CBS News has removed a portion of a CBS This Morning segment on coronavirus testing that featured a Michigan hospital. But the network denies claims made in a new Project Veritas video that CBS News was behind any effort to stock a line of cars at the hospital’s drive-through testing site to make it look longer.
Instead, the network said that the hospital, Cherry Health, “informed us for the first time that one of their chief officers told at least one staffer to get in the testing line along with real patients.” But the network said that they did not have knowledge of this until after the segment aired on Friday.
The network’s response was to a new video from right-wing provocateur James O’Keefe’s group Project Veritas, which has for years targeted mainstream journalists on charges of bias.
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The CBS This Morning segment featured shots of drive-through COVID-19 testing at the hospital, but the Project Veritas video features interviews with an unnamed “clinic insider” who said that it was “absolutely” staged by CBS News to make the line look bigger. The Project Veritas segment also features hidden camera footage of what it said were employees talking of how hospital workers were put in the testing line along with real patients, who then had to wait longer.
A spokesperson for Cherry Health did not immediately return requests for comment. According to Project Veritas, Cherry Health CEO Tasha Blackmon said in a phone conversation, “We and CBS News had nothing to do with that line.”
In its statement, which it provided to Project Veritas, CBS News said that the network “did not stage anything at the Cherry Health facility. Any suggestion to the contrary is 100% false. These allegations are alarming.”
They said that they reached out to Cherry Health “to address them immediately,” which is when they said that one of their chief officers told at least one staff member to get in the line.
“They also said that their actions did not prevent any actual patients from being tested,” the network said. “We take the accuracy of our reporting very seriously and we are removing the Cherry Health portion from the piece.”
Networks have been embroiled in controversy in the past over claims of staging of shots, even those that don’t change the central focus of a story. In 2016, ABC News removed a producer after it was revealed that a segment from Good Morning America featured a shot of correspondent Linsey Davis standing in front of police tape. But CNN was sent a photo showing that the tape was stretched across a piece of ABC News equipment and was not an actual police line.