James O’Keefe: Project Veritas Going on the Offense With Lawsuits

March 1, 2021 Updated: March 1, 2021

Watchdog group Project Veritas is starting to go on the offense against news organizations that defame them, Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe said over the weekend.

“We believe it’s time to go on offense. We’re going to start suing these places,” O’Keefe told The Epoch Times’ “Crossroads” at CPAC 2021.

Project Veritas last year sued The New York Times for defamation, after the paper accused the watchdog of spreading misinformation in its expose of a money-for-ballots scheme in Minnesota.

In the complaint in New York’s Supreme Court, the nonprofit says the paper’s story ran counter to the video and audio evidence it presented, as well as interviews it conducted. It accused the paper of conspiring with “a left-leaning group of academics and college students to near-simultaneously have that group publish a blog post” making the misinformation claim, quickly followed by the paper’s story hyping the blog post.

“They worked together to convince the public that Project Veritas’ investigation should be disregarded outright as a deceptive, untruthful report, published not by a journalistic organization, but a ‘conservative activist.'”

The group in question is called the Election Integrity Partnership. The group, which includes researchers from the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, claimed the Project Veritas video was part of “a domestic, coordinated elite disinformation campaign.”

The paper’s lawyers in a motion to dismiss cited Wikipedia’s description of Project Veritas and said the nonprofit’s reporting was “widely criticized” and failed to link Rep. Ilham Omar (D-Minn.) to the alleged ballot harvesting scheme. The lawyers also argued that articles do not have to be fair and balanced and, even if false, wouldn’t warrant a judgement unless actual malice were proven. They also appeared to acknowledge that reporters didn’t seek comment from Project Veritas.

new york times
The New York Times building in New York City, N.Y., on Feb. 7, 2013. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

“In my review of the Video, I observed no material credibly supporting the Video’s claim that Representative Ilhan Omar’s campaign was engaged in an illegal ballot-fraud scheme,” reporter Maggie Astor added in a separate filing.

O’Keefe countered the allegations in the motions, telling The Epoch Times: “If a videotape of cash in exchange for ballots is considered misinformation, that’s about the most Orwellian thing—that’s beyond George Orwell, that’s craziness. So that concerned me. I realized I had no other option. It was a choiceless choice. My lawyers informed me it’s gonna cost millions of dollars to get to a jury verdict, but we will win. We will win because we can’t settle. We don’t settle.”

O’Keefe said that other lawsuits are in the works.

“CNN has lied about us. Brian Stelter lied about me last week. Fidelity, which is a banking institution, has told our donors that I’m under criminal investigation. That’s false. That’s in Texas. We’re going to start suing all of these people, and the reason why is, obviously, it’s actual malice. You can’t defame someone,” he said.

“But also, in the discovery process of litigation, you force them to answer questions under oath, that is videotaped. That is content, as if we went into their institutions with a hidden camera. So we look forward to deposing the head of The New York Times, Brian Stelter, Anna Cabrera, all of the folks that have defamed Project Veritas. The only thing they understand is power. So we look forward to seeing them in court.”

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