‘PUNCHING DOWN’

Fox News Host Howard Kurtz Defends Jake Tapper from Trump Attacks

The ‘MediaBuzz’ host called CNN’s Tapper an “experienced journalist” who was right to cut off his contentious interview with Stephen Miller.

Fox News/Screenshot

Jake Tapper got some strong support from an unlikely source on Monday: Fox News.

The CNN host was smeared by President Trump as a “flunky” following his contentious interview with White House adviser Stephen Miller on Sunday’s State of the Union. But as Fox News MediaBuzz host Howard Kurtz argued Monday afternoon, the president’s attack was out of line.

Calling the appearance a “trainwreck of an interview,” Kurtz told fellow Fox host Harris Faulkner that Miller was sent on Tapper’s show specifically to “trash” Steve Bannon, Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff and CNN “as a hotbed of anti-Trump hysteria.”

While Trump is “entitled to say whatever he wants,” Kurtz called Tapper an “experienced journalist” who is “not a flunky” in his estimation. “I always wonder if he’s just punching down when he goes after a particular cable news host,” he added.

Kurtz also defended Tapper’s decision to abruptly end the interview when Miller would neither let him ask a question, nor would he answer the ones he had been asked. “When Stephen Miller said again and again, ‘I want three minutes to make my point,’” he said, “you or I or anyone else with a guest would say, ‘No, you don’t have three minutes, you’re here to answer my questions.’”

That alone was quite an assumption to make about his fellow Fox News hosts, many of whom would likely be happy to let Miller or other Trump administration officials go on for as long as they please flattering the president. We will find out if that is the case Monday evening when Miller visits Tucker Carlson’s primetime show.

Faulkner, for one, was quick to echo Miller in accusing CNN of trafficking in “fake news.” But Kurtz wasn’t having it. “Fake news, to me, means deliberately fabricated news, so I don’t use that term,” he told her, before allowing that CNN has had to retract a handful of stories when mistakes were made. (No mention of Fox’s dabbling in “fake news,” however.)

While Trump’s small and loyal base may “love it” when he beats up on the media, Kurtz noted that “for the rest of the country, many people feel like it’s kind of petty for the president to be doing this.”

It was hard not to think that he was including himself in that category.