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The question at the end of the day was, the courts having found there was no defense, a producer about to go to jail, should CBS in effect tell the producer go to jail even though there is no law at all that we can use to get you out of jail?
The principle though remains the same, and the important thing is CBS fought hard, very hard, to protect that principle and will fight again.
The government would be able to go to court with respect to newspaper articles, broadcast pieces and the like that they thought were bad or harmful or even against the government and try to block them.
So sometimes the facts are good and sometimes the facts are bad, the important thing from the point of view of a principle as broad and important as freedom of speech is that the courts articulate and set forth in a very protective way what those principles are.
No other country in the world gives protection like that, but it is not absolute protection. People sometimes meet that high burden and win libel suits, and in those cases I think they ought to win.
My role in it was not as central as it was in some of the later cases considering I was younger then and I was playing a role of co-counsel on the case.
It's not like learning how to hit a curve ball in baseball.
It just seems to be a human trait to want to protect the speech of people with whom we agree. For the First Amendment, that is not good enough. So it is really important that we protect First Amendment rights of people no matter what side of the line they are on.
It is within the last quarter century or thirty years. And a lot of that law has turned out to be very, very protective of the press and the public's right to know.
It is not to benefit CBS, not to benefit its reporters. On this one, the entire basis of it is this is a way to get more information, more important information to the public. And that's why so many states recognize this.
It has something to do with the facts and the law and who the judges are. So I think lawyers sometimes exaggerate their role in winning and losing. Lawyers do have a role, and a major role, but they're not the only players in this game.
Law And Lawyers quotes
If the word gets out, if the perception exists that by speaking to a CBS journalist you are, therefore, inevitably, immediately speaking to the police, I don't think there's any doubt but that people won't talk. And, therefore, the public won't learn.
I would say that the Pentagon Papers case of 1971 - in which the government tried to block the The New York Times and The Washington Post that they obtained from a secret study of how we got involved in the war in Vietnam - that is probably the most important case.
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