C-SPAN on Thursday suspended political editor Steve Scully indefinitely after he admitted that he lied about his Twitter feed being attacked just before he was set to moderate the second presidential debate.
In a statement, Mr. Scully said he falsely claimed his Twitter account was hacked after he was criticized about a questionable exchange with Anthony Scaramucci, a former aide to President Trump who has turned into a Trump foe.
Mr. Scully said both the tweet and hacking claims were “errors in judgment.”
“These actions 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,” he said. “I ask for their forgiveness as I try to move forward in a moment of reflection and disappointment in myself.”
In its own statement, C-SPAN said Mr. Scully came clean about the false claim Wednesday.
“He understands that he made a mistake,” the network said of Mr. Scully. “We are very saddened by this news and do not condone his actions.”
This will be the first time in more than 30 years, Mr. Scully won’t be part of C-SPAN’s election night coverage.
Moments after the announcement, Mr. Trump bragged that he said last week Mr. Scully’s hacking claims would ultimately be proven false.
“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?” Mr. Trump tweeted.
Initially, C-SPAN stood by Mr. Scully, issuing a statement last week alleging that he “did not originate” the much-criticized tweet.
Still, many people, including Mr. Trump, were dubious of the veteran news anchor’s hacking claim, noted that he had made previous claims of being hacked after posting a controversial tweet.
“@SteveScully, the Never Trumper next debate moderator got caught cold,” the president tweeted last week. “Pulled the old, ‘I’ve been hacked,’ line. That never works. His bosses are furious at him as he’s lost all credibility.”
Last week, after the president described Mr. Scully as a “never Trumper,” the news anchor tweeted, “@Scaramucci should I respond to Trump.” Mr. Scaramucci responded that he should ignore the president.
Both the FBI and Twitter were investigating the hacking claim.
Mr. Scully said he sent the tweet because of growing frustration over criticism lodged against him on social media and in conservative news outlets about his role as a moderator. That criticism included attacks directed at his family, he said.
His suspension comes on the day he was scheduled to moderator the second debate, which would have been a career highlight for Mr. Scully. The debate was canceled last week after Mr. Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus and refused to agree to a virtual debate.
A third debate scheduled for Oct. 22 is still on.
The Commission on Presidential Debates did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Scully has been the face of C-SPAN’s presidential election coverage since 1992. He has been the host of Washington Journal, a daily call-in program as well as other C-SPAN programs.
He has a history of claiming hacks after a tweet causes much controversy. In May 2012, he suggested he was hacked after tweeting about weight loss.
“I apologize for Saturday’s tweets regarding weight loss, etc. I still have my day job at C-SPAN…darn those hackers. Have a great Sunday,” he wrote.
In March 2013, Mr. Scully apologized for posts sent by his Twitter account, though it is unclear what was said in those tweets.
“I apologize for some earlier TWEETS…account was hacked…those tweets did not come from me. Thanks all for alerting me. SS,” he wrote at the time.
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