During Hillary Clinton’s turn on the mic at last night’s Democratic Town Hall on CNN, one Iowa student may have accidentally let it slip that his question wasn’t actually his own.
Brett Rosengren, a student from Logan, Iowa, identified himself as an undecided voter when CNN’s Chris Cuomo called on him. He then nervously referred to Clinton as “Secretary Sanders” by mistake before laughing nervously and saying, “I can see why they gave you this question.” The question, by the way, was a softball asking Clinton who her favorite president was.
— Samantha Hill (@HeySamanthaHill) January 26, 2016
So…they? Who’s they?
Twitter wondered aloud whether or not CNN planted the question, as well. Fox News contributor Richard Grennell suggested the entire event was scripted by CNN. Other observers, like Jim Swift of The Weekly Standard, simply responded with “wut.”
oops. "I can see why they gave you this question" says a young man asking a question….was he handed this question? is CNN scripting this?
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) January 26, 2016
"I can see why they gave you this question" Uh… did that young man just admit CNN wrote all these questions? #DemTownHall
— Iowa Starting Line (@IAStartingLine) January 26, 2016
— Jarrett Seltzer (@JarrettSeltzer) January 26, 2016
"I can see why they gave you this question" ???? Wut.
— Jim Swift (@JSwiftTWS) January 26, 2016
In his defense, Brett claims the question was his own, and that nobody coerced him into writing it. The poor kid’s phone probably blew up with texts after the event, prompting him to clear the record in one conversation now made public.
Fair enough, Brett. But we should point out this isn’t the first time the Clinton campaign has been accused of planting questions ahead of public events, particularly in Iowa.
A video from 2008 recently resurfaced, in which CNN interviewed a Grinnell College student named Muriel Gallo about her experience asking then-Senator Hillary Clinton a question at a public, televised town hall.
According to Gallo, the Clinton campaign was offering free rides to students who wanted to attend the event. Gallo was psyched when a campaign aide asked if she wanted to ask Clinton a question. But a Clinton “senior staffer” was not as psyched when Gallo told him what she wanted to ask.
“He asked me if there was any question I wanted to ask. I thought about it, and I said, ‘Can I ask how her energy plan compares to the other candidates’ energy plans?’ And he said, ‘Well, I don’t think that’s a good idea, because I don’t know how familiar she is with the other plans.’ And then he showed me in his binder, he had a piece of paper that had typed-out questions on it. And the top on this plan, it said, specifically for a college student. It said, like, [COLLEGE STUDENT].
“When I asked how it worked, he said, ‘Raise your hand, when she asks for questions, raise your hand and she’ll call on you.’ So, I mean, I don’t know for sure that she knew in advance. But there were like, 200 people there, and like, everyone was raising their hand. I was one out of four. That doesn’t seem random, exactly.
“But they had typed out on the paper, it said [COLLEGE STUDENT] in brackets. And then the question was, ‘As a young person, I’m concerned about the long-term effects of global warming. How does your plan combat climate change?'”
Burning questions still remain: Was Brett’s question surreptitiously planted by CNN to benefit Hillary Clinton as part of the vast corporate media conspiracy against Bernie Sanders? Did Clinton conspire with CNN to set up softballs for her and “gotcha” questions for her rival? Was Brett just expressing astonishment that the question he pre-wrote was given to Clinton? Was the third shot fired from the grassy knoll?
We may never know.