Ben Carson's war on the media; the untold John Lennon story

Accuses Politico, CNN of lying


This is a rush transcript from "MediaBuzz," November 8, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On a "MediaBuzz" this Sunday, a "MediaBuzz" investigation: How decades of inaccurate reporting uncovered how happened when John Lennon was shot and brought to a New York hospital. We talked to eyewitnesses who have never spoken out about which doctor actually tried to save Lennon's life. And which two doctors they say, embellished their role.


DR. DAVID HALLERAN, OPERATED ON JOHN LENNON: Anything is a little bit destroyed. I was upset and you feel somewhat responsible. What I saw was Dr. Lynn being interviewed. He had a scene so far when we can -- pumping motion, just specific with pumping heart, basically saying that he took care of John Lennon and massaged his heart. And that just was a tipping point for me. This is just seems very indigenous and I just, you know, maybe so much insulting to me.

DR. STEPHAN LYNN, FORMER DIRECTOR OF DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE: And then they have been Dr. Halleran held the knife. I can't remember exactly.


KURTZ: Plus, Yoko Ono speaks out after one nurse tells me the reporting was unfair to her.


KURTZ: Do you think Yoko Ono was smeared this these interviews?

BARBARA KAMMERER, NURSE: I do. Yes, honestly. I think that she was smeared.


KURTZ: Ben Carson at war with the media. First of where a CNN report challenging his account of having been angry and sometimes violent young man.


BEN CARSON, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a bunch of lies. This is what it is, a bunch of lies, attempting, you know, to say that I'm lying about my history.


KURTZ: And then Carson, accusing Politico of an outright for reporting on a mistaken claim in his autobiography that he was offered a scholarship to attend West Point.


CARSON: There is a desperation on behalf of some to try to find a way to tarnish me because they have been looking through everything. There's gonna be a scandal. There's gonna be some (inaudible) he's handle it fairly. There's got to be something. They are getting disparate. So next week it will be my kindergarten teacher who says I peed in my pants.


KURTZ: It's the first time candidate blaming the press for his own missteps or are the media overreaching in an attempt to tarnish him?

Plus, Donald Trump keeps dominating the country. The coverage ripping his rivals, I watched him close up at Trump Tower this week, and he's playing on the big stage, Saturday Night Live.


DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You think you're this terrific person.


TRUMP: You think you're this, you think you're that.


TRUMP: You'll be very naive and quite frankly, you're fired.


TRUMP: Degrade (ph). They don't have my talent, my money or especially my looks. But you know what?


RUMP: They're not bad.


KURTZ: How is Trump still driving the campaign coverage even, when attacking the media? I'm Howard Kurtz, and this is "MediaBuzz."

KURTZ: Ben Carson's campaign is based before on his inspirational life story. A story that is now being challenged by media outlets, but the doctor is convinced, are out to get him. Carson has written and often spoken about being an angry and somewhat violent teenager, including an incident in which he tried to stab a friend. CNN spoke to some old friends and neighbors who recalled him as a well-behaved boy.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTRT: CNN set out to find the classmate to Carson says were victims of the attack, but so far has been unable to locate any of them. The Carson campaign decline to provide names of those involve or eyewitnesses, calling CNN the examination into Carson's his past, a witch-hunt.


KURTZ: Carson admitted to Megyn Kelly that in his autobiography, he changed the identity of the person he said he stabbed, from a close relative to a friend, and then he really got into it with CNN's Alisyn Camerota.


MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: But let me ask you flat-out, whether you stand by the claim that you -- as a young man, as a 14-year-old boy, attempted to stab another boy and attacked your mother with a hammer.

CARSON: Those claims are absolutely true. You know I am a hundred percent sure that they are true, and this is simply an attempt to smear and to deflect the argument to something else.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN: CNN has been trying to find people who were involved in these incidents or written this.

CARSON: Tell me what makes you think that you're going to find those specific people. Tell me how your methodology works because I don't understand it. This is a bunch of lies.


KURTZ: On Friday, as screaming headline in Politico choose Carson, in his autobiography, of fabricating a claim that he gotten a full scholarship or been offered to full scholarship to West Point. The doctor's campaign accusing Politico of an outright lie, Carson offered this explanation to Bill O'Reilly.


BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS: You were never formally offer any kind of accommodation of West Point. Is that correct?

CARSON: Right. I was just told that it would be very easy for me.

O'REILLY: OK. So that should have been a little clear on page 57 of your book, correct?

CARSON: I guess you could -- could have been more clarify. I told it as I understood it.


KURTZ: Joining us now to sort through all it this, Mercedes Schlapp, a U.S. news columnist, Politico consultant and former White House aide to George W. Bush. Robert Costa, national political reporter for The Washington Post who covers Donald Trump, and Penny Lee, a democratic strategist and commentator. All right, so Ben Carson made a mistake in writing. That he have been offered the full scholarship to West Point, Politico, backing off the screaming headline. Was this a legitimate story?

MERCEDES SCHLAPP, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF SPECIALTY MEDIA UNDER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUS: Now I think Politico got an ass in reporting because they -- when they even had to change the headlines, so they went from fabricating a West Point scholarship to different headlines.

KURTZ: Plain West Point scholarship would never apply.

SCHLAPP: Exactly. And so, you know, you're -- they're and -- they also said that he had applied, but in fact, Carson had never that case. He said he had never applied. So again, I think Politico got it wrong in this case.

KURTZ: So when you say F in reporting, is that mean the story should never been published?

SCHLAPP: I think they had the facts wrong. I think that -- yes, I don't think they should have been -- they should have reported that.

KURTZ: Robert Costa, Carson uses really strong language, especially lately in hitting back, he says the media liars, witch-hunt, garbage. He seems offended that reporters are digging into his past.

ROBERT COSTA, WASHINGTON POST POLITICAL REPORTER: For so many presidential contenders, they rise through the ranks in House races and gubernatorial races, and Senate races, and the press gradually vets these candidates. But we're seeing right now is this uncomfortable confluence with the press and Carson. So when new to the national stage, the National Press doesn't really know who he is, they're digging into his record, and it's just -- the way it's unfolding is uncomfortable for both sides, but both seem -- I think they're coming from the right position, it's just they're meeting at this hot moment.

KURTZ: Penny Lee, does Politico get credit for trying to hold Carson accountable for what he acknowledges was, when we say a small misrepresentation or embellishment in this book?

PENNY LEE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Sure, they do on that, but you have to be very careful and not overreach, because then you play right into the hands of the candidate. And that's where, unfortunately, Politico did when they went too far. Yes, every fact is now going to be examined like every presidential candidate has, always throughout the history. Barack Obama, you know, you went through point by point that he made in both of his two books.


KURTZ: But Carson is not accustomed to this because he had never been a politician.

LEE: Right. Absolutely, to Robert's point. To Robert's point, he is not being accustomed to it, but the news outlets, it is on them to be able to hold the restrained and do it on a fact basis.

SCHLAPP: But it's to Ben Carson's benefit.

LEE: Yeah.

SCHLAPP: He raised $3.5 million in one week because of this supposed media witch-hunt. But it's the media's job to scrutinize everything presidential candidate. Today, the Washington Post will -- you have Marco Rubio in the messy financial statements.

LEE: Yes.

SCHLAPP: This is what the media's job has to be, but they got to get the facts right.

KURTZ: Or so on that point, the CNN has a couple of reporters interview old friends and classmates to find out if they can find anybody who has -- knows anything about the supposedly violent indents when he was 14 or 25. Is that a witch-hunt as Carson puts it?

SCHLAPP: Well, again, the media has got to do its jobs, but is these stores were 50 years ago.

KURTZ: Right.

SCHLAPP: With that being said, they went to the campaign, they asked them for this name. I'm telling you, there's shoestring campaign. Right now, what they're focus on is organizing in Iowa and New Hampshire. They don't want to have a deal with having to give this name out -- names out to these reporters.

KURTZ: I don't think the Carson campaign has any obligation whatsoever to help reporter to do this particular stories.

SCHLAPP: Well, to CNN it's asking.

KURTZ: But at the same time, I mean, CNN didn't say, didn't say Carson lied about this. They said weren't able to find anybody who could substantiate this, but isn't this kind of an upside down, topsy-turvy situation? Here you have, CNN is saying, "Our reporting suggested he was really a nice, quiet young man." And the candidate says, "Oh, no, no, no. I was very violent, and I was an angry guy. It's kind of the opposite of what you would expect."

COSTA: It's -- it is a unique situation to have a presidential candidate trying to use supposed acts of criminality to as -- to authenticate themselves as a national presidential candidate. Usually, candidates are veering away from talking about stabbing and taking a hammer to their mother. It's a little odd to watch, but it is what the Carson -- it's the like part of the Carson story and he's sticking by it.

KURTZ: But, you know, CNN was in a position of trying to prove a negative. And I think the reporting effort makes sense. I mean, let's talk -- I mean, every candidate who runs, you know this, has reporters trying to find, you know, the high school girlfriend, and all this stuff, what kind of person was he as a young man or woman. But talking to nine people doesn't prove that who wouldn't necessarily know. As Carson says, that he tried to hit his mother with a hammer or came close to it wouldn't necessarily know these incidents.

LEE: No, right. And I think Ben Carson has got to be prepared. This is just the start of it. This is a lot of more months ahead to go. There's gonna be much more media scrutiny, and also from his own fellow candidates that are on that stage. They have trackers. They're also gonna be checking the scrutiny and verifying his own authenticity, so I think this gonna be something you know, is he going to be able to be able to react? I think the media has got it, own it themselves to be responsible and a very systematic way going forward because we also know this is just the start of it.

SCHLAPP: Well, the media today, (inaudible) Meet the Press, they had an interview with Ben Carson, and they basically asked, "Well, what about your mother? Why didn't your mother or brother come out? And you know what Ben Carson had to say?

KURTZ: And does Chuck Todd asking question?

SCHLAPP: It was Chris Jensen.

KURTZ: Jensen OK.

SCHLAPP: And she -- and you know what Carson had to say? "My mother has Alzheimer." Guess what, there's a sympathetic, empathetic, sympathetic approach that the viewers are going to say, "You really asked this question, where is your mother?" And Ben Carson has to answer, "My mother has Alzheimer?

KURTZ: Most candidates are avoiding the story, they don't really need to get (inaudible), but one exception is Donald Trump, for just to say when he talks to Bill O'Reilly.


TRUMP: You know if you think about what Carson is saying, he hit his mother over the head with a hammer. He hit a friend.

O'REILLY: No. He almost did.

TRUMP: Yeah, whatever. He hit a friend in the face with a lock. He tried to kill somebody with a knife, and he said he suffers from pathological disease. OK?


KURTZ: How much does Trump amplify the story? Drive the story? Keep the story alive when he says those kinds of things, and as this case, about the reporting on Carson?

COSTA: I spoke to Trump at length after he taped The O'Reilly interview, and we talked about Carson. And Trump, in his own way, likes to play political analyst. And he said, the quote he gave to me -- was, "This may be the beginning of the end." He sees, in his mind, Carson unraveling a tad, as the scrutiny and spotlight increases, but Trump is not slamming him hard. He just likes to raise these kinds of questions about Carson.

KURTZ: Seventh Day Adventist, I don't know about that.

COSTA: Well, the strange thing about the Trump and Carson dynamic is they're actually more friendly than any other rivals in the field. Trump's campaign manager and Carson's campaign manager get along. There's been talking, even of a Trump and Carson ticket, but you have Trump's still comes out there. He knows Carson is a competitor and he'll raise the question.

KURTZ: How much does it help you and how much does it help him that you're often able to get him on the phone, which is not true for most newspaper reports is dealing with most.

COSTA: No. It's a different situation reporting on Donald Trump's campaign. He's very accessible in a way most politicians are not. I think he sees the benefit of having his voice in a story rather than a spokesman. And that's just a different situation in almost any one else he deals with.

KURTZ: On a Tuesday of this week, there was a news conference in Trump Tower. I was there to get to ask Donald Trump a few questions, and he was riffing on everybody. He went after the CNBC and John Harwood, but he had a lot say about some of the other -- republican rivals. Let's take a quick look and then I asked a few questions on the other side.


TRUMP: You look at Ben. He is very weak on immigration and wants to get rid of Medicare. My Jeb impression, no, I don't want to do that. I don't like showing a person sleeping at the podium. Marco Rubio has a disaster on his finances. He has a disaster on his credit cards.


KURTZ: So when Trump keeps talking about Rubio, again, these are stories that have been reported, what effect does that have on the media coverage?

SCHLAPP: Well, I think it has a lot of effect. First of all, because it puts the doubt, not only in the voters mind, but in the media's mind like, wait a second here. We got to dig into the story. On Marco Rubio's credit cars, on Jeb Bush and whether he's making a comeback. It's that (inaudible). He has his own.

KURTZ: So we used acting as the assignment editor for the media?

SCHLAPP: He is certainly. Not only that, but the oppo research. Like he provides this information, and really, I think it feeds to the media, and that's where I think the media just respond. And you've seen so many of these other stories are able to come out on these other candidates.

KURTZ: And so what happens Penny, is that reporters, then every next time they see Marco Rubio on the stage, and they see Jeb at stage, Trump said this, "They ask him to respond that takes it into the second day and the third day and fourth day of the news cycle." Are we a little bit too reactive to what Trump says?

LEE: It is amazing. He has take controlling to a whole new world that we have never seen before, and he's taking its own Twitter account and turned it into his own media channel for lack of.

KURTZ: Trump's Twitter account is practically the Associated Press of this campaign because everybody journalists monitors it.

LEE: Absolutely.

KURTZ: Knowing he's gonna say aggressive things or retweet somebody. I think somebody said, sometimes on flattering stuff about journalists.

LEE: Right.

KURTZ: As we discussed on this program. Is this a brilliant strategy on Trump's part? Or does it show that the media just.

LEE: Look, he knows how to keep his brand out there, and it is one in which it is provocative. And it is just one that which he's trying to solicit all this other response because, you know, many times, he doesn't want to answer his own questions. The questions directed (inaudible). Greatest strength isn't deflecting to everybody else and having other people in the media cover the other questions out that are out for the other candidates.


LEE: So really a strategy in his part.

KURTZ: Certainly doesn't hide from the press. All right, send as e-mail. We want to hear what you think, or comment on Twitter @howardkurtz.

When we come back, live from New York with -- yes, Donald Trump. And later, as we approach the 35th anniversary of John Lennon's death, an investigative look at distortions and discrepancies in the media coverage of what happened at the hospital, that faithful night.


KURTZ: After weeks of media built-up, and some protest by Hispanics, Donald Trump stepped on to an even bigger stage last night: "Saturday Night Live."


TRUMP: We're going to have a lot of fun tonight.

LARRY DAVID, COMEDIAN: You're a racist.

TRUMP: Who the hell is -- oh, yeah, I knew this was gonna happen. Who is that?

DAVID: Trump's a racist!



TRUMP: It's Larry David. What are you doing Larry?

DAVID: I heard if I yelled that, they'd give me $5,000.




KURTZ: That actually was a promise by Hispanic. For Penny, Donald Trump has promised to make America great again. Did he make "SNL" great again?


LEE: No. Unfortunately, he's only as good as the material that was given to him. So sadly, I don't think that the material was brought out the best in Donald Trump. But look, I mean, he was there. He showed up, he played. You know, he was self-deprecating, and, you know, I think that would go both a long way, that people understood. You know he kind of get the joke, and he was he torn out of the two and played along with it somehow.

KURTZ: You know these losers in the media.


KURTZ: Are not given this guy a credit. Look at these reviews, Washington Post, and they mean it and half hearted flop, basically.

LEE: Right.

KURTZ: New York Times, a skilled and unfunny performance -- part of this people knows.


SCHLAPP: I mean, come on. First of all, I think SNL needed Trump more than Trump needed SNL, OK? Because I think Trump is so much more entertaining on the campaign trail then he was then dealing with this, but I think, for the critics itself. You know, I think they were building -- there was a media buildup around this performance, and what do you expect? I mean, the writing wasn't that great, and Trump, I think did the best -- his dancing was out amazing -- it was amazing.


SCHLAPP: You have to admit the little.

KURTZ: I give an A-plus for that.


KURTZ: So Trump is pretty funny when he just riffing and doing his own stick. Here, you know he has to read the lines. The setups were good, but the punch lines are even bored, not so good.

COSTA: I spoke to Trump (inaudible) between rehearsals for Saturday Night Live. And I said how was it going? He goes, "Oh, boy" and he said, "I'm trying to do this skit, and that's case, and I'm still trying to win Iowa."


COSTA: And so, I think what we saw last night was Trump -- was part of the Trump moment on SNL, but he didn't have a defining moment like we saw with Sarah Palin and Tina Fey. This is something what -- that will be cited, but not really remembered.

KURTZ: Right. Now Larry David, I saw all of the shows as he did play Bernie Sanders a couple of weeks ago. And Trump said in one of the four or five Sunday shows he called in to today, that he had vetoed a couple sketches, including one that would have made fun of the whole Ben Carson, you know, hitting his mother thing, which was probably wise. But look, TV critics, you know, you want to say it was terrible, that's fine. But The Washington Post Hank Stuever, who also was criticizing, you know, the whole SNL a gag. He also called Trump a hateful, nonsensical, being glorious candidate. Do we want TV critics giving their political opinions -- one of their reviews? Doesn't it show that they are bias?

SCHLAPP: They're more than welcome to give their reviews, but I, you know, they're off-base. I mean, I think that they want have their point of view made. But, I think at the edge -- in the case of SNL, I think for Trump it was, you know, his way of going out there, being the performer that he is. And you know what, he can do that. And I don't think the TV critics really played that role.

KURTZ: Well, so he's the guesthouse on Saturday night. And then on Sundays, phone into all these Sunday's shows, which is his privilege, is not accorded to most presidential candidate.


KURTZ: Let's face it. And is there such a thing as too much Trump or the media just have a bottomless appetite for the Donald?

LEE: Well, it seems like are proven there's this bottomless appetite for people to see him. What you don't know is whether or not they're just tuning in to see the car wreck, or if they're tuning in to actually listen to in a substantive way. So I think entertainment versus substance.

KURTZ: Car wreck, were you just commenting on his campaign?

LEE: Well, I mean, it's just that the fact that people are always want on looking for the gaff, what is gonna be provocative that he is gonna be saying.

KURTZ: You talk to a lot of campaigns, why don't other candidates steal some of this and, you know, do what he does on Twitter or call you or make themselves available for more interviews in more different formats?

COSTA: I think as a reporter, the biggest difference between Trump and his rival campaigns, is that the Trump campaign puts the candidate out there day in and day out to talk to the press. And it doesn't really matter the outlet. The others campaigns you have to go through layers of spokespeople, advisers, you have to have negotiations about background, off the record, deep background. And at the end of the day it's a muddled process, whereas Trump, as you calls his assistant or you send an e-mail and they either decline or accept. And I think that streamlined process, that accessibility in this country, in this campaign, I welcome more of it from all sides.

SCHLAPP: Yeah. I think the traditional campaign model doesn't work anymore.

KURTZ: Right. You got to be available and accessible. And even if you don't like the media, a lot of people don't use the media to get your message out. Penny Lee, Robert Costa, Mercedes Schlapp, thanks very much for coming by this Sunday.

Up next, Bill O'Reilly and George Will in an epic clash over Bill's book Killing Reagan. And later, the doctor who tried to save John Lennon's life and he had never spoken to a national audience, until now.


KURTZ: Two Fox titans went after it the other night. Syndicated Columnist George Will struck first with the piece, accusing Bill O'Reilly of going into a no-fact zone with his book, Killing Reagan. A key pointed dispute. The a book's report on 1987 memo by an aide to President Reagan's Chief of Staff Howard Baker, that some staffers were worried about whether he still have the ability to carry out his duties. And then, things got heated.


GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The author of the memo went on to repudiate and deny them.


O'REILLY: When did he repudiate it? When did he repudiate it (inaudible), when?

WILL: Shortly after meeting Ronald Reagan.

O'REILLY: And who -- no, not meeting Ronald Reagan. He repudiates it while he was in the White House under heavy pressure. Michael Deaver, do you know Michael Deaver?


O'REILLY: What are you, what are you laughing at, Will?

WILL: Well.

O'REILLY: You deny that he repudiate it under heavy pressure, do you deny that?

WILL: I deny that you know that he repudiated under heavy pressure.



KURTZ: Well, he said, O'Reilly and his co-author should have been (inaudible) several top Reagan's aides. O'Reilly said, they have skin in the game and that they -- will had failed to note that the book was largely laudatory.


WILL: It is doing the work of the left, which knows that in order to discredit conservatism. It must destroy Reagan's reputation as a president.

O'REILLY: You're a hack. You're in with the cabal of the Reagan loyalists who don't want the truth to be told.


KURTZ: No, both men scored some points. The crux of this debate is about a real memo from the Reagan administration and whether it raises serious questions about the president's confidence or whether that was quickly discredited. And viewers confused by all the back and forth and boy, it got hot. Should read George Will's column and Bill O'Reilly's book, and make up their own minds.

Ahead on "MediaBuzz," coming off a new eyewitness interviews with the men and women who tell us what really happened after John Lennon was shot, and Yoko Ono speaking out about our report.


KURTZ: It was a tragedy that no one who was alive at the time will ever forget. And yet, we've uncovered some serious problems with the way the media has told the story again and again. Here is my report from New York.


KURTZ: It was here at Manhattan's Roosevelt Hospital, 35 years ago that a police car aboard John Lennon after he had been shot by a crazy fan. Initially identified just as John Doe, not as world famous musician who changed the culture, but after years of inaccurate reporting, the full story of what happened that night has never fully been told.


KURTZ: Dr. David Halleran, a 29-year-old third year resident at Roosevelt, back in 1980 is telling history to a national audience for the first time.

HALLERAN: . four entrance wounds over his left chest, three exit wounds out the back, not responsive, no pulse and we immediately just opened up his chest. I opened his chest, his heart is intact. He had a lot of blood.

KURTZ: What makes Halleran's story remarkable is it over the years, two other doctors have taken credit for the emergency surgery performed on John Lennon and each drew major media attention. Halleran, now a surgeon in Syracuse, New York was first interviewed by the producers of a new film, The Lennon Report, that's being unveiled next week. Why he is speaking out now?

HALLERAN: It is just unseemingly for professional ground saying, "Hi, you know -- Hi, I'm David Halleran, I took care of Lennon," you know -- I've never done that, you know.

KURTZ: Had you done that over your career, you would have gotten a lot more media attention.

HALLERAN: Yeah, but I think I would have come across as a butthead.

KURTZ: Barbara Kammerer was one of the nurses in that trauma room.

KAMMERER: David was on the opposite side of the stretcher than I was. He had his chest opened and he has (inaudible) in his chest, trying to find where the bleed is where.

KURTZ: Eilis Egan was also in the room 115 as a nurse anesthetist.

EILIS EGAN, NURSE ANESTHETIST: David was taking care of his and which is, cardiac massage. Dr. Halleran did a wonderful job that night and he deserves credit.

KURTZ: After Lennon was pronounced dead, Halleran wrote up the medical report, which Roosevelt Hospital has never released. Dr. Stephan Lynn who runs Roosevelt Emergency Department asked Halleran if he wanted to help brief the media mob outside.

HALLERAN: I basically didn't. I wanted crawl under a rock. I just wanted to go home. I think it's just a little bit destroyed. I was upset and you feel somewhat responsible, you always wonder what could have -- you done different.

KURTZ: So Dr. Lynn addressed the waiting reporters.

LYNN: John Lennon was brought to the emergency room, the Roosevelt site, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital this evening, shortly before 11:00 p.m.

KURTZ: Stephan Lynn, speaking on behalf of the hospital said nothing about performing a surgery himself. Halleran says another physician Richard Marks, had come into the trauma room about halfway through the operation, but played only an advisory role. On the 10th anniversary of Lennon's murder, People magazine ran a major story titled, The Day the Music Died. The magazine describing Dr. Marks says, the man who operated on Lennon, Marks, who s now deceased just quoted and saying, "When I realized that he wasn't going to make it, I just sewed him back up. I felt helpless.

EGAN: Dr. David Halleran was doing open cardiac massage and I -- Dr. Marks did not have to do anything at the time that I know of.

KURTZ: So Richard Marks did not touch John Lennon's body?


KURTZ: Halleran later went into Dr. Marks in a hospital lounge.

HALLERAN: I go up to him just to suppose to (inaudible) and he said, "Let me shake the hand of the man who tried to save John Lennon." And he goes, sort of sheepishly goes, well, David, you know how it is. You know how the media is. You know how papers are and are hot.

KURTZ: In the wave of media coverage on the 25th anniversary of Lennon's death, there was a new medical star. The New York Times said that Steven Lynn, the former administrator was the one who massaged Lennon's heart.

Did you personally open John Lennon's chest?

LYNN: I personally opened his chest, scalpel in hand, right below his rib across his chest -- yes. And I held his heart in my hand attempting to massage his heart, trying to get what little blood was left in his body to circulate as best as it could.

KURTZ: But those who were there tell a different story.

KAMMERER: Stephan Lynn, when arrived at room 115 at the point where John Lennon was about to be pronounced dead or already was pronounced dead.

KURTZ: Another nurse, Dea Sato told me and here, told the filmmakers the things were wrapping up when Dr. Lynn arrived.

DEA SATO, NURSE: When he got there, it was pretty much almost finished, because they had done everything they could possibly do.

HALLERAN: Dr. Lynn came in towards the end of the resuscitation or at the end of it.

KURTZ: Did Stephan Lynn touch the body?

HALLERAN: He did not. No.

KURTZ: As I put these questions to Dr. Lynn, he began to backtrack.

Four people who were there. David Halleran, Barbara Kammerer, Eilis Egan, Dea Sato have told us that it was Dr. Halleran who performed the emergency resuscitation and then you arrived toward the end.

LYNN: I was there at the very beginning. It may have been Dr. Halleran who held the knife. I can't remember exactly who held the knife. I was there before any of the other doctors were there. I was director of the Emergency Department.

KURTZ: Why do you think that four people would have a different recollection of that emotional night than you do?

LYNN: It has been 35 years since then. I don't remember exactly who held the knife. I certainly thought that it was my hand on the knife. It may very well have been Dr. Halleran's and perhaps, it was David that opened the chest, but I'm not certain.

KURTZ: Could it have also been Dr. David Halleran that massaged John Lennon's heart and not you?



LYNN: That I know I did.

KURTZ: How do you know? How you are so sure?

LYNN: Because I remember it.

KURTZ: Is it the possible in the passage of time that you conflated the memories of what you did and what your colleagues did?

LYNN: None of this issue and not on most of the other issues.

KURTZ: Is there any doubt in your mind that Stephan Lynn didn't touch John Lennon's body that night?

HALLERAN: No, there's no doubt.

KURTZ: There are other discrepancies. Dr. Lynn says he was called back to the hospital after a long shift. He told me, he didn't know the patient was the former Beatles.

LYNN: I had no idea who the patient was, we didn't have -- any idea who the patient was until after he actually arrived in the trauma room.

KURTZ: But Dea Soto told me she contacted Lynn when she learned the patient was Lennon and would not have called him for a regular gunshot victim.

KAMMERER: Dea called Steven. He was the administrator of the emergency room because we had a famous person present.

HALLERAN: Unless you're John Kennedy or John Lennon. You know, you're not going to call if you're John Doe. No one is going woken up.

KURTZ: In The New York Times story a decade ago, Dr. Lynn edited a chilling detail about giving Yoko Ono the said news, which he repeated to me.

LYNN: She was on the floor pounding her head against a concrete floor at that moment. I put my hands behind her head, she wanted to harm herself.

KURTZ: Barbara Kammerer was in the room with Dr. Lynn and Yoko Ono.

KAMMERER: Stephan Lynn was not in the room long enough to even observe if she banged her head on the floor or not. And Yoko Ono did absolutely not bang her head on the floor. She did not wail. She acted completely appropriate to the situation. She had just seen her husband shot and now Yoko was told John Lennon was dead. I was very angry when I heard Stephan say that. Every time I had heard Stephan interviewed, it was more and more and more embellished.

KURTZ: Do you think Yoko Ono was smeared in these interviews?

KAMMERER: I do. Yes, honestly. I think that she was smeared.

KURTZ: Dr. Lynn has also said in the interviews that he gave the nurses this warning about potentially lucrative souvenirs.

LYNN: That none of you runs out of the room with the sheets that have John Lennon's blood on them or dirty parts of your clothing our your tie that has a spot of John Lennon's blood. We have to protect that.

KAMMERER: He was just being a pompous ass. And there was no need to even say anything like that because none of our staff would have done it. It was very, very insulting and demeaning to the nursing staff.

KURTZ: And it didn't happen?

KAMMERER: No, absolutely not.

KURTZ: David Halleran was unaware of the publicities swirling around Lynn, who talk to (inaudible) ranging from New York's Daily News to the AP. But in 2010, on the 30th anniversary of Lennon's death, Stephan Lynn showed up on ESPN, on Fox News, and on a CNN special than Halleran happen to see. And the story that Dr. Lynn told made headlines around the world.

What did you see and how did you react?

HALLERAN: What I saw was Dr. Lynn being interviewed. He had a scene on far who making a pumping motion, as if he was pumping a heart. Basically, saying that he took care of John Lennon and massaged his heart. And that just -- it was a tipping point for me. It does just seem very disingenuous, and I just, you know, maybe somewhat insulting to me.

KURTZ: Other than a couple local interviews he gave in Syracuse that made no mention of the conflicting accounts, Halleran has stayed out of the national spotlight. Decades after leaving Roosevelt Hospital where his father was also a doctor, David Halleran says he's now speaking out for the sake of historical accuracy.

Has this changed your view of the American Media?

HALLERAN: Yeah. I am a lot more skeptical now than I was 35 years ago. I think it, you know, I don't know who watches the watchers. I mean, you know, I don't know who fact-checks the fact checkers, you know.


KURTZ: John Lennon's legend will live forever. And Beatles music seems as popular as ever. But we now have the last piece of the puzzle of what happened at this hospital, and the surgeon who avoided the limelight all these years finally getting his due.


KURTZ: Roosevelt Hospital didn't answer my questions, but Yoko Ono gave me this statement on Friday, quote, "I did not bang my head on anything, let alone a concrete floor. This is the first time I hear this story, all the time I had in mind that I had to stay calm and well for Sean's sake. If I banged my head on anything, I might have gotten a head injury. That would have been very bad for me and my son. I thought I had to stay as strong as I could for him."

Up next, why the republican revolt against the network debates fizzled. The democrats all sit down with unabashed liberal Rachel Maddow. And later, Carly Fiorina takes on The View.


KURTZ: Some republican candidates launched a revolt against the debate rules after that CNBC debacle, giving their work a list of detailed demands.


SEN. TED CRUZ, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How about instead of a bunch of attack journalists, we actually had real conservatives. Could you imagine a debate moderated by Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin?


KURTZ: Joining us now, Kirsten Soltis Anderson, a republican pollster and author of the new book, The Selfie Vote: Where Millenials Are Leading Americans (And How Republicans Can Keep Up). So Charles Krauthammer said the other day, that republicans got a great gift in this debacle of the CNBC debate, the dramatize media bias in his view, but then squandered it with a bunch of whining demands about rules and what kind of questions could be ask and the studio has to be 67 degrees. Do you agree with that?

KIRSTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: I think it's a fair assessment. I think in the CNBC debate, one of the big problems was there even necessary a left right media bias being displayed, but it was the way that the moderators kind of wanted to make it about themselves. So that it was about the moderators try to prove they were smarter than the candidates.

KURTZ: So then, the candidates go to the networks and say, we're done with this, we wanted to be done this way and it totally fizzled. But what did even smart policy should go for?

ANDERSON: I think it fizzled in part because each of those candidates is gonna have very different things that they'll want. That the thing that's good for Trump isn't necessarily gonna be the thing that's good for Rick Santorum, and so that's why the RNC's of it can be a good sort of moderating force to be that broker between all of the candidates and the networks because some candidates will gonna have more leverage with the networks than others will.

KURTZ: Right. And then they all want different things. And some who want to be heard, some who want to be last.


KURTZ: Or be -- maybe (inaudible) questions so, we just heard Ted Cruz say Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin should moderate a debate. Do they just want people who are on their side? Do they not think that they should have to deal with journalists, even (inaudible)?

ANDERSON: I think most of these candidates know that the road to the White House is going to go through the mainstream media that you're going to have to stand up to journalists who don't necessarily agree with your point of view. But I think what's interesting about the idea of having conservative journalists moderating debates within the context of the republican primary. It's there's almost no one who knows better about the sort of inside the family's fights that folks have on the right. And so you better keep out what those debates looks like.

KURTZ: But then the question is -- are those conservative commentators in this case gonna really ask difficult questions that's put the candidates on the spot or they're just gonna say President Obama is doing a terrible job, don't you agree?

ANDERSON: I think that people would be surprised to watch how much with inside the conservative family, there are really serious debates about, you know, small nuances of tax policies and things that you're not necessary gonna get when, if somebody outside the conservative bubble who is doing the questioning. So I do think there's some value there.

KURTZ: So by the way, the Fox Business Debate is coming up on Tuesday, Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee now are making a primetime stage. I wonder if that will impress the media coverage that they get. This was all, of course, based on polling. But, speaking of partisan debates, we had one on Friday night. It wasn't a debate. It was a democratic forum in South Carolina, moderated by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. Let's look at a little bit of that.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  What do you say to people like senator sanders who have criticized you at basically being too close to that powerful special interested? Too close to Wall Street interest to be trusted, to (inaudible) them in when they need to be really

HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, I represented New York, but anybody who thinks that they can influence what I will do, doesn't know me very well.


KURTZ: So was Rachel Maddow too friendly or somewhat challenging toward Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley.

ANDERSON: I don't think that there was a particularly hostile exchange, again, this is the benefit in some ways that having debates conducted by, or forums conducted by someone who is inside the idea logically family. IS it -- somebody like a Rachel Maddow can set people a little bit more ease on the on elected and peace out things in away where more and more combative environment, it might not actually been brought to the surface.

KURTZ: Right. So then if you press Hillary on (inaudible) the Wall Street, you presses Hillary on changing on same sex marriage, she's coming from the left, and she's doing it in a polite way, but she's -- it did in fact challenge them, which kind of makes your point.

ALL right, stick around, let me get a break. After the break, Carly Fiorina didn't like with the women of the View said about her face. So they got in their face. That's next.


KURTZ: Carly Fiorina was pretty steamed after the ladies of The View started making fun of her face, and on Friday, she had her turn.


CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you meant your comment about my face being demented in a Halloween mask as humorous, so be it. I guess you misinterpreted Donald Trump's comments about my face and thought they weren't humorous.


JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": We are comedians here. I mix on of Hillary's pantsuits and Hillary's husband's sex life.


KURTZ: The first one in here is very friendly, but when we got to the demented face, Joy Behar, Michelle Collins they say, "Oh, we may have trashed you, but we're just comediennes. What do you think of that?

ANDERSON: I think Carly Fiorina took the right strategy and here care on The View. Bury in mind that people who watch The View presumably like the hosts of The View and like that show. I think she took a smart strategy in going on and just letting the comments see for themselves. Not trying to be overly combative of herself, allowing herself to sort of seem above the fray while also not being afraid to confront people for those comments.

KURTZ: At the same time, I think The View suffers enough from not having a conservative panelist. And so, it seems to me that humor --and Carly makes the point that conservative women, the double standard, are treated different than liberal women. Does she have a point on a show like that?

ANDERSON: I think on a show like that, she absolutely has a point. At another point in the interview, they got into a debate about Planned Parenthood that obviously went a little bit off the rails because it's one of those topics that they'll never agree on.

KURTZ: Thank you for bring that up. We have another clip to show you because it -- they get very heated when Whoopi Goldberg jumped in. let's take a look.


FIORINA: I'm pro-life. But whether you're pro-choice or pro-life, the majority of Americans are horrified by the reality that we're harvesting baby parts.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Carly, I need to stop you.

FIORINA: The majority.


FIORINA: The majority.

GOLDBERG: Because that is not.

FIORINA: Whoopi, I'm sorry, you.

GOLDBERG: You know that's not true.

FIORINA: You ask me a question.

GOLDBERG: Carly, you know no one is harvesting baby parts.

FIORINA: Well, that's interesting. That's interesting.

GOLDBERG: No one's harvesting baby parts.

FIORINA: That's interesting that it -- that's interesting to be that.

GOLDBERG: Oh, Carly. Come on girl.


KURTZ: Fiorina went on to say that Planned Parenthood has changed its policy by not taking any compensation from being a broker on these things. So how did that come off both from the viewer's point of view about The View, the ladies of The View and candidate Fiorina?

ANDERSON: I think it fit right in line with kind of the start of political discussion you have on The View these days, where there's a little bit shouty (ph), a little bit of everybody kind of yelling over one another. And frankly, I think Carly Fiorina's strategy of just continuing to sort of push her message is the best you can do in a format, where everybody else is sitting around the table and you're the guest who's coming in remotely. The challenge Fiorina has to face is that, this message of, "I'm going to fight back when people insult me and I'm gonna take the fight on Planned Parenthood. It's been her message, really, since that first primetime debate. What's the next chapter for Fiorina? How can she get herself back in front of voters with like what, whatever the next chapter is for her?

KURTZ: Well, also that most of them in The View is that they've got been quite some time the show is not what it was under Barbara Walters so, probably, everybody is happy after this. Kirsten Soltis Anderson thanks very for joining us.

ANDERSON: Thank you.

KURTZ: Nice to see you.

Still to come, the New York Post headline that trashes the hometown team when getting to the World Series, just isn't enough.


KURTZ: I knew it. I knew Jon Stewart couldn't stay away. He says he doesn't miss The Daily Show. He's recently interviewed at his farm, he's got the big bushy beard, seem almost semi-retired, but the liberal comedian has sign a four-year deal with HBO, for short form digital content, which means he'll still get to go after Trump, and maybe Fox.

All right, take those pictures down. New York is a tough tabloid town. Look at the Mets. They weren't even expected to win the pennant, but after making some mistakes and losing the World Series -- I was up there, saw this on a newsstand, I got this New York Post screamer, put it up there, Amazin' Disgrace. Seriously? Four losses and they're bums, as the Old Brooklyn Dodgers were called.

All right, that's it for this edition of "MediaBuzz." I'm Howard Kurtz. Thanks for watching. Go -- like our Facebook page - I'll get it out here, we post a lot of original content there. We respond to your questions. We have videos. We have a dialogue. You can also write to us, No political rants. Talk about the media, maybe I'll respond. And also DVR the show in case you're not sitting around on Sunday.

We're back here next Sunday, as we are every Sunday with the latest buzz.

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