- Screenshot/Fox News
- Colton Haab, a student at the Florida high school where a gunman killed 17 people last week, told the Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Thursday night that CNN rewrote a question for him to ask at its town-hall event the night before.
- CNN said there was “absolutely no truth” to Haab’s claim that he was told to “stick to the script.”
- President Donald Trump tweeted about the interview on Thursday night, calling CNN “fake news.”
- Carlson has said he will provide “new evidence” about the town hall during his show on Friday.
Colton Haab, a student at the Florida high school where a gunman killed 17 people last week, told the Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Thursday night that a CNN producer crafted a question for him to ask at the network’s Wednesday town-hall-style meeting on school shootings and that he decided not to participate as a result.
But CNN says there is “absolutely no truth” to Haab’s claims, which he first made on a Miami TV-news station.
“In my interview with CNN, I had talked about arming the teachers, if they were willing to arm themselves in the school, to carry on campus,” Haab told Carlson. “And they had – she had taken that, of what I had briefed on, and actually wrote that question out for me.”
“That seems dishonest,” Carlson said.
“It definitely did, and that’s kind of why I didn’t go last night,” Haab replied. “Originally, I had thought that it was going to be more of my own question and my own say, and then it turned out to be more of just a script. And she had had actually said that over the phone, that I needed to stick to the script.”
A CNN source told Business Insider that an executive producer named Carrie Stevenson talked with Haab on the phone after Haab submitted several questions to the network.
The two decided on the call that Haab would ask one question about training teachers and school staff to carry weapons, the source said. Haab had suggested in an interview with “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday that Aaron Feis, a football coach at the high school who was killed while protecting students, might have stopped the shooter had he been armed.
The source said the final version of the question was made up of the “the verbatim language” Haab used on “Fox & Friends” about Feis in addition to his question about training teachers to be armed.
The source said Haab’s father, Glenn Haab, pulled his son out of the event after insisting he deliver a lengthy speech with context for three questions he wanted to ask lawmakers.
CNN said the speech was too long and asked Haab to “stick to” the question he originally submitted, the source said, adding, “We did not in any way craft any part of the question or statement that proceeded it.”
Trump is basically saying what JROTC student Colton Haab said a few days ago, that Coach Feis could have stopped the shooter if he was armed pic.twitter.com/8bBpbmzVhs
— Joe Perticone (@JoePerticone) February 21, 2018
“CNN did not provide or script questions for anyone in last night’s town hall, nor have we ever,” said Richard Hudock, a CNN spokesman.
“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.”
The CNN source added that neither Fox nor Carlson asked CNN for comment on Haab’s claims.
On Carlson’s show, Haab offered to read the question he would have asked at the town hall, but Carlson didn’t take him up on it.
On Thursday night, the president tweeted about Carlson’s segment, accusing CNN of being “fake news.”
“‘School shooting survivor says he quit @CNN Town Hall after refusing scripted question.’ @TuckerCarlson. Just like so much of CNN, Fake News,” Trump wrote. “That’s why their ratings are so bad! MSNBC may be worse.”
Haab, a member of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps who helped usher dozens of his classmates to safety during the shooting, said he watched “a little bit” of the town hall, during which his classmates and parents of those killed asked questions of lawmakers, a National Rifle Association spokeswoman, and law-enforcement officials.
Haab said he knew after his interaction with the CNN producer “that it was going to be more scripted and wasn’t actually going to be actual questions, then I didn’t feel the need to fully watch it.”
Carlson said he would reveal “new evidence” about Haab’s claims during his show on Friday evening.
Scripted town hall? Check out part of my interview with a student who claims CNN rewrote and scripted his question. CNN pushed back against the initial claim. Take a listen #Tucker @FoxNews pic.twitter.com/8uDuH6rBIv
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) February 23, 2018