A judge has extended a ban on The New York Times publishing privileged information between the journalist group Project Veritas and its lawyers.
New York State Supreme Court Justice Charles Wood said his temporary ban will run through at least Dec. 1, which is the deadline for Project Veritas to respond.
The ban was first put in place on Nov. 18. after Project Veritas objected to a Nov. 11 article from the New York Times that drew from messages between nonprofit and its attorneys.
Project Veritas lawyer Elizabeth Locke released a statement addressing the article, saying, “Like any other litigant, The New York Times may not use their opposing litigant’s privileged attorney-client communications to harm their adversary’s substantial rights — in this case, the right to freely and openly communicate with their attorney.”
According to Justice Wood, the case demonstrates a clash between the “bedrock principles [of] freedom of the speech and freedom of the press, and attorney-client privilege.”
Project Veritas has been criticized frequently over its use of undercover tactics and allegedly misleading editing of videos. The New York Times article aimed to uncover how Project Veritas works with its legal counsel to “gauge how far its deceptive reporting practices can go before running afoul of federal laws.”
The New York Times article further said that the documents it obtained “detail ways for Project Veritas sting operations — which typically diverge from standard journalistic practice by employing people who mask their real identities or create fake ones to infiltrate target organizations — to avoid breaking federal statutes such as the law against lying to government officials.”
The article admitted that “most news organizations consult regularly with lawyers, but some of Project Veritas’s questions for its legal team demonstrate an interest in using tactics that test the boundaries of legality and are outside of mainstream reporting techniques.”
The article did not explain why most news organizations would regularly consult with lawyers if their tactics did not raise questions about the boundaries of legality.
During an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, Project Veritas attorney Harmeet Dhillon said that the New York Times’ piece only proves that Project Veritas is “honest and thoughtful.”
“All it proves is that Project Veritas is an honest and thoughtful journalistic organization that sought legal advice before making various publications. That’s what Fox News does. That’s what The New York Times does. And that’s what every major journalism outlet does. So, I don’t know what ‘gotcha’ they think they were doing there other than they got themselves. Because they criticized Project Veritas for its tactics. And yet they sink so low,” Dhillon said.
Earlier this year, the New York Supreme Court ruled that the New York Times had acted with “actual malice” and “reckless disregard” towards Project Veritas in articles published in late 2020.
The FBI raided Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe’s home days before the New York Times article. Dhillon explained that the FBI “had a battering ram, and they threw [O’Keefe] out in the hallway … in handcuffs and took his phones.”
“Now a lot of privileged information was on his phones, including communications with — by my count — four dozen different lawyers over the years. And coincidentally, this publication came out this afternoon from The New York Times,” she pointed out.
“I can’t say with a certainty how The New York Times got this information, but I can say that they got it in a way that is illegal and unethical,” Dhillon said, adding that it is a “very disturbing situation of the U.S. attorney’s office and/or the FBI tipping off The New York Times to each of the raids on Project Veritas — current and former employees.”
Dhillon explained that she knew the outlet had been tipped off because New York Times reporters were calling just minutes after the raid occurred, and they were the only outlet that knew the raid occurred.
Dhillon said that the New York Times article “is really despicable. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this low from The New York Times before — to publish people’s private legal communications.”
Dhillon concluded by saying “what the DOJ has done in this case – they have blown federal law. They have blown the constitution; they have blown due process and civil rights. And now they’re communicating at some level for sure with The New York Times. So, this is a scandal of epic proportions and every journalist who isn’t worried and concerned about this should hang up their journalism card. Ditto, all First Amendment lawyers, as well.”