A federal judge dismissed a woman’s libel lawsuit against conservative advocacy group Project Veritas and its founder James O’Keefe Wednesday regarding the depiction of her assault during a 2016 President Trump campaign rally.
“While the internet has broadened the number and the variety of available voices in the marketplace of ideas, it has also served to undermine the public’s confidence in the veracity of those sources,” United States District Judge Martin Reidinger, according to a transcript of Wednesday’s court session in Asheville, North Carolina.
“That fine line has to be walked. And I think that walking that fine line required this court to take a close look at what issues are really for this court and what issues are really for this jury,” he said.
He added: “if citizens and the media are handcuffed by a fear of liability, that’s detrimental to political discourse, it is detrimental to society as a whole, and it is detrimental, really, to our fundamental freedom.”
Judge Reidinger stopped the case and dismissed the jury before making his decision.
The woman, 71-year-old Shirley Teter filed a libel lawsuit after a Project Veritas video featured her being struck in the face during a protest of Mr. Trump. She claimed the video depicted her as part of a plot of Democratic operatives to cause violence.
The Judge ruled on the side of Project Veritas, who argued Teter’s lawyers did not present enough evidence of actual malice in their depiction of her and her speaking with the media about her assault made her a public figure.
Mr. O’Keefe praised the decision, saying: “Let this be a lesson to all those who abuse our legal system to settle petty political disputes. The courts have once again vindicated our undercover methods and journalism. Project Veritas is 6-0 in lawsuits for a reason – the law is on our side.”
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