A media controversy that roared late last week is now ending. The Associated Press is reporting that Glenn Haab, the father of a Parkland, Fla., school-shooting survivor who criticized CNN’s handling of a town-hall meeting last Wednesday, has admitted to altering an email that the family had exchanged with a CNN producer. “Haab acknowledges omitting some words from the email but says he didn’t do it on purpose,” reports the AP.
The disclosure is important because it rebuts a CNN critique that colonized certain Web provinces following the town-hall event in Sunrise, Fla., which was moderated by Jake Tapper and included key Florida lawmakers. Community members from Parkland, home to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a gunman killed 17 people, crowded the venue and voiced their support for further gun restrictions.
In explaining why he didn’t attend the event, 17-year-old Colton Haab, a student at the school, complained about how the network had approached a question that he was supposed to pose to Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). “CNN had originally asked me to write a speech and questions and it ended up being all scripted,” Colton Haab told a local Florida news station. Pretty soon CNN critics were tweeting and Facebooking about how the network had censored or otherwise sought to impose its bias on the proceedings via Haab.
The whole time, CNN claimed that it hadn’t scripted anything; on the contrary, a producer asked Haab for questions, and they jointly chose one of them, to be prefaced by a statement he’d already made on “Fox & Friends.” There the matter seemed to rest, until CNN received inquiries from HuffPost and Fox News bearing copies of alleged email correspondence between the Haab family and the CNN producer. The two outlets, per due diligence, were seeking to authenticate the messages they’d received from a source.
Inauthentic, thundered CNN. Upon espying what it called a “doctored” email, the network released its back-and-forth with Colton and Glenn Haab and highlighted an important change in the versions forwarded by HuffPost and Fox News: Several words were missing from one of the emails of the CNN producer — and the omission gave breathing room to the notion that CNN was engaged in nefarious “scripting.”
The record is now set straight — not that most of those who swallowed the original conspiracy theory will sample, let alone credit, the debunking.