Makers of CNN Sting Videos Say Mainstream Media Is ‘On Notice’

CNN Jimmy Carr
Courtesy of Project Veritas

Project Veritas is dangling the prospect that it will release even more undercover videos that target mainstream news organizations. This news comes after the release this week of a series of secretly recorded conversations of CNN staffers.

Stephen Gordon, communications strategist for the group, said that earlier this year they “put a whole list of news organizations on notice.” He cited a statement made by the group’s founder, James O’Keefe, earlier this year at a Trump inaugural event, that “we are putting the mainstream media on notice.”

Russell Verney, the executive director of the group, said that they had no plans for major video released over the weekend, given the pending July 4 holiday.

In the latest video, a CNN associate producer, identified as Jimmy Carr, is heard calling Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, an “awful woman” and saying that she “looks like she got hit by a shovel.” In the video, Carr also is heard calling American voters “stupid as sh–.”

The video appeared to have been recorded at New York’s Landmarc restaurant in the Time Warner Center, where CNN has its New York headquarters. Carr, an associate producer on CNN’s morning show “New Day,” is drinking a beer as he converses with another man identified only as “PV Journalist 1.” CNN declined to comment. Earlier this week, CNN said in a statement that employees were entitled to their opinions.

Verney said that “as a general policy, we do research into where we want to do a story, and look for individuals we want to find information about online.” He said that Carr “probably wasn’t the first one approached” as they pursued the videos, and that what they were doing is working “our way up the chain.”

“A dream come true would be to have an undercover journalist at editorial board meetings every day,” he said.

Also this week, Project Veritas released another video of a second CNN producer, John Bonifield, who works in the health unit, in which he criticized the network’s focus on the Trump-Russia ties. And in yet another video, CNN commentator Van Jones is featured saying he believes the Russia investigation is a big “nothing burger.”

Gordon said that the footage released about CNN so far was all shot during the month of June.

Jones, in an op-ed for CNN.com, said that he was caught making the comment outside of CNN’s Los Angeles bureau. He called O’Keefe a purveyor of posting “fake, doctored videos.”

“Did I mean that there is ‘nothing’ to the allegations that members of Team Trump colluded with the Russians and then tried to cover it up by firing FBI director James Comey? No — and far from it,” he said. “But that’s not what I was talking about. I have been consistently pushing my fellow Democrats to deal with bread and butter issues — and not just hope and believe Trump will be impeached and gone tomorrow. I have been beating this drum for weeks now.”

O’Keefe first gained notoriety in 2009, when he released videos of workers at activist group ACORN offices, in which employees appear to be offering advice to he and an associate on how to evade legal detection. In 2013, O’Keefe settled a lawsuit filed by an ACORN employee, Juan Carlos Vera, who said that the O’Keefe videos failed to point out that after he and his associate visited the ACORN offices, he called the police to report them. Vera cited California law prohibiting the recording of conversations without the consent of all of the parties. (Washington D.C. and New York, by contrast, require just one-party consent).

Still, the videos had a huge impact on ACORN, as Congress voted to freeze funds in the immediate aftermath of O’Keefe’s video release.

Project Veritas has targeted news organizations before, including NPR. In 2011, two NPR executives resigned after they were caught on tape criticizing members of the Tea Party. The NPR executives were recorded in a lunchtime meeting with members of a fake Muslim group, on the guise that they were prospective donors. The recording stirred a new round of calls from some Capitol Hill to cut public radio funding, although that never happened.

Project Veritas is a 501(c)3 non profit organization, and it solicits contributions on its website. According to an IRS Form 990 filing posted by Foundation Center, it describes itself as a training, investigative, and educational entity. According to the filing, it collected $3.7 million in contributions and grants in 2015, the most recent year of reporting, and had total expenses of $3.1 million. O’Keefe, who is its chairman, is listed as its highest compensated employee, at $235,471.

According other filings, its donors include Donors Trust Inc., which contributed $594,000 in 2015. The group makes grants to charities that promote “limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise.”