CNN’s Ed Martin is giving an award for “truth” to James O’Keefe, who ran deceitful stings against CNN

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

CNN political commentator Ed Martin is giving an award for “uncovering the truth” to James O’Keefe, who has targeted CNN with deceitful stings. Martin has repeatedly sought to delegitimize CNN both before and after being hired by the network.

Martin is a pro-Trump pundit who joined CNN in September 2017 despite previously calling the network “fake news” and “state-run media.”

He also heads the conservative group Phyllis Schlafly Eagles, which announced yesterday that it will give O’Keefe its “inaugural Kitty Werthmann Award for uncovering the truth.” Martin said in a press release that “we are thrilled that its first recipient will be a man who has fought so hard to expose the dirty playbook of the radical liberal agenda. James O'Keefe has stood fearless in the face of the progressive political machine. … He has an unquenchable thirst for the truth and the ferocious dedication to seeing the work done."

O’Keefe is a serial liar who has repeatedly targeted Martin’s employer CNN with dishonest tactics and stings with the goal of discrediting the network.

In September 2010, CNN reported that O’Keefe attempted “to embarrass” then-CNN correspondent Abbie Boudreau by planning to get her “onto a boat filled with sexually explicit props and then record the session. The plan apparently was thwarted after Boudreau was warned minutes before it was supposed to happen.” An internal script for the project stated that O’Keefe was to record a video stating, in part, that Boudreau “has been trying to seduce me to use me, in order to spin a lie about me. So, I'm going to seduce her, on camera, to use her for a video. This bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who comes on at five will get a taste of her own medicine, she'll get seduced on camera and you'll get to see the awkwardness and the aftermath.”

In February 2017, O’Keefe launched a “CNN Leaks” project, releasing over a hundred hours of audio recordings from within CNN. While O’Keefe claimed the recordings revealed “profound liberal bias” at the network, the project was a dud and nothing of any remote value came out of it.

Several months later, O’Keefe released a video titled “American Pravda: CNN Producer Says Russia Narrative ‘bullsh*t.’” As Media Matters noted at the time, the video was another dud -- the CNN producer in question worked on medical stories, not politics.

As part of his “America Pravda” series, O’Keefe also staked out Jeff Zucker’s apartment residence. (During the video, O’Keefe announced Zucker’s building address.)  

Martin had previously praised O’Keefe’s disinformation campaign (prior to becoming a CNN commentator) and encouraged people to “move away from” the network because it is “obviously not telling the truth.”

Martin’s paid appearances on CNN have repeatedly embarrassed the network. He attacked Leigh Corfman, the woman who reported that former Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore molested her as a child; defended Moore’s dismissive comments about slavery by claiming that “when the Jews were in bondage for years, they still loved each other”; and praised President Donald Trump’s “Pocahontas” slur against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

While Martin was once a regular presence on CNN, he has not appeared on the network since December 14, according to a search of the Nexis and TVEyes databases. December 14 was also when Media Matters posted Martin's remarks from the prior day on his St. Louis-based radio program in which he attacked his fellow CNN commentators as “black racists” and “rabid feminists.” He also said that when he was “on the set in the CNN studios” he entered “into the swamp … the beast.”

CNN did not respond to requests for comment. Martin declined to comment on the record.