CNN's Kaye Repeats Debunked Claim Scalise Spoke to David Duke Group

In a pre-recorded report on Thursday's New Day, CNN correspondent Randi Kaye repeated a discredited claim that Republican Rep. Steve Scalise 15 years ago spoke to a group founded by white supremacist and former KKK leader David Duke. 

As if the assertion that he spoke to the group were not in dispute, Kaye recalled: "Questions were raised about a speech he gave to a group led by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke back in 2002."

Kaye began the report by recalling that the Republican congressman has a well known love of baseball, and then moved to recounting his history in Congress. The CNN correspondent soon got to the claims about him speaking to white supremacists as she continued: "In 2014, after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary, Scalise jumped into the race. But during that campaign, questions were raised about a speech he gave to a group led by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke back in 2002."

She then added: "Scalise told reporters, 'I detest any kind of hate group. For anyone to suggest that I was involved with a group like that is insulting and ludicrous.'"

Not mentioned was that back in 2015 it was already reported that the man who invited Scalise to speak in 2002 disputed the account that the congressman spoke to Duke's group. The man who booked hotel space for the group's convention, Kenny Knight, has claimed the event Scalise spoke to was a separate event for his local community group which he held in the same hotel as Duke's group to take advantage of the available space. Additionally, a flyer for the convention shows no sign that Scalise was one of the scheduled speakers.

The remainder of Kaye's report informed viewers of the congressman's history of being a "staunch conservative" in Congress.

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Thursday, June 15, New Day on CNN:

6:52 a.m. ET
RANDI KAYE: Scalise represents the First Congressional District of Louisiana. He was elected to the House back in 2008, replacing Bobby Jindal who ran for governor. He later won a tough battle in 2012 to serve as chairman of the most conservative block of Republicans, known as the Republican Study Committee. 

In 2014, after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary, Scalise jumped into the race. But during that campaign, questions were raised about a speech he gave to a group led by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke back in 2002. Scalise told reporters, "I detest any kind of hate group. For anyone to suggest that I was involved with a group like that is insulting and ludicrous."

He went on to be elected House Majority Whip, making him the third most powerful Republican in the House. Congressman Steve Scalise is a staunch conservative -- an advocate of fiscal discipline, lower taxes, and a robust national defense. He supported legislation that would establish English as the official language of the United States, and that would defund Planned Parenthood. He's also worked to protect constitutional rights like freedom of speech. Scalise has often railed against Obamacare.

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): I think you're going to see a proud vote today on the floor by a bunch of members ready to go and rescue people from the failures of Obamacare.

KAYE: He's even tangled with Al Gore over the Cap and Trade energy tax. And in 2010, after the BP oil spill off the coast of his home state of Louisiana, Steve Scalise was quick to take on the White House.

SCALISE: Where is the President? Does he not understand the magnitude of what is probably the worst environmental disaster in the country? And then we get mixed messages from his various cabinet secretaries who come down and they say looks like they're satisfied with the coordination going on.

KAYE: He's a loyal supporter of President Donald Trump, who even recorded a birthday message for Scalise's daughter Madison. ... Before joining Congress, Scalise graduated Louisiana State University and worked as a computer systems engineer. He and his wife Jennifer have two children. And despite his willingness to tackle tough issues, Congressman Steve Scalise never shies away from having some good old Louisiana-style fun. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

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