Presidential debate moderator Steve Scully raised eyebrows on Thursday night with a tweet that is having critics question his objectivity ahead of the second matchup between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Scully, who is best known as the political editor of C-SPAN and host of "Washington Journal," sent a cryptic message that caused quite a stir on social media.
"@Scaramucci should I respond to trump," according to a tweet from his account.
That message appeared to be directed at former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who was once a supporter of President Trump but has since joined the #Resistance and has been outspoken in favor of Biden's candidacy.
On Friday morning, the tweet was deleted.
Scully, who was set to moderate a town hall debate on Oct. 15 – now crumbling after President Trump withdrew from the now-virtual event – sparked confusion and fury among critics, with many concluding that the moderator meant to send such a message to Trump's foe privately.
"odd thing for the next debate moderator to tweet," Politico reporter Alex Thompson reacted.
"This is not going to help the idea that Scully is *in any way* an objective and unbiased journalist and moderator," NewsBusters managing Curtis Houck wrote.
"We need a different moderator at the v least. This is disqualifying," Rebeccah Heinrichs, a senior fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute, tweeted.
"It appears that our moderator for the next debate thinks he's dm'ing with Scaramucci but accidentally tweeted at him. I'm sure he'll be a fair and unbiased moderator," Daily Caller's Greg Price said.
"What? Why is the next presidential debate moderator publicly asking one of Trump’s staunchest critics in Anthony Scaramucci if he should respond to the president? In a related story, Scully once interned for Sen. Joe Biden. Optics here are horrible & underscore mistrust is media," The Hill media reporter Joe Concha tweeted.
Scaramucci seemed to offer him advice on how to deal with the president.
"Ignore. He is having a hard enough time. Some more bad stuff about to go down."
Responding to both Scully and Scaramucci's tweets, White House deputy communications director Brian Morgenstern told "Fox News @ Night" anchor Shannon Bream that "if anybody is having a bad week, it's certainly the presidential debate commission."
"Now their chosen moderator certainly seems not to be very impartial," Morgenstern told Bream. "The first one. Susan Page, of course, is writing the glowing biography of Speaker Pelosi and now Mr. Scully, who interned for Joe Biden, now colluding to use the word the Democrats love with the Mooche, who, you know, I love The Mooche, but he's gone way off the deep end. He is a wild-eyed critic of the president at this point. And now to have a debate moderator seeking his advice. I think the cat's out of the bag. I don't think Mr. Scully is impartial. So that really calls into question, again, the debate commission's judgment here."
Neither the Commission on Presidential Debates nor C-SPAN immediately responded to Fox News' requests for comment.
A spokesperson for Twitter told Fox News "We've no comment" when asked to confirm whether or not Scully's account was hacked.
However, according to the commission's co-chairman Frank Fahrenkopf, Scully's account was "hacked."
"Steve is a man of great integrity, okay?" Fahrenkopf said on "The Brian Kilmeade Show" Friday. "I don't know this question about whether he tweeted something out or not, I do know, and you'll probably pick up on it in a minute, that he was hacked... Apparently, there's something now that's been on television and the radio saying that he talked to Scaramucci... He was hacked. It didn't happen."
Fox News reached out to the Commission on Presidential Debates for clarification as to whether or not Fahrenkopf was definitively saying Scully was hacked. Fox News also reached out to C-SPAN for confirmation.
Scully's credibility as an unbiased debate moderator was previously questioned after it became known that he previously served as an intern for then-Senator Biden and served as a staffer for the late Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy.
Another tweet of Scully's from the 2016 election showed him sharing a New York Times op-ed titled, "No, Not Trump, Not Ever."
Trump pulled out of the Scully-moderated debate after the Commission on Presidential Debates unilaterally announced that it would be turning the Miami town hall into a virtual event as the president continues his recovery from the coronavirus.
Biden subsequently withdrew from the debate and has since already scheduled an ABC News town hall scheduled for the night that the debate was supposed to take place.