Hypocrite Grifters Project Veritas Scream About Press Freedom, Then Run To Court To Silence The NY Times

from the not-how-it-works dept

So, just yesterday we wrote about how the FBI’s raid of Project Veritas’s founder and a few associates was concerning from a press freedom standpoint — and that you should be concerned even if you believe that Project Veritas are a bunch of dishonest grifters. However, beyond being a bunch of dishonest grifters — who still deserve press freedoms — it appears that Project Veritas are also a giant bunch of hypocrites.

All week they’ve been grandstanding about press freedoms… while at the same time they hired the law firm of Clare Locke — a firm that brags about silencing the press — to try to silence the NY Times. Incredibly, so far it has worked. Project Veritas and Clare Locke successfully got a judge in NY to issue a ridiculously broad order requiring that the NY Times delete information it had in its possession and then stop reporting on certain aspects of Project Veritas’ behavior.

This is straight up prior restraint.

ORDERED that, until such time as this Court resolves the order to show cause, defendant The New York Times shall immediately sequester, protect, and refrain from further disseminating or publishing any of plaintiff Project Veritas? privileged materials in the possession of The New York Times, or its counsel, and that The New York Times and its counsel shall cease further efforts to solicit or acquire plaintiff Project Veritas? attorney-client privileged materials.

The prohibition on distributing materials is concerning enough, but the demand that they “cease further efforts to solicit or acquire” material about Project Veritas is literally banning reporting. That’s clearly a 1st Amendment violation. Basically every lawyer that Law & Crime spoke to notes that this is blatant prior restraint.

Libby Locke from Clare Locke (who once insisted to me that anti-SLAPP laws harmed people) put out a statement that misrepresents the law to the point of being laughable:

?A prior restraint is just that?a restraint before publication. Here, The Times already published Veritas? attorney-client privileged communications, and the interim order and more permanent relief sought are narrowly tailored to that misconduct,? Locke told Law&Crime in an email. ?Moreover, even if this were a prior restraint (it is not), there are certain circumstances where the law permits a court to enjoin the publication of materials before it happens?including, for example, by a protective order in litigation between litigants to prevent the use and dissemination of attorney-client protected materials. And this is no greater restraint on speech than the myriad protective orders the Times has been subject to in other litigation proceedings.?

This statement is stunning in its own way. First, it is wrong about prior restraint (and misstates the full extent of the order). Again, Law & Crime spoke to a lawyer who knows better:

Former federal prosecutor Mitch Epner, who has consulted with media organizations on First Amendment and copyright issues and is now of counsel with Rottenberg Lipman Rich PC, told Law&Crime in a phone interview that Project Veritas?s counsel has it wrong on the meaning of prior restraint?and that?s just what this order is.

?Even though it?s only an interim order, it is clearly a prior restraint, and it strikes at the very heart of the First Amendment protection of the U.S. to publish,? Epner said in a phone interview.

As for Locke?s definition, Epner said: ?It is not the way people understand the term prior restraint.?

?It is a restraint of what can be published before there has been a ruling on the merits,? he noted.

Furthermore, the rest of Locke’s comments are stunning in that she more or less admits that prior restraint is fine in the second part.

But, there’s a much bigger point here. This is Project Veritas demanding that a media organization not publish content that it had received. Project Veritas. An organization whose entire existence is based around trying to obtain material it’s not supposed to have or by honey trapping and surreptitiously recording people. What kind of fucked up organization would try to set a precedent that could then easily be turned around and used against its own practices?

The NY Times is very, very likely to appeal, and a NY appellate court is likely to toss this out very, very quickly — and hopefully the court provides Justice Charles Wood with a strong talking to about prior restraint and the 1st Amendment. Justice Wood should know this already — because it’s one of the most basic things about the 1st Amendment that every judge should know, but also because the NY Times told him directly in a letter filed earlier in the day.

Plaintiff?s proposed Order to Show Cause requests, among other things, that the Court enter an order directing The Times to ?refrain from further disseminating or publishing? information that Project Veritas asserts, without evidence, that The Times obtained improperly. Such an order is, on its face, the paradigmatic example of an unconstitutional prior restraint. See, e.g., Alexander v. United States, 509 U.S. 544, 550 (1993) (?Temporary restraining orders and permanent injunctions?i.e., court orders that actually forbid speech activities?are classic examples of prior restraints.?); Organization for a Better Austin v. Keefe, 402 U. S. 415 (1971) (vacating order ?enjoining petitioners from distributing leaflets anywhere in the town of Westchester, Illinois? as impermissible prior restraint); Vance v. Universal Amusement Co., 445 U. S. 308, 311, 317 (1980) (per curiam) (striking down, on prior restraint grounds, Texas statute that authorized courts, upon a showing that obscene films had been shown in the past, to issue an injunction prohibiting future exhibition of films that had not yet been found to be obscene); Porco, 116 A.D.3d at 1266.

Before the imposition of such a draconian and disfavored restriction, The Times should have the opportunity to be heard. The Times therefore respectfully requests that the Court hold in abeyance Plaintiff?s request to enter an Order to Show Cause in order to permit The Times to file a response in opposition to Plaintiff?s request no later than November 24, 2021. As our forthcoming opposition will make clear, Plaintiff?s request is factually and legally deficient. The request lacks merit and seeks relief that the Court cannot and must not grant.

Rather than do that, Justice Wood just granted Project Veritas’ blatantly censorial demands.

I still think that Project Veritas’s own rights deserve protecting, and remain concerned about the FBI raid. But Project Veritas is no defender of free speech itself. It is a censorial, thuggish, grifting, hypocritical organization and everything it does should be seen through such a lens.

Filed Under: , , , , , ,
Companies: clare locke, ny times, project veritas

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Hypocrite Grifters Project Veritas Scream About Press Freedom, Then Run To Court To Silence The NY Times”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Koby (profile) says:


The information that the times is seeking to publish was leaked illegally by the FBI. Project Veritas is currently engaged in a defamation lawsuit with the times. This is a really slimy way to perform an end-around of the discovery process. The times may be a party to the FBI’s crooked behavior, so hopefully they won’t get rewarded for it.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

LittleCupcakes says:

Re: Collusion

I’ve seen nothing about who leaked the privileged information. Could be the FBI, could be another party.

I didn’t know the NYT was already involved in a defamation suit with PV. That’s some kind of coincidence, getting hold of privileged material while being sued by one of the privileged parties.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Collusion

"That’s some kind of coincidence, getting hold of privileged material while being sued by one of the privileged parties."

Or, as Occam’s Razor would suggest, project veritas is just that loathed there’s no shortage of informants willing to speak to a journalist, and naturally spring for the one currently motivated to publish the dirt on PV.

For which O’Keefe can only really blame himself. If all PV did was dig up existing dirt on a specific political side then fine. One-sided journalism is still journalism even if partisan motives have to be filtered out of the reporting. Someone will come through against the other side.

But that’s not what PV does. Not when their career is in, at best, spinning non-stories into outrage clickbait and at worst their stories have no factual backing at all. At that point they just manage to hit a bar lower than what even Alex Jones sets for himself.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Collusion

I note that you didn’t append your silly "if they try to censor you, you’re right" tags to this comment, Kobes. Wonder why.

Also, the rest of what you wrote is bullshit. PV says that the FBI leaked it, but the Times insists that’s not the case, and EITHER WAY none of that excuses prior restraint, you censorial ignoramus.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Collusion

You just can’t help it, can you? In three sentences you managed to advance a conspiracy, lie, and present the only piece of truth as the explanation for the blatant violation of the First Amendment that this order requires. Just admit you love censorship as long as you’re the one doing the censoring.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Right, back to the start then

Sounds like both a supposedly experienced lawyer and a judge need to be run back through a ‘Constitutional Rights 101’ dealing with the most basic first amendment rights because damn are they showing just how ignorant and/or dishonest they are with this ruling and defending it.

As for PV it’s nice of them to make it clear that they’re not only raging hypocrites but monumentally stupid to boot, trying to set a precedent that would utterly gut them the second they were on the receiving end of it.

This comment has been deemed funny by the community.
TaboToka (profile) says:

Re: Right, back to the start then

set a precedent that would utterly gut them the second they were on the receiving end of it.

B-b-but it is a good precedent when it targets the people I don’t like!

And it won’t affect me because I’ll use the Chewbacca Defense! CHECKMATE, LIBS!

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Who's a Hypocrite Grifter?

The only Hypocrite Grifter is Mike Masnick for not actually doing journalism, trying to portray himself as a journalist. Has he interviewed anyone relevant from Project Veritas, NO. So obviously there’s no journalism done here, just some grifting to feed the echo chamber Mike Masnick has created called Techdirt.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Who's a Hypocrite Grifter?

"Has he interviewed anyone relevant from Project Veritas…"

To do what? Ask them why they keep lying in the stories they publish? Ask them where their allergy towards factual and observable reality comes from?

No, Baghdad Bob, we’ll just have to repeat once again what we keep telling you; If you prove yourself a disingenious asshole enough times you no longer get to be consideredd a valid source of information.

And O’Keefe’s career, from college onwards, has just been one long stretch of trolling. All he deserves is a quick flag of "irrelevant" and that is what the community has given him.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Older Stuff
10:43 California Governor Signs Bill Forbidding The Use Of Rap Lyrics As Criminal Evidence (12)
10:45 The Onion Files Hilarious Amicus Brief In An Important Case, And Actually Makes A Key Point In The Best Way Possible (23)
09:31 There Are Real Threats To Free Speech Everywhere. Cancel Culture Is Far Down The List (338)
10:44 Germany's Government Continues To Lock People Up For Being Extremely Online (18)
09:35 Saudi Prosecutors Are Targeting A US Citizen For Tweets Criticizing The Government (18)
13:36 Finally, Some Good News: Federal Anti-SLAPP Law Introduced (9)
16:43 5th Circuit Rewrites A Century Of 1st Amendment Law To Argue Internet Companies Have No Right To Moderate (625)
12:03 Court To Public University: Yeah, It's A 1st Amendment Problem When You Delete Comments You Don't Like (16)
10:46 Judge Blocks 'No Recording Cops Within 8 Feet' Law Even Arizona Cops Don't Want To Defend (6)
09:31 Virginia Court Rejects Prior Restraint, Says Old Law Used In Attempt To Ban Books Is Unconstitutional (18)
12:20 Censorship Starts At Home: Turkish Gov't Controls The Press, Repeatedly Claims It Does Not Control The Press (6)
05:35 Wannabe Censor Ron DeSantis Is Now 0 For 2 With His Censorship Bills: Court Throws Out His 'Stop WOKE Act' As Unconstitutional (34)
09:38 Elon Musk's Legal Filings Against Twitter Show How Little He Actually Cares About Free Speech (35)
12:07 Virginia Politicians Are Suing Books They Don't Like (65)
09:21 Appeals Court Corrects Its Previous Error, Holds That Recording Cops Is A Clearly Established Right (8)
15:27 Federal Court Allows Protesters' First Amendment Suit Against Violent Boston Cops To Continue (26)
19:39 Student Expelled Over Off-Campus Nazi Joke Can Continue To Sue The School, Says Appeals Court (205)
10:42 Twitter Sues Indian Government Over Orders To Block Content (3)
10:47 Policymakers Need To Realize How Any Internet Regulation Will Impact Speech (135)
10:44 More Than Two Thirds Of States Are Pushing Highly Controversial (And Likely Unconstitutional) Bills To Moderate Speech Online (50)
13:38 Australia's Upside Down Internet Liability Policy Shows How Section 230 Enables More Free Speech (87)
09:28 The Moral Panic Is Spreading: Think Tank Proposes Banning Teens From Social Media; Texas Rep Promises To Intro Bill (88)
12:15 Federal Agent Stupidly Threatens Twitter User With Arrest Over Protected First Amendment Expression (57)
09:31 How The Dobbs Decision Will Lead To Attacks On Free Speech; Or, Why Democrats Need To Stop Undermining Free Speech (52)
10:46 Devin Nunes Loses Yet Another SLAPP Suit, This Time In California (21)
09:28 Philippines Orders Critical News Organization, Rappler, Shut Down; Just As Rappler's Founder Argues Against Free Speech (11)
09:19 Clarence Thomas REALLY Wants To Make It Easier For The Powerful To Sue People For Criticizing Them (32)
15:39 Twitter Successfully Quashes Sketchy Copyright Subpoena Over Billionaire's Critic On Twitter (237)
12:14 Giant Private Prison Company Goes To Court To Try To Get Lawyer To Stop Tweeting About Them (15)
10:48 UK Approves Extradition Of Julian Assange, Allowing The US Government To Continue Criminalizing Journalism (46)
More arrow