CNN Swipes at Ted Cruz for 'Running Off to Cancún' After He Mocks Network's Afghanistan Reporting

"Rather than running off to Cancun in tough times, @clarissaward is risking her life to tell the world what's happening. That's called bravery," the network wrote in a reply to Cruz

Ted Cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz. Photo: Jonathan Newton-Pool/Getty

CNN had sharp words for Ted Cruz on Monday after the Texas senator claimed the network was acting as a "cheerleader" for the Taliban during the fall of Afghanistan's government.

The network's communications team swiped at Cruz, 50, after he tweeted about Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward's reporting from Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban takeover and U.S. military withdrawal.

In the seven-minute segment, Ward, who had covered her head, reported from the ground on the rapidly evolving situation in the country, interviewing both Taliban members and Afghan civilians caught up in the conflict.

But Cruz — whose office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment — tweeted an eight-second clip during which Ward tells the camera, "They're just chanting 'death to America,' but they seem friendly at the same time. It's utterly bizarre."

Cruz shared the clip with his followers, writing, "Is there an enemy of America for whom @CNN WON'T cheerlead?" and adding, "(In mandatory burkas, no less.)"

Cruz incorrectly stated that Ward was dressed in a burka in the clip. She was wearing a hijab.

In response to Cruz's tweet, the official CNN communications account responded to the senator's criticism by referencing his Cancún scandal earlier this year.

"Rather than running off to Cancun in tough times, @clarissaward is risking her life to tell the world what's happening. That's called bravery," the network wrote in a reply to Cruz's post. "Instead of RTing a conspiracy theorist's misleading soundbite, perhaps your time would be better spent helping Americans in harm's way."

Cruz was widely criticized for traveling to Mexico in February while his constituents went days without water or heat during a deadly Texas storm.

While Cruz claimed at the time that he was only dropping off his daughters to take a trip with their friends, he later admitted he planned to stay in Cancún for the weekend.

"I started having second thoughts almost the moment I sat down on the plane," he said after he returned to Texas, calling the trip a "mistake."

Ted Cruz during President Joe Biden’s First Address to Congress

The senator's tweet about CNN also drew a response from the network's Phil Mattingly, per USA Today. The journalist called Cruz's comments "embarrassing" and recommended he watch Ward's full segment from Afghanistan.

"Such courage here, firing off an out of context and remarkably out of touch tweet from the safety of one's summer recess. You could list all the ways this is embarrassing, but better to just watch @clarissaward's entire piece," Mattingly wrote, sharing a link to his colleague's reporting.

The Taliban regained control of Afghanistan over the weekend as the U.S. military withdrew as part of a planned exit from the country after 20 years of war sparked by the 9/11 attacks.

In an address to the nation Monday, President Joe Biden acknowledged the criticism of the U.S. military exit but said he stood by his decision to leave.

Still, he called the the scenes in Afghanistan of chaos and panic "gut-wrenching,"

"I'm left again to ask of those who argue that we should stay: How many more generations of America's daughters and sons would you have me send to fight Afghanistan's civil war if Afghan troops will not? How many more lives, American lives, is it worth? How many endless rows of headstones at Arlington National Cemetery?" he said.

"I'm clear on my answer," he said. "I will not repeat the mistakes that we've made in the past."

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