Judge orders NYT to cease publishing internal memos from Project Veritas amid ongoing defamation case

The Washington Examiner reported Friday that a New York judge had “ordered The New York Times to stop publishing information from internal memos taken from Project Veritas,” a controversial right-leaning investigative group that has been accused of spreading conspiracy theories and is currently under investigation by the FBI.

According to the Examiner, days after the group’s founder, James O’Keefe, saw his and two associates’ homes raided by federal authorities, the Times “published parts of sensitive conversations between Project Veritas operatives and their lawyers — which the group said should be protected under attorney-client privilege.”

The judge ruled in favor of Project Veritas after the group filed a motion seeking to temporarily block the publication of the internal memos, which the group claims are related to an ongoing court case.

In that case, the group is suing the Times for defamation, the Examiner notes.

“Improperly solicited”

The Examiner went on to explain in its Friday report:

The judge’s decision this week to ask The New York Times to justify its reporting on the legal memos, as well as to stop writing stories about them until it does so, was based on a complex argument from Project Veritas lawyers in the defamation case[.]

The decision is not tied to the FBI raid of O’Keefe’s home, which reportedly ended in authorities seizing records that the Project Veritas founder say include journalistic material that is protected under the First Amendment.

Instead, Project Veritas argues that the Times violated a stay of discovery in the defamation case that the paper itself pushed for earlier this year.

The New York Times sought and obtained, over Veritas’ objection, a stay of discovery,” one lawyer in the case told the Washington Examiner. “Notwithstanding that stay order, the Times improperly solicited, obtained, and disseminated the attorney-client privileged communications of its litigation adversary written by counsel of record in the litigation.”

According to the Examiner, the attorney added:

And the content of those privileged materials is directly related to the substance of the defamation litigation — an admission the Times has tacitly made by referencing the litigation in its article about Veritas’s attorney-client communications.

“12 jurors on our shoulders”

In its recent report, The New York Times claimed the internal memos “reveal the extent to which [Project Veritas] has worked with its lawyers to gauge how far its deceptive reporting practices can go before running afoul of federal laws.”

The Times also quoted O’Keefe himself, who insisted after the FBI raid that his group would “never break the law.”

“In fact, one of our ethical rules is to act as if there are 12 jurors on our shoulders all the time,” O’Keefe reportedly added. According to the Times, the FBI is looking to whether individuals tied to Project Veritas may have been involved “in the reported theft of a diary kept by President Biden’s daughter, Ashley.”

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