A conspiracy theory which spread in the aftermath of the Parkland school shooting has been pretty soundly debunked, after the father of a young shooting survivor admitted to providing doctored emails to the media.

17-year-old Colton Haab, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was scheduled to speak at CNN’s televised town hall event last week. The event saw young survivors question Florida lawmakers and a representative from the National Rifle Association about how America should best respond to its ongoing gun violence crisis.

Before the event, Haab submitted a question about the possibility of arming teachers to a CNN producer. They agreed it should be one of many questions asked by students at the meeting.

However, Colton’s father Glenn Haab sent the CNN producer another email. It contained a separate speech he believed his son should deliver at the town hall, which contained an extended passage on the importance of having firearms as a tool for self-defence.

Citing time constraints, the producer replied that Colton would only be able to deliver his initial question, as “this is what Colton and I discussed on the phone that he submitted.”

Glenn Haab then pulled his son out of the event, telling the media that CNN had denied Colton the ability to speak freely and forced his son into following the network’s script. Colton echoed that view in subsequent media appearances.

To bolster his claim, the elder Haab provided other media outlets with screenshots of his correspondence with the CNN producer.

As a result of the email screenshots, media rivals Fox News accused CNN of harbouring a pro-gun control bias and of censoring Haab’s ability to speak freely. That view was subsequently signal-boosted by known CNN-hater President Donald Trump.

CNN later contended that Haab actually omitted the key phrase “that he submitted” from the emails he provided to competing media outlets, misleading Fox News and others into believing CNN had provided Colton Haab with their own pre-scripted question.

In a statement, the network said “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.”

Now, Glenn Haab has admitted the email screenshots he provided to other media outlets omitted the phrase “that he submitted”, but states he didn’t do it on purpose.

“There was nothing malicious behind it,” Haab told The Associated Press.

Regardless of any possible intention, the omission somewhat shrouded the town hall event in controversy at a time when transparency and honesty was pretty much vital.

Thankfully, a large number of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students were on deck to ask their questions. Their showing galvanised the widespread opinion this generation of teens might just be the one to convince lawmakers to finally do something about the horrific accessibility of firearms in the United States.

Source: The Hill
Image: Fox News / YouTube