When The New York Times published the Pentagon Papers it sparked one of the greatest battles for press freedom in US history. In an unprecedented move, the Nixon administration sought to bar The New York Times from publishing further. The Times’s outside counsel had told them they would not defend them if they chose to publish the top-secret history of the Vietnam War.
But their General Counsel, James Goodale, argued that The New York Times had the right to publish. As Goodale explains to host Chip Gibbons, while the First Amendment is today a cornerstone of press freedom cases, in those days it was a “secret weapon.”
And one he was prepared to use.
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