Though CNN at no point stated that Carson was suspending his campaign or in any way bagging the race, the Cruz camp did indeed broadcast a similar message to its volunteers — a move that has caused no end of problems for the campaign of the Texas senator.
Yet these fine points were nowhere in Cruz’s rehash of the incident in Saturday’s ABC News debate in New Hampshire. Asked by anchor David Muir about the dustup, Cruz offered up this response, in part:
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.
For the record, CNN never issued a correction — and it never, ever reported that Carson was suspending his campaign. Earlier in the week, Cruz himself said that CNN got it “correct.”
In a statement issued mid-debate, CNN proclaimed:
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 that Senator Cruz continues to knowingly mislead the voters about this is astonishing.
This post will surely stand among several other ones like it — all hammering Cruz over the timeline and the particulars of this sequence of events. Will any of it matter? Probably not. Hammering CNN in a GOP debate, after all, is a proven campaign tactic in a GOP primary.