A producer at CNN has said the theory about collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign is mostly false, and that the network has no significant proof, despite continuing to push the narrative.
“Could be bull[expletive]. I mean, it’s mostly bull[expletive], right now. Like we don’t have any big, giant proof,” said John Bonifield, a supervising producer at CNN, when asked by an undercover reporter about the Russia theory. The exchange was secretly recorded and released by the nonprofit Project Veritas.
Since President Donald Trump won the vote in November, CNN has been at the forefront of sustaining the theory that Russia interfered with the election and colluded with the Trump campaign.
Video: See the full undercover documentary at bottom.
The New York Times, The Washington Post, and MSNBC have placed the story line front and center for more than six months, though there is no sign of substantial evidence, despite multiple investigations. These and other news outlets have not backed down on the theory, even after fired FBI Director James Comey revealed under oath that Trump was not under investigation.
Trump wrote several posts on Twitter after seeing the undercover footage. The president placed NBC, CBS, ABC, The New York Times, and The Washington Post in the same category as CNN. All of these outlets have pushed the Russia theory relentlessly.
The recording also reveals that, according to Bonifield, CNN continued to pursue the false narrative solely because it yields ratings. CNN’s viewership has increased consistently since the election, compared to the same period a year before.
When asked why CNN is fixated on the Russia theory, Bonifield said, “Because it’s ratings.”
Bonifield also revealed that CNN shapes the coverage to appeal to its “liberal” viewers, saying that the network targets Trump because the viewership enjoys it.
“I think that there are a lot of liberal CNN viewers who want to see Trump really get scrutinized, and I think if we would have behaved that way with President Obama and scrutinized everything that he was doing with as much scrutiny as we apply to Donald Trump, I think our viewers would’ve been turned off. I think they would have felt like we were attacking him,” Bonifield says in the recording.
The documentary by Project Veritas comes on the heels of upheaval at CNN following a retracted story linking Anthony Scaramucci, an associate of Trump, with a $10 billion Russian investment fund. The story was deleted shortly after it was posted. CNN later issued a retraction notice and apologized to Scaramucci in a brief editorial note.
Thomas Frank, Eric Lichtblau, and Lex Haris, the three CNN journalists who worked on the story, resigned on June 26. The resignations came just three days after the story was pulled.
Meanwhile, Rich Barbieri, an executive editor at the network, sent a message to staff saying that all “Russia-related” content would have to be cleared by him or Jason Farkas, a vice president at the network.
The video below is the first part in an undercover documentary series by Project Veritas, who have promised more to follow.
The article has been updated.