During its coverage of Saturday night’s GOP presidential debate, CNN criticized Republican presidential candidate Texas Senator Ted Cruz, saying “The Cruz campaign’s actions the night of the Iowa caucuses had nothing to do with CNN’s reporting” and that Cruz is flat-out lying when he claims CNN reported that GOP candidate Dr. Ben Carson was dropping out of the race.
After playing the exchange during that night’s debate between Cruz and Carson, anchor Erin Burnett read a statement from CNN that “What Senator Cruz said tonight in the debate is categorically false. CNN never corrected its reporting because CNN never had anything to correct. The Cruz campaign’s actions the night of the Iowa caucuses had nothing to do with CNN’s reporting. The fact Senator Cruz continues to knowingly mislead the voters about this is astonishing.”
Burnett added, “What Ted Cruz says here is completely false.”
Correspondent Tom Foreman then said, “Erin, at no time did CNN say that Ben Carson was dropping out of this race, not online, not on air, not anywhere. And for Ted Cruz to stand onstage, once again tonight, and suggest that CNN did is a flat-out lie. This is what was tweeted shortly before the caucuses opened that evening about Ben Carson’s travel plans by our Chris Moody He tweeted, ‘Ben Carson will likely speak at his victory party in Iowa before caucus results are in so he can catch a flight.’ Then he added, ‘Carson won’t go to New Hampshire, South Carolina, but instead will head home to Florida for some R&R. He’ll be in DC Thursday for the National Prayer Breakfast.’ And then this, ‘Ben Carson’s campaign tells me he plans to stay in the race beyond Iowa no matter what the results are tonight.’ All three of those tweets came out in less than two minutes before the caucuses even opened. And 45 minutes later, Moody hit it again by saying, ‘Folks, Ben Carson is just making a brief stop at home in Florida tonight and campaign says he’ll be back on the campaign trail by Wednesday.’ Yes, our on air people came on and they talked about this. They said it’s an unusual move by Ben Carson, or any presidential candidate to not go directly on to New Hampshire. But again, in no way, shape, or form did they say that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race. Executives from CNN have been over this timeline with people from Cruz’s campaign. The campaign has been called out for its dishonest handling of this information by Politico, Politifact, the Washington Post, and many others. And yet, once again, Ted Cruz stood onstage tonight and suggested that somehow this is based on what CNN did, and all CNN did was report the facts. His claim is false. It was false from the get-go, and it remains false.”
Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett