Author: Howard Kurtz

Trump’s challenge: Diverting the white-hot spotlight from the Mueller investigation

FOX NEWS Can Donald Trump pull off a split-screen presidency? With the amped-up Mueller investigation again dominating the news, the president wants to ensure that other issues—from tax cuts to immigration—aren’t drowned out by the pounding drumbeat of investigative stories. That was a technique pioneered by Bill Clinton, who tried to stir interest in even minor initiatives—from school uniforms to television V-chips—while he was being impeached over the sex-and-lies Monica Lewinsky scandal. And it worked in the sense that Clinton’s approval ratings remained relatively high as many Americans concluded they cared more about what he was doing for them...

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Hillary rips Fox News, but also complains about liberal media

FOX NEWS Hillary Clinton says there’s a “right-wing war on truth.” It’s right there in her book. I find it disappointing that she takes such a one-sided view of the media. It reminds me of 1998, when she famously told the “Today” show that her husband was the victim of “a vast right-wing conspiracy.” (It was true that some conservatives were plotting to reveal his exploitation of Monica Lewinsky, but the allegations she was denying were absolutely true.) In the book, “What Happened,” Clinton unloads on elements of the left-leaning media, especially the New York Times. She just doesn’t...

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Mueller ratchets up pressure on Paul Manafort, but who is leaking these damaging details?

FOX NEWS Suddenly, there are a whole lot of leaks about Paul Manafort. Could this, just possibly, be the special counsel’s way of putting pressure on President Trump’s former campaign chairman? The allegations against Manafort are serious, and he could be in deep trouble. But the detailed nature of the leaks is also troubling. As a onetime Justice Department reporter, I can tell you that such leaks in a criminal investigation are rare, as well as illegal. Twin scoops by the New York Times and CNN suggest that Robert Mueller is using highly aggressive tactics—“shock and awe,” the paper...

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Media mob savages Sean Spicer for an Emmy Joke he saw as harmless fun

FOX NEWS There’s little shock in how the Emmys turned into another Trump-bashing festival. Yawn. What is surprising is how media and political insiders are absolutely pummeling Sean Spicer for a joking bit that lasted less than a minute. In case you missed it, Spicer wheeled out a White House podium and declared that “this will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period. Both in person and around the world.” Journalists and other critics immediately tarred and feathered Spicer for being willing to laugh at himself. He was being “normalized,” they cried, and this would not do....

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Bannon seizes the spotlight as he mounts campaign against GOP establishment

FOX NEWS One thing is clear after his “60 Minutes” interview: Steve Bannon is a newsmaking machine. Nearly a dozen major headlines emerged from his sitdown with Charlie Rose, which was not just the first TV interview since Bannon resigned as President Trump’s chief strategist, but his first TV interview ever. So it’s not sheer hype when Breitbart plays up the comments of its executive chairman in a lead story headlined “25 Key Quotes From Steve Bannon’s 60 Minutes Interview.” CNN, after all, has “The 48 Most Revealing Lines of Steve Bannon’s ’60 Minutes’ Interview.” What’s more, the first...

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Tax protests arouse presidential ire, but there’s no way Trump is releasing his returns

FOX NEWS Well, the tax protesters got the president’s attention.  The weekend rallies, with a handful of celebrities sprinkled among them, used the tax filing season to demand that Donald Trump release his returns.  That demand will be about as effective as North Korea’s latest missile test. But the protests did produce a pair of presidential tweets: “I did what was an almost impossible thing to do for a Republican-easily won the Electoral College! Now Tax Returns are brought up again?” Trump’s view is that he got himself elected while defying the demands that he release his returns, and...

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Bannon bashing: Why the press is targeting the Trump aide as barely hanging on

FOX NEWS I don’t know whether Steve Bannon has a long-term future in the White House, but I do know this: The press wants him out. There has been an almost obsessive focus with the fate of President Trump’s chief strategist, and the tone of the stories about the internal battles is unmistakable. Bannon is the wild man, the extremist, the nationalist who is pulling the president in the wrong direction. He is fighting the moderates, the realists, the gang led by Jared Kushner that is nudging the president in a more reasonable direction. And the Kushner faction, which...

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Media backing Trump on bombing Syria, but difficult questions remain

FOX NEWS What we are seeing right now, in the wake of Donald Trump launching retaliatory airstrikes against Syria, is a rally-round-the-president effect. As the media shift to war footing, the tone of the coverage has dramatically changed, from whether Trump is a bumbling leader to how decisive he was in responding to Bashir al-Assad’s horrifying chemical attack. And the natural instinct to support the commander-in-chief when he orders military action is a good thing—as long as it doesn’t go too far. Trump is benefiting from two things. One is the stark contrast with Barack Obama, who declared a...

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