Project Veritas released a covert video featuring Nick Dudich, who works for The New York Times as Audience Strategy Editor. Using his power as a “gatekeeper” to influence news, Dudich boasted on camera, "I can choose what goes out and what doesn't go out." The video is titled American Pravda: Part II.
Dudich said, "As an editor, I'm a gatekeeper so I can choose what goes out and what doesn't go out. And let's say we wrote something about Facebook negatively... We actually just did a video about Facebook negatively, and I chose to put it in a spot that I knew wouldn't do well." He went on to say that his friends in Silicon Valley and YouTube help the videos he posts to trend on Internet searches. He protects his Silicon Valley friends and advances his personal biases in conflict with his employment with The New York Times and its stated mission, said a statement by Project Veritas.
But when asked by an undercover Veritas reporter whether it is good for business to have friends in Silicon Valley, Dudich replied, "Yeah. Very good. Very, very good." However, Dudich did not reveal to NYT his connections to Silicon Valley, saying "they don't know it's just because my friends curate the front page." He said that he did not want NYT to know exactly what he does to accomplish his job.
In this second such video released by Project Veritas, Dudich boasted of manipulating social media while keeping the New York Times in the dark. "Let's say something ends up on the YouTube front page, New York Times freaks out about it, but they don't know it's just because my friends curate the front page. So, it's like, a little bit of mystery you need in any type of job to make it look like what you do is harder than what it is." In the video, he noted how he was able to suppress a video by The New York Times that was critical of Facebook.
The video also recorded a chat with Earnest Pettie, who is the Brand and Diversity Curation Lead at YouTube. He and Dudich worked together at Fusion ABC. Pettie regularly helps push Dudich's videos to the top of Internet searches. He described Dudich as "one of the people I think who has more knowledge about YouTube as a platform than probably anyone else that I know." In the video, Pettie is wearing a sweatshirt bearing the words "Black Lives Matter" along with the Google logo.
Pettie claimed that The New York Times benefits from its relationship with YouTube. "There are things that exist in the product that, like, are definitely optimized for news. Now, like last night if you searched for Hugh Hefner, there's the search results but then there's also... A carousel comes up with a page that's just news videos.” Carousels are offerings of suggested videos on the first page of YouTube.
Pettie noted that when Internet users are searching for a “newsy” topic, YouTube gives them “newsy” videos on the basis of YouTube’s relationships with “legitimate news” media.
When the Project Veritas interviewer asked him about the use of algorithms to hide content, Pettie said YouTube is able to push what he regards as "legitimate news" to the top of searches. "Realistically, that's what the... that's what the news carousel kind of does. So like, it's above the search results so, at the very least, we can say this shelf of videos from news partners is legitimate news because we know that these are legitimate news organizations. And if at that point, somebody decides they're going to scroll past that and go find Alex Jones, well, they were looking for him to begin with anyway." Alex Jones is the founder and lead personality of InfoWars, a radio and internet media concern that has been supportive of President Donald Trump and which has been accused by progressives and Democrats of peddling conspiracy theories.
The founder of Project Veritas, James O’Keefe, asked rhetorically, "Which organizations have YouTube bestowed with the title of 'legitimate?'" He added, "If YouTube is going to get in the news business, they're going to have to answer for the sins of their news partners." Responding to an earlier video released by Project Veritas that also featured Dudich, The New York Times said that a “recent hire in a junior position” had violated the company’s “ethical standards and misrepresented his role.” The paper stated that it is investigating.
Conservative media organizations have complained recently about both Google and YouTube. Spero News, for example, has seen its videos demonetized by YouTube. In addition, web searches for news drive Spero News off the first page of Google web search results.