Colton Haab, a survivor of last week’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., has appeared on national television to voice his allegation that CNN tried to get him to read a scripted question at the network’s recent Town Hall event with survivors and leading politicians. The allegation led President Donald Trump to tweet that CNN had been caught in an act of “fake news.” Now however CNN has posted the original email and accused Haab of “doctoring” the emails and lying about its exchange with its producer. If CNN is doctoring the emails (which is unlikely), Haab could sue for defamation. However, the network says that critical language was removed by Haab or his family.
Haab accused CNN of rejecting his question and his statement before giving him a scripted question. He then refused to attend. This led to appearances on Fox News and this tweet from President Trump and a fast denial by:
CNN then released the original email:
According to Business Insider, CNN and Haab agreed on the question but there was a disagreement over a lengthy statement that he wanted to give.
CNN is now accusing the Haabs of lying in “an effort to discredit CNN and the town hall with doctored emails has taken any attention away from the purpose of the event.”
The key missing language of the emails to the father, Glenn Haab, saying “This is what Colton and I discussed on the phone that he submitted.” Those last words did not appear in the Haabs version released to the media.
It is a truly sad and rather bizarre story. It is not clear how the Haabs would not believe that CNN would release the original email or why those critical words could be removed without a nefarious purpose.
Obviously, if CNN is lying, the Haabs have a major defamation case. If the original email is accurate (and again I have no reason to question its authenticity), the Haabs need to explain the discrepancy. They could still argue that the CNN email did not capture the prior communications but the threshold question remains the omitted words.
The original emails explains to the father that time is limited and that they are sticking to what they previously discussed. The family could have felt censored in the denial of the opportunity to read the longer statement, but that does not explain the alleged changing of the email (which the family used as critical evidence to support its claim). The family declined to speak with the Washington Post on the CNN released email.
This is a teenage boy in the aftermath of a great trauma and loss. He should never have found himself in this media maelstrom. However, the national accusations followed by the President’s tweet raised a serious allegation of false dealing by CNN and a staged event.
What do you think?