Last night was the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, a night supposedly that serves as "an annual dinner to salute the First Amendment, honor award-winning journalism and recognize scholarship winners." Yet not mentioned at the dinner, and hardly a blip in any news coverage since it occurred, was a legal victory for the First Amendment brought forth by James O'Keefe's Project Veritas and the American Civil Liberties Union. Thanks to a case challenging Massachusetts' ban on recording police officers and other government paid employees, a federal judge ruled last December that journalists and American citizens everywhere have the right to secretly record elected officials.
As reported by Boston Magazine, attorneys for O'Keefe and the ACLU argued "that the possibility of being arrested for secretly filming public figures kept them from holding government accountable. Their suits named as defendants District Attorney Dan Conley and Boston Police Commissioner William Gross and challenged Section 99, part of the state’s 1968 wiretap law."
U.S. District Court Judge Patti Saris agreed with the attorneys, writing, “On the core constitutional issue, the Court holds that secret audio recording of government officials, including law enforcement officials, performing their duties in public is protected by the First Amendment, subject only to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions,” The law in question “is unconstitutional in those circumstances," she added.
“Project Veritas has made First Amendment history,” O'Keefe told the press after the ruling. The ACLU's Carol Rose added, "We’ve seen that videos of police officers can show the realities of policing in powerful ways: People’s recordings of police interactions have started national conversations about police reform and accountability."
As O'Keefe said in an email to his supporters following the case, "The impact of this win will ripple throughout the nation. It will set historical precedent and keep citizen journalism alive in all fifty states."
One would think that after such a legal victory, which defends the right of all-Americans to report the news and the truth, that Project Veritas and the ACLU (two markedly different organizations with different goals might I add) would be showered with awards. While the ACLU receives positive coverage from the mainstream media, Project Veritas receives a different treatment. O'Keefe's efforts, alongside his previous stories which have protected other constitutional rights in places such as New Hampshire, should be praised. But, they are not.
Why does the mainstream media ignore groups like Project Veritas? Well, it is simple. His group goes after the wrong people, in their opinion. Most of the groups and politicians Project Veritas has exposed are liberal. And, with a mainstream media whose coverage of the current Republican president is 90% negative, any journalist who runs counter to their progressive narrative will be blacklisted. Instead, these folks gather in DC to bloviate about President Trump's supposed attacks on the First Amendment because he tweeted mean things or something. But, O'Keefe and his team are actually on the front-lines in both the streets and the courtroom assuring the First Amendment remains protected as technological advances change how journalists operate.
Editor's Note: In the interest of transparency, the author of this piece has a relative who works for Project Veritas.