By Ben Kamisar
CNN is accusing Ted Cruz of "knowingly" misleading voters after he blamed the network for a rumor that Ben Carson was dropping out of the presidential race the day of the Iowa caucuses.
"The Cruz campaign's actions the night of the Iowa caucuses had nothing to do with CNN's reporting," the network said in a statement Saturday night. "The fact that Senator Cruz continues to knowingly mislead the voters about this is astonishing."
Cruz has been under fire after some on his team told Carson supporters their candidate was about to drop out as the caucuses began.
"On Monday night, about 6:30 p.m., CNN reported that Ben was not going from Iowa to New Hampshire or South Carolina. Rather, he was, quote, 'Taking a break from campaigning,'" Cruz said.
"They reported that on television, CNN's political anchors, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash and Wolf Blitzer, said it was highly unusual and highly significant. My political team saw CNN's report breaking news and they forwarded that news to our volunteers, it was being covered on live television."
Cruz went on to say that the network did not clarify it's report and acknowledge that Carson was not dropping out until later that night.
Carson himself pushed back against that claim from Cruz, noting that the network clarified the news on Twitter just minutes after the initial report.
CNN's statement rebuked Cruz.
"What Senator Cruz said tonight in the debate is categorically false. CNN never corrected its reporting because CNN never had anything to correct," CNN said.
A CNN report including the network's statement claims their coverage never speculated about Carson dropping out. Instead, CNN says they only reported that Carson was not going directly to New Hampshire after Iowa, instead heading home first to Florida. CNN called that "very unusual."