Forty years ago Thursday, the Supreme Court decided 6-3 in favor of the New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case. Officially known as New York Times Company vs. United States, this is the infamous lawsuit in which the administration of President Richard Nixon tried to stop the Times from publishing classified information about Vietnam War decision making. The papers were leaked to the Times by former government military analyst Daniel Ellsberg. The Court ruled that the First Amendment right to freedom of the press trumped the government's right to stop the Times from publishing its secrets. The decision is considered a hallmark of American journalistic freedom.
For a taste of the time, listen to these selections from the WNYC archive.
"The Truth will Set You Free"
Beginning with Daniel Ellsberg's original press conference, listen to a montage of voices from 1971 in the aftermath of the Pentagon Papers scandal.
On the 40th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers case, many people, including Daniel Ellsberg, are making comparisons between the Pentagon Papers controversy and WikiLeaks. Ellsberg appeared on The Brian Lehrer Show last year to speak about this.
Thanks to Andy Lanset and the entire WNYC Archives Department.