CNN’s heavily promoted Democratic debate on Tuesday comes on the same day as a second batch of undercover recordings is putting an emphasis on the network’s political bias.
Project Veritas, whose founder, James O'Keefe, describes himself as a “guerrilla journalist,” built up the release on social media with an “#ExposeCNN” hashtag. The CNN/New York Times Democratic presidential debate is scheduled to feature 12 leading 2020 hopefuls duking it out from Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio -- but the latest batch of alleged undercover recordings could indicate which candidates are preferred by CNN brass.
Fox News has not independently verified what Project Veritas says is a clandestine recording of CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker and members of his staff discussing their thoughts on the 2020 presidential race. The network has “already picked its winners and losers,” the Project Veritas narrator says.
“It's incredible that CNN is holding the debate when it's not a neutral referee, it's an advocate for the most-radical leftist policies. The Project Veritas videos are showing CNN for what it has become, the TV headquarters of The Resistance,” Media Research Center Vice President Dan Gainor told Fox News.
CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
CNN’s previous Democratic debate, a two-night summer marathon, was criticized by both sides of the aisle. Viewers complained that CNN’s format did not allow articulate answers because of time restrictions and that questions were specifically designed to create tension between candidates. “It was not CNN’s finest hour,” Poynter’s Tom Jones wrote.
CNN hosts Erin Burnett and Anderson Cooper are set to moderate the follow-up event on Tuesday, along with New York Times editor Marc Lacey. But the debate comes amid another public relations headache for the network.
A person identified as CNN’s senior justice correspondent, Evan Perez, is claimed to be featured on a recording saying “Joe Biden has a problem, because his son was trading in his name.” Another CNN staffer is claimed to be heard saying the network is less fair to candidates Andrew Yang and Amy Klobuchar than other 2020 hopefuls.
“I think they like Warren a lot,” a person identified as CNN Media Coordinator Christian Sierra says in the video. “They’re pro-Warren for now.”
Sierra is also claimed to have said, “They don’t like Tulsi Gabbard” and detailed Cooper’s disdain for Trump. “Every day, he’s always like mocking him and stuff.”
The Project Veritas videos feature now-former CNN satellite uplink technician Cary Poarch (he was fired after the first batch of recordings were released), who secretly recorded some of the network’s morning editorial meetings. Poarch said he still considers himself a Democrat but, “spent many sleepless night” pondering the bias within CNN and hope to ensure a “free and fair” election.
“It’s very obvious. It's an unwritten rule that if you are center, center right, or heaven forbid, full-right Republican Trump supporter, then you are not welcome at CNN,” Poarch said in the second installment of videos.
Zucker is also heard pushing coverage of Kamala Harris’ demand for Twitter to suspend President Trump’s account despite admitting it wasn’t actually going to happen.
“It’s not gonna happen, but it’s a good segment in the show, ‘Should Trump’s Twitter account be suspended?,’ It’s obviously what Kamala Harris has… others are talking about it. Not gonna happen, but it’s a good talk, it’s a good segment,” Zucker said.
Monday’s initial release featured recordings made by Poarch capturing Zucker telling top news executives to focus solely on impeachment even at the expense of other important news.
“I don’t care about the MSNBC event, OK? I don’t care about them. Let’s just stay very focused on impeachment,” a person identified as Zucker says in the recording on the day of an MSNBC town hall event. “We shouldn’t just pretend, oh, this is going one way. And so all of these moves are toward impeachment.”
Poarch said he decided to wear a hidden camera because of CNN's perceived bias, and said he secretly recorded Zucker’s 9 a.m. rundown conference call because the network was “pumping out propaganda.”
“I noticed after… that there was a strong group-think that permeated through the halls and that everyone was onboard the ‘I hate Trump Train,” Poarch said.
Poarch said on “Hannity” during an exclusive interview on Monday night that he no longer works for CNN as a result of the secret recording.
Zucker, who began his career at NBC, rose from researcher all the way to president and CEO of NBC Universal. Along the way, he was responsible for increasing Donald Trump’s fame when he greenlighted “The Apprentice.”
Zucker and the president famously have feuded since Trump’s foray into politics, with the president attacking the liberal network on a regular basis and accusing CNN of unfair coverage. CNN has filled its primetime lineup with anti-Trump opinion hosts and the network’s White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, has made a name for himself by quarreling with members of the administration when they are available to the press.
“Its employees have been opposing the president and pushing for his removal so much that it is obvious it's the corporate position of the network,” Gainor said.
Project Veritas, which frames itself as a conservative whistleblower watchdog group, has previously released what it claims to be hidden camera footage of network news producers, federal politicians and members of private political organizations making statements while unaware they were being recorded.