A New York Supreme Court justice verbally backhanded The New York Times on Friday in a ruling that could have long-term implications for the type of yellow journalism the Times and other mainstream outlets have increasingly utilized for years against conservatives.
According to The Epoch Times, NY Times writers Maggie Astor and Tiffany Hsu likely spread deceptive allegations and claims about non-profit undercover journalism group Project Veritas.
“If a writer interjects an opinion in a news article (and will seek to claim legal protections as opinion) it stands to reason that the writer should have an obligation to alert the reader, including a court that may need to determine whether it is fact or opinion, that it is opinion,” Wood wrote in a 16-page decision denying the paper’s request to dismiss a lawsuit from Project Veritas.
“The Articles that are the subject of this action called the Video ‘deceptive,’ but the dictionary definitions of ‘disinformation’ and ‘deceptive’ provided by defendants’ counsel certainly apply to Astor’s and Hsu’s failure to note that they injected their opinions in news articles, as they now claim,” he added.
Continuing, The Epoch Times added:
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At issue are five articles that Project Veritas alleges contained false and defamatory information. All five were about a 2020 video report from the journalism group on alleged illegal voting practices in Minnesota.
In one of Astor’s articles, she wrote: “Mr. O’Keefe and Project Veritas have a long history of releasing manipulated or selectively edited footage purporting to show illegal conduct by Democrats and liberal groups.” The source of the statement, and whether it is fact or opinion, is not clear, according to the judge.
Hsu, meanwhile, wrote in part that conservative publications “magnified the reach of a deceptive video released last month by Project Veritas, a group run by the conservative activist James O’Keefe,” adding: “The video claimed without named sources or verifiable evidence that the campaign for Representative Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, was collecting ballots illegally.”
“Stating that the video is ‘deceptive’ and stating ‘without verifiable evidence’ in a factual way in a news article certainly presents the statement as fact, not opinion,” Wood wrote in his decision. “Further, the Astor and Hsu Articles could be viewed as exposing Veritas to ridicule and harm to its reputation as a media source because the reader may read these news Articles, expecting facts, not opinion, and conclude that Veritas is a partisan zealot group, deceptively editing video, and presenting it as news.”
The Times’ legal team argued that the adjectives “deceptive” and “false” were the opinions of the writers, but the judge said after reviewing the entirety of the two articles it is very likely that a reader would consider them to be facts, not opinions.
In addition, the Times legal team argued that their writers relied on fact-checking websites and other media like Fox News and the Washington Post to substantiate their use of the terms.
The justice didn’t appear to accept that argument, however.
“While this is a lengthy media list, polling does not decide truth nor speak to evidence, and Defendants have not met their burden to prove that the reporting by Veritas in the Video is deceptive,” the judge said. “The facts submitted by Veritas could indicate more than standard, garden variety media bias and support a plausible inference of actual malice.”
In a statement, Project Veritas noted: “This ruling means Project Veritas will now be able to put New York Times reporter Maggie Astor and New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet under oath where they will be forced to answer our questions. Project Veritas will record these depositions and expose them for the world to see.”