Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) suggested this week that CNN deliberately tried to silence him in the wake of several mass shootings over the weekend. But the network says Gaetz is deliberately misrepresenting the facts.
The Florida Republican made the suggestion Tuesday in response to CNN noting the number of Republicans who were unwilling to appear on the network to discuss gun laws following the shootings.
Gaetz, a TV-friendly regular on Fox News and other cable-news programs, responded that he was booked on Erin Burnett on Monday, but the show cancelled on him. Then, he claimed, he was also bumped by Anderson Cooper after getting booked on his primetime CNN program.
“I’m ready for the discussion whenever CNN is,” he claimed.
But in a statement to The Daily Beast, a CNN spokesperson pushed back on Gaetz’s claims, saying the congressman’s timeline is all out of whack.
According to the spokesperson, several shows on the network had in fact declined to book Gaetz last week—before the shootings ever took place.
“Wrong Congressman! Your staff pitched you a week ago for an in-studio interview based on your travel to NY. Both shows declined last week, well before the tragic events over the weekend. Those are the facts,” the spokesperson said.
Gaetz responded later on Tuesday saying he was not one of the members of Congress CNN reached out to in the wake of the shooting.
The absence of Republicans lawmakers appearing on non-Fox News networks in the wake of the shootings in El Paso and Dayton has been a subject of some criticism from Democrats and journalists, who believe the politicians should answer questions about the party’s continued opposition to major gun-control measures.
Several prominent news hosts like Tapper and Rachel Maddow pointed out that few Republican elected officials had been willing to appear on CNN, MSNBC, and other mainstream television outlets in the wake of the shootings that left a combined 31 people dead.
Some Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, did sit down for major TV interviews, but with only Fox News. In his Sunday conversation with Fox, the Republican leader blamed violent video games for the mass shootings. Meanwhile, Republican leaders have continued to ignore calls for a serious discussion about possible new gun laws—instead focusing on video games and mental illness.
“We’ve always had guns. We’ve always had evil,” Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said during a weekend interview with Fox News. “But what’s changed where we see this rash of shooting? And I see a video game industry that teaches young people to kill.”
UPDATE: Gaetz responded again to CNN by posting a screenshot of an email showing he was booked to appear Monday evening on CNN. The booking confirmation was from August 2, before the shootings happened.