This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," January 29, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the buzz meter this Sunday, we talk to Sean Spicer for the first time as White House Press Secretary. This, as President Trump is making a blizzard of headlines in its first week from jobs to trade to immigration even as the media accuse him of spreading falsehoods about illegal voting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN: It is empirically a stunning allegation for which the White House is providing no evidence. And there is a reason they are providing no evidence, there is no evidence. It is not true.
SHEPARD SMITH, FOX NEWS: So far the White House has provided no evidence of any kind to back up these claims. Fox News is not aware of any reliable studies or information that suggests that there is widespread voter fraud anywhere in America.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC: It's got the point that the White House is talking about alternative facts or pushing straight up misinformation or frankly, unverifiable claims. All in an attempt it seems to essentially appease the boss.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: Now either the president believes something for which there is no evidence and it's false, or he doesn't really believe it and he's just using this as an excuse to explain why he did not win the popular vote. Either way, the president is spreading a falsehood.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: Is this over the top, should the New York Times and other outlets be calling the president a liar? As chaos erupts in American airports over temporary ban on refugees especially from predominantly Muslim countries an effort to tighten the security checks, is the press bias against that effort.
And what about the new president charge that much of the media part the opposition party. As for Sean Spicer...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it your intention to always tell the truth from that podium and will you pledge never to knowingly say anything that is not factual.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It is. It's an honor to do this and yes. I believe that we have to be honest with the American people. I think sometimes we can disagree with the facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: We ask him about his contentious relationship with the media. Plus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED ASNER, ACTOR: You know what, you've got spunk.
MARY TYLER MOORE, ACTRESS: Well, yes.
ASNER: I hate spunk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Our Mary Tyler Moore inspired a generation of female journalists.
I'm Howard Kurtz, and this is "MediaBuzz."
President Trump punch in to a media maelstrom during his first week in office has hit back hard against the press and Sean Spicer has been right on the front lines. When the president made his unverified claim about millions voting illegally in the 2016 election, Spicer was hit by a flurry of questions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did the president believe that millions voted in this election and what evidence do you have of widespread voter fraud in this election if that's the case.
SPICER: The president does believe that. He has stated that before. As I said, I think the president has believed that for a while based on studies on information he has.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said the president believes that there was voter fraud. I wonder if you believe that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: It was a little chaotic when I went to the White House with one camera in a noisy briefing room when I caught up with the president's press secretary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Sean Spicer, welcome.
SPICER: Thanks for having me.
KURTZ: President Trump told Christian Broadcasting Network that he views much of the media, not all, as the opposition party. That would mean journalists are actively trying to defeat him. Do you believe that?
SPICER: I think when you look at some of the comments and some of the ways that things have been phrase it clearly isn't an objective look at he's done both during the campaign in the transition and now.
There is a constantly this sense that or skepticism which there should be a healthy skepticism. But I think when you look at the president's record both as a candidate during his transition and now his first week in office, you recognize that he has succeeded time and time and time again.
And frankly, the default should be what can't he do, not what will he do.
KURTZ: But opposition party is a very strong phrase.
KURTZ: Now you are entitled to push back against unfair coverage. Some of the coverage has been unfair.
SPICER: That's right.
KURTZ: This seems to go farther and almost define the media as the enemy.
SPICER: Well, I think in many cases there are -- there are stories and journalists who start off with a negative disposition on how they are going to cover the president and his actions.
KURTZ: So, OK. Now, you yourself in this briefing room last weekend said pretty forceful statements of reporters...
SPICER: That's right.
KURTZ: ... as the media are vowing to hold President Trump accountable, you're going to hold the media accountable against what you call irresponsible behavior. It's been reported that President Trump perhaps strongly encouraged you to deliver those lines.
SPICER: I don't divulge private conversations I have with the president.
KURTZ: I ask the question carefully.
SPICER: I know you did, and I appreciate that effort.
KURTZ: All right. You've taken a lot of heat personally for your handling of the president's claim...
KURTZ: ... about he believes up to five million people voted illegally in this election. There is no evidence of that so far as many news organizations reported but you kept saying, well, that's what he believes.
SPICER: That's what he believes. And I think...
KURTZ: You didn't want to embrace it yourself.
SPICER: yes, but that's not my job, OK. My job is to speak on behalf of the president. When I ask the president about these issues, he said that what I believe and that's what I want you to tell folks.
My job is to be his spokesperson and to articulate his vision, his ideas, his successes. And in this case, of what he believes.
KURTZ: If the president points to a Pew study, he points to it as well as butchering the case that there is illegal voting, and the author of the study says...
SPICER: That's one example.
KURTZ: But the author of the studies tell journalists no, we didn't say that, we're talking about registration rolls. Isn't it fair for journalist to point that out?
SPICER: Sure. It's fair to point that out. But I think that's why the president has asked for is, you know, talked about the need for an executive order that well look into this. We've got millions people registered twice voting, dead people voting.
I think when you look at the integrity of our voting system, the question should be why aren't we doing this. This is our right to vote, one man, one vote, one person, one vote, it's something as the bedrock of our democracy. It's what our country is built on.
So the idea that we wouldn't take this seriously it's something that should be asked. Should the president showing the leadership on this and making sure that when someone goes out to vote, they wait in line that they know that that vote not only counts but it's equal to the person that's behind them and in front of them is something that should be something that is applauded.
KURTZ: Sean, the front page headline in the New York Times "Trump repeats on election lie." The Washington Post front page story, "Trump disregard for the truth threatens his ability to govern."
SPICER: Right. Again, that goes back to your first question about opposition party. I think it's one thing to state an opinion or to state, hey, you know, here's what he said and here's what the facts show and here's what some studies show. But when they come out and say he lied. And they have no evidence that certain things don't exist.
For example, the president went and said the other day and I said it as well that we had the largest audience. When you start combining the ratings, the people who watched it live television, the YouTube views that we're seeing the people who watched it live streaming on Twitter and other places. Those are the numbers that I can put out that show that it was the largest audience and so far I haven't had anybody, not one person come back to me with numbers to the refute that.
Did any prior -- any prior, and if you think it was someone in the briefing room threw out Ronald Reagan. And last time I checked in 1984 and '88, or '80 and '84, right, we didn't have Twitter, we didn't have YouTube, we didn't have Facebook, we didn't have the internet.
KURTZ: So that million that says lie in your view is acting like an opposition party? Is that fair?
SPICER: Absolutely. But here's the things that's interesting about the way the media operates. When they make a mistake they write a correction at the bottom and just called it a correction. When the administration has a difference of opinion with someone in the media they call it a lie.
KURTZ: One makes a mistake. Yes.
SPICER: But they sort of they scrutinize every single point which is fair. We have a free press and I'm not saying they shouldn't.
SPICER: But it's interesting how it's a very one-way street.
KURTZ: On a personal level when some journalists write some critics write that this first week has tarnished your credibility, does that bother you?
SPICER: No, I believe what I believe. I know that I have the confidence of the president, I feel very good when I go to sleep at night that I'm fighting for an agenda that he's laid out that's making the country better, that's lifting families up, that's making this country safer.
I believe in his agenda and I believe in what he's going to do. And as long as I know that when I walk out I'm articulating his agenda and his success to the best of my ability then I can sleep pretty well.
KURTZ: There's some in the press have been ripping this president over the dust-up this week with Mexico.
KURTZ: And you know, he said the U.S. will begin to pay for this wall. He believed Mexico will reimburse. You explained about the import tax that might cover some of it. You said that was one idea and I know that the president spoke on Friday.
SPICER: Right. He did. And the interesting is that conversation was supposed to be 10 minutes long. I went, I think just shy of an hour.
KURTZ: Right. But after the meeting was cancelled, just to finish the question, the Wall Street Journal editorial page said in an editorial title, "Trump's little Mexican war that this was amateur hour."
SPICER: Well, we'll see. I think they, you know, in a couple of years from now when our trade deficit is down, when our immigration system is fixed, when our border is secure, you know, they might want to revise that. But I think the president has made it very clear both on the economic and on the national security front that he is going to take swift action.
And that's going to be to the benefit of every American, every American taxpayer, and finally to every American in terms of safety. It's not just Mexicans coming into the southern border. It's a lot of people using that porous border to come through Mexico that can potentially cause us harm.
But there's also a massive economic impact, right. The cause that we're having to spend on immigration because the border is porous, but also, the flood of good and services that are coming in from Mexican border. We got a $50 billion a year trade deficit with Mexico. That's a huge -- a huge -- excuse me, and that's a huge amount that is currently favoring them, not us. So we can put the American worker back first and foremost. That helps our economy and our job creation as well.
KURTZ: Now in the past Donald Trump criticized Fox News. He's done it when he had interviews with me. Right now he seems to like Fox. He tweeted, "Congratulations to Fox for having the highest ratings on inauguration day." But he also took a shot that what he called fake news CNN. Why does he keep taking this feud out of CNN?
SPICER: Well, because I think that when you look at the week that he had it's frankly it is historic. I mean, there are some folks that actually have taken the time to give him credit in terms of how much he's done by executive actions, how many meetings he talked about the people that has brought together...
KURTZ: So you think that some in the media have acknowledge the...
SPICER: No, no. It's not. But I will say it's definitely a minority. And again, when I ask some reporters privately, what do you think of the week that we've had so far, the number of people that we've met with the groups that we've had.
He sat down with union leaders; he sat down with the business owners, car manufacturers. And by and large, when you meet with these individuals and you ask them so how many times were you here in the eight years of the Obama administration. In many cases, they say never. And the idea...
KURTZ: So you say when you are with some reporters privately...
SPICER: ... they'll admit and they will say, well, you guys really have had impactful days. Every day you're doing something.
KURTZ: Why isn't that reflected in the coverage in your view?
SPICER: Yet, that's exactly the point. That's the point. Whether you look at the coverage in what happens and it doesn't get reflected at all. They're looking for every, you know, way to nitpick whether or not a word was pronounced right or whether or not something was spelled correctly but they're not looking at the successes.
And I think that's why to some degree the approval rating in the media is low, it's because the American people are turning on the news and they are not finding out things that are going to impact their lives, which I think they turn into lose. But they're looking for petty ideas.
KURTZ: We'll let the record show you've not mispronounced any words so far.
SPICER: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: And joining me now, Erin McPike, political commentator and a former reporter for the Real Clear Politics. So, we just heard Sean Spicer obviously on the hot seat say that some reporters told him privately that the administration is off to a good start this week hut he doesn't feel it's reflected in the coverage. He talked about nitpicking. What do you make of that?
ERIN MCPIKE, FORMER REAL CLEAR POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, but you know, I also thought he had really a good moment in his Monday briefing when he said, look, it is frustrating and demoralizing to turn on the TV and see all of this negative coverage.
He wasn't spinning. That was actually a pretty moment. So, why they are going down this road of trying to bring in claims about crowd size and voter fraud that they're going to fight back when they are frustrated.
KURTZ: I just caught this on the new web site Axios this morning. Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen saying that we do weekends pay per look at cable Trump's debut was pretty much a debacle but actually it was a remarkable start. Maybe the truth is somewhere in between, but why the gap between the coverage and Spicer says reporters privately -- at least some of them say it's a fast start.
MCPIKE: Yes. Well, I think we have seen through the course of this past week, the coverage has gotten better throughout the week. I thought -- I thought, you know...
KURTZ: Better or more positive to the White House?
MCPIKE: Well, I think both. I think Monday and Tuesday it was all very petty and very much about the media. The Americans don't want to read about what the media thinks is wrong, you know. I think it got much better with I saw what you talked about with Axios, they said it was a dizzying first week.
MCPIKE: There were times that it was a dizzying first week. So I think the coverage improved.
KURTZ: Right. Well, the coverage has probably been too much about the media. At the same time when President Trump attacks the media, of course that's going to generate a lot of press.
All right. Take care and remember to let us know what you think firstname.lastname@example.org on the program with the media. We'll have more of my interview with Sean Spicer a little bit later in the program. When we come back, our panel weighs in whether some media outlets should be calling this president a liar.
KURTZ: President Trump did his first two television interviews this week. One with Fox News Sean Hannity and the other with ABC's David Muir who pressed about his unproven claim that up to five million people voted illegally in this election and a study the president has cited.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: What you have presented so far has been debunked. It's been called false. I called...
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Take a look at the Pew reports.
MUIR: I called the author of the Pew report last night and he told me that they found no evidence of voter fraud.
TRUMP: Really? Then why did he write the report according to Pew report. Then he's -- then he's groveling again. You know, I always talk about the reporters that grovel when they want to write something that you want to hear, but not necessarily millions of people don't want to hear or have to hear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage of president's first week is Guy Benson, political editor of Townhall and Fox news contributor, and Julie Roginsky, a co-host of "Outnumbered."
So, let's talk about the word lie on this whole legal voting flap. As I mentioned to Sean Spicer, Guy, the New York Times front page headline "Trump repeats election lie." Is that fair or unfair in these circumstances?
GUY BENSON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I have personally been using unsubstantiated claim because there is no evidence for it. Sean Spicer said pretty famously that Trump believes it to be true. But that's not good enough for it to qualify as the truth.
So, I think part of it also is partisan. If you are a viewer right now saying, how dare you say Trump is lying. Ask yourself how you would react if it was President Obama saying something over and over for which there was no truth. So, I think that's sort of the standard by which we should try to operate those of us in the media even if we are ideological in our bent like I am.
KURTZ: Right. Now I'm very, very cautious about the word lie.
KURTZ: Because you have to, you're sort of reading someone's mind and know their intent. The Washington Post front page headline this week, Julie, "Trump's disregard for the truth threatens his ability to govern." So, the press is framing this not just as a character issue, but it's an issue that could completely decide his presidency.
JULIE ROGINSKY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, I agree largely with everything Guy said. And I thought...
KURTZ: It doesn't happen a lot of times.
ROGINSKY: It happens -- well, actually more often than you might think.
BENSON: You're going to get me in trouble, Julie.
ROGINSKY: I know, right. I'm trying to -- I'm trying to keep as republican bonafides intact, I'm not going to praise too much. But I will also say this. I remember when William Sapphire as you recall called Hillary Clinton back in the 90's a congenital higher and everybody went ballistic.
KURTZ: She was first lady with the late New York Times columnist, yes.
ROGINSKY: She because first lady and everybody ballistic. But you know, he made the point and I actually agree with him that you have to call things for what they are. And language is very important.
When you have the President of the United States and his surrogates coming out and saying things that they obviously must know not to be true. For example, record-breaking attendance of the nomination, so on and so forth.
KURTZ: And dispute.
ROGINSKY: Well, it's not a dispute. I mean, it was not record-breaking attending.
BENSON: But he's backed off. Spicer backed off on that in terms of the in- person attendance, right. He corrected himself.
ROGINSKY: Well, he corrected himself after a while. But I mean...
KURTZ: I take your point.
ROGINSKY: ... this goes on and on and on. I can cite four or five other examples. But you have to call it for what it is. If somebody is looking you in the eye and telling you something that it's factually operatic (Ph) incorrect, that they know to be incorrect, that is in fact what a dictionary would term to be a lie.
KURTZ: But you don't agree with Guy Benson, it's appropriate.
ROGINSKY: Well, I do -- I do that it's appropriate when it merits it. It's not something you should throw out like, you know, like candy, but when it's appropriate yes, it's absolutely something that...
KURTZ: Erin McPike, let's talk about another lying president because there's a question of ideology comes up. So, 1998, Bill Clinton has just come before a grand jury and he has admitted that he had a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky no matter how you'd want to define that term.
New York Times looked it up. Here's the lead, "Saying he had misled his wife and the public, President Clinton admitted in a solemn and grim face address that he had an intimate relationship at the White House with an intern." The Washington Post said, "He had not been candid." The A.P., "He misled Americans." at wise house.
So, that was not called a lie. It was clearly a lie, but that was a...
MCPIKE: That was a lie.
MCPIKE: That was absolutely a lie.
KURTZ: So is there a different standard for President Trump?
MCPIKE: There maybe. But remember, that was also 20 years ago. I think the media obviously have taken a different tack over the course of the last 20 years, I mean, they just gotten bolder...
KURTZ: Not just in the -- not just in the last week.
MCPIKE: ... over not just last week now.
KURTZ: Yes. OK. The president was tweeting again today, if we can put this up. He was ripping the New York Times and the Washington Post. He called the New York Times "fake news." And he wrote this. Somebody with aptitude and conviction should buy the fake news and failing New York Times and either in it correctly or let it fold with dignity."
Both these newspapers saying, hey, our subscriptions and audience are up, not down.
ROGINSKY: But listen to what he's saying. He's essentially saying that somebody should buy the New York Times and as the owner of the New York Times should tell the New York Times how to conduct journalism. That's very dangerous when you are urging the owners of newspapers to put their ideology as a stamp upon which should be fair and balance journalism that's going to be fair...
KURTZ: But does a president have a right to hit back about what he sees is unfair coverage?
BENSON: And that's what he's doing. I share some of the concern that Julie is voicing. But also I think what some Trump and his supporters would say is the Post, and particularly the Times are not unbiased. They do have an ideology. It's not just their editorial page; it's their news page as well.
So, you might not like the phrasing. And it does seem heavy handed the president saying the things that he's saying, but to point out that these newspapers clearly have it in for him, I think is legitimate.
KURTZ: And yet, he gave an interview to the New York Times this week. So, interestingly mixing it up.
Up next, President Trump and Steve Bannon as you heard are labeling the press the opposition party. Is that a bit over the top? And later, Sean Spicer on whether the new president is too quick to react to what he sees on cable news.
KURTZ: The charge about the enemy essentially being in the enemy camp came first from the White House senior strategist, Steve Bannon to the New York Time. And then President Trump embraced it in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting network, David Brody.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Yes, I think the media is the opposition party in many ways. I'm not talking about everybody but a big portion of the media, the dishonesty, the total deceit and deception makes them certainly partially the opposition party absolutely. I think they are much more capable than the opposition party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Well, the cable and the democrats. Erin, the press kind of rose up in unison against this. Do you think the press took the bait here?
MCPIKE: I think they did. But like, let's think about why it is that he had said this. And I know you disagree with me on this but a lot of reporters will say it's their job to be adversarial. I don't agree with that. Our job is to cover not to fight.
So, I think that the media has certainly invited this. But also think about why he did this. The democrats are getting absolutely no press. There is a major race right now for the chairmanship and leadership of that party and nobody cares.
KURTZ: Right. But where we might...
MCPIKE: The media is covering...
KURTZ: ... not disagree is are they being much more adversarial, perhaps even prosecutorial when it comes to President Trump as opposed to President Obama?
MCPIKE: Yes, absolutely. So, they invited it.
KURTZ: Guy, jump in there.
BENSON: Yes. So, we had in the previous administration a White House communications director basically said the exact same thing about this network, Anita Dunn, and there was not quite the same hue and cry because it was...
KURTZ: She said Fox was the arm of Republican Party.
BENSON: Right. And defended it or whatever.
BENSON: So, I think it is very obvious that the adversarial press is back, which is good by the way. I think to some extent having an adversarial press is a healthy thing for a republic except it wasn't that way under Obama because most of the press corps voted for him and would give him the benefit of the doubt. That's not...
KURTZ: But opposition party suggest that everybody and the whole news organizations wake up every morning thinking how can they done it versus the president. Even you would say that goes a little far.
BENSON: That goes too far, but I think there is more than a little bit of that.
KURTZ: But Julie, does the press play into the administration's hands when it makes mistakes like the Time magazine reporter saying the Martin Luther King bust was removed from the Oval Office, which in that interview with ABC and President Trump -- no, actually he said this to Sean Hannity. President Trump said, well, what they are really saying is, I'm a racist. And of course that story was retracted and apologize.
ROGINSKY: Well, yes, and call the reporter that you mentioned had retracted. But of course it does plays into his hands because it gives him the excuse to go out and paint everybody with the same false brush.
Look, I come with this from the Soviet Union which is where I was born. I remember Pravda. I remember having an arm of the press essentially act as an arm of the government. And if that's what President Trump wants, if he wants the press to not call as we talked about in the earlier segment, a lie a lie.
If he wants the press to look a scant at anybody who criticizes him for when he said something misleading, then that's not the United States that we all know and that's not the First Amendment that our Constitution here.
KURTZ: But you've gone from him pushing back against the, quote, "opposition party" to saying only adoring coverage. That seems to a little bit of a stretch.
ROGINSKY: Well, not at all. Because when he criticizes the press for doing its job as they have when this called out the fake comments...
KURTZ: But what about when the press falls down on the job?
ROGINSKY: When the press falls down on their job as Zeke Miller did once. Zeke corrected it almost immediately. But two, did they have every right to call Zeke Miller for it? Of course, they do. That's their job. That's Sean Spicer's job. What they cannot do, which what I feel they're doing is urging owners of newspapers to tell journalists how to do their jobs and what they're doing is essentially...
BENSON: The owners were told to pound sand, which they have done, and Donald Trump is not the first politician in the history of the world to want good coverage. This is what politicians always want.
ROGINSKY: I think what he wants is coverage that suborns bad behavior on a daily basis when he doesn't tell the truth.
KURTZ: And on that point we'll pick it up. Ahead on Media Buzz, the late Mary Tyler Moore not only played a TV producer, but boy, did she have an impact on female journalist.
But first, President Trump temporary banning refugees from entering the U.S. and get into a dust-up with Mexico. And that coverage has been pretty harsh.
KURTZ: The media coverage of President Trump's orders on refugees turned sharply negative over the last 24 hours. At some horror that the on flights were detained in American airports and protesters descended o JFK.
This, after the president barred all refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days to tighten vetting procedures and a three months ban on those from seven predominantly Muslim countries which Trump said would favor Christian refugees over Muslims.
The New York Daily News - we'll put it up - published his cover with a weeping Statue of Liberty. And the Huffington Post ran a photo of a dead child on a beach while accusing the president of slamming the door.
And this morning the Washington Post banner headline "The refugee ban causes chaos nationwide. And the company and our guest, about 200 protesters are gathering to protest this.
So, Guy Benson, the press has to cover this controversial policy and all its ramifications on whether it was handled this correctly and Trump's comments on favoring Christian refugees over Muslims. But isn't this almost exactly what he said he would do during the campaign?
BENSON: A lot of is. Now, I agree with you this has to be covered, it ought to be covered. And some of the coverage has been bad, some of it has been good. There have been ticktacks on how this went down behind the scene which I actually find rather alarming.
There's also a very good piece by David French in National Review trying to separate fact from fiction of what actually is in the order.
KURTZ: That particular piece talks about how the level of refugees that the Trump administration would admit after this ban, it's about what it was before with Obama administration.
BENSON: Right. Among other things.
BENSON: There's good things and bad thing but it's a well reported piece. The one thing that I have been alarmed by and frustrated by watching the coverage and reading it is how many reporters are using the shorthand phrase Muslim ban.
Because Trump said it's not a Muslim ban. Look, there are hundreds of millions of Muslims worldwide not affected by this ban. For example, people living in Indonesia with many non-Muslims who are. So, I think that that's a sloppy way of reporting it. Although I understand to try to use one or two words to describe it.
BEN: It's tempting to say Muslim ban, it just isn't accurate.
KURTZ: Right. He did initially say that during the campaign, and then modified it. And now we're seeing the modified version. But when that happened during the campaign, Julie, the entire establishment said this is suicidal, he's toast, he's never going to win this nomination. It turned out they were wrong on public sentiment and maybe are missing those in the country now who think this is a good idea.
ROGINSKY: There are definitely people in the country. I only need to look at my Twitter feed to know exactly how many people think this is a good idea.
ROGINSKY: I mean, it's certainly, look, he's playing to his base and he is coming through with these things that he promised he was going to do. The one thing you can't criticize this president for is not doing exactly as he said he was going to do.
Having said that, I think to some extent people in the media and others including liberals who thought OK, well, Donald Trump is not going to be as bad as everybody think he's going to be, have now woken up to the fact that he is coming through with his promises.
And when you have -- you talked about Muslim ban when you had Rudy Giuliani yesterday on Jeanine Pirro show on this network saying the president asked me to put together a Muslim ban and this is the best we could do. Which he comes up with the original intent was in fact to have a Muslim ban according to Rudy Giuliani and then illegal alien is all they can go.
KURTZ: You set up me nice as my question to Erin, which is do you think that many journalists in covering all the things that this president said he was going to do to a controversial, building a wall on the southern border, this immigration ban temporary, kind of had the feeling that, well, he's saying that in the campaign, he's not really going to do it.
And so, now it's almost like we're covering it for the first time. But again, usually if he didn't do any of these things the story line would be president failed to deliver.
MCPIKE: So in that sense, yes, you're right. I think a lot of the coverage has been quite good, too. Because I think this is forcing so many news organizations to actually go out into the country and see what the impacts of the policies are. And you point out the Post saying that there is chaos nationwide. Well, there is a lot of chaos and it's important to cover that.
KURTZ: A fair question is, you know, should there been a 48-hour notice of this. Because your people have gone on airplanes and then landed at airports in America and were detained. We also have this. TV always has attempted to find one person who was affected perhaps unfairly and make that person the face of this story.
So, there's this guy who was an interpreter for in U.S. military, I believe in Iraq, who now finds himself in this sort of legal limbo. But you say, when you say some of the coverage is good and you've learned things, but about the coverage that you find not so good and what's your criticism there?
BENSON: Well, I think that I can understand there's, especially in television you want good pictures, you want good TV. So, people storming airports and picketing that's good TV. It's not necessarily representative of how most people feel about this.
I think what is more important to cover and there has been some of this, so I'm not throwing the whole media under the bus.
BENSON: How did this executive order get written. Why is it so very sloppy in a lot of ways. It seems like -- it seems like a lot of the relevant lawyers were not consulted which I think is sort crazy.
So, and then to your point and how the media, it's like, damned if you do, damned if you don't if you're Trump. Like, well, look at these countries that aren't on it. Like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Would anyone making that criticism, rescind their criticism if he added two more countries. I don't think they would.
BENSON: I think you've got to figure out what you're picking and choosing. There are legitimate criticisms and there are ones that are sillier.
ROGINSKY: But I think there were criticisms that by sheer coincidence some of the countries that did send terrorists like 9/11, for example.
ROGINSKY: Where businesses, where places where the Trump organization has done business and continues to do business. And so as a result that's potentially why they weren't there. So, that could be potentially...
KURTZ: So, this morning, Kellyanne Conway, and Reince Priebus, and Sean Spicer out defending the policy and talking about, you know, part of the concern here is to stop potential terrorist and to tighten the vetting procedures.
I didn't hear as many of those voices yesterday, particularly because as Guy says there is a tendency to cover the protest and chaos as opposed to, you know, newspapers kind of acknowledge that some actually people think this is a good idea.
ROGINSKY: Well, but you also have people that you talked who have green cards who have lived here for years, who are married to American citizens, who have children here and dogs here -- and jobs and they were banned frm coming here yesterday. They were left in limbo.
And there is a woman who was Iranian citizenship who is in Luzon, Switzerland who coming here...
ROGINSKY: ... to do diabetes research at Harvard. She was banned from coming here. SO, again, there is baby with a bathwater mentality here. Of course, the goal for everybody to prevent terrorism. But you can't ban an entire class of people from doing that.
KURTZ: And when the meeting between the president of Mexico and President Trump which they've talked before was cancelled because of his statements on building the wall and the complicated formula under which Mexico might or might not reimburse the U.S.
I just get the sense there's an underlying tone here about the journalists thing that that's a bad idea, that the temporary ban of refugees is a bad idea, and that the tone of the coverage reflects that view.
MCPIKE: There is no question that the press thinks that a lot of these ideas are bad.
MCPIKE: I mean, that's clear.
KURTZ: But that's not our job unless you're an opinion columnist.
MCPIKE: Right. That's absolutely right. And I think the president of Mexico obviously was made to be a hero after that.
KURTZ: In his country at least.
MCPIKE: In his country.
MCPIKE: And the American media had been showed that.
KURTZ: All right. Erin McPike, Guy Benson, and Julie Roginsky, thanks very much for joining us this Sunday.
Coming up, Sean Spicer. More on that interview on criticism that President Trump spends too much time watching cable news and firing off tweets. We'll hear the press secretary in just a moment.
KURTZ: President Trump is doing some media scrutiny and criticism for constantly making policy pronouncements on Twitter and reacting to what's on cable news.
More now of my interview with Sean Spicer from the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Now President Trump seems to be reacting pretty regularly to things that he sees on cable news, especially Fox, for instance, Bill O'Reilly cited statistics on a surge of murders in Chicago. And president tweeted those statistics and said he might send in the Feds whatever that means.
KURTZ: Critics are saying this is no way to make policy reacting on Twitter of what he...
SPICER: But that assumes that that is exactly how it's being done. And I don't think -- I think that's a very simplistic way of looking at. He's constantly getting briefed by a team of advisers on a whole host of foreign policy and domestic policy issues. At I think people will go backwards and find the story and said that must be what he's talking out.
But at the end of the day the president is in constantly in meetings with individuals and the staff and advisors about key issues. And there are some times when he may get triggered, because he sees and issue and say that's right. I heard about that about a couple of days ago, that's important.
But to presume that they understand his thinking is pretty short-sighted.
KURTZ: But do some of these tweets on various issues detract from his main message, the main things you've been focusing on, especially jobs, trade, immigration...
SPICER: Sure it does. But I think by and large, it drives, and not just drives the news but it drives success. You look at what he did with Carrier, Boeing and Lockheed. He brought people together through tweeting the stuff and then saving the American taxpayers money and brought jobs back. That's a huge success.
And so, I think what happens is there is generally a criticism in the media about his use of Twitter mostly because I think it shows that he can go around a lot of the media and get things done, speak directly to the American people. But also be successful because there is such a reaction to his -- to his message.
KURTZ: And you think the media don't like that because they feel...
SPICER: I don't, absolutely not.
KURTZ: ... cut out of the loops in their statement.
SPICER: Cut out of the loop and threatened. I think the idea that they can -- he can have this direct conversation with the American people and direct reaction. When he says something -- when you think the other say Congress is going to take up an action. He didn't think it made sense in terms of the level of priority that it was. He tweeted it out the members of Congress removed the bill from the floor. And I think that just goes to show the power of him and his movement.
KURTZ: Here in the briefing room you broken the tradition of always going on a wire service reporter first, usually the A.P. So, you've started with the right-leaning New York Post, Washington Times, and Laura Ingraham LifeZette. Did any push back on that?
SPICER: I don't, maybe, and nothing directly to me.
KURTZ: What are you thinking about it?
SPICER: My thinking is that I think there are a lot of voices in this briefing room on a daily basis. And each one room deserves to have their voice heard. So maybe they will call on the A.P. first serve, you know, another network first. But I think sometimes the tone and subjects that come up earlier can help define what goes on through the briefing.
And so, allowing an organization like CBN, the Christian Broadcasting Network get the first say, put lots of ideas in play that maybe they were. Or giving LifeZette a question early on helps set the tone. Bring up an idea that maybe not getting the exposure or coverage that it needs or would get drowned out toward the end.
KURTZ: Sean Spicer, thanks very much for joining us.
SPICER: Thanks for coming. Welcome to the briefing room. You bet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Interesting footnote, as soon as we wrapped that interview which was kind of put together on the fly of the briefing room. A bunch of reporters descended on Sean Spicer with questions and he ended having to hold kind of a mini gaggle.
By the way, protesters who are upset about the refugee ban, temporary refugee ban targeting the White House for protesting -- protesters are right outside of the capital of my window here, apparently are protesting I am told - there we see them - the appointment of Betsy DeVos as education secretary.
All right. After the break, a White House correspondent says the president's foreign policy seems to be Trump first. We'll ask her about that. And later, ABC's Nightline apologizes missed shady (Ph) journalism involving Ari Fleischer.
KURTZ: The White House briefing room has been a highly contentious arena this week. So let's talk to someone who covers the beat. Joining us now is Ashley Parker, the brand new White House correspondent for the Washington Post.
So, after the news conference, the joint news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May. You wrote the following. "The world according to President Trump is mostly about President Trump." You said, "The new president views this joint presser to underscore that while his campaign message may have been America first his actual guiding philosophy is more Trump first." It sounds a bit snarky.
ASHLEY PARKER, WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, I think and you first, I should say that Donald Trump is not the first president who has placed an emphasis on personal relationships when it comes to foreign policy. Every president does that to a certain extent.
KURTZ: And you put that in the piece. Barack Obama and George Bush looking at to Putin.
PARKER: And you certainly could have even gone back further than that. But what was striking for me sitting in that room watching that press conference was how much when each of these, you know, very specific policy issues came up, Donald Trump repeatedly returned to the personal.
So, you sort of got the sense when he was asked about Putin that his Russia policy would be largely dictated by if he and the president of Russia sort hit it off on a personal level. You know, when he was asked about Britain's decision for the Brexit vote to break from the European Union, Donald Trump said it was a good idea.
But the evidence he gave was that he has once, you know, in his former life as a real estate magnate done a deal there and he had a lot of trouble getting permits with that group of nation. And these were country to country.
KURTZ: And you've seen that he personalized it.
PARKER: Yes, yes, absolutely he did.
KURTZ: Now I just have happen to see you in the briefing room on Friday evening after Trump has signed those two orders having to do with refugee policy and people with green cards. Explain what you were trying to do at that moment.
PARKER: Well, you know, he had signed those orders around 4. And this was several hours later and none of the press had seen the actual text of the orders. And so, we needed to understand what the actual text said in order to report on it.
An so what we are all doing was we were hanging around in lower press kind of desperately trying to get the White House to release the text of those orders.
KURTZ: Right. Desperate is probably a good word. Because it's such a big story...
PARKER: I think so.
KURTZ: ... and you didn't have the meat of it. But now you also reported this week on sort of internal feuding at the White House, who's backing Sean Spicer, who's not, and who's sniping. Given that this is not a team of long-time Trump veterans as some mostly from the campaign, others are from elsewhere. is this a leaky White House in which people are kind of pushing their own agenda in the press?
PARKER: To some extent yes. I mean, I will say we went in expecting there to be a ton of rivalries especially between sort of Steve Bannon more populist more conservative camp, and Reince Priebus sort of the more traditional party and by all accounts they are getting along a little better.
But yes, the way Trump has set up this White House is he has this competing power centers, people who have different visions come from different world and they are all this sort of big four or big five are competing for a slice of Donald Trump's brain.
And because of that you do see a little bit at times of them undermining each other in the press.
KURTZ: Which makes bother for you?
PARKER: It does.
KURTZ: Now you heard Sean Spicer say in response to my questions about the president's use of Twitter when reacting what's on cable news. He said, well, when the president uses Twitter a lot the press corps feels threatened and cut out of the loop. Do you feel they cut out of loop trying to keep up with the twitter machine that is President Donald Trump?
PARKER: I don't -- I don't think cut out of the loop. I think there is something new about when you cover the White House having to make sure you're awake by 5.30 or 6 a.m. because the president may be putting out policy on Twitter at 6.16 a.m., I think...
KURTZ: No sleeping lights, that's your first primary job.
PARKER: I think that is a little bit new that your alarm clock becomes Donald Trump's Twitter feed. But kind of, certainly not. I mean, in a way the press is just like the rest of the American public where we are getting what Trump is thinking and doing in real time via Twitter. It may be a little non-traditional but we're getting that message.
KURTZ: We all talked about this which there is so much news being made in this first week on so many fronts on so many issues and through Twitter of that it is hard to cover because there is so much air time and ink and so many people to cover.
PARKER: Yes, absolutely. It sort of like there is a ton of ink coming. It's funny at the Washington Post we have one position called the hot seat, which is one of the reporters literally each week is responsible for just that, those tweets and making sure that we have everything under control.
KURTZ: I think we're all on the hot seat now. Ashley Parker, thanks very much.
PARKER: Thank you.
KURTZ: Still to come, Nightline engages in a bit of deceptive editing. A Saturday Night Live writer is suspended and why so many in the media are mourning the passing of Mary Tyler Moore.
KURTZ: When Nightline interviewed Ari Fleischer, the bush White House spokesman, the ABC program engaged in some deceptive editing. Here is what Nightline aired after Spicer's controversial scolding of the press a week ago Saturday, and his widely praised briefing this past Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUJU CHANG, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: George W. Bush's Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said Spicer shouldn't have delivered improvable falsehoods.
SPICER: This briefing made me uncomfortable. It was truculent, too tough. It looks to me as if the ball was dropped on Saturday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: But Fleischer complained. And this is what he actually said, "It looks to me if the ball was dropped on Saturday, Sean recovered it and ran for a first down on Monday." Fleischer tweeted that this is how the press reports Trump is right to go after them.
Nightline admitted the screw up. In editing the piece for air, his quote was shortened and as a result his opinions mischaracterized. We are fixing the piece online to include his full quote and context. We apologize and regret the error."
That is an awful error when you change someone's meaning by cutting them off. Now the White House put out a statement this week asking that the president's children be allowed to grow up outside the political spotlight. This is undoubtedly in response to SNL writer Katie Rich posting a sick joke on Twitter about Trump's son Barron and guns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Saturday Night Live a person from Saturday Night Live was terrible. For them to attack or NBC to attack my 10-year-old son is a disgrace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Barron is 10 years old, come on. Katie Rich apologized and was suspended. And like everybody in America I love Mary Tyler Moore. From the days when she plays Dick Van Dyke's charming and ditzy wife to the days when she was Mary Richard's, a Minneapolis TV producer in the 70's working for the curmudgeonly Lou Grant.
It was then that she helped redefine the cultural boundaries for a single career woman who could stand up to the boss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, miss, would you try answering the questions as I asked them.
MOORE: Yes, Mr. Bond, I will. But it does seem that you've been asking a lot of very personal questions that don't have a thing to do with my qualifications for this job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: You go, girl. When she died this week at 80, I was so struck by how many female journalists hailed her as inspiring them to get into the news business.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She inspired some of us to work on a newsroom with all of the guys like Mr. Grant.
KATIE COURIC, YAHOO GLOBAL NEWS ANCHOR: You know, at 12 or 13 during a very impressionable time in my life. Wow, look at her. She is on her own. She is an independent woman, she is pursuing a career. And I thought, you know, why not, why couldn't I do the same thing?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: By the way, the actress once said she was a libertarian centrist who watched a lot of Fox News. Mary Tyler has spanked. I like spunk.
That's it is for this edition of MEDIA BUZZ. I'm Howard Kurtz. Thanks for joining us. Hope you like our Facebook page. We post a lot of original content there as you know email@example.com. I you want to weigh in I respond on video.
And check out my news abuse segment. This is a new thing we do every Monday night with Tucker Carlson on his show. Also let's continue the conversation on Twitter @howardkurtz. We'd like to hear from you. We'd like us to be on dialogue. I know many of you have very strong opinions about the media particularly in the Trump era.
We're back here next Sunday, hope to see you then with the latest buzz.
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