In a spoof of his exposure of CNN’s editorial bias through tapping its daily editorial conference calls, Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe posted a video Thursday showing him listening in on a purported call between editors of the satirical website Babylon Bee.
The video had the appearance of a legitimate Project Veritas undercover sting, but the Babylon Bee was in on the joke, and the target clearly was the New York Times.
O’Keefe, in his trolling of the “paper of record,” was spotlighting the Times’ complaint that the Babylon Bee is a “right-leaning site” trafficking “in misinformation under the guise of satire.”
In the fake conference call, Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon plays up the Times’ characterization of his website, agreeing with a colleague that the Bee needs to “lean harder into the believable stuff so that we can fool more people.”
Urging his colleagues to up their game, Dillon reads some recent Bee headlines that don’t fit that objective: “Bible experts determine Goliath died of COVID-19” and “Protesters pull down Joe Biden after mistaking him for old racist statue.”
In December, Project Veritas released recordings of CNN conference calls led by CEO Jeff Zucker that it had accumulated over the previous two months.
Zucker is heard, among other things, instructing staff to “lean into” negative coverage of President Trump, calling Trump a “national security threat,” and discussing with his colleagues suppressing coverage of the pre-election Hunter Biden scandal. Zucker also warns against CNN “repeating unsubstantiated smears” from the “right-wing media,” and he advocates attacks on leading Republicans.
Similar to his CNN sting, O’Keefe breaks into the Babylon Bee’s latest conference call on live video, informing Dillon that Project Veritas has been monitoring the daily calls for two months.
After Dillon hangs up, O’Keefe says: “There you have it, folks, Seth Dillon, CEO of the Babylon Bee, according to the New York Times, trafficking in misinformation under the guise of satire.”
The Bee, which has been described as a conservative, evangelical Christian version of The Onion, clearly has a political viewpoint that touches a nerve with establishment media.
The site has dived into the controversy over the Georgia election law, for example, with headlines such as “All-Star Game Moved From Atlanta To Uyghur Prison Camp Yard” and Google Removes Entire State Of Georgia From Google Maps.”
WATCH: Project Veritas EXPOSES @TheBabylonBee CEO @SethDillon during companywide conference call — promoting the need for writers to be better at spreading believable “misinformation” pic.twitter.com/BAUYiVoARV
— James O’Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) April 8, 2021
They can’t take a joke
The Times’ characterization of the Bee came in a feature published in March, “For Political Cartoonists, the Irony Was That Facebook Didn’t Recognize Irony.” The report said Facebook was having trouble identifying satire when policing its site for “fake news.”
Dillon reacted at the time in an interview with Fox News, accusing the Times of pushing “false and defamatory” rhetoric about his company.
“The claim that we’re pretending to be satire so we can spread disinformation with impunity on social media is false and defamatory,” Dillon said. “And it’s the falsity of the claim that highlights a great irony here: It is, in fact, The New York Times that is trafficking in misinformation, and they’re doing it under the guise of ‘journalism.'”
Last year, CNN reporter Donie O’Sullivan complained that a Bee story satirizing Democrats’ reaction to the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani got more than 500,000 shares on Facebook.
O’Sullivan said that having “a disclaimer buried somewhere on your site that says it’s ‘satire’ seems like a good way to get around a lot of the changes Facebook has made to reduce the spread of clickbait and misinformation.”
The Bee struck back with a story headlined “CNN Attacks Babylon Bee: ‘The Internet is Only Big Enough For One Fake News Site.'”
Dillon told Fox News the Times essentially took a page out of CNN’s playbook.
“This is a recurring problem. The ongoing mischaracterization of our site in the liberal media is a blatant attempt to discredit and deplatform us,” Dillon said. “If they can convince the social networks we’re abusing the ‘satire label, then they can shut us down. It’s that simple.”
Judge allows suit against Times to advance
O’Keefe’s dig at the Times follows Project Veritas’ success in its defamation case against the paper.
A New York judge last month denied the Times motion to dismiss the suit over the paper’s portrayal of Project Veritas’ reporting last fall on alleged voter fraud in the Minnesota district represented by Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar.
In a news article, the Times described Project Veritas’ reporting as “deceptive,” “false” and “with no verifiable evidence.”
Supreme Court Justice Charles Wood ruled that the “facts submitted by Veritas could indicate more than standard, garden variety media bias and support a plausible inference of actual malice.”
“There is a substantial basis in law to proceed to permit the plaintiff to conduct discovery and to then attempt to meet its higher standard of proving liability through clear and convincing evidence of actual malice,” he said.
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