After weighing in on the latest example of media malpractice, ABC’s gaffe of using footage from a Kentucky gun show as attacks on the Kurds in the Middle East, Full Measure host Sharyl Attkisson sat down with Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz. Before playing the clip of her interview with Kurtz, Attkisson noted that “the war between the media and Donald Trump sometimes looks like one of mutually assured destruction,” stressing “sometimes, truth is a casualty.”
At the beginning of the interview, Kurtz argued that while “there is such a thing as a press corps that strives to be fair,” “we’re seeing fewer and fewer organizations committed to the notion of trying to be fair.” Kurtz specifically took issue with the legacy media’s “snarky” tone when covering the Trump administration and made the case that their constant portrayal of every development in the Mueller investigation as a smoking gun “exhausted the country.”
The MediaBuzz host predicted that despite the fact that “a lot of people are just tired of it,” the media will continue to play up the Mueller report because they see it “working for them as a business model.”
Addressing the push to impeach the President, Kurtz proclaimed “you almost sense that there’s a hunger in the press” for impeachment because they think “it would be such a great story to cover, particularly, if you don’t like this President, as many journalists and pundits privately do not.”
Attkisson asked Kurtz, “Did Donald Trump cause the media to descend into madness or just expose media madness that was already in existence?” According to Kurtz, “the media’s credibility problems were maybe more like a fever and once Trump trauma took effect, that’s what I call it, I think that he sort of made the media go crazy.”
Kurtz contended that “it is hard to avoid the conclusion that so many journalists are invested in an outcome that either sees him driven from office or defeated in 2020.” When Kurtz noted that “neither side has any incentive to end the war,” Attkisson asked “so, in some way, both sides benefit?” Kurtz responded: “In some ways, both sides benefit but I’m not so sure the country benefits because...it’s become harder for all of us to agree on a common set of facts. That’s one of the casualties, I think, of this all-out war between Trump and the media.”
Following her interview with Kurtz, Attkisson brought up another media embarrassment; where “dozens of news organizations misquoted President Trump as saying the Kurds are ‘not our problem.’” Attkisson highlighted that “some of the news outlets corrected their reports; saying they’d made a mistake.” In reality, Trump merely said “it’s not our border,” a big difference from what the media reported he said.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Sunday’s edition of Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson is below. Click “expand” to read more.
Full Measure With Sharyl Attkisson
SHARYL ATTKISSON: In recent days, after President Trump withdrew US troops from Syria, some of the criticism was accompanied by dramatic video on the news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM LLAMAS: This video right here, appearing to show Turkey’s military bombing Kurd civilians in a Syrian border town.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ATTKISSON: ABC News aired the video that they claimed showed attacks by Turkish troops on Kurdish civilians; telling of slaughter and horrific reports of atrocities. But ABC removed the video and apologized on Monday; after online viewers seemed to find the video wasn’t shot recently and wasn’t even from the Mideast...but from a gun show demonstration in Kentucky in 2017. The network did not explain how such a mistake could have happened. President Trump tweeted: “A big scandal at @ABC news. They got caught using really gruesome FAKE footage of the Turks bombing in Syria.” The war between the media and Donald Trump sometimes looks like one of mutually assured destruction. And sometimes, truth is a casualty. We talk about that with Fox News media critic Howie Kurtz; author of Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War over the Truth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ATTKISSON: Is there such a thing as an objective press?
HOWARD KURTZ: There may not be such a thing as a purely objective press, because everybody brings their own biases. But I think there is such a thing as a press corps that strives to be fair. But I think we’re seeing fewer and fewer organizations committed to the notion of trying to be fair. There is this sort of tone. Sometimes, it’s snarky. And look, there’s a lot to investigate in this administration. There was a two-year investigation of the Russia matter. But even when Bob Mueller came out and recommended no criminal charges, it seemed like there was a…a brief pause, and then the press was back at it night after night, day after day, in what Trump supporters would see as pretty hostile coverage.
ATTKISSON: You were sort of on the leading edge in a way. You wrote before the Special Counsel Robert Mueller report came out that the press had overreached too often when…when reporting on that.
KURTZ: I don’t think there is any question, even though I never said that this is a witch hunt or the Mueller investigation was somehow illegitimate or a coup. I’ve never bought into any of that language and of course, there were a number of indictments. But it seemed to me that every little development, somebody hiring a lawyer, some new peripheral player being interviewed, some subpoena battle on Capitol Hill, got the sort of breaking news banners crisis treatment, constantly, to the point where I think it kind of exhausted the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
LESTER HOLT: How soon might we know at least some of the details of Mueller’s report?
TUCKER CARLSON: Not a single American citizen has been charged with anything related to Russian conclusion. Not one.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: Especially now, the President is not going to face any criminal charges. I think a lot of people are just tired of it. But the media are not tired of it, and I think it’s still working for them as a narrative and working for them as a business model.
ATTKISSON: You wrote that White House strategist Steve Bannon warned Donald Trump very early on that his enemies would try to impeach him and, presumably, the press would pick up this narrative.
KURTZ: Well, Bannon and Trump obviously had a falling out, but Bannon provided pretty good political advice. For example, he said that the firing of James Comey at that time was not a good idea and would cause a political backlash. But, you know, impeachment, I think, has kind of morphed from a media fantasy to maybe a remote possibility, and then, after the Mueller report came out, and the battles on Capitol Hill heated up with the White House, you almost sense that there’s a hunger in the press, because it would be such a great story to cover, particularly, if you don’t like this President, as many journalists and pundits privately do not.
ATTKISSON: In your view, did Donald Trump cause the media to descend into madness or just expose media madness that was already in existence?
KURTZ: The media’s credibility problems were maybe more like a fever and once Trump trauma took effect, that’s what I call it, I think that he sort of made the media go crazy. That’s not to let the press off the hook. But there’s something so visceral in the response of many journalists and pundits to the Trump presidency, to Donald Trump himself. I mean, in addition to the fact that you might expect them to be ideologically opposed to a lot of what he wants to do, he just drives them up the wall. They sort of never fully accept, many of them, that he is the President and so I think that’s where I got the “madness” in the title. For the press, Donald Trump has become like the great white whale. And it is hard to avoid the conclusion that so many journalists are invested in an outcome that either sees him driven from office or defeated in 2020. And so, neither side has any incentive to end the war.
ATTKISSON: So, in some way, both sides benefit?
KURTZ: In some ways, both sides benefit, but I’m not so sure the country benefits. Because with the press briefings largely fading away and with the constant hostility, it’s become harder for all of us to agree on a common set of facts. That’s one of the casualties, I think, of this all-out war between Trump and the media.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ATTKISSON: In recent days, dozens of news organizations misquoted President Trump as saying the Kurds are “not our problem.” Some of the news outlets corrected their reports; saying they’d made a mistake: Trump actually said “it’s not our border.”