Free Press Supports On-Going Assault On Free Press
The New York Times is giddy about the fed's continuing attack on Project Veritas' for the supposed theft of the President's daughter's diary.
What you won’t read in the New York Times today is that Project Veritas, an independent non-profit conservative news outlet, is suing the NYT for libel.
Instead, the Times questions whether Project Veritas deserves First Amendment protection in the wake of a guilty plea by two people who sold Pres. Joe Biden’s daughter’s diary to Project Veritas.
Ashley Biden’s diary was left behind at a Delray, FL, home where she was living in 2020, along with a cell phone, tax documents and a digital camera that contained photos of her family.
According to The Miami Herald, Aimee Harris, 40, told a friend, Robert Kurlander, 58, that she found Ashley Biden’s diary when she was staying at the house during her divorce and Kurlander promised to help her “make a SH*T TON of money” from the diary.
Harris and Kurlander sold the diary for $40,000 to Project Veritas, which considered publishing a story but never actually did so because it could not authenticate the diary. Project Veritas then turned the diary over to law enforcement.
Nevertheless, last Fall, the FBI searched the home of several employees of Project Veritas, including an early morning raid on the apartment of Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe. Meanwhile, Microsoft has informed Project Veritas that the U.S. Department of Justice began secretly seizing its internal communications in late 2020. If this had happened to the NYT, there would have been howls of protest but apparently its okay if the media outfit targets liberal icons, news outlets, labor organizations and Democratic politicians.
This week, Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced Harris and Kurlander, pleaded guilty to “conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property involving the theft of personal belongings of an immediate family member of a then-former government official who was a candidate for national political office.”
The duo are charged with taking the diary from Florida to New York, which is where Project Veritas is located.
The U.S. Attorney’s press release states: “Under the terms of their plea agreements, HARRIS and KURLANDER each agreed to forfeit $20,000, and KURLANDER agreed to cooperate with the Government.” (emphasis supplied).
How this diary qualifies as a “theft” or “stolen property” remains to be seen but one thing is clear - Project Veritas is now in the cross hairs of the federal probe.
In a story today, the NYT writes: “The investigation has spurred questions about how much the First Amendment can protect a group that claims it is a news media organization even though its methods fall far outside traditional journalistic norms.”
News Media Organization?
There is no question that Project Veritas is a news media organization, subject to the protection of the First Amendment.
And, contrary to the NYT, Project Veritas’ methods are not outside “traditional journalist norms.” Project Veritas reporters have misidentified themselves and filmed people without their knowledge. However, this kind of “gotcha you” journalism was commonplace in the 1980s and 1990s.
Project Veritas journalists, posing as medical researchers, covertly filmed a Planned Parenthood (PP) doctor at a restaurant in 2015 blabbing about money collected by the PP for the sale of fetal tissue and parts. A PP spokesperson later said the organization charges a processing fee when it donates fetal tissue for medical research but that it does not make a profit. The video undoubtedly was distasteful to many but it made national headlines and was debated in Congress.
The Libel Lawsuit
One can’t help but wonder if the NYT is seeking to diminish Project Veritas because it is suing the NYT for defamation over articles written in response to a 2020 Project Veritas’ video accusing Rep. IIHan Omar, D-Minn., of voter fraud. Here are some of the headlines from the NYT articles that form the basis of the lawsuit:
“Conservative News Sites Fuel Voter Fraud Misinformation.”
“False Voter Fraud Stories are Churning on Conservative News Sites.”
“Project Veritas Video Was a ‘Coordinated Disinformation Campaign,’ Researchers say.”
“Project Veritas Releases Misleading Video, Part of What Experts Call a Coordinated Effort.”
(*Note the acknowledgment that Project Veritas is a news site.)
The Times acknowledged that its reporters did not contact Project Veritas prior to publication but says their reporters acted without “actual malice.”
The Project Veritas video, which was viewed more than a million times on YouTube, featured interviews with Somali-American campaign officials in Minnesota who described corruption by Somali-American politicians who are part of an extended Somali-American "clan," including cash payments to elderly voters in exchange for their absentee ballots.
U.S. District Judge Charles D. Wood refused to dismiss Project Veritas’ lawsuit against the Times in December 2021.