SHOCK: After Cruz Declines Debate Offer, CNN Gives Opponent Full Hour of Free Coverage

Network previously made headlines for leaking questions to Clinton campaign….

Senators Led by Ted Cruz Petition McConnell for Expedited Floor Proceedings

Ted Cruz/Photo by Gage Skidmore (CC)

(Anna M. Tinsley, Fort Worth Star-Telegram) CNN claims it is shining a light on three of the “most consequential races” in 2018—including the Texas bid for U.S. Senate—through debates or town halls in the coming weeks.

But Texans won’t get to see incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso face off in this series.

“Sen. Ted Cruz (R) declined CNN’s invitation to participate in the town hall,” a CNN statement noted.

So O’Rourke will be featured in a live, one-hour town hall with CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash in South Texas on Oct. 18.

The Cruz campaign did not immediately respond Tuesday afternoon to a request on why the senator will not participate. However, the notoriously imbalanced CNN made national headlines during the 2016 presidential race after one of its correspondents, Democratic operative Donna Brazille, leaked the questions to the Hillary Clinton campaign.

The network, often referred to as “fake news” by President Donald Trump, recently took heat from prominent former news anchor Ted Koppel and others for its reliance on panel discussions and commentary about Trump over substantive news coverage.

The other two races that will be featured in CNN debates: Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott in a U.S. Senate debate. That debate will air Oct. 16. And Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis and Democrat Mayor Andrew Gillum in an Oct. 21 Florida gubernatorial debate.

Cruz and O’Rourke, who did participate in a Sept. 21 debate at Southern Methodist University, are expected to square off at least one more time in an Oct. 16 debate in San Antonio.

It has become one of the costliest and most watched races across the country, with O’Rourke bringing in substantial outside money as the Democrats hope to encroach on the deep-red stronghold for the first time in many years.

O’Rourke, a former punk-rocker, has raised eyebrows for a series of arrests in his youth–and into his 20s–on drug, alcohol and theft-related charges.

(c)2018 Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.