Trump, media in bomb blame game
This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," October 28, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On Buzz Meter this Sunday, President Trump and the media escalate their warfare over who is to blame for the mailing of pipe bombs to CNN and leading Democrats even after an unhinged suspect is arrested.
DON LEMON, CNN: He blamed the victim tonight. For him to sit there and blame us -- we are the victims here.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN: And only us.
LEMON: It's disgusting.
CUOMO: They just sent a bomb to CNN and the president doesn't say a word about that and then tells us we are to blame.
MARC THIESSEN, WALL STREET JOURNAL: The idea that Donald Trump is responsible for these attacks is patently absurd, any more so, by the way, than the idea that Hillary Clinton was responsible for the shooting of Steve Scalise.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC: We don't know who sent the packages, but I do know in my heart that President Trump bears a lot of responsibility for rhetoric that made it almost inevitable that top Democrats and the media would be targeted.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: The president shows instead to blame one of the intended targets, a target that he himself views and has called publicly an enemy of the people.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: We are on day four of what is the media's shameful attempt to connect President Trump, Fox News, talk radio, even me to these horrible actions of a madman.
KURTZ: And that debate extends to yesterday's flutter at a synagogue in Pittsburgh that claimed 11 lives with The Washington Post saying Trump is being accused of fostering the toxic environment for such political violence. Is there a journalistic reflex to blame the president?
Constant coverage of the caravan as the press accuses President Trump of using the migrants as a way of stirring up his base over illegal immigration and journalists say lying in the process.
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC: Of course the Democrats had nothing to do with creating a movement of people in central America so that Donald Trump could use that movement to people as a campaign device to lie about so that he can create more fear and loathing in his desperately fearful supporters.
GREG GUTFELD, HOST, FOX NEWS: It was the media and the advocacy groups who seized on the spectacle to begin with, to create an ugly political issue. And then they go, but look what Trump is doing. They are a bunch of hypocrites.
KURTZ: Were the fact checkers challenging the president once again? Former Communications Chief Anthony Scaramucci said yeah, he lies, but his supporters don't care. Is that true? "The Mooch" will be here.
Plus, NBC has dumped Megyn Kelly from "The Today Show" after a fierce backlash to her comments about dressing up in blackface.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGYN KELLY, JOURNALIST AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm Megyn Kelly, and I want to begin with two words. I'm sorry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Why was that apology not enough to save her morning show job? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "Media Buzz."
President Trump's initial response to the first wave of pipe bomb attacks against former presidents and a former news outlet was to asked both sides to tone it down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and often times false attacks and stories. Have to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: But CNN president Jeff Zucker chastised Trump and Sarah Sanders in saying there is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media.
That prompted the president, by the way, to ratchet up his rhetoric on Twitter. "A very big part of the anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the mainstream media that I refer to as fake news." And then his rallies as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We have seen an effort by the media in recent hours to use the sinister actions of one individual to score political points against me and the Republican Party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage: Emily Jashinsky, culture editor at The Federalist; Sara Fischer, media reporter for Axios; and Adrienne Elrod, Democratic strategist and former Hillary Clinton campaign aide.
Emily, what do you think of journalists and pundits blaming President Trump because of his rhetoric for what was an unknown perpetrator sending pipe bombs to CNN and Barack Obama and the Clintons and Joe Biden and other leading Democrats?
EMILY JASHINSKY, THE FEDERALIST: I think it's unfortunate and it takes responsibility away from the where it belongs, with the sick and twisted individuals who are committing these heinous crimes whether it's yesterday, whether it was earlier this week with these pipe bombs to blame anybody but the people responsible for this.
I find it disgraceful and unfortunate. Of course, my prayers are with the victims of all of these crimes right now. But I just -- it was tough to watch some of the media coverage this week as well.
KURTZ: Adrienne, and we see this on the synagogue shooting as well. We'll talk about it in a moment. No matter how much you may -- people may dislike President Trump's rhetoric, fake news, enemy of the American people against the press, I've been critical of that, is the finger pointing unfair when the suspect who was arrested Friday has a long history of crimes and terror threats that way predate Donald Trump being in politics?
ADRIENNE ELROD, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: The media coverage, the media blaming is not unfair because while I'm not going to sit here and blame Donald Trump for any this, I will say that the divisive and hateful rhetoric that he has as president of the United States, he did this when he was a candidate.
Frankly it helped get him elected. He is still doing it now as president. That is a big problem here. And what he could have done this week --
KURTZ: It's a big problem. It's funny to say that, when you say here, are you tying that to people using bombs and rifles to kill -- trying to kill other folks?
ELROD: I am saying that there is a divisiveness in this country that the president of the United States has created and he goes to his rallies, he criticizes the media. We've had media who of course had to have secret service protection. He is not doing anything to try to bring this country together.
He could have used this moment and yet he said couple of things earlier this week to try to, you know, say we need to unify, we need to come together, and then he attacked CNN. Let's also not forget, Howie, that he tweeted a video last year of him in a wrestling outfit tackling a CNN reporter.
KURTZ: All right. Let me get to Sara. By the way, even after the suspect was arrested, Steve Schmidt, Republican strategist and MSNBC contributor, said, Trump created an atmosphere where a sick person, a criminal, somebody like this terrorist would actualize Trump's clear intent. So before, it was like, well, don't blame Trump because he might be a lunatic. Now, it's like, yeah, he's a lunatic but he loves Trump, so we can still blame Trump.
SARA FISCHER, AXIOS: I think that Donald Trump's rhetoric fans the flames for an already existing problem. And so as Adrienne said, there are things that he can be doing to create more unity so that you're not having people that are acting out and blaming, you know, pundits or targeting pundits. But Donald Trump is not doing that.
He might say it's time to call for unity, but then he goes out in his rallies and he endorses people who are beating up on journalists. He still continues to attack CNN. And so I think you're in a little bit of a chicken in the egg situation. Once Donald Trump starts, then the media fights back, and it's not a very presidential thing to start.
KURTZ: Yeah. There was, by the way, some divisiveness in this country before Donald Trump was elected. Let's turn the camera around because here you have Donald Trump saying the media should be more civil, and I'm seeing very less self-reflection on that. Isn't it true that cable news and the web reward divisive rhetoric and play up inflammatory soundbites?
JASHINSKY: This is what's been difficult for me to watch as a conservative, someone who has monitored just terrible media coverage for years and it's part of the reason that I came to the city to do what I do because I grew up so frustrated by this. It's a hard -- I hesitate to talk about it now, because obviously CNN was the victim this week. They had a device sent to their headquarters, whatever.
But when you see at rallies people chanting "CNN sucks," I would never do it personally, but CNN makes no effort to understand why people feel that way. They do the opposite, right?
The act like they're the victims, that they've done nothing wrong to deserve this, and they have played -- I mean the chyrons that CNN ran on their lower thirds this week, some of them are ridiculous, and that's what get people so upset.
And so there is no room for violence. There is no room to be sending devices to CNN. It has to stop. I hate it, but there is a need for self- reflection.
KURTZ: I want to get to the chyrons. I'll come to you, Sara, so, first of all, CNN's New York bureau was evacuated along with the rest of Time Warner Center, and the anchors had to go out on the street and report, Jim Sciutto, Poppy Harlow. So, this was personal for CNN. I understand some of the emotional reaction we are seeing.
On the other hand, here is John King, CNN anchor, saying on the air that he doesn't blame President Trump for the pipe bomb attacks, and look at this on-screen headline. CNN: Trump has no plans to claim any personal responsibility for inciting serial bomber. Sara?
FISCHER: This happens all the time. If you are a web producer and you're changing the headline on the web article, that doesn't reflect the article. The same thing happens in TV. It doesn't make it OK.
KURTZ: CNN made an editorial decision to put that on the screen.
FISCHER: They absolutely did make an editorial decision, but it wasn't necessarily John King's decision and that's --
KURTZ: You know, I'm not blaming John King, I'm looking at the network.
FISCHER: Right. Well, the network is going -- quite honestly, the network is going to blow this up. And they are going to be a little bit hyperbolic to be completely fair because quite frankly they feel personally attacked and because also they feel as though inciting that sort of really, you know, it's like that move is going to resonate with their audience.
KURTZ: Adrienne, I have a presidential tweet for you on this very subject put up on the screen. "Funny how lowly-rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing, yet when I criticize them, they go go wild and scream, it's just not presidential."
ELROD: Look, again, I agree with everything that we all said here. This has been an ongoing issue with President Trump and CNN. Obviously, Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN, had every right to say what he said because CNN is taking this very personally.
But Donald Trump has a big issue here. Anytime there is an article or any sort of media that he doesn't like that criticizes him, he calls if fake news, when really it's oftentimes covering things that he said, whether he was misspeaking, was lying about something, didn't get facts straight, and he has really caused a lot of distance the very beginning of -- when he started running for president.
So, this is an ongoing issue. I wish that we could set -- take this moment and use it as a reset so that the media and the president could start from ground zero --
ELROD: -- and we could do a reset.
KURTZ: If anything, there has been an escalation. By the way, this suspect in the mail bombs, spewed a lot threats and hate on Twitter, and Twitter did nothing. Twitter needs to step up on this.
So, there was also a presidential tweet -- I'm not going to read the whole thing, but basically he was complaining about all the coverage that the mail bomber was getting, saying this was slowing the momentum of the Republicans to the midterms, news not talking politics. President took some heat for that.
JASHINSKY: Yeah, I think it sort of reveal the mindset that I wish the president of the United States didn't have. If something happens, you shouldn't automatically be jumping to the political implications of it and how it can be used politically. I didn't like that at all. I mean, this was such a tough week. There are so many things in so many different directions that were disappointing to see. That tweet was one of them.
KURTZ: Adrienne, you know, a lot of the critiques I find in the president are about his style. So for example, he didn't mention CNN by name in terms -- he didn't mention Barack Obama. He didn't mention the Clintons. He didn't call any of them.
KURTZ: And I think there was a lot of criticism in the press, things a traditional president would do, but as we know, Donald Trump is not a traditional president. ELROD: Correct, but still, even he is not a traditional president, there are things that he can still and should do as president of the United States. He should put all his animus aside that he has for Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton and the Obamas and CNN and get on the phone to call these people and say let's use this as a moment to come together, and I'm sorry that you went through this. He didn't do it.
ELROD: Even if he's not traditional, he still should have done that.
KURTZ: He could have said, look, I've been highly critical of CNN and I stand by that criticism, but it is greatly unfortunate that this pipe bombs were sent and, you know, people felt threatened. You think about people losing their lives, whether it is somebody in the mail room or one of the anchors.
The New York Times had a wrap-up the other about a conspiracy theory that went out there before the arrest. This was some left-wing scam, these were harmless bombs sent by Democratic operatives to generate sympathy, and talking about how it spread from fringe conservative websites, people like Ann Coulter, the mainstream media.
Lou Dobbs had a tweet that he posted then deleted, talking about fake bombs. Are some at the media too quick to give this conspiracy theories oxygen? Obviously we know now it's not true because the person was arrested.
FISCHER: I think a lot in the media are really too quick to give them oxygen. Part of the problem again, as you mentioned, the social media. You see these conspiracy theories and hash tags go viral instantly overnight. And so they look as a sense of false authority, like they are getting tons of pick up when in reality it is just standing the flames it's not.
KURTZ: Right. So then television producers see this and say, oh, it has a thousand re-tweets or million likes or whatever. I guess it's news. We are not endorsing it but then you are kind of spreading it. I think we need to be a lot more cautious about that. Let me get a break here.
Ahead, Anthony Scaramucci on his former boss's continuing war and the media and vice versa. But when we come back, the horrifying shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Some in the press actually trying to tie this one to the president as well.
KURTZ: After a gunman who openly despise Jews opened fire yesterday in a Pittsburgh synagogue killing 11 eleven people and wounding six others, President Trump denounced what he called an evil act produced by the poison of hatred against the Jewish people who he said have been persecuted for centuries.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This was an anti-Semitic attack at its worst. The scourge of anti- Semitism cannot be ignored, cannot be tolerated, and it cannot be allowed to continue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: And today The Washington Post from page -- above the fold headline pointing to this and other recent attacks states critics as saying the president and the GOP have gone beyond partisan political convent (ph) and to outright demagoguery against racial minorities, foreigners and prominent Jewish political figures.
Emily, I am not saying the press shouldn't hold the president accountable for his rhetoric which sometimes gets hot which sometimes is offensive to many people.
KURTZ: But critics, the critics and couple of liberals say he's fomenting right-wing extremism like it didn't exist before.
JASHINSKY: Yeah, The Washington Post story was very disappointing because anti-Semitism is something that festers at the fringes of both parties. It completely exists on both sides.
And to say that because -- to tie it somehow to -- again, we had this conversation in the last bloc as though the person that is responsible for this is not responsible on their own as though anybody else has any responsibility for what happened in that synagogue yesterday. It is just disappointing. It is really disappointing and wrong.
KURTZ: And Adrienne, my heart absolutely breaks for this tight-knit Jewish community in Pittsburgh where this hateful shooting took place in a place of worship. The shooter had a history of anti-Semitic social postings.
But as far as President Trump, there were many mass shootings when Barack Obama was president including the tragedy of the nine African-Americans killed in the South Carolina church. So from the press perspective, it is not like this violence began with the Trump administration.
ELROD: Correct. This has been going on for a long time now. Mass shootings unfortunately have been going on for a long time. But there is still an underlying threat to the pipe bombs, to the shooting that happened yesterday, and that is hate.
The president of the United States regardless of political party has the responsibility to do everything that he or she can bring this country together. And the media is not seeing that from President Trump even though I will give him credit for his words yesterday, which were unifying. But we need to see more of that.
And I think that the press does have a point when they say, if the president was doing more to unite this country, you know, we might have -- we might see less of this.
KURTZ: Just briefly, Emily, it's not one side. And doesn't the press also have the responsibility to be more careful and what's reported and in inflammatory language and attacks?
JASHINSKY: I believe that's true. I will say that in this context, I don't -- obviously both sides have responsibility, but in this context, I don't want to say that either of those things -- I don't want to say the press caused it, I don't want to say the --
KURTZ: No. I'm talking about mutual responsibility.
KURTZ: President also getting some flack for saying, well, better if there were armed guards at the synagogue. I don't know if there can be armed guards at every place of worship in America. "Slate" had a headline, Sara, the president's dehumanizing language has made political violence and hate crimes like this, the synagogue shooting more likely.
Julia Ioffe, GQ writer who lost a previous job for tweeting a so-called joke about (ph) president and incest, posted this yesterday, "word to my fellow Americans Jews: This president makes this possible. Here. Where you live.
FISCHER: Going too far. Absolutely going too far. The president's rhetoric, again, it doesn't help, but the president's rhetoric is not what caused this particular --
KURTZ: She was talking about moving the embassy to Jerusalem which by the way was the official policy of many congresses but just never got enacted. Yes, so when journalists do that, it's your fault, it's your fault, it's your fault, and that undermines credibility. The president had nothing to do with what happened in Pittsburgh.
FISCHER: Going back to what Emily was saying before about CNN, I mean, the media has to understand what Trump supporters feel when it comes to the media taking one side, and it's tweets like that, by the way, which make them feel that way.
I did account earlier this year, I found that 12 journalists, 12 had lost their jobs this year due to political tweets that were taking one side or another. A lot of them had to do with, by the way, the media going overboard about their criticism of Trump that were unwarranted. Think about Dave Weigel and the tweets from The Washington Post about crowd sizes.
KURTZ: Jemele Hill of ESPN --
FISCHER: That's right.
KURTZ: -- calling him a white supremacist.
FISCHER: Yes. Journalists have to take accountability for being fair even in an environment where it can be difficult.
KURTZ: You know, there is a long history here and a blame game depending on who the target is. So, we talked about the shooting at the Republican baseball practice last year in Virginia and Steve Scalise almost killed. And the guy there hated Republicans. Left-wing rhetoric can't be blame for that. Some tried to do that.
He liked "Rachel Maddow Show." She absolutely nothing to do with it. This guy watch Fox News. Male bomber had nothing to do with it. This goes back to, you know, Sarah Palin being blamed even recently by The New York Times for the shooting Gabby Giffords because she put out a political map. When Timothy McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma City federal building. Bill Clinton went after Rush Limbaugh over fostering climate of hate.
This has to stop. These are not the people responsible. We should hold them accountable when they go too far in their rhetoric, including the president and others and including the media as well. Great to see you all this Sunday, Adrienne Elrod, Sara Fischer, Emily Jashinsky.
Ahead, President Trump accuses the Saudis of a terrible cover-up in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Isn't that what the president has been saying all along? Up next, President Trump makes the central American caravan a major midterm issue with plenty of help from the media.
KURTZ: It's known simply as the caravan, the thousands of migrants who have made their way from Honduras to Mexico, and President Trump has turned it into a daily television story. What's driving the coverage as Trump knew it would is the pundit challenging his motives and making the migrants a major midterm issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN: One of the things you do see him doing is sort of ginning up the culture war, kind of ginning up this idea that there is this horrible brown people, you know, coming to America, possibly Middle Easterners, even though there is no evidence of it.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS: Rather than doing actual reporting and digging into this, it is easier to take up the mantra of the left, embed yourself with the migrants, actually, act like you're a migrant, emotionally manipulate the audience and then dismissed Trump as just a heartless fearmonger.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: The media also turned the caravan into a debate on the president's veracity and he gave them the ammunition.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): Do you have evidence that there are terrorists in this caravan?
TRUMP: You know what you should do, Jon, go into the middle of the caravan, take your cameras and search. You're going to find MS-13, you're going to find Middle Eastern, you're going to find everything.
KURTZ: But the White House offered zero evidence as the president had to admit.
TRUMP: They could very well be.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): But there's no proof.
TRUMP: There's no proof of anything. There's no proof of anything, but they could very well be.
KURTZ: While Trump weighs an emergency plan to close the border to the migrants, that was leaked to The Washington Post and "The New York Times." He stoked the debate with a term that sparked anger on the left.
TRUMP: And I say really, we're not supposed to use that word. You know what I am? I'm a nationalist, OK?
TRUMP: I'm a nationalist.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN: I don't think it's a stretch for a lot of Americans out there to wonder whether or not the president is secretly considering himself a white nationalist.
LEMON: Nationalist. Use that word. We are going to talk about that word tonight. It is a favorite of the alt-right and is loaded with nativist and racial undertones.
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: Hitler was a nationalist. Of course so were Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln and every other leader of every other nation state throughout history until about 20 minutes ago, but whatever.
KURTZ: Huge difference between nationalists and white nationalists. Now, the press was right to call Trump on his unproven charges but round up helped him turn the caravan into a major controversy by taking the president's bait.
Ahead on "Media Buzz," why did NBC move so quickly to dump Megyn Kelly after an on-air blunder? But first, Anthony Scaramucci says Trump supporters will never abandon him, even if they think he's lying. "The Mooch" is here live.
KURTZ: Some presidential confidants praise him no matter what, but our next guest has sometimes been critical of the president including on this program. Joining us from Los Angeles is Anthony Scaramucci. The former White House communications director and author of the new book, Trump: The Blue-Collar President. Now, you've told me that you don't like President Trump's constant criticism to the press, you've told him as well, what do you make of liberal critics in the media, pundits, some anchors who say that Donald Trump's hot rhetoric and enemy of the American people brought sides against the press, have helped foster a climate that helped produce the pipe bomb attacks.
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: OK, I think that's obviously unfair. I mean, you can't link a madman or people who have mental illness, and say well, it's because of the presidency. So you can't hold him accountable for those people. But if you are asking me could the president deescalate a little bit and have his approval ratings go up, and be seen a little bit differently, Howie, I absolutely believe that. I think he has got a 5- to 7-point head wind from some of the rhetoric.
And so, he may say well, that's what got me to the presidency. But I think now is a moment for him where he could go to another level. And there is no reason he couldn't be in the mid-50s getting with what I see going on in the economy...
SCARAMUCCI: And how happy people are with, you know, jobs and wage growth et cetera. So you can't hold him accountable for those people. That's ridiculous.
KURTZ: Some people in the press -- some people in the press also tying it to the horrible synagogue attack in Pittsburgh yesterday that killed 11 people. So if you think he can help himself politically by toning down the bellicosity and just for example, you know, he never made any public mention that CNN and Barack Obama, and the Clintons and so forth were targets for these pipe bombs, why doesn't he do that, because he believes it helps him politically not to?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, you know, I don't even think he's that contemplated with that. I think he's biologically designed where when people are smack talking against him, he'll smack talk back two, three or four times. And so, he doesn't like the fact that he has been treated unfairly.
The Harvard study says 92 percent of the press treats him negatively. And so when they are coming at him, he'll come at them four or five times. But if he slowed it down one notch, and just dialed in some level of you know a smoother edge if you will, it's not saying he doesn't have to be adversarial. This whole whirl-like thing is just hurting him.
So, to me, calling President Obama, as an example, about a sign of graciousness, that would help him with that 5 to 7 percent of the people that really like him, but they are a little bit concerned about the sharpness of the tone and they're concerned about the angry rhetoric.
KURTZ: Let me ask you about the president's veracity, a major topic of the media. Let me just briefly play a clip from MSNBC's daytime news anchor Stephanie Ruhle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Stephanie Ruhle, MSNBC ANCHOR: Every day the president of the United States lies. And every day the media fact-checks him. And if we would like that to stop, he should stop lying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: So that's the daily drum beat, Trump lies, he exaggerates, he creates his own facts. And you've said sure he lies, you've told him not to lie, but journalists and other opponents make a mistake in thinking this is the way to beat him on that question. Explain.
SCARAMUCCI: Yeah, well, I mean, number one, I think you know it's a little bit of puffery. It's all about that exaggeration. It's like what my grandfather would say, why let truth get in the way of a very good story. The president has an entertainment streak to his personality, particularly at these rallies.
And so, he does play to the crowd. And I think that these hall monitors, and the media that are quote, unquote, fact-checking him and have all of these anger are making a very big mistake. It's OK to say hey, he said this, but here's the facts. But to get all upset like that, I think it's not helping them.
SCARAMUCCI: If anything, it has galvanized the president's base.
KURTZ: Well, sometimes...
SCARAMUCCI: They don't like when I say -- don't cut me off.
KURTZ: I'm not going to cut you off, I will give you a chance to answer. And sometimes, I think he just gets things wrong. In other times, perhaps he doesn't want to know what the reality is, but think about what you are saying. You are his friend, his former aide, you wrote a book praising him as a blue-collar president, so you're clearly routing for him. And you're acknowledging a pretty steady stream of lies by the president of the United States, you said he can lie -- he can tell 10,000 lies as far as you are concerned. And yet, you're saying it doesn't matter. So are you giving him a giant pass?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, I don't think so. I didn't say it didn't matter. I think it's fine for the media to hold him accountable. I'm saying something differently. I'm saying...
KURTZ: You're saying his supporters don't care. You're saying his supporters do not care.
SCARAMUCCI: I'm saying that his supporters have felt a vacuum. I write in my book, Howie, that the middle class and lower middle class for whatever reason have never felt an advocate in the Oval Office at least for 30 or 40 years. Some of my Democratic friends will be mad at me for saying that. But just think about what happened, he hijacked the base of the Democratic Party and moved it over to the ledger of the Republicans. And so, how did he do that? He did that because these people want jobs, they want higher wages, and they want better things for their children.
And so, the Democrats focused on a lot of the social issues and the appropriateness of being politically correct, and some of the environmental issues, and I'm not even taking issue with any of that. But I'm just explaining that it left a wide-open berth for somebody like President Trump to step in there.
So he may say some mistruths, he may say some things that you don't like. But guess what, those people are galvanized around him, they like him, and he's going to win re-elections. You would be so much better off as a Democrat, if you say wow, you know, he did steal our people. Let's change our product line and speak to those people about policies that can work for them rather than fact-checking the president of the United States.
KURTZ: You told CNN -- you told CNN that Trump is not a nationalist. But then, he says he is -- that creates some controversy, because he wants you, the network, the media, to be upset about it. So, is some of what he does in this realm simply aimed at sticking it to the press or generating a big press reaction, which then amplifies his message?
SCARAMUCCI: So the fact that people don't understand what you just said is an absolute fact. I find it ironic. It's almost laughable. So he's clearly not a nationalist. He can go out tomorrow night, and speak somewhere, you know, pick a location on a campaign trail, call himself a nationalist. But the Orwellian definition, the Barbara Tuchman definition, the 200 years of understanding the spectrum and the rise of nationalism, he's a peace keeper. He's not a nationalist.
And so, he can keep saying it. And if he wants, it will rile up the media. The media will focus on that. And then again, they're missing the point on the deliverables to blue-collar people, blue-collar families and the middle class.
KURTZ: Last question because I have got half a minute left. In your book...
SCARAMUCCI: It's a sleight of hand, Howie.
KURTZ: Sorry to break in. In your book, on your 11 days as communications director, you now say, you told Meet The Press that John Kelly, chief of staff, has hissy fits and he's hurting the president. Given that Kelly was the guy who kind of helped usher you out of the White House, is this a little personal on your part?
SCARAMUCCI: Yeah. I mean, listen, if you want to think it's personal, that's fine. I have been fired before. John wasn't the first person to fire me. I've also had to fire people. So it's not personal. I am just being observational of what I see going on. And if you think I'm the only person that is a current or former White House staff member that thinks that way, that's fine, too. But I know that's not the case.
But that's another reason why I couldn't really survive in Washington. Because, you know, I like speaking very plainly, telling people the truth. So if you think it's personal, I will let people that are viewing your show evaluate that. But for me, it really wasn't personal. I don't like the way I was fired. I think it's ridiculous to fire a guy like me like that, given the amount of money I raised, the media advocacy, and support of the president. You didn't have to do it that way.
KURTZ: Got it.
SCARAMUCCI: I think it's ridiculous. That's a poor reflection on him.
KURTZ: I like people who speak plainly. That's why I like having you on. Good luck with the book, Anthony Scaramucci. Thanks for joining us.
SCARAMUCCI: Thanks, Howie.
KURTZ: After the break, the Saudis changed their story on the Khashoggi murder again. Guess what, it was premeditated. How do you cover such mendacious lies?
And later, why Megyn Kelly's apology for her blackface comments isn't enough for NBC.
KURTZ: This week's pipe bomb attacks follow a media uproar over the gruesome murder of Jamal Khashoggi. And after weeks of shifting cover stories, Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor now says yes, evidence suggests the killing of the Washington Post contributor was premeditated. And President Trump stands as he bombs as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It was carried out poorly and the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups. It's very simple, bad deal should have never been thought of. Somebody really messed up. And they have the worst cover-up ever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us is Fox News correspondent, Gillian Turner. And Gillian, when the cover of the Khashoggi murder was at its peak, some people, especially on the right, said the media were overplaying this because it was a columnist, one of their own. Maybe it's a way to criticize the president. Now that CNN is the pipe bomb target, you are not hearing that as much, perhaps because the targets also included Obama, the Clintons, Biden, Eric Holder, and so forth.
GILLIAN TURNER, FOX NEWS: Well, I think what the media was reacting to was the fact that the president did not come straight out and blamed, condemned the Saudis and the royal family. The media is very prickly about this. It's not just when it comes to Saudi Arabia. It's not just when it comes to President Trump when they feel he's hedging, he's not being forceful enough in condemning America's enemies. They get mad.
And that's what, you know, we saw that with Kim Jong-un, with Vladimir Putin, now, it's the crown prince.
KURTZ: Well, should the media is entirely prickly because the Saudis were telling a ludicrous story. I mean, last week on this program, we had Bret Baier with the foreign minister who was peddling the fistfight story. It was just a fistfight that interrupted inside a consulate in Turkey. Now, we have the president coming around. Initially, he seemed inclined to sort of defer to the Saudi explanations. Now, he says it is the worst cover-up ever. So were the media right to keep pushing on this?
TURNER: I think so. You know, he came - the president came out on the right side, eventually. I guess he was waiting for whatever his own reasons were. It was very well said, it was the worst cover-up job in the history of maybe all time. So it is obvious to everybody.
KURTZ: Right. Initially, they said he went out alive.
KURTZ: Then it was a fistfight. And then, finally now, premeditated, which was obvious all along.
TURNER: And you know, as a member of the media and as a member of the American public, what the Saudis were peddling here was offensive for the first two weeks.
KURTZ: Right. Now, the crown prince said it was a heinous crime and so forth. How do reporters cover a regime, that in this case at least, blatantly lied again and again. It's now evident. This is not an opinion. It's fact.
TURNER: It is fact. I will say though that it's also something that foreign governments do. They lie to the United States. It's not something new.
KURTZ: Maybe this was such a high profile case, or that the media made it such a high profile case with Khashoggi.
TURNER: And the media doesn't have the make the same considerations that the government does, right? I mean, they have a different rule. They don't necessarily have to worry about American national security interests the way that President Trump does.
KURTZ: Well, balancing act with trade and military with the Saudis.
KURTZ: They can just sort of be morally outraged, especially if a journalist happens to be involved. Now, we are seeing some of the same finger pointing going on with the yesterday's mass shooting in a synagogue in Pittsburgh. I mentioned earlier some headlines suggesting President Trump and his tone is perhaps to blame. It brings this up, which is what's your reaction as a reporter when people said nobody cared about this Khashoggi killing except for journalists and how come you journalists didn't care about the deaths in Benghazi, which I take exception to?
TURNER: I do, too. I got a lot of comments when I was reporting on the Khashoggi murder from folks in social media saying exactly that, saying how can you care about one person from Saudi Arabia when we have a caravan careening towards the U.S. border, when we had Americans murdered in Benghazi. It's spurious line of reasoning.
KURTZ: Everybody cared of the fact four American lives were lost in Benghazi. Then it became a two-year investigation with a lot of political overtone. And so...
TURNER: That was part of the -- I don't know where the line of thinking originated, I don't know if it was a government sort of line that's being pushed or whether people came up with that on their own. You know, this is just one person. They are not an American, he has ties to Hezbollah.
KURTZ: That's a bad guy anyway, they claim, yeah.
TURNER: You know, I don't know where it came from, but it was completely ineffective.
KURTZ: I think the one that we can conclude is that in the current climate even murder, even violence can and is being politicized. And that's sad to me at least. Gillian Turner, great to see you.
KURTZ: I know you got a busy day today.
Still to come, NBC spent $69 million to lure Megyn Kelly from Fox. Why is the brass now so quick to dump her?
KURTZ: Megyn Kelly was talking about Halloween of all things on her NBC morning show when she made a big blunder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGYN KELLY, NBC: Because you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts in blackface Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween, like when I was a kid, that was OK, as long as you're dressing as a character.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: The former Fox News host also apologized to her colleagues in a letter. But that didn't stop the criticism within NBC or the coverage on the network.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL ROKER, TODAY CO-ANCHOR: Well, the fact is, while she apologized to the staff, she owes a bigger apology to folks of color around the country, because this is a history, going back to the 1830s.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Her comments came during a panel discussion on her program this morning, quickly sparking a backlash over remarks many viewed as racially tone deaf.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: I'm Megyn Kelly and I want to begin with two words, I'm sorry. I learned that given the history of blackface being used in awful ways by racists in this country, it is not OK for that to be part of any costume, Halloween or otherwise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: NBC has now confirmed reports by me and other journalists that it's ending her role anchoring the third hour of the Today Show. Joining me now from New York, Marisa Guthrie, television editor for the Hollywood Reporter. So how big a mistake were these blackface comments considering that Megyn Kelly made a full apology on the air?
MARISA GUTHRIE, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER TV EDITOR: Well, they were the last nail on the coffin. She had been talking to Andy Lack, the NBC news chairman, before she made the comments about winding down her 9:00 a.m. show. It wasn't necessarily working. She had lost nearly a half million viewers compared to the show she replaced, which was a lot cheaper to put on.
And so, she had angered NBC news management by aggressively reporting on Matt Lauer by reporting on the accusations against Tom Brokaw, and then, by suggesting that NBC should hire an outside investigator for the Ronan Farrow, Harvey Weinstein reporting. All of these things that made NBC news management very angry, so the blackface...
KURTZ: Well, hold on. So she made them angry by being aggressive and reporting when it came to NBC people. Look, there was a lot of resentment against Megyn and NBC. She also felt that she wasn't being supported. There were a lot of leaks that seem to come from NBC against her...
KURTZ: In places like New York Post...
KURTZ: So, when you have say final nail in the coffin, it almost sounds like NBC seized upon this admitted mistake as a way to orchestrate her rapid exit.
GUTHRIE: Look, I think that if she had not done all of those other proceeding things, and her ratings were great, and management liked her, they would have supported her. But they signaled pretty right away with that report on NBC Nightly News the night -- the day she made the comments, that was nearly 5 minutes, the report, which was an eternity for a 22- minute broadcast.
So they signaled right away that the gloves were off, that they were not supporting her, that she had no support internally.
KURTZ: Right, a long report. I give NBC for covering it, but the way in which it was covered suggested that there was maybe a bit of a grudge. And then, there were these leak reports that Andy Lack, as you say, the NBC News chairman, had privately condemned the reports, the staff members.
So it seemed like you know this all happened so quickly...
KURTZ: That Megyn Kelly had almost no chance to fight back. And you know, I also give her credit for the apology. I mean, it wasn't like she went out and said everybody should go on blackface. She just put it, it was a serious mistake. But as you say, was the resentment also tied to the fact she was making so much money, the $69 million contract, and that she came from Fox?
GUTHRIE: I think that she -- her persona, and her on-air style, a prosecutorial interviewer, somebody who challenge orthodoxies, like she brought to NBC. That's who she was when they hired her.
KURTZ: Right. That was NBC was getting.
GUTHRIE: Exactly, exactly. And this has been a, you know, narrative in all of this coverage that she may have convinced herself that she could do this morning thing. She may have convinced NBC executives, but they should -- they should have used a little more introspective and knew what they were getting.
And so, you put her in that and the demographics of morning TV and daytime TV have changed. So you know her style worked very well at Fox News. You know, she was a tough interviewer. She was a really strong interviewer. And so that didn't fit with daytime TV. She was bringing all that to the 9:00 a.m. hour of Today.
GUTHRIE: And it was causing all sorts of problems.
KURTZ: Well, I understand the debate. It wasn't a great fit in all of that. But at the same time, it seems the way -- the way in which she was pushed out over this, a way that made her seem guilty despite the apology was just brutal -- was just brutal.
GUTHRIE: But they let her go on and apologize.
KURTZ: Right. And that was her last day.
KURTZ: And then, suddenly, she's gone. All right. We got to go. Marisa Guthrie, thanks very much for sharing your insights.
GUTHRIE: No problem.
KURTZ: And that's it for this edition of Media Buzz. I'm Howard Kurtz. Hey, check out my podcast "Media Buzz Meter." We kick around the day's five most important or interesting stories. You can subscribe at Apple iTunes, Google Play, FoxNewsPodcast.com.
Let's continue the conversation on Twitter @howardkurtz or to our Facebook page. I write columns every day. We post a lot of original contents. We like to have a dialogue going especially in a week like this. There has been so much tragedy and so much criticism over the media's behavior.
Back here next Sunday, you know the time, 11 Eastern. See you then with the latest buzz.
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