PARKLAND, Fla. – CNN claims that the family of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School junior Colton Haab altered his emails with the news network, to make it appear that a producer encouraged the student to ask a "scripted question" at this week's town hall on gun violence.
"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," a CNN spokesman said Friday. "However, when presented with doctored email exchanges, we felt the need to set the record straight.”
CNN has maintained it did not provide Haab with a script, but rather Haab and CNN producer Carrie Stevenson corresponded over email and phone and discussed what he would say at the town hall in advance.
"CNN had originally asked me to write a speech and questions, and it ended up being all scripted," Haab told Local 10 News on Wednesday. Haab decided not to participate in the event at BB&T Center in Sunrise.
Haab said he wanted to address the issue of arming teachers as a way to prevent and deter school shootings.
CNN said Haab's father, Glenn Haab, intervened in the process and suggested that Colton Haab read a longer statement. CNN said Stevenson disagreed over the length, not the substance of Colton Haab's question.
Colton Haab appeared on Fox News on Thursday, and provided host Tucker Carlson with his emails with CNN. One exchange makes it appear as if Stevenson wrote the question.
The email the Haabs provided to Fox and other media outlets reads: "This is what Colton and I discussed on the phone. He needs to stick to this."
However, CNN released their versions of the emails.
"This is what Colton and I discussed on the phone that he submitted. He needs to stick to this."
In family's version of the exchange, the phrase, "that he submitted" is deleted. Business Insider reported that the metadata on the email provided to the Huffington Post shows that Glenn Haab had altered the email.
President Donald Trump cited the dispute as evidence that CNN engages in so-called "fake news."
The Haab family did not immediately respond to a request for comment.