CBS News Denies Allegation That It ‘Staged’ Line of Cars at Covid-19 Testing Site to Make It Look Longer

By A.J. Katz 

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Yesterday, CBS News removed a portion of a CBS This Morning segment on Covid-19 testing that featured Cherry Health in Michigan. But CBS denies claims made in a new Project Veritas video that the network was behind some sort of effort to “stage” a “fake line of cars” at the hospital’s drive-through testing site to make the line look longer than it really was.

Instead, the network said that the hospital, Cherry Health, “informed us for the first time that one of its chief officers told at least one staffer to get in the testing line along with real patients.” But the network said that it did not have knowledge of this until after the segment aired last Friday, May 1.

The network made the decision after right-wing guerilla journalist James O’Keefe of Project Veritas posted a video, accusing yet another news network of bias.

Project Veritas claims that at least one employee from Cherry Health was told by a superior to get in their car and join the line of people being tested for Covid-19 at the Heart of the City Health Center so that CBS This Morning could “obtain newsworthy footage.” The Cherry Health center was one of several locations across the country being featured in a report by CTM.

CBS News put out the following statement concerning the matter:

CBS News did not stage anything at the Cherry Health facility. Any suggestion to the contrary is 100% false. These allegations are alarming. We reached out to Cherry Health to address them immediately. They informed us for the first time that one of their chief officers told at least one staffer to get in the testing line along with real patients. No one from CBS News had any knowledge of this before tonight. They also said that their actions did not prevent any actual patients from being tested. We take the accuracy of our reporting very seriously and we are removing the Cherry Health portion from the piece.

In a statement to Fox 17 in West Michigan, Cherry Health CEO Tasha Blackmon said the following (via a spokesperson):

Cherry Health is fortunate to be recognized nationally for our quality as we continue removing barriers to healthcare to those less fortunate.

Cherry Health’s COVID-19 drive-through testing process requires patients to be prescreened through our hotline to determine who should receive a test. On the day of the CBS interview, 34 prescreened individuals received tests. To date, we have completed close to 600 COVID-19 tests at our Heart of the City Health Center.

We also shared with CBS This Morning that on the day of their interview, our supply of personal protection equipment was at a two-week supply level.

To my knowledge, CBS This Morning did not stage any part of their visit to our site.

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