Sen. Marco Rubio‘s communications director Alex Conant saw Jamie Gangel‘s report on CNN around 5:30 p.m. and rushed across Washington to go on with Wolf Blitzer to shoot it down.
Gangel reported that sources inside the Rubio campaign thought it might be wise for the senator to drop out of the race to stave off the embarrassment of losing his home state of Florida next week.
“Jamie’s report was utter nonsense,” Conant said. “It’s absolutely, 100 percent false. CNN is doing a disservice to voters by airing that sort of reporting without even checking with the campaign,” Conant fumed to Blitzer, who pressed on.
“Wolf, I have a lot of respect for you, but I’m going to ask you to stop reading that sort of fiction on air because it’s not true at all. That’s fiction and CNN should stop reporting it.” (They didn’t. Gangel was back on at the top of Erin Burnett’s show at 7 p.m., reporting it again.)
Blitzer said he assumed Gangel or her team checked with the campaign.
“She did not,” Conant said. “How did that get to air without somebody asking the campaign for comment?”
A CNN spokesperson says, “CNN had multiple sources on this reporting, and we stand by it 100 percent.”
Before too long the sarcastic hashtag #CNNHeadlines, ginned up mostly by Rubio supporters, was trending:
Breaking: Manti Teo’s Girlfriend Confirmed As Source In CNN Story #CNNHeadlines
— Cabot Phillips (@cabot_phillips) March 8, 2016
According to a source Fox News and MSNBC to merge. #CNNHeadlines
— I’m With Rubio (@ImWithRubio) March 8, 2016
Breaking: President Obama to endorse Donald Trump for President #CNNHeadlines
— Evan Young (@real_EvanYoung) March 7, 2016