CBS News has admitted that a video it recently aired was at least partially staged, and has subsequently removed it from its website.
The network is denying, however, that it was aware of the staging before running the clip.
The crux of the issue is a May 1 piece by CBS set at Cherry Medical Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The story was about the crowd conditions at health care providers because of the coronavirus.
The piece included a clip of vehicles lined up for COVID-19 testing, which seemed to show that the medical center was busy. But in reality, the line was a scripted bit of theater for the camera, according to Project Veritas.
“Our insider witnessed the whole thing and came to Project Veritas, because he knew we would protect him,” James O’Keefe, the founder and CEO of the organization, said. “The insider told us that medical personnel were taken away from treating patients and making the line longer for actual patients wait for the COVID-19 test.”
According to Project Veritas, O’Keefe said he asked the insider: “You’re telling me you’re a hundred percent certain that CBS News, CBS News Corporation — national — staged a fake event. They faked the news. They faked the reality and broadcasted that to all of their audience last Friday on ‘CBS This Morning.’”
O’Keefe said the insider replied, “a hundred percent. Absolutely.”
Project Veritas quoted its insider, whose name was not used, as saying, “based on my knowledge, CBS News had asked Cherry Health to fabricate a line to obtain newsworthy footage, I was given this knowledge from a colleague at Cherry Health.”
“After reviewing their response, I can say definitively that the majority of the line shown in their footage is fake. After CBS had gotten the shot they wanted the entire line dispersed and drove in separate directions,” the insider said.
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“Some did U-turns, others parked in nearby parking and the rest just drove through the testing site without being tested,” the insider went on.
“As I stated previously, the nurses did exclaim frustration as it caused an unduly long wait time for a patient that actually needed the testing.”
An accompanying video included a comment from a man labeled as Nick Ross and identified as a corporate cleaning site supervisor at the facility.
“Apparently the news crew wanted more people in the line because they knew it was scheduled,” he said.
“We pretended. There were a couple of real patients, which made it worse,” Alison Mauro-Lantz, a registered nurse, was recorded on hidden camera as saying.
“We had no clue that we’re going to have to, like, do fake patients,” another woman identified as a nurse says in the video.
But when Project Veritas asked Cherry Health President and CEO Tasha Blackmon, she said the facility never created a line for the cameras.
“We and CBS News had nothing to do with that line,” Blackmon said.
CBS said it never did such a thing, and pointed the finger at the medical center.
“CBS News did not stage anything at the Cherry Health facility. Any suggestion to the contrary is 100% false. These allegations are alarming,” the network said in a statement to Project Veritas.
“We reached out to Cherry Health to address them immediately. They informed us for the first time that one of their chief officers told at least one staffer to get in the testing line along with real patients. No one from CBS News had any knowledge of this before tonight. They also said that their actions did not prevent any actual patients from being tested. We take the accuracy of our reporting very seriously and we are removing the Cherry Health portion from the piece.”
But Blackmon said she was innocent of any subterfuge.
“Let me be clear: We are not aware of CBS staging anything as part of their visit to our site,” she said. “I have never spoken with the president of CBS, or any other CBS executive.”
“I can assure you that I did not instruct any staff to get in their cars and line up and I have no idea when it was filmed or who was in each car.”
“@Project_Veritas is a controversial media watchdog which has employed questionable tactics. But it may be on to something with its claim that a recent @CBSNews report included medical staff posing as patients waiting for coronavirus tests.” – @FreemanWSJ https://t.co/kfhOdeYtHQ
— James O’Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) May 6, 2020
O’Keefe said no one should be surprised at seeing fake news on TV.
“How many more stories have staged events to support a media outlet’s narrative,” he said. “CBS News was caught because someone stepped forward. We need more insiders to come forward — especially as our leaders make decisions during this pandemic based on what they see in the news.”
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