CNN Leaked Footage of Sean 'Diddy' Combs' and Jay-Z's 'Underground Play Tunnels,' as Videos Claim? (2024)

Fact Check

YouTube users promoted the rumor after CNN published exclusive video from 2016 showing Combs physically assaulting his then-girlfriend Cassie Ventura.

Jordan Liles

Published May 31, 2024

CNN Leaked Footage of Sean 'Diddy' Combs' and Jay-Z's 'Underground Play Tunnels,' as Videos Claim? (1)

Jay-Z and Sean Combs attend Combs' 50th Birthday Bash on Dec. 14, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Sean Combs)

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Claim:

In May 2024, CNN ran footage showing Sean "Diddy" Combs and Jay-Z were involved in illicit sexual activities in "underground play tunnels."

Rating:

FalseAbout this rating

In May 2024, videos surfaced on YouTube alleging CNN leaked footage showing Sean "Diddy" Combs and Jay-Z were involved in illicit sexual activities in "underground play tunnels." The videos are the first results displayed to at least some Google users when simply searching for both Jay-Z and "Diddy."

CNN Leaked Footage of Sean 'Diddy' Combs' and Jay-Z's 'Underground Play Tunnels,' as Videos Claim? (3)A Google search for "Jay-Z Diddy" (without quotation marks).

These videos presented no evidence to corroborate their claim about CNN releasing such footage. Further, CNN did not report anything of the sort. The claim is false.

What Inspired This False Rumor?

This rumor claiming CNN leaked footage involving Combs, Jay-Z and "underground play tunnels" was circulating online for at least three reasons.

First, in March 2024, federal Homeland Security Investigations agents and other law-enforcement officers searched Combs' properties in Los Angeles and Miami. According to The Associated Press, the agents' search was part of an ongoing federal sex-trafficking investigation conducted from New York. Authorities have not charged Combs in this matter. The New York Times further reported Combs also faces civil sexual assault lawsuits from four women accusing him of rape and a man accusing him of unwanted sexual contact. Combs previously denied what he labeled as "sickening allegations" in a December 2023 Instagram post.

Second, on May 17, CNN published exclusive footage from a hotel's surveillance feed showing Combs physically assaulting his then-girlfriend Cassie Ventura in 2016. Combs apologized in an Instagram post on May 19, saying in part, "My behavior on that video is inexcusable. I take full responsibility for my actions in that video."

The third reason the fake videos about Combs, Jay-Z and "underground play tunnels" started cropping up was because the YouTube users posting the clips sought money. The videos we reviewed all displayed skippable YouTube ads, meaning the channels' owner or owners appeared to be earning advertising revenue based on the promotion of false information.

The Videos Were Created with AI

While an online search displayed plenty of videos promoting these claims, we primarily looked at two of the most popular clips.

On May 26, 2024, the Lock Trends YouTube channel published a video with the title, "CNN LEAKS New Footage From Diddy And Jay Z's Underground Play Tunnels!!" As of May 31, the video received nearly 400,000 views.

Similarly, the Celeb Lounge YouTube channel posted a video on May 29 showing the title, "CNN LEAKS Footage Of FBI Agent EXPOSING Jay Z & Diddy!!" It earned over 150,000 views.

These two videos and many others hosted on the same channels all appeared scripted, edited and narrated with the use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools. The gossip-centric content of the videos included various clips from news broadcasts, interviews and other footage.

Again, at no time did any of the videos present evidence CNN aired or "leaked" footage about Combs, Jay-Z and illicit sexual activities in "underground play tunnels." A Google search found no articles on CNN.com about the subject. Further, a search of the Internet Archive's TV News Archive showed CNN's TV channel broadcast no news about the matter.

Misleading Thumbnail Images

The "underground play tunnels" video from the Lock Trends YouTube channel featured a misleading thumbnail image showing FBI Director Christopher Wray, Combs, a tunnel and a red arrow. The image displayed a fake quote falsely claiming Wray or someone else on CNN said, "'Diddy's' life is f***ed."

CNN Leaked Footage of Sean 'Diddy' Combs' and Jay-Z's 'Underground Play Tunnels,' as Videos Claim? (4)

Similarly, the Celeb Lounge YouTube video also included a misleading thumbnail image of a judge in a courtroom and a masked Jay-Z. The source of the Jay-Z photo may have come from a court appearance in 2021 involving a fragrance company lawsuit. This image also featured a fake quote.

CNN Leaked Footage of Sean 'Diddy' Combs' and Jay-Z's 'Underground Play Tunnels,' as Videos Claim? (5)

Other videos posted on both Lock Trends and Celeb Lounge displayed similar thumbnail images featuring fake quotes and misleading pictures of Combs, Jay-Z, other celebrities and tunnels.

Most Commenters Didn't Question the Videos

Users who appeared to believe the video titles about CNN were genuine wrote the vast majority of the comments under the videos on both the Lock Trends and Celeb Lounge YouTube videos. A seemingly endless number of users inexplicably posted comments apparently without realizing the videos' titles were nothing more than false clickbait. However, thankfully, a tiny minority of users did post comments saying they noticed the videos did not deliver on the promises in the titles.

One user remarked, "Everyone is boasting about the leaked videos. So, where are they?" A different person commented, "There's no video of Jay-Z [and] underground tunnels. Clickbait title." Another example of an intelligent commenter read, "No proven facts relating to 'Diddy's' mansion here. No footage from his compound!"

Conclusion

As of this writing, there was no evidence to support the assertion CNN leaked or published any footage as described in the videos' titles. If, hypothetically speaking, there was even a sliver of credible, publicly-available evidence to support the claim, reputable entertainment media outlets would have published extensive reporting. This has not happened.

In short, the claim appeared made up from whole cloth for the purpose of gaining YouTube advertising revenue. The YouTube videos displayed no disclaimers about gossip or rumors in their descriptions, or on screen at the beginning or end of the videos. The videos appeared be gaming the system in that they promoted either misinformation or disinformation at the top of Google search results for users searching the celebrities' names.

Despite the fact the videos' underlying claim was false, the clips about Combs and Jay-Z could seem believable to less adept users because of the lawsuits and property searches involving Combs, as well as the video titles' mention of CNN, which had exclusively published the hotel surveillance footage on May 17. With that mixture of true and misleading information, as well as emotionally-charged language, such videos with baseless celebrity rumors often appear to supercharge online discussions about claims with no evidential support.

This was not the first misleading rumor related to Combs capturing YouTube users' attention. For example, we previously published the article, "T.D. Jakes Disparaged in False and Unfounded Rumors Alongside 'Diddy' Sex-Abuse Allegations."

Sources

Balsamo, Michael, and Colleen Long. "Feds Search Sean 'Diddy' Combs' Properties as Part of Sex Trafficking Probe, AP Sources Say." The Associated Press, 25 Mar. 2024, https://apnews.com/article/feds-search-diddy-combs-sex-trafficking-8883ed2c7308f3fcdb2cdf03fbe329d1.

Dalton, Andrew. "Sean 'Diddy' Combs Asks Judge to Dismiss 'False' Claim That He, Others Raped 17-Year-Old Girl." The Associated Press, 11 May 2024, https://apnews.com/article/diddy-sean-combs-lawsuit-investigation-sex-trafficking-d2c44eedff90e2c697a5790bd0d21d8e.

@diddy. Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/diddy/.

Gonzalez, Sandra, et al. "Sean 'Diddy' Combs Says He Is 'Truly Sorry' for Physically Assaulting Cassie Ventura in 2016." CNN, 17 May 2024, https://www.cnn.com/2024/05/17/entertainment/sean-combs-cassie-ventura/index.html.

Google. https://www.google.com/search?q=%22jay-z%22+site%3Acnn.com.

Jacobs, Julia, and Ben Sisario. "Sean Combs's Legal Troubles: What We Know." The New York Times, 2 Apr. 2024, https://www.nytimes.com/article/diddy-sean-combs-lawsuit-allegations.html.

"Jury Rejects Fragrance Company's Lawsuit against Jay-Z."The Associated Press, 11 Nov. 2021, https://apnews.com/article/entertainment-business-lawsuits-music-hip-hop-and-rap-f80ca282a41d690e008946bf13cb6c61.

Landrum Jr., Jonathan. "Authorities Searched Diddy's Properties as Part of a Sex Trafficking Probe. Here's What to Know." The Associated Press, 26 Mar. 2024, https://apnews.com/article/sean-combs-diddy-7df04189286f1570ce07ccd2c3d473d3.

Liles, Jordan. "T.D. Jakes Disparaged in False and Unfounded Rumors Alongside 'Diddy' Sex-Abuse Allegations." Snopes, 14 May 2024, https://www.snopes.com//news/2024/05/14/td-jakes-sean-diddy-combs-rumors/.

Moorman, Taijuan. "Sean 'Diddy' Combs Seen Hitting and Dragging Ex Cassie Ventura in 2016 Surveillance Video." USA TODAY, 17 May 2024, https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/celebrities/2024/05/17/sean-diddy-combs-cassie-ventura-2016-surveillance-video-cnn/73734137007/.

"Sean 'Diddy' Combs Accused of Years of Rape and Abuse by Singer Cassie in Lawsuit." The Associated Press, 16 Nov. 2023, https://apnews.com/article/diddy-sean-combs-cassie-lawsuit-e3681f1abbe38c11d829c269c9a89260.

"TV News Archive." Internet Archive, https://archive.org/details/tv.

By Jordan Liles

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.

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CNN Leaked Footage of Sean 'Diddy' Combs' and Jay-Z's 'Underground Play Tunnels,' as Videos Claim? (2024)
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