The CNN staffer who was secretly recorded admitting the network used “propaganda” to help get Joe Biden elected president also said they played up the COVID-19 death toll for ratings — and that the order came down directly from top brass.
Charlie Chester, a technical Director at the cable network, was filmed by Project Veritas during a series of fake Tinder dates as he explained how “Fear really drives numbers.”
“COVID? Gangbusters with ratings,” Chester told the unidentified PV staffer.
“Which is why we constantly have the death toll on the side,” he continued, making reference to the coronavirus death tracker that would appear on the screen. “It would make our point better if [the COVID death toll] was higher.”
The Project Veritas employee, who was not identified and claimed to be a nurse, went on five dates with the CNN staffer, including the final one at a coffee shop in Chester’s neighborhood. It’s unclear when the dates took place.
A person visits a LabQ Diagnostics COVID-19 PCR testing van on the Upper West Side on March 30, 2021.Getty Images
On one of the meet-ups, Chester explained to the PV employee why the network went so heavy on COVID coverage, saying, “Fear is the thing that really keeps you tuned in.”
Going on to reference the death toll, Chester then said he had “a major problem with how we’re tallying how many people die every day, because I’ve even looked at it and been like, look at it and be like, ‘Let’s make it higher.’ Like, why isn’t high enough, you know, today?”
“And I’m like, what am I f–king rallying for? That’s a problem that we’re doing that,” he conceded.
Chester claimed there was a “red phone” that network president Jeff Zucker would use to call the control room to order producers to play up the Covid death count on screen.
A person wearing a face mask walks past a COVID-19 testing sign in Queens on March 8, 2021. Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images
“Like, this special red phone rings and they pick it up and it’s, like, the head of the network being like, ‘There’s nothing that you’re doing right now that makes me want to stick. Put the numbers back up. Because that’s the most enticing thing that we have.’ So things like that are constantly talked about,” the staffer said.
He also told his date that there is “no such thing as unbiased news,” and explained how that manifests at CNN.
“Any reporter on CNN, what they’re actually doing is they’re telling the person what to say. It’s always, like, leading them in a direction before they even open their mouths,” he said.
“And the only people we let on air, for the most part, are people that have a proven track record of taking the bait.”
A CNN spokesperson did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment on the second part of the Project Veritas report.
In part one of the PV series, Chester was seen revealing that his network produced “propaganda” to oust former President Donald Trump during the 2020 presidential election
“Look what we did, we [CNN] got Trump out. I am 100 percent going to say it, and I 100 percent believe that if it wasn’t for CNN, I don’t know that Trump would have got voted out,” Chester said, adding that he came to work at CNN because he ”wanted to be a part of that.”
“Our focus was to get Trump out of office, right? Without saying it, that’s what it was.”