RED-HANDED

Ted Cruz Insists 'It Was Not Me' in Awkward Interview About Porn and Sex Toys

It was the most uncomfortable TV interview since Jay Leno asked Hugh Grant, “What the hell were you thinking?”

Jake Tapper could not wait to talk about “that one brief moment when President Trump's Twitter account was not the Twitter account setting Washington abuzz” this week.

Halfway through The Lead on Wednesday, Tapper welcomed his CNN colleague Dana Bash to introduce her new interview with Senator Ted Cruz, the first since he appeared to “like” a pornographic video on Twitter.

“I have to say that the senator came to me to talk about the tax reform plan that he unveiled today and he clearly wishes that that was his focus,” Bash said.

Yet Bash decided to get the more salacious story out of the way first in her interview. Calling the tweet in question “clearly porn,” she borrowed the title Hillary Clinton’s new campaign memoir and simply asked: “What happened?”

“Look, we had a staffer who accidentally hit the wrong button and it was a screw-up,” Cruz explained. “I will say, Twitter went crazy with it, it became trending. As soon as we found out about it, we pulled it down. And it's generated a lot of amusement, has prompted a lot of jokes, I understand that.” He seemed to enjoy one Twitter joke that said something along the lines of, “If only this had happened during the presidential race, Cruz might be in the White House right now.”

Calling the incident an “honest mistake,” Cruz said his team has identified the staffer responsible but said he was not about to “throw someone under the bus” on national television by revealing their name, though he did let slip that it was a “fella.” He also would not say how or if they have been “punished” for their actions.

Then came this important question from Bash: “Can you definitively say that it was not you?”

“It was not me,” Cruz said definitively. “And it’s not going to happen again.”

Just when it seemed that Bash might move on to the tax reform discussion, she asked Cruz if he can “appreciate the irony that you once defended a Texas law banning sales of sex toys?”

Cruz pushed back on that narrative, which has been making the rounds online this week, calling the idea that he personally supported that law “totally false.” As the solicitor general for Texas, Cruz said it was his job to defend whatever laws the state passes.

“One of those laws was a law restricting the sale of sex toys, a stupid law,” he said. “Listen, I am one of the most libertarian members of the Senate. I think it is idiotic, but, it is an opportunity for knuckleheads in the media to claim, oh, isn't this ironic that Cruz wants to ban these things?”

“I can't believe I'm going to ask you this, but you're officially saying Ted Cruz is OK with people buying sex toys?” Bash asked him.

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“I am saying consenting adults should be able to do whatever they want in their bedrooms,” Cruz replied. “The media and the left seem obsessed with sex. Let people do what they want!”

Of course, it is “ironic” that Cruz would suddenly be fine with porn and sex toys and “consenting adults” doing “whatever they want in their bedrooms” when he has long been one of the most anti-LBGT members of the U.S. Senate.

When he was running for president in 2015, he told a group of evangelical leaders in Iowa that the progress achieved on marriage equality represented an "unrelenting assault on traditional marriage.” He called the Obama administration’s efforts to protect trans students “lunacy” and accused the federal government of trying force school districts to “let boys shower with little girls.”

Is it possible that this porn tweet debacle has caused Cruz to rethink some of his more abhorrent beliefs on sex and gender? Now he’s telling Dana Bash, “People ought to be able to do what they want in their own bedrooms.”

In a country that has never felt more divided, finally, CNN and Ted Cruz give us something on which we can all agree.