Project Veritas Loses Its Defamation Lawsuit Against CNN Because The Truth Is Just As Damning As What CNN Said

from the you-played-yourself.gif dept

Very serious laughably ridiculous buffoon stunt journalists, Project Veritas, had its account banned from Twitter a year ago, a couple months before its founder James O’Keefe also had his own account banned as well. O’Keefe vowed to sue CNN and Twitter over the bans, and these plans seem to be going about as well as a standard Project Veritas special report: people too clueless to understand reality think it means something, but it falls apart under scrutiny. Just days after the threat to sue, Project Veritas did, in fact, sue CNN for defamation.

The core claim was that CNN’s Ana Cabrera had tweeted that the PV account was banned for “spreading misinformation” when the truth was that it was banned for violating policies on sharing “other people’s private information without consent.” Leaving aside the difference between a thoroughly reported news article and a throwaway tweet, this… seems like a weird thing to sue over unless (like Project Veritas) you are really, really, really infatuated with attacking anyone who claims you traffic in misinformation.

And, this all went pretty much the way that you might expect, with a judge now dismissing the case, noting that even taking Project Veritas’ complaint at face value, it doesn’t fucking matter because the real reason that PV’s account was banned was just as bad as the reason Cabrera claimed:

While Project Veritas asserts that CNN’s statements implying that Project Veritas was banned from Twitter for spreading misinformation maligns its “journalistic integrity,” … the pleaded truth of being accused of violating a policy aimed at “protect[ing] individuals from coming to physical harm as a result of their information being shared” similarly maligns a journalist’s professional reputation. In essence, “[s]ubstitute the true for the false . . . and the damage to [plaintiff’s] reputation would be no less.” Haynes v. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 8 F.3d 1222, 1228 (7th Cir. 1993). Furthermore, while there is some difference between violating a policy by providing incorrect or misleading information and violating a policy by truthfully providing someone’s private information (and potentially exposing a person to harm), the distinction is not enough to make the statement at issue actionable as both violations are similarly damaging to the journalist’s reputation. Project Veritas’s allegations and arguments do not plausibly suggest that the truth (as pled in the Complaint) would have a different effect on the mind of the average reader in terms of the reputational harm.

Basically, the judge is noting that the “harm” here (if any) was no different if Cabrera had accurately described the reason PV was banned, because the reason they actually were banned was pretty bad in itself. And all this really accomplishes then (beyond being a SLAPPy nuisance) is to reinforce the knowledge that PV was banned for violating Twitter’s policies, in this case, revealing private information they should not have.

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Companies: cnn, project veritas, twitter

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Comments on “Project Veritas Loses Its Defamation Lawsuit Against CNN Because The Truth Is Just As Damning As What CNN Said”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Hard to damage a reputation already in tatters

‘Your Honor I most certainly did not punch the alleged victim with my right fist and saying I did is defamatory and damaging to my reputation! As the evidence shows I punched them with my left fist!’

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A.C. says:

Judge substitutes his own preferred reality

So, the Project Veritas people are correct in their allegation, but it doesn’t matter because they should feel bad about the thing they did and never denied doing?

Whatever you think of the plaintiff, there’s no apparent reason to believe they agree that what they did is damaging to their reputation — what PV reported was accurate; what Cabrera reported was not.

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James Burkhardt (profile) says:


It rarely matters but to sue for defamation, you have to prove not just that the statement was a false statement of fact but also that it harmed your reputation and that that reputational damage resulted in financial losses. the rare exception is defamation pro se, that misused chestnut, which means you don’t have to prove harm to your reputation, because the accusation is so scandalous the reputational damage is assumed even if later proven false (like a false accusation of pedophilia). ‘misinformation’ is not a defamation pro se subject.

A principle in defamation law is that no net harm is caused by a falsehood if the falsehood is no more damaging than the truth.

Side note here: Id have argued that Project Veritas is so well known for their misinformation, as their famous ACORN video was determined to be by a court of law, that another claim they spread misinformation couldn’t harm their reputation. Ala a court ruling Trump couldn’t be defamed because his reputation was so bad

In this case the judge instead found that if CNN had instead claimed they were banned from twitter for doxxing people, it would be similarly damaging to the reputation of PV, therefore there was no harm, therefore no relief can be granted by the court.

Defamation isn’t simply about true and false. Lying, unintentionally or intentionally, isn’t a crime. It needs to cause cognizable repetitional harm with repercussions a court has the power to cure.

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Toom1275 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Cabrera saying PV got banned for doing what PV was currently doing, for doing the one thing PV has ever done, for doing the singular thing it exists to do, hardly seems off-base just because they also doing something so much more worse that pro-right-wing-disinformation Twitter couldn’t sweep it under the rug.

bhull242 (profile) says:


You misunderstand how this works. When determining whether or not a claim should be dismissed, the judge assumes that the allegations in the complaint are true. This is not the same as saying that they are true.

Basically, even if PV’s allegations and claims are 100% true, they still would not prevail in a defamation case because the alleged falsehood is no worse than the claimed truth.

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