CNN viewers are accustomed to seeing a partisan agenda communicated from on-air hosts and pundits throughout the day, but those talking points appear to be coming directly from the top.
As investigative journalist James O’Keefe revealed in his latest report, the cable news network’s staff routinely discusses the political slant of its new coverage of President Donald Trump and other notable figures on the right.
Pulling back the veil
After O’Keefe’s Project Veritas released audio recordings of a conference call including CNN President Jeff Zucker, the network reportedly contacted law enforcement to report the perceived crime.
A self-styled “guerilla journalist,” O’Keefe crashed Zucker’s call on Tuesday morning and informed everyone in the meeting that he had been listening and recording for roughly two months. The network head then abruptly ended the call.
— James O’Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) December 1, 2020
The recordings reveal Zucker and his editorial team discussing how to cover Trump, among others, including Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
In one meeting, Zucker advises staffers not to “normalize” Trump’s behavior during his recovery from a COVID-19 infection.
“This is a president who knows he’s losing, who knows he’s in trouble, is sick, maybe is on the aftereffects of steroids or not,” Zucker said. “I don’t know. But he is acting erratically and desperately, and we need to not normalize that.”
“May be a felony”
In the final weeks of the presidential campaign, Zucker can also be heard downplaying the significance of a brewing controversy regarding the contents of a laptop that reportedly belonged to Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s son.
“Obviously, we’re not going with the New York Post story right now on Hunter Biden,” CNN political director David Chalian said.
CNN was clearly angered by the breach, tweeting that O’Keefe’s disclosure “may be a felony” and that the network “referred it to law enforcement.”
For his part, O’Keefe told Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity that his report provides a glimpse into the inner workings of the network, adding: “To see the president of a media conglomerate barking orders at his reporters and journalists, telling them what to cover, what not to cover. That’s not anything resembling journalism I know.”