Trump rips unnamed op-ed writer

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This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," September 9, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, an anonymous official what the New York Times calls a senior administration official rips the president in an op-ed saying the author and other insiders are trying to save the country from his bad decisions.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS: The once revered New York Times, the paper of record, has now become the paper of rumor. As part of its unrelenting vendetta against President Trump, the Times published a column by someone who they do not identify.

FRANK BRUNI, THE NEW YORK TIMES: They are trying to make the story a media malfeasance story and I find that kind of outrageous, when the content of this op-ed is totally directly echoing the Woodward book is about completely an unstable president, who can't be trusted.

LOU DOBBS, FOX BUSINESS: Anyone who would betray the man they work for, the President of the United States, is a delusional, egomaniacal, self-aggrandizing, jackass.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The New York Times -- if someone wants to write an op-ed like this, resign and put your name on it because this is just gossip.


KURTZ: Should the paper have published this anti-Trump scream. And what about the president saying that the Justice Department should investigate the unnamed aide? This as Bob Woodward's book, Bombshell, portrays the White House as crazy town. And President Trump hits back hard at the country's most famous investigative reporting.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The book is a work of fiction. If you look at Woodward's past, he had the same problem with other presidents. He likes to get publicity and sell some books.

DAVID MARTIN, CBS NEWS: The criticism would be you talk to people who had an axe to grind against the president.

BOB WOODWORD, WASHINGTON POST: That is just not true. Look, I talked to dozens and dozens of people and have notes and documentation on lots of things.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC: Bob Woodward's new book on the Trump administration is like nothing we have ever heard. Oh, actually, it's like everything we have heard except worse and scarier.

KENNEDY, FOX BUSINESS: Here's the problem. The president didn't get on the phone and say these things to Bob Woodward. There are a bunch of people who say that the president said these things.

CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST: It's time for the Republicans to say the Trump presidency is a national emergency.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: A brand new book, Bob Woodward, filled with speculation, rumors, hearsay, apparently of hundreds of anonymous -- anonymous painting the Trump presidency in a very negative light.


KURTZ: Are the attacks drawing blood given Woodward's records since Watergate? And do the denials by John Kelly and Jim Mattis undermine the book's credibility.

Plus, Serena Williams melts down, as penalties cost her the U.S. Open. And many women, media, sports charge the umpire was sexist or is it just sour grapes? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is MediaBuzz.

What began as a media furor took a more serious turn when the president said the Justice Department should investigate the person I call deep-state throat. The unnamed official who said in that New York Times op-ed that Trump is immoral, and unstable, and anti-democratic, and that this person and other officials are part of a resistance movement, quote, like-minded colleagues are about throw thwart parts of his agenda and his inclinations. His impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed, and occasional reckless decisions that have to be walked back. The president responded on a Washington event, and with Fox & Friends.


TRUMP: So if the New York Times has an anonymous editorial -- can you believe it? Anonymous meaning gutless, a gutless editorial, we are doing a great job. Because really what they have done is virtually, it's treason.


KURTZ: The president also suggesting that this official if the person exists, he says, committed treason. And the Times must release the name for national security purposes. Joining us now and analyze the coverage, Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist and a Fox News contributor, Sara Fischer, media reporter for Axios, and Philippe Reines, former State Department official under Hillary Clinton.

Mollie, the President Trump says Jeff Sessions he should be investigated the unnamed author of this op-ed piece, exactly what law will this person be violating?

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, I'm not sure that this something that rises to the level of the Department of Justice investigation. But it's certainly an interesting story that we have someone who is claiming to have a power unto themselves, this is a person who is not elected, this is a person -- we don't know who it is, so there is no way we can hold him accountable. We don't even know which agency he's in, and yet he's claiming to be involved in policy make and law making that the people have no right to know who they are.

KURTZ: You said -- you said this week, that this piece was a threat to our democracy, an op-ed piece?

HEMINGWAY: Because what it signifies. And I actually think it's fine for the New York Times to publish it. And I think it's helpful for the New York Times to publish. There have been all these allegations usually by Trump people saying that there is this deep-state or a hidden bureaucracy that's actually unaccountable to the people and it's engaged in nefarious activity.

For this person who went to the New York Times and said that's absolutely true, this is against our constitution. Because in our constitution, we have government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And we have accountability for them. When they're secret and they're in a bureaucracy, we have no way to hold them accountable.

KURTZ: Sara, we don't know how senior the senior administration official is, but if Times editorial page editors who obviously know who it is, I think this is a high level and credible this person is making serious charges against the president from within the palace, it's news worthy, but should it be published.

SARA FISCHER, AXIOS: Well, it really depends on how senior that official is. And we're not going to know. I mean...

KURTZ: We'll find out eventually.

FISCHER: We'll find out eventually. And that's the thing, right. If the New York Times was to publish this, knowing that eventually something is going to come out about who it is, then they are risking their credibility by not actually having a senior person be the person who offered this, if that's the way they're marketing it. But we're starting to see some things might be pushing back on. We heard Michael Barbaro, the New York Times daily Podcast reporting saying yesterday that the way that they way that they call the senior officials is the same way that they use in editorial standards. We see how the New York Times reports about senior White House officials in editorial standards. It's not always someone who is directly linked to the president.

KURTZ: That's entirely possible. Now, Philippe, Times editors say they are proud they published the piece. Of course, they are proud. The editorial page detest President Trump. And you tweeted that this all plays into Trump's hands.

PHILIPPE REINES, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL UNDER HILLARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, it is a good get. So I think any paper probably would have done it. It does like Mollie say, play into the here is a great example of the deep state. The problem is...

KURTZ: Conspiring some would say...

REINES: It's not the problem.

KURTZ: The newspaper that comes...

REINES: Yeah, but whether it is five minutes from now or five days ago, we're going to know who this person is. This person works for Donald Trump. So if you want to call him gutless, he's employing gutless people. I should also say, Mollie kept saying he. We don't know if it is a man or woman, but there are a lot of problems to this that we won't know until we find out who it is. I think there are a couple. One is be careful who you hunt for because you may find them. This is someone who might be 10 feet away from his office. It could be someone who is two agencies away. It's not me. It's not some guy off the street. It's someone he knows.

KURTZ: Well, the president called the source gutless. We heard that clip. And he has a point. And along you said the source is cowardly. Even if you buy into his -- I shouldn't the person's self-righteous, self-aggrandizing view that we are saving America from an erratic and crazy president. Didn't he undermine their own cause by bragging about it in a national newspaper, infuriating Trump, and limiting the ability of aides to restrain the president?

HEMINGWAY: I wasn't a very smart by this person. But also, if you actually read the editorial, he says -- and I'm only saying he because New York Times referred to him as a he.


HEMINGWAY: He says the economy is doing really well, national security is great, foreign policy is doing well. But it turns out Donald Trump acts like Donald Trump in meetings. I think the American people actually knew that when they elected Donald Trump as president. So it seems petty and small compared to the claims everything was going very well. So why he would think to do this when nothing new was shared in this op-ed is bizarre.

KURTZ: I also think I believe that by immediately attacking the Times and attacking the unnamed source, the president has given rocket fuel to this story. It might fade after a couple of days. But when you work in the Obama administration, you were involved in hunting down a White House official with a rogue Twitter account. So you know what it's like to have somebody within snipping at the president or the administration for whom he works.

REINES: Yeah, there was someone who weren't going to handle him for a couple of years. He sent about 2,000 tweets hitting pretty much everyone in town, not just Democrats or Obama, but Republicans. It got under a lot of people's skin, and kind of a side project, a bipartisan team got together and kind of did an Osama bin Laden search. It took us six months.

KURTZ: With guns blazing?

REINES: WE set a trap and we found him. It turned out he worked on the NSC. And had a very sensitive job and he was called in and fired. And that's what I'm saying. You don't know who you are going to find. You know, the president has been complaining about leaks for a year and a half and he is now wrong. But what happens when you find leaks in the course of this? You know, someone e-mailing personally the course of this.

KURTZ: But when the president says this could be treason. He demands the Times turn over the source, which of course it is not going to do because of promise of confidentiality and anonymity, whether that is right or wrong. What's he talking about? There is no classified information here. It's an op-ed attack on the president. Is it political betrayal, yes. Is it a firing offense, yes. But where is the national security component.

FISCHER: There is no national security component and it is not a crime. This is why the DOJ is not necessarily suited to be investigating this right now. But this is just the type of rhetoric that Donald Trump uses when he wants to create a wedge between the mainstream media and his face. He will call it treason, he will call it whatever he has to call it to undermine the credibility of what the New York Times published.

HEMINGWAY: I wouldn't go overboard with that, though. When you have a rogue and unaccountable person who is thwarting by his own claims the will of the people, that's a very serious domestic threat. There will be a threat no matter who is president, whether it is Barack Obama or Donald Trump. The people have a say. They voted for this person and that means that he's the person held accountable.

REINES: They shouldn't need DOJ, this is not that tough. Also don't forget, a year and a half ago, someone was leaking these transcripts of his phone calls.

KURTZ: Which I criticized at that time. No president should have to put up with that. And by the way, the media's guessing who it is...

REINES: There are all these people.

KURTZ: The media is always guessing who it is, I think is really unfair to a lot of names. We absolutely nothing to do with this, and I won't repeat all the names. All right. Let me turn to the Bob Woodward book because many of the same themes about aides documented by Woodward, he says who were trying to restrain the president. So some of them were recorded to saying, of course, the president is an idiot, he's a liar, he's off the rails, he's operating at a 5th or 6th grade level. The president hits back and said, the book is fiction, lies, boring. I guess those are words you can say about the author.

So I can tell you, Mollie, from my firsthand knowledge that Bob Woodward is a meticulous reporter. And while some Trump officials are denying the comments to them, he says, I've got hundreds of hours of tapes and transcripts and documents. So it's hard to fully discredit his book.

HEMINGWAY: I think it claims against Bob Woodward aren't that he makes up quotes, it's that he has a way of reporting where he just talks to just a certain type of people and doesn't get the full story. The type of person who is going to talk to Bob Woodward is the type of person who is going to trash a principle or what not. And then, because this is anonymous and non- accountable, it is hard to know how seriously the take is.

KURTZ: Sara, let me read you a tweet from the president about this book. He's talking about some of the senior officials around him. Their quotes were made up, frauds, and the president does say that, Mollie. A con on the public, we've put that up, likewise other stories and quotes. Woodward is a damn operative? Notice timing?

Now, you can say a lot of the things about Bob Woodward and his techniques can be controversial. And there are often denials about some of the things he reports. But he has written books on both Democratic and Republican president. A Dem operative? I mean, you can't dismiss this guy like Omarosa.

FISCHER: No, you can't. And I think that definitely pushing it a little bit too far. I was reading the Obama administration talking about how they handled it when Woodward came to them, and he said look, I have information, I have some stuff on tape and I have all these quotes. And he was saying that the administration took that seriously. They thought a look into it. They thought this was a credible report. It's fascinating to see the difference in this administration. It's just complete -- this is false, this can't be true. There is no really dealing or working with them. And when apparently, Bob Woodward tried to get Donald Trump to talk to him, to be on record with the book, Kellyanne Conway said I will put in a request.

KURTZ: We're going to play a little bit of that in the next segment. So, Philippe, you know, Woodward's style has always been controversial because you know he has this style that leaves room for people to deny. We've had hard denials from people like Madison Kelly. And he's accused as we saw in the clip earlier of giving more sympathetic treatment to sources who cooperate. Does that undercut the book to some degree?

REINES: Well, first of all I think to what Sara is saying about the Obama administration, the scariest five words in D.C. are Bob Woodward called for you. And there is a reason for that. Yes, there might be elements that when you read and you were a participant, might seem that they are torqued up maybe a couple of degrees, that they happened. I mean, he captured the essence of things. So I don't think you can attack and sell the book the way the president has, although the president has a knack and frankly it pays off for him to just shellac people and make stuff up.

HEMINGWAY: I think precisely what you hear about critiques of Bob Woodward, if are he doesn't get a picture of what's happening. And the best critiques of Bob Woodward are about how he treat John Belushi, when he wrote the book about John Belushi. And Belushi's friends and families say he totally missed the story, he totally got rocked.

KURTZ: All right. Let's go back here.

HEMINGWAY: They're not saying -- they're not saying he made anything up, but then he missed the story.

REINES: John Rumsfeld (ph) said I don't know what you're talking about, I never talked to him. And Bob Woodward, he went to the tapes.

KURTZ: All right. I got to wrap this up. You know, the president is denying. In fairness of that, he called Jeff Sessions a dumb Southerner and other things. So we have some real factual disputes. By the way, Woodward on CBS this morning said he wouldn't have used the anonymous op-ed writer's charges without a lot more specific details. All right. More on the Woodward book in just a moment, as we look at the White House kind of attacking.

And later, Serena Williams getting hammered for her blowup at the U.S. Open, what some female sportswriters insist she was robbed.


KURTZ: While President Trump has been denouncing Bob Woodward, he offered a more positive assessment last month in a call taped with the veteran journalist with the president's permission and released by the Washington Post.


TRUMP: Who did you ask about speaking to me?

WOODWARD: Well, about six people, you know.

TRUMP: They didn't tell me. Nobody told me about it. And I would have loved to have spoken to you. You know, I'm pretty open to you. I think you have always been fair. So we're going to have a very inaccurate book, but that's too bad. But I don't blame you entirely.


KURTZ: Well, I do believe President Trump didn't know Bob Woodward had put in all these requests?

HEMINGWAY: I don't mean to disrespect the president, but I wouldn't say he's always telling the truth in these types of phone calls.

KURTZ: OK. You know, it's not like we haven't read stories like this before. I mean, Kelly wasn't the one who denied it, but in the end, Rex Tillerson once called him a moron. There is a lot of stuff in my book, Media Madness, about the staff trying to restrain him or slow walk things or end run him. Some of this happens in every administration. But what the mainstream media love about this book, I want your take, is that they can say, aha. All the bad stuff we've been telling about the president is true. His own people say it, same thing with the anonymous column.

HEMINGWAY: Well, I mean, it's a story that we've heard frequently before. I've talked to some of these people who have fights with the president. And they characterize it very differently. So they say they do have battles, they do fight. At the end of the day, the president gets to say which way the direction is going to be, and then, they have to follow it. I think how you interpret these comments from people say a lot about what type of journalism you're doing. If you see it as some sort of nefarious proof that Donald Trump is unfit for the presidency or adults who have debates, and then they make a decision.

KURTZ: Right. Well, Woodward's former partner, Carl Bernstein, says on CNN that the Trump presidency is a national emergency. So, Philippe, as a former government bureaucrat, even in more traditional administration. White House aides who were split into factions, try to end run, or slow walk policies they don't like, or sometimes leak against each other or even against the boss.

REINES: But that's a challenge that reporters have to face every single day, whether it's an author or whether it's the New York Times, or the Fox News.

KURTZ: What challenge?

REINES: The challenge is whether you're talking to someone who says something negative about a third person because they have an axe to grind.

KURTZ: Right.

REINES: Because they want to sell, advertise themselves.

KURTZ: Do you think reporters take that to account or do you think they basically just love the infighting and happy to do it all in?

REINES: You know, books are very different animals.


REINES: I have to fend up. But on the one hand, when a book is done right, which you've written, when you spend a lot of time on a topic, you are actually more likely to be more accurate. Because you are not doing the 24/7, you know.

KURTZ: Right. And people are more likely to confide in you, because on a background basis, because they know you are taking the time.

REINES: We have to entertain the possibility that Bob Woodward is right in what he is describing.

KURTZ: All right. So you raised that possibility. But here is something in the Woodward book. It has gotten far less attention. And we're tuning this up for you, Sara. So according to the Woodward book, the chief-of-staff said this in a meeting, I am the only thing protecting the president from the press. The press is out to get him. They want to destroy him. And I'm determined to stand in the way taking the bullets and taking the arrows, spoken as a true general. Gee, that didn't really get much coverage.

FISCHER: No, but it should have gotten a lot of coverage. I mean, any time you have someone backless to the president, who is saying that he has to be the wall between the president and the media. And we know that this is the role of aides. But this is a fiery thing for him to be saying. And it's something that we've heard in the past from all these other people. But John Kelly is a pretty reserved guy. He's not the type of person that comes out against the press often. So you know he has to mean it if he's going to say it.

KURTZ: Whether some of these aides at the level of the anonymous column who are trying to let's say restrain the president, whether they're doing the right thing or the wrong thing, I think it's fair to say at this point that President Trump maybe is in a position where he has to wonder who he can trust because of all these leaks that are going on since the day he was sworn in.

HEMINGWAY: And that is -- and that's something he has talked about a lot about the lack of people on his team within the administration. That's why I think this was a silly move by the anonymous author and the media. They thought this was a way to present Trump as yet again the narrative that you've heard over and over again about being unstable. What it really did was confirm just how much D.C. is a swamp, how much they oppose what the people chose in the last election, and how unable they are to deal with the reality of what the American people chose.

KURTZ: But according to Woodward, the people who are trying to restrain include the chief-of-staff, included the defense secretary, so it's not just you know trolls in the administration. So is it a good thing we have that even though the contents are in dispute.

REINES: I think it is a good thing. I think it is going to depend on who it is.

KURTZ: It runs on the Woodward book now.

REINES: The Woodward book is good. We might not know who these are, but we might end up -- often times, we do learn who they are. But, you know, if Donald Trump woke up last Wednesday morning feeling comfortable with people around him, that doesn't make a lot of sense. His lawyer was taping conversations with him. His closest aides are turning on him legally. I don't think the op-ed is the tipping point.

KURTZ: And not to mention Omarosa.

REINES: And not to mention Omarosa.

FISCHER: Yeah, I was just going to say, if there's one thing to take away from this is that, it's not totally a new story. What bob Woodward is writing, we have been hearing from people within the Trump administration...

KURTZ: Right.

FISCHER: ... and from people outside it. So even if there are facts or small parts that are disputed, the overall narrative there, we have heard it.

KURTZ: It's a lot more detailed with some highlights.

REINES: It's nobody wants to hear, but Woodward might have gotten it right.

KURTZ: Look how happy he looks. Philippe Reines, Sara Fischer, and Mollie Hemingway, thanks so much.

Ahead, Mike Huckabee on an intense week obviously of media criticism of the president, anonymous, and otherwise.

But up next, the Serena controversy. The Washington Post says it is a sexist, power play ruined the U.S. Open Finals. We'll take a whack at that.



SERENA WILLIAMS, TENNIS PLAYER: You owe me an apology. I have never cheated in life. I have daughter and I stand what's right for her. And I have never cheated. You owe me an apology.


KURTZ: I was watching in amazement as Serena Williams lost her cool in yesterday's U.S. Open Finals accusing Umpire Carlos Ramos of branding her a cheater. She said he stole the game from her. Many pundits are slamming Serena, but what he did was slapping her with these three penalties did more than cause her one game. It more than robbed of any chance of coming back against her young challenger Naomi Osaka. He took the match away from both women and left them in tears. And Serena said it was sexist.


WILLIAMS: Because I'm a woman, you are going to take it away from me?


KURTZ: Joining us now, Susan Ferrechio, chief congressional correspondent for the Washington Examiner. Susan, Serena's meltdown was painful to watch. And she was close to losing the match anyway, but the commentators are whacking her, really should take a look in my view at the oh-so-sensitive umpire who allowed the situation to keep escalating.

SUSAN FERRECHIO, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Right. I think you said something that echoed what Sally Jenkins wrote on the Washington Post today, which is he let it get out of control. He could have sat there, taken the insults the way he has from other male players. This is well documented on YouTube, same refs, same male players who attacked him, but he has not docked him points or games. So there is a case to be made that this was a different standard for Serena Williams. And I think as Sally Jenkins said that the issue for her was she felt the umpire was not going to let a woman talk to him that way.

KURTZ: Yeah.

FERRECHIO: That's the real heart of the issue here. Did he feel like hey, I am not going to let a woman wave a finger at me without a very serious penalty that I wouldn't have given to a male player?

KURTZ: Let me read from that because Sally Jenkins, a veteran sports writer, front page of Washington Post, the headline sexist, power play ruins powerful finale. And she said he abused his authority, she said, over a tone of voice. Male players have sworn and cursed at the top their lungs and never been penalized the way Serena was, making your point.

FERRECHIO: And on the other hand though, if you watched it as I did, as the thing escalated, you know, she played a role in this. She smashed her racket. She waved a finger at the umpire, a big no-no. And it could have appeared -- some people, especially if you read it in social media, it is very divided as you day. People say look, she appeared threatening. She is a hot player, she has a habit over the years of throwing tantrums and threatening line people in the past.

KURTZ: And on that point, a tweet from Billy Jean King, the great tennis player. When a woman is emotional, she is hysterical. She is penalized. But when a man does the same, he's outspoken. And there are no repercussions.

FERRECHIO: That's not true.

KURTZ: OK. Sometimes look, John McEnroe.

FERRECHIO: A whole page worth of penalties and fines, he was ejected from games.

KURTZ: Sure. But just explain to people. There are two warnings and then the penalty that caused her one game as she was in the process of perhaps the second and final set. The coach gave a signal from the stands that it's illegal. A lot of people didn't realize that.

FERRECHIO: He admitted it, too.

KURTZ: He admitted it, but Serena said she didn't see it. Then, breaking the racket, he could have let that go. And then, when she'd called him a thief, I mean, she didn't curse as some players have.


KURTZ: But that's when he took away a game and really made this I think more about him than the players on the court.

FERRECHIO: Well, that's what the game became. Yeah, for both players, it was ruined. You know, the whole ending was just so emotional. It was deprived of the joy you would experience from beating your role model. The whole thing was just a disappointment for everybody. So everybody can point fingers at the ref. But the players ultimately are responsible for their own behavior. They have to decide good sportsmanship on the court, talk about the problem later, when you get off the court. That's something every player grapples with.

KURTZ: Right.

FERRECHIO: Not just men versus women.

KURTZ: Sure. But you know, calling such things is subjective. It is a matter of discretion. And just to be clear, this was unfair to Naomi Osaka, who has you know first Japanese, she is also an Asian player to win the U.S. Open. She was in tears. He ruined her moment, and he ruined Serena's attempted comeback. And she of course a year ago almost died of complications from childbirth. So you know it should be about the players. In an NBA Final, you wouldn't call foul on the last play unless somebody got decked.


KURTZ: So do we agree on that point?

FERRECHIO: We do agree on that point. It also follows on the female player penalized for changing her shirt in the middle of the match. There's a pattern here. And then, Serena Williams being told she couldn't wear certain outfit.

KURTZ: The cat suit.

FERRECHIO: Yes. So you know, this is following a pattern. A lot of people, not just Chris Everett and Billy Jean, her contemporaries are saying that this needs to be looked at how men and women are treated differently by the umpires.

KURTZ: Yeah. I'm not letting Serena off the hook for her conduct, but this does show I think that this treatment has a lot of people up in arms, including the press. Susan Ferrechio, thanks for playing with us on this.

Ahead, the New Yorker who wanted to put Steve Bannon on the stage until some big named Hollywood types threatened to boycott event.

But first, Mike Huckabee on the press versus the president, the former governor will be here.


KURTZ: President Trump and the press unleashing some of their harshest language yet against each other. Joining us now is the second most famous person in his family, Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate, and a Fox News contributor, welcome. So the thrust of the media coverage over the New York Times senior official trashing the president is that this person is a coward and should just resign. And then, even many liberals are saying that. Given that this person is talking about administration officials, actively undermining the president, why shouldn't the Times publish this?

MIKE HUCKABEE, FOX NEWS: Well, I think they shouldn't have because to do so gives some type of credibility to a person who hasn't have the guts to stand up and say here I am. Howie, if you run for office, you put your name on the ballot. If you are going to undermine the people who do have the guts to run for office, then have the guts to tell us who you are, so we can evaluate and hold you accountable for your views.

If you really think the country is in trouble, stand up and say so. This guy is, I think, a gutless coward, or girl, we don't know.

KURTZ: Yeah.

HUCKABEE: And I thought it was sleazy for him to say the things he did because we don't know what level of government. He could be a fourth-tier person in Montana federal office.

KURTZ: It took 33 years to find out who deep throat was.

HUCKABEE: Exactly.

KURTZ: I don't think it will take that long for this one. So the president comes out and says that Jeff Sessions of the Justice Department should investigate this secret source. On what grounds? What's the criminal offense? May have been political betrayal, as I said earlier? Maybe stupidity? Certainly, a fiery offense.


KURTZ: Criminal investigation?

HUCKABEE: Well, it depends. Is this person also telling things that he or she knows of national security to the New York Times? We don't know. The point is that we do know...

KURTZ: That's not what was published.

HUCKABEE: But I think what the president is saying is it's serious. Let's just believe in that general way. It is serious. And it is serious for someone who gets a paycheck from the President Trump administration to betray the trust of that. So give up our paycheck, go out on the streets.

KURTZ: And say whatever you want.

HUCKABEE: Say whatever you want. You have free speech, but you don't have freedom to do it with somebody else paying your salary.

KURTZ: So that account and the Bob Woodward book and other stories have painted a portrait of top aides, some say they believe in the president, but they're working to restrain him from what they see as some of his worst impulses. At some point, shouldn't the public conclude that there is something here, that there is some truth to these journalistic accounts?

HUCKABEE: Not necessarily. Look at these accounts, what are they saying, Donald Trump can be vulgar, OK, we know that. Donald Trump can be vain, I think we know that. That Donald Trump can be volatile, what a shock, we knew all those things anyway. We knew it during the campaign.

KURTZ: That's why he won the election.

HUCKABEE: He wasn't elected to be the nicest guy in Washington, D.C. He was elected to drain the swamp and change the economy. He's done both. I personally think that a lot of people are extremely happy with the results they're getting from Donald Trump. Let's look at it this way. Howard, he's like a doctor that comes into the room. He's rude to the family perhaps. He's not got the best bedside manner, but by golly, he's going to save the patient's life. Had you rather have him or a guy that comes in and who is the nicest guy in the world, but all his patients die?

KURTZ: You know, Governor, I covered both of your presidential campaigns. I've known you for a long time. You are not an enemy of the American people guy and your daughter Sarah Huckabee-Sanders isn't the enemy of the American people. Do you wish the president wouldn't use that level to the media?

HUCKABEE: Well, he's qualified on many occasions.

KURTZ: It's 80 percent of the media is fake news.

HUCKABEE: I think the point is, from his perspective, when 90 percent of all the coverage about him is negative, how else should he feel? I really can't blame him.

KURTZ: Because he can feel it's unfair.

HUCKABEE: Yes, it is.

KURTZ: That he doesn't get a fair shake. It depends on the presidents. But again, I want to make sure I get to President Obama.

HUCKABEE: Right, right.

KURTZ: Because he broke a sort of self-imposed silence, came out and gave a speech harshly critical of his successor and had this to say about Fox.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I complained plenty about Fox News. But you never heard me to threaten to shut them down or called them enemies of the people.


KURTZ: Your thoughts.

HUCKABEE: That's not true. He went after James Rosen and James Rosen's parents. He went after the AP and wiretapped them for heaven's sake.

KURTZ: That was harshly critical of that.

HUCKABEE: That was just patently false what he just said. In addition, his administration went after conservative pro-life and pro-Israel groups routinely through the IRS and the DOJ. So for him to say the sanctimonious we never did anything like that. And Howard, I'm sure you remember there was a time when he was going to make sure Fox News didn't get the same level of access. And to their credit...

KURTZ: And the other White House correspondents.

HUCKABEE: The other White House correspondents came around and supported him.

KURTZ: Right. But I assume you don't have an objection to the former president speaking out?

HUCKABEE: No. I think he has every right to do that.

KURTZ: All right. That's what politicians do. But let's close on this. Is it hard for officials in the Trump administration, including your daughter, to work in an environment where so many people are leaking, leaking against each other, leaking against the president. I mean, that can't be denied. This is the leakiest I have ever seen.

HUCKABEE: It's pretty rough. And I hope they can get to the bottom of it because it's not helpful. I think what's amazing, you know, President Obama talked about the miracles. I will tell you, the miracle is that President Trump is getting done a lot of things, in spite of he has so many knives coming after him, some of them in the back. You expect them from the front, you don't expect them from the back. And I think you have to give him some credit for that.

KURTZ: A colorful metaphor on which to close this segment. Mike Huckabee, thanks very much.

HUCKABEE: Always a pleasure, Howie.

KURTZ: Good to see you here in Washington.

Coming up, Twitter bans Alex Jones as some members of Congress accuse the tech company are biased against conservatives. That's next.


KURTZ: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook's #2 Sheryl Sandberg got hammered on Capitol Hill this week with Republican lawmakers accusing them of blatant biased against conservatives and Democrats saying they were just scoring political points. Joining us now from New York is Steve Hilton, host of the Next Revolution, Sundays night on FNC and author of the book, Positive Populism, revolutionary ideas to rebuild economic security, family and community in America.

Steve, as you know, Twitter was the only big social media platform not to ban Alex Jones, the internet personality and conspiracy theorist. But now, it has banned him and Infowars permanently over tweets and videos, after he confronted a CNN reporter and told him he looked like a rat. Something that has nothing to do with Twitter. Does that underscore that these bans have become rather subjective?

STEVE HILTON, NEXT REVOLUTION, HOST: It is all subjective. And that's one of the issues here. And I think the answer to it all frankly is not regulation, but more competition. The reason that all of these matters is because these platforms have become so dominant in each of their particular areas. And by the way, it's important to disclose to our viewers that my wife is a senior executive at Facebook. So I've got my own view. And I'm going to tell you what it is.

I think the problem is no one should be over-mighty, not big government, not big unions, not big business, and certainly, not big tech. So I think we need a two-staged process for kind of a pro-market breakup of these platforms. First of all, we got to reverse the power graphs that they already made. So for example, Facebook needs to be forced to sell WhatsApp and the other platforms that it is for.

KURTZ: Hold on, hold on. Let me jump in.

HILTON: And android and Amazon, we got to break that up, too. These platforms are too powerful.

KURTZ: Let me jump in here. First of all, I agree with you. The platforms are very powerful. I was going to ask you about the Justice Department is going to meet with state attorneys general on this question of whether these tech companies are intentionally stifling, free exchange of ideas, and possibly choking up competition. But you're a conservative who is saying the government needs to step in and break up these companies like they did with Standard Oil a century ago?


KURTZ: It doesn't sound like a conservative philosophy.

HILTON: Because conservatives should be believers in markets and in competition. And this is a pro-market argument. So it's not just forcing them to reverse the acquisitions they've already made. For example, with Google getting rid of YouTube and Android, and separates them out, Amazon the cloud services, Amazon web services. And also, increasingly, Amazon making their own products and selling them on Amazon, whether that's clothes or batteries. All that needs to be broken up. But even then, these companies would be too dominant and too powerful. So there is a further step.

This is one of the specific ideas in my book. We need to have a pro-market regulatory framework, where if a company gets too big of a market share in any sector, let's say it's over 50 percent, it should be treated like part of the public sector, higher taxes, much tougher regulation, and so on. And only companies that are truly competitive should be free of that regulation and pay lower taxes. That's a pro-market way to ensure real competition. And that way, you get a better deal for consumers. And you get something done about this dominance that these companies have.

KURTZ: All right. By the way, my favorite part of your book is when you worked at 10 Downing Street, you were often described as somebody who walked around in his socks.

HILTON: That's right.

KURTZ: But let me just finish on this because you know at that house hearing in particular, Jack Dorsey of Twitter got criticized for the platform discriminated against conservatives. Do you think that's a significant problem and do you think it's a fixable problem, and given what you're saying, do you think it's a problem that government can fix?

HILTON: Well, they're private companies, they're not the government. And therefore, they are not subject to the requirement to give everyone a voice. But again, it comes back to the fact they are so dominant. The whole conversation goes on -- the national conversation on Twitter or Facebook, whatever. That's the problem.

Now, in the media, in our business, there are tons of outlets, hundreds and hundreds of outlets. And so, it doesn't matter if one of them have a particular view. And these companies are subjective. They talk about algorithms. Algorithms are written by people. And in the end, these individual people are making these decisions, so we will know that the people inside those companies are overwhelmingly liberal. So, of course, that's a concern. The answer is more competion.

KURTZ: It' a fascinating. Got to go. Fascinating debate. And it is going to continue because they're so powerful and because of the role of government, whether it steps in or not. Steve Hilton, great to see you. I look forward to reading more of your book.

Still to come...

HILTON: Thank you.

KURTZ: How is the press covering the disruptions and partisan warfare, the Brett Kavanaugh, his confirmation hearings?


KURTZ: The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing immediately turned into a circus as Democrats and screaming protesters launched a strategy of disruption.

On tape. All right. So maybe we can get that back. Let me know. There were these partisan clashes over releasing what had been confidential documents. Let's roll.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an exciting day for all of you here, and you are rightly proud of the judge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, if we cannot be recognized, I move to adjourn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The American people...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I urge you to shut the hearing down now.


KURTZ: Joining us now, David Wartosko, U.S. politics editor for So between the protestors and the Democrats demanding adjournment over the dispute of the documents, did the press cover this as more of a spectacle?

DAVID WARTOSKO, U.S. POLITICS EDITOR FOR DAILYMAIL.COM: Well, I think so. And it's hard to fault the press for covering this as a spectacle. In fact, it was a circus.

KURTZ: Yeah.

WARTOSKO: The Democrats planned it this way. There was a big conference call the weekend before the hearing, over the Labor Day weekend when Chuck Schumer said this is what we are going to do. We're going to threaten to walk out. So of course, it was a spectacle. And the protestors, too.

KURTZ: There was questioning.

WARTOSKO: Well, there was. And frankly, as long as most of the news coverage is about the seriousness of it, and it was, covering the protestors is a sideline. It is fine. I mean, is a photo- driven web site. When one of these people shows up with a shirt and a sign, we will let our cameras go. And that's great for everybody.

KURTZ: All right. Democratic Senator Cory Booker eyeing a 2020 run, made a big splash. I want to read you the New York Times account of this.


KURTZ: Cory Booker threatened to release secret emails even if it meant being expelled from the senate, and he had the I-am-Sparticus speech. It was made for television moment, albeit later mocked by Republicans as grandstanding. And for Mr. Booker, it might come in handy in 2020. It kind of buried the fact that the documents were actually authorized the night before to be released, so it wasn't a secret thing where he is risking expulsion.

WARTOSKO: Well, it wasn't even that. But when the documents did come out, the one he actually showed was that after 9/11 in an internal White House discussion whether there would be racial profiling of people from Arab country coming to the U.S., even in that panic, Brett Kavanaugh was the voice of reason. He was saying we need to end up race policy. So this is not I-am-Sparticus. This is I-am-Mr. Magoo. You know, not only am I dead clueless on what's going the happen, I can't read the papers in front of my face.

KURTZ: It seems to me that when a senator makes you know leaving a sign whether you thought would the document themselves be newsworthy makes a great spectacle. I'm willing to be expelled over this. And it turns out he wasn't releasing secret documents. Would the coverage have been different if it was a Republican senator who will pull that? It just seems to me a lot of the accounts kind of went easy on this.

WARTOSKO: That's true. Go back to Kagan and Sotomayor. Back then, Patrick Leahy was running the committee. Jeff Sessions was the minority -- senior minority. Can you imagine Jeff Sessions getting up and going the southern draw, this is what she did as solicitor general. And if he was wrong, oh man, you know, that would be practically calling for it to be a firing offense in the senate to expel. So, yes.

KURTZ: Just briefly, the New York Times also obtained an email from an unknown person, it says...


KURTZ: The confidentiality documents have to do with the 2003 Brett Kavanaugh draft opinion piece for the Bush White House, having to do with them and whether all these scholars. So to some extent, were Hill staffers presuming on the Democratic side using leaks to get around that confidentiality?

WARTOSKO: Well, of course, they were. It's very clear Democratic senate staffers were leaking to the New York Times. That's what they do. And by the way, if you're listening and you want to leak something, I'm open for business.

KURTZ: Right.

WARTOSKO: We all love leaks.

KURTZ: They're not that average.

WARTOSKO: We all love leaks. But ultimately, what it showed was that Kavanaugh was citing correct Supreme Court precedent. And in the middle of an emotional debate, he was being pretty sober and clear-headed. And I think that's why the Republicans like him.

KURTZ: Thank you for your sober assessment, David Wartosko. Good to see you.

New Yorker editor David Remnick, a fierce critic of President Trump, thought it would be fun to interview Steve Bannon at the magazine's annual festival until he disinvited him. Remnick caved under pressure from the magazine's readers and with some staffers, from actor Jim Carrey and producer Judd Apatow who said they would bail on the festival. Remnick said he didn't want critics to think he would ignore their concerns, wound up validating the liberal line, Trump associates must be treated as radio active.

This weekend marks the fifth anniversary of the launch of MediaBuzz. And I just want to thank our loyal audience, very loyal audience, which appreciates our fair approach, for helping to make this program so successful, and keeping us on top. I'm Howard Kurtz. Check out my new Podcast, Media BuzzMeter. We kick out on today's most -- five most important stories that fascinating, buzzy. You can subscribe at Apple iTunes, Google Play, Fox News Podcast, let's continue the conversation on Twitter @howardkurtz. And also, I respond a lot on Facebook. We post my daily columns, original videos, that's a lot of bubbles that I just crammed into in a short amount of time. Thanks again on anniversary number five. Back here next Sunday with the latest buzz.

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