QuoteItUp on Facebook
Floyd Abrams quotes
It just seems to be a human trait to want to protect the speech of people with whom we agree. For the First Amendment, that is not good enough. So it is really important that we protect First Amendment rights of people no matter what side of the line they are on.
So sometimes the facts are good and sometimes the facts are bad, the important thing from the point of view of a principle as broad and important as freedom of speech is that the courts articulate and set forth in a very protective way what those principles are.
CBS fought very hard on this because it believed and believes that there's a principle at stake here. The principle is that Dan Rather doesn't work for the police, and that people that speak to Dan Rather understand that he's a journalist and not a police agent.
I would say that the Pentagon Papers case of 1971 - in which the government tried to block the The New York Times and The Washington Post that they obtained from a secret study of how we got involved in the war in Vietnam - that is probably the most important case.
I mean the idea of this is that it's a good thing for the public to hear interviews like this and that there will be an inevitable amount of fewer interviews if people that the press talks to wind up thinking, well, it's not really a CBS correspondent.
I really try at least to come back and answer the question as to whether that was really the best way to do that and was I really thinking straight and how did my opponents behave and how did the judges behave was needed.
If the word gets out, if the perception exists that by speaking to a CBS journalist you are, therefore, inevitably, immediately speaking to the police, I don't think there's any doubt but that people won't talk. And, therefore, the public won't learn.
When I began we did not really have a lot of First Amendment law. It is really surprising to think of it this way, but a lot of the law - most of the law that relates to the First Amendment freedom of the press in America - is really within living memory.
The question at the end of the day was, the courts having found there was no defense, a producer about to go to jail, should CBS in effect tell the producer go to jail even though there is no law at all that we can use to get you out of jail?