New York Observer: James C. Goodale, the so-called “father of reporters’ privilege” and the author of a new book called Fighting for the Press (CUNY Journalism Press, 255 pp., $20), was in his office at the Debevoise & Plimpton law firm, where he’s a partner, comparing Barack Obama to Richard M. Nixon.
“Nixon and Agnew were like listening to a Fox News program all day long, every day,” he said. “In their eyes, the Eastern establishment press were against them and they were against it and they were going to destroy it as best they can.” But, he said, “Obama has all these things that he’s done to the press on national security matters that Nixon never did.”
Mr. Goodale, 79, was the general counsel of The New York Times during the 1971 Pentagon Papers case, when President Nixon ordered the old grey lady to cease publication of excerpts from a 7,000-page document, which detailed America’s involvement in Vietnam over the course of three decades. The Times published the first excerpt on June 13, 1971. By June 26, the case had reached the Supreme Court. Over the course of a few days, the justices ruled in a 6-3 decision that the U.S. government could not censor the Times. Nixon then convened a grand jury to indict the Times for conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act – “which really doesn’t mean anything,” Mr. Goodale said, rubbing his forehead in distress — but the case quickly fell apart. Fighting for the Press reads like a political thriller, with Nixon providing some dark comic relief. The guy was not exactly subtle: “As far as the Times is concerned,” he said to John Mitchell, the U.S. Attorney General, “hell they’re our enemies.”
Now, the man who successfully fought Nixon says President Obama has an even more troubling record. [Continue reading…]