Project Veritas' CNN Sting Doesn't Cut Through

This post has been edited to remove certain points after they were disputed by representatives of Project Veritas.

James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas has released its latest video exposing liberal media hypocrisy. And just like the rest of his sting operations, it’s totally listless.

The organization’s newest expose features a CNN technical director saying the network peddled anti-Trump propaganda. During fake Tinder dates set up by Veritas, the CNN employee detailed how they tried making Joe Biden look more animated and Trump seem more lifeless in their election coverage. Rep. Matt Gaetz has already tweeted about it, and many have encouraged Trump to use the video as evidence to sue CNN for defamation.

But like every dumb Project Veritas sting operation, this has some major holes for poking. This story’s flaw is incredibly obvious off the bat: it surprises absolutely no one. Of course CNN had an anti-Trump bent; he’d spent the last four-plus years berating its journalists and calling the network fake news. Cable news’ coverage of Trump was always a little exaggerative or dramatic, often to its detriment. But that’s just the nature of what exactly cable news is. Is it a good look? No. Is it an indictment of cable news in general? Sure. But cable news is inherently partisan and everyone knows it. It’s not unfair to call it hypocrisy, but it’s a hypocrisy that exists across the board. If Project Veritas decided to sting a Fox News producer, the results would’ve been the same in the other direction.

It’s not just clear political bias that makes this latest Veritas video a flop, though. According to some who have worked in cable news, a technical director doesn’t really have a ton of say when it comes to content. That doesn’t necessarily mean that this person wouldn’t know CNN’s general editorial objectives. But combined with the fact that he was on a date—a setting where people regularly exaggerate things about their lives, especially their jobs—and this sting loses its potency.

Veritas has tried this exact type of media exposé before, and with similar results. Catching a CNN producer saying the network’s Russia investigation coverage was “mostly bullshit” in 2017 could’ve been a bombshell, but it wasn’t for the same exact reason this isn’t. It didn’t reveal any new information or anything particularly shocking. There’s plenty of hard news, but bullshit filler coverage is the name of the game on 24-hour cable news newtorks. And to call out dishonesty on one side, you at least have to acknowledge the dishonesty on both.

There’s plenty of room to criticize cable news for how it covers certain issues. Or how some stories become headline news while others fall through the cracks. But Project Veritas has no credibility to make that criticism. It turns out years of failed sting operations can really mess with your journalistic reputation, especially if you didn’t have one to begin with. Veritas is completely astroturfed and usually times its alleged bombshells to offset unsavory news stories. It’s no surprise to see Gaetz boosting this less than a week after his sex trafficking saga was exposed. The grift is so obvious it hurts.

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