Skip to main content

tv   David Mc Craw Truth in Our Times  CSPAN  June 23, 2019 10:26am-11:28am EDT

10:26 am
me, i have no pictures of my face ongoogle . i managed to get away with that for 20 years. i may be a little bit paranoid about this, i guess. >> host: the book is called uncanny valley, and memoir. the author is new york contributor anna wiener. 's book tv continues on cspan2, television forserious readers . >> good evening everybody. i'm bradley graham, co-owner of politics and prose along with my wife and on behalf of everybody, welcome. thank you very much for coming out this evening. so it's not very often that we get to hold an author talked for the deputy general
10:27 am
counsel of a newspaper. in fact, i don't know of any precedent for this but david mccraw is not just any deputy general counsel. he's the newsroom lawyer for the new york times where he has worked for a decade and a half now. that means he gets to do a lot of interesting and stressfulthings . he gets to defend the times against actual and threatened suits, advise reporters on stories, file suits seeking government documents, hidden from view and work for the release of journalists kidnapped by extremists or detained by hostile governments . as david says in the first chapter of his book truth in our times, it's been a hell of a time to be a lawyer for the new yorktimes . david gained notoriety himself after the fall of 2016 in the waning days of
10:28 am
the presidential campaign. the times had published an article about two women who said from and groped them. a lawyer for trump to manage our attraction and threatened to sue for libel. david responded with a letter that suggested trumps reputation regarding the treatment of women was so tarnished by things he previously said and done that it couldn't really be tarnished more. and further, david asserted the article contained newsworthy information and was within the law. then david added this. if mister trump disagrees, if he believes that american citizens had no right to hear what these women had to say and that the law of this country versus us and those who would dare to criticize him to stand silent or be punished, we welcome the opportunity to have a court set him straight. david doesn't usually write such pointed legal letters inviting others to sue the new york times. he tends in his own words to
10:29 am
be a little more down the middle, a little more accommodating. but he made a decision as he says to stand tall on this one. by giving what was at stake and when his letter was published online, it went viral and many applauded. in his book david recounts what it's been like providing legal advice to the times for its coverage of trump , harvey weinstein and other subjects but isn't just a behind-the-scenes look at a great newspaper. it's also a passionate argument for preserving press freedom during these turbulent times, times when the president himself no longer merely threatens to sue but aims to erode first amendment, to delegitimize the media by labeling them fake and enemies of the people. david will be in conversation with michael smith who started as a news clerk for the new york times 14 years ago and now covers federal investigations, specifically
10:30 am
these days the mueller investigation. michael was part of two new york times teams that won pulitzer prizes last year, one for reporting on workplace sexual harassment issues, the other for coverage of trump and his campaign ties to russia . >> .. he is not having any hard questions. he is a good lawyer, i guess. [laughter] before we get into the stuff about the book, can you explain to us, what does a general counsel do for newsroom.
10:31 am
what do you do here? >> i am the deputy general counsel. my most important role is to correct the general counsel. wonderful general counsel. he keeps me out of trouble. that concludes everything from seeing the government over freedom of information issues or vetting stories in advance of publication. a lot of times i'm answering questions about what can reporters do to get a story. sometimes i get some copyright questions. all of those things are part of it. i am deeply involved with our security operation.
10:32 am
the kidnap david road in 2008. you are in charge of that as well? >> yeah. as you know you have in outstanding. he does the work. a meeting critical point for trial. you thought it would be initially. the legal structure that we have has really protected the media. it is something else that we will get to after you answer this that becomes a problem. the current legal structure very sound for journalists.
10:33 am
>> it was an up freedom at the supreme court over and over again. the cases came one after another all of that is still there and has been again and again over time. despite what clarence thomas said that got it right. he got it right because it understood libel suits are usually not -- they are about silencing speech that somebody doesn't like. they are used as weapons. that is what was going on in 1964. a police commissioner in alabama many of the others were suing the northern press. they didn't want the northern press to come down and talk
10:34 am
about the civil rights movement. they didn't want them to talk about jim crow laws. this was the way they were stopping that from happening $500,000 verdict against the new york times in alabama court in the sullivan case even though he is not mentioned at all. here is that they that i find so interesting. yesterday. yesterday president trump lost an appeal and a libel suit. he is being sued for what he set on twitter. he is going to have to face trial in all likelihood or at least go through the process of trial court. he should be lining up on the other side of the ball. he will be using exactly the same defenses i do. they are really good. they encourage free speech. >> we don't face the threat despite we are told all the time that we will get sued. especially by the president.
10:35 am
>> there is a range of things. in terms of libel, i feel feel very confident. the book is a tribute to misplaced optimism. over and over again, i say things will be fine. they are fine. i will say they are fine. >> legally, they are fine. what do you think is the real issue? >> let me walk up to that a bit. >> the attack on the press is just bad ideas. we could look at the league investigation. his ranting about the laws, we can look at how press conferences become reality tv and they will do survivor.
10:36 am
when it comes down to it, i really think the thing that concerns me is this whole business about fake news, the enemy of the people. attempt to discredit and in many ways, like we see in other countries, is not that different from a press that is not believed. the only power of the press is to reach people, motivate public public opinion, get people to be a check on their own government and change things they want to change. there was a poll last year that found 26% of respondents think that the president should be allowed to shut down news organizations before they misbehave. when i see a number like that --dash. >> it is not a legal problem. what is the answer? >> let me diagnose the problem.
10:37 am
a very satisfying number. giving you a chance to try to think of an answer. [laughter] the problem with fake news. there is an evil genius to that. it sounds like the pursuit of truth. i'm against fake news. in fact, it is just the opposite. it is an attempt to get people not to think. label and dismiss. we should have a debate over whether it is true or false. circumvention of that important process. what should be done? mike is right. i keep blaming you. i keep blaming the public that they should do something about it. here is what i think. we don't need to get 100% of people to believe in free press. there are a lot of folks i believe in free press.
10:38 am
i do think that people need to stand up and talk about the issues. talk about why having a free press is particularly important for republicans to do that. to stand up and say, look, i may not like the new york times or may not like the washington post, but, you know what, i do throw that in there once in a while, but, i believe that having a free press is important i grew up in a very small town in illinois. my mother was a world war ii veteran. my father was a world war ii veteran. deeply patriotic. a conservative small part of downtown. the one thing you knew was when the governor went to jail. when i was a kid, the governor went to jail. he died before he could go to
10:39 am
jail. they found shoe boxes full of money and his office. the lesson of that was a really important conservative lesson. don't trust government. that is white is so important to get back to that. going out and debating. we should go around the country talk about why this is important. >> besides the president using the megaphone to come after the press, what other things have happened that have contributed the current state of the media. how did we get here? >> we can talk about this at various levels. part of it is that polar surprise asian of america is now affected and people dividing up. i think that's a bad development for those of us in the new york
10:40 am
times continuing to be an honest broker is really important. as much as the right wing wants to portray us as left-wing in the left-wing wanting to embrace us at this particular moment. we will see what happens. being an honest broker is where we want to end up. economic has been a problem. let's face it, you live outside of washington, if you you live outside of new york, if you live outside of certain big cities, your newspaper is in dire strength and it's not coming back. if you are the mayor in a small city, you are very happy person today. you can have your shoebox full of money and nobody's going to catch that. we have all been affected by it wherever we are in the market.
10:41 am
that has met we have had to do things to make money and to drive audience and it is very important i think we do a good job of understanding that we still have to do journalism that people need, not just journalism that people want. some extent i just think that donald trump's instincts about these things have been incredible. >> sitting there to be taken advantage of. i am sure that richard nixon i wish i had tried that. i may not like what they are saying.
10:42 am
saying it differently. >> are you saying that nixon may have had a different lyrical fortune if the existed today. >> he is not very charismatic, is he? he certainly could have made it much more of an issue. when he confronts dan rather, dan rather stands up and gets applause. are you running for something? he responds, no, are you? he is criticized. that kind of direct hostility was not seen as the game. >> in the book you seem confident in the structure that is emerging. the legal structure. allowing us to function and do the work that we do. how do you think that we are faring in terms of the reporters
10:43 am
of the washington bureau. how do you think we are protected? >> you talk about press freedom. one is liable. i feel pretty good about that. i am optimistic. look how well it worked out for him, okay. when you get to the informal things that are going on, the law does not have much to say about that. cnn, as you know, sued. i think most people in media law wonder whether that was a good idea. the earlier incident with sean spicer. i talk about it in the book about how the law is very gray
10:44 am
on this. whether an officeholder can do that. who to talk to and who not to talk to. just because you are a political officeholder not mean you lose your first amendment rights. you are not forced to talk to people. who travels with the secretary of state. the press corps or are they left behind? that area i think has been really tough. the hack on that democratic norms has been a real problem as a result. you then get to the sensitive legal issues because they are undecided. the publication of classified secrets. the legal problems come in two flavors. can you protect your source? the law on the federal side is in disarray. it makes me nervous. we need to protect sources. the other thing would be an
10:45 am
absolute legal revolution if it took place. can a reporter actually be prosecuted under the espionage act for publishing classified information. never happened. no administration has ever said i want to push that. i want to push to see where that law is overcome by the first amendment or whether it is in fact superior to the first amendment and we can go after reporters. >> despite -- what have you seen from the justice department legally in terms of going after reporters? >> it's been a bit of a mixed bag. jeff sessions who was relevant at the time i was writing the
10:46 am
book. everybody changes. three guys ago. okay. got that. jeff sessions went to congress. getting him to say i will not put journalists in jail for doing their job and he could not get those words out of his mouth , it was really not a reassuring day. then he came back and did the same performance later. there certainly is a different attitude now. we have not seen a real ramp up. they have not been targeting the press. they have been forcing people in these past eight or nine years to expose sources, but they have been going after the people in the government.
10:47 am
this is kind of the same story is liable. it is about webinars and lawsuits. investigations are not really about protecting national security secrets. they are about getting the message under control. i am a rules guy. i am a lawyer. really important. even with they are violating, it's important in the democracy. >> do you think the judge should not prosecute cases in which really important information comes out? >> no. obviously, there are legitimate secrets. there are legitimate secrets. if they are exposed, they would do harm.
10:48 am
one of the things i'm really proud of his awake you guys work in washington. nobody is doing a reckless job of publishing. they are thinking about it. we also government to to get their opinion. they don't give a veto. we want to know what they think. many times the editors choose ignore. they are legitimate secrets. you go back to the pentagon papers and read it, 1971, incredible decision because everything is classified, nothing is classified. if you over classify, you get to results. cynicism and carelessness. that is the exact opposite of what you are. sometimes it is very hard to understand what is classified. lawyers, the people being
10:49 am
investigated will call me and say, can't you get the reporter to say that no classified information was leaked? i will talk to a reporter, i cannot say that because it's not true. >> tell us the story of what happened in october of 2016 and how you got to the unusual place of sort of becoming part of the story. >> that was not very comfortable i will backup one step and talk about the tax returns. i think they started traveling in tandem as to how the term campaign was dealing with it. at the end of september of 2016, a reporter at the new york times received in the mail anonymously three pages from the tax returns from two decades earlier. she and david barstow and others do this incredible job of
10:50 am
indicating those tax returns and explaining what it met which will not play taxes for probably the next 20 years. we ran that story and immediately there was press coverage that said we were in legal trouble. which really irritated you. >> completely irritated me. especially when it was the new york times. he brought this up the other day i think it is a sensitive subject. we continue backwards here. in september, the letter to the new york times, key was on a panel with bob woodward. the conversation sort of runs out of control. the way it gets reported is he said he would risk going to jail
10:51 am
in contravention of his lawyer's advice. i started receiving e-mails like you really think you could bring the tax returns if you brought them? i sent dean an e-mail, maybe two, this is embarrassing. i would never tell you not to publish those. of course i would stand behind you. he clarified that he had not set it. >> he is basically saying i would go to jail to publish these tax returns. as a lawyer, you have no legal issue. >> that is right. you are not going to go to jail. when was the last time you saw an editor going to jail. it just doesn't happen. >> under the law, we have not engaged in any legality against them. we can publish them.
10:52 am
the supreme court rules on that six times. the question is, did the press do anything illegal to get them here. the idea that the washington post would come out the day after we ran that tax story saying we had legal trouble really got me thinking that we have done a really bad job of explaining how the first amendment works in this country. it was obviously a sensitive issue. we move forward and that we do a story a couple weeks later about two women who say they were groped, by 12. it did what a story should do. it gave facts of the reporting period it left readers to think about will i believe this or not the facts were there if you wanted to question that. the night before the top administration was published, there was a time you could say
10:53 am
it. feels like these last two years have been my entire life. the trump campaign was saying that they would sue if it was published. we published. then a whole day where they are saying the lawyers are getting geared up. the lawyers are going to come after you. wait until the night getting e-mails from the pr department saying have you seen anything? have you seen anything? you have to go to court with papers unless they're going to bronx criminal court, it ain't going to happen. they see some weird stuff there. when i woke up the next morning, there was an e-mail that said, it was labeled after midnight, i
10:54 am
was in a lot of trouble with a lot of music fans when i said it was an error often song. here is a letter from the lawyers. i went to work, there was some discussion about whether we should responded all because there were tv crews outside the building. i did not think we could just ignore it. we decided to respond to it. the letter appears in the back of the book. it's also been in a lot, a lot lot of places. suddenly just takes off. it is a moment while i am out front in some ways, not quite like that. >> a younger version of yourself looked at that and said may be a lawyer should not be so involved in that? was it unusual for lawyer to be so much part of a story?
10:55 am
>> in some ways the legal department at a newspaper should be out front. you guys should not be engaged in the back and forth over localities of stories and all of that. talking about the importance of a free press. it really is a function that can confuse the lines between independent reporting and our interest as a company and our interest as a first amendment. it did not seem out of place for me to do that. i think it was the level of attention that was different and sort of the personalization of it around me and only in retrospect from the book did i wonder whether this was a really smart idea because a couple of the other senior lawyers and one of our younger lawyer sat around and talked about the letter.
10:56 am
that was really the deciding group. for lawyers in a room door is closed and we are playing with the language. i'm sitting in my office. things went up on the internet. e-mail starting to come in. they are just coming and coming and coming. i look up and there is the ceo of our company coming towards me i can tell he had the letter in one hand. he had that look on his face. you are sort of thinking maybe we should run this by senior management. maybe it would be okay to do that. he comes in. he has an english man. he said this is a brilliant letter, but i will never understand why you have it after a colon. [laughter]
10:57 am
>> you tell a story about the difficulties of the work that we do and how really awful things can happen even when we have the best intentions. a hostage in 2014. >> this is a tough story. curtis was a freelance journalist who is taken by al qaeda. like many reporters in those days crossing over to try to cover the rebellion in syria and was taken captive. he was put into, he was held by the al qaeda branch in syria. with another american.
10:58 am
the two of them at some point put together an escape clock. circumstances that were in the book. all of it is out there. matt gets away. we do a story about the experience which is kind of incredible. he is a freelance photographer. he is held by these terrorists. gets away and manages to get back to the united states. we do an interview with him. i would set the story and for whatever reason i miss one piece of it as i was reading it too fast. he was assisted i another prisoner. as a result of that, i am fairly
10:59 am
confident that curtis, who received very bad treatment after that, it was somehow related to the fact they had talked to matt. it was really painful because ceos mother had reached out to me and we had been helping the family through our people in turkey. in the middle east to try to help theo's family get him back. the only really good news and that story is that ultimately, theo curtis is released and does come home and has been completely gracious with me and the new york times. it is one of those things that stays with you. had i been reading, you know, it would not have happens. i do hold myself responsible for that.
11:00 am
>> asking questions here. take some questions. >> thank you. i worked for one year in the general counsel's office at at the des moines register years and years ago. >> i was a quad city times. you cast a big shadow. >> think i kidding. it's true. >> it's a wonderful paper. i know media lawyers do not like this kind of question, but i am wondering what legal channels there might be to hold to account like fox or right-wing outlets that do traffic and fake news. i am wondering why there is not the possibility of a libel suit where it is demonstrated or
11:01 am
bringing back the doctrine imposed by the fcc or even unthought of like publishing something that is fault and showing actual malice and somehow not damaging to an individual reputation, but somehow to the civic good. i know media lawyers don't like inking that. >> we talk about iowa. we agree about iowa. you raise a lot of good points. i do disagree with that. they are so many choices out there i am not sure they really need to play the role of fairness cop anymore. if you want to be a journalist, a publisher, you can be that now. i think it's highly unlikely for mainstream media to bring lawsuits. people are always calling me, when are you going to sue trump. we should not be in the business
11:02 am
of making the laws first. i am still a firm believer that if we have difference of opinion, the pres.'s place or do that is on the editorial page in front of the public. you raised a really good point. it is an active debate. there are people on my side that say this is a place that we should take on, we should cut back on the first amendment. you look at fake news by the russians. the united states versus alvarez essentially said that the government should not be policing laws, the remedy for the marketplace of ideas. that is even more misplaced optimism than i have. in the end, i still agree with that. >> showing actual malice. >> still has to be directed at
11:03 am
somebody. >> i'm just cannot do say i'm okay with that. >> speaking of iowa. you've had an unusual route to becoming the newsroom lawyer. tell us about how you got there. >> okay. back to my childhood. i was a college professor well into my mid- 30s. went to law school when i'm 34- 35. i woke up one day and realize when you are 34 and still living like you are 18, it is probably a problem. especially when you have a child and a wife. i went to law school. i do very straightforward job at a big law firm in new york. and then circumstances became the newsroom for the daily news.
11:04 am
i graduated from journalism school. really interested in journalism. it was an incredible education. the job at the times opened up because of something that has been very, very good good for america. now the supreme court correspondent of the new york times. a tremendous reporter. he had my job and he decided to try life as a journalist. the job opened up on very short notice. i'd been at the daily news doing the same sort of things that adam had done. in particular, what was interesting because i don't have any of the credentials that you would have, i graduated graduated from albany law school it is a regional law school. university of illinois as an undergraduate.
11:05 am
there were a group of former daily news reporters who at that point worked at the times. it is now 2002. after 9/11. they wanted to get the documents from the fire department that showed how the rescue and recovery operation had taken place. they were hearing people from the fire department that the heroics had been a mess. uncoordinated. when i came to the times, people were asking me, would you sue the city of new york over 9/11 documents? i was from the daily news. i did not know any better. the daily news was always in the face of the city. that was our role in life. i became that times men he was willing to do that. we actually ended up winning a whole lot of documents to shut a
11:06 am
whole lot of light on what happened on 9/11. >> this may be a little bit off of the subject, but along the lines of fox news, in your opinion, how much if any, especially in the red state, helped ariza popularity? cultural changes in technologies and new platforms that allow it to spread. >> so far out of my portfolio. [laughter] when i bring up this point, many people will say, you may not have heard this, david. i am not really good at -- the
11:07 am
one point that i will make is i had a really interesting reaction. on a television show yesterday. i get an e-mail from somebody and it looks like the crazy kind of e-mails you must get all the time. there was this really nice thing it does not do any good to do a book for adults. interesting story, the canadian broadcast has written a whole series of books in canada for children under the chartering candidate. >> hi. thank you. >> the other side of the first question that you had would be, what standing does the public
11:08 am
have seeing an informed electorate is the basis of democracy for a press that has the freedom to omit big stories that for one reason or another does not cover, a case in point, people right now in the media are so anxious to get something on trump. why don't they look at the fact that one of his transition team, while he was in the white house selecting candidates for the department of state was also president of genie energy which has been sold drilling rights. this is obvious conflict of interest where certain american investors would be processing and money. now you have politicians going and saying we should accept israel. there are huge stories that just
11:09 am
don't get any error. >> i'm really lucky that i do not have to make those hard decisions. i think it's really important that you know all of this. that means the system is working in some ways. >> it is working through those channels that facebook and google and the state department would like to shut down and term is proper, not safe news. >> i am currently at the american prospect. an organization that works to support student journalists. facing legal challenges often from their administration. i was wondering whether you have any advice for student journalists or other people that are working in journalism but may not have the sorts of resources that the new york times has. how can they make sure that they
11:10 am
are able to do good work while not getting in trouble with the law or, you know, navigating the challenges. >> i spoke last week at the college media association convention. the point that i made there is, though student journalists who are at private colleges are really courageous. the first amendment does not protect them and they are doing incredible journalism and they are taking on administrations that are in the business of selling the institutions. the last thing that they want is to have stories that are negative about the institution. i applaud their work. a bill making its way, guaranteeing freedom of expression. having variations elsewhere. the thing that i would always stresses, and i was a college newspaper advisor for more than a decade at a private college.
11:11 am
learn how to do journalism right that you will find that administrations know if you have quality newspaper, you will take a few hits. the parents of prospective students note the real deal. do it right and you stand in a much better position to say we needed our rights to tell the truth. >> i wonder how you feel about laws that restrict the speech of enterprises that are not media corporations. restricting the ability of business corporations, nonprofit corporations, unions, to even mention the name of candidates in your election. ultimately struck down. criminalizing speech about public matters. references about public officials which were applied to
11:12 am
organizations. not media corporations. >> just as i am a misguided optimist, i actually think that the government should not be restricting speech. i understand that that led to a very, very functional system of campaigning. ultimately, i start with the first principle. i don't really want the government regulating speech. within that, i am sure that there are people much smarter than i am about that issue that can think of ways to get there. [laughter] i am thankful that that is not my area of law. >> how has the first amendment evolved politically?
11:13 am
over the past 25-30 years. it seems to be in a different place. the left looking at it differently than the right. he was more of a champion today of the first amendment? >> it is one of those issues where we can find a consensus. conservatives believe in it because it is anti-big government. the democrats have traditionally seen it as an important way to expose certain injustices and wrongdoing. i have spent a lot of my life thinking we were all in this together. i didn't have to have any enemies. in the book i go back to what i think is a really interesting and crucial moment and that is 2010. publishers in this country were facing out of control libel judgments overseas that they
11:14 am
would get sued in england and places that did not respect the freedom of press enough. the people that were suing were financiers. big corrupt businessmen. they were going to london and suing u.s. publishers to try to silence them. congress decided to do something about that. congress passed the most important piece of civil litigation. that is the speech act. in simple terms, if you you go into a foreign court and you win a libel judgment, you cannot come to this country and in force against bank accounts and property. they stripped the ability to come after money in the united states to satisfy the judgment. here is the important thing about that. not the law. every republican in every democrat in congress voted for that. that was only nine years ago.
11:15 am
i would like to get back to that you are right, it sort of shifted. times where the conservatives have been -- there democrats because they believe the press helps expose social injustice and all those other things. i'd like to get back to everybody's on the front line. >> trump has stacked the courts. is that something you worry about with all of these conservative judges? going after newspapers making her job more difficult. >> misguided optimism. no. the reason for that is the conservative justice on the supreme court have been huge supporters of free expression now in a way that many people disagree with because a campaign finance and other things.
11:16 am
i also think that they are more likely just because of conservative philosophy to standby decisions that have been settled. the law in this area has been settled for a really long time. i do not see them running away from it. one of the things that i talk about in the book, one of the reasons that i think we have an incredible record of winning libel suits is because we are perceived over time as hard-working, we care about the truth, getting it right, and that gives you the benefit of the doubt many times in a court case. the work being done now is really incredible. incredible. i do worry about judges having heard fake news for the 370th time this year think, well,
11:17 am
maybe they are making it up. >> areas are even worse. they have historically not liked libel cases. appeals courts have had to come in to explain the law. it is counterintuitive. the law in the united states is we have the right to be wrong. that is what actual malice is. it is not enough for the plaintiff to prove that we are wrong. the plaintiff has to prove that we knew it was falsely published it or had serious doubts about it and publish it anyway. that is actual malice. that is hard for most citizens to say all these terrible things happen and they may have, but it still is not enough. you also have to prove that it was done with actual malice. jerry sometimes struggle with that. >> could you talk a little bit
11:18 am
about the decision to court on the allegations against harvey weinstein and in particular, the learning that the reporters who were reporting on that were being investigated by a company, if i remember remember correctly, had been retained i the law firm and also represented the new york times as well as harvey weinstein. >> there is my favorite topic. [laughter] i thought i talked you out of not doing this one. [laughter] let me try to do that in simple terms. very proud of the work that was done by mike schmidt and his reporting partner. very, very proud of the work that was done by megan tui. they were pioneers. i was involved in both of those stories because there was a legal assault, if you will, in
11:19 am
terms of o'reilly not so much more being killed by kindness by his lawyers. by the weinstein lawyers tried to keep us from publishing that. to me, the decision was easy. the decision was easy because i have an incredibly supportive senior management at the new york times. we do not settle libel cases for money in the united states. that makes my job really easy. the answer is always no. if you sue us, you better be in for the long haul. in some ways, my job becomes simple. work with reporters to make sure i'm not second set of eyes making sure it's right. our reporters are trained that way and they do that. what happens on the backend is we do this great work on harvey weinstein. that story was so well done.
11:20 am
there was this awkwardness to it because harvey weinstein was represented by david boyd. america's most distinguished lawyers. we had hired a particular partner to help us with a very difficult case. he did a phenomenal job. just as he was winning that case for us, it is disclosed that david boyd, working for harvey weinstein had signed a contract with a private investigating firm to essentially try to stop the new york times from publishing. they were going out and investigating the people who were choosing harvey weinstein. there was a quality of the contract that gave them a huge bonus if they were able to stop a certain publisher from publishing. it was a very awkward time for me that i was suddenly caught.
11:21 am
the same time the firm was -- it had hired an investigative firm that was in certain ways tried to intimidate our reporters. it became this really awkward moment. i talk about it in the book. the publisher calls me down to his office and says, you know, you have to fire him. you've got to fire him. i know. i know i have to fire him. today is the day the case will be dismissed. walking away so the case would be over. all around me everybody wanted that big trump moment. it's okay. a couple hours later, i got the necessary paperwork for the dismissal of the case.
11:22 am
i entered my own appearance into the case. filed the dismissal. it looked like i won the damn thing. that was pretty great. >> thanks a lot for an interesting evening. full disclosure. i am not a lawyer. i probably learned more about law than i want to know. the point is, i used to think that people in government, especially people in high government spots had a moral code. i always thought that it would succeed. that is what made it a great democracy. this administration has taken matters away from me. i feel like we've lost our moral
11:23 am
core. i am not so sure that we can recover as easily as we would like to be i would like to thank you in the new york times, washington post and other media outlets were trying to do, i think, the right thing. we all make mistakes. i am concerned. i am concerned for this country. i'm concerned about the institutions of this country in the way they are being totally dismembered by this administration thank you. >> it was more comment than a question. >> you know those voters, single issue voters. they only thought about guns or rights. i am a single issue person. the only thing i care about is the first amendment and freedom of the press and on the rest. a bit of a sellout in that way. it does concern me what the
11:24 am
effect, the norms that govern the way they interact with the press. that important issue to me. i took several weeks off to write this book. it was a great time in my professional life. i was so happy. it was so great to write a book. get out of the churning that is my life each and every day. if and if you have written a book, you may have had this experience. you agree with everything that voice has to say. that voice in your head. so funny, so witty. i was was feeling really happy. i went back to work. i was back being the cranky unhappy stressed-out person i've
11:25 am
always been. i went to read the book again, it was too upbeat. i actually went back and darkened it in places. i just felt that once i was back on the job that it needed to be a little bit more serious in places. at the end of the introduction, i say don't before the about the tone of this bad things are happening in the democracy. >> you spoke about the confusion that exist about protecting sources. the new york times reporter. spent quite a bit of time in jail. i remember another reporter at that time had to actually reveal some sources. >> thank you for doing that. it is really worth clarifying
11:26 am
that. editors and journalists have not gone to jail for publishing, as you would see in other countries as they have offended the government, they get arrested for what they have said. there are incidents, you have mentioned a couple, where reporters protect their sources have refused to abide by court orders. as a result of that, they they then have been put in jail to try to force them to name their sources. it comes up every so often. there was a big one in the 70s. a big one in the 80s. kind of every 10 or 15 years. even now when there are these leaked investigations that are not coming to me, they are not asking the new york times to reveal sources, it is still a very, very detrimental thing for journalism when people provide
11:27 am
information to reporters that are in pursuit. it has the same effect. it has exactly the same effect. it cuts off the willingness of people to come forward when they see you are risking going to jail. that is one of the worst development started in the obama administration and carried forward with trump. >> thank you very much for coming. >> thank you. [applause] >> form a line to the right of the table.

8 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on