CNN’s massively dishonest hit on Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) continued on Saturday night during the debate, when Cruz defended himself from accusations that his campaign had deliberately misinformed voters that Dr. Ben Carson was preparing to drop out of the race. Here’s what CNN originally reported just hours before the caucuses:

Tapper: “It’s very unusual, to announce that you’re going home to rest for a few days, not going on to the next site.”

Bash: “Very unusual…Look, if you want to be president of the United States, you don’t go home to Florida. That’s just bottom line, that’s the end of the story. If you want to signal to your supporters that you’re hungry, that you want them to get out and campaign, you have to get out there too, it’s very unusual.”

Tapper: “Very unusual.”

Wolf Blitzer: “Very significant news indeed.”

CNN then tweeted: “After the #IACaucus, @RealBenCarson plans to take a break from campaigning.”

Based on all of this, everyone in the political world assumed – correctly, as it turns out – that Carson was preparing to end his campaign. And the next week, Carson fired half his staff.

Nonetheless, Carson pushed the notion that Cruz had stolen Iowa from him; Donald Trump suggested the same. Even Marco Rubio jumped on board.

Asked about it during the CNN debate on Saturday night, here’s what Cruz said:

Let me tell you the facts of what occurred for those who are interested in knowing. 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." 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…. I regret that subsequently, CNN reported on that -- they didn't correct that story until 9:15 that night. So from 6:30 p.m. to 9:15, that's what CNN was reporting. 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, I wish that they had, that's why I apologized.

Carson then responded that CNN had issued a correction tweet a few minutes later. And CNN released a statement ripping Cruz:

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.

What nonsense. Cruz's team explicitly cited CNN's reporting in its emails. Carson himself has sent emails blaming CNN. Cruz correctly pointed out what happened on CNN, as you can see from the transcript above. And while CNN reporters tweeted that Carson wasn’t dropping out, as did Carson staffers, CNN did not report on air that Carson was staying in the race until later in the evening.

So CNN’s ridiculous ass-covering is just that: ridiculous ass-covering. There’s a reason Carson’s fundraising email sent after the controversy blamed only CNN: “It was yet another example of creating rather than reporting the news, and it’s wrong.”