tv CNN Newsroom Live CNN March 18, 2018 11:00pm-12:00am PDT
retirement, pope benedict has shaken the foundation of the papacy. if pope francis retires as well, a 2000-year-old institution could be fundamentally changed forever. putin takes a victory lap. the russian leader is celebrating his win of another six years in office. plus a warning for the u.s. president as top republicans tell him to leave robert mueller alone. and a would-be cinderella story in the most unlikely place. how a college basketball team's win shocked fans everywhere. hello and welcome to our viewers
joining us here in the united states and of course from all around the world. i'm rosemary church. >> and i'm george howell from cnn world headquarters in atlanta. "newsroom" starts right now. russian president vladimir putin is set to control russian politics for another six years. he is claiming victory in sunday's presidential election. that's no surprise, of course, because he was the only real contender. his main political opponent was banned from running. >> president putin, you see him there addressing his supporters. this came after it became clear he was on his way to his fourth term as president of russia. >> translator: we have to think about the future of our country, the future of our children. we are doomed to success, are we not? yes. thank you very much. together we will take up the
massive job of work we have before us in the name of russia. thank you. >> going into this election, the question really wasn't about which candidate would win, but rather more about the voter turnout of this election. >> yeah. it appears voters gave him a strong stamp of approval with almost all the ballots counted. russian officials say president putin has won nearly 77% of the votes. fred pleitgen has more now from moscow. >> reporter: vladimir putin coasting to victory in the russian presidential election, even as the first exit polls came out shortly after 9:00 p.m. time in moscow. he was at over 70% of the vote. now the russian president then came out shortly after words and spoke to supporter here right outside the kremlin. he thanked them for their support. he also said that unity was very important now to russia. there was a lot of work to be done to make russia better for future generations.
it was about 35,000 people who turned out here at the square outside the kremlin, many of them waving russian flags. it was a very patriotic event that took place. no one here really expected that vladimir putin was going to lose this election. but two things were in question. first of all, how much of the vote was he going to get? and then second of all, how high was the turnout going to be. turnout of course very important. because one of the things that vladimir putin himself was wary of is whether or not there would be voter apathy. this is a man, of course, who has been in power here in this country for -- for a very long time. the field of contenders running against putin was quite weak. the next best contender, the runner-up, the communist pavel didn't get much of the vote. he was miles behind vladimir putin. so it really want in question that putin was going to win this election. the only question was really how much and also how big the turnout was going to be. vladimir putin also went back to business as usual very, very
quickly, talking about the case of the former russian spy sergei skripal and his daughter who were poisoned, saying that russia was not behind it. and if it was military grade nerve agent used twhierks have been dead immediately. clearly the election for vladimir putin not much more than a formality as far as the election itself was concerned. and him going back to business as usual very quickly. fred pleitgen, cnn, moscow. >> in his 18 years in power, president putin has led russia into multiple spats with the west. but his supporters at home continue to back him. >> so to understand why, it is important to look back at history to consider what life was like for russians under the former president of russia, boris yeltsin. cnn contributor jill dougherty says that helps to clarify why many russians uphold mr. putin with such high regard. >> reporter: people who support him say he brought russia up from its knees. russia is standing tall. it's part of the world now.
it's a major player. and maybe the west doesn't like it. maybe people don't even like russia. but they respect russia. and that's pretty much the viewpoint, at least of those who support him there are a lot of those in the opposition who think really very differently about the president. i think also don't forget that in the beginning especially, right after boris yeltsin, vladimir putin was able to improve the economic situation of many russian citizens, and they still remember that. they remember the bad old days in the '90s when there wasn't even enough food. and i think those would be -- and then also one other thing. i was talking with some russians today about this. that finally, when they had mr. putin, they had a president who was vigorous, strong, not unfortunately like boris yeltsin, who had a drinking problem. so they were finally proud and not kind of embarrassed about their leader on the world stage.
that still continues. at least among people who are a little bit older and who remember those days of yeltsin. >> jill dougherty there. now in the meantime, and in the background, there is that continuing rift between russia and the united kingdom. the russian president dismissing claims that russia was behind the poisoning of a former russian spy and his daughter in england. >> mr. putin says russia destroyed the nerve agent used in that attack a long time ago. but the uk now says it has evidence russia has been making the deadly substance for the last decade. our melissa bell reports from london. >> reporter: it was two weeks ago that sergei and yulia skripal were found unconscious in salisbury. since we've seen claims and counter-claims, london and moscow engaged in a war of words and rhetoric that has seemed to get more intense with every day that has passed. once again today, boris johnson spoke out, having claimed on
friday not only once again that the russians were to blame for the poisoning, but that it had been ordered by vladimir putin himself. this morning speaking on british television, the british foreign secretary had this to add. >> we actually have evidence within the last ten years that russia has not only been investigating the delivery of nerve agents for the purposes of assassination, but has also been creating and stockpiling novichok. >> boris johnson went on to say that on monday, representatives, investigators from the organization for the prevention of chemical weapons would be here in the united kingdom where they would be given access those samples that the british authorities had collected. they will then be taking those to labs to check what they say that the nerve agent is, and to check the veracity of those british claims. and their findings will matter a great deal because the entire world is being asked to judge, to take sides in this war of words between london and moscow. and this of course even as boris johnson prepares to go to the eu
to get not only support from the rest of the european bloc, but he opens further measures of retaliation against russia. melissa bell, cnn, in london. >> melissa, thank you. here in the united states, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have a warning for the u.s. president, donald trump. leave robert mueller alone. >> yeah, mr. trump attacked the special counsel and his team in a series of tweets this weekend, the latest calling into question their impartiality. that prompted the white house attorney to assure lawmakers the president is not considering firing mueller. boris sanchez has the details now from washington. >> on sunday we saw president trump make a distinct shift in the way that he's talked about the special counsel, specifically rob mueller and his team, though previously the president had said that the russia investigation was a hoax and a witch-hunt, he never really singled out robert mueller by name for criticism
until this weekend. in a tweet sent out sunday morning, the president was arguing that the special investigation was biased because there were no republicans on robert mueller's team. no one really there to defend the president. that of course is inaccurate. robert mueller himself is a republican, one who served under both republican and democratic administrations. further, many of the attorneys on his team have prosecuted both republicans and democrats. there is no real partisan streak there. and perhaps most importantly, robert mueller still maintains a vote of confidence from an important voice in the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein, who has repeatedly said that robert mueller is carrying out this investigation appropriately, that he is not letting anyone's personal political perspectives get in the way of finding the facts. the president, though, letting his frustrations boil over on twitter, not just about the special counsel, but also about the fbi, the department of justice, the state department as well, and former deputy fbi director andrew mccabe.
at least one white house official, the director of legislative affairs mark short went on a sunday morning talk show to defend the president, saying that his frustrations were merited because the russian investigation had gone on for so long, and yielded in his eyes few results. listen to moore. >> everyone in the white house has cooperated on this. and what i said is we have cooperated in every single way, every single paper they have asked for, every single interview. and i think the reality, margaret is yes, there is a growing frustration that after more than a year and millions and millions of dollars spent on this, there remains no evidence of collusion with russian. i think the president is expressing his frustration which is warrented. >> of course we should point out the russia investigation has yielded a lot of results. we've seen not only 13 indictments of russian nationals for election meddling, but four indictments of figures in the trump campaign, peel like george papadopoulos and michael flynn on top of others. on top of this, you're seeing
many republican lawmakers now moving to try to defend robert mueller and warn that president that perhaps meddling in the special investigation isn't a good idea. arizona senator jeff flake said it would be a red line that the president should not cross if he were to decide to fire robert mueller there has been some speculation that perhaps some kind of legislation might be out there that might get passed on a bipartisan basis that would install safeguards to give robert mueller some job security that previously had not gotten anywhere. but now with the more abrasive stance of president trump and others in the administration are taking to the special counsel we may ultimately see that change. boris sanchez, cnn at the white house. >> all right, boris, thanks. let's put all this into focus now with steven ee earl linger, live via skype from brussels. nice to have you live. the 39 putting a renewed focus
on the mueller investigation, actually mentioning mueller by name. this is the first time, stephen, he has ever done this on twitter. but according to his attorney, ty cobb who had this to say to our own gloria borger, we'll pull a response up in response to media speculation, and related questions being posed to the administration, the white house yet again confirms that the president is not considering or cussing the firing of the special counsel robert mueller. all right. but mixed messages, stephen, to say for sure. what do you make of these mixed messages? >> i think once again you have a lot of republicans upset at a president who is consistently undermining the institutions of justice in the united states. that includes the fbi, which he has constantly attacked, which is important i think to the country as a symbol of neutral justice. and it also includes the mueller
investigation. now, it's clear trump is fed up with the mueller investigation. he feels it's distorting his presidency. but he has consistently in fact talked about firing mueller. we know this. we know it comes up a lot. it's not true when the white house says there is no discussion of firing mueller. trump talks about it all the time. now he has restrained from doing so, partly by allies like lindsey graham and jeff flake who sometimes will say very explicitly that it is a red line that the president should not cross. he can't fire mueller. he would have to ask rod rosenstein to fire mueller because jeff sessions has recused himself from the whole russian affair, which also infuriates trump. he keeps coming back at it over and over and over again. and rosenstein might have to
quit rather than fire fueler. we'd have to see. the third person in line at the justice department recently left her job because i think she was afraid of the responsibility for firing mueller coming down on her if rosenstein was to resign. so we have a kind of potential saturday night massacre a la watergate. but so far the president has restrained himself to simply complaining about everything on twitter. >> all right. so you bring this up. his republican colleagues. we have heard from a few of them. we've heard from lindsey graham, for one, who said the firing of mueller would be the beginning of the end of the trump presidency. this line in the sand that republicans are drawing for the moment, would firing mueller truly be a bridge too far for republicans? or would excuses be made for the president of the united states? >> well, as they say, that's a hypothetical.
but republican lines in the sand have turned pink and disappeared in the past. but i do think for someone like lindsey graham, the integrity of the judicial process and its independence from the politicization of the white house is really an important part of american democracy. i think he is quite sincere about it. now, would it be the end of the trump presidency? i think we'll know more after the midterm elections if the democrats happen to take the house, one can imagine went through and pushed rosenstein out and managed to get mueller fired, one could imagine that impeachment. i still very much doubt the senate would vote to convict. but the damage being done to the institutions of justice is i think what really bothers the republicans. you know, republicans are the law and order party. they're the justice party.
trump is not in many ways a traditional republican. and they have been afraid of his popularity. they have been afraid of his twitter abuse. they've been afraid of his insults. but it does feel like this is a line that many republicans wish, really wish the president would not cross. >> steven erlanger, we appreciate your time. we'll stay in touch on this. >> thanks, george. to the southern part of the united states where the fbi is on the scene of another explosion in the capital texas, austin. authority says two men in their 20s were taken to hospital with serious injuries, but both are said to be in good condition at this point. police also examining a backpack found near the scene. >> now earlier this month, three package bombs were delivered to different homes in austin over a period of ten days. and police said last week, those
explosions were all connected. two people were killed and two others injured in those blasts. it's not yet clear if sunday's explosion might be related to the previous events. well, u.s., south and north korean representatives are set to meet in finland. part of a series of diplomatic moves to discuss denuclearization ahead of the highest level talks between the u.s. and north korea. we will get the latest from south korea. plus a statue of a kurdish legend toppled in syria. the very latest on turkey's afrin offensive as "cnn newsroom" pushes on. [burke] at farmers, we've seen almost everything
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met with his counterparts from japan and south korea this weekend. and in other developments, sweden is hoping to negotiate the release of three americans imprisoned in north korea. our paula hancocks joins us now from seoul in south korea. paula, there are a lot happening. let's start with what's most likely to come out of this meeting planned in finland ahead of the much anticipated talks between u.s. president donald trump and north korean leader kim jong-un. >> well, rosemary, we really don't expect anything to come out of these talks. this is the track 1.5 talks, which is governmental officials, nongovernmental experts meeting together to talk in a more casual, laid back way, something that's not going to be reported. they don't have to come out with a statement at the end of it. it's something that they have done in the past to try and gather what each side in this
arrangement actually wants to achieve. so what we're seeing in finland is the u.s., the south koreans and the north koreans being represented. we understand there will be a din their monday evening, and then the talking will start in earnest on tuesday and wednesday. but the finnish foreign ministry says there won't be any government officials from the united states. south korea says they'll be sending former officials and experts. but what we do know is that north korea will be sending one of their top diplomats, we understand. he is heading to finland at the moment. and he is the man who is in charge of u.s. affairs when it comes to the north korean foreign ministry. he is also the man who spent much of the pyeongchang winter olympics in pyeongchang, talking to south korean officials. he was part of those talks between north and south korea. so he has really been front and center of this whole process. so this is something that we
have seen a number of times in the past. in fact, many times we don't even know that these track 1.5 or track 2 talks are ongoing. but it's a good chance for each side to talk in a more unofficial fashion to find out what each other's positions are. rosemary? >> and paula, while this is happen, sweden is trying to negotiate the release of three americans held in north korea. what progress has been made on that issue? and how likely is it we'll see some sort of breakthrough? >> it's really not clear at this point when or if this could happen. we're hearing from a number of experts and officials that it's something that would show good faith from the north koreans to actually release these three detainees that are american citizens. now we know that the swedish sources close to this situation saying that they are trying to point out to the north koreans that this would really point the
right way forward. it would show the right direction ahead of a possible meeting between the u.s. president donald trump and the north korean leader kim jong-un. the foreign minister of north korea has just left now. we understand he has arrived back in beijing, presumably heading back to pyongyang. he was there over the weekend, north korea as well through state-run media kcna. acknowledged he had met with the foreign minister, of the prime minister of sweden. >> all right. we have paula hancocks bringing us up to date interest from the developments in south korea. the president stopped by for a visit amid the rubble. he met with troops in the besieged enclave east of damascus on sunday. >> a government offensive has been gaining ground against rebels in the area. but at a huge human cost. thousands of people have been displaced, and more than a thousand civilians have been reported killed since
mid-february. also in syria, kurdish forces say the battle for afrin is not over yet. this after turkey reportedly seized the town center on sunday with allied rebels. the area had been controlled by the mostly kurdish syrian democratic forces and the kurdish wpg. >> video appears to show turkish-led forces in firm control there. but a wpg official says the group will fight until there is no turkish soldier left in afrin. kurdish groups are also outraged over photos like what you see here. this photo appearing to show turkish allied rebels in afrin and the toppled statue of a mythic kurdish hero. ian lee following the story live in istanbul, turkey. ian, let's first of all talk about the turkish troops claiming victory in the town center of afrin. but kurdish troops, they say the battle for that city is not done at this point.
what more are you hearing there? >> that's right. let's go back to that statue, because that is very symbolic when you see that statue being toppled. it's a statue of kwawa, a blacksmith, a folk hero of the kurdish people. this is an operation they say are terrorists, the wpg and not against the kurdish people. but the toppling of that statue is sending a message to the kurds, one that they don't like. as far as afrin is concerned, the wpg was pulled out of that as well as the sdf. they pulled out of afrin. right now the turks say that they're in a mop-up operation going after little pockets of resistance as well as land mines that are still in that area. but the wpg does still control territory south of afrin. they have vowed to press on the
fight, although it's going to be very difficult. afrin was the main objective of operation olive branch, the two-month operation they've been able to push the kurds and their allies just further south and continue to take land. the ypg and the sdf have put up resistance, but just not enough. it's unlikely that they'll be able to launch a counter-offensive to retake any territory. >> ian lee live for us in istanbul, turkey. ian, thank you for the reporting. let's take a break here. but still to come, a chinese village now a living shrine of sorts. what thousands of communist party members visit to pay tribute to xi jinping. plus, the team that delivered the biggest upset in men's college history now out of the big dance. but we'll have more on that cinderella run that they had as "cnn newsroom" continues. ♪
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comparable bundle, for less. call today. coast-to-coast across the united states and live around the world this hour, you're watching "cnn newsroom." it is always a pleasure to have you with us. i'm george howell. >> and i'm rosemary church. it's time to update you on the main stories we've been following this hour. white house special counsel ty cobb is assuring the public and lawmakers that president donald trump is not considering or discussing the firing of special counsel robert mueller. the statement comes in response to several new trump tweets harshly critical of mueller and his team. sweden is helping negotiate the release of three americans imprisoned in north korea. it's acting as a protecting power for the united states. the u.s. has no diplomatic
relations with north korea. simply, national security chiefs from south korea, the united states, and japan have met ahead of pending talks between the president of the united states donald trump and the leader of north korea, kim jong-un. russian president vladimir putin is claiming victory on sunday's presidential election. that's no surprise, of course. he was the only real contender. he has been in power for 18 years either as president or prime minister. this would be mr. putin's fourth term as president and should be his last under the constitution. so let's discuss the russian election with konstantin von eggert. he is a russian journalist and a political commentator. thank you so much for being with us. no surprise as we mentioned that vladimir putin won his fourth election given there is very little to no opposition to his leadership. you called this a coronation, not an election. why do you say that?
>> well, i would even correct myself. i don't want to offend quite a lot of constitutional monarchs doing a good job. i think it's a self-reappointment. that's the best way to describe it. and the way we've seen this so-called election developing is that the administration on the presidents, the local authorities, they put enormous pressure on a vast army of people working for state enterprises, bureaucrats, prisoners, military, police, to come out, vote, and report their voting with taking a picture of their ballot paper with their smartphone. there was a propaganda. and as you rightly said, rosemary, mr. putin was in fact not the only contender. he is the only game in town. he didn't take part in the presidential debates. actually, he never did. and none of his so-called
candidates, including those who claim to be democratic candidates never demand that he come to the studio and explain his policies and debate with them. so i think that's -- that's the only thing you need to know about this so-called election. >> and of course vladimir putin now has six more years as president. will we ever see a viable alternative to putin? will he ever allow that? and what do you expect to see happen under his leadership over these next few years? >> rosemary, if i knew the answer to your first question, i would have loaned you a studio and a private jet earning a lot of money on the stock exchange. but frankly, i think there will be an alternative eventually because no one is eternal. but what i think and is coming to a second question about the perspectives, i think that what we have a lot of effect is -- including his full control of the political spectrum, weakness of the west.
still enough petrol reserves to sort of keep the populace happy. but what i think works against him is actually age. he and his team are aging. and that's irreversible. the coming onstage of the so-called navalny generation, the lead they're was banned from taking part in the election, these are people that have lived all their lives under president putin, and his stability and glory to them looks more like more like stagnation and hypocrisy now. and that is also a generation that will be coming on stage in russia in the six months. and the third thing i think we need to know, putin will leave the presidency of these six years. i don't think he will prolong his tenure and become president for life. russia is not a despotic place.
it's different. and i think that will provide for this scramble for succession, for this inevitable to me internal political struggle in moscow for the future. and that will provide for six years of unending political crisis inside russia, which unfortunately i think will also spill out into the west. >> interesting. >> as far as foreign policy, i do not think it will change. >> i was going to ask you whether you thought he might change the constitution, as we did see that move in china. so i wanted to move on to another issue then involving russia, of course. britain's foreign secretary boris johnson claiming that the u.s. has evidence pointing to russia. can you hear me? pointing to russia being behind the recent use of nerve agent. it used a poison on a former russian spy and his daughter in england. mr. putin denies this.
but who else would have wanted this former spy dead? all fingers seem to point at russia being the culprit here. >> well, i'm not there to investigate. but it seems like no one else had a lot of reason to do that. and by the way, that links to the whole election outcome to some extent. because this was presented on russian television. it's yet another western aggression against russia. what i think is quite clear is that that is a signal whoever sent it to people that may think about cooperating with the west, or running away to the west. people in mr. putin's entourage, the oligarchs -- don't do that. i would really like that. and i think that -- i think this gives to some extent a foretaste of what the next six years will be in terms of foreign policy.
mr. putin will continue his confrontation with the west because he has claimed a legitimacy and authority inside of russia is not being so much a president but a commandant and every russian citizen has to be a soldier. >> konstantin von eggert, thank you so much for joining us. we appreciate it. xi jinping's unanimous reappointment as the president of china is generating language once used to describe mao zedong, the founding father of the people's republic of china. the communist party's people daily -- peel's daily rather is calling mr. xi the helmsman of the country. >> matt river reports the adoration has spurred thousands of ambitious party members to visit the village where president xi himself was sent years ago for re-education. >> reporter: critics call him china's new emperor. but in this small village, adoration abounds for president xi jinping.
>> translator: all we knee are chairman mao and president xi, says this visitor. she lived here for years in the early 70s, transformed recently from an unknown backwater to a shrine for a living president. the smartly dressed tour guide showed us where she slept, an old picture on the wall. we saw a well he helped dig and a sewing shop he set up. old farmers who new xi back then still rome about. the pseudo mascots of this bizarre theme park. three of us including xi and joined the communist party together, says this man. communist cadres flood the village each day, paying homage there is a practical purpose for making this visit if you're an ambitious communist member. its show you want to learn from the experiences of the party's most important person in decades. it's the kind of propaganda push driven by a cult of personality that the country hasn't seen since the days of mao zedong, founder of communist china.
not far from xi's village, we see where mao once lived during world war two. similar caves, similar photos. mao held up as a great revolutionary lead were no mention of his ruthless reign that saw tens of millions die from starvation and political violence. his unchecked power led to disastrous policies like the cultural revolution in the 1960s and '70s. xi's father, a senior politician was curse cupersecuted and impr. xi himself was sent for, quote, re-education in a small village. that's how he ended up here. his family was ripped apart. and yet his belief this the system has held firm, ever since he spent his nights in a cold cave. xi's recent power grab has drawn inevitable comparisons to the perils of the past, with critics saying his clampdown on personal liberties and jailing of political opponents harkens back to a darker time.
only a brave few have spoken out in protest. i have a sense of historical responsibility. when my children look back and ask me how i reacted, i want to be able to tell them i was firmly opposed to it a former state-run news editor told us. >> yes, that guy is following us. >> reporter: we were followed the entire time even as we took photos with some visitors. they want to make sure that no one criticizes the leader. in the china that once belonged to mao and now to xi jinping, there is no room for dissent, a system of one-man rule coming full circle. matt rivers, cnn, shanxi province, china. cleaning up after a cyclone is of course an immense task. and australia is getting all too familiar with the process. we'll have the forecast for you next. today, we're out here with some surprising facts about type 2 diabetes. so you have type 2 diabetes, right? yeah. yes i do. okay so you diet, you exercise, you manage your a1c? that's the plan. what about your heart?
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maybe having some trouble with pedram. i think we have you now. pedram, please. >> yes, i hear you now. absolutely. let's show you what's happening here. the big story, and i want the really breck down what is going on across portions of florida. incredible footage here. rarely do you see a trouble position come ashore. you see trees come down. right on camera, you see what winds of 120 kilometers per hour can do. bringing down a massive tree. this across areas of northwestern australia and near darwin, where we know tropical cyclone marcus has been in place. the good news is it, it is moving away from the coastline. it is going to be a menacing system over the next couple days. gets up to 240 kilometers per hour, but stays away from the coastline. potentially later on into the forecast pushes in towards portions of southern australia. but again, this look likes the threat with it. the damage with it has all been done with the storm moving ashore and away from the coastline. take you towards eastern australia here, just about 450
kilometers south of sydney, it's a community of tathra. this region home to about 1600 people. but has been absolutely devastated in the last 24 to 48 hours. 40,000 hectares of land consumed. footage coming out this region here showing you what we're dealing with. not only gusty conditions in the last couple day, but temps as high as 38 degrees celsius. what was experienced over the last 24 hours. we know cooler temperatures are in store. that's fantastic news here because that will really help the firefighting efforts. officials here are saying with that said here, it's going to really help conditions going monday to tuesday with temps dropping off a good 10 to 15 degrees. >> pedram, thank you so much. next here on newsroom, they had a tough night tonight fair to say. but the umbc men's basketball team, they are sports heroes. also a hero. the man behind this infamous
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where 68 u.s. men's college basketball teams compete in a two and a half week tournament. the clock has already struck midnight for this year's favorite cinderella team. university of maryland, baltimore county lost sunday to kansas state university after their historic win over the university of virginia. >> we were just talking about this, though. what an amazing story. what an amazing game. this is the first time in the men's tournament that the school ranked number 16, the 16th beat the number-one ranked team. "sports illustrated" honored the significant moment with a digital only cover. on the magazine you see umbc's twitter account also scored points that night with the man behind the tweets getting almost as much attention as the team itself. and now via skype we have zack seidel, director of multimedia communications and digital for the athletic department at the university of maryland, baltimore county. zack, good to have you with us.
i know tonight's game didn't go exactly the way you would have wanted against k-state, but here is the response you put up on twitter. let's take a look at this. you said well, it was fun, y'all. k-state may have won, 50-43, but we hope to have won your hearts. let's look back at the game that really put umbc on the map, beating virginia. what a game that was. zack, on twitter you were sort of tearing it up yourself. thousands of people caught on to what you were saying. tell us what that was like last friday night live tweeting to supporters, to doubters and everyone else in the middle. >> it was a bit odd because that's what i do for normal games. i guess more people were tuning in that time. so normally during a game you tweet. the women's lacrosse game, a baseball game, a softball game, something like that. you do that. and maybe get one or two responses. it just so happened that we're playing the number one team in the country. and as the game went on, people were trying find out. what is umbc?
when they saw what we were doing. and it was normal for me. and then the tweet deck started blowing up. that's how i knew something was going on. >> you say normal for you, but not exactly normal for you. correct me if i'm wrong, but this wasn't something you really planned for. typically don't other people specifically handle that account? you were kind of fresh on deck here. >> yeah. my boss steve levy, he is men's basketball contact, he'll do it. or my coworker shawna mosler do it or my other coworker dave castellanos or some of my interns. i'm usually working in the espn production truck during games. and for this game, my boss is i've got a lot going on. can you tweet for us? i can tweet about any sport. my sports are softball, volleyball. but if i'm not going something i, i think i might have tweeted
one or two men's games this year. but it so happened to be this game with the main one for me. >> and you tweeted a little excitement. you kind of threw some shade at a foo people. let's look back at some of the more memorable tweets like this one. okay, you said, ah, we remember this game that maryland in december. hopefully you'll enjoy our game from your couch, dude. okay. so was there any other moment or tweet that really stood out to you? >> like i said, that's how i tweet, normally from our account. just having a personality. i thought, you know, some of the more fun ones were, once i realized the account was starting to blow up a bit is when we were tied at the half and the second half started, i said remember, guys, no matter what happen, we're conveniently located next to baltimore and are a great academic institution. but hey, we're tied right now. people are tuning. in let's give a shout out to the school. that's what it's about. it's about getting the school publicity and for people to learn they're watching the
basketball but we're a great academic institution. and a lot of people should know that. it so happen wed won and a lot of people the last few days learning about it. >> sometimes i'll get on twitter. >> team is the university of texas. if we're close to a game, i'll want to tweet something. i'm waiting to make sure, are we going to win. my question for you, when did you know this game was won? when did you feel it was safe to put out that final message for your school? >> well, it's funny. i knew it was won with about a minute and a half left. you know, i spent a better part of the last five, six minutes trying to calm myself down, going -- we were up 17 against any other team in the country at a normal home game, we would be acting like this game is over. talking about what we were going to do in the postgame and stuff. but it's virginia, the number one team in the country. still nervous. so in my head, i kind of knew what tweet i was going to do. i figured out what tweet i was going to do. and then i forgot, i think jairus made a layup and
respect.us.tweet. and that's when i started to feel really good about the win. >> didn't win tonight, but certainly won in the minds of a lot of people. what a story. what a game that was. and putting your school on the map, your twitter handle in fact growing from 154 followers to more than 100,000. thank you so much for your time today. and of course we'll keep up with you on twitter, zack. >> all right. thank you. thank you for your time. >> that's a guy you wouldn't mind having a twitter takeover for your account. let him take the wheel for a second. >> we'll see if we can do that. >> thanks for being with us. i'm george howell. >> and i'm rosemary church. we'll be right back with another hour of "cnn newsroom." don't go anywhere. we're voya! we stay with you to and through retirement. i get that voya is with me through retirement, i'm just surprised it means in my kitchen. so, that means no breakfast? voya. helping you to and through retirement.
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