Trump Campaign Apologizes to CNN After Spokeswoman Falsely Goes After Anchor's Husband in Unhinged Op-Ed
CNN's Brianna Keilar and Trump campaign senior advisor Mercedes Schlapp traded barbs in a tense interview on Tuesday while discussing voting by mail.
Schlapp falsely stated that voting by mail is rife with fraud—an oft-repeated talking point from President Donald Trump. Keilar listed numerous studies from conservative institutions including the George W. Bush Justice Department and the Heritage Foundation which have shown that attempted voter fraud by mail is statistically insignificant.
When Schlapp doubled down, Keilar accused her of "saying a bunch of crap."
CNN's Brianna Keilar to Trump campaign advisor Mercedes Schlapp on mail-in-voting:
"This is just pointless, okay. This is pointless. I get it, you're just saying a bunch of crap. Okay. You're saying a bunch of crap." pic.twitter.com/vhD4ftJsWM
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) August 4, 2020
Though the interview concluded, the point of contention remained.
Schlapp penned a subsequent op-ed for RealClearPolitics asserting that a new law in Nevada would allow people to cast their vote for President up to three days after the election.
But Schlapp also targeted Keilar's husband Fernando Lujan, a military veteran, claiming he was a "ferocious opponent of the president."
As it turns out, Schlapp's basis for the claim was tweets from an account with the same name. Schlapp incorrectly identified the Twitter as Keilar's husband in the article.
Keilar responded with a brutal rebuke.
In response to @mercedesschlapp's @RealClearNews op-ed. Get your facts straight. And don't mess with my family. pic.twitter.com/pMgIyfSEv0
— Brianna Keilar (@brikeilarcnn) August 6, 2020
Keilar informed Schlapp that her husband served not only as a Green Beret, but as National Security Council director under both Obama and Trump.
"Get your facts straight. And don't mess with my family."
Schlapp has not publicly apologized, but Lujan tweeted that she did express regret to him in a phone call.
Just received a call from Mercedes Schlapp, apologizing for the bad info. Good to see that there's still room for decency, even in this hyper-polarized political environment.
— Fernando Lujan (@fernandomlujan) August 7, 2020
CNN's chief media correspondent, Brian Stelter, said that the "highest levels of the Trump campaign" apologized to CNN as well.
Regarding Schlapp's screwup: On Thursday evening the highest levels of the Trump campaign conveyed apologies to the highest levels of CNN, per a source... https://t.co/5YehVPUgD0
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) August 7, 2020
Trump has repeatedly decried the network both on his Twitter account, onstage at his rallies, and from the podium at the White House. His administration revoked CNN White House Correspondent Jim Acosta's press pass before being court-ordered to restore it. He's repeatedly refused to take questions from CNN reporters.
Despite that humble pie, people still feel that Schlapp herself should publicly apologize.
Did they do it publicly? The attack was public. Did they admit fault with the same level of audience as the attack?
— Galileo (@Galileo242) August 7, 2020
Those apologies should've been made publicly to @brikeilarcnn. One is especially due from Mercedes Schlapp.
— Frances (@pennyblab) August 7, 2020
They can publicly apologize or it didn't happen.
— audrey (@dj_ewi) August 7, 2020
Others accused CNN of amplifying falsehoods from "agents of chaos" by having Schlapp on the network in the first place.
The highest levels of CNN should apologize to viewers for continuously booking agents of chaos (too many to list here). Apparently that model was a huge cash cow during the 2016 election cycle, but it's time to stop wasting our time and energy with nonsense. I won't be watching.
— #MakeGoodTrouble #WeAllLiveInOneHouse #BLM (@haleakela19) August 7, 2020
Honestly, I care less about whether CNN gets an apology than about:
1-liars apologizing to the American people
2-TV news programs stop booking liars so they can't spread more lies
3-editors fact check opeds for egregious errors & stop amplifying the problem.
— Denise Lee - Wear the Mask (@dadavies01) August 7, 2020
Maybe, and I'm just spitballing here, maybe stop having Schlapp on the network?
— Ethan Teller (@Tellersvision) August 7, 2020
Maybe @CNN will learn an important lesson. Don't book people from the bottom of the barrel, get the best people instead. All respectable news outlets must avoid people like @mercedesschlapp.
— Alexis Fernandes (@AlexFTweets) August 7, 2020
It's unconfirmed whether or not Schlapp will appear on CNN again.