Project Veritas, a right leaning group known for its undercover journalism, released a series of videos on Tuesday which they claim shows a CNN staffer characterizing the network’s coverage as “propaganda” and that it had a mission to “get Trump out.”
The staffer, whom Project Veritas claims is CNN technical director Charles Chester, said he believed some of what the channel did amounted to “propaganda,” that the network painted a bad picture of Trump, and has targeted Trump allies like Rep. Matt Gaetz.
Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk tweeted a teaser of the undercover video on Monday. Project Veritas’ full video can be found at the bottom of this article.
Undercover videos sometimes are deceptive in how they are edited and sometimes fail to fairly include the words spoken in their proper context – and Project Veritas has been accused of such in the past. Comments made by Chester in the videos show him speaking in complete sentences at length.
As is the case with videos made from source material captured from hidden cameras, one should approach the final product with a healthy dose of caution. Post-production editing is a dark art that can materially change the meaning and context of many things that seem obvious at first blush. (See Daily Show field segments from the aughts as an example.) But in this instance, there are enough examples of full and complete comments made by Chester that were clearly not crafted out of thin air, or misleading editing tricks.
In one portion of the video, Chester claimed that CNN was “creating a story” that made viewers question Trump’s health that “we didn’t know anything about.”
“Trump was, I don’t know, like shaking his hand or whatever… we brought in like so many medical people to like all tell a story that, like, it was all speculation that he was like neurologically damaged, that he was losing it, he’s unfit to, you know, whatever,” Chester said.
“We were creating a story that we didn’t know anything about,” he admitted. “That’s what – that’s what I think, that’s propaganda.”
Conversely, Chester said CNN strived to make Biden look healthy.
“We would always show shots of him jogging… him in his aviator shades and like you paint him as a young geriatric,” Chester said of Biden.
Chester also made claims to the effect that CNN is deliberately targeting pro-Trump Florida Republican Matt Gaetz.
Asked by the undercover journalist, “Does CNN use propaganda?” Chester responds, I don’t know. I, yeah, I…”
The journalist asks, “OK, can you define propaganda for me? Like I think I know, but what’s the mechanism?”
“If the agenda, say, is to get, like, Matt Gaetz right now, he’s like this Republican,” Chester began. “He’s a problem for the Democratic Party because he’s so conservative, right? And he can cause a lot of hiccups in passing of laws and whatnot. So, it would be great for the Democratic Party to get him out. So we’re going to keep running those stories to keep hurting him and make it so that it can’t be buried and, like, just settled outside of court. And just like, you know, if we keep pushing that, it’s helping us.”
Chester said, “That’s propaganda because it’s helping us in some way.”
“If the agenda say, is to get @mattgaetz right now, he’s like this Republican. He’s a problem for the Democratic Party…So we’re(@CNN) going to keep running these stories to keep hurting him.” pic.twitter.com/6Gjr8R7Eh5
Fox News reports that CNN has not responded to a request for comment about the story.
Who Is Chester?
The Sinclair Broadcast Group says they have been “unable to confirm the identity of Chester, and CNN has not yet responded to our requests for comment or provided confirmation of the man’s employment with the 24-hour news channel.”
Sinclair also says “Chester reportedly does not have any say in the channel’s content direction.”
According to Mediaite, “A source close to CNN tells Mediaite that Chester was targeted by Project Veritas via the dating app Tinder, in which his dating profile included CNN.”
Framing their work as that of a whistleblower watchdog group, Project Veritas has released many videos over the years in which the group claims to have caught figures of significance saying newsworthy things while not realizing they are being recorded.
And it’s not Project Veritas’ first run-in with CNN.
In February, founder James O’Keefe said he was going to “sue the hell” out of CNN over CNN anchor Ana Cabrera labeling Project Veritas an “activist group.”
In 2020, the group also released video they claim shows CNN’s private internal morning editorial conferences. The Washington Post reports that CNN believed such recordings may have broken the law.
Project Veritas says that Tuesday’s video is just part one of the a three part #ExposeCNN campaign.