The US Senator came under fire for a “low class” tweet aimed at Ward as she covers the Afghanistan crisis in the chaotic streets of Kabul.
Mr Cruz took to social media to criticise a report in which Ward told viewers “They are chanting Death to America, but they seem friendly at the same time, it is utterly bizarre.”
The politician, who famously left Texas on a Mexican vacation during a winter storm crisis earlier this year, seemingly took offence at Ward’s report on the channel in which she was surrounded by Taliban fighters.
“Is there an enemy of America whom CNN WON’T cheerlead? (In mandatory burkas, no less)” he tweeted.
Ward herself then took to Twitter to clarify that a meme of her reporting with and without a head-covering had nothing to do with the Taliban.
“This meme is inaccurate. The top photo is inside a private compound. The bottom is on the streets of Taliban held Kabul,” she wrote.
“I always wore a head scarf on the street in Kabul previously, though not w/ hair fully covered and abbaya. So there is a difference but not quite this stark.”
And Ward’s employers also defended her in the wake of Mr Cruz’s attack.
“Rather than running off to Cancun in tough times, (Clarissa Ward) is risking her life to tell the world what’s happening. That’s called bravery. Instead of RTing a conspiracy theorist’s misleading soundbite, perhaps your time would be better spent helping Americans in harm’s way,” tweeted the official CNN Communications account.
Mr Cruz’s “malicious” attack on the journalist was quickly criticised by Ward’s colleagues and fellow journalists.
“Low class tweet about a colleague who has put her life on the line throughout the conflict to bring people news. And takes her out of context to boot and maliciously accuses her of cheerleading for the Taliban,” tweeted CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski.
And Maggie Haberman of The New York Times was equally scathing in her response.
“A reporter who has more courage than most elected officials,” she wrote.
“I’d love to see you in Kabul, standing unarmed, amongst a bunch of Talibans, risking your life to bring the news to the world, so some asshat can talk crap about you from a couch in his Washington, DC office … or are you on a chaise-lounge in Cancun?” tweeted @ananavarro.
CNN’s Chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins, was also critical of Mr Cruz.
“What poor taste. Given Clarissa is busy reporting on the ground in Kabul where the government has collapsed and the Taliban has taken over,” she tweeted.
Taliban forces entered Kabul, completing its rapid takeover of the country as the US military completes its withdrawal after 20 years on the ground.
There were chaotic scenes at the city’s airport on Monday as thousands of Afghans got onto the runway to try and force their way onto flights out of the country.
Seven people died as people climbed onto the fuselage of planes trying to takeoff and US troops tried to maintain control of the facility.
Officials say there will be 6,000 US troops at the airport within days as they oversee the departure of embassy staff
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