C-SPAN suspends Steve Scully indefinitely for lying about being hacked

"I falsely claimed that my Twitter account had been hacked," said Scully, the public affairs network's political editor.

Updated: October 15, 2020 - 7:09pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Links

 C-SPAN has suspended political editor Steve Scully indefinitely after he admitted that he lied about his Twitter feed being hacked.

Scully was scheduled to be the moderator of the presidential debate on the very day he was suspended. The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced last week that the Oct. 15 debate would be virtual, with the two candidates in remote locations, but President Trump rejected the plan.

The 30-year C-SPAN veteran found himself in hot water after a post on Twitter showed him communicating with former Trump aide Anthony Scaramucci, who left the administration in disgrace after just 15 days.

Last week, after Trump had criticized Scully as a “never Trumper," Scully tweeted “@Scaramucci should I respond to Trump.” There were reports that Scully had meant to send a direct message, not post a tweet.

"Ignore," Scaramucci, who has become a rabid anti-Trumper, responded. "He is having a hard enough time. Some more bad stuff about to go down."

The longtime C-SPAN host said he had been “subjected to relentless criticism on social media and in conservative news outlets regarding my role as moderator for the second presidential debate, including attacks aimed directly at my family. This culminated on Thursday, October 8th when I heard President Trump go on national television twice and falsely attack me by name.”

"Out of frustration, I sent a brief tweet addressed to Anthony Scaramucci. The next morning when I saw that this tweet had created a new controversy, I falsely claimed that my Twitter account had been hacked," Scully said.

He said he let down his colleagues at C-SPAN, as well as other journalists and the CPD. “I ask for their forgiveness as I try to move forward in a moment of reflection and disappointment in myself,” he said.

Trump quickly responded to the news on Twitter.

"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?" he wrote.

The Trump campaign also weighed in.

“Having a debate moderator lie to try to explain away a tweet that revealed his anti-Trump slant is bad, but it is far from the biggest problem with the biased Commission on Presidential Debates. Filled with pro-Biden Democrats and anti-Trump ‘Republicans,’ the commission has done the bidding of Joe Biden every step of the way and protected him at every turn,"  said Tim Murtaugh, Trump 2020 communications director.

"There was no medical reason the candidates could not be on stage together tonight in Miami for the second debate, but instead they will be holding separate town halls. Everything the commission has done has been to benefit Joe Biden. Nevertheless, President Trump will be in Nashville on October 22, ready to debate Biden and beat him for a second time," he said in a statement.

C-SPAN said Scully confessed to lying about the hack on Wednesday.

“He understands that he made a serious mistake,” the network said Thursday. “We were very saddened by this news and do not condone his actions.”

Scully, who has been responsible for coordinating all aspects of C-SPAN's campaign programming since 1991, is widely regarded as a fair and balanced journalist. He has served as a host of "Washington Journal," a live three-hour news and public affairs program that cycles between Republican, Democratic and independent phone callers.

He has also served as a past president of the White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) and currently serves as a WHCA board member. 

In an interesting aside, Scully once worked as an intern for then-Sen. Joe Biden.

"Scully received an undergraduate degree with honors in communication and political science from American University in Washington, D.C.," his Wikipedia entry says. "During his degree he completed a study abroad program at the University of Copenhagen, served as an intern with Senator Joe Biden, and in Sen. Ted Kennedy's media affairs office."