‘MediaBuzz’ on media reaction to Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan plans – Fox News

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This is a rush transcript from “MediaBuzz,” July 31, 2022. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS HOST: Turn on the TV, get online, go on social media and. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

UNKNOWN: Heading to the center of the storm. 

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: This is a very, very dark day for Donald Trump. 

UNKNOWN: Former president Trump returns to Washington. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

KURTZ: The news is all Trump, Trump, Trump. Think about how unreal that is. The former president getting far more media attention than the current President of the United States. Maybe it seems like the old days and the left leaning media absolutely love it. Because their clicks and ratings have drastically declined since the days when they were bashing Trump 24/7. 

Now much of the news about the 45th president is negative. The Justice Department is investigating his role in a capitol riot as the Washington Post first reported. There’s a Georgia criminal probe. The House January 6 hearings. When Joe Biden delivered blistering remarks on how Trump lack the courage to stop the riot as police officers were being attacked it was reduced to a sidebar story. 

Look, Biden has run a low-key presidency and we’re glad he quickly got over rid his COVID systems though he’s tested positive again. While Trump is always picking fights with someone, especially the media which slam him right back. 

Then there’s the tease over when he’ll announce, we all know he is running, in other ways he drives the news agenda. What most people have never quite gotten is that negative coverage helps Trump by riling up his base and making the news cycle revolve around him. 

I’m Howard Kurtz, and this is MEDIA BUZZ. 

The press building its dueling speeches. Donald Trump returning to Washington for the first time since leaving the White House. And Mike Pence suddenly trying to distance himself from his former boss over January 6 while also weighing a 2024 run. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

MICHAEL PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don’t know that the president and I differ on issues, but we may differ on focus. I truly do believe that elections are about the future. 

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I ran for president. I won. Then I won a second time. Did much better. Never forget everything this corrupt establishment is doing to me is all about preserving their power and control over the American people. They want to damage you in any form, but they really want to damage me so I can no longer go back to work for you. 

KATIE PAVLICH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: He essentially brought up the same theme of him saying, look, the establishment and media hates not just me, they hate you, I’m just in the way. 

DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: It sounds to me that Mike Pence was speaking out of both sides of his mouth. 

CHRIS HAYES, HOST, MSNBC: Pence knows the never Trump truck is likely a nonstarter, a Republican primary like it’s bad, you’re trying to get me killed. And that’s probably disqualifying for office. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage in Dallas, Will Cain, co- cost of Fox & Friends Weekend. And in San Diego, Laura Fink, a commentator and Democratic strategist. 

Will, the media built this up as a grand showdown, dueling speeches. Mike Pence said he was proud of the Trump/Pence record. But then use coded beltway speak. There were those that believe we should look backwards. The press seemed to like his speech. 

WILL CAIN, FOX NEWS CO-HOST: The press seems to like us speech because they are pinning it squarely against Donald Trump. Howie, your introduction you use this phrase which you said it’s unreal how much we’ve returned to Donald Trump. But it is the reality show. I guess the third installment in the sequel that the press so hungry — is so hungry that they crave that will drive ratings once again. 

So, they’ll turn everything, whether or not it’s a dueling Mike Pence/Donald Trump speech showdown or it’s as you mentioned, continuous negative coverage of Donald Trump to drive that third installment of the sequel. That being said, the American people, I think, we will watch, we will always watch the reality show. But make no mistake, what really matters is the economy, is inflation, is crime, is immigration. And no one, no one has not only addressed those issues, but whose policies better address those issues over the past, what, now six years then Donald Trump. 

KURTZ: It seems like you are saying the media is addicted to Trump. And yes, what matters is the issues facing the current president including, as you point out, inflation. 

Laura, while the media may belatedly regard Mike Pence as the hero of January 6, the journalistic consensus is how can he possibly beat Donald Trump who paint him as the villain of January 6? 

LAURA FINK, DEMOCRAT STRATEGIST: Well, you know, I think the story, Howie, I mean, Mike Pence is sort of one, sort of the side bar to the story, but essential this week and I think it’s underreported, is the fact that Republican elites are trying to depose their king. You saw Rupert Murdoch’s editorial pages in the Wall Street Journal and you saw them in the New York Post saying Trump is unfit for office. 

You saw Fox News not covering his press conference live. So that lack of coverage and that indictment by establishments leans right organizations I think is a signal that they are trying to depose their king. And you see it’s shifting, and sort of simultaneous with the shift in Republican rank and file opinion on the president. 

So, while he still remains the top of and the leader of the Republican Party, their sense are starting to shift and you’re starting to see that establishment that he is talking about try to perhaps move him off that reality stage. 

KURTZ: Well, the media might play a role in that and will come back too. Will, you know, Trump spoke for 90 minutes at this conference. He stuck to the script for the first third or so about rising crime, you know, picking an issue that obviously resonates with a lot of voters. But then he sent the stolen election that signal by saying, you know, I won twice bringing up 2020. And the corrupt establishment is trying to stop me from running again. That didn’t get rave reviews from the media. 

CAIN: Look, I don’t think the best path, let’s assume for the moment which you made the correct assumption that I agree with that Donald Trump will most likely be running for president. I do not think the best path towards victory for Donald Trump is to relitigate 2020. It is the focus on those issues that I just highlighted that he highlights in almost every speech and the ones that are plaguing the American people. 

You know, I mentioned this is a third installment in a sequel as I listened to Laura, and I think about how this is already being framed. It’s almost as though when the press is concerned, 2020 didn’t happen outside of course the focus on January 6. It reminds me of 2016. The establishment doesn’t like Donald Trump, the elite doesn’t want Donald Trump. Look at all the negative coverage of Donald Trump. 

But we saw how help that laid out in 2016. We have seemingly no ability. You know what, maybe we just have no desire to learn the lessons of the past. 

KURTZ: Yes, 2016, of course everybody said Hillary was going to win down to the last minute. Laura, you mentioned Fox, none of the three major cable news networks carried Donald Trump’s speech live. They played snippets later while taking Pence’s 17-minute address. Is there message there? Because, you know, I’ve been saying for weeks that the press seems determined to knock out both Trump and Biden by saying that there are growing sentiments in their parties and these polls showing that neither one should run in 2024. 

FINK: Well, and let me clarify, it was that, that Fox not covering. It was more of a departure from the consistency of their coverage of Donald Trump. And that said, there is this other sort of shadow in the room. The reason Mike Pence was covered was because Mike Pence was the subject of timely news in the January 6 investigations. 

Both in terms of what Trump — that Trump knew he was in danger and also in terms of that he was taking action when Trump was not on that faithful day. And so, I think that’s why his response, particularly because as Will said, he is in a very precarious position with the Republican base. And it’s difficult for him to navigate. 

So, the fact that he was threading the needle shows this challenge on the Republican side where you see the base in one position and the establishment in the other. Because the only person right now with Joe Biden’s poll numbers that he beats in 2024 is just happens to be the presumptive nominee potentially for the Republicans. That’s a sticky thing to entangle and so that’s why you see Republican pundits and conservatives trying to figure out how to move Donald Trump off the stage. 

KURTZ: Yes. Well, Will, is the press underplaying Donald Trump as the dominant figure in the Republican Party? Even if Ron DeSantis and others decide to challenge him in the primary. We’re not talking about a couple of polls. Trump is extremely likely to win the nomination, it seems to me. And his teams by the way expects possibly multiple people to challenge him. 

CAIN: Are they underplaying him? Well, look, I’m not a huge WWE fan so I can’t come up with the perfect analogy of the character to compare this to. But they will continue to talk about, he will continue to be the star of the show. Some were slammed was last night. He will be the main event. They may say he will lose; they may say or provide him negative coverage and that may qualify as underplaying him, but they will give him all of the attention in the world. 

And I think everyone, I think everyone understands the popularity of Donald Trump within the Republican base. You only have to look shallow deep to find a poll that shows you he has 85 percent favorability or whatever it may be that he has the runaway favorite for the Republican contender for president. 

KURTZ: Right. And the minute he declares then of course he has to be covered in a way that now he could just say, well, he is a former president. You know, sniping from the sidelines and sending out (Inaudible) on Truth Social. 

Laura, the vast majority of journalists I think it’s clear from our discussion and then anybody who owns a television set don’t want to see Trump back in the White House. So, is there an effort to deprive him of oxygen to boost the chances of another younger Republican nominee? 

FINK: I think — I think certainly the Republicans would like to see that happen. Because his viability is in question probably for the first time even though we know he defies political gravity, allegedly. But I think that when you have the corrosive effect of not just four, but now what, five, and it will be six years by the time we get to the election. 

So, I do think that, also the American people, and you see this in focus groups, Republican focus groups, there are a lot of folks that are kind of want to see him move offstage because of his — because he is a liability. So, I think those are all the things that journalists are trying to digest as they determine how much coverage does an ex-president deserve. 

KURTZ: Yes. Well, the answer in recent weeks which is I led at the show is a lot. And of course, he is very good at generating coverage, as we were saying. Will, I got about a minute left in the segment. The fact that there is so much Trump, Trump, Trump, does that be — does that serve as a distraction from what President Biden is actually doing or trying to do in his political woes, but also — 

CAIN: Yes. 

KURTZ: — you know, trying to pass this legislation? 

FINK: Absolutely. 

KURTZ: Yes. 

FINK: Absolutely. I mean, — 

(CROSSTALK) 

CAIN: Yes, by design. 

FINK: — (Inaudible) had a ban to wreak. 

KURTZ: Go ahead, Will. 

CAIN: By design — 

FINK: Sorry. Will, go ahead. 

CAIN: — it will be a distraction. It will — by design it is a distraction. By design it is going to be a ratings boost. By design all the focus will be on Donald Trump. That’s why the media, and this is a media show and I appreciate that. That’s why looking at things through the prism of the media is unserious. It has a decreasing amount of relevance. And the American people don’t care about the perspective of the media. 

There is an interesting discussion about people who are serious. There will be a divide within Republicans, probably between Trump and DeSantis. 

KURTZ: Yes. 

CAIN: And it won’t be as easily dismissible as the never Trump’s. There will be pure ideological conservatives who will choose DeSantis, and that will be a real story to cover. 

KURTZ: That will be a good show. When we come back, we are in a recession. Are the media buying the Biden spin that we’re not? And later, the woman who says Andrew Cuomo repeatedly lied to her. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

KURTZ: In the run-up to the latest economic figures, President Biden and his team launched a campaign to redefine the meaning of recession. 

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We’re not going to be in a recession, and in my view. 

BRIAN DEESE, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Two negative quarters of GDP growth is not the technical definition of recession. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

KURTZ: So how did the media react when we had two straight quarters of negative growth? The classic definition of a recession. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

BIDEN: Both Chairman Powell and many of the significant banking personnel and economists say we are not in a recession. That doesn’t sound like a recession to me. 

MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX BUSINESS ANCHOR: We all know what a recession is. This is what economists have counted on for as I’ve been covering this, and that’s 30 years. Two quarters of contraction is a recession. 

LEMON: This is a question that everyone is like, are we in a recession, are we not in a recession? Does it matter if it’s technically a recession? 

BEN WHITE, CHIEF ECONOMIC CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: The president and Secretary Yellen are both correct that it’s not really a recession. I don’t think anybody at home is worried that much about one initial GDP report. 

JAKE TAPPER, HOST, CNN: It’s been two quarters in a row of negative GDP growth. I mean, that is an ugly fact. And traditionally, that has been the colloquial way a recession has been defined. 

EUGENE SPERLING, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Yes, I agree that for many people even though it’s not the accurate definition that that has been a colloquial definition. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

KURTZ: Will Cain, despite some exceptions as you just saw, I thought, generally thought the media would rise up and say you can’t do this, you can’t move the goalpost in the middle of a game because you don’t like the hard cold numbers. But many are just saying, it’s complicated and it’s not technical and what recession, and nothing to see here. Your thoughts. 

CAIN: You know, the exact figures you just played have tape on them. Not very old tape. Brian Deese, Ben White. I don’t know if Gene Sperling has tape — 

KURTZ: Yes. 

CAIN: — but I would place a very large wager that you could go back and find video of Gene Sperling saying that an economic recession is two straight quarters of negative GDP. They have simply changed the definition. Like a bad magician. Like Joe had been arrested development. Poof. We see the slide of hand, but that doesn’t matter. It’s just the seriousness put on your face. 

Look, you pull off the change in the definition. And why not? They’ve done the trick who knows how many times. Court packing, assault weapon, a woman. They can’t or won’t or will change the definition of anything they want to accomplish their goal. Why not with the recession? Why not with a serious face? 

KURTZ: Well, we are here to call it out. Laura, the print coverage as well, listen to these headlines. New York Times, fanning fears of a U.S. Recession. Washington Post, reviving recession fears, not recession, just fears of recession. And Politico is my favorite offering Republicans a tantalizing opportunity to declare that the economy and President Biden is now in recession. Come on. Two straight quarters of negative growth and now it’s a Republican talking point? 

FINK: Howie and Will, there comes a time when even the most convenient shorthand is outweighed by Fox. Four hundred thousand jobs a month and you will call this a recession? Economists are the National Bureau of Economic Research are the ones that are saying hash tag, it’s complicated. 

So, while Will can laugh, I think we need to graduate from econ 101 and cliff notes and really get into the fact that this is complicated, this pandemic is unprecedented. And there are challenges but there are also bright spots. 

So, I also want t say I haven’t been on conservative news outlets in months where there haven’t been pom-poms out cheerleading for a recession, talking about how it was imminent and going to happen. So, I will say this. Score some points for Joe Biden because he brought up the facts and the media responded. And I think that’s smart business. It’s not. 

KURTZ: All right. 

FINK: It is not as right people would have you believe some kind of small (Ph) job. 

KURTZ: Well, there are strong points in the economy like low unemployment. I certainly can see that. Will, President Biden talked about chatter among the pundits as if we make this stuff up. What would the media reaction be if the pandemic had pushed us into two straight quarters of negative growth and President Trump came out and said you can’t use the word recession, that’s fake news. 

CAIN: Come on. 

KURTZ: I’m changing the definition. 

CAIN: You know well as I know — 

(CROSSTALK) 

FINK: How about anybody else. 

CAIN: — where the media would be. They wouldn’t be doing what Laura just did. Laura, bravo. 

FINK: Well — 

CAIN: What a brazen display of the shell game on New York City streets. We all know where the ball is. But you keep moving it around in front of us. Recession, not a recession. 

(CROSSTALK) 

FINK: Not me, economists, Will. 

CAIN: The facts — listen — 

FINK: I’m sorry that you don’t like what economists are saying. But the National Bureau of Economic Research is hardly a bastion of liberalism. 

CAIN: Got it. Got it. 

FINK: You know? So, let’s just go with the facts. 

(CROSSTALK) 

CAIN: Got it, Laura. The appeal — 

FINK: I know you might be afraid of them. 

CAIN: If I may. If I may. Because if I talk over you no one will hear what either of us have to say. But if I may. The appeal to authority from scientists to economists has worked so well for you as you change definitions over the last two years, why stop now? But here is the truth. Here is reality. 

You want to talk about job numbers? Why don’t you ask the American people how they feel about the economy? OK? We’ll set the definitions aside. Let’s do that for a moment. Let’s talk about objective truth underneath definitions. How do they feel about inflation, rising gas prices? How do they feel about buying milk at the grocery store? 

You really want to talk about what objective truth is within the economy, I don’t think you win that shell game either. 

KURTZ: All right. 

CAIN: But what you do have on your side is a crowd of people willing to back up your lie. 

KURTZ: Will, I got to let — I got to let Laura respond. 

CAIN: Facebook — Facebook and Instagram are flagging this, Howie. Facebook and Instagram are flagging — 

KURTZ: All right. 

CAIN: — the change in definition of recession. Wikipedia is in on the shell games as well. 

KURTZ: Laura, — 

CAIN: Laura has a big supporting cast. 

KURTZ: Laura, I got half a minute for you to respond. And the press is going along with this. 

FINK: Well, here is what I will say. You know, this is a coup for conservatives because we are talking about this and not the huge week that Joe Biden have partnering with Joe Manchin to pass an epic bill to lower prescription drug prices. To go ahead and to deal with energy independence. So, if you want to talk about a shell game in a right wing win it’s talking about definitions of technical — 

KURTZ: All right. 

FINK: — recession as oppose to Joe Biden passing historic legislations. 

KURTZ: That’s a good place to stop except that — 

(CROSSTALK) 

CAIN: Honestly, I’m unimpressed. 

KURTZ: By the way, it hasn’t passed — 

CAIN: Unimpressed. 

KURTZ: — hasn’t passed yet. Will Cain, Laura Fink, thanks so much. 

Up next, an apology from The View. Joe Rogan says he is not a right winger. Chris Cuomo attempts a comeback. The Buzz Beater is coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

KURTZ: Time to go up against the clock on the Buzz Beater. Let’s roll. 

Chris Cuomo who was fired by CNN for lying to his bosses about his brother Andrew is relaunching his career. In an interview with Dan Abrams on News Nation Cuomo said CNN knew exactly what he was doing and drew fine distinctions about contacting media people after telling viewers he never called them while defending the governor. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

CHRIS CUOMO, FORMER HOST, CNN: But I’m telling you I never lied and there were no secrets. I never imagined that anything that I was doing to help my brother would reflect badly on anybody else at CNN. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

KURTZ: Once the interview ended Cuomo announced he is joining News Nation as a primetime anchor. So, the interview was sort of a ritual hazing before the big reveal, but everyone deserves a second chance. 

Podcaster Joe — podcaster Joe Rogan fed up with being attacked as a right winger, he’s just come out for abortion rights and same-sex marriage and said this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

JOE ROGAN, PODCAST HOST: People will say like, you know, you’re a secret conservative, like you could suck my (muted). You don’t know what the (muted) you’re talking about. I’m so far away from being a Republican. 

UNKNOWN: Yes. 

ROGAN: Like I was on welfare as a kid. I think it’s important. I’m a bleeding heart liberal when it comes to a lot of (muted). 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

KURTZ: Plenty of people are not just left or right. Even though our media culture tries to pigeonhole them that way. 

The View had to apologize after Joy Behar and Whoopie Goldberg said neo- Nazis were at a Turning Point USA conference with Swastikas and anti- Semitic stirs. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

SARA HAINES, CO-HOST, ABC: We want to make clear that these demonstrate — demonstrators were gathered outside the event and that they were not invited or endorsed by Turning Point USA. So, we apologize for anything we said that may have been unclear on these points. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

KURTZ: Now that happened after the group said, ABC, a legal cease and desist letter. 

The media engaged in atrocious rush to judgment about Nick Sandmann, the Covington Catholic high school student who got into an unwanted confrontation with a Native American activist at the Lincoln Memorial. 

But a judge has thrown out his lawsuits against ABC, CBS, New York Times, Rolling Stone and Ginette saying the activist views, which they reported were protected opinion. Now Sandmann also sued CNN and NBC, which reached confidential settlements with him. 

Jon Stewart launched a media blitz with plenty of f bombs to save a bill to help veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxins get medical care. The Senate actually passed the bill 84 to 14, but after a technical fix by the House and some anger of Democratic tactics, 25 Senate Republicans changed their votes and block the measure. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN, VETERANS ADVOCATE: They haven’t met a veteran they won’t screw over. What the (muted) are we. There are real people who face tragic consequences for their parliamentary. 

It is despicable to continue to use America’s men and women who are fighting for this country as political pawns. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

KURTZ: Whatever your view of Jon Stewart, he is using his bleeping anger to fight for those who went to war for us. 

We just made it. Next on MEDIA BUZZ, Liz Smith tried to advise Andrew Cuomo as he battled sexual misconduct allegations, but says he just kept lying to his own teams. Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

KURTZ: Liz Smith is a Democratic strategist who’s worked for some of the party’s biggest stars. That includes Andrew Cuomo, who she admired. And years later, she became an informal advisor when the governor was battling sexual misconduct allegations. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

FMR. GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

KURTZ: She describes this in rather raw fashion in her new book, “Any Given Tuesday: A Political Love Story.” Here’s our conversation. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) 

LIZ SMITH, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Great. Thanks for having me, Howard. 

KURTZ: So, Andrew Cuomo swore to you that nothing further would come out. You and the other advisors. A few days later former executive assistant made those accusations in the New York Times. He said he’d been stupid to have those conversations. You write that you’d been told that there’d be no additional allegations, but boom, front page. How did you feel? 

SMITH: Well, blindsided and you can see, you know, the attorney general of New York released a lot of the behind the tech — behind the scenes text between me and other advisors. And there were some with me and some of the other female advisors being like, at best that this is creepy, at worst this is someone who is making this woman feel uncomfortable and unsafe. 

So, I felt a little bit used as a female advisor that I was being there to give him advice on these things. 

KURTZ: Right. And then we get to the next round. It is only a week later. 

SMITH: Yes. 

KURTZ: The Albany Times Union had a story as you recount, which a current employee said, he groped her, the governor groped her. You called it disgusting. Cuomo denied it to you and the other advisors. And you said you heard fear in his voice for the first time, and then he turned into bad Andrew, that’s your term wanting to accuse his accuser of having financial motivations. You all killed that response. What was your reaction then? Another set of allegations? 

SMITH: Well, I talk about this in the book that when you’re in the middle of a crisis, there does take — there’s this fog of war that takes over. And while we were going through it, I was thinking more about how do I get him through it? Not should I be helping to get him through it? 

And by that time, it was becoming clear that he was in a — in a very tight spot. But I’m a loyal person. And I am not one of those cut and run soulless types of people you see in politics, I’ve been through personal crises myself, and it didn’t feel right to me just to abandon him, even if I felt uncomfortable. 

KURTZ: The last one, Governor Cuomo said was good news gang. He had talked to the state attorney general’s investigators. The report was just going to be a rehash. You described his life at that point as diary of a psychopath. He wanted to do a video montage of him kissing peoples of, of all kinds, men, women, and so forth. 

SMITH: Right. 

KURTZ: You said, governor, you should not do this unless you want to be mocked on the late-night shows. And then as you recount your stomach drop when you read the bombshell of a female state trooper who said he touched her inappropriately. He denied this to you guys, and then he said, Liz, what do you think? 

SMITH: That there’s no path for you out of this. That it was time for him to resign and I certainly was not alone in that assessment. 

KURTZ: Didn’t you feel utterly used by this point time after time, he said that was it, no new allegations. 

SMITH: Yes, of course I did. 

KURTZ: Yes. 

SMITH: And I everyone around him did, and that’s why we felt that way. And, you know, every I — I’m not alone in saying that my stomach dropped when that came out, because just one week earlier he had said nothing new would be coming out. And that’s why everyone around him said, you got to go. And the only voice he could find that was sympathetic to him that said he should fight resigning was former Bill, former President Bill Clinton. 

KURTZ: Interesting. I wanted to believe Cuomo. To me, the other option was unfathomable that I was just another sucker, a cog in a nihilistic machine. But for all your political savvy, you’ve been doing this a long time, you were suckered, weren’t you? 

SMITH: I was. And that was one of the hardest parts of writing this book. You know, when I wrote the Cuomo chapter, it was actually, it was right after my father had passed away. And so, I’m processing all these different things at once. You know, processing the grief of dad. And also processing a little bit of the grief of the Cuomo situation because there was sort of a Greek tragedy element to it. 

And I do consider myself a savvy person. I’ve — this was not my first rodeo, but I realized that I had equated loyalty with integrity. 

KURTZ: Right. 

SMITH: And that my loyalty had blinded me and had blinded my judgment in this situation. 

KURTZ: So, you write at length about a long-ago episode, a couple of decades where you became tabloid fodder. 

SMITH: Yes. 

KURTZ: And there’s a long section here. So, you were all set to become Bill de Blasio’s city hall press secretary when photos suggested that you had a sexual relationship with Elliot Spitzer who had resigned as governor after admitting to be — 

SMITH: Yes. 

KURTZ: — patronizing prostitutes, you admit, I wasn’t exactly a P.R. neophyte. I knew from the beginning that our relationship would be a big tabloid story when it became public. Why go there? Why put this in the book and relive this sort of humiliating episode for you? 

SMITH: My personal life was very much intertwined with my professional life. And a lot of the mistakes that I made in my personal life did bleed over into my professional life. You know, my decision to date a controversial former governor led to me getting fired. I think it was extremely unfair. I’m not sure that the mayor could get away with that today, but I wanted to share — share people. I wanted to share this story with people and I wanted to give them perspective on an experience that a lot of people don’t have is what it feels like to be in this storm of a tabloid scandal. 

KURTZ: Yes. 

SMITH: And the isolation that comes with it. 

KURTZ: People shun you — 

SMITH: People shun you — 

KURTZ: — that you are radioactive. 

SMITH: And then, but also how you handle it. I’m a P.R. person. And I thought that I could handle it all myself and I was wrong. You cannot handle your own press. And it taught me the importance of, sort of giving up control and relying on other people to help me control the narrative. 

KURTZ: When you work for people who judge’s presidential campaign you had to do endless TV interviews including on Fox, including Fox town halls. And you write saying, you’re going to ignore the largest cable news audience in America because you’re so politically pure. Is the political equivalent of bearing your head in the sand and that how do on earth do people think Fox view as we’ll hear the Democratic message? So here you are on Fox. Why is that a tough sell? 

SMITH: So, I think that there are a few things. There’s this stereotype out there that no Democrats watch Fox. We know that a third of Democrats skip Fox and across all demographic groups, blacks, Hispanics, whites, and people are also scared of going on Fox. That’s another big reason. 

A third thing is that we know there is this sort of industry on the left that is devoted to sort of tearing down Fox and saying that any Democrat that goes on that is sort of complicit. And some of the ugly elements of the opinion hosts here on, on the network. 

KURTZ: In your opinion? 

SMITH: In, in my opinion. 

KURTZ: Yes. 

SMITH: In my opinion, yes. But for us, it was really important to have (Inaudible) on because one, it’s a massive audience. 

KURTZ: Right. 

SMITH: When he went on the first Fox News town hall in May of 2019, he got an audience of 1.1 million people. That was about five times what he got in any of the CNN town halls. 

KURTZ: It’s a lot of exposure. 

SMITH: A lot of exposure, but then the next day you see a ton of secondary coverage. It was across MSNBC, across CNN, across local news. It was in the New York Times. It was in the Washington Post. It was on TMZ. It was in People magazine. You get the point. 

I think it’s disrespectful to, to tell an audience that that they’re not worth your time, that you’re not going to talk to them because what does that say about what kind of leader you are and what kind of president you’ll be. 

KURTZ: Liz Smith, thanks very much for joining us. 

SMITH: Great. Thank you for having me. 

(END VIDEOTAPE) 

KURTZ: It was leaks to the press to confirm the Justice Department is investigating Donald Trump. Kevin Corke is here, next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

KURTZ: The leak first to the Washington Post and then the New York Times at the Biden Justice Department is investigating Donald Trump’s role and trying to overturn the 2020 election has been a bombshell. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

JESSE WATTERS, FOX NEWS HOST: How would it look if Joe Biden’s attorney general indicted Donald Trump who would be running against Joe Biden for president? 

PAVLICH: It would look really bad. 

It begins to look like a political vendetta to present some for running for office and succeeding and winning the presidency again to millions and millions of Americans. 

UNKNOWN: I don’t know if Merrick Garland, I don’t know if he needs Waze of Google map or something. Here the map seems pretty clear. What is it going to take for them to finally take the steps that many of us feel that they should have taken this months ago? 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

KURTZ: Joining us now to analyze the coverage, Kevin Corke who covers the White House for Fox News. It’s pretty clear that many in the media are rooting for Merrick Garland and the Justice Department to bring criminal charges against Donald Trump or demanding that the Justice Department brings such charges. Aren’t these some of the same people who loudly complained when Trump openly pressured his attorneys general? 

KEVIN CORKE, FOX NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You nailed it. And just a few headlines. I think you’ll find this interesting. Newsweek, Trump indictment the only option. MSNBC, Garland won’t rule out indictment. I mean, it goes on and on and on. Trump needs to be indicted. Indictment expected. 

What they are basically telling you, Howie, is they will do anything. They’re trying to Jimmy the game to somehow impress upon the attorney general to do something. Anything to stop Trump from running again. I think that’s sort of the media’s perspective. Not sure if the administration really wants that. The president has suggested in private that maybe that’s a good idea, but I think at the end of the day, this is a media creation. 

KURTZ: Yes. That whole Merrick Garland doesn’t rule it out. Everybody had that headline. 

CORKE: Yes. 

KURTZ: He was asked by NBC’s Lester Holt will you take on anybody, including the president. And he just gave a standard like, well, we will pursue without fear of favor, but he’s not ruling it up. 

CORKE: Yes. 

KURTZ: What did you make of President Biden doing this blistering video about Trump not having the courage act on January 6th. 

CORKE: Yes. 

KURTZ: While police officers being blooded. He usually tries to dismiss his predecessor with a one-line answer. 

CORKE: Right. What I thought was interesting was this, I think lays the groundwork, again, the administration is trying to make the argument, which is this man is a danger to democracy. You’ve heard them say this suggestion before. And I think the fact that they’re putting the president himself out there against his potential future upon it — 

KURTZ: Yes. 

CORKE: — again, I think speaks to their concerns because the truth is let’s be honest about it. I think the media certainly recognizes this. This is a weakened president right now. And it’s not it just coming from the right. It’s also coming from inside the house. 

KURTZ: Yes. 

CORKE: So that’s the truth. So, I think — 

(CROSSTALK) 

KURTZ: Many Democrats don’t want him to run. 

CORKE: They don’t want him to run. So, I think what the White House is saying is, let’s get him out there. Let’s make this a mano a mano. Let’s make sure that we’re making sure that people understand that we believe, this man believes, the president believes that Donald Trump is a danger. 

KURTZ: With Trump being the subject of a DOJ investigation, and especially with the links to the press, clearly it has to his sense of grievance of being persecuted. 

CORKE: Yes. 

KURTZ: Would Trump supporters be more sympathetic to the former president if they feel the media, the establishment, and now the Biden Justice Department are trying to take him down? 

CORKE: I think it’s a huge mistake if he’s indicted for just that reason, you make him a martyr. I think if you do that, you make it as if you’re saying, and I think it was mentioned in one of the clips. Now it looks as if it’s political. And if it looks that way, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. 

I think it looks very dangerous for the country. And I think more than anything, it might actually elevate the former president in a way that may not necessarily be a positive for the 2024 election. 

KURTZ: So, let’s move to Trump who’s now had his lawyer file papers saying he may sue CNN and other outlets unless the network apologizes for defaming him over his unproven stolen election charges, which as you know, he keeps talking about. 

CORKE: Yes. 

KURTZ: Is this lawsuit if he files it likely to go anywhere? 

CORKE: Two hundred eighty-two-page document asking that CNN retracts statements like the big lie and they basically use, and I read it. I know I have no life. I read the document, a lot of it is exhibit, but the truth is what they’re trying to do is they’re trying to draw this distinction between how CNN characterizes President Trump versus other people who’ve made claims of election malfeasance, like say, Stacey Abrams, for example. 

So, they’re really coming after them, but does he sue, we’ve seen him threaten lawsuits before against Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, former people who worked on his team. I just don’t know that this usually goes anywhere, Howie. Generally, the president likes to bluster. He likes to threaten, but he rarely follows through. And even when he does, I think there’s a pretty good chance that he probably, it wouldn’t go very far. 

KURTZ: Yes. I think it would get thrown out. He has sued other news organizations or threatened to. 

CORKE: Sure. 

KURTZ: It’s a long history here. 

CORKE: Yes. 

KURTZ: But it’s fascinating because he says in the filing CNN accused him of lying. These are not lies. He subjectively believes that the results in the 2020 election were turned on fraudulent voting act — activity in several key states. That says that it doesn’t have to be true. He doesn’t have to prove it. If he believes it and CNN is defaming it, I just think that’s an interesting semantic tactic. 

CORKE: That’s exactly the way to put it. It’s an interesting way to frame it. And I think that’s also part of the pushback. They want them to back off. I don’t think this goes very far though. 

KURTZ: Yes, but of, of course, if, if he does sue CNN, what’s going to happen. The media love talking about ourselves and we’re all going to go wild. 

CORKE: We’ll go crazy about it. And they’ll put some dollar figure and that’ll be the big story. 

KURTZ: All right. Well, stick around for the next block. But first this, a front-page New York Times story this weekend strongly suggest that Fox News hasn’t interviewed Donald Trump for over 100 days because the Murdoch family whose Wall Street Journal and New York Post have run highly critical editorials is said to have soured om him. 

But I can report there is no edict whatsoever against having Trump on this network. I reached out myself with an invitation some weeks ago, and people close to the former president confirm he hasn’t said yes to any Fox show or been turned down after asking to be on a Fox show, just for the record. 

Still to come, are the media rooting for this Joe Manchin, compromise bill on climate change and raising taxes? 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

KURTZ: Virtually everyone in the media thought any Democratic deal with Joe Manchin was dead till the West Virginia senator suddenly agreed to a $700 billion bill that Democrats say will finance a massive climate change effort while also raising taxes and reducing inflation. 

Well, Kevin, Joe maned on all five Sunday shows today saying he is closing loopholes. I was among the journalists who were shocked. 

CORKE: Yes. 

KURTZ: Nobody thought this would be revived. And are the media largely buying into what’s called the inflation reduction act, even though it contains plenty of spending and taxes on corporations, as well as they say deficit reduction. 

CORKE: I’m still glad that you mentioned that. Fifteen percent minimum tax on corporations at net more than a billion dollars part of this deal 369 billion for energy focused climate programs over 10 years. And it also reverses many of the Trump tax cuts. 

I think generally anything that has to do with green energy is viewed generally speaking favorably, at least in the press. But I think people were quite surprised because Joe Manchin was vilified in this town for not agreeing to more of the Biden programs along the way. 

And so, I was quite — I was quite surprised by the way it was covered at the foot. 

KURTZ: Yes. He was always loosie pulling away where the football is. 

CORKE: Exactly. 

KURTZ: Right until now. 

CORKE: Yes. 

KURTZ: But Republicans are ripping the deal. Mitch McConnell says, people say Mitch McConnell may have gotten outfox because he just helped Biden pass the CHIPS Act. 

CORKE: Yes. 

KURTZ: To compete with China on computer chips. But now that Manchin has pulled us out of his hat. The Republicans are opposing that in the House. They just voted to approve it in the Senate. 

So shouldn’t the press point out that they are going against some of the bills that they supported because they’re ticked off at the Democratic tactics. 

CORKE: Yes. They should point that out, but here’s why they won’t. I think ultimately what you’re really going to find, especially for the next several months, as we get closer to the midterm election, what, if anything, can be done to solidify what few victories the Biden administration might be able to craft. 

And I say, what can be done to solidify? Meaning that the press in general likes to see these things move forward. Let’s be honest about it. 

KURTZ: Yes. 

CORKE: And sometimes, sometimes I would argue fairly often. When it doesn’t happen, the argument about why it didn’t happen is a bigger story. 

KURTZ: Well, you know, they’re taking a huge victory lap on this, but we’re not still not sure they have 50 Democratic votes to pass this through reconciliation with something that both parties do. Krysten Sinema — 

CORKE: Of Arizona. 

KURTZ: — of Arizona. She’s studying the bill. She has concerns. It’s surprising to me that without having all the votes locked up then it looks like. Then it’s going to then look like a big setback if it doesn’t pass. 

CORKE: I think there’s real concern among Democrats here in Washington that Sinema may prove to be the Coggan machine. And I think for good reason, because I think her concerns, not just the minimum tax, I think there’s some other concerns about the way this was done. 

Often, it’s the process that can trip you up. She was not consulted. She felt like she got in sort of late into the — in fact, I think one of her handlers said, how does it come out in the press that she finds out about this particular deal? And sometimes people get prickly in this town if they’re not in on the ground floor. 

KURTZ: Yes. When it says, look, I couldn’t tell anybody or I’d be accused of playing politics. 

CORKE: Correct. So, the media clearly want, isn’t it they love climate change. 

CORKE: Sure. 

KURTZ: And look it’s important, but will the public buy the idea that this complicated bill will help them by reducing inflation. 

CORKE: I don’t believe the public believes it will reduce inflation. I don’t believe despite what the press will say that this will actually have the effect. We often hear the press report. This will reduce inflation. This will do this. 

KURTZ: Yes. 

CORKE: And then they never go back after the fact and say we were wrong. And I suspect this will be that circumstance. 

KURTZ: Right. Did all the savings materialize or is it just more spending? 

CORKE: Exactly. 

KURTZ: But again, it was just a kind of a shockwave here in Washington. 

CORKE: For sure. 

KURTZ: Because Joe Manchin he’s the guy who keeps saying no. 

CORKE: Yes. 

KURTZ: Well finally he said, yes, I think he wanted to use this leverage he has because it goes away when Republicans — 

(CROSSTALK) 

CORKE: In November. 

KURTZ: — just taking in — yes, that’s right then, you know, he turns into a pumpkin. 

CORKE: That’s right. 

KURTZ: Kevin Corke, fun to do it with you one on one. 

CORKE: Great to see you. 

KURTZ: Thanks for being here. And that’s it for this edition of MEDIA BUZZ. I’m Howard Kurtz. Hey, check out my podcast, Media Buzz Meter. You can subscribe at Apple iTunes, Google podcast, or on your Amazon device. We try to cover the waterfront here. Be fair to everybody. Not everybody always likes that, but, you know, that’s OK. We take it incoming from all sides. Kevin is a fair guy. You, you know that by now. 

We’re back here next Sunday. The time, if you forgot it, was 11 Eastern, we will see you then with the latest buzz. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

END 

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