'Astonishing': CNN rips into Ted Cruz for 'categorically false' characterization of Iowa controversy

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Ted Cruz Apologizes to Ben Carson

CNN released a statement on Saturday night decrying debate comments Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) made about a controversy involving his campaign and the Iowa caucuses.

Cruz said CNN's reporting on retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson taking a break from campaigning after the Iowa caucuses earlier this week was wrong, stating that it took the cable news channel hours to correct it.

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'Astonishing': CNN rips into Ted Cruz for 'categorically false' characterization of Iowa controversy
MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 06: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump participates in the Republican presidential debate at St. Anselm College February 6, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Sponsored by ABC News, the Independent Journal Review and Google, this is the final televised debate before voters go to the polls for the New Hampshire primary on February 9. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks during the Republican Presidential Candidates Debate on February 6, 2016 at St. Anselm's College Institute of Politics in Manchester, New Hampshire. Seven Republicans campaigning to be US president are in a fight for survival in their last debate Saturday before the New Hampshire primary, battling to win over a significant number of undecided voters. / AFP / Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump (R) and Chris Christie (L) confer during a break in the Republican Presidential Candidates Debate February 6, 2016 at St. Anselm's College Institute of Politics in Manchester, New Hampshire. Seven Republicans campaigning to be US president are in a fight for survival in their last debate Saturday before the New Hampshire primary, battling to win over a significant number of undecided voters. / AFP / Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) walks past fellow candidate Marco Rubio (L) prior to the start of the Republican Presidential Candidates Debate on February 6, 2016 at St. Anselm's College Institute of Politics in Manchester, New Hampshire. Seven Republicans campaigning to be US president are in a fight for survival in their last debate Saturday before the New Hampshire primary, battling to win over a significant number of undecided voters. / AFP / Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 06: Republican presidential candidate New Jersey Governor Chris Christie participates in the Republican presidential debate at St. Anselm College February 6, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Sponsored by ABC News, the Independent Journal Review and Google, this is the final televised debate before voters go to the polls for the New Hampshire primary on February 9. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 06: Activists calling for a raise in the minimum wage rally outside the last Republican presidential debate before the New Hampshire primaries on February 6, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. New Hampshire voters will vote in the state's republican and democratic primaries on Tuesday, February 9, 2016. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, IA - FEBRUARY 06: People wait in line to enter the Republican presidential debate at St. Anselm College February 6, 2016 in Manchester, Iowa. Sponsored by ABC News, the Independent Journal Review and Google, this is the final televised debate before voters go to the polls in the 'First in the Nation' New Hampshire primary. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 06: Republican presidential candidate Ohio Governor John Kasich takes the stage for the Republican presidential debate at St. Anselm College February 6, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Sponsored by ABC News, the Independent Journal Review and Google, this is the final televised debate before voters go to the polls for the New Hampshire primary on February 9. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 06: Activists calling for a raise in the minimum wage rally outside the last Republican presidential debate before the New Hampshire primaries on February 6, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. New Hampshire voters will vote in the state's republican and democratic primaries on Tuesday, February 9, 2016. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 06: Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) participate in the Republican presidential debate at St. Anselm College February 6, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Sponsored by ABC News, the Independent Journal Review and Google, this is the final televised debate before voters go to the polls for the New Hampshire primary on February 9. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
This multiple exposure picture shows candidates participating in the Republican Presidential Candidates Debate on February 6, 2016 at St. Anselm's College Institute of Politics in Manchester, New Hampshire. Seven Republicans campaigning to be US president are in a fight for survival in their last debate Saturday before the New Hampshire primary, battling to win over a significant number of undecided voters. / AFP / JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
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"They didn't correct that story until 9:15 that night," Cruz said. "Subsequent to that initial report, Ben's campaign put out a statement saying that he was not suspending his campaign. I wish that our campaign staff had forwarded that statement. They were unaware of it."

The night of the caucuses, the Cruz campaign called and sent messages to Iowa precinct captains suggesting that Carson could drop out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination. The messages told the precinct captains that they should encourage people to caucus for Cruz instead.

In its statement, CNN blasted Cruz's characterization of its reporting.

"What Senator Cruz said tonight in the debate is categorically false," the statement read. "CNN never corrected its reporting because CNN never had anything to correct. The Cruz campaign's actions the night of the Iowa caucuses had nothing to do with CNN's reporting. The fact that Senator Cruz continues to knowingly mislead the voters about this is astonishing."

Cruz blamed his campaign's misleading messages on CNN's reporting and apologized to Carson during the Saturday-night debate.

"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 'taking a break' from campaigning," Cruz said at the debate. "They reported that on television, CNN's political anchors ... said it was 'highly unusual' and 'highly significant.' My political team saw CNN's report ... and they forwarded that news to our volunteers."

Cruz ended up winning the Iowa caucuses in an upset over Donald Trump, who came in second place. Carson finished in fourth.

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