C-SPAN Suspends Scully for Lying About Twitter Hack

Steve Scully during a C-SPAN broadcast.
Steve Scully during a C-SPAN broadcast in August. (Image credit: Future)

Twitter was abuzz with the news that C-SPAN political editor Steve Scully has been suspended indefinitely after he conceded he had made up the story about his Twitter account being hacked, though signaled he could eventually return. 

Scully, who was to have moderated the Oct. 15 presidential debate before President Trump backed out was attacked by the President as a "never Trumper."

Related: C-SPAN Says Scully Tweet Was Bogus

A tweet from Scully's account appeared to have been a mistakenly-broadcast direct message asking former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci whether Scully should respond to Trump.

Scully had said the tweet was not his and alleged his account had been hacked. 

C-SPAN had backed the Washington Journal host and 30-year vet Scully, releasing a statement Oct. 9 saying Scully had not originated the tweet and that it believed his account had been hacked. It also said the Commission on Presidential Debates stated that the tweet was not sent by Scully and it was investigating the hack. That trust was apparently misplaced.

"For several weeks, I was 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," said Scully in a statement. "This culminated on Thursday, October 8, when I heard President Trump go on national television twice and falsely attack me by name. 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. These were both errors in judgement for which I am totally responsible. I apologize.

"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. I ask for their forgiveness as I try to move forward in a moment of reflection and disappointment in myself."

C-SPAN was reflecting as well, but signaled there was a return path for Scully. 

"Steve Scully made us and the Commission aware of this new information late Wednesday" (Oct. 14), the network said in a statement. "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."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.