Last week, the designated moderator for the second presidential debate, C-SPAN’s political editor Steve Scully, was caught up in a bit of a scandal. He inadvertently tweeted a question to former presidential advisor and current presidential nemesis Anthony Scaramucci that looks very much like part of a private direct message conversation that was accidentally made public:
This is interesting. Moderator for second presidential debate (a former intern for then-Senator Joe Biden and former staff assistant for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy) …🤔 pic.twitter.com/ULfVAwYaae
— Sister Toldjah 😁 (@sistertoldjah) October 9, 2020
My colleague Sister Toldjah had the whole story in Moderator for Second Debate Asks Anthony Scaramucci for Advice on Twitter, Effectively Disqualifies Himself.
As is common in these cases, he used the Weiner Defense, which is “my account was hacked.” But some things just didn’t add up. Hackers don’t typically compromise an account and send exactly one innocuous message. If you go to the trouble of hacking a high-profile account, at a minimum, you want to have some fun if not make a few hundred thousand dollars via fraud. And, as my colleague, Bonchie, pointed out, Scully has a history of blaming hacks of his Twitter account for strange messages Whoops: Debate Moderator Steve Scully Has a History of Claiming to Be ‘Hacked,’ Deletes Twitter Account.
Read our other coverage of the Scully Twitter Saga:
Debate Moderator Steve Scully Is Now Pushing an Absurd Excuse for His Tweet to Scaramucci
Now the Third Presidential Debate Moderator Has Issues Too, Bob Dole Blasts the Commission
The Presidential Debates Can’t Be Fixed but They Can Be Eliminated
The Commission on Presidential Debates went to bat for Scully and issued a statement supporting him:
“Steve Scully notified us that his Twitter account was hacked,” the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) wrote in a statement on Twitter. “CPD reported the apparent hack to the FBI and Twitter, and we understand that the federal authorities and Twitter are looking into the issue.”
C-SPAN said Friday Scully “did not originate the tweet” and added that the CPD was investigating the incident “with the help of authorities.”
Now, as it turns out, we plebians who instantly recognized the tweet for what it was, were far ahead of all the Twitter blue-checks who told us nothing was going on here:
I have known @SteveScully for more than 20 years.
He is 100% honest and ethical. He is 100% unbiased. He is the right person to host this debate at this time, because he will hold both candidates accountable. https://t.co/TvTzxbzOWi
— Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) October 9, 2020
FACT — if Steve Scully says he didn't send it you can take it to the bank. Period. Anyone who questions him or makes accusations is a damn liar. https://t.co/W8Ri1TyWWz
— Joe Lockhart (@joelockhart) October 9, 2020
Steve Scully is one of the most honorable and decent men I have ever known. His integrity is beyond question. @realDonaldTrump and @JoeBiden should consider themselves lucky to have a chance to stand on the same stage with this wholly qualified and good man.
— Craig Shirley (@CraigSmpa) October 9, 2020
The idea that Steve Scully is some sort of sleeper NeverTrump partisan hack is among the most absurd campaign meta stories and there are a number of people pushing it who absolutely know better.
— Sam Stein (@samstein) October 9, 2020
C-SPAN has now suspended Scully after he admitted lying about the hack:
C-SPAN suspended its political editor Steve Scully indefinitely Thursday after he admitted to lying about his Twitter feed being hacked when he was confronted about a questionable exchange with former Trump aide Anthony Scaramucci.
The news came on the day of what was supposed to be a career highlight for the 30-year C-SPAN veteran. Scully was to moderate the second debate between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden, which was canceled after Trump would not agree to a virtual format because of his COVID-19 diagnosis.
Naturally, this was all Trump’s fault:
A week ago, after Trump had criticized him as a “never Trumper,” Scully tweeted “@Scaramucci should I respond to Trump.” Scaramucci, a former Trump communications director and now a critic of the president, advised Scully to ignore him.
Scully said that when he saw his tweet had created a controversy, “I falsely claimed that my Twitter account had been hacked.”
He had been frustrated by Trump’s comments and several weeks of criticism on social media and conservative news outlets about his role as moderator, including attacks directed at his family, he said.
This answer, itself, reeks of disingenuousness. Would you really ask Scaramucci about anything? If you were designated a debate moderator, would you engage in some kind of Twitter spat with President Trump and pretty much validate his point about bias? The most logical explanation was that the tweet was part of a discussion that Scully and Scaramucci were having on how to question Trump in the upcoming debate.
Regardless, Scully’s appointment simply makes it obvious that the presidential debates are out-moded and, in today’s environment, where “journalists” moonlight as political activists, have unlimited potential for corruption. In Scully’s case, he’d interned for Joe Biden and worked for Ted Kennedy on Capitol Hill. The chances that he could have been an impartial moderator given his personal politics were zero. When you combine that with the perception created by picking a Democrat apparatchik as moderator, it makes a statement that the debates are run by Democrats and are just an opportunity for the moderator and the Democrat candidate to attempt to humiliate the GOP candidate.
But never fear; give it one or two more presidential election cycles, and he’ll be back.
I was right again! Steve Scully just admitted he was lying about his Twitter being hacked. The Debate was Rigged! He was suspended from @cspan indefinitely. The Trump Campaign was not treated fairly by the “Commission”. Did I show good instincts in being the first to know?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 15, 2020