The FBI has executed a string of search warrants targeting the homes and cell phones of Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe and several others associated with that organization. It should require no effort to understand why it is a cause for concern that a Democratic administration is using the FBI to aggressively target an organization devoted to obtaining and reporting incriminating information about Democratic Party leaders and their liberal allies.
That does not mean the FBI investigation is inherently improper. Journalists are no more entitled than any other citizen to commit crimes. If there is reasonable cause to believe O'Keefe and his associates committed federal crimes, then an FBI investigation is warranted as it is for any other case. But there has been no evidence presented that O'Keefe or Project Veritas employees have done anything of the sort, nor any explanation provided to justify these invasive searches. That we should want and need that is self-evident: if the Trump-era FBI had executed search warrants inside the newsrooms of The New York Times and NBC News, we would be demanding evidence to prove it was legally justified. Yet virtually nothing has been provided to justify the FBI's targeting of O'Keefe and his colleagues, and the little that has been disclosed by way of justifying this makes no sense.
The FBI investigation concerns the theft last year of the diary of Joe Biden's daughter, Ashley, yet Project Veritas, while admitting they received a copy from an anonymous source, chose not to publish that diary because they were unable to verify it. Nobody and nothing thus far suggests that Project Veritas played any role in its acquisition, legal or otherwise. There is a cryptic reference in the search warrant to transmitting stolen material across state lines, but it is not illegal for journalists to receive and use material illegally acquired by a source: the most mainstream organizations spent the last month touting documents pilfered from Facebook by their heroic "whistleblower” Frances Haugen.
On Monday night, we produced an in-depth video report examining the FBI's targeting of O'Keefe and Project Veritas and the dangers it presents (as we do for all of our Rumble videos, the transcript will soon be made available to subscribers here; for now, you can watch the video at the Rumble link or on the player below). One of the primary topics of our report was the authoritarian tactic that is typically used to justify governmental attacks on those who report news and disseminate information: namely, to decree that the target is not a real journalist and therefore has no entitlement to claim the First Amendment guarantee of a free press.
This not-a-real-journalist tactic was and remains the primary theory used by those who justify the ongoing attempt to imprison Julian Assange. In demanding Assange's prosecution under the Espionage Act, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) wrote in The Wall Street Journal that “Mr. Assange claims to be a journalist and would no doubt rely on the First Amendment to defend his actions.” Yet the five-term Senator insisted: "but he is no journalist: He is an agitator intent on damaging our government, whose policies he happens to disagree with, regardless of who gets hurt.”
This not-a-real-journalist slogan was also the one used by both the CIA and the corporate media against myself and my colleagues in both the Snowden reporting we did in 2013, as well as the failed attempt to criminally prosecute me in 2020 for the year-long Brazil exposés we did: punishing them is not an attack on press freedom because they are not journalists and what they did is not journalism.
What is most striking about this weapon is that — like the campaign to agitate for more censorship — it is led by journalists. It is the corporate media that most aggressively insists that those who are independent, those who are outsiders, those who do not submit to their institutional structures are not real journalists the way they are, and thus are not entitled to the protections of the First Amendment. In order to create a framework to deny Project Veritas's status as journalists, The New York Times claimed last week that anyone who uses undercover investigations (as Veritas does) is automatically a non-journalist because that entails lying — even though, just two years earlier, the same paper heralded numerous news outlets such as Al Jazeera and Mother Jones for using undercover investigations to accomplish what they called "compelling” reporting.
I am very well-acquainted with this repressive tactic of trying to decree who is and is not a real journalist for purposes of constitutional protection. Many have forgotten — given the awards it ultimately ended up winning — that the NSA/Snowden reporting we did in 2013 was originally maligned as quasi-criminal not just by Obama national security officials such as James Clapper but also by The New York Times. The first profile the Paper of Record published about me the day after the reporting began referred to me in the headline as an “Anti-Surveillance Activist” and then, once backlash ensued, it was changed to “Blogger” (the original snide, disqualifying headline is still visible in the URL).
Fair use excerpt. Read the rest here.