The New York Times denounced a judge’s ruling that temporarily blocks the newspaper from publishing stories based on internal documents from the conservative group Project Veritas.
New York State Supreme Court Justice Charles D. Wood ruled on thursday that the newspaper “will immediately hijack, protect, and refrain from further disseminating or publishing any privileged material of Plaintiff Project Veritas in possession” of the newspaper or its attorneys.
Wood added that the Times and its attorneys “will cease their efforts to request or acquire the privileged attorney-client materials of plaintiff Project Veritas.”
Dean Baquet, executive editor of the Times, criticized the judge’s order and said in a statement: “This ruling is unconstitutional and sets a dangerous precedent. When a court silences journalism, it fails its citizens and undermines their right to know. “
“The Supreme Court made that clear in the case of the Pentagon Papers, a landmark ruling against the previous restriction blocking the publication of newsworthy journalism. That principle clearly applies here. We are seeking an immediate review of this decision, “he added.
Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, called the ruling “a shocking affront to the First Amendment.”
Today, a New York state court entered a # prior restriction against @New York City Times ordering him to refrain from “continuing to disseminate or publish any of the ‘privileged materials’ of the Veritas Project” in his possession, pending a court hearing next week.
Full statement from Bruce Brown: pic.twitter.com/nftXYCs9qJ
– Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (@rcfp) November 18, 2021
The move comes as Project Veritas filed a motion Wednesday in an effort to stop the newspaper from publishing any more articles based on the group’s internal memos. according to The Washington Post.
A story published earlier this month by the Times it cited documents that it said pointed to “an interest in using tactics that test the limits of legality and fall outside the main information techniques.”
The Times story did not say how the newspaper accessed the materials. A lawyer for the newspaper denied to the Post this week that the memos were “improperly obtained.”
The Times is in the midst of a defamation lawsuit brought by Project Veritas regarding a story the newspaper published last year in a video that included allegations of voter fraud.
Libby Locke, an attorney representing the Veritas Project, argued that the content of internal documents published by the Times is protected by attorney-client privilege.
“New York courts routinely issue orders that prohibit or limit a litigant from disseminating materials that are protected by attorney-client privilege, trade secret law or that involve serious privacy interests,” Locke said in a statement.
“Furthermore, the Order to show good cause is extremely limited; it is not asking the Court to restrict The Times’ ability to write about Veritas. It simply asks that The Times retain and no longer disclose the Veritas attorney-client privileged materials, particularly since they relate to the same issues in the lawsuit, ”he added.
James O’Keefe, the founder of the Veritas Project, claimed the newspaper was trying to do it “both ways,” although press freedom advocates also criticized Wood’s ruling.
“While the principles of prior restraint do not apply to an order relating to attorney-client materials that the Times already published during our libel litigation, perhaps Mr. Baquet could explain why his newspaper has not applied these high standards. to your Department of Justice coverage. raids against Project Veritas, ”O’Keefe said in a statement. “The newspaper must decide whether it is in favor of freedom of the press for all, or only for itself, because it cannot have both.”