In a spectacle showing observers that some media outlets can’t distinguish between public and private, between government and civilian, the New York State Supreme Court Westchester County branch has upheld a ruling against the New York Times (NYT) in its attempt to continue publishing private, privileged memos between employees at Project Veritas and Project Veritas' attorneys.
The Christmas Eve decision from State Supreme Court Justice Charles D. Wood reaffirms a lower court ruling against the NYT move, a move which already has seen the “Gray Lady” release several memos and which was to be followed by more releases.
The Associated Press reports that the memos pertain to a defamation suit Project Veritas brought in 2020 against the NYT:
Months after the lawsuit was filed, the newspaper reported that the U.S. Justice Department was investigating Project Veritas in connection with the theft of a diary belonging to Ashley Biden, the president's daughter. In that story, the Times quoted the memos, leading Project Veritas to accuse the newspaper of violating attorney-client privilege.
That seems pretty obvious. And Judge Wood agreed with Veritas.
The Project Veritas team soon issued a press release saying, in part:
NY Supreme Court, noting that 'Hit and run journalism’ is not protected, rules New York Times may have ‘improper[ly]’ obtained PV's attorney-client memos before publishing them ‘ahead of the deadline it had set,’ and ORDERS the Times to (1) return the memos to PV; (2) destroy all copies of the memos it has, including removing them "from the internet"; (3) retrieve copies of the memos it provided to third parties including Columbia Journalism Professor Bill Grueskin; (4) not use the memos in PV's defamation lawsuit against the Times; and (5) confirm its compliance within 10 days.’
Which, curiously, is a lot more detailed information than the Associated Press (AP) offered.
For its part, the AP (clearly not biased, oh, no, not at all) landed on the side of the leftist NYT and its attempt to publish private communications contrary to the wishes of the private parties. Indeed, the AP offered plenty of space to the NYT:
The newspaper reported it would appeal the ruling and seek a stay in the meantime. Publisher A.G. Sulzberger decried the ruling as an attack of press freedoms and alarming for ‘anyone concerned about the dangers of government overreach into what the public can and cannot know.’ He also said it risked exposing sources.
Which isn’t anything at all like exposing whistleblowers or sources of info on government criminality. This is more akin to thieves handing off stolen goods. Yet the AP adds this:
’In defiance of law settled in the Pentagon Papers case, this judge has barred The Times from publishing information about a prominent and influential organization that was obtained legally in the ordinary course of reporting,’ Sulzberger said in a statement reported by the Times that also asserted there was no precedent for Wood's decision.
On the saner side of the argument, Judge Wood correctly noted that this upholds the liberty of private parties to engage in voluntary, private speech.
[T]his is no defeat for the First Amendment. For it would indeed be a Pyrrhic victory for the great principles of free expression if the Amendment's safeguarding of the media's nearly unfettered right to broadcast issues concerning public affairs were confused with the attempt to constitutionalize the publication of the private, privileged communication that is presented here.
Of course, this is a sentiment not shared by the NYT or the AP, which, at least, the AP acknowledges as it closes off its slanted “article.”
News organizations, including The Associated Press, supported the Times and asked the court not to impose what they called an unconstitutional prior restraint on speech in a friend of the court brief filed last month by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
And that tells us a lot about the AP, the NYT, and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. It tells us that they cannot (or want to selectively) distinguish between state parties and private parties.
The First Amendment exists in order to prevent government from stopping the freedom of speech, which includes speaking about the government, and releasing information created by or gathered by tax-funded government entities or agents. The First Amendment does not protect “publishers” who take other peoples’ private communications and release them. Under the US Constitution, any aggrieved party in such a situation retains the prerogative to call the alleged offender into court, and to get a ruling in favor of privacy and the control of one’s own private messages.
Project Veritas attorney Elizabeth Locke put it well:
’The New York Times has long forgotten the meaning of the journalism it claims to espouse, and has instead become a vehicle for the prosecution of a partisan political agenda,’ Locke said. ‘Today’s ruling affirms that the New York Times’ behavior was irregular and outside the boundaries of law.’
Once more, Project Veritas emerges victorious over the leftist spin doctors who seem to lack any understanding of real journalism or free speech.
No wonder so many people follow the Veritas work.