CNN purposely stoked fears over the Covid-19 pandemic to boost ratings, partly by constantly displaying a death tracker, network technical director Charlie Chester said in the latest undercover video posted by Project Veritas.
“Covid? Gangbusters with ratings, right? Which is why we constantly have the death toll on the side,” Chester said in the video, which was posted on social media on Wednesday.
The CNN employee also revealed that he had mixed feelings about the death tracker. “I’ve even looked at it and been like… let’s make it higher,” he said. “Like, why isn’t it high enough, you know, today? Like, it would make our point better if it was higher. And I’m like, what am I f**king rallying for?”
Chester conceded to the undercover Project Veritas reporter that despite such concerns, hyping fear yields higher ratings, which helps keep him employed. He noted that on many occasions where his director has told him to remove the Covid-19 death tracker from the screen, the network’s chief (Jeff Zucker) has called on a special red “bat phone” to order that it be restored.
“Every so often they put it on speaker, and it’s like the head of network being like, ‘There’s nothing that you’re doing right now that makes me want to stick. Put the numbers back up because that’s the most enticing thing that we had. So put it back up.’”
The latest Project Veritas video was released a day after the undercover news outlet posted a video in which Chester spoke of the network’s focus on getting former President Donald Trump out of office and said it was instrumental, through its propaganda, in getting Democrat Joe Biden elected. He admitted also that because US Representative Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) was a thorn in the side for Democrats, CNN will incessantly air stories that hurt the congressman’s image so the allegations against him won’t be quietly forgotten.
CNN’s coverage of Covid-19 reflected a formula for the way the network capitalizes on news, Chester said. “It’s fear,” he said. “Like, fear really drives numbers.” The technical director added that, while the “happiest” news might cause people to go and spend time with their families, “Fear is the thing that keeps you tuned in, I would imagine. What’s the scariest thing next, you know?”
When CNN puts a good-news segment at the end of a program, Chester added, it’s like “the ice cream to alleviate, you know, like, everything that you’ve been through, like something sweet to end it with, because everything else is like doom and gloom.”
Beyond making fear-based coverage decisions – “if it bleeds, it leads” – CNN often presents its stories in a biased way, Chester admitted. “There’s no such thing as unbiased news,” he said. “It just doesn’t exist. There’s too many agendas. There’s too many people that have jobs, that need to feed families, for it to be unbiased.”
Chester said “grassroots” podcasts, often done out of people’s basements, are the closest thing to unbiased news. Ironically, CNN has pushed for censorship of smaller, independent voices in the name of fighting “misinformation.”
Chester said CNN and rival Fox News are essentially the same in their biases, except they stand on opposing sides of the political spectrum. He added that all CNN reporters are able to manipulate people in interviews – using inflection, repetition, and other techniques — to spin the focus of a story to their liking.
“Listen to the way they ask questions, because they’re not actually asking questions,” he said. “What they’re actually doing is, they’re telling the person what to say. It’s an art form in there. There’s an art form to it.” Chester added that “it’s always like leading them in a direction before they even open their mouths. And the only people that we will let on the air, for the most part, are the people that have a proven track record of taking the bait.”
Such manipulation is powerful enough “to change the world,” Chester said. It worked for CNN in helping to oust Trump, he noted, “but look at the other side, how devastated they were. So, were we the good guys or the bad guys? It depends on which side you were looking at it from, you know?”
Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe said Chester’s comments on the power that CNN wields over its audience should “caution people everywhere who take the journalism at these corporations seriously.” O’Keefe said his outlet’s next video on Chester will show “CNN’s roadmap to the reality that they want you to believe.”
CNN hasn’t yet responded to the videos featuring their supposed employee. Project Veritas posted a video in which O’Keefe confronted Chester at a restaurant, and the CNN staffer refused to comment on his statements.