Project Veritas claims it is ready to fight CNN "all the way" in court after the mainstream media giant threatened the independent journalists with legal action for posting leaked excerpts of the network’s briefings. CNN Communications did not confirm or deny the authenticity of recordings, but tweeted, citing “legal experts”, that the leak of the tapes “may be a felony”, adding that the company had “referred it to law enforcement.”
"The statement about contacting law enforcement and a felony came from the CNN PR staff - it didn't come from their lawyers, right?" Project Veritas communications director Neil McCabe told Sputnik. "That was a PR stunt by the PR staff. The police aren't knocking on our door. They didn't name any legal experts... The whole thing is ridiculous."
"Project Veritas is on a seven to zero winning streak in court," he boasted. "We do not settle. We take everybody to court - we take it all the way to trial."
He scoffed at threats from CNN "legal experts" of "felony" charges after Project Veritas posted leaked recordings in which a voice that reportedly belongs to CNN President Jeff Zucker is heard ordering to bury the story about Hunter Biden's alleged laptop.
"These are the same legal experts that told CNN that it was OK to run the secret recordings of First Lady Melania Trump. These are the same legal experts that said it was okay to run the Access Hollywood tapes of President Trump," McCabe stressed. "When have CNN ever said, hold on, we can't run this because it might be breaking a law?"
CNN Director 'Actively Suppresses' News Stories 'That Don’t Fit His Worldview'
In recordings released by Project Veritas, a person alleged to be Jeff Zucker is heard to say: "I don't we should be repeating unsubstantiated smears just because the right-wing media suggests that we should".
A person purported to be CNN executive vice president and legal counsel, David Vigilante, agrees in the audio that "we should be awfully careful regarding coverage of the Hunter Biden story" and demands to know why some political journalists had shared the story on social media.
"Jeff Zucker, the outgoing president of CNN, actively suppresses news and then hypes other stories," McCabe said, commenting on the tapes. "Not because the stories are true or because the stories are false. But because the stories either fit Zucker's worldview or they don't."
McCabe stressed that while the government does not directly interfere in the media in the US, there are "cultural pressures" that are "almost more strict than any kind of government regulation."
"There's a culture of these among these journalists - and they are committed to this culture and they are hostile to challenging cultures," he said. "It's a very educated left wing culture, a very prosperous and it's sort of entrenched wealth, corporate and family wealth that sort of decides things in the United States."
Sputnik reached out to CNN for comment on the release of the tapes, but has received no response at the time of publication.
The Laptop From Hell
Files on a laptop said to have been abandoned at a computer repair shop in Delaware puportedly contain evidence that Hunter Biden peddled access to his father, the former US vice-president and now US president elect, Joe Biden, to Ukrainian business associates.
The New York Post broke the story of the allegations after being fed the information by Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, during the election campaign - prompting Twitter to freeze the newspaper's account and those of anyone who shared the allegations.
Most other mainstream media, including public service broadcaster NPR, studiously ignored the story or dismissed it as "right-wing propaganda" - despite confirmation that the FBI had been investigating the contents of a computer's hard-drive.
The Post story detailed allegations of emails reportedly sent by Vadym Pozharskyi, a top official at the Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings, to Hunter Biden. One email allegedly thanked Hunter for organising a meeting with his father, Joe, while a second message reportedly showed Pozharskyi asking Hunter how he could use Joe Biden's influence to support Burisma.
"The laptop was a very big story. It was a national, international story. But if you watch CNN, you had no idea the story even happened," McCabe stressed.
What is Project Veritas?
The provocative web outlet was founded in 2011 by an undercover reporter, James O’Keefe, who is now both CEO and chairman of a non-profit company that hosts the site.
The site notes that it "investigates and exposes corruption, dishonesty, self-dealing, waste, fraud, and other misconduct in both public and private institutions." McCabe insisted in his interview that the organisation is non-partisan, although it is widely-perceived to be Conservative and supportive of Trump.
O'Keefe has been accused of selectively editing footage of the subjects of his sting reports, to embarrass and damage them.
In 2016 he attempted to prove that Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign was taking money from foreign backers by making a $20,000 donation to the Americans United for Change fund linked to her Democratic Party through a company registered in Belize. The organisation eventually returned the money and was not investigated.