Protecting Whistleblowers | New York Times Co. v. United States

November 22, 2019 posted by


Mr. Beat presents Supreme Court Briefs Washington D.C., June 17, 1967 Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara creates the Vietnam Study Task Force at the Pentagon to create a study of the Vietnam War, which, by the way, was raging on the time with no end in sight. This study was to remain classified but released to the public eventually, as McNamara wanted to leave a written record for historians. Working on this task force was a dude named Daniel Ellsberg, who became very troubled by what he found. You see, the Pentagon was telling the American public one thing, but actually doing other things. For example, the Pentagon was lying about escalating the war even when victory was hopeless. It had covered up doing some quite horrible things, like illegal bombings in places like Cambodia and Laos, and the use of chemical warfare. Well Ellsberg, who had become strongly against the Vietnam War, decided he was going to fight the power! In October 1969, he and his friend Anthony Russo began secretly photocopying pages from this study, which eventually became known as The Pentagon Papers. By the way, the Pentagon Papers were thousands of pages long. So yeah, he photocopies and decides to take them to the press to expose all of the Pentagon’s dirty secrets. In March 1971, he gave 43 volumes of the Pentagon Papers to Neil Sheehan, a reporter for The New York Times. On June 13, 1971, the New York Times began publishing a series of articles based on what Ellsberg had leaked. It also included excerpts from the actual Pentagon Papers. When President Richard Nixon read these articles, he was like, “this kind of makes our government look bad…plus, isn’t this putting our national security at risk?” By the way, that’s EXACTLY how he sounded. A couple days later, the Nixon administration got a federal court to force the New York Times to stop publishing articles about the Pentagon Papers. Nixon’s Attorney General, John Mitchell, argued that Ellsberg and Russo were guilty of breaking the Espionage Act of 1917, so this “prior restraint,” or pre-publication censorship, was justified. In fact, the Nixon administration argued that the Times publishing the Pentagon Papers put the country’s security at risk. Meanwhile, the Washington Post got in on the action and began publishing its own articles about the Pentagon Papers. The assistant U.S. Attorney General, William Rehnquist, a future Supreme Court chief justice, also tried to prevent the Post from publishing any more Pentagon Papers secrets. Eventually, 17 other newspapers published parts of the study. On June 28, 1971, Ellsberg surrendered to face criminal charges under the Espionage Act. The next day, a young Senator named Mike Gravel, who inexplicably throws a rock in a pond later in life, read the Pentagon Papers out loud for three hours, entering them into the Senate record. As you could imagine, by the time the American public is fired up about the revelations contained in these documents. Newspapers kept publishing stories about the Pentagon Papers, and the District Court for the District of Columbia and Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit both let them, so the Supreme Court decided to quickly step in, combining the cases against both the New York Times and the Washington Post. In case you hadn’t figured this one out by now, this was an obvious First Amendment issue. The Court heard arguments about whether or not the Nixon administration’s efforts to prevent the publication of the Pentagon Papers went against the First Amendment. Was prior restraint justified? Did releasing this information put national security at risk? The Court decided “no.” On June 30, 1971 (man that went quickly) the Court announced it had sided with The New York Times and Washington Post, voting 6-3. It said prior restraint was not justified, and that the press releasing the Pentagon Papers did not put the nation’s security at risk. It sure made a lot of Americans upset though, and caused many to lose their trust in their government. Justice Hugo Black wrote, “In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government.” I would read the whole quote to you but it’s kind of long, but dang it’s a good quote. Props, Hugo. New York Times v. United States, aka The Pentagon Papers Case, was a win for the First Amendment. If the press publishes something that makes the government looks bad, the government can’t stop it, just because it makes it look bad. So whatever happened to Daniel Ellsberg and his friend Anthony Russo? They were still charged under the Espionage Act, looking at a maximum sentence of 115 years in prison. However, due to government misconduct and its shady ways of getting evidence, a federal court judge later dismissed all charges against them. Daniel Ellsberg is still alive today, still actively supporting whistleblowers like him who continue to expose government corruption. I’ll see you for the next Supreme Court case, jury! Why did I make this episode now? Well, there’s the whole President Trump not wanting this book out that makes him look bad thing but also there’s this new movie that just came out, called The Post. the story of the leaking of the Pentagon Papers And in it, of course, it dramatizes New York Times v. United States. So I figured, it’s a good time to release this episode. Yay for history movies! We’ll see you next week. Thank you for watching!

31 Comments

31 Replies to “Protecting Whistleblowers | New York Times Co. v. United States”

  1. Mr. Beat says:

    Today is the release of my band's new EP, "Pitchfork Won't Review This." Download it for "pay what you want" here: https://electricneedleroom.bandcamp.com/album/pitchfork-wont-review-this.

    Have you seen The Post? What are your opinions about the Pentagon Papers and the Vietnam War in general?

  2. Croatsky says:

    Wait, why did other 3 SCOTUS's sided with the government on that case? What was their reasoning?

  3. mhib2008 says:

    Hmm… Says Do NOT follow us on Twitter on your band's website… Reverse psychology?

  4. Stalking Horse says:

    Freedom of the press is one of our country's most important freedoms. I just wish that the press of today would live up to these lofty ideals instead of making a mockery them . Yesterday Don Lemon on CNN repeatedly use the word "shithole" and claimed that President Trump used it in referring to underdeveloped countries.

  5. Luke Detering says:

    Do 2000 election court case

  6. Harry Christofi says:

    You know what’s funny Mr. Beat? I did a presentation on this for my U.S Government class in November 2017 and of course I sided with free speech lol

  7. Mummy Neo says:

    I think that the supreme court the right decision since it broke the freedom.of speech and Nixion did brake the law so.

  8. sibtain ali says:

    Can we get the case of the Internment of Japanese Americans please.

  9. Patrick Anthony Pontillo says:

    Keep up the good work, Mr B, being that the American public school system has committed many errors & omissions in its educational process, thereby necessitating educational channels such as yours.

  10. King Peppy says:

    In A Viet Cong Memoir the South Vietnamese Government is detailed in that whenever we changed the S. Vietnam leadership due to leaks and corruption the actual civil service workers were never replaced and all of those bureaucrats were VC throughout entire war. This may point to why in the second Iraq War President W. Bush got rid of the entire bureaucratic infrastructure although, unfortunately, had no replacements to install that would have headed off his Iraqi governing disaster in the opposite extreme.

  11. Lets Go Flying says:

    Side note:

    Jerky boys named their main character after Anthony Russo.

    edit: subd

  12. P.M. Laberge says:

    Another shared good one.

  13. איידן says:

    I”m such a big fan of you mr.beat…you should deserve 3 million to 20 million subs

  14. KopCam says:

    Thanks for these videos. It becomes a playlist.

  15. Flywing guy says:

    spent two hours in class going over this and understanding it, I think I learned as much in this six minute video lol. Good work

  16. D.C.J. News Media says:

    Thanks again

  17. MegaVergan says:

    Mike Gravel is one of my favorite senators in history.

  18. Jett James For President says:

    Hey Mr. Beat, can you do a video covering the Supreme Court Case Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman? This case also covers the topic of the First Amendment.

  19. Jett James For President says:

    I would like to clearly state that I am listing these points and arguments for National Security over Freedom of Speech for fun and debate. I will not disclose what I really think. I am still young and open to new ideas and opinions.

    If government serves the people, the governed, it is the government's duty and moral obligation to protect and secure the right's of its citizens. And to secure these right, government must protect the nation and the public. So therefore, in order to protect the rights of citizens, government must censure individuals speech and conduct if it poses a huge threat to the sercurity of a free state to protect the rights and freedoms of all. In simple terms, government censure is justified to keep us all alive and well, for we cannot enjoy our natural rights if we perish from the earth.

    Secondly, there cannot be unlimted rights to freedom of speech and press. No constitutional right is an unlimited right. Just like restrictions on the Seocnd Amendment, restrictions on speech is justified.

    Those were just two I could think of.

  20. j n says:

    Wow.. what unamerican cunts. This is why i hate the media… they gave zero shit about what it would do.

  21. Arcana IX says:

    This music is amazing.

  22. SiVlog says:

    Raises an ethical question, are Daniel Elsberg or Edward Snowden heroes for exposing government failures and or corruption or are they traitors for exposing the intelligence gathering of the country?

  23. allyourcode says:

    One thing that kinda bothers me is that Russo probably would have been convicted had the prosecution not made a technical error. So, the newspapers were not in error to publish the infromation, but there was no legal means for them to obtain that information in the first place. So, how is the press supposed to serve as a bulwark against the government?? Seems to me, our system is (mis)designed to require that (certain kinds of) information that the public needs to know can only be obtained illegally. Now, we have Snowden. History repeats itself?? Surely, there must be a system in which breaking the law is not required for people to find out what their government is doing???

  24. Alex Morris says:

    Damn. Hugo Black died later that year

  25. the night hAunter f88k the 1%!! PRIVACY OR gen8cide says:

    guess what?snowndens in russia,
    americas being dictated by power hungry insane cowardly lunitcs,
    so i guess him being there isnt that far off from our current timeline.
    if only the world got so fucked up that only my torturerous ways could save it…

  26. Kaylee F says:

    Mr. Beat is my favorite history teacher, even though I've been out of school for well over a decade.

  27. Jethroe Schiller says:

    Yo free Chelsea Manning

  28. Jethroe Schiller says:

    Mike Gravel 2020!

  29. Mannequia says:

    Cool thanks for the review Mr.Beast

  30. Bradley Seng says:

    I like these sir. Thank you very much for your time and especially editing

  31. Mac Berg says:

    I like Mr. Beat, but his name sounds too much like he'd be a chronic masturbator

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