On Thursday morning on America's Newsroom, Fox News Mediabuzz host Howard Kurtz ripped into The New York Times for a sketchy front page story by reporter Steve Eder on Wednesday claiming a foot doctor named Dr. Larry Braunstein "may" have faked a bone-spurs diagnosis for young Donald Trump to avoid the draft as a favor for the president's father Fred Trump, who owned the doctor's building.
The doubt was there in the headline "A Foot Doctor's 'Favor' May Have Helped Trump Avoid Vietnam."
“No paper evidence has been found to help corroborate the version of events described by the Braunstein family,” the Times wrote nine paragraphs into the piece, just after the story jumped to page 12. Buried 30 paragraphs into the story, the Times mentioned that Dr. Braunstein's daughters, "both Democrats, say they are not fans of Mr. Trump.”
RICK LEVENTHAL; The New York Times is under fire after running a story suggesting a Queens podiatrist may have helped President Trump dodge the Vietnam War draft as a favor to the Trump family. Some critics say the report relied too much on uncorroborated allegations. Let's bring in Howard Kurtz, Fox News media analyst and host of Mediabuzz. This is a remarkable story, and the lack of evidence. The doctor's dead.
HOWARD KURTZ: The doctor has been dead for a decade, so we can't ask him.
LEVENTHAL: Basically it's all based apparently on his daughters. One of whom said in the article "Did he examine him? I don't know."
KURTZ: Not only that, but this daughter, one of two daughters who spoke to the newspaper, said the implication from her father was that Trump didn't have bone spurs. That's the diagnosis that got him out of the draft. The Times itself it refers to a "possible explanation." This is a front page story! I know that you wrote this down as well. "No paper evidence has been found to corroborate this version of events." So how did it land on the front page?
Leventhal shot back "If this was a court case, it would be tossed out by the judge in the first five minutes."
KURTZ: And I think it should have been tossed out by the editors. I mean, is it intriguing? Yes. You've got the two daughters. I think the reporter or reporters who worked on this should have been told to keep digging. The fact is, it shows you that there is a different standard when it comes to reporting on Donald Trump. Now, 1968, it is certainly possible that Donald Trump dodged the Vietnam draft with medical claims because thousands and thousands of more affluent kids did the same thing. But does this story prove that? No. In fact, the story kind of acknowledges when you read into the guts of it -- they don't have it. It's essentially speculation.
Leventhal then read a passage from the story:
Dr. Braunstein’s daughters said their father left no medical records with the family, and a doctor who purchased his practice said he was unaware of any documents related to Mr. Trump....In an interview with The Times in 2016, Mr. Trump said that a doctor provided “a very strong letter” about the bone spurs in his heels, which he then presented to draft officials. He said he could not remember the doctor’s name. “You are talking a lot of years,” Mr. Trump said.
Kurtz noted the daughters admitted they are Democrats and not Trump fans.
KURTZ: I'm not saying they are making it up. I am saying that they don't know, they acknowledge that they don't know. You know, they are used to be at least journalistic standards -- I've been an investigative reporter for years. There are times when you smell a story. You think it's true, you just know in your heart that's its but you can't quite prove it. You have to wait until you have the piece of paper, the document, the first-hand evidence. All of that is missing from this New York Times story -- which says maybe the paper wanted it to be true, but it simply hasn't proven it.
Kurtz also noted the Times abolished its Public Editor position, which would investigate controversial stories -- a position Kurtz said they created after a story he wrote on Times fabulist Jayson Blair. "Now they say, we don't need a person checking up on us."