Former Cambridge Analytica boss Alexander Nix has accused Channel 4 News of having “heavily edited” footage of him being interviewed by an undercover journalist, which led to his suspension from the data company.
The broadcaster has said it rejects the claim.
Nix was seen discussing the use of honeytraps and bribes to entrap politicians with a journalist, who he believed to be a prospective client, in footage broadcast on Channel 4 News in March.
It followed the day after the Observer published an exclusive report alleging CA had harvested the data of 50m Facebook users in order to influence the US presidential elections.
Addressing MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee today as part of its inquiry into fake news, Nix said the footage shown on Channel 4 News had been “heavily edited”.
He said: “There was some five-and-a-half or six hours of meetings that took place with this individual. Ostensibly these were very legitimate meetings about legitimate subjects.
“Obviously all of these were recorded and they were condensed to maybe six or seven minutes of footage and even those minutes of footage were heavily edited to portray the worst possible picture of the company and myself and my colleagues.”
Nix was challenged by Jo Stevens MP at the committee meeting. She said: “But that worst possible picture, Mr Nix, was word for word what you told the journalists…”
He replied: “Clearly we did obviously say those words, but the context in which they were said has been massively altered and also the caveats that we attached to those words has been altered.”
He added: “I was asked a very leading question, a hypothetical question about what sort of tactics could be employed to discredit a politician and I answered hypothetically and I caveated my answer by saying please don’t pay too much attention. Now, of course, this was edited from the footage.”
Nix was suspended by Cambridge Analytica over his comments, which the UK company has previously said in a statement “do not represent the values or operations of this firm”
Nix also accused Channel 4 News of “a very deliberate and coordinated programme of deception” with other newspapers “where they deliberately seeded questions to illicit certain answers”.
Christian Matheson MP asked Nix: “You were a bit unlucky with that Channel 4 video weren’t you Mir Nix? Because of all those business pictures that you’ve done and that you’ve done ethically and the one that you did unethically was the one that was recorded.”
He replied: “I don’t know that I was unlucky I think other business meetings are not steered by an undercover reporter who is deliberately trying to entrap you and therefore the conversation never moves into those areas and towards those subject matters.”
Channel 4 News has said it stands by its coverage of the exchange.
A spokesperson said: “All Mr Nix’s comments carried in our reports were used in context, including any caveats.” It said his claims to they had been edited out where “wholly untrue”.
“What Mr Nix actually said to our reporter, and which was broadcast by Channel 4 News and watched by over 3m people, was that his caveat: “they’re just examples of what can be done”, was followed by “and what has been done.”
It said his comments about entrapment made to its journalists were “not solicited” by the reporter and were “unprompted”.
Nix failed a grilling from MPs, but also hit back, saying at one point: “I know the committee would like to believe the media’s impression that we are this large nefarious multinational company that influences politics and other things around the world.
“The truth of the matter is we are a very small advertising agency that happens to work across a number of sectors, one of which was political campaigns…”
Nix was also asked about today’s Guardian story claiming CA director Brittany Kaiser had met with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy where he is still holed up.
He said: “I wasn’t aware of it, I didn’t know that Britanny Kaiser had been to the embassy. I can’t speak to her motives, I can’t speak to what she was doing, she certainly wasn’t there representing Cambridge Analytica or SCL.”
Picture: ParliamentLiveTV /Screenshot