Public-affairs media outlet C-SPAN said Thursday it had placed host and producer Steve Scully on administrative leave after he falsely suggested his Twitter feed had been hacked as he was preparing to moderate a second presidential debate between President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, Joe Biden.
“These actions have let down a lot of people, including my colleagues at C-SPAN, where I have worked for the past 30 years, professional colleagues in the media, and the team at the Commission on Presidential Debates,” said Scully in a statement. “I ask for their forgiveness as I try to move forward in a moment of reflection and disappointment in myself.”
Scully had been named to moderate the second debate, but never filled the role in the wake of Trump refusing to take part in a “virtual” scenario articulated by the Commission after it was revealed he had testing positive for exposure to coronavirus.
The 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,” in his statement. ” 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, a veteran of Washington news circles, has been at C-SPAN for three decades.
In a statement. C-SPAN said Scully informed both the network and the Commission on Presidential Debates Wednesday that his story about being hacked was false. “Steve “By not being immediately forthcoming to C-SPAN and the Commission about his tweet, he understands that he made a serious mistake. We were very saddened by this news and do not condone his actions. During his 30 years at C-SPAN, Steve consistently demonstrated his fairness and professionalism as a journalist. He has built a reservoir of goodwill among those he has interviewed, fellow journalists, our viewers, and with us. Starting immediately, we have placed Steve on
administrative leave. After some distance from this episode, we believe in his ability to continue to contribute to C-SPAN.” The network did not elaborate on how long Scully might be off the air.
The Trump campaign seized on the revelation about Scully to attempt to discredit the tradition of debating each election cycle. ““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,” said Tim Murtaugh, communications director of the campaign, in a prepared statement.