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."
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.
The White House uses the moment to attack CNN - first with a tweet, then during the press briefing.
CNN just posted it's most-watched second quarter in history. Those are the facts.— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) June 27, 2017
Veritas releases "America Pravda: CNN Part 2," allegedly showing contributor Van Jones calling the Russia scandal a "nothing burger."
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."
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?
Respond as necessary. Be as bold, sarcastic, or empathetic as you feel comfortable with - but never underestimate your opponent.
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.