Tucker Carlson finally got around to admitting that his story about CNN trying to script a question from Florida school shooting survivor Colton Haab was bogus. But instead of taking responsibility for credulously promoting a smear, Carlson suggested there just wasn’t enough evidence against CNN “as of right now.”
As I explained in an earlier post, Haab’s claim that CNN tried to script his question at its town hall with survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida was not credible on the face of it. Clearly, the CNN producer had tried to condense what Haab called his “speech” into one question in the interest of keeping the broadcast and the discussion moving along and maximizing the number of students who could have input.
But Carlson blatantly promoted Haab’s claim as truth and showed neither skepticism nor even interest in probing what happened beyond anything Haab had to say. For example, Carlson asked these questions designed to legitimize Haab's accusations:
CARLSON: I just want to make sure I have this straight. So you sent [CNN] a long, in effect, essay on what you thought but they put their own words in the question and they weren’t the same as the words you had sent in, they were the producer’s words?
HAAB: Absolutely. They had taken what I had wrote and what I had briefed on and what I had talked about and they actually wrote the question for me.
CARLSON: But not with your words. I mean, they put their own words into your question, even after they’d asked you to send questions in.
Carlson never asked what CNN had changed in the question it supposedly wrote for Haab. Given the accusation Carlson was hyping, you’d think he’d want to know whether CNN used a synonym for one of Haab’s words, edited for grammar or had altered the meaning of his question. Haab is a traumatized teenager who does not seem to have broadcasting experience. The whole thing could well have been a misunderstanding.
Instead, Carlson prodded Haab to opine on whether other questions had been scripted.
CARLSON: So if CNN was willing to reword your question, put their own words in your mouth and, as you said, you didn’t want to go along with that, do you think they did that to other people?
Carlson accepted without question Haab’s certainty that CNN had scripted other questions, despite any lack of real evidence. Carlson closed the segment by saying CNN’s behavior was “shocking” to him as someone “in the actual journalism business.”
The next night, Business Insider discovered what Fox probably didn’t even try to investigate: that the CNN email provided as “evidence” by the Haab family to Fox had been doctored. Today, Colton Haab’s father admitted he had altered a CNN email, though he claimed it had been unintentional. It just so happened Haab’s father deleted the phrase indicating CNN wanted to stick with one of Haab’s questions “that you submitted.”
But “actual journalist” Carlson acted as though he were some innocent, befuddled bystander in a he said/CNN said story - even though Business Insider managed to get at the truth last week.
CARLSON: CNN denied [Haab’s] account. Now Colton and his parents sent us their email correspondence with CNN, which seemed to confirm Colton’s claim that his question had been altered by a CNN producer.
On Friday, we asked CNN to verify and comment on those emails because that was our journalistic duty, so we did it. A short time before air, CNN provided us a different set of emails. We immediately asked the Haabs about those. They said they were being slandered by CNN and that’s where it stood. Two sides, telling contradictory stories. Without access to their email accounts, we could only guess which one was telling the truth and guessing is not enough.
Tonight, we have more, we have an update. The Haab family concedes that they did remove a line from one of their emails in a way that might make some think it’s meaning had changed. Colton’s father says it was accidental. We don’t know. We can’t prove or disprove that but for the sake of honesty and full disclosure, to which we are committed, there is no evidence as of right now that CNN tried to give Colton Haab a scripted question and we wanted you to know that.
It's worth pointing out that Carlson suddenly seems uninterested in what really happened. He seems to have made no attempt to follow up with Colton Haab or his father. Carlson doesn't have the goods on CNN... end of story.
Watch Carlson sound less like an “actual journalist” and more like someone trying to cover his you-know-what and make his fake story sound like it might be legit below, from the February 27, 2018 Tucker Carlson Tonight, via Media Matters’ Andrew Lawrence.
Tucker Carlson addresses the story he pushed about CNN scripting questions at gun townhall which turned out to be false— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) February 28, 2018
He takes no responsibility for airing the story unvetted, instead blames CNN and the family for his rush to smear CNN pic.twitter.com/9EyxCGE4s9