wait for the facts to come in before he weighs in on a crisis. But he's saying that's what he wants to do when it comes to gun control here in Las Vegas, Erin.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN: And we have the facts. Someone used a lot of guns to kill a lot of people. Those are all the facts you need to change the gun control in this country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think President Trump now has the world record for injecting politics into the aftermath of a terror attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: So that was injecting politics which, I think that's defensible, but it wasn't injecting politics to bring up --
HENRY: I think stick with the facts when you are a correspondent or anyone in this debate. I mean, there were Republicans jumping all over Hillary Clinton after the Las Vegas shooting because she was on Twitter a few hours after saying we need gun control. And I think they were right then, like, calm down, let's get the facts. There were still literally identifying bodies at the time.
But for Republicans to jump all over Hillary Clinton and say, we can't have a debate and we can't get into gun control. And then all of a sudden the president wants to have this immigration debate within hours of a terror attack, look, on the policy grounds, we should have these debates.
KURTZ: I don't have any problem with immigration --
HENRY: But it's the timing of it and it's just this sort of (INAUDIBLE).
HARF: And a tone (INAUDIBLE).
HENRY: Yes. Right.
KURTZ: And then you have newspaper stories saying President Trump has complicated the prosecution, the potential prosecution of the suspect in the New York truck attack by tweeting about the horrible crime he had committed. He said it should move fast. Death penalty.
HEMINGWAY: And I think that's actually also a very illegitimate thing to say. I didn't see that kind of coverage when Barack Obama was trying to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to the United States and one of the reasons why he said it would be great is because he would get the death penalty. I don't remember seeing a lot of angst about President Obama talking that way where there was a ton of angst about President Trump.
HARF: I would like for us to be able to fairly judge the Trump administration without always going back to what Barack Obama did. Like I know it's a convenient thing for people on the right to do and we can -- I don't know all the facts about what he said in that case. We are talking about Donald Trump. He is president. His tweets are official statement. If he made it harder to get the death penalty for his guy, that should be a problem for all Americans.
KURTZ: We are also talking about media coverage and whether there are double standards where something is not a big deal if it is done in any previous administration and whether it is a big deal now.
HEMINGWAY: Media credibility is one of biggest issues here and there is no way for the media to get credibility until they accept responsibility for their eight-year hibernation during the Obama administration followed by this unbelievably over-expressive --
HENRY: Here is the other thing --
HEMINGWAY: -- posture they're taking now.
HENRY: You know, a lot of people complain about the president, that he is disrupting things, we got to this before. Look, he is entitled to do that. He is a different kind of president and you know what? The machine needs to be messed with sometimes, but I do think he misses an opportunity in cases like this terror attack, he's from New York, to bring people together and not just jump in right away.
KURTZ: The tone is often important. One last soundbite on this very question. This is an MSNBC interview with Wall Street Journal reporter Eli Stokols about the Las Vegas case. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELI STOKOLS, WALL STREET JOURNAL: He did not react this way when a white person shot dozens of people in Las Vegas. He did not come and say we have to do an immediate policy change, we need to give this guy the death penalty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: That might have something to do with the fact that the Las Vegas shooter is dead. Death penalty doesn't apply. GQ magazine made the same mistake. Mollie, see you later. Ed Henry, Marie Harf, thanks very much. "Media Buzz" at foxnews.com, if you want to write to us.
Ahead, "House of Cards" on hold as Kevin Spacey is the latest Hollywood figure to battle sexual harassment allegations. Up next, Hillary Clinton says journalists (INAUDIBLE) on her because they thought she would win, anyway. What?
KURTZ: Hillary Clinton was finally asked about her campaign funding that unsubstantiated Trump dossier on "The Daily Show." Now, it's good that Trevor Noah raised the question, but he should ask the obvious follow-up when Clinton said oppo research had been approved by a campaign lawyer.
Did she know about the dossier at the time? When he asked about critics who said she should just go away, the former Democratic nominee went after a familiar culprit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Some of that I will say is media guilt. You know, when they now have to face the way they covered this campaign, and the fact that they didn't pay any attention to policies.
They were so totally entranced by the reality TV element of it and the entertainment value of it that I'm told, and some members of the press have privately said to me, look, they missed it. They missed it, they thought I was going to win, so they could beat up on me without consequence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: First, her suggestion that some journalist would regret beating up on her because they thought she would win anyway suggesting they adjust their coverage based on the outcome they want which would be utter biased. But beyond that, yes, the media never do enough on issues.
But Donald Trump drove the campaign dialogue in large measure because he did hundreds of interviews with journalists including half a dozen with me, while Clinton did very few even on sympathetic channels.
CNN anchor Jake Tapper has accused Fox News of lying about something he said soon after the New York terror attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
JASON CHAFFETZ, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Jake Tapper also from CNN felt the need to remind viewers how beautiful the phrase "allahu akbar" can be.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN: The Arabic chant "allahu akbar," God is great -- sometimes said under the most beautiful circumstances and too often we hear it being said in moments like this.
CHAFFETZ: Tapper has a point about context. It wasn't technically a license to (INAUDIBLE) but online, Fox News insider (INAUDIBLE) partial quote in a headline labeling his comment as outrageous. When Tapper was simply suggesting the use of "allahu akbar," God is great, was being promoted by terrorists. Fox has deleted a tweet promoting that article and "The Daily" caller has ran a grudging correction.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: White House chief of staff John Kelly got a lot of media blow back for this answer when Laura Ingraham asked about a Virginia church taking down plaques honoring George Washington and Robert E. Lee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF JOHN KELLY: The lack of inability to compromise led to a civil war. And men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had to make their stand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: I don't agree there could have been any compromise in a war that was fought over slavery and it's fine for critics to argue that historical point. But some of the media insinuations that the general is defending slavery today is just absurd, as when CNN's April Ryan was asking Sarah Huckabee Sanders whether President Trump believes slavery was wrong. Come on!
And on "Media Buzz," a reprehensible attack on Laura Ingraham over her religion. But first, Bill Bennett on the media and the president and the cultural divide affecting press coverage of politics and much more.
KURTZ: President Trump enjoying (ph) substantially negative media scrutiny this week. Joining us now from North Carolina is Bill Bennett, the veteran author and government official, host of the Bill Bennett podcast on iTunes and a Fox News contributor. And Bill, you served in White House and cabinet jobs in the Reagan and first Bush administration so when you read these stories saying President Trump is publicly and improperly pressuring his attorney general to investigate Democrats, do these critics and the media have a point?
BILL BENNETT, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: No, I don't think they have a real point, not a major point. But my reaction has been is to echo Jimmy Carter, former President Carter. At no time in history has anybody been treated so badly by the press as Donald Trump. That was Jimmy Carter and I think that's right. It's relentless. It's quite unbelievable.
Now the president needs to be careful what he says about Bob Mueller and the investigation and the Justice Department. But as one of your guests earlier, Ed Henry I think came out in the conversation said, you know, he seems to be being careful. He's talking more about the Justice Department and less about Bob Mueller in light of the fact that I think they believe this thing may be coming to a close, but that won't stop the press from being who they are.
KURTZ: Well, since you raised the indictment of Paul Manafort and others by Bob Mueller, the pro-Trump spin has been this is all about Manafort's past business activity as a lobbyist. It doesn't have anything to do with the campaign, before he joined the campaign and nothing to do with the White House.
Is that true or is it also true that when there is this kind of huge controversies, for example you know, the Iran-Contra scandal in the Reagan administration is inevitably a distraction for those working for the president?
BENNETT: Well, of course it's a distraction. It's huge. And every time something happens and it's blaring his headline news they all have to drop what they are doing, go to the Oval Office, have a meeting, what do we do now, how do we respond. But you asked the question, Howard, and it's a great question (INAUDIBLE) is it true?
I'm going to give you have the answer everybody should give. I don't know. Neither does anybody else at this point except maybe some -- Bob Mueller and some of his associates. But we'll find out. I think there is reason to believe that this thing, as I said earlier, may be drawing to a close. And it looks at this point, given the indictments of Manafort and Gates and Papadopoulos, a very minor player, that it may indeed not reach the president. My guess if I were a betting man, if I were still a betting man, is that it won't reach to the president.
KURTZ: Right. I don't know is a very underutilized answer on television because there is so much that we just speculate about. Now, Jimmy Carter absolutely said worst coverage he has ever seen of a modern president, the coverage that Trump gets. But because you worked for George H.W. Bush and you are also on the advisory council for this president, I'll ask you about this new book which George H.W. Bush, Bush 41, quoted as calling Trump a blowhard. He said he voted for Hillary Clinton. George W. Bush also didn't vote for this president, have some negative comments. It's not fake news. This is what they said to the author. Your thoughts on that?
BENNETT: I think it was most inappropriate of the two presidents, both of whom I like very much and revere. George H.W. Bush, he was a wonderful boss and I very much enjoyed serving him, but these guys shouldn't have done that. Look, the simple answer is, you know, where were they during Obama? For Pete's sake, eight years of Obama in my view, taking the down the country and certainly taking the country downhill, and we heard nothing because of this pledge of not to speak ill of former presidents.
BENNETT: One of the founders, Howie, wrote that when presidents leave office they should disappear. They should go to Europe or Asia and not be ghosts haunting the incumbent. I think that's probably a good idea.
BENNETT: Speaking up here, it was just I think totally inappropriate and unfair given their silence on Obama who is doing a lot more damage to the country.
KURTZ: All right. Given the deep divide now between -- we see this everyday -- pro-Trump coverage, anti-Trump coverage, does this now go beyond the left-right ideological divide in this country particularly when it comes to an issue like for example President Trump going after the NFL on anthem protests? Let's go a little deeper on this.
BENNETT: Well, actually the NFL thing is very interesting and his reaction to the truck murder in New York and some of the other things. He has a way of touching the nerves that these contours, these divides in American culture in a way that excites both sides positively and negatively.
He has got an instinct. Somebody said the other day it's Uncle Harry for president. Uncle Harry has finally become president. You know, the guy who comes to Thanksgiving dinner and says I'm going to tell you what's wrong with this country, and now he's president and he's telling us, and I frankly like it.
But it is in a larger cultural divide. And a cultural divide because Daniel Patrick Moynihan said famously, culture is more important than politics. And the culture at CNN, I used to work for CNN. I know others who used to work for CNN too, Howie, and the culture at Fox are very different places.
But if you have a lot of journalists who were nurtured on the great story that I think inspires so many of them, not The Night Before Christmas or not The First Thanksgiving, but once upon a time there were two reporters named Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and they brought down a president and maybe someday you can, too. I think this is still the aspiration of a lot of these guys so that's why they can't resist the story. I think it explains the disproportionate coverage of all of this get Trump.
KURTZ: I've got half a minute, but if this cultural divide helps Donald Trump because the elite media are on the other side of the divide, does it also limit him in keeping his support -- Washington Post/ABC Poll out today, 37 percent, does it both help him and hurt him?
BENNETT: Yes, because if you keep getting hammered even if people don't trust the people who are wielding the hammers, it makes a difference. The stuff gets in the air ducts and gets in the airwave, it gets everywhere and people react. However, a couple of big accomplishments, you know, like this tax reform and some other things, and I think when people really see this economy coming home to their pocketbook, as it seems to be coming on the mega level --
BENNETT: I think those numbers are going to go up. I think his future is numbers up, yes sir.
KURTZ: All right, Bill Bennett, great to talk to you. Thanks very much for joining us.
BENNETT: Thanks Howard, my pleasure.
KURTZ: And coming up, a crisis for Netflix as allegations against Kevin Spacey threaten to topple the "House of Cards" franchise. And later, a really out of bounds attack on Laura Ingraham.
KURTZ: Kevin Spacey is seeking treatment after becoming the latest high profile actor to face sexual assault and harassment allegations. And that has prompted Netflix to suspend production of "House of Cards," the award- winning series where he portrays the ruthless president, Frank Underwood.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN SPACEY, ACTOR, (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE). We have to hold this, the key finger (ph) and wipe that filthy mouth. You know
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Netflix now cutting ties with Spacey this after an uproar that began when actor Anthony Rapp told "Buzzfeed" that Spacey made sexual advances toward him three decades ago when Rapp was just 14. Spacey said hen doesn't remember the incident but offered Rapp the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior. Spacey also said, I have had relationships with both men and women. I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life and now choose to live as a gay man.
And Netflix acting after CNN reported that eight people working on "House of Cards" have also accused Spacey of misconduct. Joining us now from New York is Marisa Guthrie of The Hollywood Reporter. Marissa, how is Netflix handling this because originally the company announced that "House of Cards" would end after the next season but then it actually been decided months ago, then came the suspension of production now cutting ties with the main character. How do you think Netflix has dealt with this?
MARISA GUTHRIE, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Well, I think this is a -- it can be lesson to other media companies, maybe just put the hammer down immediately and not, you know, kind of do this drip for drip (ph)_ well, we're suspending, well no, we're ending the show, which as you know, the decision to end the show after the next season was already made. And by them making this announcement that they were ending it, it was sort of seen as opportunistic.
KURTZ: Right, trying to take credit for doing something which had already been done.
KURTZ: Several other men have made the sexual harassment assault allegations against Kevin Spacey since the initial "Buzzfeed" story. Some of them said they were underage at the time. Why has there been such an outrage? Talk a little bit about the way in which he handled that initial apology involving the actor Anthony Rapp by using it as an occasion to come out as gay?
GUTHRIE: Well, because Anthony Rapp was 14 years old at the time and Spacey was trying to use his struggle with his sexuality or his struggle to come out and admit his sexuality as like an excuse for doing this and it just buys into all of the worst stereotypes that people have about gay people that drives the gay community legitimately crazy that people do that.
So, he was again, he was trying to use this as -- he was trying to deflect I think from the accusations by coming out as gay. And initially, yes, publications did that with the headlines.
GUTHRIE: Kevin Spacey comes out.
KURTZ: Right, not the assault, alleged assault.
GUTHRIE: Exacxtly. Exactly.
KURTZ: Yes, I agree with that. And he hasn't had much to say since he said he was going to treatment or his publicist said. Now, New York police say on the record that they are building a case against Harvey Weinstein, a case in which an actress says he raped here seven years ago. There have been several others rape allegations against Weinstein. He denies them.
In the aftermath of all this and all the exploding accusations, how has it changed the reporting climate at the Hollywood Reporter?
GUTHRIE: Well, a lot of these people we had been looking at. For years we've been hearing things, hearing rumors about a lot of these people for years. People would reach out to our reporters. I had people reaching out to me last week about Kevin Spacey. So these rumors had been circulating and we had people coming to us because a friend had something happen to them or the person reaching out had.
And for us it was always a struggle to get legitimately so, to get these people to be on the record. And when you're make an accusation like that, you want somebody to actually be on the record because does have a right to face their accuser and to know who is accusing them of what. But now I think with the Harvey Weinstein situation, the floodgates are open and you are seeing a lot of anonymous claims and journalists are publishing them and what we are doing is publishing a mix of anonymous and on the record. We still want to get on the record and it's interesting how difficult that still is, by the way.
KURTZ: Right. Well, it's a very difficult thing even decades later for some people to go public. Now, along those lines is a woman named Anna Graham Hunter who wrote a column for Hollywood reporter alleging that Dustin Hoffman sexually harassed her three decades ago when she was 17. He apologized if he made her uncomfortable. Six women told the "L.A. Times" that filmmaker Bret Ratner sexually harassed them or engaged in sexual misconduct. He categorically denies that. Is it getting hard for journalist, not to mention the public, somebody keep up with all of these allegations?
GUTHRIE: It's incredible. It's incredible and there are still more to come. And we get allegations from people all the time about other people that, you know, this has not been published about yet. It's a combination of people we've never heard these rumors about and people we have heard these rumors about.
GUTHRIE: And so a lot of media companies are sort of bracing for the next shoe to drop. They're bracing for their star to be outed.
GUTHRIE: And social media has obviously helped spread these accusations and fuel them and has also enabled women to feel like they can come out, that there are other women that are speaking of.
Marisa Guthrie, thanks very much for taking us into the reporting and decision making process. Great to see you this Sunday.
GUTHRIE: Thank you.
KURTZ: Meanwhile, NPR's top news executive was forced to resign over what the network called inappropriate behavior. Michael Oreskes, the network senior vice president for news apologized saying I am deeply sorry to the people I hurt. My behavior was wrong and inexcusable and I accept full responsibility.
"The Washington Post" reported that two decades ago when he was Washington bureau chief of the "New York Times," two unnamed women say he unexpectedly kissed them and in one case romantically pursued them when they were applying for jobs at the paper. NPR is also looking into three complaints from its own employees about inappropriate conversations. Oreskes apologized for that too. NPR president Jarl Mohn told his staff, I let you down. I should have acted faster and more decisively.
And an update, NBC and MSNBC severed ties with commentator Mark Halperin after initially suspending him over harassment allegations. After the break, a liberal columnist slams Laura Ingraham for being Catholic and talking about God, you've got to see this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS: The American dream is that every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Laura Ingraham, her debut program this week, she's now been attacked for being Catholic. "Observer" columnist Joe Lapointe, former MSNBC producer for Keith Olbermann referred to church lady Laura Ingraham, criticized her for wearing a cross, for mentioning God and for asking White House Chief of Staff John Kelly what he prays for. Lapointe also called Ingraham a fundamentalist Catholic extremist.
More back with Mollie Hemingway. So the cross and mentioning God and oh, she said that U.S. immigration policy helps very few Christians. What do you make of this attack on Laura Ingraham?
HEMINGWAY: I mean it was just a fascinating thing to read and it's actually a great example of how the media are so used to ignoring religion in public life that they think it's noteworthy as someone wearing a cross or a crucifix on air. This is a majority Christian country, many people are profoundly religious. I came here from church, you know, I got to church weekly. That's a very normal thing for a big part of the country.
You never see people being asked questions about religion or looking at how religion influences stories. And then when someone does --
KURTZ: You hear about rarely.
HEMINGWAY: You very rarely see it. And then when someone does, it's treated as if it's something just very bizarre.
KURTZ: Well, I get that this guy was in the Keith Olbermann camp and he hates Fox, but how does he call Laura Ingraham who belongs to a perfectly mainstream parish here in the Washington area a fundamentalist Catholic extremist?
HEMINGWAY: Well, and that's the thing too. It's not just that reporters frequently tend to be less religious than the average American, whether they ignore religious viewpoints. There is also hostility and it's such a serious hostility that you take someone who is in a very typical Catholic or Christian church and you treat them as if they're fundamentalist. It shows the extremism of many journalist as opposed to the extremism of a typical Roman Catholic.
KURTZ: Right. Shannon Bream was also in the headline in the story but she wasn't attacked on religious grounds like her new program or found reasons to beat up. This guy, Lapointe, is a former "New York Times" sports writer so.
HEMINGWAY: Well, that's what I also found interesting. This is a man who worked at the "New York Times" for 20 years. He lists in his bio that he has taught journalism at NYU and other, you know, supposedly legitimate places and you wonder what are the journalism students learning from people like this and it's not part of our problem that we have journalists who have been trained not to think through how stories should be framed differently or how religion should be brought into stories.
I mean you look at the end of each year, there'll be like list of the top 10 news stories of the year and almost everyone if not everyone has a serious religion angle. We need religious literacy even if people aren't religious. They should know enough about the role religion plays in the lives of so many people so they can do a better job covering it.
KURTZ: So hardly any media reaction to this column of "The Observer." I'm wonder if it would be different if this had been said by somebody was Jewish or Muslim and I wonder also of this hostility you refer to and like it's not everybody and let's not paint with too broader brush but do you feel this in your own lifetime as a journalist who regularly goes to church?
HEMINGWAY: Well, this is one of the things I thought if this were written about a practicing Muslim woman who had a show, I'd think you'd see a lot more reaction against it. I've just experienced in newsrooms that there is not a lot of religious knowledge and that the people have a really surprisingly low level of religious understanding and you see how -- people who are religious understanding see this all the time in their news stories. The see how basic factual points are not handled well or how just again, an ignorance of religious life.
KURTZ: Yes. Well, I just wanted to highlight so we can get to that broader point. Mollie Hemingway, thanks very much. Good to see you. Still to come, an apology for a crude slamming on Sarah Huckabee-Sanders and another entertainer trying to push product by imagining a deceased president, that's next.
KURTZ: It's become all too common for entertainers to wish death upon President Trump. There was Kathy Griffin and the severed head, the Julius Caesar production that killed off a Trump character with orange hair, and now there is Snoop Dogg. Yes, here is promoting his new album cover "Make America Crip Again" standing over a dead body with a toe tag that says Trump. . Wow. If we reach a point where this kind of cultural vitriol is becoming routine, it's because much of the mainstream media don't express any outrage, at least when the target is Donald Trump.
A Pulitzer Prize winning columnist has apologized for taking cheap shots at Sarah Huckabee-Sanders. David Horsey of the L.A. Times while ripping her performance as press secretary wrote that, "Sanders looks more like a slightly chunky soccer mom rather than the fake eyelashes and formal dresses she puts on for news briefings, Sanders seems as if she'd be more comfortable in sweats and running shoes." He wrote that.
Horsey said he'd been insensitive, failed to meet the paper's standards and his own standards. All true. But hello, who at the Los Angeles Times approved these sexist stereotypes? What happened to the editors? Just remarkable.
And that's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. Thanks for joining us. We hope you like our Facebook page. Give us a like. Check out -- we post a lot of original content there and I talk back to you, you could talk back to me, same thing on Twitter @HowardKurtz, firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to weigh in on the media on today's show or what's on your mind. Remember to DVR us if you're going to have other plans on Sunday morning, but we'll be back here next Sunday morning. See you then 11 Eastern with the latest buzz.
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