After Trump Says Obama May Sympathize With Terrorists, Howard Kurtz Worries About The Press Being Too Harsh On Trump

Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz defended presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump from criticism after The Washington Post accurately reported incendiary remarks made by the candidate during an appearance on Fox & Friends. Trump used a phone-in interview about the June 12 mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub as an excuse to attack President Obama, and suggest the president sympathized with terrorists.

Wash. Post Highlights Trump Accusing Obama Of Siding With Terrorists

Trump On Fox & Friends: “There’s Something Going On” With The President’s Response To Terrorism. On Monday, June 13, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump responded to the horrific mass shooting at gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida, in which 49 people were killed and another 53 injured, by blaming President Obama for allowing the mass shooting to occur. Trump called on the president to resign after his statement about the terror attack, claiming “He doesn't get it or he gets it better than anybody understands -- it's one or the other and either one is unacceptable”:

[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/13/16]

Wash. Post: Trump “Seemed To Repeatedly Accuse President Obama” Of Sympathizing With “Radicalized Muslims.” As reported by The Washington Post, Trump used the appearance on Fox News and others that same morning to “repeatedly accuse President Obama … of identifying with radicalized Muslims who have carried out terrorist attacks in the United States and being complicit in the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando over the weekend.” The Post pointed out that Trump’s further suggestion that the president may “get” terror attacks because “he gets it better than anybody understands” echoed his previous conspiracy theories about the president’s nationality and religion. From the June 13 edition of The Washington Post:

“Look, we're led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he's got something else in mind,” Trump said in a lengthy interview on Fox News early Monday morning. “And the something else in mind -- you know, people can't believe it. People cannot, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can't even mention the words 'radical Islamic terrorism.' There's something going on. It's inconceivable. There's something going on.”

In that same interview, Trump was asked to explain why he called for Obama to resign in light of the shooting and he answered, in part: “He doesn't get it or he gets it better than anybody understands -- it's one or the other and either one is unacceptable.”

For months, Trump has slyly suggested that the president is not Christian and has questioned his compassion toward Muslims. Years ago, Trump was a major force in calls for the president to release his birth certificate and prove that he was born in the United States. On the campaign trail, Trump has repeatedly stated as fact conspiracy theories about the president, his rivals and Muslims, often refusing to back down from his assertions even when they are proven to be false.[The Washington Post, 6/13/16]

Fox’s Kurtz Slams “Awful” Washington Post Headline On Twitter

Kurtz: It Is “Fair To Challenge Trump’s Insinuations, But This WP Headline Is Awful.” Fox News analyst and media critic Howard Kurtz criticized the Post for the article detailing Trump’s attacks on the president, which was titled, “Donald Trump seems to connect President Obama to Orlando shooting”:

[Twitter, 6/13/16]

Kurtz Has A History Of Trying To Deflect Widespread Media Criticism Of Trump

Kurtz Defended Trump’s Past Offensive Comments About Women Because “Trump Was Playing A Very Different Role During Those Years.” Trump has been heavily criticized for misogynistic comments he made during various appearances on The Howard Stern Show in the 1990s and 2000s, but many conservative media personalities including Kurtz have defended his past behavior by asserting Trump is an “unusual” candidate. Kurtz recently published a column for defending Trump’s past statements and pushing media to cover other topics such as Trump’s inconsistent positions on taxes and the minimum wage. Kurtz’s May 11 op-ed reads:

We in the media should probably be focusing on Trump’s recent words about the minimum wage and raising taxes on the rich as he tries to offer more moderate-sounding stances without abandoning his past positions. But it’s much more fun to look at a different kind of math: “A person who is very flat-chested is very hard to be a 10,” Trump once said.

I don’t think it will be much of an issue because people instinctively understand that Trump was playing a very different role during those years when he was bantering about women. Of course, Hillary Clinton and her campaign are trying to portray him as a misogynist, so the juicy stuff from the past becomes political ammunition. [, 5/11/16]

Kurtz Mocked Media Reaction To Trump’s Threat To Incite “Riots” At The RNC, Brushing It Off As “Hyperbole” From The Candidate. During a March 16 interview with CNN’s New Day, Trump warned of “riots” at the Republican National Convention if the party chose another candidate as its presidential nominee, sparking widespread criticism from members of the media. Several Fox personalities defended Trump’s remarks, including Kurtz who mocked other outlets for going “to DEFCON 1 over Trump’s riots comment” during the March 20 edition of Fox News’ MediaBuzz. Kurtz went on to label Trump’s threat as merely “hyperbole” from the candidate. [Fox News, MediaBuzz, 3/20/16]

Kurtz Previously Defended Trump Throwing Jorge Ramos Out Of A Press Conference After Tough Questioning. During an August 25 press conference, Univision anchor Jorge Ramos pressed Trump on his promise to forcibly remove millions of undocumented immigrants, and presumably in some cases their American children, from the United States as part of a sweeping redesign of the immigration system. Trump's initial reaction was to have his security team escort Ramos from the room, before eventually engaging in a minutes-long argument with the journalist over the feasibility and legality of his plan. Ramos was heavily criticized by Fox News personalities, including Kurtz who complained during the August 30 edition of MediaBuzz that Ramos was not being “paid to go and disrupt events” before labeling the journalist as “a heckler.” [Media Matters, 8/30/15]