Judge Barrett under media fire

This is a rush transcript from “MediaBuzz" September 27, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

Ahead, we'll talk to Cory Lewandowski of the Trumpcampaign. But first, the breaking news, PresidentTrump nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett to theSupreme Court, her husband and seven childrenalso at the White House yesterday. And a mediaassault quickly got underway. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Judges are not policy makers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Confirm this Justice right before the election and re-elect this president, so we can and will nuke your health insurance less than two weeks later. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  There's going to be afighting mood out there as it becomes clear that, you know, Ms. Barrett means the end of Roe V Wade as well as the end of the Affordable Care Act. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How cool is it to get aworking mom on the Supreme Court, and by theway, a working mom of seven kids. You know, I mean, this woman is going to be something toreckon with. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Democrats, the media, themob, they're beginning to try and paint this woman as a monster. Buckle up. They're attacking her faith and god, her catholic faith, vilifying every aspect about her life. 


KURTZ:  This followed days of media attacks against the president and Mitch McConnell once newsbroke they had enough Republican votes to confirm a replacement of for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And anumber of liberal pundits, along with some prominent Democrats, say their party should get even if Joe Biden wins by packing the court with extra seats. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Why wouldn't they? 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  If they're in control, why wouldn't they? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Because they're weak. Andthey're wimps. And they're afraid. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They're so obsessed with beating Trump and his voters that they're willing todestroy our entire system of checks and balances todo so. 


KURTZ:  Joining us now to analyze the coverage, Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist and Fox News contributor. In New York, Jedediah Bila, the co-host of Fox and Friends Weekend, and in Los Angeles, Leslie Marshall, radio talk show host, and Fox News contributor. Mollie, the media attacks on Amy Coney Barrett began days before she was named. 

I'll get to Newsweek in a moment. And some of thisechoes Democratic attacks on her criticism of her ather confirmation hearings three years ago. Do you believe that some of these attacks amount to anti-catholic bigotry? 

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, FOX NEWSCORRESPONDENT:  Yeah. The media have not done a great job of covering Amy Coney Barrett for several years. The real issue is that the SupremeCourt is contentious, because in recent decades, it has kind of abdicated its role as a court to become alegislature that sets policy. President Trumppromised to nominate Judges who would not do that, who would just interpret the Constitution as written. 

He's had a successful first term. And this is one ofthe most successful aspects of that is how he has nominated Judges in that Amy Coney Barrett is in. So I think there are these anti-religious attacks. Andwe definitely saw them in 2017 when she was firstnominated to be a federal Judge. But really is what's at issue is that the media, who have become increasingly partisan, have a different idea about how the court should be. 

They want it to be that legislature that sets policy even as many Americans think that has been damaging to the country. So they'll use what they can, whether that's her faith or of other aspects, just like they did with Brett Kavanaugh. 

KURTZ:  Jedediah, Newsweek had to run a correction for reporting that a charismatic Christian group that Barrett belongs to was the model for the apocalyptic novel by Margaret Atwood called the Hand Maze Tale (ph). That seems pretty reckless, because it turned to be a different Christian group. 

JEDEDIAH BILA, FOX AND FRIENDS WEEKEND CO-HOST:  Yeah, of course. And that's -- and you saw in social media, people immediately picking up on that and tweeting it out. And obviously when you run these corrections, what the problem is that a lot ofpeople read the original story and then don't see the correction. So the plan here, of course, by some on the left is to paint her as a radical, to say that she would adhere to her faith in a way that would be bizarre or odd. 

The thing is, and she pointed it out very well, she's not a policy maker. 
Her individual views, her religion, should not be weighing. And the reason that they weigh in for theleft is because the left views everything through thelens of activism. So they think, well, if she's put in this position, suddenly her personal views are going to inform her decisions on the Court. 

That is not the case. That should not be the case, I should say. And for her, and based on thestatements she's made thus far, that would not be the case. So it's just -- I think you're seeing emerge two very different visions as to what the courtshould look like in terms of activism versus originalism. 

KURTZ:  Well, that is certainly the larger frame. On that point, Leslie, law professor Jonathan Turly (ph) writing in The Hill that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was aproud Jew. She attended conferences on Jewish law. Nobody accused her of letting her faith dictate herlegal opinions. So that would sees to suggest amedia double standard for Amy Coney Barrett. 

LESLIE MARSHALL, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  Look, this country was founded on religious freedom. The people that came here 20 minutes from where I was born and grew up in Plymouth, Massachusetts, were fleeing religious oppression and attacks. That's wrong no matter what. However, if you do -- if this was reversed, OK. 

If you had a Democratic president and they were putting forth somebody who was so outspoken andso pro-abortion and so liberal and progressive on this matter, there would be the same attacks, not on religion, but certainly the same attacks on views. You have to remember that Judge Barrett, prior to being a Judge, when she was a teacher, she put herself out there again and again and again, talking about herviews on abortion. 

She went further in saying that as a catholic, a Judgeshould recuse themselves on issues that conflict with their moral beliefs, such as capital punishment or abortion. That's concerning for many, and not just on the left, that a Judge would say, look, if there's an issue like that I've got to recuse myself, especially if she's on a court that, by the way, will have a six-three conservative majority which where I sit is apacked court. 

KURTZ:  OK. But on this question of court packing, Mollie, you've had a number of liberal pundits as well as some Democratic lawmakers coming out andsaying we're going to get even next year if theDemocrats take over. 
We're going to add extra court seats. What would the mainstream media reaction be if the situation was reversed and Republicans were talking about packing the court next year? 

HEMINGWAY:  If I might first point out, Ruth Bader Ginsburg had been a liberal activist, including on theissues of abortion. She was confirmed, I think, something like 97-3. So we do have a comparison ofwhat would happen if it were the opposite. And it's not at all what we're about to go through. It is true that you've had people on the left threatening that if the court doesn't rule the way it wants or if theconstitutional process to confirm Amy Coney Barrettis followed. 

They will retaliate by packing the court or doing other things like that. 
This is something that we saw from Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he didn't like when the courtoverturned some of his policy agenda. And it's something that -- there's no set number of how many Justices there have to be on the court. Butwhen it's deployed as a threat or retaliation, I think that does make people wonder just how many norms the left is willing to violate in search of raw power. 

KURTZ:  Right. It's not un-constitutional. The number has varied over the years. But certainly, it's a pretty extreme position as FDR found out. 
Jedediah, a Vanity Fair writer, Vanessa Grigoriadis, tweeted -- maybe you've seen this. How can Barrettbe a Supreme Court Justice and a loving present mom to seven kids and likening the family to theKardashians? I ask you as a new mother. What? 

BILA:  I mean, it's crazy. I'd like to know how many men were asked that question, first off. And I would also like to ask anyone tweeting out things like that. And I saw several, actually, if they would define themselves as feminist, because how can you be afeminist and yet be coming out and say she can't manage to be a great mom and also be a high powered Judge. 

This is a very accomplished woman. And if people can't wrap their heads around that -- look, I'm aworking home. I have a 10-month-old. I'm here right now talking to you guys. This is a woman who should be an example to young women everywhere that you -- she really shows that you can have it all. She has a beautiful family. She has stood on principle for many years. 

She is someone who has a strong record that has been supported from bipartisan people. Democrats and Republicans alike have come out and said this issomeone who really stands by the constitution, above and beyond all else. This is someone who should be celebrated. She's accomplished. Andlisten, she will have her day to defend herself. She will be asked questions. 

There is no guarantee that she will be confirmed. And if the senators don't like what she has to say, they have the option to vote no. What we're talking about here is respecting the process. The presidenthas nominated someone who is accomplished, has every right to that nomination. The Senate will vote. And the process will be respected. 

Any effort to circumvent that process shows that you don't know and haven't processed that elections have consequences, and that you have no appreciation for the fact that these things have aprocess. 

KURTZ:  OK. You know, Antonin Scalia had nine children. I don't recall him being asked about how he can simultaneously be a Supreme Court Justice. 
Leslie, I think she will be confirmed. Because Republicans have the votes, like they have the votes to push ahead. We get into this question of what happened in 2016 versus now, why so little mediaattention to Joe Biden, also changing his position. 

Four years ago, obviously, he demanded a vote for Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland. Andnow, he says let's hold off on voting the next president. Whoever wins the election should decide. And yet, that gets very little media attention. 

MARSHALL:  Well, the fact that we're talking about it, I don't agree. I certainly saw it throughout themedia. I think one of the reasons it gets little attention is Joe Biden's not in the Senate and not voting, wasn't then, isn't now. To Jedediah's point, if you have to follow the process, well, in 2016, they didn't follow the process.

Senator Mitch McConnell's process, as he said, was to block everything that Barack Obama was going toput forth and try and do. And obviously, that included trying to get Merrick Garland on the court. With regard to packing the court, honestly, I'm aliberal. I'm a Democrat, but I would like a fair court, liberals and conservatives. And six-three is not. 

And I wouldn't want six-three liberal either. And so adding a couple of seats to make it six-five, that might be good, it is within the confines of theConstitution. And Howie, I agree 100 percent. TheSenate is going to confirm her, because it's amajority Republican. And they said they were going to confirm her before we knew who she was. 

And lastly, as a feminist with two children and apuppy sleeping upstairs, I'm working like you are, Jedediah. I'm with you on that. And I do think it's wonderful as a woman who has adopted one of my children that she has seven children, two of which she adopted from Haiti, and who are children ofcolor, having an interracial family. I respect that andlike that a lot. 

KURTZ:  Very glad to hear you say that. Now, Mollie, new polls out today, New York Times, Washington Post, saying 56 or 57 percent of people questioned say that whoever wins the election should fill theseat. But obviously, a lot of charges thrown by themedia at Mitch McConnell because of what he did to Merrick Garland. 

And now, he's pushing this thing two weeks before the election. Do you think the media have declared war on Senator McConnell? 

HEMINGWAY:  Yeah. And one thing that is important to clarify is that in 2016, the rule was not to confirm someone in an election year. It was that you generally don't see confirmations where the Senate is controlled by a different party than thepresidency. That doesn't actually apply in 2020, because both the Senate and the presidency are controlled by Republicans. 

And so it is a distinction that the media did a very bad job of explaining. 
I do think that one of the downsides of what themedia did two years ago with Kavanaugh is that nobody trusts them to cover this accurately, fairly, or even remotely decently. 

KURTZ:  Certainly hearing that you covered intensively and, of course, wrote a book on. Meanwhile, NPR analyst Nina Totenberg has been all over TV touting her long friendship with Ruth Bader Ginsburg who married her and saying that helped her reporting. But NPR's public editor says thefailure to fully disclose that friendship raises serious questions of journalistic independence. 

And I would agree. Cory Lewandowski coming up in a few minutes on the program, but when we come back, President Trump taking lots of media heat for what he wouldn't say about a peaceful transfer ofpower. 


KURTZ:  The latest media outrage started with an Atlantic piece by three time Pulitzer winner, Bart Gellman, charging that President Trump is actively plotting ways to keep himself in power after adisputed election. 
And the president fueled the controversy with these comments. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Will you commit to making sure that there is a peaceful transfer of power after the election? 

DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT:  We're going to have to see what happens. You know that. I've been complaining very strongly about theballots, and the ballots are a disaster. Get rid of theballots. And you'll have -- we'll have a very peaceful -- there won't be a transfer, frankly. 
There will be a continuation. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What the president is doing here is the most explicit that he has been about his plans to this election. He's plotting, open, repeatedly, a coup to steal the election and hold on to power. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He's telling us that he's going to have to try to overturn the results of thisDemocratic election. Because he knows he's going to lose. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The president's sceptics, Hugo, are going nuts over that response. Don't forget that it's the Democrats that never accepted Donald Trump and never accepted the legitimacy ofhis presidency. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I don't really think anyone in this country should seriously take the idea that we're not going to have a peaceful transfer of power.


KURTZ:  Jedediah, this is an absolutely hair on fire moment for the media. 
You heard talk of a coup. The president, more than one day, refusing to give the answer the mediawanted to give. Is this the crisis or potential crisis being portrayed by the press? 

BILA:  Listen, I don't think that the president's going to handcuff himself to the banister in the WhiteHouse and not leave. I just -- I don't think it's going to play out that way. But he shouldn't answer thisquestion that way. Because in your introduction, Howie, you said that he fueled the story. He really does on this issue. I don't know why that is. 

When you're asked if there's going to be a peaceful transfer of power, if you are to lose an election, you just say yes and then you move on. Yes, of course, next. Now, we can talk about all day whether Joe Biden would be asked the same question. We can talk about the media creating a hair on fire moment. And that's probably -- those are all valid points. 

But when it comes down to it, he has theopportunity to shut this down in two seconds, tomake it look like a petty question, to answer it very simply and move on. This is not the first time he's answered the question this way. So I'm hoping someone who is as advising him says listen. Thisstory does not help you. It only enables Joe Biden tosay you know what. 

I'm going to put a lid on everything at 8:30 in themorning the next day, because this story only hurts the president, so he just should stop answering that way. 

KURTZ:  And Mollie, the president is a very smart guy when it comes to media. He knows the pundits will go haywire when he says these things. So is he doing it to get out his message that in his view there will be massive fraud for mail ballots? Is he really kind of trolling the press here? 

HEMINGWAY:  Well, yes. The problem with the he answered was not what he said that got everybody angry. It's that he didn't clarify exactly what his concerns are about moving to universal mail-in balloting. The question was literally whether he would peacefully transfer power to Joe Biden regardless of whether he won or lost. It was aridiculous question. 

His answer, which as Jedediah notes, is his standard answer when asked if he will accept election results before an election has happened, was generous, given the idiocy of the question. But more than that, it is not Donald Trump who needs to learn to accept election results. It's the left. 
We are approaching a four year anniversary of an ongoing refusal to accept that Donald Trump was alegitimate winner in 2016.

We have an example of how he handled losses in 2018. And he handled them completely appropriately. The left is advocating for coup like behavior in the possible event that Donald Trumpwins re-election. And so it's not just that they themselves are talking about ways to gain power should they lose the election. 

They've been doing it for four years. And they're accusing their opponents of doing that which they have done.

KURTZ:  Right. All right, Leslie, New York Times has astory saying Pentagon leaders are discussing how you to avoid having the military drawn into any post election chaos, and even raising the possibility ofthe president invoking the 1807 Insurrection Act, in sending troops into the streets. All that seems like apretty speculative story, so if this happens, if thishappens, what might the president or the Pentagon do. 

MARSHALL:  I think that's our world right now, sadly, Howie, right? And the internet feeds into that. You know, we speculate about everything. I mean, you know, Mollie was talking about the question, you know, posed to the president. There are people out there on my side of the aisle speculating thepresident won't leave. 

And then when he answers the way he did, it kind offuels the flames if you will. And I think that taunting goes back and forth. Look, there have been people that have talked about the Insurrection Act. There are people on the left and the right that have talkedabout, you know, cities burning if their candidate doesn't win. 

Sadly, we've become such a divided and vitriolic nation, even more so. And I think because many ofus are stuck at home and some people are angry that they have to social distance and wear a mask when we have a, you know, pandemic like this, high unemployment, and tempers flare, sadly we have toprepare for the worst and hope for the best. 

But to use our military when we have situations throughout the world, Afghanistan is just one ofmany examples. That's too much on their plate. 
And that's why those in the Pentagon, top leaders have said they would step down if that becomes thecase, because they have to do what they have to do as the military and policing the American people after an election should not be one of those things. 

KURTZ:  You know, this 10,000 word cover story in the Atlantic was moved up by publishing online. Thearticle basically says the president is working with Republican leaders in certain states to try to get his electors in. 
Some people thought that was crazy. Some people thought it was a lead story. And segment andsegment after segment, great discussion, thanks so much. 

Jedediah Bila, for staying late with us, Mollie Hemingway, Leslie Marshall, up next, Harris Faulkner joins us two days before the first presidential debate moderated by Chris Wallace to look at the media's pre-game chatter. 


KURTZ:  We are two days away from the firstpresidential debate in Cleveland moderated by Chris Wallace. And the media handicapping includes thepresident working the ref on the radio with Fox's Brian Kilmeade. 


TRUMP:  Chris is good, but I think I would be willing to bet that he won't Biden tough questions. He'll ask me tough questions. And it'll show -- it'll be unfair. I have no doubt about it. But he'll be controlled by the radical left.


KURTZ:  Joining us now from New York, Harris Faulkner, the host of Outnumbered Overtime, who'll examine the debate as a special Sunday anchor today at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. And Harris, let me firstsay that I've watched Chris Wallace for decades asked tough questions of Democrats andRepublicans. And he is nobody's captive. 

Now, with the president last night calling Joe Biden dumb, with him and his allies describing the former vice president as confused and not always the most coherent, are they setting an incredibly low bar for Biden at this debate?

HARRIS FAULKNER, OUTNUMBERED OVERTIME HOST:  Look, I do think that they needed to do some (Inaudible) setting, right? Republicans have all talked about, you know, he'll be good to be able toget through this. The president said if he's had good performances in the past, he must have been on drugs. The reports this morning that he might be calling for some sort of a post-debate drug test.

And that he would be willing to take that, thepresident himself. The risk in pitching (ph) too high or pitching too low with Joe Biden is he's had decades of experience of this. And we don't know which Joe Biden we'll see, because he hasn't sat down for interviews with people like me, you, not even Chris Wallace. So we're not sure.

But what we do know is he's done this a lot, debating. So chances are as to
(Inaudible) being head of communications for theTrump 2020 campaign said just this week. And yet, araising bar experience, if you will, for PresidentTrump, be careful what you wish for, because he's probably going to bring his game, Joe Biden. I'mparaphrasing to (inaudible).

But he's resetting. So really, if you just don't talk atall about it and you show up with your game, that's probably the best bet. But campaigns really rarely do that. And the media certainly -- 


KURTZ:  Biden had 11 Democratic debates this year. He was uneven. But, you know, we've -- we will see. And that actually leads me to my next question. 
By the way, you were right. The president tweeting this morning I'll be strongly demanding a drug test of Sleepy Joe Biden, so how much when this, you know, lost of Americans going to watch this debate.

How much will the post-game media spin matter -- oh, he was great, oh, he was terrible kind of thing when people can see it with their own eyes.

FAULKNER:  So I put this kind of in a category where exit polling used to be. Seems so tasty and such agreat idea until, well, it's not, because it's not always accurate. I think people want to see these two men unfiltered on their own. We haven't seen a lot of Joe Biden for all the reasons I mentioned, lack of access from the media. 

A few interviews, but not a lot, he's not doing rallies. COVID respect, totally get all of that. Are there other ways he could be picking (ph) and getting out there, he goes complete days without doing anything. So when you mix all that in, what voters are telling me, and I've been interviewing voters from my show, getting ready for this, you know, next 30 day run up that we're inching down to.

They're telling that they just want to watch. Andthey're not listening necessarily for policy or thebreakdown of how they did on policy actor, they want to see how a leader acts in real time. I don't think you can spin


FAULKNER:  Like, that's -- 


KURTZ:  Let me jump in because I want to get you in our top story. And that is the coverage of AmyConey Barrett, and particularly you were talking earlier about criticism or questions aimed about she having seven kids, your thoughts?

FAULKNER: Where are the women in the media with the backbone? This woman is being gone after for being a mom, mom shame. This woman is being gone after about her faith. This woman is being gone for because she needed a little help with theseven children, two of whom are adopted from Haiti.

And as you heard my friend Leslie Marshall, aDemocrat, say earlier on your program just a few minutes ago, that's a big deal. We don't do that. Some of her fellow Democrats are going for it. AndJoe Biden and a few of those Dems are saying, no, you better stick to the issues, don't make thispersonal.

This could backfire on Democrats, particularly among older black voters, the church goers, right, that have been there for decades, the ones that Representative James Clyburn was talking to when he shored up that vote in South Carolina for Joe Biden to get him over the hump, right, to get him going in the primary season.

You've got to be careful with them because they live in the church.

KURTZ:  Always good advice.
FAULKNER:  You don't shame --

KURTZ:  All right. Harris Faulkner.

FAULKNER:  -- a woman who is raising kids andworking.

KURTZ:  I couldn't agree more. Harris Faulkner, we will catch you at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. Thanks so much for joining us.
FAULKNER:  All right. Thank you, Howie.

KURTZ:  Next on MEDIA BUZZ, Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager, on coverage of the president's Supreme Court pick, his comments on the disputed election, and much more. Stay with us.


KURTZ:  Well, it's been a while since they've been on the program, but joining us now is Corey Lewandowski, senior adviser to the Trump campaignand co-author with Dave Bossie of the new book, "Trump America First: The President Succeeds Against All Odds."

And Corey, now that President Trump has named Amy Coney Barrett, you were there at the WhiteHouse ceremony yesterday, how do you see themedia treating her?
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMPCAMPAIGN MANAGER:  Well, look, Howie, we're already seeing the double standard. She is being criticized for being the first Supreme Court nominee who has school-aged children and they're using that against her. Why wouldn't the media come out andsay this should be commended?

This is what we want. We have a woman who may be one of the greatest legal minds of hergeneration. She obviously has a difficult work/family balance. 
This should be praised, a woman of this magnitude who has seven children, who has the opportunity tosit on the high court. We should see more women coming out and supporting her.

KURTZ:  Yeah, absolutely nobody is disputing herlegal brain power, including some Democrats who know her click with her work. But look, theRepublicans have the votes. Judge Barrett is going to be confirmed.

Will you acknowledge that this is basically raw politics pushed by Mitch McConnell in the Senate, you know, who wouldn't give Merrick Garland thevote with nine months to go and is going to push through this nomination probably about two weeks before the election?

LEWANDOWSKI:  You know, Howie, I'll tell you, Mitch McConnell is -- they had an old book called the "Master of the Senate." It used to be said about LBJ. LBJ doesn't hold the candle to Mitch McConnell. You know, Mitck McConnell, when you and I were reading ABCs and Dr. Seuss, he was reading theSenate arcane rules and he is a master of the way toget things done.

Look, it is not unprecedented to move a nominee through this quickly. We saw our Justice John Paul Stevens. We saw our Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I believe that the obligation of the United States senators isto work right up until Election Day and not take apass on tough votes.

KURTZ:  The president, as you know, has caused acontinuing media firestorm with his "we'll have tosee what happens" answer a couple times now on this question of a peaceful transfer of power.

Now, over the weekend, Joe Biden was interviewed by MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle. I want you to listen tothe question and the answer.


STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC NEWS SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT:  Does that not put our democracy at risk given the power he has and theposition he is taking?

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I don't think he's going to get the FBI to follow him, get anybody else enforce something that's not real. Thelast thing we need is, you know, the equivalent of acoup. I mean, this is not -- this is not who we are.


KURTZ:  What do you make of the MSNBC question? Isn't that putting our democracy at risk? What do you make of Biden's answer, invoking the prospect of a coup?
LEWANDOWSKI:  Well, you know, it's you amazing that Joe Biden talks about a coup because it's exactly what his administration with Obama tried todo with this president.

Joe Biden has now admitted that in January, after the president was the president-elect, they opened up an investigation into him, they spied on theTrump campaign, they spied on the Trump family, they unmasked individuals, they went after Michael Flynn and so many others, all with the acknowledge or at least the consent, either the consent or theacknowledge of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

So it's interesting how we talked about this smooth transition of power should Donald Trump lose, which I don't think he will, but it was theObama/Biden administration that did not have apeaceful transition of power. That's the most incredible hypocrisy of the whole thing.

KURTZ:  Any quick thought on the way the question was framed to the former vice president?

LEWANDOWSKI:  Well, it's such a loaded question. What we see today, even today, Howie, the vice president is not out doing Sunday shows. But he sends his wife out. He is not capable from mental acuity standpoint to answer tough questions. He refuses to come on your network to answer any questions. So he sends his wife out to other networks but he goes to the friendly networks to ask loaded questions.

KURTZ:  When you say that kind of thing, we talked about this earlier, he got the big debate coming up in two days, aren't you and all the people in Trumpworld setting a pretty low bar for Joe Biden who may come out and have a good performance because people are not expecting that now based on your criticism?
LEWANDOWSKI:  Look, Howie, I think Joe Biden isgoing to have a good performance. He's been preparing for this for 30 years, to be the Democratic nominee for president. He's run three times for this. This is his first opportunity to debate one-on-one with the Republican nominee. 
He's going to be ready. He's been doing this for 47 years. Donald Trump has been doing this for 47 months.

So Joe Biden is going to have to answer why his record has been so poor. 
Look, Joe Biden said, I think yesterday or the day before, he got elected to the Senate 180 years ago. I mean, look, we are ready for the gaffes that he's going to present. But kid you not Joe Biden is going to be prepared when he walks on that debate stage.

KURTZ:  All right. In your book, you describe how John Kelly threw you up against the wall in theWhite House, ripping the buttons off your jacket in dispute about your access to the president. That's what I call a vigorous exchange of views.

You also talked about going in there and telling top campaign officials that they were awfully behind andweren't ready for the midterms and then impeachment would follow. Those things did happen. But isn't the campaign today trailing, atleast according to the latest polls, The New York Times and Washington Post today have thepresident behind 8 to 10 points and in available cash?

LEWANDOWSKI:  Well, you know, Howie, it is so interesting because John Kelly, in my opinion, decided to serve himself and not the American people. 
He thought he was the elected president of theUnited States and refused to do the things that thepresident asked. You know, it wasn't a sad day for me when John Kelly left the White House.

Moving on from that, you know, the campaign, where we stand today, we knocked on 10 million doors almost weekly. Joe Biden hasn't knocked on one. 
We haven't seen one of Joe Biden's surrogates in thestate of Ohio and battleground states. Our surrogates are in these places every day.

I'm going to be with the president Wednesday in Minnesota. I'm going to be with him on Saturday in Wisconsin, on Friday in Florida. This president isworking hard to remind the American people thepromises he has made and the promises he has kept.

Well, Joe Biden continues to run the Hillary Clinton campaign, which is hide in the basement and hope for a good debate. Look, I like our odds with Donald Trump. He's going to win.

KURTZ:  Well, you obviously managed a successful campaign in 2016. I got like one sentence. Do you think right now the president is the underdog?
LEWANDOWSKI:  I think he is the underdog because he's the outsider and he's still going to win.

KURTZ:  All right. Corey Lewandowski, good to see you again. Thanks very much for joining us.
LEWANDOWSKI:  Thanks, Howie.

KURTZ:  After the break, a different point of view. Former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell is up, next.


KURTZ:  And joining us now from Philadelphia is Ed Rendell, the former Pennsylvania governor and one-time chairman of the DNC. Governor, you know how to count votes. Amy Coney Barrett is definitely going to be confirmed. 
Some Democrats are talking about boycotting thehearings. Does it make political sense for the mediaand some Democrats to now wage a brutal campaign against her?

ED RENDELL, FORMER PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR:  No, absolutely not. Not on the issues they've chosen. Look, it's legitimate to wage a campaignabout hypocrisy that they're about to show with confirming this judge after saying that justice -- Judge Garland couldn't be confirmed because it was an election year.

How are they going to answer that hypocrisy question? But that is not for the judge herself. Thejudge herself will answer questions about herphilosophy and those are fair game. But nothing about seven kids. Who cares? Who cares?

If she can do the job and she's certainly done thejob as a court of appeals judge, leave that issue alone. Democrats can ask her about what herposition would be if she had to move on something about the election result
(INAUDIBLE) election. That would be fair game. Whether she would respect precedent, Roe v. Wade, it would be fair.

KURTZ:  Right. So the Democrats saying you have tobe smart about it. Now, Joe Biden was asked about something that some liberal commentators andsome Democrats are pushing now, if she gets confirmed, we're going to pack the court next year. Here's his interview. I want you to listen with WVAY of Green Bay.


BIDEN:  It's a legitimate question. Let me tell you why I'm not going to answer that question.


BIDEN:  Because it will shift the whole focus. Let's say I answer that question, then the whole debate isgoing to be why did he say or didn't say it, Biden said he would or wouldn't.


KURTZ:  Why would Joe Biden not want to answer that question and make his stance on this, whatever he thinks one way or another? It often seems like he goes out of his way to avoid making news.
RENDELL:  Well, he doesn't want to distract from thecentral issue. The central issue here is who is best tobe president of the United States, who is best tohandle an emergency like the COVID emergency, who is best to handle American foreign policy. Joe wants to keep the issues focused on those types ofquestions. I think he has right to do so.

KURTZ:  So the Supreme Court battle is something of a distraction from his game plan. Is that your view?

RENDELL:  Oh, sure. I think anything that takes thefocus away from who is best to deal with the issues is a distraction, no question about that.
I think Joe Biden --

KURTZ:  You've had to -- yeah. Well, obviously he knew that he would make a lot of news had he answered the question one way or another. So, you know, you've had to debate in your political career. The press always builds these things up as a big make or break event. Often, that turns out not to be the case.

But given Biden's age, 77, and given the attacks by the president and his surrogates and his campaign, saying he's not coherent, he's confused, he can only string a couple of sentences together, do you think this debate, particularly the first one on Tuesday, could be more important to Biden than a typical campaign election year?
RENDELL:  Well, the polls show that most people have made up their minds and are not going to be influenced by the debate. Still, the debate could have some importance in states that are decided by a narrow margin. Look, the president has committed to debate policy, number one error, and that's lowering the expectations for your opponent.

The way the president talks about it, Joe Biden is not physically strong enough to stand up straight for thetime period of the debate. The way the presidenttalks about it, Joe Biden is going to be an idiot when answering the questions.

Joe Biden is physically stronger than the president ofthe United States. 
He is in much better condition. Joe Biden is as sharp as can be mentally. 
I've talked to him five or six times during thecampaign. He hasn't lost a step in terms of his mental acuity.

So when he shows up and doesn't collapse, when he shows up and answers the questions somewhat decently, he's the winner of the debate because Donald Trump has lowered the debate bar for Joe Biden. It's so incredibly low. Big mistake.

KURTZ:  You have raised expectations slightly here. I got about half a minute. The president says if Joe Biden does OK, the media will say it's the greatest debate performance of all time. Is that working therefs or are the press going to be a little bit more favorable to Biden? Again, I got about half a minute.
RENDELL:  It's a little too late. Donald Trump has lowered the bar so incredibly for his opponent, which is debate malpractice. He can't escape now. He lowered the debate so low that if Joe Biden does just reasonably well, he'll be the winner regardless ofwhat the media says. These people always say, well, he doesn't seem so weak to me, he looks strong, and his closing speech was good. Bingo, it's over.

KURTZ:  Great thing about debates, people can watch and make up their own minds. Governor Ed Rendell, thank you very much for joining us thisSunday.

RENDELL:  My pleasure.

KURTZ:  Still to come, the media covering the violent reaction to the lack of charges in the killing ofBreonna Taylor. And are commentators, some ofthem, disregarding the facts?


KURTZ:  Liberal commentators are outraged by thedecision not to bring charges against police officers in the killing of Breonna Taylor, which sparked violence in Louisville. But some in the commentary seemed disconnected from the more complicated facts of the case.

JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT:  This was a black lives don't matter ruling because they said that her life was irrelevant.
JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR:  You can do this whenever you want, and we won't jail you, we won't hold you accountable. Shoot all the black people you want.
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST:  There is no evidence of any kind that Breonna Taylor was murdered because she was black. That is a lie.


KURTZ:  Joining us now from Cleveland where he'll be covering the first presidential debate, Fox Newscorrespondent Griff Jenkins. Griff, what happened toBreonna Taylor was heartbreaking, asleep in herapartment at the start of this drug raid.

But given the fact that her boyfriend opened fire on the officers after they broke down the door andwere ruled to be acting in self-defense, is the case somewhat more complicated than some fo these all black lives don't matter rhetoric we're hearing?

GRIFF JENKINS, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  That's exactly right, Howie. We will see if it becomes up here on Tuesday night, her case. But, you know, facts really do matter and depending on what your viewpoint is depends on how you're taking a side.

And, you know, ultimately, the evidence and facts as they were were presented to a grand jury, who found none of the officers charged in the death ofBreonna Taylor, those are sealed. And then you have Ben Crump, the family attorney for the Taylor family, calling for those to be released.

Ultimately, Daniel Cameron, Kentucky's attorney general here, says that the officers did announce themselves, it was not the no-knock warrant as reported, and that the officers were threatened because of the boyfriend pointing a gun at them in the apartment.

Now, one officer was charged with three counts ofwanton endangerment for firing into a neighbor's apartment. But that officer was not -- Brett Hankison -- it was not his gun that caused the death ofBreonna Taylor.

Ultimately, I think, what's driving this a little bit politically and why you've got people speaking out so strongly is the attorney general, Daniel Cameron, is a Republican, he is black, and he spoke at theRNC.

When I was in Kentucky for the Kentucky derby covering protests, I found that really most of their anger and ire and anxieties were directed at theattorney general because they thought that it would be the case. At the end of the day, you've goteverybody --

KURTZ:  Well --

GRIFFIN:  -- from the political commentators, as long as stars like Shaq and Charles Barkley andothers in the sports world, they have been talking about it.

KURTZ:  Yeah, including on ESPN. Look, I think it's alegitimate media question, how this one officer could be charged with endangering the neighbors because his bullets went into the next apartment and not endangering a recklessly Breonna Taylor. But you mentioned Attorney General Daniel Cameron, when he announced this, he said he was very upset as a black man but it was his job tofollow the law.

And yet you have people like MSNBC's Jason Johnson saying he's furthering white supremacy. So, he is getting pretty heated on this case for obvious reasons.
GRIFFIN:  It is getting heated. We saw in the press conference Ben Crump and his co-counsel Lonita Baker who was demanding that Cameron release thefacts presented to the grand jury so everyone can see. Lonita Baker called on the media to -- quote -- "tell the truth" about what's really happening. 
So, one thing is for sure, we probably haven't heard the last of this, Howie.

KURTZ:  Yeah. This story is not going away. Nice tohave your insight. Good luck covering the debate. Griff Jenkins, everyone.

And that it is for this edition of MEDIA BUZZ. I'mHoward Kurtz. All the best to those celebrating Yom Kippur tonight. Hope you will like our Facebook page. I post my daily columns there. Let's continue the conversation on Twitter at Howard Kurtz.

If you have a chance, check out my podcast, "MediaBuzzmeter." You can subscribe at Apple iTunes or on your Amazon device or any other place where you get these podcasts. Podcasts are becoming a big business, by the way. 
Hillary Clinton is starting on -- all these famous people starting podcast. 
There is a lot of competition out there. There was alot to get in today.

We'll have more next week. We'll see you back here next Sunday with the latest buzz.

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