Conservative provocateur James O'Keefe's release of 119 hours of footage secretly recorded in CNN's headquarters got off to a halting start after a technical glitch caused the hosting website to crash.

The footage was recorded by an anonymous source identified only as Miss X, according to O'Keefe's website Project Veritas. He claims the tapes show CNN misrepresenting polling data. In another teaser quote, a CNN editor describes conservative news outlet Fox News as "unbearable", and another defends the scientific evidence supporting the belief in man-made climate change.

"Currently the audio player which plays these audio files is experiencing a very heavy load, so it may time out or not load," said Veritas on its website.

In a series of tweets after the launch O'Keefe offered to pay whistleblowers in news organisations up to $10,000 for information.

"If you are an employee in a newsroom and hear or see something unethical, record it. If it's good enough I'll pay you $10k," he tweeted.

"I want to start exposing the media and their flaws. This is the beginning of the end for the MSM. And it starts today.

"Have video inside a newsroom? I will go to jail to protect your name. We will defend you. Come to me. Come to us. I will protect you." He has asked journalists for help sorting through the footage.

O'Keefe said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday that he is targeting the network because it "has a very important role as an arbiter of news".

O'Keefe has previously targeted other organisations, posing as a pimp to target community organising group ACORN in 2009, and releasing videos of conversations with NPR executives.

Critics have accused him of splicing footage to distort the meaning of people recorded in stings.

Republican President Donald Trump has engaged in a high profile feud with the organisation, accusing it of spreading "fake news", after the organisation reported that Trump had been briefed on a report that Russian intelligence had compromising information about him.