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CBS – Fake News or Artistic License?

A line full of fake patients pretend to get tested for Coronavirus – how is that not fake news?

Is it fake news to stage a scene in order to make a more visual impact? Adding props to make a picture or video more attractive is one thing, but what happens when the media adds people as fake patients waiting to get tested for the Coronavirus? Would this be considered a ploy to manipulate the audience or just artistic license? Project Veritas’ undercover reporting discovered CBS had employees of a clinic do exactly that, giving the impression that there was a long line of people waiting to be tested for the virus, when in fact there were only one or two.

According to PV, CBS “staged a fake event” at Cherry Health – Heart of the City Health Center in Grand Rapids, MI. The information was provided by an anonymous insider who was an employee at the facility during the news filming. He claimed to have shown up to work as usual to find news crews on site and a line of cars driving up, supposedly people waiting to get tested for COVID-19. He continued:

“When I was over there and the, the line was coming through, um, a lot of them were just kind of driving up, not really getting tested at all. Um, they were just talking with the testers. So I was asking what, you know, what’s going on with the tests? And then that’s when they told me that, you know, majority of the line is from employees at Cherry Health.”

The employees in line were pretending to be patients.

The clip of a convoy of vehicles driving up and waiting to be tested was aired on CBS This Morning with co-host Gayle King, but the clinic staff was not notified they were to participate until the news crew arrived. The informant took hidden videos while he questioned his co-workers regarding their thoughts about the added human props. Alison Mauro-Lantz, an infectious disease educator, told the anonymous male that they “pretended” to perform tests on the people lined up in their vehicles. “There were a couple of real patients, which made it worse,” she added.

For the one or two legitimate patients, their drive-through testing was delayed as all the “props” had to be arranged for the perfect angle and imagery. The informant opined it was a beneficial tactic for both the facility and CBS. Cherry Health is a non-profit organization that relies heavily on donations. Just recently, they had to lay off 25% of its employees, so looking busy and productive would be a boon. For CBS, it holds more audience appeal and helps “show that this is a big deal.”

While this is a case of manipulation, the question is, did CBS intentionally set out to mislead its audience? Or, was this just an unfortunate result of utilizing its artistic license? Photographers and cameramen/women often rearrange objects, have people move to a different location, stand instead of sit or vice versa, and move about until they get the best angle with the best lighting to digitally tell their stories. An action piece is much more successful than a dry still.

This could be nothing more than a simple mistake on the news station’s part, but in this day and age of fake news and pushing the narrative, the “information specialists” really need to be careful how they report. While artistically speaking, a line of people waiting to get tested for the Coronavirus is more impressive than the one or two actual patients, overinflating the situation only adds to the mistrust of media by the people.


Read more from Kelli Ballard.

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