C-SPAN Suspends Scully

It turns out, he wasn't hacked. (Spoiler: They're never hacked.)

An interesting report from the Associated Press (“C-SPAN suspends Scully after he admits to lie about hack“):

C-SPAN suspended its political editor Steve Scully indefinitely Thursday after he admitted to lying about his Twitter feed being hacked when he was confronted about a questionable exchange with former Trump aide Anthony Scaramucci.

The news came on the day of what was supposed to be a career highlight for the 30-year C-SPAN veteran. Scully was to moderate the second debate between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden, which was canceled after Trump would not agree to a virtual format because of his COVID-19 diagnosis.

A week ago, after Trump had criticized him as a “never Trumper,” Scully tweeted “@Scaramucci should I respond to Trump.” Scaramucci, a former Trump communications director and now a critic of the president, advised Scully to ignore him.

Scully said that when he saw his tweet had created a controversy, “I falsely claimed that my Twitter account had been hacked.”

He had been frustrated by Trump’s comments and several weeks of criticism on social media and conservative news outlets about his role as moderator, including attacks directed at his family, he said.

“These were both errors in judgement for which I am totally responsible for,” Scully said. “I apologize.”

He said he let down his colleagues at C-SPAN, fellow news professionals and the debate commission. “I ask for their forgiveness as I try to move forward in a moment of reflection and disappointment in myself,” he said.

I haven’t watched much C-SPAN in years but I always found Scully likable and professional. I’m sure his embarrassment and contrition is genuine.

What really struck me here, though, is the contrast between the degree to which he is being held accountable for a relatively minor lapse in judgment compared to, well, pretty much anything that’s happened in American politics over the last few years.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    Never hacked? Even Joy Reid, MSNBC host who claimed her past anti-gay remarks were hacked? Hmm. It’s like you can’t trust anyone.

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  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    The above remark by ‘Michael Reynolds’ was not me, I have complete faith in Joy Reid. Obviously my account here has been hacked.

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  3. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I blame Jenos.

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  4. Andy says:

    Yet more evidence that Twitter is social nicotine – both addictive and lethal.

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  5. Yep, that’s the authoritarian thing: Rules protect me from you, but they don’t protect you from me. This is something other than rule of law. If the laws don’t bind the powerful, in practice as well as in principle, you don’t have rule of law.

    And gosh, after watching this stuff in action, we don’t trust the Supreme Court any more. We see them as enforcing rules and interpreting things very strictly when it protects the powerful, but not so much at other times. Who would have thought?

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  6. Lounsbury says:

    I am sorry – what on earth is this even about? – am I missing something, this seems so profoundly trivial…

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  7. I don’t really know what C-SPAN looks like as an organization, but I imagine they probably don’t have a lot of PR/Marketing. So Scully probably felt pretty isolated, and unsure of how to respond to Trump, which of course, is why Trump does it. Any sort of crack, or misstep can be interpreted by Trump as bias.

    Would I be able to stand up to this stuff? Probably not.

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  8. MarkedMan says:

    I don’t know Scully but did see this kerfluffle. What amazed me was how many people were willing to stand up and say, “I know he is a man of the highest integrity and I believe him”. It’s something I would not do for virtually anyone. (OK. My mother is an actual saint and I think would never lie. That’s it.) Unconditionally standing behind someone like that says more about you than it does about them, and really calls into question your ability as a journalist.

    It kind of explains why someone like Paul Ryan developed a reputation as a wonk despite being a mile wide and a millimeter deep. He was a master at the sincere, calm, thoughtful communication, coupled with a “Let’s talk off the record here so you and I, as two sophisticated men of the world, can make sense of these difficult topics.” The kind of journalists who depends on trusting the individual might have been taken in by that phony intellectualism and bon homie

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  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Lounsbury:
    In an age of heretic hunting and grudge-seeking nothing is trivial.

    1940, the communists are fighting the fascists and you attend a worker’s party meeting hoping to pick up a free-thinking socialist chick. 10 years later that one meeting destroys your career and life.

    In 1980 you got drunk at a frat party and pulled your dick out. Someone took a picture. In 2020 your career and life are ruined.

    When there’s no forgiveness, no allowance, no tolerance, nothing is trivial.

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  10. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan: The thing that really told me who Paul Ryan was, was finding out that right before he entered politics, he was torn between running for office on the one hand, and going to Colorado and becoming a ski instructor on the other hand.

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  11. Mu Yixiao says:

    “These were both errors in judgement for which I am totally responsible for,”

    Ouch. From an editor?

    (Sorry. That’s the only thing I find upsetting about the story.)

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  12. Lounsbury says:

    So… there is nothing more to this than the poor sod had a superficial exchange with the Scarmucci person on ‘should I respond?’

    Really, that is the actual content here?

    If that is so, good bloody God….

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  13. Joe says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    While I understand the dynamic you are describing, like Lounsbury, I am still a little confused about why asking Scaramucci in public something that appears like a totally rhetorical question is such a college dickpic.

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  14. Joe says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    While I understand the dynamic you are describing, like Lounsbury, I am still a little confused about why asking Scaramucci in public something that appears like a totally rhetorical question is such a college dickpic.

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  15. Joe says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    This, on the other hand, would be grounds for his resignation.

    And, I win the prize for the double post. Thanks, edit function. Only well-trained eye will see what I fixed.

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  16. Scott F. says:

    What really struck me here, though, is the contrast between the degree to which he is being held accountable for a relatively minor lapse in judgment compared to, well, pretty much anything that’s happened in American politics over the last few years.

    By all appearance, it’s more he has taken accountability for the hack lie rather than him being held accountable by C-Span for it. And taking accountability requires some personal integrity.

    I think I may have put my finger on why there is a contrast here.

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  17. @Andy:
    Twitter is a battlefield. There are 10 ‘Twitter trends’, a frequently updated list. Factions fight to dominate that list. If a lot of Dems say ‘cheese’ in a tweet, and fewer Republicans say, ‘crackers’, cheese wins.

    Democrats took Twitter and Republicans have now mostly retreated to narrower silos. Republicans had Facebook until they started talking Q and Zuckerberg read the polls. Broadly the trend is that Republicans lose in social media – much as they’ve lost here at OTB – and retreat to safer ground.

    Is it all a bit idiotic? Why yes, yes it is. But Trump lives on Twitter, so it goes on and on and on. And frankly thank god for him. If he fell silent we’d already be on to the fight between liberals and progressives. Once Trump is gone I predict Twitter will see a good 20% drop-off. Without Trump and the Trumpaloons I’d only go there to pimp my various projects.

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  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Lounsbury: My take, too. On the other hand, I think the last time I watched C-Span was at about 2am some midweek early morning in… probably 2003 (would have been the last year I subscribed to Cable TV.) Insomnia sucks. Glad that CPAP treatment solved the problem.

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  19. Andy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Once Trump is gone from the Oval Office, he will still be on Twitter.

    Even without Trump I don’t think there is a good case that Twitter is a net positive for society generally, much less politics specifically. It incentivizes all kinds of bad conduct and groupthink and is addictive to boot.

    But then again, I think most social media is crap (Twitter is just the worst of it) so I guess that puts me into the “hey boomer” crowd.

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  20. Andy says:

    @Lounsbury:

    So… there is nothing more to this than the poor sod had a superficial exchange with the Scarmucci person on ‘should I respond?’

    No, the “scandal” is that he lied about his Twitter account being hacked to avoid accountability for a dumb tweet and got caught. It’s all very stupid and inconsequential, but that is 95% of Twitter. It’s a platform where no mistake goes unpunished for all eternity.

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  21. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Andy: Still, nobody is wrong 100% of the time.

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  22. Jax says:

    @Andy: I actually wonder if Twitter won’t suspend his account regularly once he’s not the president. He spends enough time bullying and attacking people that it violates their terms of service. He violates it now, almost every day, but they won’t do anything because he’s the President.

    I would love it if his chosen bully pulpit was removed and he was forced to go yell into the vacuum of Parler.

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