CNN is not only desperate to absolve itself of its legitimate responsibility for spreading the false idea that Dr. Ben Carson was dropping out of the presidential race last week, CNN is also hoping to complete a three-bank shot that will damage Ted Cruz in the process. Saturday night, CNN went so far as to have their phony left-wing “fact-checker” Tom Foreman lie about Cruz.
For all of this to make sense, let’s start at the beginning.
Last Monday night, during the Iowa Caucus, I watched CNN live and saw the Carson segment in question that lit this political fire. At the time, there was no doubt in my mind that CNN, for whatever reason, wanted people to believe that Carson was dropping out of the race. Watch the segment with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash for yourself.
Watch Bash turn a nothingburger into breathless “breaking news.”
Bash even goes beyond reporting to ominously inform viewers, “Look, if you want to be president of the United States, you don’t go home to Florida. That’s just the bottom line. That’s the end of the story.”
Here is the most important fact: In the segment above, Bash is referring to reporting from CNN’s Chris Moody. At the time, Moody’s reporting had been done only through his Twitter account, which has fewer than 31,000 followers. This is important, because through his Twitter account, Moody reported a crucially important fact that CNN held back both on its cable network and through the official CNN Twitter account.
According to my colleague Joel Pollak’s timeline of events, Moody made clear in his Twitter-reporting that Ben Carson was not dropping out of the race. For whatever reason, the on-air reporting neglected to mention this clarifying bit of news.
Now ask yourself this simple question: Why did CNN leave that out?
From here, whatever you think of their tactics, the Cruz campaign immediately took advantage of CNN’s reporting. Within minutes, emails, text messages, and robocalls went out. One Cruz announcement used the following language, “The press is reporting that Dr. Ben Carson is taking time off from the campaign trail.”
This is reasonable language based on what Tapper said to Bash, “…to be announcing that you’re going to go home to rest for a few days, not going on to the next site.”
Another Cruz announcement said, “CNN is reporting that Ben Carson will stop campaigning after Iowa.” That is going a bit further than Bash and Tapper, but just a few minutes later, CNN also took its reporting just as far with this cryptic tweet:
— CNN (@CNN) February 2, 2016
On a Twitter account with 23 million followers, CNN told the world that Carson “plans to take a break from campaigning after Iowa.”
On a Twitter account with just 31,000 followers, CNN’s Chris Moody clarified that Carson was not dropping out.
Again, I ask you: Why didn’t CNN use its powerful broadcast center or massive Twitter presence to tell its viewers the full story — to tell viewers Carson was not dropping out?
What’s especially laughable is that CNN is using Moody’s tweets as an ass-covering defense — an account with only 31,000 followers!
But that’s all CNN has, and the dishonesty of that defense and the cover-up of CNN’s own culpability in this scandal hit the red-zone Saturday night.
During that night’s debate, when asked about the scandal, everything Cruz said was 100% accurate. Word-for-word, here’s a transcript:
Let me tell you the facts of what occurred for those who are interested in knowing: On Monday night at about 6:30 p.m., CNN reported that Ben was not going from Iowa to New Hampshire or South Carolina. Rather, he was quote taking a break from campaigning. They reported that he was taking a break from campaigning. They reported that on television, CNN’s political anchors Jake Tapper and Wolf Blitzer said it was highly unusual and highly significant. My political team saw CNN’s report — breaking news — and they forwarded that news to our volunteers, it was being covered on live television. Now at the time I was at the caucuses, I was getting ready to speak at the caucuses…I knew nothing about this…I reached [Carson] the next day and apologized. He asked me then, he said, Ted, would you make this apology in public? I said yes, I will, and I did so. I regret that subsequently, CNN reported on that — they didn’t correct that story until 9:15 that night. So from 6:30 p.m. to 9:15, that’s what CNN was reporting. Subsequent to that initial report, Ben’s campaign put out a statement saying that he wasn’t suspending his campaign. I wish that my campaign had seen that statement.
Although Cruz spoke only the truth, after the debate, CNN’s “fact-checker” Tom Foreman and anchor Erin Burnett outright lied about what Cruz said:
Erin Burnett: What Ted Cruz says here is completely false. Tell us exactly what happened.
Tom Foreman: At no time did CNN say that Ben Carson was dropping out of this race [ME: Cruz never said CNN said any such thing], not online, not on-air, not anywhere. And for Ted Cruz to stand on-stage once again tonight and suggest CNN did is a flat-out lie [ME: Cruz “suggested” nothing. He accurately described the CNN on-air report].
Rather than play the on-air segment Cruz referred to and defend that, Foreman dishonestly turns to Moody’s tweets to “prove” Cruz a liar, even though Cruz never referenced Moody’s tweets.
Although everything Cruz said is verifiably true, to cover-up their own guilt and damage a Republican (after already damaging Carson just before the voting in Iowa began), Foreman is willing to disgrace himself by manufacturing a straw man that he lights on fire using an obscure reporter’s Twitter account, which is not where CNN reporting happens.
As Tammy Bruce said on Fox News today, “CNN is a cable news network, not a Twitter news network. ” And here are the only questions that matter…
Why did CNN choose to selectively report on Moody’s tweets — only the most damning part that Carson “plans to take a break from campaigning after Iowa.”
Why did it take CNN more than two hours to report the Moody tweet that made clear Carson was not dropping out?
Why is CNN lying about what Ted Cruz said?
Why is CNN using Moody’s tweets to defend on-air reporting?
The answer is simple…
It’s a three bank-shot. The arsonists at the left-wing CNN get away clean but damage two Republican presidential candidates in the process — Carson and Cruz.
***UPDATE: A person with CNN reached out to me and takes issue with the fact that Cruz claims CNN “corrected” their Carson reporting and my subsequent claim that everything Cruz said that night was 100% true. CNN is correct that their was no “official correction.” In fact, CNN stands by all of their reporting. I did not interpret what Cruz said as a “official correction” but rather once the issue of Carson dropping out or not was clarified.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC