C-SPAN announced Thursday it had suspended political editor Steve Scully indefinitely after he admitted he lied that his Twitter account was hacked after a message to former Trump aide-turned-adversary Anthony Scaramucci emerged.
Scully, the "Washington Journal" host who was slated to moderate the now-canceled town hall debate between president Trump and Joe Biden, went viral last week after a tweet sent from his account indicated he had reached out to the former White House communications director.
Scully issued his first statement addressing the controversy to CNN following his suspension.
"For several weeks, I was subjected to relentless criticism on social media and in conservative news outlets regarding my role as moderator for the second presidential debate, including attacks aimed directly at my family," Scully wrote. "This culminated on Thursday, October 8th when I heard President Trump go on national television twice and falsely attack me by name. Out of frustration, I sent a brief tweet addressed to Anthony Scaramucci. The next morning when I saw that this tweet had created a controversy, I falsely claimed that my Twitter account had been hacked."
"These were both errors in judgment for which I am totally responsible. I apologize," Scully said.
He continued, "These actions have let down a lot of people, including my colleagues at C-SPAN, where I have worked for the past 30 years, professional colleagues in the media, and the team at the Commission on Presidential Debates. I ask for their forgiveness as I try to move forward in a moment of reflection and disappointment in myself."
C-SPAN also issued a statement, revealing that the network and the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) were made aware about Scully's fabrication on Wednesday.
"We are very saddened by this news and do not condone his actions," C-SPAN said. "Starting immediately, we have placed Steve on administrative leave. After some distance from this episode, we believe in his ability to continue to contribute to C-SPAN."
President Trump touted Scully's suspension on Twitter.
"I was right again!" the president exclaimed. "Steve Scully just admitted he was lying about his Twitter being hacked. The Debate was Rigged! He was suspended from @cspan indefinitely. The Trump Campaign was not treated fairly by the 'Commission'. Did I show good instincts in being the first to know?"
The Hill media reporter Joe Concha pondered if the CPD's decision to scrap the second debate so quickly had anything to do with Scully's false claim.
"One thought on the Scully suspension after lying about getting hacked. The Presidential Debates Commission was very quick to cancel the second debate that would have watched by 70-75 million. No effort was made to find an alternative date. Question is if Scully impacted decision," Concha tweeted.
The CPD did not immediately respond to Fox News' requests for comment.
Both C-SPAN and the CPD initially defended Scully. The day after Scully tweeted at Scaramucci, C-SPAN issued a statement claiming Scully "did not originate the tweet" in question. The statement added that the CPD was investigating the incident "with the help of authorities."
CPD later stated that "it had reported the apparent hack to the FBI and Twitter" as part of its investigation.
A spokesperson for Twitter previously told Fox News "We've no comment" when asked to confirm whether or not Scully's account was hacked.
Scully had a history of blaming "hackers" for posts made on his Twitter account, dating back to 2012 and 2013.
News of Scully's suspension broke on the same night the debate he was to moderate had been scheduled. The event was canceled after Trump pulled out following the CPD's announcement that the event would be virtual. Biden subsequently withdrew from the debate as well.
In lieu of the debate, the candidates will hold dueling town halls which are scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET. Biden's will air on ABC, while Trump's will air on NBC.
Scully's initial tweet caused confusion and fury among critics, with many concluding the moderator meant to send his message to Scaramucci privately.
"@Scaramucci should I respond to trump," Scully wrote in the now-deleted tweet.
Scaramucci responded by telling Scully: "Ignore. He is having a hard enough time. Some more bad stuff about to go down."
Scaramucci told Fox News host Brian Kilmeade last week that he thought Scully's tweet was real, prompting his own response. He tweeted Thursday that Scully's suspension was a "[b]rutal outcome for a silly non political tweet. Nothing objectionable. Cancel culture going too far."
Scully's credibility as an unbiased debate moderator was initially questioned after it became known that he previously worked as an intern for then-Sen. Biden and served as a staffer for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.
During the 2016 campaign, Scully shared a New York Times op-ed headlined, "No, Not Trump, Not Ever."