A new Project Veritas video alleges CBS News footage taken at a coronavirus testing center that was used in a politically tinged report was faked in order to make the line of cars waiting for testing look longer.
And, according to one individual, CBS News “100 percent” and “absolutely” knew about it.
The report came from a witness at the Cherry Medical Center in Grand Rapids who told Project Veritas impresario James O’Keefe that employees were pulled away from their job and made to put their vehicles into the drive-up testing line because CBS News producers were expecting the testing line to look a bit busier.
O’Keefe said in the video, released Wednesday regarding a segment aired during “CBS This Morning” last Friday, that he was told the employees “were taken away from treating patients and making the line longer for actual patients wait for the COVID-19 test.”
“It’s just annoying because we could have done other stuff,” a registered nurse told the insider in the undercover video.
“We knew they were coming. We had no clue that we’re going to have to, like, do fake patients,” the person added.
Another registered nurse, when apparently confronted about the fact the employees weren’t swabbed by the insider, said this: “We pretended. There were a couple of real patients, which made it worse.”
“Apparently the news crew wanted more people in the line because they knew it was scheduled,” a corporate cleaning supervisor said.
Cherry Health President and CEO Tasha Blackmon — who was interviewed by CBS News as part of the segment — denied there was any fakery involved.
“We and CBS News had nothing to do with that line,” she said.
In the interview, Blackmon said they needed more N95 respirator masks and gowns — something that could have potentially been undermined if there was a lack of cars.
However, CBS News has admitted there was fakery in the footage — but claims it was not involved.
The network said it was informed of the employees being forced to get into line at the facility after it was contacted by Project Veritas regarding the allegations. CBS News said it, in turn, contacted Cherry Health, which admitted the line of cars wasn’t quite what it seemed.
“CBS News did not stage anything at the Cherry Health facility. Any suggestion to the contrary is 100% false. These allegations are alarming,” CBS News President Susan Zirinsky said in a statement.
“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.”
Here’s the original piece, via Newsbusters:
If the witness is accurate, however, this might not be entirely factual, either. According to the nurse, “the line sat there for a while so they could organize the shot.” If true, it would indicate CBS News was aware the footage it was getting wasn’t entirely genuine — even if only that the line was being delayed.
This is just some B-roll video — footage that, at least in this context, plays over a story being read so you feel more grounded in what’s being said and don’t have to look at anchors reading off a teleprompter. Faking B-roll footage, particularly with the number of people who would have to be involved in faking it, would seem an odd risk-reward choice for a news organization.
Then again, CBS News already was caught using B-roll footage of a hospital from Italy’s hardest-hit city by the coronavirus in a story about New York City.
In that case, there was a perceived political aspect for New York appearing to have an overwhelmed health care system — namely, making President Donald Trump look bad.
In this case, there was a political aspect to appearing to have a long line, which wasn’t altogether dissimilar.
“Michigan’s Republican-led legislature has voted to sue the state’s Democratic governor to stop her extending the coronavirus state of emergency there. Hundreds of protesters, some of them with guns, gathered at the state Capitol yesterday demanding an end to emergency restrictions,” co-host Anthony Mason said during the report.
“Only six states have reported more cases than Michigan, but fewer than two percent of its people have been tested for the virus,” co-host Gayle King said.
One of the issues the GOP legislature and protesters have, however, is that cases outside of a few urban hotspots aren’t particularly widespread. Thus, extending the lockdown in a very large state is problematic.
Is this reason to make testing lines look longer in order to create the impression of a testing bottleneck?
Again, if Project Veritas’ witness is accurate — and that’s indeed a matter of some question, although what he exposed has already been proved to be true in some measure — CBS News has a bit more to answer for. This, after all, is how fake narratives spread.
Whether they choose to answer it or not is another question entirely.
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