FBI Raid of James O’Keefe’s House Is a Blow to Press Freedom

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The FBI searched the home of James O’Keefe—a conservative activist who films undercover videos for his organization, Project Veritas—on Saturday, reportedly because law enforcement wants to know how O’Keefe came to possess a diary allegedly stolen from Ashley Biden, President Joe Biden’s daughter. The FBI also searched the homes of two O’Keefe associates.

There’s still much more to learn about the reasons for the search, but what we do know is troubling and potentially objectionable on the grounds of press freedom. O’Keefe has claimed that he received the diary from a source; Project Veritas did not publish it, though some leaked pages eventually appeared on a right-wing website. According to O’Keefe, he handed the diary over to law enforcement last year. Per The New York Times:

In his video statement on Friday, Mr. O’Keefe offered a lengthy defense of his group’s handling of the diary, saying that he and his colleagues had been operating as ethical journalists, had turned the diary over to the law enforcement authorities last year and had sought to return it to a lawyer for Ms. Biden.

“It appears the Southern District of New York now has journalists in their sights for the supposed crime of doing their jobs lawfully and honestly,” Mr. O’Keefe said in the video statement. “Our efforts were the stuff of responsible, ethical journalism and we are in no doubt that Project Veritas acted properly at each and every step.”

While it would be wrong for an organization to leak materials that it obtained unlawfully, journalistic outlets routinely publish information from sources who themselves might have come by the information improperly. Perhaps additional information will come to light, but for now, the government’s handling of this matter is eminently criticizable—and raises the possibility that Project Veritas is being targeted unfairly.

“Don’t think journalists should be cheerleading this one,” observed New York Times media writer Ben Smith.


FREE MINDS

One Virginia county’s school board is conducting an audit to remove books deemed offensive from the library. Two board members went so far as to suggest that books with adult themes be cast into the fire. According to The Free Lance–Star:

The board voted 6–0 to order the removal. Berkeley District representative Erin Grampp was not in attendance for the vote on that issue.

Two board members, Courtland representative Rabih Abuismail and Livingston representative Kirk Twigg, said they would like to see the removed books burned.

“I think we should throw those books in a fire,” Abuismail said, and Twigg said he wants to “see the books before we burn them so we can identify within our community that we are eradicating this bad stuff.”

School curriculum—and, specifically, which books should appear in school libraries—is increasingly becoming a winning issue for conservatives. Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin triumphed over former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia gubernatorial election in large part because he assailed McAuliffe’s callous assertion that parents should play no role in deciding what schools teach. McAuliffe deservedly suffered for taking parents out of the equation—families have every right to object to what is being taught in public schools. They should have more choices in terms of educational services, including the ability to opt out and send their kids to schools that better meet their needs.

But it is also true that giving the most offended parent veto power over what appears in the school library will produce a climate of craven censoriousness, with district officials in this case literally offering to burn books in order to prove their commitment to not bothering anyone. That’s an unhealthy dynamic, and it will not improve the quality of education in schools.


FREE MARKETS

U.S. consumer prices surged 6.2 percent since last October, the biggest single-year increase in 30 years. According to CNBC:

Inflation across a broad swath of products that consumers buy every day was even worse than expected in October, hitting its highest point in more than 30 years, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.

The consumer price index, which is a basket of products ranging from gasoline and health care to groceries and rents, rose 6.2% from a year ago, the most since December 1990. That compared with the 5.9% Dow Jones estimate.

On a monthly basis, the CPI increased 0.9% against the 0.6% estimate.

Stripping out volatile food and energy prices, so-called core CPI was up 0.6% against the estimate of 0.4%. Annual core inflation ran at a 4.6% pace, compared with the 4% expectation and the highest since August 1991.

Fuel oil prices soared 12.3% for the month, part of a 59.1% increase over the past year. Energy prices overall rose 4.8% in October and are up 30% for the 12-month period.

Used vehicle prices again were a big contributor, rising 2.5% on the month and 26.4% for the year. New vehicle prices were up 1.4% and 9.8%, respectively.

Food prices also showed a sizeable bounce, up 0.9% and 5.3% respectively. Within the food category, meat, poultry, fish and eggs collectively rose 1.7% for the month and 11.9% year over year.

In a statement, Biden said that the solution was to pass his “Build Back Better” agenda, which will “ease inflationary pressures” by getting Americans back to work and making it easier for them to afford certain services, like child care. Of course, massive increases in government spending can also cause runaway inflation all by themselves, so the bill could actually make the problem much worse.


QUICK HITS

• Jacob Chansley, the “QAnon Shaman” and the central figure most identified with the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, is facing a 51-month prison sentence if convicted. This is the lengthiest sentence prosecutors have sought thus far in a January 6 case.

• Some 76 percent of Americans think Facebook is making society worse off.

• COVID-19 cases are rising in 20 states.

• How it started:

• How it’s going:


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