Media scaremongering for 2016; Secret Service story crashes

'Scary' Cruz, Rubio's 'House of Horrors'


This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," March 22, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, the media descend on the University of Virginia after a black student is roughed up during an arrest outside a bar, his blooded face captured on cell phone video.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're so quick to be heavy handed when it is a black male because there is this perceived threat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The facts should drive the media coverage rather than speculation that have come up.


KURTZ: Are journalists rushing to judgment and casting this as another national symbol of racially charged brutality before all the facts are in? I went to the campus to find out.

It's scare-mongering season as republican presidential candidates start running into the media buzz saw starting with Ted Cruz, who was falsely accused out of scaring the heck out of a 3-year-old girl.


TED CRUZ, TEXAS SENATOR: This has blown up in the media. Every reporter has written about it and it's gotten worse and worse. It became girl tear terrified, by the ended of it; I'm Freddy Krueger torturing this girl in her nightmare.


KURTZ: The horror movie theme also showing up in an investigative piece called Marco Rubio's house of horrors.

The resignation of flashy celebrity congressman, Aaron Schock began with one reporter who noticed Schock's office had been decorated in downtown abbey's style. He'll tell us how Schock's staff tried to bully him.

What a killer ending, the director of an HBO documentary about murder suspect Robert Durst says he has no idea the real estate heir would be arrested shortly before the final episode which seems to contain a hot mic confession.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were there any kinds of deals over the timing of the arrest?

ANDREW JARECKI, "THE JINX" DIRECTOR: Of course not. We don't have that kind of power; we're not in charge of the arrest time. And we had no idea of the arrest timing. In fact I was very nervous about it.


KURTZ: Did the filmmaker strike a blow for justice or was he too cozy with the cops? I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "MediaBuzz."

Ted Cruz was giving a campaign speech in Republicans in New Hampshire when a small voice responded from the audience.


CRUZ: The Obama-Clinton foreign policy of leading from behind, the whole world is on fire.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The world is on fire?

CRUZ: The world is on fire. Yes. Your world is on fire. But you know what, your mommy is here and everyone is here to make sure that the world you grow up in is even better.


KURTZ: Well, the headlines made the Texas senator sound like something of a monster, Ted Cruz scares young girl with fiery New Hampshire speech, said New York's Daily News. Ted Cruz's new campaign strategy: scare tiny children said New York Magazine. Small problem. Michelle Trant, the 3-year-old's mother, says her daughter wasn't frightened at all, but that the press wouldn't listen.


MICHELLE TRANT: She looked at him as he was a hero that he was going to put the world that was burning out. He was going to be the firefighter. And never even once did they ask me or my daughter what really happened. And when I did say stuff to the reporters that were there, they did not fill in the last part that I had told them which was, she thought he was a firefighter.


KURTZ: Joining us now to scrutinize the cover, Sharyl Attkison, former CBS reporter and author of the best-selling book "Stonewalled," Amy Holmes, anchors the hotlist at the Blaze, and Kirsten Powers, columnist to USA today and a Fox News contributor.

So the Houston Chronicle breaking the story this morning, Ted Cruz will get into the presidential race tomorrow. Why did they ignore the fact the 3- year-old was fine?

SHARYL ATTKISON, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: I would go so far to say it was inappropriate if news reporters presumed to know how the child felt without talking to the child or the mother about it. I think that was inappropriate. But you have to understand that Ted Cruz is not liked by democrats and has and half the Republican Party. There wouldn't be so much attention paid if they didn't think he was a serious threat to their interests.

KURTZ: Is the undertone here Amy that journalists think that Ted Cruz himself is kind of scary?

AMY HOLMES, THE BLAZE TV ANCHOR: I think so and thinking as we have the video. We can see for ourselves that it was a charming moment between Ted Cruz and that little girl. But I think the real key here is what the mother said. That none of the reporters spoke to her. They instead sort of wrote this novelistic account of what happened at that campaign rally. But we have the video, so we know the print journalists were wrong.

KRISTEN POWERS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Substitution game -- if this had been a well liked politician, maybe someone who was a democrat, that would have been turned into by some a charming sweet moment and would have been portrayed entirely differently.

KURTZ: The mom says a couple reporters it talks to her but didn't use the information according to her. But even if Cruz didn't handle it well and was awkward, this seemed to be maybe a 30 second item. But the story went viral as those headlines indicate.

POWERS: It feeds into an idea about him, and the narrative that there are some people who don't like him. I'm not a fan of his but I have to say, he was pretty charming in that video, so it's interesting to see that it actually was the opposite of the way that he's portrayed. But at the same time, I think journalists do this a lot because they're desperate for a story. So they don't have anything to write and they see something that happens and they think I'm going to run with this because this is something other than just saying Ted Cruz was giving a speech.

HOLMES: And you can picture the journalists after this moment talking with one another after the event, having the impression. Basically being as we saw writing the same story which actually had nothing to do with what happened.

KURTZ: Interestingly, Cruz says the local press in New Hampshire covered the substance of what he said that weekend, the national press was all about him terrifying this little girl. Let's move to this politico story, you're a Florida girl so I'll ask you this. A piece about Marco Rubio and his long friendship with former Congressman David Rivero, it's been investigated a couple to times -- don't involve Rubio they bought a house together a decade ago, now trying to sell it for $10,000 less than they paid for it. Does this justify the headline Marco Rubio's house of horrors?

POWERS: Quite a headline. Different people write the headlines than write the articles as we all know. I don't see anything wrong with the story, it's very long. I'm not sure in my view as a reader that it deserves the kind of attention to the setup that it was given. If you started reading that story which was not particularly well written, but if you could figure it out, it sounded like it was setting up some giant scandal and it never delivered. I think it was fairly reported, but there was so much attention paid to something that didn't seem to deliver.

KURTZ: At worst it seems that you could say Senator Rubio has not cut loose completely a controversial friend. Had that became this house of horrors theme?

HOLMES: It was ridiculous. The writer said this house is symbolic somehow of Senator Rubio. And I read it and like page two, do I really have to read through the rest of this? Apparently Marco Rubio is overly loyal and lost
10 grand on a house deal and it took 1,000 words to get that across.

KURTZ: If there was a question that did he get a cut rate mortgage or some special deal, I could see it. But they just bought a house in Tallahassee and just haven't been doing well.

ATTKISON: The implication was that this was a person who had a partner who he brought the house with was under investigation. He somehow -- the implication was he should have cut off his ties with him. I don't think that makes a story. I don't think people have to cut off ties with friends who are under investigation.

POWERS: Democrats or republicans who have gotten cut rate deals from mortgage company, candidates who have associated with people who made racist statements, people who are convicted terrorists, people convicted of bank fraud in Wall Street scandals. So what is so unusual? This seemed much less than the accepted...


HOLMES: And in the piece the reporter said, we spoke to a dozen people. And all they could get was a reference to Shakespeare. Are you kidding me?

KURTZ: Always that intimidation paragraph, like we interviewed 400 people.
Also in politico a piece about Jeb Bush's wife Columba, and her father, Jeb's father-in-law. He's always said he abandoned the family when she was 10. This story interviewed relatives on the father's side. And my question, is this an important story, an interesting story or non-story?

ATTKISON: I don't think it's an important story and I actually thought it was a little outside the bounds of what journalists should be doing. You shouldn't -- what seems to have happened is the mother was divorced and she took the side of the mother. That's not an unusual thing to happen...

POWERS: She was 10.

ATTKISON: Yes. She was 10 years old she lived with the father for a year or something. But sort of the thread of the story was the suggestion that Jeb Bush or Columba Bush were lying about this based on interviews from estranged family members. Estranged family members aren't the best sources for information.

POWERS: Supposedly the father left the family 40 years ago, she last spoke to him in 1972. And I don't see anything wrong with looking at that relationship, the article almost made it seem like this was the only facet of this woman that we were to consider that must have shaped everything she's all about.

KURTZ: Whereas the Washington Post today has a lengthy profile of Columba Bush and a bigger look at a woman who grew up in Mexico and potentially could be the first lady. Before we get to a break, I want to play a sound bite from democratic senate leader, Dick Durbin talking about the stalled nomination of Loretta Lynch and asking about it on the other side.


DICK DURBIN, ILLINOIS SENATOR: And so Loretta Lynch, the first African American woman nominated to be attorney general, is asked to sit in the back of the bus when it comes to the senate calendar.


KURTZ: Okay so I think we can all agree that he was playing the race card here. Her nomination has been stalled by republicans for having to do with unrelated legislation. You can criticize that. Cable chatter on all the cable networks, sure but New York Times didn't even do a news story on this. Do you think it's more news-worthy than that?

ATTKISON: I think its news-worthy when a senator makes such a vitriolic, ridiculous and frankly disgusting statement about his fellow senators putting a


ATTKISON: When I read that piece, I could not believe that politico expended all of those resources to send a reporter down to Mexico to report on a 40-year-old divorce.

KURTZ: President Obama gave an interview to the Huffington Post in which republicans are holding Loretta Lynch hostage, that's fair about that with you he didn't embrace the racial rhetoric. So is this a bigger story than Durbin's comments?

POWERS: I think Durbin's comment is a bigger story just based on the fact that I have some African American friends who are loyal democrats who thought it went too far. I know there have been African Americans spoke out about it. This is something democrats do over and over and nice to see they actually get called out on it. Because instead of actually talking about the issues, they just go straight to we'll call you a racist, we'll call you some name rather than actually have a debate about what is going on.

HOLMES: It diminishes actual real charges of racism when Dick Durbin goes to the senate floor, and accuses fellow senators of being racist on something that I think we all agree is ridiculous.

KURTZ: It's not that much debate about her qualifications -- everyone seems to think this is a very solid nominee, we'll see how long it plays out. Don't forget to send me a tweet about our show, stick to the media its @howardkurtz. You can also e-mail us, Ahead, my report from the University of Virginia on whether the media are making a student's bloody arrest into another symbol of racial injustice. And why are the pundits so anxious to find a Democratic opponent for Hillary?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Secretary did you sign the separation statement before you left state? Did you sign that statement?


KURTZ: The uproar over Hillary Clinton's private e-mail has taken an intriguing turn after the former secretary of state's team changed its story to say every one of her messages was reviewed before the, "personal ones" were deleted and State Department acknowledged she didn't sign an exit form. But you the controversy have prompted the pundits to talk of potential Democratic challengers to Hillary with some openly pushing that idea.


STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Every other major party nomination there has been some serious competition. Hillary Clinton right now doesn't have much serious competition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats started to freak out. Maybe it should be Patrick instead of Hillary Clinton, let's try again to get Elizabeth Warren to run even though she obviously doesn't want to.


KURTZ: Amy Holmes, why are the media suddenly cheerleading for any democrat to take on Hillary Clinton?

HOLMES: Because Hillary Clinton right now is struggling with her pre- candidacy before she announces becoming president. But also frankly the left has always had an uneasy relationship with the Clintons. If you remember, Bill Clinton was the first who brought the Democratic Party to the center and with the center's democrat and even during his presidency...

KURTZ: And journalists have had...

HOLMES: Yes, an uneasy relationship with the Clintons including Clinton Flacks who as we know, emailed them lots of profanity.

KURTZ: Doesn't this amount to pumping up people who either aren't going to run like Joe Biden or don't look terribly strong like former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley or even the guy who sets hearts a flutter Al Gore saying he should run and make it about climate change?

ATTKISON: I think it's a legitimate story. There are plenty of democrats who are saying what happens if Hillary implodes. There is no plan b. What could be the potential plan b? So I don't know if they're pumping them up.
They're getting names from democrats who I think everybody has decided that Hillary is the only way.

KURTZ: So you think the coverage reflects unease in the Democratic Party and Hillary might not be the strongest standard?

POWERS: Or what Amy was saying, that there are democrats on the left side of the party that don't like Hillary Clinton that they would like to see somebody else.

KURTZ: It's always couched as competition is good for the party and Hillary needs the batting practice. But my suspicion is the press needs a story.

ATTKISON: I think Kirsten put her finger on it. You're acting as though the press is driving the story. To some degree that's true, but I think the democrats are driving the story. Therefore the press had permission in some cases even liberal facets of the press to do this store aggressively about Hillary Clinton.

KURTZ: But when a piece is written saying Al Gore should run, it's because he'd like to see Al Gore run.

POWERS: Same groups do the same kinds of stories over and over again and they seem to be like minded. You can group them all together.

ATTKISON: Talking points go out, e-mails are sent.

KURTZ: So brief answer from everybody. Is the e-mail story fading and maybe it didn't do as much damage as we thought it might?

ATTKISON: The good news for Hillary is that it's happening in March.
There's long time before the democratic primary.

KURTZ: So is it over?

POWERS: It's fading. They have run the clock out and it's so early. Doesn't mean it won't come back, but I think it's probably dead in the mainstream media.

ATTKISON: I think there will be more peaks and valleys.

KURTZ: You're seeing a comeback.

POWERS: There could be. There will be more developments.

KURTZ: Will you all at least acknowledge if we could somehow entice another prominent democrat into this race, then we would have an actual primary to cover?

ATTKISON: I think Governor O'Malley believes himself to be a credible candidate.

KURTZ: I do so, too, but the question is will he be running and is he gonna start criticizing Hillary. All right, Amy Holmes, Kristen Powers thanks so much. We'll see you later Sharyl. Ahead, were HBO and law enforcement in collusion in the making of that documentary about accused millionaire- murderer Robert Durst? But up next, the downfall of Aaron Schock began when a Washington Post reporter walked into his strangely redecorated office.
He'll tell us what happened next.


KURTZ: Aaron Schock announced his resignation this week as several news organizations were revealing his highly questionable spending practices, the Illinois congressman better known for his physique and constant stream of shirtless photos sponsoring legislation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have been called the Brody Jenner of congress by TMZ. I've also learned from TMZ that you have six pack abs, any truth to that, congressman?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a simple question. Do you or do you not have six pack abs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As soon as I say that and then I get out of shape, you'll use it against me?


KURTZ: Schock's downward spiral began last month, what you might call the downtown abbey story. A Washington Post reporter visited his office and noticed it had undergone an expensive make over, joining us now, Ben Terris of the Washington Post. So you walk in to the office, you see the red wall; the candles and the eagles and you say to yourself this is a story?

BEN TERRIS, WASHINGTON POST FEATURE WRITER: No, I just thought it was an interesting looking office. But a woman popped out of the inner office and she was the interior decorator. She invited me in, started taking pictures because it looked cool and that's when it became a story. I got a phone call from the press guy saying who told you can take pictures. You have to stop doing that. Stay where you are. You created a crisis in the office.

KURTZ: Leaving aside the fact that it's an office paid for by the taxpayer, did his tone worry you?

TERRIS: Yeah I was a little nervous, if somebody on the phone that I didn't expect to be calling me angrily. If anything, I thought they would want the story out that there is a cool looking office. And then somebody came in and she told me I had to delete the photos. There was definitely something here.

KURTZ: And you refused of course.

TERRIS: Yeah refused.

KURTZ: And later you agreed to delay the story for a bit because Congressman Schock hasn't seen the renovation that he had obviously authorized.

TERRIS: Writing a story on offices is not something I normally do. But when they said we can get the congressman to talk to you on Monday, I out I'll wait until Monday and I'll talk to the congressman.

KURTZ: And then he didn't want to talk.

TERRIS: Yeah then Monday came around and no talking.

KURTZ: So when Schock's staff is saying does not do this story, did you feel like you were being bullied?

TERRIS: Definitely pressured. They were trying to control the message. So the story I decided to write was about the kind of obsession with image in DC, people want to control the image they have. And when somebody stumbles into their office and wants to write something, it doesn't always go their way.

KURTZ: So all these pressure tactics, and ordering you to delete the photos, didn't that succeed in making it a story that got about 100,000 times more attention than might have otherwise?

TERRIS: Absolutely. There is a chance you all I would have done is tweeted out a couple photos saying look at this cool office. I bet a lot of people would've re-tweeted it but it turned out into a whole kind of look into more.

KURTZ: Looking back, should you have focused immediately on the cost and the fact taxpayers are footing the bill?

TERRIS: That's an interesting question. I'm not an investigative reporter.
I don't dive into people's spending. I'm glad there are people out there who did because there was interesting news that came out afterwards.

KURTZ: Are you surprised by the media scrutiny that your story unleashed, legitimate questions about Schock who apparently over billing the taxpayers for mileage in his district and taking rides on donors planes. Were you surprised at what you set off here?

TERRIS: Yeah, absolutely. I knew it was a viral story pretty quickly. My phone started buzzing with tweets as soon as the story went out. I thought it would be a two day story and the kind of thing people thought about every once in a while. I did not expect there to be a trickle of stories for six weeks.

KURTZ: Nor did you expect the congressman to resign.

TERRIS: No and now a federal investigation, too.

KURTZ: Meanwhile quote of the year is Schock's father telling the Chicago's WLSTV; two years from now he will be success if he's not in jail. Not a happy story for a guy who really did stress image. I guess a lot of that caught up with him. Ben Terris thanks very much for stopping by. Coming up, why the huge story about a drunken crash involving two secret service agents didn't quite pan out, but first, why did the police wait to arrest Robert Durst until right before the finale of an HBO series that supposedly contained a confession?


KURTZ: The six part HBO documentary on Robert Durst who is suspected in three murders including the long ago disappearance of his wife is called the "The Jinx."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do I say but how do I say it. I never internally purposely lie. I made mistakes. I did not tell the whole truth. Nobody tells the whole truth.


KURTZ: Nobody tells the whole truth. And it contained this seeming confession when the real estate heir was off camera in the bathroom but still miked up.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm having difficulty with the questioning. What the hell did I do, kill them all is this of course.


The director Andrew Jarecki says they didn't find the so-called confession until two years later.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once you hear it, I guess you have a legal and moral obligation to go to the authorities. So when did that happen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we found that subsequent admission, what happens in the bathroom, we contacted them and said we have something more.


KURTZ: And police arrested Durst just before last Sunday's conclusion and have charged him with murder, joining us now to examine the ethical questions in this bizarre mellow drama, in New York, Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood reporter and here in Washington, Terence Smith former correspondent for PBS, CBS news and the New York Times. So HBO filmmakers won't say exactly when they turned over that audio evidence to law enforcement. Were they perhaps worried about spoiling their series?

TERENCE SMITH, FORMER PBS CORRESPONDENT: Imagine that, Interesting point, though when did they cooperate and share with law enforcement. When did them not. What kind of deals was struck with law enforcement as to when an arrest might take place was an arrest actually delayed for the series, it really -- provocative interesting questions.

KURTZ: Marisa, what is the ethical obligation here? What if HBO delayed and it turned out that Robert Durst had fled the country or killed somebody else. It seems the timing is very questionable.

It appears that you could extrapolate that law enforcement is grand standing here. And they had the perfect opportunity with this very much highly publicized documentary series which was a six hour series. So it's been on for several weeks. But I think that the filmmakers knew they had a moral and ethical obligation. I think where it will get tricky and where Durst's attorneys will have a lot of investigating to do on their own is when exactly they did start cooperating, when law enforcement found out about -- everybody is calling it a confession, but it could also be the ramblings of a mentally damaged person. But it gives a lot of fodder to his defense team, I think.

SMITH: You say they may be grand standing. I think they're mortified, law enforcement. I think they're caught and the public will wonder why over all these years law enforcement could not accumulate the evidence and information. In the very last segment there, they have nailed two the non- legal eye. They have nailed this guy at least with the Susan Berman murder with the writing.

KURTZ: The handwriting very similar. I agree I'm putting confession in quotes. It is rambling. But I'm not buying the notion the cops say it was just a coincidence that they arrest him right before the finale. I just don't think it works that way.

SMITH: No of course not. First of all, I agree with you on that confession, is it a confession. Will it be admissible? Can they demonstrate that that's what he was really saying or was he rambling? I mean, I wouldn't know about that. But the whole thing, it's a very provocative case and I like you cannot believe that it was just a coincidence. Now law enforcement in its defense says that they picked up Durst because they believe that he was a flight risk. He'd gone to this hotel in New Orleans and had money and...

KURTZ: You cover the entertainment business, all this just gold for HBO right?

GUTHRIE: Exactly. And they are not talking about it, the executives at HBO.
This was an acquired film; this wasn't something -- basically almost finished when they bought it. So this wasn't something that their executives in the documentary unit were working closely with Andrew directly on throughout the ten years he was making this film. But to terry's point, I think that the burden of -- the burden for Andrew Jarecki is to make an entertaining film and much different burden for law enforcement. So he may appear guilty in the film because you can put interesting sound track to it. So it's a different burden for Andrew Jarecki than it is for law enforcement.

KURTZ: Let me jump because I want to ask Terry about Jarecki. He announced I'm not doing anymore interviews because I could be called as a witness in this case. That didn't occur to him before?

SMITH: It's obvious that he -- at least as a potential witness I'd assume he's an automatic witness to describe what he found and how he found it. So there may be something more. Why did he clam up? It's a fair question.

KURTZ: Because he doesn't want to answer some of these questions I believe.
Interesting side note, New York Times coverage of this, the reporter Charles Bagley saw the series well in advance which is not unusual to screen something. But then couldn't report the news because he'd agreed and didn't disclose to readers that he himself had been interviewed on the program. Any much those things a problem?

GUTHRIE: I'm not so sure that the fact that he appeared -- they should have put a note in his story. What's the harm of doing that? I don't think he crossed any ethical line. I mean these sorts of films; there are always reporters and talking heads. So I think that's fine. They didn't send everybody the last episode on purpose. I got the first three I think. And after watching the first three before it started to air, my question to HBO was what happens, does he eventually confess?

KURTZ: You wanted to cut to the chase. Before we go, best correction of the year by far, associated press originally reporting Robert Durst had been the band Limp Bizkit. Terence Smith, Marisa Guthrie thanks very much, it is a fascinating melodrama. Ahead, did you buy all that media gossip about Vladimir Putin and why he was missing in action? And after the break, I counted 16 television crews at the University of Virginia after a racially charged arrest. But are the media rushing to judgment without all the facts?


KURTZ: When the University of Virginia suddenly seemed to erupt as the media's latest racial flash point, I went to Charlottesville to see what was happening behind the headlines. Here is my report.


KURTZ: The blood was still on the sidewalk where 20 year old Martese Johnson was arrested over a disputed ID after being turned away from a bar. At first glance, this looks like a case of cops out of control, except they were Virginia alcohol control agents. We don't know if the confrontation across the street from the University of Virginia was racial in nature or to what degree the student was resisting arrest, without force according to the charges. But while 16 television crews showed up in Charlottesville to cover the story, the truth is we still don't know exactly what happened before a bystander's cell phone video captured the bloody after math of a St. Patrick's day arrest.


KURTZ: Bartenders told me the arrests of underage students aren't unusual in this college town and there are more than 1600 a year across Virginia. So why has this turned this to a national story? If it hadn't have been for the cell phone video, we probably wouldn't be here to talk about the angry student reaction particularly among blacks to the incident at the bar. But in the age of video and a bloody face, remember we don't know what happened before. We don't see the resisting arrest. We don't know what led up to it. But we do see a guy who ended up with ten stitches who happens to be I'm told the only black member of the honor society here at the University of Virginia. The media are magnifying the message; emotions were running high at a series of protests organized by black students. And as they talked about the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner on Staten Island, it became clear the Martese Johnson incident simply served as a spark in igniting their grievances.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was debating dropping out of school because this is just so tough. This is mentally exhausting, every single day.

KURTZ: That the university founded by Thomas Jefferson is for students like Danaya Hough almost an insult.

DANAYA HOUGH, UVA STUDENT: I need to you address that we have a right -- stop talking about Thomas Jefferson like he's a deity.

KURTZ: Some of the protesters acknowledged to me they had no evidence that the scuffle with Johnson was racially motivated, but they're highly suspicious.

TERRY MASON, UVA STUDENT: One of the things that really got to me about the Martese video is that if you watch it, he's on the ground and he's screaming I'm a UVA student, I'm a UVA student, I'm a UVA student and I think that should be clear to everyone that while, yes, that is important, being a black male kind of supersedes that in the eyes of law enforcement.
They're so quick to be heavy handed when it is a black male because there is this perceived threat.

HOUGH: I don't feel like if it was a white student who had a fake ID, I don't think there would have been an issue. There are plenty of students on these grounds with fake IDs, but none have been put in the hospital.

KURTZ: The coverage ratcheted up when Virginia's democratic Governor Terry Mcauliffe ordered a state investigation. And when the President Teresa Sullivan met with Martese Johnson and expressed her sympathy. Sullivan was criticized for overreacting by banning fraternities when "rolling stone"
reported a gang rape had taken place at a UVA frat. A botched story that was later discredited, but when which led to journalists descending on the campus as they have again this week.

NICK KRISTICH, UVA STUDENT: Same old stuff, media trucks trying to get a story.

MASON PICKETT, RESIDENT: No depth, ten stitches, a little blood. And a little blood goes a long way. So the pictures may be exaggerated, but the guy probably got hurt for sure.

KURTZ: UVA student Nick Kristich sees the media rushing to judgment.

KRISTICH: Facts haven't come out yet. So I think this is a bit premature. I understand the offense, but I think the facts should drive the media coverage rather than speculations that have come out based on other national reasons about that emerged.

KURTZ: The man who could answer those questions made a brief appearance with his lawyer Daniel Watkins who made a statement on Johnson's behalf.

DANIEL WATKINS, ATTORNEY: I'm shocked that my face was slammed in to the brick payment just across the street from where I attend school. Three officers then pinned me to the ground, pressing their knees in my back while blood flowed freely from the gash to my head. As the officers held me down, one thought raced through my mind. How could this happen.

KURTZ: But Martese Johnson did not speak and the lawyer took no questions from reporters. Johnson brushed aside questions from a fox news producer on Friday as he marched with other students, leaving a media narrative missing crucial facts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Martese, can you talk about what happened is this.

KURTZ: We don't know exactly what happened outside Trinity Irish pub with the arrest of Martese Johnson, whose blood still on the sidewalk over here.
But the invasion of television crews is already casting this as a national symbol of another racially charged incident involving a black man.


KURTZ: Still a lot we don't know about what happened in Charlottesville.
After the break, how the Washington Post had a walk back the story about two secret service agents and the late night crash that wasn't. And later the columnist whose been called a racial traitor for saying the original Ferguson narrative was a lie.


KURTZ: The Washington Post headline was pretty dramatic. Secret service agents investigated for a late night car accident at the White House. The story's saying they may have driven over a suspicious package and that got picked up just about everywhere as the Daily Show pointed out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allegations of a car crash at a White House.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two agents crash into the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wasted, driving.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A drunken crash, really.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The white house under siege by jealous killer car.


KURTZ: The Washington Post softened the story with a serious of online changes with the headline downgraded to secret service agents investigated after car hits White House barricade. I talked to an official who saw a video who says the agent's car was moving very slowly toward a guard house and nudged aside a barrel, and moved past the suspicious item on the ground. Is there a temptation on a story like this to push it a little bit too much beyond what you have documented?

ATTKISON: Apparently yes, and I would say this highlights a couple of problems we've talked about in the past, the tendency for some in the media to pick up things from other reports without verifying it from their own first hand sources. Sometimes you have to do that but it highlights the dangers of taking a piece of information from someone who was supposedly told something from a good source. It was incorrect and blew it and spread like wild fire.

KURTZ: The source just doesn't have all the facts or the source pushes the narrative a little too far. The Washington Post did very good reporting about secret service in the beginning with the fence jumper who somehow got into the White House and also had to run corrections about the story about the armed guy who shared an elevator with President Obama. He was not a convicted felon. The facts can change rather quickly.

ATTKISON: Here's the problem. I assume this is somebody the paper thought was a good source gave bad information. Why were they a good source? How did the information come about? I always ask the question in whose interest it for the story to be exaggerated. Who is it that wants people to think the secret service is more out of control in that incident in particular than others. I always wonder what interest is behind picking up a story.

KURTZ: Journalists have to factor in that sources have an agenda. It has to be considered. A lot of people see car crash and they never catch up with the later correction or clarification.

ATTKISON: Sometimes that serves the point of the person who's trying to put the false information out. They know it'll take hold even if there's a correction later.

KURTZ: All right thanks.

Still to come your top tweets, a liberal columnist hit by a backlash for telling the truth about Ferguson and why did the media wallow in all the rumors about Vladimir Putin?


KURTZ: Liberal African American Washington Post columnist and MSNBC contributor for doing what many on the left have refused to do. Admit that the whole "Hands up, don't shoot" narrative that took hold after Michael Brown's killing in Ferguson's was a lie that blew up on twitter.


JONATHAN CAPEHART, WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: Fellow African-Americans called me a sellout or house Negro. Others said I did it because I wanted white people to like me or that I, did it for the money. No I didn't. I did it because it was the right thing to do.


KURTZ: That hostile reaction only under scoring the bravery of writing that column. The founder of the daily caller website is the co-host of fox and friend weekends. One of his columnists quit after Carlson killed a piece saying fox news isn't being critical enough on immigration reform. He says he gives his writers vast freedom because he says you don't go after your employer. That helps undercut his site's independence. Why is much of the media calling for people to challenge Hillary?

TWEET: she can't win and is desperate to secure another term.
TWEET: Tom b, so they have stories. Must create conflict, division, chaos or they might really have to work.

Finally Vladimir Putin drops out of sight for weeks and suddenly it's okay to publish rumors, all kinds of rumors. Business Insider, the latest Putin rumor says he's recovering from the flu. Here's  The New York Times on the rumor now going into overdrive, he has been stricken by the particularly devastating strain of flu going around Moscow just now. He sneaked off to Switzerland for the birth of his love child. He had a stroke. He was dead, age 62, except he wasn't. He reemerged this week and had the last week at the media saying it would be dull without gossip.

That's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz; we hope you'll like our Facebook page. We post a lot of original content there and videos answering your questions. You can also e-mail us. Stick to the media. Maybe you'll get a response. We are back here as always next Sunday morning 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET with all the latest media buzz.

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