Fox News media analyst Howard Kurtz slammed CNN for a "fundamentally flawed story," but added that President Donald Trump had crossed a line in his criticism of CNN when he called for people to be fired.
'...this is a fundamentally flawed story.'
The anchor of Media Buzz described the controversy over a story from CNN that the network said had been confirmed by Michael Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis, but he later denied. The president criticized CNN over the story in a tweet, but then overstepped his bounds, according to Kurtz.
"I understand CNN wanting to fire back at the president," Kurtz said, "as it has done in a tweet saying 'we don't lie,' but it doesn't solve the problem that this is a fundamentally flawed story. CNN has done very little to explain publicly where it is.
"And on this business of Lanny Davis," he continued, "Michael Cohen's lawyer, who has told me and other journalists that he mishandled the situation, and that he made a mistake, he never confirmed this story, the Michael Cohen story about Trump Tower to CNN, in fact he told the CNN reporters he could not be a confirming source. He wishes he had been more aggressive in waiving them off what remains an unsubstantiated story."
The story that had made large headlines on CNN was that Cohen was ready to confirm to the special counsel Robert Mueller investigation that Trump knew about the controversial meeting with Russians at Trump Tower before it happened, and approved of it. This would have been a crucial bridge between the president and charges of collusion with the Russians.
'That is a step too far...'
"The tone of that tweet makes it sound like CNN wants to be in the wrestling arena with President Trump," Kurtz said of CNN, "but as far as that and other tweets in which the president says Jeff Zucker should go, and that Andy Lack the president of NBC should go, President Trump has every right to push back hard against what he sees as unfair media coverage. And especially on this flawed CNN story.
"But a president of the United States should not be calling for the firing of two heads of private companies simply because he disagrees and doesn't like their media coverage of him," Kurtz added.
"That is a step too far," Kurtz said, "it is using the bully pulpit in a way that feels like a personal grudge, especially in the case of Jeff Zucker, who had been on leave after surgery for serious heart problems, and who had been friendly with Trump when he ran NBC and Trump had 'The Apprentice' there."
"If President Obama had said 'Hey Fox News, you should get rid of Roger Ailes because I think your coverage of me is unfair, there would have been an explosion on the right," Kurtz speculated.
Here's the video of Kurtz's complaints against Trump:
Trump had castigated CNN with several tweets, including one criticizing Carl Bernstein.
"Sloppy @carlbernstein, a man who lives in the past and thinks like a degenerate fool," said Trump, "making up story after story, is being laughed at all over the country!"
CNN shot back in defense of Bernstein in a tweet Kurtz referenced.
"Make no mistake, Mr. President, CNN does not lie," the CNN public relations account tweeted. "We report the news. And we report when people in power tell lies. CNN stands by our reporting and our reporters."
Make no mistake, Mr. President, CNN does not lie. We report the news. And we report when people in power tell lies. CNN stands by our reporting and our reporters. There may be many fools in this story but @carlbernstein is not one of them.
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) August 29, 2018
"There may be many fools in this story but @carlbernstein is not one of them," the network concluded.