CNN Accused of Scripting Students' Questions for Last Night's Town Hall, but Did They Really?

After hosting a town hall last night, CNN began its day facing a slew of accusations that they scripted one student’s questions prior to the event in an effort to censor the kid.


RealClearPolitics posted a story on the subject.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Colton Haab said he was approached by CNN to ask a question at Wednesday night’s town hall but decided not to after the network gave him a “scripted question,” quashing one he wrote himself. Haab, a member of the Junior ROTC shielded students while the school was under attack from the shooter, said he was going to ask about using veterans as armed security guards.

“CNN had originally asked me to write a speech and questions and it ended up being all scripted,” Haab told WPLG-TV.

Now, as someone who makes it a point to be skeptical of the Too Good To Be True stories that the Left likes to circulate quite often, I will say that this story raised my Confirmation Bias shields. It’s a pretty big claim, and one that CNN is denying.

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.


According to sources at CNN, Haab wanted to give a longer statement or speech, and CNN tried to help him keep it short or limited to a question. “It became clear that Colton wanted to give an extensive speech and not just ask a question, which the town hall was not designed for,” CNN sources said. “Haab wanted to share extensive remarks on the topic of arming teachers – a subject that was discussed at length during last night’s town hall.”

“We asked him to expand on his original question but the town hall wasn’t the place for a speech at which point his father declined for him to participate,” the sources added.

Erick Erickson over at The Resurgent seems about as skeptical as I am of the censorship claim, but has the benefit of having worked with CNN in the past, whereas I have not.

I have participated in enough CNN events to know that they’ve never done this when I’ve been involved and to the extent they get people to ask “scripted” questions, they work with people to get their question more narrowly focused so they don’t have microphone hogs monologuing. It has nothing to do with insisting only certain questions be asked.

This seems to line up with the background info we at RedState have received on the issue. And, while there has been plenty to criticize CNN over when it comes to their coverage, I am always going to be skeptical when something hosted by Jake Tapper of all people gets accused of being scripted and dishonest.


Remember, Tapper is the CNN host who blasted Donna Brazile’s leaking of town hall questions to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. He also did try to keep the crowd calm and respectful last night, and seemed very genuinely focused on keeping the event as true to its stated purpose – openly discussing the issues of gun violence and gun control –  as possible.

Haab’s voice deserves to be heard, and I hope he continues speaking out on the issues he cares about. I know there are plenty of folks out there who would love to give him a platform to speak, and I sincerely hope he has parents that won’t allow him to be taken advantage of all for the glory of clicks on the Internet.

But, I remain skeptical of the claim he was censored. Maybe he didn’t have a clear understanding of what he was being asked. Like Erickson goes on to say in his piece, the claim is going to be getting a lot of play in conservative media. Just… do yourself a favor and take the claim with a healthy dose of skepticism.



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