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. Merry Christmas, Dean Baquet.
The Court acknowledged the Times’ argument that if it cannot publish our private attorney-client communications, what then can it do, and reminded the Times that “The Times is perfectly free to investigate, uncover, research, interview, photograph, record, report, publish, opine, expose or ignore whatever aspects of Project Veritas its editors in their sole discretion deem newsworthy, without utilizing Project Veritas’ attorney-client privileged memoranda.”
The memos, ruled the court, simply are not a matter of public concern and instead are “typical, garden variety, basic attorney-client advice that undoubtedly is given at nearly every major media outlet in America, including between the Times and its own counsel.”
Although many decried the Court’s actions as a prior restraint, the Court noted that granting Veritas’ motion was actually a victory for the First Amendment: “[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.”
The Court simply felt it could not sit back and let the Times run roughshod over the attorney-client privilege so sacrosanct in our society. “The Times’ ‘shot across the bow’ of their litigation adversary cries out for court intervention, to protect the integrity of the judicial process[.] … [T]he court in its discretion must fashion an appropriate sanction that will adequately redress the violation.”
The hacks at the NYT were not pleased:
The New York Times has blasted a judge who ordered the paper to return documents they obtained from the conservative activist group Project Veritas.
Coming in the form of an op-ed piece penned by publication’s editorial board, The Times’ top brass utilized the power of the printed page to express their distaste towards New York Supreme Court Justice Charles Wood’s Friday ruling.
Barred from publishing the legally sensitive papers that potentially contain incriminating communications between the firm’s lawyers, the storied news outlet contends the jurist’s decision violates the First Amendment.
In the verbose opinion piece, titled A Dangerous Court Order Against The New York Times, the paper’s editorial board – a lineup of their most lauded journalists – lambasted Wood’s decision as unconstitutional, and ‘highly unusual and astonishingly broad injunction against a news organization.’
Irony goes right over the pointy heads at the NYT. They are complaining about a court order that protects attorney-client privilege, and they see no problem trying to violate those protections, as long as their target is a political opponent.