tv First Amendment in the Digital Age CSPAN April 6, 2018 1:05pm-1:47pm EDT
people see someone who is not trustworthy and it's hard for people to decide if it's true or not. maybe there's some sort of bias, and to some but not all but that affects all the public and if there is some sort of support or funding, this may be very critical. i was just wondering. [inaudible] people say here are the lawyers.
>> that's an interesting question about media bias and also the role of economic. >> and we return live to this university of missouri school of journalism form of news in the digital aid. next we will hear from floyd abram. >> i would like to thank the journalism chair barbara cochran for her great work today, the m you school of law and their dean's who is here with us today and all others who helped plan and organize this timely and important discussion of truth, trust and the first amendment in the digital age. >> this morning, experts helped us understand the challenges that lie at the intersection of media, law and technology. our society seeks truth, talent and transparency. these are core values of journalism, perhaps we as
journalists often take them for granted. or we use too. we must become evermore diligent in safeguarding these values that we hold dear. it is essential to a healthy democracy. to the media attorneys, legal scholars, a heartfelt thank you. unique unique experiences have provided me with three key points that i will take home. these include a newspaper, and nbc affiliate, a city magazine, and an npr station. our students understand the complexity that multimedia and
what it presents for the fundamental of journalism has not changed. get the story right. check your facts. be ethical, be fair, be honest and be a watchdog. remember there are few shortcuts in journalism. one example is our students who work in the state house in missouri. their stories have included complicated bills, being debated by the legislature and the governor who is indicted on felony charges of invasion of privacy. these are the kind of things many journalists wouldn't have the opportunity to cover until much later in their career. our students are doing it as college juniors and seniors. they do it at a very high level. next, our work involves push
and pull principles. the industry is relying on our young journalists to engage and attract news junkies as well as the seemingly disinterested with the relevant content. this means not covering the story in the same way as everyone else, allowing silent voices to be heard and representing other viewpoints and opinion. they receive, for local news coverage, one indicator that we are having some success that this is a daily commitment that we are committed to continuing. point number three, no margin, no mission. journalism needs to be profitable if it is to survive and thrive. the citizenry is depending on us as the stewards of the public trust. credible reporting, timely storing, advertising,
promotions, partnerships all play a role in keeping the lights on both at the workplace and in journalist homes. we have been trying to walk this talk at the missouri school of journalism since 1908. i would like to add a bonus point. leadership is the key to success. i would like to thank mike jenner for his leadership is the interim executive editor. his tenure started at one of those, just for a few months, mike, almost 18 months later i did not keep my promise. he has done a phenomenal.job and we will soon announce a new executive editor for the columbia missouri and and mike will go back to being the chair full-time which we enjoyed his good work but thank you for leading a great
editorial team, for training great students to go out to the industry, and for setting a blistering pace for journalism. a job well done. mark. i recognize i just made mike uncomfortable, but that's okay. another person i would like to acknowledge is not here today but who has had an equally significant part of the role of developing great journalists for our democracy is can collins who is retiring after more than 30 years at the missouri school of journalism. the station, the only network affiliate where the students are the journalists under the tutelage of professional journalists at the station, it's just amazing. it has earned the highest honors in tv history and industry and it has produce quality work by our students. it is making a significant contribution and winning top national awards that is our student journalists competing.
it's impressive. finally, david reese at the museum today, he opened up the . [inaudible] david is the leader and has made sure it has maintained its leadership in photojournalism. i encourage you to go see the significant exhibit over the next few months at the museum. it really is fantastic. >> i would like to thank everybody who participated in the symposium and i would like to invite my colleague and friend to come up and continue. thank you. >> i am so happy to be here representing the school of law, and i'm so happy to
gathered such an esteemed group of journalists, legal scholars and lawyers in one place. it's about to be my great honor to represent one of the true heroes for every media lawyer in the country. barbara cochran, should i my associate dean paul. now it is my great honor and pleasure to introduce our keynote speaker. this needs no introduction. just listen to the words about floyd abram.
they advise and ask someone to name a first amendment lawyer. if they answer one 100% of the time, one 100% of the time the answer will be the same, floyd abram. it's synonymous with the first amendment in a way that virtually no other name is. the new york times has rightly described mr. abram of the titan of free speech jurisprudence. he earned his law degree from yale and after working for a federal district court he still practices a senior counsel in litigation group. his rise to prominence begins when he served as cocounsel for the new york times in the fan famous pentagon papers
case. as you probably know, the nixon administration had asserted that national security interests required a prior restraint and injunction on the publication of government documents, detailing how the u.s. found itself in the vietnam war. those documents had begun to be published in more publications were forthcoming first to the new york times and later in the washington post, but mr. abrams and his cocounsel litigated the case all the way to the supreme court and ended up winning a historic victory for both the new york times, the washington post and ultimately for press freedom. they made it harder today for the executive branch to suppress and censor publication based on claims of
national security. since that case he has argued more first amendment and media law cases before the supreme court than any lawyer in our country's history. he successfully represented landmark medications in its case against the state of virginia and successfully establish the principle that the press may not be punished for printing the truth and how a public official performs as public duty. he has handled many important cases including libel, leaks, and the confidentiality of journalistic sources. in addition to the new york times abc, nbc, cbs, cnn, "time" magazine, businessweek.
he represented the brooklyn museum of art when they decided to censor the art as being sacrilegious. this is the famous case of citizens united, a landmark campaign finance case holding that the government may not prohibit corporations and unions from spending their money to finance political ads during federal election campaigns. mr. abrams has one too many awards to catalog but very notably have founded the floyd institute freedom for expression.
they provided law students the clinical opportunity to be involved in litigation, drafting legislation and advising policymakers. mr. abrams is also an accomplished scholar as well as an accomplished lawyer. he has written a number of books on first amendment topics including his most recent including the soul of the first amendment which seeks to educate how provides the most robust profession. [inaudible] the book address the topics that we've been dealing with regarding the future of our first amendment so we cannot be more fortunate than to have him with us today.
please join me in welcoming floyd abram to the program. >> i am honored to be here. i was fortunate enough to listen to the two panels and i've been inspired to begin today, not as i was about to, i was about to start by telling you by talking about a topic none of you have thought about, donald trump, but i was
facebook. [inaudible] the effort here is to introduce baseball to a younger crowd. now let's turn to serious things. i did think, if i were coming here to speak before you after panels that dealt with first amendment issues and issues relating to the press, the role of the press and american life, the significance of the press and the impact on the press of this administration, it was worth beginning with a
line from an old and enduring movie. remember the line from the godfather in which he is talking to his fellow mobsters as they are basically reaching some sort of agreement not to interfere with each other, he said he was a suspicious person and that if some unlikely accident should before, for example if he was struck to a bold of lightning. i've had similar thoughts recently with respect to amazon. i can't help but think if amazon found its post office
rates increased, or its multibillion-dollar deal with the defense department, no matter what the reason was or arguably was, that i would suspect, and i would not be alone, that it was because of president trumps anger at the publication of the washington post. the same would be true, i think to conjure up a sort of unworldly hypothetical, if some government entities were considering to direct the washington post to register as a lobbyist, if anything of that sort were to occur, whatever the us extensible explanation offered, my suspicion would be, and i would not be alone, that the
president would be responsible for it because of his anger at the post. these are not entirely defensible thoughts. a recent assessment given on cnn is that so far he is just tweeting. trump hasn't taken action against amazon but wall street investors fear the president will back up his anti- amazon tweets with regulatory muscle. let's suppose he did so. let me talk now, as a lawyer. as a legal matter, it seems to me that any action of the government aimed at amazon would likely be deemed to violate the first amendment. our government is not permitted to retaliate against individuals or corporations because of its view of their
views about matters of public policy. yet, day by day, tweet by tweet, because of his antipathy to the post, the president seems to be creating a powerful, and my view, likely successful case for amazon with some sort of government action were taken aimed at it and i include in that and this trust litigation , the raising of postal rates, the cancellation of agreements, you name it, let me return who went even further than the quotation i just referred to. he said he was such a suspicious man that if michael should catch a mortal fever, he would blame the associates of his grandson.
i come to the view that if he should become ill with a rare disease or if marty baron choked on an icy patch on a street in washington, who is to say what the ultimate cause of that. i think teresa mays tempered phrasing, i might think it was highly likely that it was likely that some level of responsible, and it may well be incorrect. i suspect it probably is, but it is not liberal paranoia for any of us at least to have had a level of suspicion that the ongoing case about the perspective at&t.
this could have been affected or at least that we had reason to be concerned that it was affected by the presidents angst with cnn's coverage. i've asked myself more than once if i am yielding to overheated conspiratorial thinking because of personal disagreement on ideological matters with the president. i don't think so. what i do think is that the president is more hostile to the press than any of his predecessors in american histor history, more hostile than the next administration,
more hostile than any prior administration. the committee to protect journalists prior to the presidential election views very strong language to the effect that he had consistently demonstrated a contempt for the role of the press. in my view, notwithstanding, he remains and his administration therefore remains more threatening to the press and the first amendment it protects than any of his predecessors. to be clear, as was made clear in one of our panels, the president anti- press conduct has been essentially verbal. an op-ed piece in the washington post earlier this
week by professional david dresner observed that almost everything the president had recently tweeted on topics including amazon was factually challenged and sounds worse when one takes trumps words semi- seriously. i think that's the wrong way to do it. put aside what he thanks of the president and the like, words matter. speech matters. chief justice roberts use those two words in an opinion not so long ago. i think it's important that we take very seriously anything our president has to say about an institution as significant as the press and that it is protected and deliberately protected to such a degree.
while it is quite true as one of our panelists observed earlier that the president is the article to a considerable degree in saying certain things that makes it no less significant and no less worrisome when the things he said are so focused in an anti- press, and i must say, anti- first amendment manner. let me be clear, john adams, not doll trump pushed this act of 1798 through the congress and president trump has done no such thing. abraham lincoln suspended habeas corpus a number of times, leading to the jailing
of some soft on the confederacy editors, donald trump hasn't done anything like that. theodore roosevelt and they invited joseph pulitzer for the article his newspaper published. donald trump has not. he has not come up with anything like the modern equivalent of that, even as a way to further torment attorney general sessions. these were three of the greatest americans who ever lived. two of them carved in stone on mount rushmore, a third, a more than worthy intellectual sparring partner with thomas
jefferson, and president trump is not, by any means, the first president to be unhappy with the press or to express in one way or another his strong feelings about it. one of my favorite stories is of thomas jefferson writing, while he was president, someone had written him a letter saying he thought all newspapers ought to be divided in four parts. truth, probability, possibilities and lies. he said the first part would be the slimmest. so, given the behavior, misbehavior of some of our presidents with respect to the first amendment and the frustration of many of them, jefferson included, is it really fair to judge as
harshly as i arty have with regards the first amendment. i think it is. put aside the question of rankings of presidents or of comparing president trump to the individuals i just mentioned, what matters to me is president lincoln was in the midst of the civil war. it was not clear, by the way when he suspended the right of habeas corpus that the federal government would win.
fabrication of news, the publication of the statement that hillary clinton was often in a pizza shop where there was pornographic movie being taken of children, that was fake news. that is not fake news to write an article, right or wrong, fair or unfair, critical of the president. that is the way the term has been used, it has been used effectively in the sense that many people have become persuaded that whatever fake news means, the media does it and does it again and again. to me it is difficult to escape the conclusion that destroying the credibility of the core of the press, not
every publication, but at least those publications including some very powerful ones that have been very critical of the president, there destroying their credibility and it's very much at the center at the agenda, not a passing comment here or there. it's not a mere irritation, a new poll concluded that more than three of four americans have come to believe that fake news is commonplace. so, taking that into account and to be fair, taking into account a number of statements he made before he was
president where he has not followed up by taking the action he said he would take, it's still relevant to recall that when running for office, and more than once, the president said he was going to loosen the laws and tighten the libel laws to make it easier, he said for someone like him to bring libel suits, that he spoke to the head of the fbi and urged then fbi chair call me to prosecute journalists who published confidential, classified information. i don't think these things are on the agenda that i'm talking about.
the totality of the president's views and certainly of his expressed views are reflective of what he thanks about the press, and how he views it and again, that matters, and matters even if he doesn't take any legislative steps, and matters even if he doesn't take positions in the supreme court which would be plainly and consistent with the first amendment. it matters because if you live in a democratic country and the press performs functions, plays a role which is absolutely central and that role is one which is portrayed to the public as often persuasively, portrayed to a good part of the country, that's not just failing, not
just being commended, but being illicit that the press is deliberately acting in a fashion that it understands to be false for the purpose of harming the country if, what were really seeing what they believe or not that the press is the enemy of the public, it still is very dangerous indeed to try to persuade the public that that is so. we are not alone in the world in considering the problem of how a leader should address or characterize the press.
i could give many historical examples, some rather recent of countries happily, unlike our own were journalists are jailed for what they publish, who are now using the word fake news as a way of dismissing fair commentary, but i came upon a statute which i want to refer to you as i close today, there was a time when european country passed legislation, making it a crime punishable by 5 - 15 year jail sentences for the publication of false or exaggerated nudes as such in nature to harm your national interest.
that was a statu statute within a yea year. president trump is not a dictator and will not support legislation and i am not comparing that in the sense of saying, in the area of first amendment and the area that the way the leader of the country views the very institution that portrays what goes on in the public as they
see it, and without any intention to distor distort, and without any effort to harm the country. for the press to have been characterized as the president has continually and as they continue to do is troubling, is dangerous and at the least is worth all of us here today to give very serious thought too. thank you all very much. thank you all very much. [applause]
>> thank you too everyone involved in today's program and thank you to floyd abrams for that very inspiring and words that will certainly invigorate all of us in this room to lead the charge in favor of a free press. many thanks to melissa and paul for his great help on organizing this. i also want to say thank you too him and his wife for the fund we received for media ethics and the law and i hope this is just the beginning of a beautiful friendship. thank you to all of my colleagues from missouri who attended and thank you to the journalism institute, to the
national journalism institute. we are very blessed to have great support and the fact that we have so much support is a testament to how important this topic is. thank you for being here. we hope to see you next year and i am sure we will be talking about some of the same things again. thank you very much for coming. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
[inaudible conversations] >> tonight on c-span2, book to be in prime time focuses on politics. we start at 8:00 p.m. eastern with the former aide of president lyndon johnson and secretary of health and welfare under president carter. he recently wrote, our damaged democracy. then kaylee mcinerney on grassroots populism in the u.s. her book is the new american revolution.
>> congress and its easter recess next week. the house is back in session on tuesday. no official schedule has been released. they reconvene monday. on the agenda judicial and executive nominations and the swearing-in of a new senator. cindy hyde smith was selected to lead. the house will be live on the c-span network in senna is live on c-span2. >> next week, facebook ceo mark zuckerberg will testify on the handling of user information and data privacy. tuesday at 2:00 p.m. eastern on c-span three, in a joint hearing and on wednesday at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span three before the house energy and commerce committ