Project Veritas, which is led by investigative reporter James O’Keefe, released an undercover video that shows a supervising producer at CNN saying that reporting on the probe into supposed Russian meddling in American electoral politics is "mostly bullshit," even while it provides great viewing ratings. In an introduction to the video, O'Keefe said it was first in a series dubbed "American Pravda."
In the covertly recorded video, CNN producer John Bonifield said his network's focus on potential ties between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia is based on ratings. "I mean, it's mostly bullshit right now. Like, we don't have any big giant proof," Bonifield said. It is not clear when he made the statement. "And so I think the president is right to say, like, ‘Look, you are witch-hunting me. You have no smoking gun. You have no real proof,'" Bonifield said.
Bonifield averred that ratings motivate CNN’s focus on the media narrative about Russian political interference. When he was asked why CNN aired so much coverage on Russia, he said, “It's ratings." He added, "Our ratings are incredible right now." It was upper management at CNN, Bonifield said, that brought the focus on Russian In recalled a case in which CNN President Jeff Zucker called on staff to focus on the Paris climate accord for a day and a half before returning to Russia. "The CEO of CNN said in our internal meeting, he said, ‘Good job everybody covering the climate accords, but we're done with it. Let's get back to Russia,'" Bonifield said.
Bonifield asserted that business trumps journalism at CNN. "All the nice cutesy little ethics that used to get talked about in journalism school, you're just like, ‘That's adorable, that's adorable. This is a business,'" he said. "They gotta do what they gotta do to make their money," Bonifield added. "And so I love the news business, but I am very cynical about it. At the same time, so are most of my colleagues."
If CNN had strongly scrutinized Barack Obama, Bonifield asserted that the network’s liberal viewers would have turned off.
Meanwhile, O'Keefe said CNN has thus exposed "editorial bias and anti-Trump agenda." He then concluded with a discussion about CNNs retraction of a recent story tying a Trump associate to a Russian financial group. He called the journalists who resigned as a result "victims of fake news."