O’Keefe’s lawsuit appears only four days after Twitter suspended O’Keefe’s account and insisted he broke its platform manipulation rules, which bar users from setting up false accounts or managing various accounts to “artificially amplify or disrupt conversations.”
In a legal complaint Project Veritas says was filed Monday, O’Keefe explained that he didn’t operate fake accounts, maintaining Twitter’s statements on his ban are “extremely damaging to his reputation” and undermine his investigative work.
The suit further thought that Twitter banned O’Keefe “in order to distract and detract from” embarrassing hidden-camera videos Project Veritas had published of a CNN staffer (the legal complaint didn’t point to any hard evidence).
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The false accusation that Mr. O’Keefe operated ‘fake accounts’ is particularly damaging for Mr. O’Keefe because Mr. O’Keefe is a journalist,” the complaint stated. “As such, his reputation for transparency and accurate reporting is fundamental to his profession.”
Defamation suits are generally difficult to win in the United States. To prove defamation, public personages have to show not only that a defendant published false and damaging information, but that they further acted with “actual malice,” or reckless disregard for the truth.
Project Veritas casts itself as an investigative journalism outfit, and it’s best known for its hidden-camera sting operations against reporters and left-wing entities. The organization is often blamed for making out-of-context allegations or using deception to embarrass subjects, charges the group vehemently denies. CNN grew the group’s most recent target this month, after Project Veritas posted videos seeming to reveal a CNN technical director suggesting the network tried to destroy former President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. CNN did not respond to requests for comment.
Project Veritas is further suing the New York Times for characterizing its work as deceptive, and O’Keefe vowed to sue CNN last week.
“We’re going to sue CNN and we’re going to sue Twitter,” he announced.
“We’re going to sue a bunch of other people and we’ll represent other people suing these organizations and represent a people’s defamation defense fund under the country’s libel laws — something that no one’s ever done before,” he continued.
“The CNN material was the most devastating material in Project Veritas history,” O’Keefe said. “It showed the nucleus, the heart and soul of what’s wrong with the media. Chester was proud of the fact that fear and propaganda sell. He was bragging about [it].”