‘MediaBuzz’ on media vs. Trump in Jan. 6 showdown πŸ’₯πŸ‘©πŸ‘©πŸ’₯

This is a rush transcript from, “MediaBuzz,” December 12, 2021. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS HOST (on camera): How did January 6, the day we all watched in horror on our television screens becomes so politically radioactive and how much of the media contributed to these radically different views of the capitol riot?

When the appeals court panel here in Washington ruled against Donald Trump’s attempt to block Congress from obtaining the White House records related to the attack. It was wall-to-wall television on the other cable news networks and the legal battle pitting Mark Meadows against the House January 6 committee also drew hour by hour coverage.

Just as its subpoena battle with Steve Bannon did with the former White House advisor now indicted for criminal contempt. Media conservatives dismissed the whole probe as a partisan exercise by Democrats designed to damage Trump.

Media liberal say Trump’s party is refusing to cooperate with legitimate inquiry and it’s a vital subject and downplaying the extent of the violence. Then the whole thing becomes a boring beltway process story and much of the public tunes out.

The pundits and the politicians have remarkable ability to polarize any issue, even one that strikes at the heart of our democracy. And that’s a shame.

I’m Howard Kurtz, and this is MediaBuzz.

Ahead, Glenn Greenwald on a columnist insisting the pressure should ease up on Joe Biden because they are helping Donald Trump and the forces of darkness or something.

Plus, the Jussie Smollett guilty verdict and how his former champions are downplaying or even ignoring it.

Just as the media were making a huge deal about a book by Mark Meadows which drew criticism from his former boss, Meadows was subpoenaed by his former House colleagues. After initially turning over some records and agreeing to testify Meadows now says he won’t cooperate and is suing. That’s created a huge wave of coverage along with the court ruling against Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOYCE VANCE, LEGAL ANALYST, MSNBC: It’s very likely that there are communications that could well provide a smoking gun because the ultimate unanswered question here has always been really that Watergate formulation, what did the president know and when did he know it?

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS: If people believe around the president that that information will be made public, nobody can ever be honest with the president moving forward. That is dangerous to national security, in my opinion.

JOY REID, HOST, MSNBC: In reality what we are likely watching is just a pathetic attempt by Meadows to get back into the good graces of his former boss.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, MSNBC: It’s almost like he’s virtual signaling to Donald Trump.

UNKNOWN: Yes.

SCARBOROUGH: I’m going to attack him in my book. I’m going to sue Nancy Pelosi because he got put in the doghouse for a couple of days.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Why would you play ball with him at all?

MARK MEADOWS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, I can tell you because certain nonprivileged communication, I think, what they will find is that no one in the White House had any advance knowledge of anything that was going to happen on that particular day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ (on camera): Joining us now to analyze the coverage, Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist and a Fox News contributor, and in New York, Liz Claman, anchor of the Claman Countdown on Fox Business airing at 3 p.m. Eastern.

Mollie, when a three-judge appellate panel ruled against Donald Trump on turning over those January documents, it’s obviously headed to the Supreme Court. There was a media explosion and as we just heard someone on MSNBC already making analogies to Watergate.

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: And it’s very good to cover what’s happening in the courts related to January 6, that commission. What we have not seen is good coverage of that at all or the legal battles in play. Executive privilege is one of the issues, but there are so many other things going on as well.

For instance, there’s all sorts of preceding court cases dealing with whether congressional committees can subpoena documents if there is no legislative purpose associated with it. They are not even pretending there is a legislative purpose associated with their commission, yet they are subpoenaing documents. And not just —

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: About congressional oversight?

HEMINGWAY: Well, oversight being different than legislative purpose, too, but also, they are doing this wide swath like trying to get everybody’s information. They are going after telecommunication companies to get them to preserve records. You also have the president saying you can’t just do it for the sake of exposure.

We had that happened in the House on American activities, you know, commissioned back in the day.

KURTZ: In the 50’s, yes.

HEMINGWAY: So, there’s all sorts of prompts including that it’s supposed to be a bipartisan committee but Nancy Pelosi kicks the Republicans off. It requires a ranking member. They don’t have a ranking member. They are falsely presenting Liz Cheney as the ranking member when she’s not. She was appointed by a Democrat.

So, there are major problems with the legality of this committee that have not been covered by that media.

KURTZ: Well, Pelosi then put onto anti-Trump Republicans. Liz, the media treating this almost like the Nixon tapes case, the famous Supreme Court ruling forcing President Nixon to turnover those secret White House tapes. And he had it to the special prosecutor. But the difference here is this president is already out of office and it’s not a criminal investigation, it’s a congressional inquiry. Your thoughts?

LIZ CLAMAN, FOX BUSINESS ANCHOR: I think Mollie is absolutely right that it is very important for the media to focus on these types of developments because presidents are set or they are certainly solidified.

Look, I mean, you have that court of appeals basically saying that in essence congressional oversight here does not give the President Trump any residual power over notes and things like that. So that was the court case there that was very important.

But I think that you have the media completely ignoring one possibility that is really important and that’s the Supreme Court. And while yes, a lot of Trump’s attorneys may silently believe that they really don’t have a chance if this goes to the Supreme Court. Their strategy is to play out the clock and those processes are very, very onerous. They take a long time.

And let’s not forget there is a five a voting bloc in the Supreme Court that’s conservative, three of whom Donald Trump appointed and who knows? They could simply say let’s just hear it and that only plays down the clock further. I think that any comparison —

KURTZ: All right.

CLAMAN: — with Watergate is completely incorrect because you had a prosecutor versus an acting president, a sitting president, Nixon and it didn’t rule in Nixon’s favor. He did not get that rarefied air grant, and so it doesn’t help Donald Trump there.

KURTZ: I’m already hearing references to smoking gun. Mollie, I agree with you, what do you think this inquiry is partisan or not, it’s important, it’s news, legitimate to cover it, but should the media volume be cranked to a level every time there’s a procedural development or new subpoena goes out?

HEMINGWAY: Well, first of all, I just want to make clear, it is not up for debate whether it is partisan or not. There is not a single Republican appointed member on that committee.

KURTZ: That is a fact. That is a fact.

HEMINGWAY: Only Democrat appointed members and so that really makes the legitimacy of the committee in question because the — when they formed the committee, it requires Republican appointed members and they have to consult with Republican consulted members for subpoenas.

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: But come back to the coverage. Come back —

HEMINGWAY: And so, well, so I think it’s something that should be covered, it shouldn’t just be covered as if they are helping out the committee with their effort so my just covering what’s actually happening.

And part of that is also about a much larger context not just in terms of what happened on January 6, with that riot, but how the media covered all of the riots that we experienced in the preceding year that cause so much damage to the country and hurt a lot of people and the media didn’t seem to care about that.

They downplay those even with the billions of dollars of damage, dozens of people killed, attacks on the White House, attacks on federal courthouses. Those issues were not amplified, but hear this one riot is being used for political gain, it seems

KURTZ: Liz, Mark Meadows who now faces criminal contempt charges starting tomorrow from the House, his former colleagues, it’s a fascinating story because as I said he was cooperating, he had turned over a bunch of documents and cell phone records and now he no longer and he’s filed a suit. And it’s led to a lot of media speculation about his motives and whether or not he’s being pressured by Donald Trump. Is that a fair storyline?

CLAMAN: Well, we only know what we can see. We do know that President Trump has said he was annoyed with Mark Meadows, who in his book, in Meadows a book came out and said that President to Trump knew ahead of the debate against Joe Biden that he had already tested positive for COVID and didn’t seem to show much regard or perhaps interest in worrying about spreading COVID.

Listen, you know, if he feels that he went over the line in his book and suddenly he saw his former boss getting very angry about it and now he says I know I gave 6,000 different documents and I know I gave up some of my phone records, et cetera. Now I don’t want to anymore, he doesn’t really have a strong leg to stand on.

But more importantly, go back to your first topic, Howie, you already have this court of appeals saying that Donald Trump doesn’t get residual protection of executive privilege, so why should Mark Meadows?

KURTZ: Your thoughts on the coverage of Meadows?

HEMINGWAY: Well, first of all, it was a false, the story that Mark Meadows wrote about was a false positive test.

KURTZ: Yes.

HEMINGWAY: And then there was an anonymous report that President Trump was annoyed with that. I think the reality is that many constitutional lawyers are very concerned about the civil rights violation being perpetrated by the January 6th committee.

The argument he made in his lawsuit in my view is the strongest one that has been made thus far, that there’s an illegitimacy to the committee because of how Nancy Pelosi blew it up by not having any Republican appointed members.

KURTZ: Yes.

HEMINGWAY: How they are going after people for the sole sake of exposing them, which is we have Supreme Court precedent that that is in violation of what we think is OK for Congress.

KURTZ: Do you think the media in covering this investigation into this important and dark day in our country’s history are giving any weight at all to these counter arguments one, about executive privilege, and two, you know, have they just sort of moved on.

Remember there was a lot of flap back-and-forth because Republicans didn’t want to go along with a bipartisan commission and so forth, but I can’t disagree with you on the question of making the committee. But do you think the press is treating this committee as if it is coming from a very pure place?

HEMINGWAY: Well, they are doing it all the time and what’s amazing about that is Mark Meadows is one thing, Donald Trump is one thing, but they are going after hundreds of people for the crime of first amendment protected activities. They are asking for a ton of records for people who did nothing wrong and are not accused of doing anything wrong who merely applied for permits to have peaceful protests on January 6.

KURTZ: Right.

HEMINGWAY: They are going back to April, 2020, and the media are not concerted in any way even though this is a horrific precedent if you care about the first amendment —

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: But isn’t that a fact gathering process to find out anybody who’s connected to this to try to piece together what happened —

(CROSSTALK)

HEMINGWAY: Right. So, the FBI has —

KURTZ: — to prevent it from happening again?

HEMINGWAY: So, the FBI has already said that there was no central preplanning and that’s the FBI, which has much better capabilities than Nancy Pelosi and her team of hand-picked people. But going back to April 2020 sort of gives up the lie there.

This isn’t about trying to find out what happened on January 6. This is about going after political opponents and breaking every norm, every rule, every precedent —

(CROSSTALK)

CLAMAN: Well, Howie —

HEMINGWAY: — and every idea that we have about how we should treat people for first amendment protected activity.

KURTZ: We get Liz back in here.

CLAMAN: I would just simply say if you reverse the tables and you turn them very hard to believe that if Mark Meadows were in the party that did have the majority in control of this that they wouldn’t be the first to go after every single document involving a Democrat.

I’m just simply saying that if the tables were turned, Mollie, they would do the exact same thing, it’s hard to believe they would not.

HEMINGWAY: The past would suggest otherwise. I mean, what we are seeing is never been — has never happened before with our Congress.

KURTZ: Meanwhile, also getting lot of coverage New York Attorney General Leticia James suddenly decided she’s wanting to subpoena Donald Trump in a civil investigation. And by the way, she’s not running for governor because their campaign went nowhere in a couple of months. And of course, that is going to get a lot of attention as well even though it’s a very different nature.

Let me get a break here. Ahead, Glenn Greenwald on the columnist who said journalists should ease up on Joe Biden.

But when we come back, President Biden warns Vladimir Putin on Ukraine, and why some pundits say he’s not being tough enough.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ (on camera): Media don’t know exactly what happened during the two- hour video call between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin over Russia’s massing of troops at the Ukraine border, but the pundits have vastly different views.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Meeting with Putin I was very straightforward, there was no minced words. It was polite, but I made it very clear. If in fact he invades Ukraine, there will be severe consequences.

HANNITY: Joe, you are the president, not a concierge at a five-star hotel. You don’t need to accommodate Vladimir Putin.

UNKNOWN: I think Biden has done a good job here of not only communicating to him what the consequences would be economically to begin with for Russia, but also rallying all of Europe.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Biden is weak, he’s not standing up against Vladimir Putin. You hear that constantly including on this channel from Republicans and the rhetoric is getting hotter and crazier and more disconnected from reality.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ (on camera): Mollie, President Biden made a big deal and therefore the media made a big deal about the warnings to the Russian leader about economic sanctions. And yet some critics and the press are slamming him for not doing enough.

HEMINGWAY: Well, the situation with Ukraine and Russia amassing troops on the border with Ukraine is a very serious issue. It’s very important that the media cover it, but I think you have seen too much of the media being too critical of Joe Biden, being too eager to have an armed conflict with Russia, without thinking through the consequences of that.

The situation with Ukraine really is you complicated. It is a divided country. It has portions of the country that would love to ally with NATO. It has portions of the country that are very close to Russia, it’s Russian speaking on the border there. And a good strong U.S. posture might be to negotiate a way to think through Ukraine’s future understanding that it’s right there on the border with Russia —

KURTZ: Yes.

HEMINGWAY: — and we are not seeing that. We are just seeing a lot of like marching toward, drums of war type heated bellicose rhetoric.

KURTZ: Yes. I mean, talk about consequences. Talking here about potential arm conflict between two nuclear armed powers, Liz, when the reality is the U.S. is not going to go to war over a country that is right on, part in that area where it’s part of the Soviet orbit and Putin of course has already seized Crimea.

So pro-Biden pundits — pro-Biden pundits, excuse me, are saying look, Joe Biden is doing what he can with the tools he has available.

CLAMAN: Well, U.S. News & World report did a piece just the other day after this tit-for-tat that Biden and Putin had and they actually said you actually believe it or not are starting to see a little bit of wiggle room and that Vladimir Putin who personally can we really believe anything that Putin says.

But he did basically come out and offer new cooperation. He did say that within a week, perhaps even days the Kremlin would present a sort of idea of how they could get together with the White House and work on overarching security issues.

However, what critics are saying when it comes to Biden and this isn’t just Roger Wicker whose of course a Republican, but you have Tim Kaine, the Democratic senator saying that when you take any kind of armed effort and troop movement off the table, then what are we talking about here, it doesn’t really speak to the power that we might have.

Again, we are trying to avoid a hot war, but strategically, Ukraine is truly important.

KURTZ: I think, Mollie, this of course ideological lines. And National Review Jim Garrity offered what he called a rare word of praise for President Biden for sending a clear message to Putin. But Tucker Carlson as we just heard said some conservatives here and elsewhere are trying to push Biden into a senseless war with Russia.

When you said that some people haven’t thought it through do you mean, I mean, do you think they really want this kind of military action or is it just sort of television bluster?

HEMINGWAY: Does seem that we in this country have had a portion of our foreign policy establishment that seeks intervention and when we get out of one conflict, they are looking for another. They should think through the consequences.

KURTZ: Barack comes to mind.

HEMINGWAY: One of the problems we had in our previous intervention is that we didn’t think through where it served our national interest and how we would exit a particular area. And people say, you know, we are going to war and you hope that that’s right, but you did hear that Senator Wicker talk about nuclear — you know, the nuclear — literal nuclear option.

But I also want to point out how different our media coverage is versus the previous president who actually did have a pretty tough posture toward Russia, who did ramp up our own energy reserves and our own energy posture relative to what Russia had, whereas Biden, you know, he helps them out with their Nord Stream 2 pipeline, he gets rid of our own energy independence.

And yet, we don’t hear that same hysteria that we heard with the previous president where everything he did was put through this context of him supposedly being a traitor who had stolen the 2016 election by colluding with Russia.

KURTZ: Well, Liz, I mean, I think the media consensus would be and Mollie would obviously disagree that Donald Trump openly sought a good and constructive relationship with Vladimir Putin. We can argue about certain policies that he took within that take. And you know, he got a lot of criticism, for example, at the famous Helsinki summit.

And yet, it’s kind of easy, isn’t it, for some of the press to posture about getting tough when getting tough can be difficult when you’re not just dealing with — I mean, look, even in a small country we ended being overextended and then, you know, caught in civil war, but getting tough with Russia obviously is it’s a little bit complicated.

CLAMAN: Well, one of the conundrums was that people couldn’t understand the difference between Trump’s rhetoric and what say, for example, he did at Helsinki, and then the actual policy. They had 52 policy moves when it came to Russia, many of them were extremely tough sanctions on both Putin, Putin’s banks and Putin’s cronies.

And when I say they, I mean, the Trump administration put down all of these things and it hurt Russia. You know, at the Business Channel we call this very closely every single step of the way because when their banks are unable to conduct banking and financial transactions with western countries, that’s a big problem.

So here Biden is piling on and kind of taking that baton from Trump and saying we will do the same thing. There will be terrible sanction consequences.

KURTZ: Yes.

CLAMAN: Biden may think twice because he knows what the Trump administration’s policy moves did to him and it wasn’t pretty.

KURTZ: The story is not over by any means. Liz Claman, Mollie Hemingway, thanks very much for joining us.

Up next, the Biden White House is spinning reports about the economy getting better. Is it working?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ (on camera): The headline in the Washington Monthly drew lots of attention for talking up the president’s efforts on the economy, Biden boom and no one has noticed yet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARI MELBER, HOST, MSNBC: The Washington Monthly reports, this is a Biden boom and no one has noticed yet. You can call it a boom or you can call it a Biden boom, you can even call it a not Trump boom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ (on camera): But the magazine pieces written by Rob Shapiro, an undersecretary of commerce for Bill Clinton who also advise the Obama administration.

Joining us now, Kevin Corke who covers the White House for Fox News. Kevin, Ari Melber who proceeded to interview former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe. There’s also a headline, column in the Hill newspaper that Biden is delivering the fastest second recovery in history. Why has anyone noticed? That’s by a Democratic strategist.

KEVIN CORKE, FOX NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

KURTZ: So, does quoting these kinds of headlines make it sound like these are pieces by journalists?

CORKE: Yes, it really does not and I’ll tell you why. I think most people sort of feel like it depends on who the writer is.

KURTZ: Right.

CORKE: And that’s always the key. It would be like if Kevin Hassett who ran CEA under President Trump, the Council of Economic Advisers, wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal. The average person may not know who Kevin Hassett is, but inside the beltway we certainly know and that sort of shapes I think that way the coverage might be viewed.

KURTZ: Yes. I think you got to say, hey, this is by a person who, you know, the former strategists worked on the Hill and current, you know, Politico.

CORKE: Exactly.

KURTZ: Now look, there’s been some good economic news on unemployment, there’s also some bad economic news on inflation. But this follows a report that got a lot of buzzing in our business from CNN saying that senior White House officials are having private meetings with reporters to shape coverage of the economy. Excuse me, doesn’t every White House, doesn’t every president do that? It’s called spin.

CORKE: It’s called spin. This is my fourth administration and I can tell you each and every one sort of does this, they invite you over in mass, maybe to the old Eisenhower executive office building and they just want to make sure you understand. So, some of the (Inaudible) and show you some charts and some graphs.

KURTZ: Right.

CORKE: But the fact is this is what we call working the referees to use a sports analogy. They’re always trying to give you more information about maybe, you guys aren’t thinking about this or maybe we are not explaining this well enough hoping that they can shape the way things are covered, but at the end of the day this is not novel. This happens in each and every administration.

KURTZ: It happened with Trump, it happened with Obama.

CORKE: Absolutely.

KURTZ: It happened with Bush. And look, they are entitled to get their point of view out, the question then becomes do some journalists just swallowed the spin hole and repeat it or do they factor into their coverage?

CORKE: Well, you would help that the more experienced journalist would obviously be circumspect and maybe just skeptical because that’s our job, is to be skeptical of the government. Unfortunately, I think we noticed during the Trump years more advocacy journalism unless real skepticism in the way it should be in the press corps. And so, you will get some people who will simply take it, hook line and sink it while others hopefully more experienced journalist will sort of tap the brakes.

KURTZ: That might be the understatement of the year.

CORKE: Yes.

KURTZ: Joe Biden as you know, Kevin, does very few TV interviews, very few interviews of any kind, but there he was on Friday with Jimmy Fallon. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: We gave you a standing ovation because I go, here he is, he’s bringing class back, this is classy guy and you are bringing class back to the office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ (on camera): That was in reference to the Kennedy center honors. Jimmy Fallon didn’t ask one even semi-challenging question. It was all like how did you feel when you first went to the White House and so on.

CORKE: Yes.

KURTZ: Look, it’s Jimmy Fallon, it’s a comedy show, I get it. But Biden seems to prefer this kind of interview to talking to people like you?

CORKE: Well, he’s a smart to do so because I think he is not necessarily a guy who can avoid the gaffes away, maybe he could, maybe years ago. I think it’s fair to say the White House wants to protect him. But when you do things like this it does raise questions, which is one, why aren’t you talking to the American people, really talking to the American people about the things that matter.

And number two, if you are only going in friendly venues, you know, Jimmy Fallon or maybe the occasional appearance with one of your buddies at CNN it does make people wonder, what are you hiding and what are you not telling us because people in this environment, Howie, where there’s more news out there than ever, they want hard answers and they want you to communicate them as president.

KURTZ: Right. I have no problem he can do Fallon. He can do Colbert. He can do Kimmel.

CORKE: Yes.

KURTZ: But also do some real interviews. And I think it hurts him because I think he doesn’t get his message out in a way that a president could and therefore doesn’t really have control of the news agenda.

Kevin Corke, great to see you as always.

CORKE: Real pleasure.

KURTZ: Thanks. Next on Media Buzz, a Washington Post columnist says Joe Biden is getting coverage as bad or worse than Donald Trump and that journalists are undermining democracy. Glenn Greenwald coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ (on camera): Some leaders on hot media debate over this question, has President Biden gotten coverage that’s just as bad as or even worse than President Trump? That seems far-fetched but liberal Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank contacted a firm whose algorithm say it’s true for the last four months compared to the same period last year for Trump.

And he writes, my colleagues in the media are serving as accessories to the murder of democracy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA MILBANK, OPINION COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: So, we are as negative as a collective media on Joe Biden, if not more so than we were to Donald Trump at a time when he was trying to overthrow democracy, and I think that is a tremendous indictment of our whole industry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ (on camera): I spoke earlier from Brazil with Glenn Greenwald, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists who now writes at Substack.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KURTZ: Glenn Greenwald, welcome.

GLENN GREENWALD, CO-FOUNDER, THE INTERCEPT: Great to be with you, Howie.

KURTZ: Let’s start with the premise, your intelligence up against artificial intelligence, has President Biden gotten coverage as bad as or worse than President Trump in the last four months compared to Trump last year in your view?

GREENWALD: This attempt to create that narrative that somehow the media was almost biased in favor of President frump and against Biden or that Biden got worse coverage than Trump reminds me of the injunction in (Inaudible) ’84, which is that the party told you to reject the evidence of your own eyes and ears, that was the overarching mandate.

As we are all supposed to forget that the first year of the Trump presidency was this elegy of accusations that Trump was a traitor, he was beholden to Vladimir Putin, he was subject to blackmail control, his election was illegitimate because he had conspired illegally with the Kremlin.

They flooded our politics with stories that were not just negative, but devastatingly so against President Trump and I defy anyone to find anything remotely like that when it comes to their coverage of Joe Biden. They were critical of discrete policies like how he handled his withdrawal from Afghanistan and may be inflation, but nothing remotely near the vitriol all they spewed at President Trump in the first year.

KURTZ: And that’s precisely the point. I’ve written about so many of these studies and it’s negative of somebody as Biden dropping in the polls and he can’t control his own party versus the kind of attacks on Trump that you just described.

And let’s say — let’s say for the sake of argument it’s true. Dana Milbank writes my colleagues in the media are serving as accessories to the murder of democracy. What’s your reaction to that?

GREENWALD: I think this is the key point to understand any media behavior over the last five years, which is that many of them, meaning employees of the liberal wing of the corporate media really have become convinced that Trump is an unprecedented never-before-seen threat to American democracy.

He’s a fascist, he’s almost like a Hitler-like figure and that it’s therefore immoral to extend to him the same treatment as the media would extend to any other president, because every other president previously and since, might be on the right or might be the left, but at least they represent and believe in American democracy, whereas Trump wants to overturn democracy and implement a fascist dictatorship.

That’s really what they believe, and so once you believe that it almost does become rational to think what Dana Milbank thinks, which is the media shouldn’t treat the two sides the same and if they do, they are accessories to the distraction of democracy.

KURTZ: Right. But even if you accept that premise, I mean, at that point you are asking journalist to become activists, what he calls partisans for democracy and he actually makes it explicit that journalists should go easier on President Biden to avoid helping Donald Trump because he’s this horrible awful human being.

And at that point, I mean, doesn’t that play into the last four years and why the mainstream media as a whole have lost the confidence of half the country?

GREENWALD: Absolutely. You know, I — it’s been a long-standing trope on the right that the American media is biased in favor of liberalism and the Democratic Party. They, you know, Rush Limbaugh and lots of commentators on the right have called it the liberal media. I actually personally never bought into that. I never actually believe that that was true.

I actually do think though, that the Trump years radically transform how the media sees itself and this explicit admission is almost positive that they now do see themselves as activists on behalf of the party, the Democratic Party that they believe is pro-democracy because it’s justified since the other party is anti-democracy.

KURTZ: Well, you know, for journalists to say that journalists, you know, shouldn’t be so rough on Joe Biden over inflation or legislative gridlock or Afghanistan or whatever, it seems like a call to tilt the playing field for, as you say, this higher purpose, that is we must all come together and deal with this threat.

And it’s fine for opinion people to do that and Dana Milbank, an old colleague of mine is an opinion columnist but to call on the press in general, reporters in general to do that seems like a pretty blatant invitation to tilt the playing field.

GREENWALD: This is been, you know, my position, one of my main views for the last five years. You know, it’s the reason why people mistakenly think I’ve changed my ideology and become some kind of right-wing advocate. I’m not. I’m a believer in journalistic values and the role that reporting served in society.

And my concern is that they have corrupted so many key institutions in the name of stopping Trump. They really do believe there are no limits ethically or otherwise on anything that should be done in the name of stopping him including spreading conspiracy theories like maximus Russiagate views that have no connection to the truth.

And that concern of mine is exactly what you expressed which is now they’re explicitly viewing themselves as activists and not journalists because they believe the situation is so grave that it requires that.

KURTZ: Yes. I’ve read a thousand tweets of people accusing you of changing your views and so forth. One other topic, NBC News has hired as a full-time correspondent Yamiche Alcindor from PBS, she’ll still host Washington Week. Despite observations by some that she’s not completely an objective reporter, let me just show the audience a question she asked President Trump and one to President Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: On the campaign trail you called yourself a nationalist. Some people saw that as an emboldening white nationalist. Now people are also saying —

(CROSSTALK)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don’t know why you’d say that. That’s such a racist question.

ALCINDOR: What’s your message though for Democratic voters especially black voters who think Republicans running on race as occasion blind about critical race theory and they are worried that Democrats don’t have an effective way to push back on that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ (on camera): What’s your take on NBC’s hiring move here?

GREENWALD: She’s a perfect example of somebody who barely hides the fact that she regards her view as pushing the Democratic Party only to the extent that she wants them to be better at winning elections. That’s the only criticism that she’ll make as she wants them to do better winning.

And I think, you know, on some level I almost would rather have a journalist like that who barely hides the fact that she’s a partisan Democrat than have the ongoing fraud that they continue to be objective. There are still good journalists working in the media who try and be as objective as possible, but NBC and MSNBC, CNN and to a lot of extent other news outlets have become arms of the Democratic Party —

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: Glenn Greenwald, great to see you. Thanks for joining us.

GREENWALD: Thanks, Howie. Good to be with you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KURTZ: After the break, Jussie Smollett is guilty of staging a hate crime and some of his former champions are staying pretty quiet. That’s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ (on camera): It was the bogus hate crime that rocked the media world and it took a Chicago jury just one day to find Jussie Smollett guilty of a five of six counts of staging a fake attack. Two years ago, the story exploded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNKNOWN: I know there are a lot of questions in this case, but I know Jussie Smollett is a really, really good guy. I just want justice to be served in this case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ (on camera): CNN’s Don Lemon was sympathetic to Smollett when the actor claimed he had been beaten up by Trump supporters, but as Smollett testified this week Lemon had texted him that Chicago police didn’t believe his story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: I know him, not best friends but I know him. So he told me in his own words what he said happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ (on camera): Lemon conceded that some people in the black and gay communities were skeptical and said this when charges were filed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He even lied to a lot of people. If it’s not true, including me and that’s not cool.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ (on camera): Joining us now from New York, Mercedes Colwin, a Fox News legal analyst. And Mercedes, you know, Don Lemon may have been personally snookered by Jussie Smollett over this fake attack, a lot of people were snookered. But when he covered the verdict, which is good, shouldn’t he have disclosed again that they were friendly and that they had been texting at the time?

MERCEDES COLWIN, FOX NEWS LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it’s obviously a pretty sticky situation for him. Initially he did disclose that it was a very personal issue for him because they were friends and he had mentioned that a few times. And sure, as journalist you want to sort of do a full disclosure the parameters of what you are about to say especially when you have such a large following.

I mean, we all have that issue for all of us. If you are going to speak publicly you need to have a journalistic integrity and make sure that people understand from your vantage point what you are expressing on air.

KURTZ: That’s a great —

(CROSSTALK)

COLWIN: Because influence does matter.

KURTZ: That’s a great way to put it. Now, MSNBC’s Joy Reid at the time of the fake attack, remember there been a rope put on Jussie Smollett which he actually paid for.

COLWIN: Sure.

KURTZ: Tweeted nooses never really disappeared as a message for a very specific type of terror, praying for Jussie’s full recovery.

COLWIN: Right.

KURTZ: But she didn’t so much as mentioned the verdict a couple of hours after it happened and neither did that MSNBC shows at eight, or nine or at 10 or at 11. How does it suddenly become non-news when Jussie Smollett is convicted of faking a hate crime?

COLWIN: As defense attorney this is your worst nightmare. She, who you have some issues out there in the public that can actually really influence the integrity of the process and that’s why individuals that have a huge platform have to really be careful because words matter. What they say matters whether that has some influence in a jury, has some influence in the investigation, that’s when it becomes problematic.

And maybe this is really a lesson learned for all of those who did rush to judgment and frankly, it’s understandable they would because the allegations were so incredibly heinous that he was attacked in the middle of the night, a noose put around his neck and all these terrible things that he said that happened to him.

All of that it’s understandable that there was this rush and that individuals came forward, but yes, maybe now this is a lesson for everyone to really don’t judge a book by the cover, and really say to those if a crime occurred, let law enforcement take this and really do the investigation.

Don’t say or do anything that could influence it because even during the testimony Jussie Smollett said that he — he knew from a text message from Don Lemon that the police started to doubt his story.

KURTZ: Yes.

COLWIN: Well, that’s really problematic for Don Lemon if somehow law enforcement decides that the information was not public, that should not have been disclosed to Jussie Smollett because at that point he was a person of interest.

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: Yes, I agree —

COLWIN: It was part of the investigation.

KURTZ: I agree with you.

COLWIN: That’s a real problem.

KURTZ: When this first happened, you know, the Chicago police were investigating there was no contradicting information.

COLWIN: Right.

KURTZ: Of course, you had to report it involving this television actor. I stay away for (Inaudible) because I just wasn’t sure what happened.

COLWIN: Sure.

KURTZ: But you know the media often predicts or forecast the outcome of trials and sometimes they are wrong, Kyle Rittenhouse, for example. But in this case, it seemed like such a slam-dunk with the two brothers testifying that yes, he paid them, that yes, they orchestrated the attack, that yes, he bought them the rope, that yes, they scouted out the location in Chicago the day before. It makes me wonder like why did this guy go to trial, why he didn’t just plead to something.

COLWIN: Well, frankly because his story he had already gone on such a public way to disclose that what had happened to him that he was a victim, he said it repeatedly. He surrounded himself with really good lawyers who said the same thing in public.

So, all of these things really at that point Jussie Smollett really thought to himself he really doesn’t have a choice but to go to court.

KURTZ: Right. He boxed himself in.

COLWIN: What really was a game changer is being on the stand. Like I know that there’s talk about there being an appeal, but he took the stand.

KURTZ: Yes.

COLWIN: And obviously the jury didn’t believe him and having taken the stand that just really kills it even further —

KURTZ: Right.

COLWIN: — of any chance in the future to —

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: Let me — let me jump in because we’re short on time.

COLWIN: Sure.

KURTZ: I mean, Donald Trump initially said this was a horrible attack because reacting like the rest of us.

COLWIN: Sure.

KURTZ: Then he said it was complete embarrassment when the Smollett story fell apart. And here’s what he said after the verdict.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This was an absolute con job, he was a con man and he wanted to try to get sympathy so he could have his contract renewed for his ridiculous television series.

(END VOICE CLIP)

KURTZ (on camera): Now, Joe Biden at the time tweeted what happened to Jussie Smollett was never to be tolerated in this country.

COLWIN: Sure.

KURTZ: Kamala Harris tweeted at that time he was one the kindest most gentle human being I know. It was an attempted modern-day lynching. Does the press have some responsibility to press them to say something about this? Jen Psaki spoke on the president’s behalf but we haven’t heard from either of them personally.

COLWIN: Right. I mean, it goes back to everyone’s reaction, I think looking at the circumstances and the allegations of course people were horrified. They made comments, obviously they didn’t know at the time that this could have — it’s been a hoax. Who could have?

KURTZ: Yes.

COLWIN: Who could have thought that someone that doesn’t have a criminal history comes from a stable family was well-known, kind, lovely, talented made it all up. It’s just so extreme and outrageous. It’s understandable why people did have —

KURTZ: Right.

COLWIN: — that initial reaction and this just goes back to lesson learned.

KURTZ: Yes.

COLWIN: Let’s step back and say there’s law enforcement, there’s a process, let’s see how it goes.

KURTZ: Right. I didn’t know, I was fooled like everyone else and now you say what you have to say.

COLWIN: Right.

KURTZ: Mercedes Colwin, thanks very much for joining us this Sunday.

COLWIN: My pleasure. Thank you.

KURTZ: Still to come, some news about Chris Wallace, Newsmax boots a White House reporter and a lot more. Stick around for the Buzz Meter.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KURTZ (on camera): Time to raise the clock on this week’s Buzz Meter. Let’s go.

We all just learned that Chris Wallace is leaving Fox News at his Sunday program after nearly two decades. He says he’s always had editorial independence and is just ready to do something else.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Eighteen years ago, the bosses here at Fox promised me they would never interfere with the guest I booked or question I asked, and I kept that promise.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ (on camera): I’ve known and respected Chris for a very long time back to the days when he was at ABC and NBC, he is the most tenacious interviewer in the television business based on intense preparation and plain old persistence. He has the kind of seasoned judgment that only comes from so many years of covering political issues and he may be the best debate moderator ever.

In the air of hyper polarization, Chris Wallace has been equally tough on Democrats and Republicans no matter what some partisans may say.

CNN is now reporting that Wallace will join its forthcoming streaming service with a weekday show. Wallace says he’s thrilled about the move. This is a major loss for Fox News, no question about it. As a colleague, I will miss him, as a friend, wishing Chris all the best.

Chris Cuomo along with his brother Andrew Cuomo were discussing ways to discredit Fox senior meteorologist Janice Dean, that according to CNBC and the New York Post. Dean repeatedly criticized the then governor for his handling of COVID after losing both of her husband’s parents who were in nursing homes to the virus.

The messaging strategy involving the governor’s top aide was to paint Dean as a right-wing commentator although she doesn’t usually get involved in politics. These reports say fired CNN host was asked to dig up information on Dean, but it’s not clear that went forward.

And Andrew Cuomo’s spokesman told CNBC there were no strategy sessions aimed at Dean but the same spokesman told the British paper last year last I checked she’s not a credible source on anything except maybe the weather. Janice Dean says she’s always maintained that her criticism was never about politics.

Newsmax is dropping its White House correspondent. Emerald Robinson was taken off the air after tweeting about COVID vaccines in a way that force the network to distance itself. She wrote, dear Christians, the vaccines contain a bioluminescent marker called Luciferase so that you can be tracked. Read the last book of the New Testament to see how this ends.

Robinson doubled down to the point where Twitter permanently banned her and now Newsmax is not renewing her contract.

Sarah Silverman, the liberal comedian and podcast dislikes (Ph) MSNBC’s Joy Reid but chided her for airing a misleading item about Republican Governor Ron DeSantis that she got hammered by the left in part for daring to criticize a black commentator.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH SILVERMAN, PODCAST HOST: We can’t even criticize the people our own side, we can’t even critique anyone in your own party without punishment. I did not criticize Joy and because she’s black, but because she’s a Harvard educated journalist with the responsibility ideally of showing the whole picture and not just a piece of a picture.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ (on camera): Sarah Silverman showed chutzpah and didn’t back down.

That’s it for this edition of MediaBuzz. I’m Howard Kurtz. There we go. We hope you like our Facebook page. We post my daily columns there. Let’s continue the conversation on Twitter. Hey, check out my podcast Media Buzz, Buzz Meter. You can subscribe at Apple iTunes, Google podcast, on your Amazon device or a whole lot of other places.

For us Chris Wallace’s departure was breaking news. I have to Google fast scriptwriting there and I wanted to bid my colleague farewell, at least from this network where everybody has admired and valued the chance to work with him. We’ll see you next Sunday.

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