CNN boss, political director spiked Hunter Biden controversy, audiotapes reveal: 'We're not going with' story

Project Veritas releases another batch of damning CNN recordings

Founder James O’Keefe joins ‘Hannity’ with insight into leaked tapes exposing how CNN protects Democrats.

Newly released recordings from the group Project Veritas reveal that CNN purposely avoided the Hunter Biden controversy that emerged in the final weeks of the 2020 presidential election. 

Critics of CNN have long observed the network's complete blackout of the bombshell reporting from The New York Post about the emails that allegedly came from Biden's laptop shedding light on his questionable foreign business dealings before and after his father, then-Democratic nominee Joe Biden, was in office as vice president. 

However, recordings of CNN's conference calls featuring the upper brass of the network finally confirm suspicions of the news organization's concerted efforts to suppress the story that was damaging to the Biden campaign. 

"Obviously, we're not going with the New York Post story right now on Hunter Biden," CNN Political Director David Chalian is heard saying during a conference call on Oct. 14, the same day the Post released its first reports on Hunter Biden's emails, later insisting it was "giving its marching orders" to the "rightwing echo chamber about what to talk about today."

Chalian, who also serves as CNN's vice president, continued, "Obviously, Hunter Biden's lawyer is quoted in the New York Post piece and we'll just continue to report out this is the very stuff that the president was impeached over, this is the stuff that Senate Committees looked at and found nothing wrong in Joe Biden's interactions with Ukrainians and now having an email that perhaps there was a meeting with someone from Burisma it seems. Rudy Giuliani's sort of 'dream-o-vision' of how to throw stuff at the wall in these closing days of the campaign." 

Appearing on "Hannity" on Wednesday night, Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe questioned Chalian why it was so "obvious" to not cover the Hunter Biden story. 

"Why is it obvious that we shouldn't report on something that's newsworthy related to the son of the vice president?" O'Keefe asked. 

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During that same conference call, CNN Executive Vice President and General Counsel David Vigilante is heard telling CNN President Jeff Zucker that "we should be awfully careful" regarding coverage of the Hunter Biden story, and even knocked one of his own colleagues, New York Times reporter and CNN analyst Maggie Haberman for sharing the New York Post report on Twitter. 

"What in the world are Maggie Haberman and [Politico reporter] Jake Sherman doing retweeting that story?" Vigilante swiped the two journalists. 

Haberman did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment. 

On the Oct. 23 call, the day after the final presidential debate where President Trump hammered Biden over the recent revelations involving his son, Zucker referred to the story as a "rabbit hole" that "I don't think anybody outside of that [rightwing media] world understood last night" and later suggested the Wall Street Journal's reporting definitively proves Biden had "no role" in his son's business dealings with China as a reason for CNN not to pursue the story itself. 

Zucker appeared to have alluded to the Hunter Biden email scandal in an Oct. 16 conference call that was released by Project Veritas on Tuesday in addition to the unmasking controversy involving top Obama administration officials, including now-President-elect Biden, requesting the identity of former Trump national security adviser Gen. Michael Flynn during the transition, both stories Zucker suggested the network shouldn't cover. 

"The Trump media, you know, moves immediately from — OK, well, never mind — the unmasking was, you know, found to be completely nonsensical to the latest alleged scandal and expects everybody to just follow suit," Zucker told his staff. "So, I don't think that we should be repeating unsubstantiated smears just because the rightwing media suggests that we should."

Zucker's message on dismissing the Hunter Biden controversy appeared to have later resonated with his star anchor Jake Tapper, who said Oct. 22 that the allegations against Biden's son were "too disgusting" to repeat on air and that the "rightwing is going crazy."

In a second release from Project Veritas on Wednesday, Zucker is heard bashing President Trump on an Oct. 1 conference call over comments questioning the integrity of the election with concerns of mail-in voting due to the coronavirus outbreak following the first presidential debate. 

"Trump's continuing to undermine the election integrity with baseless claims of fraud, okay? And he's continuing to do it," Zucker said. "And that leads to the question of whether or not Trump, in himself, is a national security threat in light of what he's doing and in light of what he did at the debate."

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During his interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, O'Keefe took aim at Zucker for "ordering his troops" to "not look into facts."

"The fact that Zucker would call the police to threaten me with arrest for quoting him? I think maybe Zucker may have met his match because maybe we're the only reporters who aren't yes men to him like his troops on these phone calls at CNN," O'Keefe added, referring to the legal threat CNN Communications made on Twitter on Tuesday following the first round of leaks. 

O'Keefe stressed that it's "not about journalism ethics" and that he's "willing to go where people don't go," adding that "nobody tells me what to do." 

"This Zucker is a little different," O'Keefe continued. "He's telling his folks what they should not do, he's telling his reporters. So he's projecting onto us what they do. They're using that psychological projection technique, which we talk about. And they're accusing me of doing what they do every day." 

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Vigilante, CNN's executive VP, similarly appeared dismissive of any concerns of election fraud on a Sept. 9 conference call with Zucker, citing Ben Ginsburg, who he referred to as the "preeminent election lawyer on the Republican side."

"If he says voter fraud isn't a thing, that's kind of the end of the story," Vigilante the CNN president. "And we've got to treat that as a definitive answer, as we cover the story throughout."

Vigilante explained, "Our refrain ought to be, 'Ben Ginsburg was across us for 40 years and says it doesn't exist.'"

In the third release from Project Veritas on Wednesday, prominent CNN executive Cynthia Hudson expressed concern during a Sept. 9 conference call about President Trump's influence over Cuban voters in Miami ahead of the election. 

"Trump has used the communism, socialism rhetoric as part of his hook for the Cubans in Miami, how that has resonated and how the Biden team has not done enough to counter that," Hudson is heard saying. "The only reason they are supporting Trump is because of that narrative. And that narrative and the fact that sadly, I have to say, there's a population that's very attracted to bullies."

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Hudson, who is the senior vice president and managing director of CNN en Español, went on to say that "no one is countering" Trump's effective messaging in Florida.  

"The Cubans are going to vote for Trump. And that's terrifying," Hudson said. "And so, I think there is a way to counter the narrative in Florida that is not being taken advantage of."

O'Keefe vowed on "Hannity" that he was going to release "raw recordings" of the over 50 conference calls every day until Christmas, saying "they'll wish that we have edited the tapes."

"We're going to release the full raw tapes, maybe even twice a day and show what really goes on in these phone calls and show them for how they make the sausage, how they manufacture consent at the 'most trusted name in news,'" O'Keefe concluded. 

CNN did not immediately respond to Fox News' numerous requests for comment. 

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In the first round of the leaked CNN tapes, Zucker urged his staff on an Oct. 9 call to not "normalize" the president's "erratic" behavior as he was recovering from the coronavirus, suggesting the president's medical treatment was affecting his actions. 

"OK, I just want to re-emphasize that, you know, I think we cannot normalize what has happened here in the last week with Trump and his behavior," Zucker is heard saying. "And I go back to what [CNN political Director] David, David Chalian said, that this is a president who knows he's losing, who knows he's in trouble, is sick, maybe is on the after-effects of steroids or not. I don't know, but he is acting erratically and desperately, and we need to, we need to not normalize that… He is all over the place and acting erratically. And I think we need to lean into that."

On Nov. 10, Zucker had an exchange with CNN field producer Stephanie Becker, who invoked the 9/11 Commission Report as something that should be part of the network's coverage of the delayed Trump-Biden transition. 

"On the issue of why it's important to get the transition going right, the 9/11 report talks about one of the problems was that the trouble that was brewing that [got] lost during the transition," Becker explained. "So, if you want a good, concrete example of what happens when you don't have a good transition, well, look at the Twin Towers."

"Yeah, so I think that's an important point," Zucker responded. "I think it was just a little bit yesterday in terms of national security. I think it's really important to raise again… I would encourage folks to think about that 9/11 Commission Report and the lack of transition."

On Tuesday evening, CNN Communications responded to O'Keefe's viral video showing him intruding on a conference call that took place earlier that morning, telling him "Legal experts say this may be a felony. We‘ve referred it to law enforcement."

CNN did not respond to Fox News' inquiry about which law enforcement agency the network had reached out to. 

Regardless, O'Keefe did not appear to be threatened by CNN's tweet, telling Sean Hannity on Tuesday night, "We have legal experts at Project Veritas and we think that Jeff Zucker is just mad and embarrassed here for what we have exposed."

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O'Keefe compared future releases of other recordings to an "advent calendar" and that Project Veritas will be releasing more tapes "every day" in the coming weeks. He credited a "brave whistleblower insider" who approached his organization and helped coordinate the conference call recordings. 

Zucker has long expressed animus toward Trump but previously had a very close working relationship with the president as the CEO of NBC Universal at the height of the NBC's hit reality show, "The Apprentice," which helped broaden Trump's popularity.

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