MEDIA
01/05/2019 05:08 pm ET Updated Jan 06, 2019

CNN Hits Back After Trump's DHS Denies TSA Workers Are Calling Out Sick Amid Shutdown

President Donald Trump and other administration officials, as per usual, called the network "fake news."

CNN fired back at the Trump administration Saturday after the Department of Homeland Security publicly slammed a recent report that revealed TSA screeners are calling out sick at increased rates amid the government shutdown, which may ultimately lead to less secure airports.

“Security operations at airports have not been impacted by a non-existent sick out,” department spokesperson Tyler Houlton tweeted regarding the story. “CNN has the cell numbers of multiple @TSA public affairs professionals, but rather than validate statistics, they grossly misrepresented them.”

President Donald Trump amplified Houlton’s tweet, doubling down on the administration’s go-to “fake news” retort. That was enough for the network to respond via its PR twitter account.

″CNN spoke to numerous TSA & union officials & cited data provided by unions for our report,” the network said Saturday. “TSA itself put out a statement acknowledging increased call-outs after we published. @spoxdhs & @realdonaldtrump may not like the truth but that won’t stop us from reporting. #FactsFirst.”

CNN reported Friday that hundreds of TSA screeners at major U.S. airports have been calling out sick as an alternative to working without pay due to the partial government shutdown. Remaining workers have had to work extra hours to cover the gaps, according to CNN.

And for some employees, it’s not just about protesting the pay freeze. Some have to stay home because they can’t afford childcare.

TSA spokesman Michael Bilello said traveler “wait times remain well within TSA standards,” but admitted that could change if TSA agent absences increase.

And that will happen if the shutdown continues, a union official from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport told CNN.

“This problem of call outs is really going to explode over the next week or two when employees miss their first paycheck,” he added.

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