CNN: Student Who Quit Town Hall Wanted to Make a Speech, Not Ask a Question

CNN is disputing the claim that it asked a student who survived last week’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, to ask a “scripted question” at its town hall on Wednesday evening.

Local Fort Lauderdale ABC affiliate WPLG reported Wednesday that Colton Haab, a junior at the high school who had helped move other students to safety during the attack, had quit the town hall when CNN did not let him ask the question he had wanted to ask.

Haab, a member of the Junior ROTC, told WPLG that he had wanted to ask about using veterans as security guards to improve school safety. But when CNN wanted him to ask a scripted question, he and his family stayed home.

On Thursday morning, CNN disputed Haab’s claim: “There is absolutely no truth to this. CNN did not provide or script questions for anyone in last night’s town hall, nor have we ever.” CNN also invited Haab to be interviewed by the network and to share his views.

Later Thursday, CNN Public Relations Manager Richard Huddock released a more extensive statement, which CNN provided to Breitbart News:

There is absolutely no truth to this. CNN did not provide or script questions for anyone in last night’s town hall, nor have we ever. After seeing an interview with Colton Haab, we invited him to participate in our town hall along with other students and administrators from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Colton’s father withdrew his name from participation before the forum began, which we regretted but respected. We welcome Colton to join us on CNN today to discuss his views on school safety.

A CNN source told Breitbart News that Haab wanted to give an extensive speech and not just ask a question.

Saab appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News on Thursday evening, and told host Tucker Carlson that CNN had initially asked him to write a speech stating his views, then asked him to reduce his statement to a list of questions, then to one question. He said that CNN had then re-written that question in a way that did not match his original words, and that he had been told by a CNN employee that “I needed to stick to the script.”

Breitbart News has reached out to Haab for comment.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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