Project Veritas lost a case brought by Democracy Partnerships in the DC District Court, with the jury awarding $120,000 to the consultancy. The firm had been targeted by PV, and recordings made by an undercover PV operative strongly indicated that DP was engaged in efforts to incite violence at rallies for then-President Donald Trump in the final weeks of the 2016 Presidential campaign.
The DC jury, made up of residents of Washington, DC, decided that
the actions of the former operative…breached a fiduciary duty to the consulting firms and amounted to fraudulent misrepresentation….
Project Veritas has said it will appeal; founder James O’Keefe saying in part
The jury effectively ruled investigative journalists owe a fiduciary duty to the subjects they are investigating and that investigative journalists may not deceive the subjects they are investigating.
I generally agree with what Project Veritas does, discovers, and publicizes.
Not here. No one should be able to deceive anyone; although in most cases, that’s a moral limit, not a legally actionable one.
There’s a fine line here regarding investigative journalism. Going undercover isn’t deception unless the operative openly lies about who he is or what he’s doing. Letting the target draw a wrong conclusion, though, is on the target: do a better job of vetting. The “fiduciary duty” is the target’s as part of its own decision to spend money.
Beyond that, though, deception is what journalists do far too routinely, especially to their readers and viewers. PV needs to do better in its defenses.