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 the virtual format sought by Biden and the Commission on Presidential Debates in the wake of the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis.
A week ago, after Trump had criticized Scully as a “never Trumper” — in 2016, Scully tweeted, “No, Not Trump, Not Ever” in sharing a New York Times article — the C-SPAN host posted a tweet that apparently was intended to be a private message to Scaramucci.
“@Scaramucci should I respond to Trump,” Scully said.
Scaramucci, a former Trump communications director who is now a fierce critic of the president, advised Scully to ignore Trump.
Scully said that when he saw his tweet had created a controversy, “I falsely claimed that my Twitter account had been hacked.”
He said 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, which he claimed included attacks directed at his family.
Many viewed Scully, who formerly worked for Biden and made the 2016 statement against Trump, as too biased to moderate their debate.
“These were both errors in judgement for which I am totally responsible for,” Scully said of his tweet and the lie that followed. “I apologize.”
He said he let down his colleagues at C-SPAN, fellow news professionals and the debate commission. “I ask for their forgiveness as I try to move forward in a moment of reflection and disappointment in myself,” he said.
C-SPAN said Scully confessed to lying about the hack on Wednesday.
“He understands that he made a serious mistake,” the network said. “We were very saddened by this news and do not condone his actions.”
In the aftermath of the widespread condemnation of Scully’s apparent bias, the Commission on Presidential Debates, which had chosen him for the role, tweeted that the FBI and Twitter were investigating whether he had been a victim of hacking.
Steve Scully notified us that his Twitter account was hacked. CPD reported the apparent hack to the FBI and Twitter, and we understand that the federal authorities and Twitter are looking into the issue.
— CPD (@debates) October 9, 2020
The debate commission did not immediately return a message seeking comment Thursday.
Scully has led the network’s presidential election coverage since 1992, but the suspension means he won’t be part of C-SPAN’s election night programming. Scully has been the moderator of “Washington Journal,” the weekly call-in program, and regularly hosted other C-SPAN programs.
The network said Scully has consistently demonstrated fairness and professionalism and built a reservoir of goodwill.
“After some distance from this episode, we believe in his ability to continue to contribute to C-SPAN,” the network said.
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