A Michigan health system and CBS News have come under fire after Project Veritas revealed that a line for a COVID-19 testing site was staged for television cameras.
Cherry Health and CBS News denied directing staffers to form a line to appear as patients for a coronavirus testing site before later reversing their statement and saying that the staffers were in line to “provide a visual backdrop.”
“After conducting an internal investigation, we learned that a few staff were encouraged to pull their cars up in the testing line to provide a visual backdrop showing how busy the testing site can get,” said Cherry Health CEO Tasha Blackmon (pictured above) in a statement, according to a Fox News affiliate. “This was done with the intention of protecting patient privacy since many of the patients scheduled for a COVID-19 test on that day declined to be filmed for HIPAA reasons.”
The health system continues to give contradictory statements. Cherry Health’s board president Scott Afree said the board has not determined if staging was involved, but said the board was investigating.
“We haven’t determined that anyone directed anybody to do anything, but…if that turns out to be the case it will have been an honest mistake because Cherry Health is not in the business of making political statement about COVID-19 or any other political matter,” Alfree told Wood-TV, an NBC affiliate.
Michigan Rep. Steve Johnson (R-71-Allegan County) sent a letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer expressing concern about the footage “potentially being utilized for propaganda.”
“Cherry Health is a taxpayer-funded entity and, as such, should receive proper oversight. Instances like this where taxpayer dollars are potentially being utilized for propaganda, not only lacks integrity but is also dishonest and disrespectful to our taxpayers,” he wrote in the letter. “Taxpayers deserve to know that their dollars are being spent properly and in a principled manner.”
Johnson, a member of the Oversight Committee, said that President Trump talked about the incident during a press conference, adding that he is growing increasingly concerned about the negative press Michigan is receiving.
“As elected officials, the importance of transparency in this COVID-19 crisis has never been greater,” Johnson wrote. “It is our responsibility to ensure Michigan residents and Americans alike know the whole truth about what really happened between CBS News and Cherry Health.”
Watch the latest Project Veritas update here:
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Editors note: Neil McCabe, The Tennessee Star and Star News Network National Correspondent, also serves as a contract communications manager for Project Veritas.