Imagine how excited this guy must have been when he learned he’d be the moderator for the second debate between Trump and Biden. It’s one of the most prestigious gigs a journalist could hope for, an official benediction that you’re fair-minded enough to referee at an event with the highest partisan stakes before one of the biggest audience on American television.
Fast-forward a few months and not only did he never get to host the debate, he’s bumbled his way into a suspension from his network and destroyed his reputation in the process.
Converting an opportunity that grand into a disgrace that humiliating so efficiently almost qualifies as an achievement.
Read John’s post from last Friday for background on this. What happened is painfully obvious. Scully meant to send a direct (i.e. private) message to Anthony Scaramucci asking for advice on whether he should respond to Trump after the president accused him of bias. Instead he tweeted it out publicly, which instantly deepened the suspicion of an anti-Trump agenda. What was Scully doing huddling with a well-known nemesis of the president like the Mooch?
That was the moment when he should have owned it and said, “Sorry, I messed up. Anthony’s a friend and I just wanted his input. Nothing more sinister than that.”
But he didn’t.
— Alex Thompson (@AlexThomp) October 9, 2020
He didn’t just tell CSPAN he was hacked. He told everyone.
Steve Scully notified us that his Twitter account was hacked. CPD reported the apparent hack to the FBI and Twitter, and we understand that the federal authorities and Twitter are looking into the issue.
— CPD (@debates) October 9, 2020
I spoke w @SteveScully Only interactions w Scaramucci he has had are a June 2018 tv & 2019 radio @cspan interview. He did not send the tweet. Steve is good man & will make an excellent @debates moderator. CSPAN does an amazing job of giving people unfiltered access #Debates2020
— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) October 9, 2020
FACT — if Steve Scully says he didn't send it you can take it to the bank. Period. Anyone who questions him or makes accusations is a damn liar. https://t.co/W8Ri1TyWWz
— Joe Lockhart (@joelockhart) October 9, 2020
The hacking story was comically absurd. For one thing, has anyone ever been hacked and suffered nothing more embarrassing from it than a single tweet sent to a random person asking “should i respond to trump”? A real hacker would be tweeting racist nonsense or “LISTEN TO Q” or asking people for Bitcoin donations.
For another thing, Scully had a curious habit of being embarrassed by “hacking” in the past:
Tweets from 2012 and 2013 pic.twitter.com/jdeKqq7UEW
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) October 9, 2020
Today, inevitably, the truth came out. Turns out he lied and it’s … conservative media’s fault?
— Robert Lang WBAL (@Reporterroblang) October 15, 2020
“We were very saddened by this news and do not condone his actions,” said CSPAN in a statement announcing that he was suspended indefinitely. He’s probably not going to lose his job (“After some distance from this episode, we believe in his ability to continue to contribute to C-SPAN”) but it’s unthinkable that the debate commission would ever ask him to host another debate after he lied to them about a matter involving his impartiality.
Over on Earth 2, Scully is in the final hours of preparation for tonight’s townhall face-off between Biden and Trump. On Earth 1, he’s a laughingstock who’s humiliated his boss and the many, many colleagues who vouched for him publicly on his hacking claim.
Has anyone ever been more damaged by a single tweet? Justine Sacco, maybe?