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Special Report

Fiery rhetoric in Trayvon Martin tragedy

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," March 27, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN'S FATHER: I'd just like to say thank you. And he is sadly missed. And we'll continue to fight for justice for him.

ANGELA COREY, FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY: We are going to make sure that Tayvon's mother and father and family and of course, all the people interested in this case have their questions answered. So we are committed to giving them those answers. We have to still finish our investigation and then decide in what forum that will occur.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHANNON BREAM, ANCHOR: You heard there first from the father of Trayvon Martin, a young man who was killed last week by a member of a neighborhood watch group, and also the special prosecutor now assigned to look into that case. Let's talk about it again with our panel. Charles, I'll start with you. This is a really tough discussion to have, and there has been some very heated rhetoric already.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: There has been, and it's been done in the absence of evidence. We don't know all the facts of the story. We know some of them. But the ones we don't know are quite crucial. We know, for example, that George Zimmerman, the alleged shooter, was following the young man, Trayvon Martin. We also know at a later point there as a fight and one eyewitness, who has spoken in public who says he was on the scene, says that at that point Trayvon was on top of Zimmerman and hitting him. Zimmerman's lawyer says that he had his nose broken and injuries on the back of his head. That's something he wouldn't say, I suspect, if it weren't so, because it can be easily checked. So we know that he was -- one guy was being followed, and we hear that at another point he was on top and he was hitting Zimmerman.

The question is what happened in between? Had Zimmerman retired to his car and turned around, or was he still in pursuit? And I think everything hinges on that. And until we know it we don't know how blameworthy Zimmerman is to be on this issue, although clearly he started all this by tracking, following a young man, who at the time from all the evidence wasn't engaged in anything.

BREAM: Steve, I want to play a sound bite today from Congressman Hank Johnson out of Georgia and then get your reaction. Here is the sound from today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. HANK JOHNSON, D - GA: He was executed for WWB in a GC -- walking while black in a gated community.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BREAM: When there is still so much unknown, Steve, how does language like that complicate this situation?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, I would argue it's not helpful. I think the first and most obvious tragedy of this situation is that Trayvon Martin is no longer here for whatever reason. I agree with Charles. There is so much that we don't know it's hard to leap to conclusions.

The second tragedy of this is that political partisans on both sides have tried to exploit the first tragedy for their own purpose. None of the facts as we knew them two weeks ago seem to have held up. It's not the case that Trayvon Martin was as angelic as some of his advocates suggest. It's also not the case that George Zimmerman was the way that he was portrayed in the initial reports.

Having said all that, it is it is clear that George Zimmerman was following Trayvon Martin. It's evident on a 911 call, and he appeared to continue to do so even after the police had advised him to stop. It's also clear that he had a history of doing this, that he was overzealous in his neighborhood watch duties, which seems self-assigned. So if that were the case and if you are Trayvon Martin, I find it hard to believe that you wouldn't want to confront somebody that has been following you in that manner.

BREAM: And Liz, should this even be a political situation at this point? A lot of politicians will say this is my job. When something happens, there are questionable circumstances, there are unknowns I can bring a public voice to it. Many of them have said they want to be voice for this young man. Is that the proper forum though?

LIZ MARLANTES, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: I think you can see arguments to some extent on both sides. You can say that the media attention perhaps will spur a greater sense of urgency to the investigation, that they are going to do a better job. And certainly the police department has come under some criticism that perhaps in the end will turn out maybe to be warranted, or at least it's a good thing that these questions are being asked.

But I do think when you have so much media attention, particularly in a case where there -- ya know, this is going to be a legal matter, we don't know most of the details, we haven't known most of the details from the beginning and inevitably things are going to get twisted. Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. Where we're talking about certain things that anonymous eyewitnesses have said. It's just difficult to get to the truth when all of that is happening. And I do think it's unfortunate when politicians weigh in on matters that really, really ultimately should be decided in courts, in the legal system.

BREAM: And it will take some time to get through that has the special prosecutor wades through. Charles, is there a way to calm the rhetoric, or to have a discussion in a way that is as calm as possible at this point?

KRAUTHAMMER: I think the best way to do that is for the special prosecutor to proceed as quickly as she can so we know the facts. I think if we all agree on the facts and we know what they are to the best of her ability to marshal them, I think they'll be a lot less argument about who is at fault, how much at fault, what ought to be done, should he be arrested or charged, et cetera. We simply don't know. And until that happens the speculation will feed the more extreme elements on either side into flinging accusations that as yet are not based on what we know.

BREAM: Final word to you, Steve?

HAYES: I'm not as optimistic as Charles. I think even when we know more of the facts it will be the case partisans on both sides will continue to try to make their arguments in a political fashion because they have been making them for so long, they're invested in them, they will continue to make them.

BREAM: Panel, thank you very much. That's it for the panel tonight. But stay tuned, we have more breaking details on a passenger that had to subdue a screaming JetBlue captain after a midair outburst.

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