Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Colton Haab said he was approached by CNN to ask a question at Wednesday night's town hall but decided not to after the network gave him a "scripted question," quashing one he wrote himself. Haab, a member of the Junior ROTC shielded students while the school was under attack from the shooter, said he was going to ask about using veterans as armed security guards. (CNN response below.)
"CNN had originally asked me to write a speech and questions and it ended up being all scripted," Haab told WPLG-TV.
CNN aired a town hall on the Florida school shooting with Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) that included NRA's Dana Loesch and Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel that was moderated by Jake Tapper. Students and parents asked questions about gun control and school safety.
"I expected to be able to ask my questions and give my opinion on my questions," Haab said.
"Colton Haab, a member of the Junior ROTC who shielded classmates in the midst of terror says he did not get to share his experience," WPLG's Janine Stanwood explained.
"Colton wrote questions about school safety, suggested using veterans as armed school security guards but claims CNN wanted him to ask a scripted question instead so he decided not to go," Stanwood reported.
"CNN had originally asked me to write a speech and questions and it ended up being all scripted," Haab said. "I don't think that it's going get anything accomplished. It's not gonna ask the true questions that all the parents and teachers and students have."
UPDATE: CNN released the following statement Thursday morning:
CNN did not, and does not, script any questions for town hall meetings, ever.
UPDATE @8:47AM ET: CNN released a more extensive statement that explained the situation.
In a longer statement, CNN confirmed Haab was invited by the network to participate but his father decided to withdraw his name from participation. CNN said Haab wanted to give an extensive speech and not just ask a question, something the network said the forum was not designed for. CNN noted the subject Haab wanted to address, arming teachers, was discussed at length in the 2-hour long town hall event.
CNN has invited Haab to appear on the network.
Full statement from CNN's RIchard Hudock:
There is absolutely no truth to this. CNN did not provide or script questions for anyone in last night's town hall, nor have we ever. After seeing an interview with Colton Haab, we invited him to participate in our town hall along with other students and administrators from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Colton’s father withdrew his name from participation before the forum began, which we regretted but respected. We welcome Colton to join us on CNN today to discuss his views on school safety.
According to a CNN insider Haab wanted to give an extensive speech and not just ask a question, something the network said the forum was not designed for. When the family was told this they decided to pull out of the event. The CNNer also noted the subject Haab wanted to address, arming teachers, was discussed at length in the 2-hour long town hall.