CNN has threatened legal action against Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe over his latest undercover investigation in which he secretly recorded network president Jeff Zucker’s morning conference calls ‘for months.’
O’Keefe, 36, on Tuesday announced he was releasing audio recordings of several network meetings which he claims will ‘expose’ Zucker and other CNN executives expressing their ‘political biases’.
The move is the latest sting operation against the news station by the conservative operative who has long-targeted CNN over claims of liberal and anti-Trump bias.
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Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe (left) on Tuesday announced he has secretly recorded CNN President Jeff Zucker’s (right) conference calls ‘for months’
O’Keefe teased the exposé on Twitter by sharing a livestreamed video of the moment he ambushed Zucker in a phone call telling him he was planning to make the footage of his 9am rundowns public.
‘Mr Zucker, are you there? Hey, this is James O’Keefe. We’ve been listening to your CNN calls for basically two months, and recording everything. I just wanted to ask you some questions if you have a minute,’ he began.
‘Do you still feel you’re the most trusted name in news, because I have to say from what I’ve been hearing on these phone calls, I don’t know about that; we have a lot of recordings that indicate you’re not really that independent as a journalist.’
After a few seconds of silence, Zucker replies: ‘Uh..thank you for your comments’, before adding: ‘So everybody, I think in light of that we’ll set up a new system and we’ll be back with you. We’ll do the rest of the call later.’
The video quickly drew thousands of responses including one from CNN’s Communication division which accused O’Keefe of breaking the law.
‘Legal experts say this may be a felony. We’ve referred it to law enforcement,’ the network said.
O’Keefe however shrugged off the threat in a tweet mocking the network saying: ‘Our legal experts say Jeff Zucker is just mad and embarrassed. Stay tuned!’
CNN replied to O’Keefe’s video on Tuesday accusing him of breaking the law
He also doubled down saying he planned to release clips of the recordings ‘daily’, like a ‘December advent calendar’.
‘This is yet another investigation Project Veritas has conducted into CNN, and once again they’ve demonstrated their partisan political agenda and total disconnect with journalistic ethics,’ O’Keefe said in his report.
‘These statements made by high-up executives at CNN prove that they are simply not interested in being unbiased when reporting on the news.’
The investigation, published on Project Veritas, includes several transcripts from the calls in which CNN allegedly ‘attacked’ President Trump, Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
In one conference call held during the presidential election, Zucker is purportedly heard instructing his team not to ‘normalize’ Trump’s ‘erratic’ and ‘desperate’ behavior after the president refused to concede.
‘You know, this is what we’ve come to expect for the last three and a half years, four years, but it clearly is exacerbated by the time that we’re in and the issues that he’s [Trump] dealing with,’ Zucker says.
‘I think that we cannot just let it be normalized. He is all over the place and acting erratically, and I think we need to lean into that.’
In another clip, Zucker tells staff they need to target Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and one of the president’s staunch supporters.
Project Veritas claimed the clips show how CNN allegedly ‘attacked’ President Trump, Fox News host Tucker Carlson (pictured) and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham
In one conference call held during the presidential election, Zucker is purportedly heard instructing his team not to ‘normalize’ Trump’s ‘erratic’ and ‘desperate’ behavior
‘Frankly, if we’ve made any mistake, it’s been that our banners have been too polite, and we need to go well after Lindsey Graham,’ he says.
‘There’s a ton going on. Let’s stay strong. Let’s stay newsy. Let’s stay urgent. Let’s be smart. There is a lot of news out there, and Lindsey Graham really deserves it.’
O’Keefe accused the network of furthering their own political agenda when reporting the news.
‘CNN likes to call themselves ‘the most trusted name in news,’ but how can the public ever trust a network that routinely bashes people simply because those people hold certain political views that are not aligned with the mainstream media?’ he said.
O’Keefe’s leaks and undercover operations targeting mostly Democratic or left-wing figures and organizations have resulted in legal actions over the years.
In 2010, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of entering federal property under false pretenses after trying to tamper with the phones in Louisiana Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office.
He has also faced criticism for allegedly editing recordings for other investigations.