Nate Jackson / November 17, 2021

Did the FBI Collude With NYT to Take Down Project Veritas?

How did the paper know about the raid and obtain internal documents?

James O'Keefe and his staff at Project Veritas may not be conventional journalists, but that doesn’t mean their usual tactics of undercover embedded reporting isn’t journalism, or that such things are unheard of among other outlets. Because O'Keefe is “on the wrong side,” though, the Leftmedia smugly chuckled at his misfortune after the FBI raided his home and those of two of his associates searching for materials related to the “stolen” or lost diary of Joe Biden’s daughter, Ashley. Nevertheless, that raid was so egregious that even the ACLU came to the defense of Project Veritas.

That defense came with the requisite expression of distaste for Project Veritas, of course. The ACLU can’t displease its leftist donors.

Project Veritas has engaged in disgraceful deceptions, and reasonable observers might not consider their activities to be journalism at all. Nevertheless, the precedent set in this case could have serious consequences for press freedom. Unless the government had good reason to believe that Project Veritas employees were directly involved in the criminal theft of the diary, it should not have subjected them to invasive searches and seizures. We urge the court to appoint a special master to ensure that law enforcement officers review only those materials that were lawfully seized and that are directly relevant to a legitimate criminal investigation.

“Might not consider their activities to be journalism at all”? Someone should get CBS’s Scott Pelley on the phone. Explaining a story involving a surprise interview with secret potted-plant cameras back in 2012, Pelley said, “This is a classic sort of ‘60 Minutes’ story that’s been done around here for more than 40 years.” Sometimes, he explained, it’s “the only way” to get a subject to talk honestly, if at all. And indeed, there are numerous examples of CBS and other outlets doing something very similar to what butters the bread of Project Veritas.

For some reason, in another context, Attorney General Merrick Garland was unable last month to really define what “journalist” means. “It’s very difficult to make that kind of definition,” he told the Senate Judiciary Committee. That seems awfully convenient in the wake of that FBI raid.

In any case, back to the raid. Our Thomas Gallatin covered it a week ago. We’ll add only a couple of key points.

First, O'Keefe’s phone was taken. “On my phone were many of my reporters’ notes,” he said. “A lot of my sources unrelated to this story and a lot of confidential donor information to our news organization.” Indeed, for most Americans, our phones are our lives. They contain virtually all the information anyone would ever want to know about us. How much more so for a man like O'Keefe? Given that he’s not exactly a friend of Joe Biden, it should do more than raise eyebrows that Biden’s Justice Department authorized this raid and that the FBI now has who knows what information on Project Veritas investigations.

Second, the FBI seems to have developed a nasty habit of tipping off Leftmedia reporters when it conducts certain raids. “Within an hour” of the raid of a fellow Project Veritas reporter, O'Keefe said that reporter was contacted by The New York Times. “We do not know how the New York Times was aware of the execution of a search warrant at our reporter’s home,” O'Keefe said, “or the subject matter of the search warrant, as a grand jury investigation is secret.”

We’re reminded of the time the FBI conducted a predawn raid of Roger Stone, and somehow CNN showed up an hour beforehand to catch the raid on video.

The FBI’s apparent collusion with The New York Times gets worse. Why the Times? Perhaps because Project Veritas has pending civil litigation against the paper. Moreover, after the raid, the Times just happened to be able to also extensively report on Project Veritas’s “internal documents” and legal counsel that the paper had mysteriously “obtained.” Gee, we wonder where those came from.

“I’ve heard ‘the process is the punishment,’” O'Keefe said. “I didn’t really understand what that meant until this [raid]. And … I wouldn’t wish this on any journalist.” Go against the Democrat/Leftmedia cartel, and you’ll find out.

We’re certainly aware that the FBI leaked only certain details, and that O'Keefe can be a sensationalist who knows how to publicly defend himself in just such a way as to highlight the abuse. Neither is likely giving the whole story. Nevertheless, given the players — and never mind the material in Ashley Biden’s diary, which the FBI seems to have inadvertently confirmed is hers — we’re inclined to wonder if what’s fishy here is at FBI headquarters and The New York Times, if not Pennsylvania Avenue.

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