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CNN releases allegedly doctored emails to refute student's claim that CNN town hall was scripted

The family of a student from Parkland High School in Florida, allegedly sent doctored emails to new media to support their claims that CNN tried to censor comments for town hall, pictured here, that the network hosted.(YouTube screenshot)

CNN released emails this week that contradict a student's claim that the network tried to script his questions for a forum on the deadly school shooting in Florida, according to published reports.

"CNN had originally asked me to write a speech and questions and it ended up being all scripted," Colton Haab, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland told WPLG-TV. For that reason, Colton said he declined to participate in CNN's town hall.

Haab, a Junior ROTC member, is credited with protecting other students as the shooter went on a rampage at the school, leaving 17 dead. He said he wanted to ask a question about using veterans as armed security guards.

Who do you believe?

CNN responded by saying Colton’s claims contain “absolutely no truth.” The network said it agreed on one question Colton would ask. But Colton's father, Glenn Haab, intervened and sent a lengthy speech with three questions for lawmakers, according to reports.

In an email exchange, a CNN producer said the speech is too long and Colton needed to stick to the approved question.

Glenn Haab fired back, saying he and his son “are not actors.” He also said Colton will not participate if he can’t read the speech. The family later released the emails to national news media.

Fox News and the HuffPost asked CNN to verify the authenticity of the emails between the Haabs and producer Carrie Stevenson.

That prompted a CNN source to release the network's versions of the emails along with the Habbs’ versions of the emails, Business Insider reported.

What is the discrepancy?

In CNN’s version, a producer tells Glenn Haab that his son needs to stick to a question that he and Stevenson "discussed on the phone that he submitted."

By contrast, the email Colton gave to Fox and HuffPost, omits the phrase, "that he submitted." A word document containing the email that was given to Fox News reportedly contains metadata that Glenn Haab last edited it.

A Business Insider reporter posted the different email versions on Twitter:

"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," a CNN spokesman told Business Insider. "However, when presented with doctored email exchanges, we felt the need to set the record straight."

Copies of the documents obtained by Business Insider are posted here.

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