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CBS News has come under fire for a video of a nurse who claimed she quit her job because she was not being protected from coronavirus concerns, before Internet sleuths found that the network may not have properly vetted the story.
On Sunday, CBS News posted a video on Twitter of the teary-eyed nurse who broke down when claiming that she “had to make a difficult decision” and quit her job because America "isn’t prepared" to protect the safety of nurses and medical workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“America is not prepared. And nurses are not being protected,” Imaris Vera said. “I quit my job today. I went into work and I was assigned to a COVID patient on an ICU unit that has been converted to a designated COVID unit. None of the nurses are wearing masks, not even surgical masks in the hallways when they’re giving reports to each other. I had my own N95 mask. I told my manager, I understand we’re short on supplies, but let me protect myself. Let me feel safe.”
“I have family that I have to come home to, and the way things are looking, this isn’t gonna get any better. America is not prepared,” Vera continued. “And nurses are not being protected.”
CBS News’ video featured dramatic music, on-screen graphics and exploded online, accumulating over 8.3 million views on Twitter alone.
One of the viewers was Sen. Bernie Sanders, who shared the video with his 9.5 million followers.
“It is insane that our nurses are being forced to care for the sick without masks and respirators. The Department of Labor must immediately issue emergency workplace standards to protect our health workers, their families, and their patients,” Sanders wrote.
The Federalist examined the video and looked into Vera’s background, noting her Instagram following and condemning CBS.
“The video now appears to be inaccurate. Instead of verifying the legitimacy of the video, CBS added background music and captions to highlight a woman who lied about her workplace situation,” The Federalist’s Chrissy Clark wrote.
“Prior to CBS picking up this video, Imaris posted on her public Facebook page that she has anxiety and bi-polar depression and had not been an employee at the hospital for over a year. She mentioned in her post that she was unsure if she was ready to return to her job,” Clarke added. “Nurses and medical workers are working tirelessly with inadequate protection gear, and they are the real heroes. For an Instagram ‘influencer’ to deliberately misrepresent her career for the instant glorification of internet fame is sickening.”
CBS News posted follow-up tweets on Monday after receiving backlash for not properly vetting Vera and her claims. CBS News first responded to its own video with a disclaimer that Vera had since “clarified her experience” and actually did receive an N95 mask.
"We were each assigned 1 N95 per 1 covid patient’s room but was not allowed to wear it outside of the room, wear our own N95 mask around the Nurses station or Halls, which I came prepared with," Vera wrote, apparently contradicting the viral video.
Writer Jordan Schachtel also condemned the video in a series of tweets.
“So it turns out this video is entirely fraudulent,” he wrote. “She had been on the job for a day or two, after taking a year off to pursue something resembling an Instagram model career, and she ‘quit’ because of the conditions. Deliberate misrepresentation of her career means you cannot take her other statements at face value… she is indeed a nurse, albeit one who hasn't been on the job much. Everything else is lies, exaggerations, and unproven statements.”
Schachtel mocked CBS but added that there are significant issues with the lack of medical supplies in some coronavirus hot spots.
“Point of this thread was to expose a fraud. It is not to undermine arguments that medical professionals need more PPE, masks, etc. We all want the best for all of you on the front lines,” he wrote.
The video was criticized across social media both before and after CBS published the clarification:
CBS News later explained that the hospital confirmed she quit her job, but didn’t explain why she vacated her position.
“The hospital, Northwestern Medicine, acknowledged that Imaris Vera had quit her job, but referred CBS News to Vera as to the details of why,” CBS News tweeted.
Vera has since made her social media accounts private and could not immediately be reached.
CBS News did not immediately respond when asked for comment.