Nov. 15, 2020 – This is a rush transcript from “Media Buzz” November 15, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: This is MEDIA BUZZ. I’m Howard Kurtz. Trump adviser Jason Miller joins us shortly. The media world is in a strange limbo, having projected Joe Biden as winning the White House and covering him as president-elect, while also grappling with President Trump’s as yet unproven allegations of a stolen election based on fraud. And the pundits are dishing out increasingly harsh rhetoric on the left and the right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president and his enablers are escalating their cries of election fraud when the only fraud continues to be the one they appear to be perpetrating themselves.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What in the hell is the Republican Party doing to defend and to — I mean, why not just say we’re not going to accept the results of this election? It’s outrageous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If this dead man walking and his zombie pals in Congress are looking to make this transition into a complete horror show, the only thing that’s going to stop them is the outrage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gathering facts is the last thing our media are designated to fact gatherers seem to want to do. Instead, they’re demanding to shut up and accept Joe Biden, period.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It’s embarrassing for the country, and it’s terribly embarrassing for the Republican Party. Nobody in that party but for some very notable exceptions dare tell the emperor he has no clothes on. He has no case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After years of being lied to, smeared, slandered, and frankly, censored now by America’s most powerful institutions, bureaucrats and the deep state, the hacks in the media mob, the 99 percent, we’re not just going to take their word for anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us to analyze the coverage, Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist and a Fox News contributor, Susan Ferrechio, Chief Congressional Correspondent for The Washington Examiner, and in Los Angeles, Leslie Marshall, radio talk show host and also a Fox News contributor. Mollie, President Trump just tweeted of Biden, he won because the election was rigged.
With a swipe at the fake and silent media, there’s been an explosion of news stories on this, some liberals are touting this as a kind of grudging concession. Do you think Donald Trump is starting to acknowledge reality and do you accept the reality?
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: There are two issues here for the media on how they should be handling this situation. One is the constitutional process by which we determine who has won the presidency, and the second are all the issues surrounding how credible this election has been, this move to widespread mail-in balloting, and whether the appropriate measures were taken to make sure that this was a safe and secure election.
On the constitutional issue, there will be an Electoral College vote at some point, and that’s what will determine the president. The media can assert or say that they, in their estimation, they believe that Joe Biden is unquestionably going to be that person. But they’ve also lost so much of their credibility in recent years that, you know, they said that this wouldn’t be a close election.
They said this was going to be a massive blue wave. They have spent many years lying about Donald Trump, his presidency, his supporters. And so half the country no longer acknowledges their legitimacy to assert what the situation is. And, in fact, if the media say something, they’re more likely to doubt it because of that horrible track record.
HEMINGWAY: But the other issue is that the media really do need to be looking at the credibility of this election, and instead of just running away from it this year more than all others.
KURTZ: Well, there’s no question the media don’t have the right — a legal right to decide who won the election, but I think it’s less about the network projections now, including on Fox. And let me turn to Leslie on this, than it is about the actual vote counting. Now, moments or some short time after the tweet I just read, President Trump reacting to the freak out on Twitter had this follow-up tweet.
Speaking of Biden, he only won in the eyes of the fake news media. I concede nothing. Now, Trump is a master messenger on Twitter. Do you think he was trying to send a signal with the first tweet? Maybe he wants to kind of acknowledge that there’s going to be a transition but without conceding.
LESLIE MARSHALL, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Howie, quite frankly, I have two children. I’ve seen this before at Target when they were toddlers and they were screaming and they wouldn’t get the toy. And I’m not going to give them the toy. And Donald Trump’s not going to get the toy. And the toy in this case is the presidency.
Homeland Security has said no election fraud. Electoral Commission has said no election fraud. The Trump administration has nearly zero success in the courts, whether you have attorneys saying you can’t do this anymore —
KURTZ: Leslie, just — we’ll get to that in a moment. Just address the tweet briefly, please.
MARSHALL: This is what he’s been doing throughout his administration. He has been leading this nation through a social media network. He — this is what he believes, and this is what people who follow him believe, and they want to believe despite the facts. Look at 2016 and now, Howie, Michigan,
.3 percent he won by. Wisconsin, —
KURTZ: All right, I get it. I’m going to get to —
HEMINGWAY: — did not bring those places to court or allege that there was voter fraud, and he won —
KURTZ: Susan, I want to ask you about some comments by CNN’s Jim Acosta.
After January 20th, he says, Trump just goes back to being another crackpot on the internet. On what planet is that appropriate for a White House correspondent?
SUSAN FERRECHIO, WASHINGTON EXAMINER CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT:
It’s not, and it’s part of what Mollie was talking about, how the larger story about this election is the media, and that they announced Biden the winner, and he may well be the winner. But the media lost credibility through its coverage of the president over the last four years.
Jim Acosta was kind of leading a way with that with his combative attitude in these press conferences. He sort of started it all. And CNN, which was supposed to be the neutral network where you could watch the news and really find out what’s happening objectively. That’s all gone by the wayside. And you combine that with the way this election was conducted, all new mail-in balloting where all the states had different rules, and the outcomes came — it creates all this doubt.
I don’t think the doubt should be laughed at. I don’t think Trump should be treated like he’s a toddler questioning this. There are a lot of questions about this, and the Jim Acosta comment is part of why the public really doesn’t trust what’s going on.
KURTZ: Mollie, President Trump and his team have every right to pursue their legal challenges. On Friday, however, just on Friday, they lost rulings or, you know, had legal setbacks in Michigan, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. Arizona’s Republican governor says he believes Biden will win the state. There’s not enough fraud to overturn.
So my question is just as a straight news story covering the legal developments, it doesn’t seem to be looking good for the Trump team. Would you disagree?
HEMINGWAY: I’m not sure. Legal developments will be what they are, and we have to wait and see how they conclude. And there will also be new filings, and they should be covered honestly and accurately. There is the issue though that the media should have curiosity about what was just referenced, this massive move to mail-in balloting, which has much less scrutiny than normal voting in person.
And it should have, in fact, much more. So you have a certain level of fraud in every election. And the media just seemed to have no concern or curiosity about it at all. If they cover it, they downplay it. And this was after four years of completely amplifying Democratic claims that the 2016 election was stolen by Donald Trump.
They spent many years no matter how ludicrous the claim was, amplifying it and devoting all of their media coverage to it. And here you have a totally normal thing, which is a certain amount of election fraud in every election. But this year with that massive move to mail-in balloting, no signature checks, kicking observers out while they counted those mail-in ballots.
This is something that a media, if the election had exactly the opposite in terms of where the numbers were right now, they would be digging into every last little last thing here. And we know that. And they’re not doing it in this case because they are — they want to just support their candidate, Joe Biden.
KURTZ: All right. I want to briefly touch on a couple of these allegations. Susan, the president re-tweeted a report being promoted by OAN network, that dominion, which makes these voting machines, deleted nearly a million of his votes, which were more than 200,000, Pennsylvania votes from Trump to Biden. There was some problems with the human error on the software.
But his own Department of Homeland Security says no evidence of any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised.
FERRECHIO: Democratic political connections to the dominion system, so it’s one of those things that’s going to create doubt. And it’s also electronic. With the push of a button, things can disappear. I think it helps to undermine the trust in this particular election amongst millions of people who voted for Trump who now question whether this thing was completely rigged.
And whether or not the media — that’s still tens of millions of voters who have doubts in this election. And that’s why I think it’s important to look at all aspects of this, especially the ones where there are political connections like the dominion system.
KURTZ: There are widespread doubts. There’s no question about that. And that is part of the story. Leslie, another allegation touted by Trump lawyers and the campaign, a Pennsylvania postal worker alleged backdating of ballots received after election day. He he later recanted his charge to inspector general investigators.
So, you know, we should as journalists look at all these things, but also if it turns out to crumble, then we have to report that too.
MARSHALL: Absolutely. We want the facts here. Look, you know, I don’t want to win, and I don’t want my candidate to win by cheating. And I would hope the other side doesn’t either. Howie, the problem here, when Susan speaks of casting doubt, well, there’s some doubt on my side of the aisle.
Democrats say how come you don’t question North Carolina?
North Carolina was just called around the same time Arizona was by most of the networks, yet Trump won that state. And that’s part of a problem.
They’re only questioning the legitimacy of the votes counted in states that he lost, which doesn’t smell right to a lot of voters. And there are people I know here in California that are Republicans that voted for the president.
But that have accepted what looks like is certainly going to be the outcome of this election, which is that Joe Biden is president-elect and will be the next president of the United States.
KURTZ: OK. Mollie, I want to play for you a clip from the president’s briefing on the vaccine on Friday. We’ll talk about the substance next segment. Let’s start with that and I’ll ask you a question on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I will not go — this administration will not be going to a lockdown. Hopefully, the — whatever happens in the future, who knows which administration it will be. I guess time will tell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: So the New York Times says that by dominating the story of the transition, as the president’s doing, that he hopes to keep millions of his supporters energized and engaged for whatever comes next. There’s some talk about he might run in 2024. Are the media giving him what he wants for his post-presidency, which is that he remains a dominant media figure?
HEMINGWAY: Well, he just is, whether or not they give him whatever they give him. He just had a re-election campaign where he gained 10 million new voters. He is clearly going to have a lot of power in terms of deciding whether he wants to run again if he is not determined to be the winner of this election. He can easily run again. And he is the most popular.
He’s simultaneously the most hated and the most popular politician in this country. And we pay so much attention to the people who are just consumed by fear and hatred of him. But he has 73 million people who love him. And love him after what they just been put through by the media for the last four years. That’s a lot of power. And the Republican Party knows that. The media know that, and it’s just going to be what we’re going to deal with.
KURTZ: Right. What’s fascinating to me is that Joe Biden is giving speeches. He’s announced the appointment Ryan Clane (ph) veteran adviser as White House chief of staff. And yet, he’s being totally overshadowed in this transition so far, kind of like what happened during the campaign. Let me get a break here. Ahead, Jason Miller of the Trump campaign joins the program.
But when we come back, the surge in Coronavirus becomes a major media issue, and that’s fueling some press criticism of the president.
KURTZ: A surging in Coronavirus with a staggering 181,000 new cases on Friday alone. The death toll the that day almost 1,400 and record-breaking hospitalizations has roared back into the news, and the latest victim is Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski. All this has given President Trump’s media detractors a chance to charge that he’s distracted by his continuing election battle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is President Trump doing about all of this?
Nothing, he is inside the White House. He is not talking about the pandemic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are they going to do this again? Are they going to allow this president to manage the transition as terribly as he managed the Coronavirus and willfully doing nothing, willfully refusing to use the powers of his presidency to do the right thing and help mitigate this pandemic?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: The one bit of good news, Pfizer close to marketing a vaccine. It says is more than 90 percent effective has been welcomed on the right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump knew from day one that the only way for this nation to get out of this pandemic. He did call it the China virus in that press — in that speech, was to as fast as possible to get a vaccine under development.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Mollie, as the press sees it, the president is laser focused on the election battle and hadn’t addressed the surging pandemic until Friday.
Doesn’t that open the door to some media criticism?
HEMINGWAY: Just, first off, I want to make sure we mention in the fist segment it was said that that post office whistleblower had recanted what he had claimed about witnessing bad things happening at the post office.
That’s actually not true. The Washington Post did report that erroneously, but he released audio of exactly what he said to post office investigators.
And you can listen to that yourself. It’s like a two hour audio interview.
And he says he did not recant in contradiction to what the Washington Post claimed.
HEMINGWAY: As for the situation with the Coronavirus situation, it is a global pandemic. It has been hitting other countries extremely hard in recent weeks. We’re seeing an uptick here, too. There does seem to be the media continuing their push for lockdowns. And the media have really been chearleading that.
And one of the things that I think is interesting is that they did that in part using polls, saying that people were broadly supportive of this approach to how to handle a global pandemic. I think it’s worth noting as we reflect on how completely fraudulent and erroneous and intentionally so many media polls were with how they covered whether or not it this was a close election between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.
It’s also interesting to think about how those polls drove that false or drove coverage about Coronavirus and what people’s actual feelings are about whether they should lose their civil liberties or be shut down or have schools — children banned from schools and other issues. And so this polling, I think, is an issue not just with politics but also with how they handle the Coronavirus coverage.
KURTZ: On that point, Leslie, a top Biden Coronavirus adviser, Dr. Michael Osterholm, says we may need a four to six week national lockdown to get the virus under control. Now, Biden himself has not embraced this, but media conservatives are saying, aha, this is what Biden planned all along.
MARSHALL: Wrong. Look, I know there’s a drinking game every time — I’m married to a doctor, so drink, folks. My husband is in the medical community, and I’m privy to some of these conversations. The doctors are very concerned. You know, it’s not that we’re having a little bit of a spike. What we are having is we’ve broken our own record.
We have winter coming. And in nearly all 50 states, we’re going to be indoors a lot more. That is a huge concern to the medical community that they don’t have the capacity with health care workers and with beds in these hospitals to care for these individuals. All we want is to get this
COVID-19 virus behind us.
What can they do in the interim until the vaccine is available, especially when you have a third of Americans saying they’re not even going to take any vaccine that’s out there, Pfizer or otherwise. What can be done?
Lockdown is one of the things they look at. But Howie, lockdown has negative ramifications also, not just to the economy, but to people’s mental health as well.
KURTZ: Right. Well, I don’t drink during the show, by the way. But Susan, you look at the president’s Twitter feed, and it’s mostly about contesting the election. There’s lots of tweets and re-tweets, criticism of Fox News.
He says he was the golden goose for Fox, almost nothing on the virus. Is it too easy for liberal commentators to blame this rather chilling new autumn surge on the president?
FERRECHIO: I think it’s completely ridiculous, frankly. The president all along listened and followed the guidance of Dr. Fauci and his Coronavirus task force. He helped secure the contract with Pfizer for 100 million doses of the vaccine as supposed to be 90 percent effective. The country is producing enough ventilators to send them overseas.
There’s been enough protective gear. And there has been enough capacity in hospitals. Now, we’re entering flu season. There are spikes in some parts of the country. Some areas are topping off now. And I think we’re probably going to see a reduction in some of those cases. It’s also flu season. You know, it’s been months now we’ve been in lockdown. Our kids have been out of school since March.
There are people missing doctors’ appointments and screenings. They’re still staying away from check-ups. You have to weigh the risks here of lockdown versus — it’s something more modified. And the media always jump
— he was doing daily briefings and they criticized him for that, too. He can’t win.
KURTZ: That’s true. I got to move on. Mollie, I got half a minute. The president sent out a fundraising letter about the Pfizer vaccine. Pfizer and others probably didn’t have the courage to make this historic announcement before November 3rd because they hoped it would keep me from winning big. Pfizer absolutely denies that, quick thought on that, please.
HEMINGWAY: Well, there was a lot of speculation in the media that if the vaccine was announced prior to the election that people would not feel like taking it. And so, you know, this has been something people have talked about a lot. I is certainly that this was amazing work done in this public/private partnership.
And you know, getting a vaccine in just a few short months that everyone should be thankful for, and that did happen under the Trump administration.
KURTZ: Yes. And that’s great. And then the next challenge of course, will be distributing it and making sure people think that it’s safe. Mollie Hemingway, Susan Ferrechio, Leslie Marshall, thanks very much for a good conversation this Sunday morning. Up next, the pundits are upset with Mike Pompeo, Bill Barr and the firing of Pentagon chief Mark Esper. has the criticism been overblown? That’s next.
KURTZ: The media are now focusing on the conduct of some cabinet members and the firing or possible firing of others, especially after this exchange with secretary of state Mike Pompeo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At what point does a delay hamper a smooth transition or pose a risk to national security?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us now Fox News correspondent Griff Jenkins. And Griff, the media went haywire over Pompeo’s answer given that his department deals with world affairs. And there was some speculation that maybe, well, he was joking.
GRIFF JENKINS, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I talked to some of the reporters that covered the secretary of state and said, you know, what’s going on here. And they said this is a guy who likes to deliver one-liners.
He practices them. But this one certainly did backfire. Howie, later, the secretary of state went on with Bret Baier and was asked were you being serious.
And Pompeo did not take the opportunity to say he wasn’t being serious, to say it was a joke and to move on.
JENKINS: And you have America’s top diplomat who goes around the world advocating for free and fair elections. And yet, now you’re putting in question a smooth transition. And we will see what sort of questions keep coming towards him, I think this week and the coming days because this was a case that certainly backfired for the secretary of state.
KURTZ: Right. Now, as you know, the president fired defense secretary Mark Esper a little bit after the election and installed a few loyalists at the Pentagon. The media’s question is why do this presumably leaving in 10 weeks anyway, was it political payback?
JENKINS: Well, it’s no secret that since June 3rd a press conference that Esper held the president’s been upset because Esper said he did not support using active duty forces to quell protests. But there’s now questions about whether it’s about pulling troops out of Afghanistan. Our own Jennifer Griffin confirmed that prior to Esper’s firing, he sent two memos.
One of them which warned of the dangers of pulling out of Afghanistan too quickly. That may have triggered it. Now, the acting secretary of defense, Chris Miller, sent a message to the troops, and it’s a little bit of a mixed message. Because he says the war isn’t other, but at the same time he says it’s time to bring the troops home.
If the troops do indeed come home, and we know Esper wasn’t going to do that, perhaps we’ll get our answer then.
KURTZ: Right. Well, Donald Trump still is president. And on the second point, he has the right to pursue his foreign policies as long as he is in office. Now, attorney general Bill Barr made headlines by authorizing federal prosecutors to conduct probes of specific election allegations ahead of the election unit stepped down. Should the media have slammed Barr for that memo?
JENKINS: The criticism is fair, Howie, because it has caused an uproar at the Department of Justice. You have — that memo was issued by Barr on Monday. By Friday, 16 federal prosecutors sent a letter to him saying that they have not found evidence of substantial allegations, that the memo was not based in fact.
And the top guy here in Washington and the DOJ that oversees election fraud resigned in protest. And so I think you will see the Department of Justice continue to have people speak out, because ultimately, you have career prosecutors that feel they’re being thrust into political partisan battles.
KURTZ: Right. In fairness, the media did kind of play down the other part of the memo where Barr said no investigations were specious, speculative, fanciful, or far-fetched claims. Griff Jenkins, great job as always, great to see you. Thank you.
JENKINS: Thanks, Howie.
KURTZ: And coming up, as the president keeps contesting the election and Joe Biden holds his first post election presser, top campaign adviser Jason Miller joins us in a moment.
KURTZ: While the networks projected Joe Biden as the next president, many journalists were celebrating and literally during the news coverage at MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Joy, this is fantastic!
MADDOW: You are — you’re aglow. I can see from here.
JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I’ve stayed up for 447 days waiting for this election to be over!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: And when Joe Biden took questions for the first time as president- elect, the reporters mainly kept inviting him to criticize President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you expect to be able to work with Republicans when so many have thus far refused to even acknowledge your victory?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you tried to reach out at all to the president?
How will you move ahead if the president continues to refuse to concede?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you say to the Americans that are anxious over the fact that President Trump has yet to concede and what that might mean for the country?
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I just think it’s an embarrassment, quite frankly. The only thing that — how can I say this tactfully? I think it will not help the president’s legacy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us now, Jason Miller, senior adviser to the Trump reelection campaign. And Jason, what did you make of the reporters’
questions to Joe Biden and his response? He said he was trying to be tactful, using the word embarrassment for the president continuing to contest the election.
JASON MILLER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Well, Howie, good morning. I would say this probably one step above the reporters asking him if he got a vanilla milk shake or a chocolate milk shake but not much more strenuous than that and even going through a clip with MSNBC.
Let’s be clear what they’re celebrating. They’re not celebrating because Joe Biden in his — where he finished up on election night and where things might be in the recount process. They’re celebrating because they think Kamala Harris is one step closer to the presidency. So we got to call it for what it is.
KURTZ: All right. Now, the president, as we noted earlier, has set off of a whole lot of media frenzy by tweeting of Biden, he won because the election was rigged. They’re also taking a swipe at fake news media. And then a later tweet says, no, I’m not conceding anything.
But the wording of the tweet seems to suggest that maybe the president is trying to send a signal that he acknowledges that he may not be president after January 20th but not formally conceding. What is your take on that?
MILLER: No, not at all. The president is not conceding anything. In fact, what the president was speaking to is the mindset of the media that they’re acting as if Joe Biden has already won.
The fact of the matter is states have not yet certified who actually has won their respective contests. We still have a number of very specific legal challenges that are going. We do believe that the state of Pennsylvania was systemically compromised, and that election is going to go through the courts as they review that.
We do believe there are instances of systemic fraud in the state of Michigan, especially as we go through Wayne County and get into the particulars there of ballots being run through multiple times, officials putting up cardboard, not allowing our observers to watch ballots be counted. A lot of very specific issues we’re concerned about.
And we haven’t even gotten into the ballot harvesting in Georgia. We need to make sure that we go through because, Howie, this isn’t just about this election, this is about the Senate runoff elections coming up in the January and the future of elections in America.
KURTZ: Jason, Karl Rove says the Joe Biden won. Pastor Robert Jeffress, big Trump supporter, says that Biden has won and Christians should pray for him. The Las Vegas Review-Journal owned by billionaire Sheldon Adelson who gave $75 million this cycle to a pro-Trump PAC, says there’s no evidence of fraud that would overturn the election.
So it seems like some of your allies, while they still support Donald Trump, are not with you on the cause here.
MILLER: Well, Howie, if you take a look through Karl Rove’s op-ed, what he was saying is that a traditional recount probably doesn’t go and move the needle that much as you look historically.
But what we’re talking about here, again, as we talk about ballot harvesting in Georgia where we haven’t had the opportunity to match up signatures, as we look at the unconstitutional nature in which the election in Pennsylvania was conducted, the fact that almost 700,000 ballots in Allegheny and Philadelphia counties were counted without the ability for observers to be in place, the fact that cared (ph) ballots and uncared (ph) ballots were all comingled and mixed together, raises some serious questions about the legitimacy of those elections.
And when the president talks about rigging an election, what he’s talking about is how Democrats have used the guise of COVID as an excuse. The chaos surrounding COVID is some kind of guise to go and change our election laws, to go and rig it for the Democrats. And I think that’s a very serious thing
MILLER: — that’s going to impact all elections going forward.
KURTZ: Well, as I say, the president has every right to pursue these legal challenges, but it hasn’t been going all that well for you and for your legal team. Just on Friday, as I mentioned earlier, rulings in Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania went against the Trump team.
So I would say given the difficulty of actually overturning margins not just in one state but in three contested states, wouldn’t you acknowledge that this is looking more and more like a long shot?
MILLER: Not yet. I think we have to go through and make sure that each state certifies under their proper timeline and process. As we think back to the contested elections of whether it would be 2000 or even 2016, many in the media encouraged the candidate who was behind coming out on election night to go and challenge and ask for recounts and to go through all their legal remedies. And so that ability should be granted to President Trump here.
And I would say one other key point here, Howie. How much fraud is OK? For example, at the campaign, we’ve put out a list of number of dead voters who voted two weeks ago both in Pennsylvania and in Georgia. I think we’re going to put out our list for Nevada, maybe even Michigan today.
And the frequent refrain that I would hear from reporters is, well, this is just a small list of dead voters. Well, if we can find these dead voters voting in such a short period of time, isn’t it incumbent upon secretaries of state and on these state legislatures to make sure the voter rolls are accurate? If we can find it this easy, how much more is there out there?
This is, I think, our responsibility to do this, to make sure that the election, that everyone can have confidence in it.
KURTZ: That’s what we need the find out. Now, there was, as you know, a big MAGA rally here in Washington yesterday. Many thousands of people showed up to protest. There was also some violence and some harassment and attacks by people associated with Antifa, pro-Trump supporters. Do you think that has gotten enough media coverage?
MILLER: Not at all. I really think it is shameful that some of the competing networks whether it be CNN or MSNBC have not covered it the way that they should. The fact of the matter is these were peaceful protesters, so to speak, folks who were going to talk about their support for President Trump, and out of nowhere, Antifa and these BLM protesters come in and start hitting them.
Some of the videos, Howie, that we saw last night were absolutely horrific.
And this is what said during the campaign. You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America. These aren’t Trump supporters that are showing up and committing the violence.
I think the media really needs to go and cover this, and I do think that whether it be the D.C. police or the DOJ, there have to be immediate crackdowns on these groups like Antifa because this isn’t how society is supposed to wok.
KURTZ: Let me jump in because I want to get on more question. Your reaction to what Barack Obama said as he kicks off the blitz for his book.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is one more step in delegitimizing not just the incoming biden administration but democracy generally. And that’s a dangerous path.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MILLER: Well, I think former President Obama has been bitter ever since he wasn’t able to get crooked Hillary elected in 2016. The fact of the matter is his influence is waning greatly. So much of the campaign talked about his failing Obamacare and the problem it caused with the raise in premiums and such. So, I think he ought to just enjoy his Netflix deal and ride off into the sunset.
KURTZ: All right. You’re obviously not going into the sunset yet. Jason Miller, thanks very much for joining us.
After the break, how are the media framing the debate over the future of the GOP? Will it still be dominated by Donald Trump? Jonah Goldberg is on deck.
KURTZ: Many are now engaged in the heated debate about the future of the Republican Party and whether it will still be driven by Trumpism.
Joining us now is Jonah Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Dispatch and a Fox News contributor. Jonah, let me start by asking you. You just heard Jason Miller explained in his view why the president continues to contest the election. What do you make of the president’s stance?
JONAH GOLDBERG, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR, EDITOR-IN-CHIF AT THE DISPATCH: I think, look, I don’t often say these words, but I agree with Joe Biden. It is embarrassing to the country. He lost. It’s obvious that he lost. I don’t put a lot of stake in flacks who get paid to say things they don’t necessarily believe to be true.
But as you pointed out, almost every single time any serious, you know, theory about how the election was stolen is brought before a judge, it’s essentially laughed out of court.
And so this is just prolonging something for a person for reasons having to do with the president’s ego or his post-presidency plans rather than reality.
KURTZ: Has it been hard for you as a conservative who was strongly opposed to this president, you moved from National Review to launch The Dispatch with other Trump critics on the right, and with 48 percent of people who are just still voting for this president, will it continue to be hard for you?
GOLDBERG: Look, the last four years haven’t been exactly a picnic, but — and they’ve had their challenges. But, you know, I come from a school of conservatism that says you’re not supposed to put all of your — put not your faith in princes. And the idea that conservatism is going to get redefined as basically a blind loyalty to Donald Trump was something I was not onboard for unlike quite a few people in my profession.
So it’s been difficult. It’s been with interesting to see who is more partisan and who is less conservative than I anticipated. There have been some great wins for conservatism under Donald Trump and there have been some real losses. So it’s been a mixed bag.
KURTZ: OK. Well, you asked in a your column, a recent column why other Republicans, Senate races, House races, State races did pretty well in this election, and yet Donald Trump while getting more votes than he did last time, lost by a wider popular vote margin and, of course, most states have yet to be certified, than he won in 2016. So, what’s the answer? Why?
GOLDBERG: I think the huge amount of it, which is a point I’ve made for a very long time, is that Donald Trump never even pretended, and the key word there is pretended, never pretended to be the president of the whole country.
Every other president in living memory at least makes an effort to expand their coalition, to seem like they are more than president of their own base, and Donald Trump didn’t do that. He spent four years doing fan service for his biggest fans both in media and as voters, and that turned off more people than it attracted, which is why his approval ratings were so low for his entire presidency.
I honestly think that if he just cut off the tweeting and behaved himself like a decent person, you know, 20 percent more of the time, he probably would have won. But he was too self-involved and all that, and I think that one of the consequences of that has been a real corruption of what it means to be a conservative and a real — and some real damage to what even it means to be a Republican, which is a less important thing to me.
KURTZ: Right. Although I do have to say that by concentrating on turning out his supporters, he made the election closer than many in the media had expected. Speaking of the media, look, the president got overwhelmingly negative coverage from the media and even more so in the final weeks and months leading up to the election.
Did that contribute to his loss, and how damaging do you think his constant attacks on fake news have been to the news business?
GOLDBERG: Look, I don’t think anybody covers themselves in glory in this whole mess. There’s a weird symbiotic relationship between Trump and the mainstream media for the last four years. I think you could make the case that media coverage hurt Donald Trump. I can also make the case that his attacks on media and the unfairness of mainstream media sometimes to him helped to turn out those voters.
I mean, you just have to listen to most Trump supporters who come on, say, Fox News, a huge part of their argument is all about, you know, sticking it today the media and fighting back against the media. Donald Trump loves that stuff.
He played right to type for that and there was this weird codependent relationship between the mainstream media, which loved to be attacked and sort of celebrate their own courage for speaking truth to power, like some people at CNN do, while at the same time Donald Trump loved the vitriol because it proved to his fan base again, which is all he really cared about, that he was fighting for them. And so I’m looking forward to this stupid cycle being over.
KURTZ: It is also very good financially to some of these organizations that loved —
GOLDBERG: That’s true.
KURTZ: — to beat up on Trump, so their ratings and clicks increased. And finally, you know, Donald Trump wants to maintain to be a major voice in the future of the Republican Party. Axios reports he’s thinking of starting an online network to compete with Fox News, talking about maybe running again in four years.
My major question is given his popularity, do you think the GOP can or should divorce itself from Trumpism?
GOLDBERG: Should is a tough one. I don’t think it can at least for the short term. He’s too popular among important segments of the party, and he has too much of an ability to freeze out potential 2024 runners from throwing their hats in because they don’t want to be seen as disloyal to the president. So he can do a lot of mischief for a while.
I look forward to him actually starting a competing media operation to Fox for a bunch of different reasons. But I think, look, one of the things that he is dealing with —
KURTZ: We’ve got to go.
GOLDBERG: — the last four years, everyone who was loyal to Trump was also loyal to GOP. That’s changing.
KURTZ: Jonah Goldberg, good to see you again. Thanks very much.
Still to come, Jeffrey Toobin loses one of his jobs and prize-winning historian Jon Meacham loses one, as well, for helping Joe Biden. That and more, next.
KURTZ: The New Yorker has fired staff writer Jeffrey Toobin after investigating that incident where he exposed himself during a Zoom call with colleagues and others. Toobin, a 27-year veteran who had been engaged in a sex call, tweeted that I will always love the magazine, will miss my colleagues, and will look forward to reading their work.
He had earlier apologized for an embarrassingly stupid mistake. Toobin is also a legal analyst for CNN, which did not respond to a request for comment. Toobin has been on leave, but given his prominence on the network, doesn’t CNN have a responsibility to say whether he will be back on the air?
Jon Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a former Newsweek editor-turned presidential biographer who I’ve known and respected for a long time. But Meacham, who spoke for Biden at the democratic convention, has made a pretty bad mistake.
The New York Times reports that Meacham has been privately helping Joe Biden write speeches, including his acceptance speech last weekend. As an NBC and MSNBC contributor, Meacham praised Biden before the victory speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON MEACHAM, WRITER, HISTORIAN AND PRESIDENTIAL BIOGRAPHER: This is a moment where the life of the nation is intersecting in a fascinating way with the personal life not only of president-elect Biden, but also the vice president-elect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: And afterwards, he praised the speech that draws in part on the theme of his two-year-old book on saving the soul of America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR: I am not the historian you are, and I certainly don’t have the Pulitzer on my shelf that you do. Do you concur that that is the way we are used to hearing from our presidents?
MEACHAM: Absolutely. Tonight marks the entire election results, marked a renewal of an American conversation where we’re struggling imperfectly to realize the full implications of the Jeffersonian promise of equality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Meacham did not disclose his role in helping with the speech, and NBC and MSNBC have now dropped him as a paid contributor. MSNBC and Meacham did not respond to my request for comment, and most of the media except for the Times have ignored this deception. He didn’t level with the audience.
Now, Meacham is a very smart guy, it would be better if he would address what he did, and whether he has any regrets.
Well, Trump derangement syndrome isn’t subsiding. CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour has actually compared Donald Trump’s tenure to the Nazis’
murderous reign of terror known as Kristallnacht.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: It was the Nazi’s warning shot across the bow of our human civilization that led to genocide against a whole identity. After four years of a modern day assault on those same values by Donald Trump, the Biden/Harris team pledges a return to norms, including the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: I’m sorry, if you have to invoke Hitler to slam a president who just won 48 percent of the vote, that’s beyond the pale. And Milwaukee Fox affiliate WITI has suspended top anchor Ted Perry for posting this on Facebook. 2020 takes Alex Trebek but leaves Mitch McConnell? Just end already.
Well, we all love the late Jeopardy host, but how biased does a journalist have to be to suggest a Republican senator should have died? That’s insane.
Well, that’s it for this edition of MEDIA BUZZ. I’m Howard Kurtz. We hope you’ll like my Facebook page. We post my daily columns there. Let us continue the conversation on Twitter at Howard Kurtz. Check out my podcast, “MEDIA BUZZmeter.” You can subscribe at Apple iTunes, Google podcast, or get it on your Amazon device.
So much is going on in the aftermath of this election. We’ll be back here next Sunday, 11:00 Eastern. See you then with the latest buzz.
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