The timeline of the CNN and Project Veritas saga

Self-styled anti-corruption nonprofit website Project Veritas took aim at CNN with the aim of backing up the claims of President Donald Trump that the cable network peddles "fake news."

February 23, 2017

Project Veritas, an organization known for its sting operations founded by James O’Keefe, releases undercover audio recording that allegedly expose CNN’s "liberal, anti-Republican, and anti-Fox News bias."

The first audio recording lands with a "dull thud." A CNN spokesperson batted away the O’Keefe’s claims: "I don't think there's anything to comment on."

O’Keefe’s past work has been criticized for deceptive edits that make it virtually impossible to verify, but his crusade continues. That same day he promises a $10,000 award for "content that exposes media malfeasance."

June 27

Veritas releases "America Pravda Part 1," allegedly showing a CNN producer from its medical coverage team criticizing the network’s coverage of the Russian scandal, saying it’s for ratings.

CNN responds by saying it supports its producer and diversity of "personal opinion," and a clapback on Twitter.

The White House uses the moment to attack CNN - first with a tweet, then during the press briefing.

June 28

Veritas releases "America Pravda: CNN Part 2," allegedly showing contributor Van Jones calling the Russia scandal a "nothing burger."

CNN’s PR team gives a one-word response: "LOL." Jones writes a column the next day, calling it "edited, right-wing propaganda."

June 30

In "American Pravda: CNN Part 3," a CNN producer for "New Day" calls American voters "dumb as shit" and says Kellyanne Conway "looks like she got hit with a shovel."

CNN declines to comment to Variety and does not appear to respond to The Hill either.

Hit or miss?

Snark is one effective way to deal with unverified claims about your organization. But sometimes the situation calls for urgency and transparency.

CNN’s initial "LOL" was pithy and to the point, but how out of touch and arrogant will the news outlet appear if more embarrassing material surfaces?

Takeaway #1

Respond as necessary. Be as bold, sarcastic, or empathetic as you feel comfortable with - but never underestimate your opponent.

Takeaway #2

Whether CNN’s audience has much crossover with Project Veritas’ remains unclear. Both sides will likely claim victory. But be aware of how vulnerable the public is when exposed to misleading or "fake" material, especially when that attack is legitimized by the White House.

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