The communist government of the former Soviet Union thought that by controlling access to information, they could keep their citizens in line.
Consistent with the Orwellian nature of the Soviet Union, the country’s most important newspaper was Pravda. “Pravda” is the Russian word for “truth.” But Pravda was not truth. It was full of lies.
But here’s the thing: Almost no one in the Soviet Union was fooled. They knew they were being lied to. Ironically, unlike most citizens in the Soviet Union, citizens in 21st-century America are fooled by their news media. We think we’re getting the real story from our major media, but we’re not. When we tune into the networks, or read the New York Times or the Washington Post, we’re actually getting a sharply slanted version of the news. Slanted to the left.
This should deeply concern people on both sides of the political divide. To make informed decisions, a free society needs a press it can trust—not one that is hopelessly biased.
In 2017, Project Veritas sent out undercover reporters to see how committed the major media was to objective news gathering, specifically as it regarded the newly-elected president, Donald Trump.
Our first report focused on CNN. A producer there, John Bonifield, acknowledged the lack of evidence for his network’s efforts to link the Trump campaign and the Russian government in a plot to rig the 2016 election. Bonifield told us, “I think the president is probably right to say, like, ‘Look, you are witch-hunting me. You have no smoking gun; you have no real proof.’”
So, why was CNN so relentless in hammering the Russia collusion narrative? Ideology—"the election wasn’t legitimate”—and ratings. As Bonifield noted, the Trump/Russia collusion story was “good for business.”
Next, we released another series of reports, these on the New York Times. First, we heard from Nick Dudich, the paper’s “audience strategy editor.” Dudich told our undercover reporter he was responsible for choosing which New York Times videos go on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Dudich boasted, “My imprint is on every video we do.”
And what was that imprint about? As Dudich, who worked on both the Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigns, told our reporter, he hoped to use his position to make the president’s life as difficult as possible.
“I will be objective,” he told our reporter with undisguised sarcasm before revealing his true intentions: “No, I’m not. That’s why I’m here.” Dudich told us he returned to journalism precisely in order to remain politically active.
Next, we met Des Shoe, an editor for the paper. She made it clear where she stood. “I think one of the things that maybe journalists were thinking about is, like, oh—if we write about , about how insanely crazy he is and how ludicrous his policies are, then maybe people will read it and be, like, oh, wow—we shouldn’t vote for him.”
According to the Times’s own handbook on journalistic ethics, journalists “may not do anything that damages The Times’s reputation for strict neutrality in reporting on politics and government.”
So, given such a breach of the Times’s own standards, we expected the newspaper to come down hard on Dudich and Shoe. Instead, they came down hard on us!
Executive editor Dean Baquet said I was a “despicable person” for recording one of his employees telling the truth. Yet, when the Times publicized a 2012 undercover video of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney saying that 47 percent of Americans wouldn’t vote for him because they were dependent on the government, they praised it as “offering a rare glimpse of personal views.”
In fact, in his attack on us, Baquet unwittingly gave the whole American media game away. A real journalist, he told a panel at the National Press Club, “has to have in his or her heart a desire to make society better.”
The Times’s editor is wrong. Real journalists want to pursue the truth. Then they let the citizens use that truth to build a better society. When journalists shape news to fit their vision of a better society, they’re not doing their job.
Perhaps this wouldn’t be so bad if the major media would just admit their political motives. But they don’t. On behalf of their own narrow agenda, they lie, distort and exaggerate. And they expect us to call it Pravda.
But, with each passing day, fewer and fewer Americans are willing to do so.
I’m James O’Keefe, founder and president of Project Veritas, for Prager University.