James O'Keefe

Were you wondering what's the deal with all these stories about Project Veritas, a stolen diary, and a trench war with the New York Times? Or did you think of James O'Keefe and it caused your ovaries (or gonads!) to shrivel into little raisins and your eyes to glaze over in disgust?

GIRL, SAME. Because we are normal.

But since a New York state judge has seen fit to issue a classic prior restraint on the New York Times in violation of the First Amendment, we did you the solid of looking into this shit last night, and it was just as mindnumbingly dumb as we'd expected. You're welcome!

It started back in November of 2020, the day before the election, when Project Veritas sued the Times for defamation. At issue were two stories the paper had published about a PV report which purported to show rampant ballot fraud in Rep. Ilhan Omar's Minnesota district. Omar received 78 percent of the vote in 2018, and 64 percent in 2020 — a big drop off if for some reason she felt compelled to "cheat" in one of the bluest districts in the country.


Times reporters Maggie Astor and Tiffany Hsu cast doubt on the veracity of PV's reporting, and indeed one of the main sources claims he was offered $10,000 to allege that the congresswoman participated in vote fraud. They also suggested that PV accelerated the release of the story to steal publicity from the Times' reporting on Trump's tax returns.

The complaint itself is classic, scene-chewing PV batshittery. Here's a fun little sample:

The Times' newsroom was incensed at what it viewed as Project Veritas stealing its thunder. And it was especially infuriated because the Times views Project Veritas and its founder James O'Keefe with vitriolic distain [SIC] — a man who, in their view, is little more than a "conservative activist," not a bona fide journalist. The well documented liberal bias of The Times' newsroom also provided an incentive to try and quickly discredit the Project Veritas investigative report and minimize the damning investigation into the illegal voting practices by Democrat candidates depicted in the Project Veritas report as the country heads into a hotly contested election during a global pandemic where there is increasing public concern about the integrity of early and mail-in voting.

But it survived early motions to dismiss, perhaps because powerhouse defamation lawyer Elizabeth Locke is representing PV, and the case continues.

Around the time that this was all going down, the president's daughter Ashley Biden reported to the FBI that various personal items had been stolen in a burglary. And soon enough, excerpts purporting to be from her diary started appearing online on far-Right sites. We're not linking because JESUS CHRIST, WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE.

PV itself never published the diary, but O'Keefe claims that "tipsters" gave him copies of pages from it which he did not publish, due to his overarching journalistic ethics. Per NYT:

He said that Project Veritas gave the diary to "law enforcement" and attempted to return it to a lawyer representing Ms. Biden, who he said "refused to authenticate it." Mr. O'Keefe portrayed the investigation as politically motivated, questioning why the Justice Department under Ms. Biden's father was pursuing the case.

We don't know how this all went down, and the FBI isn't talking. Let's just say that "refused to authenticate" is doing a lot of work here.

Later, a Project Veritas lawyer told Sean Hannity the group had "paid" for the right to publish the materials. Which might be a different admission all together.

In any event, on November 3 the FBI executed a search warrant on James O'Keefe's home in Mamaroneck, New York, seizing his electronic devices. The warrant, which was included in one of O'Keefe's own filings, made specific reference to Ashley Biden and stolen goods being transferred across state lines.Two days later, two of his associates got similar knocks on the door. The court is currently considering his demand for a special master to screen out document which may be attorney-client privileged or reporting materials. This raises the obvious issue of whether PV is a legitimate media outfit or a bunch of alt-Right shit-stirrers who pump out deceptively edited videos and adhere to no accepted journalistic standards.

Because they are very good at their jobs, reporters at the Times knew about the raids instantly. In addition to which, they appear to have gotten their hands on some of PV's communications with its own lawyers. In a story published last week, reporters Mark Mazzetti and Adam Goldman reveal PV negotiating with its counsel on sticky legal issues, such as when it can record targets, particularly if they are federal agents, and under what circumstances its so-called reporters can give a false name.

Apparently these geniuses needed a lawyer to tell them that it would be dumb to give a fake name if the Secret Service is vetting attendees at an event. Who knew!

PV's lawyers lurched into action, claiming that the attorney-client materials could only have come from O'Keefe's cellphones which were seized in the raid. In federal court, they demanded that US District Judge Analisa Torres make the government say who is leaking to the Times, accusing the paper of having a vendetta against him due to the pending libel litigation. PV also asked a New York state judge to order the Times to stop publishing stories about the material in question. Because these guys are First Amendment warriors, dontchaknow.

And amazingly, the New York judge did it! Westchester County Supreme Court Justice Charles Wood signed a show cause order yesterday ordering the paper not to publish any more stories on PV's communications with counsel and demanding to be briefed on Wednesday as to why he shouldn't order the paper to remove stories already posted.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but that is fucking crazy. You could not come up with a more prototypical prior restraint on speech in violation of the First Amendment.

"Even though it's temporary, the Supreme Court has said even the most modest, minute-by-minute deprivations of these First Amendment rights cannot be tolerated," free speech lawyer Ted Boutrous told the Times. "To go further and suggest a limit on news gathering, I've never heard of such a thing."

The paper has vowed to appeal the order immediately. Which brings us to today, where it's fairly likely that a higher court will intercede.

Don't ask why New York's trial court is called the "Supreme Court." It's like the least stupid thing in this whole sorry saga.

[Project Veritas v. NYT, complaint / NYT / NYT / NYT / NYT / NYT / NYT / In re Search Warrant Dated November 3, Docket via Court Listener]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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