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.

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Filed Under: 1st amendment, freedom of the press, injunction, journalism, libby locke, prior restraint, reporting
Companies: clare locke, ny times, project veritas


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  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 19 Nov 2021 @ 9:44am

    Cognitive dissonance at 110%

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    MightyMetricBatman, 19 Nov 2021 @ 10:17am

    It would not surprise me at all if this judge has issued injunctions in the past in violation of the prior restraint is not kosher doctrine. I suspect this type of ruling tends to be a pattern depending on the judge.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2021 @ 10:20am

    As the Voltairean principle says, I disapprove of everything Project Veritas says, but I have a lot of other things more important to care about than their freedom to spread lies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      AnonyOps, 19 Nov 2021 @ 4:32pm

      Re:

      The Racist Cons always said find out who you can't criticize and then you find they've got something criminal to hide. Well I give you #10000001 from the National Gun Appendage member, GQP Civil Whore Maggats, Proud bis & pedophile wing of the national bird.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Koby (profile), 19 Nov 2021 @ 10:55am

    Collusion

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 19 Nov 2021 @ 11:15am

      Damn, you really do hate the First Amendment, don’t you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2021 @ 11:23am

      Re: Collusion

      The information that the times is seeking to publish was leaked illegally by the FBI.

      [cite]

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2021 @ 12:01pm

      Re: Collusion

      Collusion

      Why the fuck should I care about collusion? We've gone through what, 4 years of hearing that there is no such crime as collusion. So pardon me if I just don't give a fuck now.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      LittleCupcakes, 19 Nov 2021 @ 12:03pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Nov 2021 @ 2:03am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 19 Nov 2021 @ 12:54pm

      Re: Collusion

      Weren't you supposed to be flinged into the sun?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 19 Nov 2021 @ 1:30pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 20 Nov 2021 @ 5:04am

        Re: 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.

        Don't you see? By insinuating that you're wrong, Koby really means that you're right!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2021 @ 9:30pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Nov 2021 @ 1:32pm

      Re: Collusion

      Don't you have a summer school class to be failing out of?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 19 Nov 2021 @ 12:28pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      TaboToka (profile), 19 Nov 2021 @ 1:01pm

      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!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 19 Nov 2021 @ 12:39pm

    Gee if only there were some like oversight thingy that could send Judges who do the prior restraint thing off to a farm in the country to run & play all day an no longer stain the justice system.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous, 19 Nov 2021 @ 5:17pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rocky, 19 Nov 2021 @ 5:43pm

      Re: Who's a Hypocrite Grifter?

      Is that you O'Keefe? You seem to be a bit upset, didn't like it when someone pointed out what a fucking hypocrite you are eh?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2021 @ 8:29pm

      Re: Who's a Hypocrite Grifter?

      Sir, this is an Arby's...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      techflaws (profile), 20 Nov 2021 @ 4:23am

      Re: Who's a Hypocrite Grifter?

      Jealous much?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Nov 2021 @ 4:56am

      Re: Who's a Hypocrite Grifter?

      I'm sure Masnick has tried to at least get someone from Project Veritas to respond. And in the reasonable case that he didn't, I'm sure the Charles Koch Foundation is more than happy to help.

      Besides, it's hard to do journalsim when everyone else has done it for him.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Nov 2021 @ 2:08am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 22 Nov 2021 @ 8:13am

      Re: Who's a Hypocrite Grifter?

      So obviously there's no journalism done here

      You've figured out this is an opinion blog and not a newspaper, congratulations.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    gianpo (profile), 19 Nov 2021 @ 5:38pm

    Criminal organization

    Project Veritas is not press they are a criminal organization. At best they are a political propaganda arm of the RNC.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Nov 2021 @ 11:57am

    Isn't Project Veritas the same group that actively supports the KKK and dozens of neo-nazis organizations with direct legal support and cash funding?

    or is it a different Project Veritas who's aim is essentially "kill the jews and anyone who we consider 'not real citizens'" ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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