Shooting survivor’s father admits email changes in CNN spat

Colton Haab's father acknowledges omitting some words from the email but says he didn't do it on purpose.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas Junior Colton Haab appears on CNN February 16. 2018. Credit: CNN [Screengrab]
Marjory Stoneman Douglas Junior Colton Haab appears on CNN February 16. 2018. Credit: CNN [Screengrab]
Published Feb. 27, 2018|Updated Feb. 28, 2018

The father of a Florida shooting survivor has acknowledged  he omitted words in an email he sent media outlets accusing CNN of using scripted remarks at a town hall on guns and school safety.

Dozens of conservative websites called the network's Feb. 21 town hall forum scripted after Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School junior Colton Haab skipped the event and said the network had told him what question to ask. The websites call it proof the forum was slanted against gun rights. President Donald Trump tweeted about it on Friday, saying "Just like so much of CNN, Fake News!"

CNN countered with a release of email exchanges between producer Carrie Stevenson, Colton Haab and his father Glenn and accused Glenn Haab of deliberately altering email sent to Fox News and the Huffington Post.

"It is unfortunate that an effort to discredit CNN and the town hall with doctored emails has taken any attention away from the purpose of the event," the network said in a statement.

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Glenn Haab told the Associated Press he omitted some words from the email but said he didn't do it on purpose.

"There was nothing malicious behind it," he said.

In one exchange, 17-year-old Colton Haab proposes several questions to ask at the town hall, including one on whether to arm teachers. His father, a Republican gun owner, later emailed Stevenson a four-page document with a roughly 700-word speech and a series of questions he said Colton wanted to ask.

Stevenson told the father the additional language he proposed was "way too long" and Colton would need to stick to the question "that he submitted." The words "that he submitted" were left off the email sent to Fox News and Huffington Post.

CNN said Stevenson had discussed which one of Colton's several questions to ask at the forum and they mutually agreed on one using his own words and a statement he made during another television appearance.

Business Insider reported Friday evening that, according to CNN, a network producer agreed to let the younger Haab write and ask a question about arming teachers at the network's Wednesday town hall.

 But Haab’s father sent the network a long speech that he insisted his son read at the town hall. CNN, citing time constraints, told Glenn they needed Colton to stick with the question “that he submitted.”

When the elder Haab passed along the correspondence between his family and the network to media outlets, Business Insider reported, he omitted the key phrase, “that he submitted.”

The spat led to several conservative website stories accusing CNN of a pro-gun control bias.

Read more: CNN, citing doctored email, denies feeding a Parkland survivor a 'scripted question' before town hall

Times staff writer Kirby Wilson contributed to this report.