Controversy on US TV: a CNN employee revealed the rating strategy in a fake Tinder quote
The Fox network published the sayings of a technician from the rival news channel, who recounted how they permanently highlighted the number of daily deaths from COVID-19 at the request of the director.
An employee of the CNN chain believed he was on a romantic date and, without knowing that it was being filmed, revealed controversial details about the coverage of the US channel concerning the coronavirus pandemic.
Charles Chester, who works in the technical area of the channel, spoke with a young woman he met through the Tinder app about the channel’s day-to-day life. It was already the fifth meeting with the alleged nurse, so he became more confident, without knowing that she was an undercover agent of the far-right organization Project Veritas, whose mission is to unmask biased media and publish the video of the conversation. The Fox network took the information and developed it.
Chester said Fear is what really keeps you motivated. Sad news doesn’t go well with ratings. If you can make someone passionate, that goes very well,” he added. According to their analysis, the goal is not to show something sad but to get the audience to be directly affected by the news.
In this context, the employee explained the need to have almost permanently, during the most critical months of the pandemic, a counter with the daily number of deaths from COVID-19 in the country. Chester added that he did not agree with this but that on occasion, he found that he wanted that number to go up to generate more reactions from the public on the inside. “Why isn’t it high enough today? It would be better if it was taller. And then I say to myself, what the fuck am I rooting for? It is a problem that we are doing that”, he reflected.
Yet there was little he could do. According to his story, it was an order that came from the highest spheres. I was in the room several times where my director told me to turn it off, and I turned it down, and then we got a call. There is a special red telephone. It goes off, and it’s the head of CNN saying, ‘there’s nothing you’re doing right now that makes me want to stay (tuned in). Put the numbers back in because it is the most attractive thing we had. So put it back on. ‘
A day earlier, Project Veritas published another snippet of the conversations with a more political tone. Chester opined that CNN played a key role in the 2020 election results. “Look what we did, we got Trump out. I’m going to say it one hundred percent, and I believe one hundred percent that if it weren’t for CNN, I don’t know if Trump would have left (the government),” he said.
At the moment, the network has not issued a statement in response to the videos.
The Project Veritas organization fervently defends the former Republican president and his rhetoric against the mainstream media. In 2017, they tried to mislead a Washington Post reporter with alleged damaging information about a Republican, but the contacted reporter did not fall for it.
The Project Veritas videos have led to some firings and criminal actions, although its leader, James O’Keefe, has also been involved in problems with the law. In 2010, he pleaded guilty to entering the office of then-Sen—Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from Los Angeles, under false pretenses.