Glenn Haab, the father of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School junior and mass shooting survivor Colton Haab, has admitted that he altered words in an email sent by a CNN producer, ultimately producing the illusion the news network had demanded his son only ask their pre-written questions at a televised forum on guns last week.
The younger Haab, a 17-year-old Army Junior ROTC member, had originally told media that he had desired to ask questions about the possibility of using veterans as armed guards in school—which happens to be one of President Donald Trump’s favored solutions—but that CNN had demanded he ask scripted prompts instead. Yet a later report in Business Insider alleged that Colton Haab had initially agreed to ask only one short question at the forum, but then the family later requested to deliver a “lengthy speech” on firearms. The network said the revised submission was “way too long,” and requested that he ask the original, shorter question.
That request read, “This is what Colton and I discussed on the phone that he submitted. He needs to stick to this.” But the doctored version the Haabs sent last week to outlets including Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show and the Huffington Post read, “This is what Colton and I discussed on the phone. He needs to stick to this.”
Per the AP, Glenn Haab now “acknowledges omitting some words from the email but says he didn’t do it on purpose.”
The exclusion of the words “that he submitted” allowed Carlson to paint the forum in conspiratorial terms, probably because he wanted to provide his credulous viewers a pretext to ignore any event in which gun control might come up. While he may not have bothered to further vet the emails before running with the juicy fakes, it wasn’t until Tuesday night’s show that the host admitted on air that there was “no evidence as of right now” CNN had tried to push scripted questions on a mass shooting survivor.
That correction came five days too late for the president—who had already accused CNN of a plot to make the town hall “Fake News,” a convenient if ultimately ineffective distraction from an event that went very badly for gun rights advocates, especially Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Regardless of whatever subsequently happened, it looks like the Haabs did initially misinterpret CNN’s request to just ask the original question. In one of Glenn Haab’s emails to the CNN producer, he wrote “We are not actors nor do we read from a script. We are real people and a lot of thoughts went into those questions.”
Seventeen people died and 14 others were wounded during the February 14th massacre. Colton Haab had previously told CNN and Reuters that he and other JROTC members had helped shield other students during the attack with spare kevlar shields used for the organization’s marksmanship program.