2013 Silha Lecture
The Lessons Of the Pentagon Papers:
Has Obama Learned Them?
The Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law was established in 1984 with an endowment from Otto and Helen Silha. Located within the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota, the Silha Center is the vanguard of the School's interest in the ethical responsibilities and legal rights of the mass media in a democratic society.
The Center focuses on the concepts and values that define the highest ideals of American journalism: freedom and fairness. It honors the importance of these ideals by examining their theoretical and practical applications and by recognizing the interdependence of ethical and legal principles.
For immediate release
New York, NY, 3/2/2017- The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) and the American Society of News Editors (ASNE), along with more than 80 other organizations committed to the First Amendment right of freedom of speech and the press, condemn efforts by the Trump administration to demonize the media and undermine its ability to inform the public about official actions and policies. In a joint statement released today, the groups stress that the administration’s attacks on the press pose a threat to American democracy.
The statement cites numerous attempts by the administration to penalize and intimidate the press for coverage the President dislikes, including refusing to answer questions from certain reporters, falsely charging the media with cover-ups and manipulation of news, and denying certain media outlets access to press briefings. Official designation of the media as “the opposition party” escalated when the President described the New York Times, CBS, CNN, ABC, and NBC News as “the enemy of the American people!”
The statement emphasizes that an independent and free press is the Constitution’s safeguard against tyranny. Its job is not to please the President but to report accurately on the actions of public officials so the public has the information to hold power accountable. Efforts to undermine the legitimacy or independence of the press, the statement reads, “betray the country’s most cherished values and undercut one of its most significant strengths.”
“The press plays an essential role in democracy, by serving as an independent watchdog on government conduct and as the main source of information for the public,” said NCAC’s Executive Director Joan Bertin. “The constitutional right to freedom of speech and to petition the government for a redress of grievances cannot be exercised in a meaningful way without access to information about what the government does in our name.”
“Given his actions and rhetoric during the campaign, the attacks on the press by President Trump should not be a surprise to anyone,” said Mizell Stewart III, president of the American Society of News Editors. “Every American should be concerned about this administration’s coordinated attempts to marginalize journalists and threaten the public’s right to know.”
“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.” Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black
As organizations committed to the First Amendment right of freedom of speech and the press, we are alarmed by the efforts of the President and his administration to demonize and marginalize the media and to undermine their ability to inform the public about official actions and policies.
Such efforts include the President’s refusal to answer questions posed by a reporter from CNN because the President asserts it promotes “fake news”; charges that the media “manipulated” images of the inauguration; false accusations that the media has covered up terrorist attacks; and repeated claims that the media is “failing” and “dishonest.” All of this recently culminated in the President calling the New York Times, CBS, CNN, ABC, and NBC News “the enemy of the American People!” and in the exclusion of representatives of various media outlets from a press briefing. In these and other examples, the President and his designees have attempted to villainize and discredit the press for any reporting he dislikes. However, the job of the press is not to please the President but to inform the public, a function that is essential to democracy.
The expressions of disdain for the press and its role in democracy by federal officials send a signal to state and local officials. In the aftermath of an election season that witnessed outright intimidation of journalists in communities around the country, there is a compelling need for highly placed federal officials to acknowledge the crucial role of a free press under our Constitution and the responsibility of government officials at all levels to respect it. In one chilling example, multiple individuals who identified themselves as journalists were arrested, detained, and charged with felonies while simply doing their job: reporting on Inauguration Day protests in Washington, D.C. Those arrests were made by local police and pursued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, both of which displayed an alarming lack of concern for fundamental constitutional rights. The fact that those charges have since been dropped suggests that the arrests were unwarranted and highlights the need for our nation’s leaders to set national policy that unequivocally supports a free and independent press and the public’s right to know.
Our Constitution enshrines the press as an independent watchdog and bulwark against tyranny and official misconduct. Its function is to monitor and report on the actions of public officials so that the public can hold them accountable. The effort to delegitimize the press undermines democracy, and officials who challenge the value of an independent press or question its legitimacy betray the country’s most cherished values and undercut one of its most significant strengths.
The First Amendment protects the right to protest, dissent, and petition government for a redress of grievances, but these rights cannot be exercised without a free press that provides information to the public. Together, these rights represent the constitutionally sanctioned method for the public to oppose government policies and activities and to seek change. The wisdom of this system can be seen in parts of the world where such a right does not exist, or is not honored, and violent opposition is the only available avenue to express opposition or remedy injustice.
We condemn in the strongest possible terms all efforts by elected and appointed officials to penalize, delegitimize, or intimidate members of the press.
March 2, 2017
Click here to read the statement in full and the list of organizations which endorsed it.
Click here to view a video of the lecture.
From "culturally offensive" Halloween costumes to protests over controversial speakers to "trigger warnings" in classrooms, debate over freedom of expression only seems new to America's college campuses. These and similar issues have roiled higher education for decades. Randall L. Kennedy, the Michael R. Klein Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, will revisit key disputes that are likely to continue to challenge First Amendment principles when he presents "The Politics and Law of the Culture Wars in American Higher Education, 1950-2020." Selected books authored by Professor Kennedy will be available for purchase at a book signing following the lecture.
Professor Kennedy attended Princeton and Yale Law School, and clerked for Judge J. Skelly Wright and Justice Thurgood Marshall. His most recent books are The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency and For Discrimination: Race, Affirmative Action, and the Law. He is a member of the American Law Institute, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.
October 3, 2016
Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
University of Minnesota West Bank
This event is free and open to the public; no reservations are required.
A slideshow with photographs from the 2015 Lecture is now available online. You can view it here.
October 19, 2015
Coffman Theater, Coffman Memorial Union
University of Minnesota East Bank
"Clear and Present Danger:
Covering National Security Issues in the Post 9/11 World"
with James Risen, Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times investigative journalist,
and Joel Kurtzberg, media attorney.
Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, government officials often justify secrecy as necessary to protect national security. But without information, how can citizens hold their government accountable? To gather the news the public needs to know, journalists may turn to sources who will speak only on the condition that their identities are kept confidential. When leaks trigger criminal investigations, zealous prosecutors subpoena reporters to force them to reveal their sources. Journalists who refuse to testify face the threat of fines and jail. The result is a no-win situation for sources, for journalists, and for the public.
One journalist who has faced this predicament is New York Times investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize-winner James Risen. On Monday, October 19, 2015, Risen and his attorney, Joel Kurtzberg, will discuss the legal and journalistic challenges that arise when reporting the national security beat and using confidential sources at the 30th Annual Silha Lecture, “Clear and Present Danger: Covering National Security Issues in the Post-9/11 World,” sponsored by the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law.
In 2011, Risen was subpoenaed to testify in the prosecution of Jeffrey Sterling, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer accused of several counts of violating the Espionage Act. During a four-year court battle, federal prosecutors demanded Risen’s testimony, claiming he was the only person who had direct knowledge of whether Sterling had actually disclosed classified material. Despite orders instructing him to testify, Risen refused to identify the confidential sources for his book, State of War, and two articles on national security issues, one of which quoted Sterling. Risen appealed the orders to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to hear his case. In January 2015, Department of Justice officials finally conceded in court filings that Risen’s consistent and steadfast refusal to identify his source “laid to rest any doubt concerning whether he will ever disclose his source or sources. He will not.” They dropped the subpoena, and Sterling was later found guilty of violating the Espionage Act without Risen’s testimony.
Despite this victory for his client, Kurtzberg said Risen’s battle demonstrates how far the government will go to force a reporter to reveal confidential communications. “The significance of this goes beyond Jim Risen. It affects journalists everywhere. Journalists need to be able to uphold that confidentiality in order to do their jobs,” Kurtzberg told the New York Times. The newspaper commented in an editorial that “The abandoned pursuit of Mr. Risen leaves behind an atrocious legal precedent: a 2-to-1 ruling in 2013 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Virginia, which denied the existence of any reporter’s privilege in the First Amendment or common law.”
The 30th Annual Silha Lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. on October 19 at the Coffman Theater in Coffman Memorial Union on the East Bank of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus. James Risen’s book, Pay Any Price, will be available for purchase and signing immediately following the Silha Lecture.
The Silha Lecture is free and open to the public. No reservations or tickets are required. Parking is available in the East River Road Garage. Additional information about directions and parking can be found at http://www1.umn.edu/pts/.
The Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law is based at the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Minnesota. Silha Center activities, including the annual Lecture, are made possible by a generous endowment from the late Otto Silha and his wife, Helen. For further information, please contact the Silha Center at 612-625-3421 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.silha.umn.edu.
About the Speakers:
James Risen is a graduate of Brown University, where he majored in history, and holds a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He joined the New York Times in 1998 after previously working for the Los Angeles Times. He has won several awards for his journalistic work, including Pulitzer Prizes in 2002 and 2006, the 2006 Goldsmith Prize for investigative reporting, and the 2003 Cornelius Ryan Award from the Overseas Press Club. He is the author of four books, two of which are national bestsellers: State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration (Free Press, 2006), and Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014).
Joel Kurtzberg is a partner at the law firm Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP in New York who focuses on general commercial litigation. He has extensive experience in legal issues related to media organizations and the First Amendment, representing reporters in cases involving former CIA operative Valerie Plame and alleged spy Wen Ho Lee. He teaches a mass media law course as an adjunct professor at Brooklyn Law School as well as a course on Internet law as an adjunct professor at Fordham University School of Law. He formerly served as the New York State Bar Association’s chair of the Media Law Committee. Kurtzberg graduated from Harvard Law School in 1996.
A video of the 2014 Lecture is now available online. You can view it here.
October 6, 2014
7:00 pm Cowles Auditorium
University of Minnesota West Bank, Twin Cities Campus
"See No Evil:
Why We Need A New Approach to Government Transparency"
David A. Schulz
Partner, Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, LLP
Co-Director of the Media Freedom & Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School
Counsel to The Associated Press, New York Times, Guardian, and other investigative news organizations
On the 25th anniversary of Department of Justice v. Reporters Committee, one of the nation’s leading advocates for press access and the public’s right to know will explore the judicial and bureaucratic debilitation of the Freedom of Information Act since 9/11, and the critical need to broaden and enforce the First Amendment right of access to government proceedings and records. The discussion will consider the untapped potential of the constitutional access right and the role of the press in illuminating issues ranging from “secret law” articulated by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, to the government’s plans to prevent Guantanamo detainees from testifying publicly at their own trials, to a State’s ability to keep secret the formulas used for lethal injection executions.
This event is free and open to the public; no reservations are required.
For additional information, contact the Silha Center at 612-625-3421 or at email@example.com
David A. Schulz was interviewed on MPR's "The Daily Circuit" on Wednesday, September 24, 2014. A recording of that interview is available here.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune covered the 2014 Silha Lecture in an article entitled, "Full Disclosure: Sounding the Alarm about Secrecy." The article is available online here.
The symposium, co-sponsored by the School of Journalism and Journalism and the Silha Center, took place on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 in Cowles Auditorium, in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs on the West Bank, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Campus.
Videos and photos of the event are available here.
On July 15, 2016, Professor. Jane Kirtley was a guest on Twin Cities Public Television's "Almanac," which aired live that day. The topic was data privacy issues raised by the popular augmented reality game, Pokemon Go. Information about the program is available online at: http://www.tpt.org/almanac/episode/castile-funeral-minneapolis-urban-league-police-union/
On March 18, 2016, Professor Jane Kirtley wrote an essay for The New York Times' "Room for Debate" on its Opinion Page. The title of the article was "Should the Gawker-Hulk Hogan Jurors Decide What's Newsworthy?" and Professor Kirtley's essay was entitled "Hogan Case is a Threat to Editorial Independence." The article is available online at http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/03/18/should-the-gawker-hulk-hogan-jurors-decide-whats-newsworthy.
On May 13, 2016, Professor Jane Kirtley presented a lecture entitled, “Why Can’t We Be Friends? How judges can ethically navigate social and traditional media,” at the Latvian National Judicial Conference (Latvijas tiesnesu konference). Professor Kirtley was a Fulbright Scholar on the Faculty of Law at the University of Latvia in Riga during Spring 2016. A press release about the event (in Latvian) is available online at: http://at.gov.lv/lv/pazinojumi-presei/par-tieslietu-padomi/2016/7695-tiesnesu-konference-noverte-etikas-komisijas-darba-pozitivo-rezultatu/, and a link to the conference program (also in Latvian) is available at: http://at.gov.lv/files/uploads/files/9_Tieslietu_padome/Notikusas_konferences/13.05.2016-darba_kartiba_A4.pdf
On March 2, 2016, Professor Jane Kirtley was quoted in this story entitled, “Case Against Santilli So Far Largely Based On Words,” that aired on Oregon Public Broadcasting. The story was about internet radio host Peter Santilli and his “strong and at times even offensive statements” while he covered the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The article is available online at: http://www.opb.org/news/series/burns-oregon-standoff-bundy-militia-news-updates/pete-santilli-charges-legal-case-free-speech/. The interview also aired on NPR/WBUR's "Here and Now" show on March 9, 2016.
On January 29, 2016, Professor Jane Kirtley was a guest for the edition of "On the Media," produced by WNYC public radio. The topic was “Laws of the Lying Game,” and Professor Kirtley discussed the legal and ethical issues arising from deceptive newsgathering techniques in the context of the indictment of anti-abortion activists for using fraud to procure recordings of Planned Parenthood staff. Audio of the interview is available online at: http://www.onthemedia.org/story/law-lying-game/.
On July 12, 2015, an article by Professor Jane Kirtley, “Gawker – and First Amendment – may receive body blow from another thin-skinned wrestler” that appeared in The Conversation, was republished by Newsweek in an article entitled, “Hulk Hogan’s Sex Tape Trial Tests the First Amendment.” The Newsweek article is available online at: http://www.newsweek.com/hulk-hogans-sex-tape-trial-tests-first-amendment-352600.
On July 6, 2015, Professor Jane Kirtley’s article entitled, “Gawker – and First Amendment – may receive body blow from another thin-skinned wrestler,” was published in The Conversation, an online publisher of articles written by members of the academic and research community. The article examines Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker Media over the publication of the former professional wrestler’s sex tape, a case which would pit a celebrity’s privacy rights against the Bill of Rights. The article is available online at https://theconversation.com/gawker-and-first-amendment-may-receive-body-blow-from-another-thin-skinned-wrestler-44179.
On July 26, 2015, Professor Jane Kirtley was a guest on "Philosophy Talk" discussing the topic the "power and perils of satire." The interview is available online at: http://www.philosophytalk.org/shows/power-and-perils-satire
"Philosophy Talk" is produced by KALW radio in San Francisco, which aired the program live. The program is syndicated to other radio stations, including KTNF AM 950 in Saint Louis Park, MN. A list of stations carrying the program is available online at: http://www.philosophytalk.org/stations#sthash.1ODI4vd9.dpuf.
During May 2015, Professor Kirtley was awarded a Fulbright US Scholar Grant and will be teaching media law and ethics on the Law Faculty at the University of Latvia in Riga during Spring 2016 semester. The grant totals $26,500. Professor Kirtley was also awarded a Faculty Development Leave from the College of Liberal Arts for Spring 2016, at 50% of her regular salary. Additional information about Professor Kirtley’s Fulbright grant is available online at: http://www.jf.lu.lv/eng/news/t/38030/.
On April 20, 2015, Professor Jane Kirtley served as a juror for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. Information about her and the other jurors is available online at:http://www.pulitzer.org/jurors/2015-Commentary. This year’s award went to Lisa Falkenbergof the Houston Chronicle. Information about Falkenberg and her article is available online at:http://www.pulitzer.org/citation/2015-Commentary.
On April 6, 2015, Professor Jane Kirtley was interviewed on KPCC’s radio "AirTalk" program, discussing the Columbia Journalism School report on the Rolling Stone University of Virginia story. Information about the broadcast is available online at: http://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/2015/04/06/42260/assessing-fallout-of-rolling-stone-uva-story-retra/
On March 7, 2015, Professor Jane Kirtley was a panelist at the Inter American Press Association's Midyear Meeting in Panama City, Panama. The panel topic was "Government Control Through the Internet." Her presentation was covered inLa Prensa, the largest daily newspaper in Panama, where she was quoted in this story entitled, “Expertos analizan cómo la tecnología ha cambiado la libertad de expression.” The article is available online at: http://www.diariolibre.com/noticias/2015/03/07/i1045011_expertos-analizan-cmo-tecnologa-cambiado-libertad-expresin.html.
On December 8, 2014, Professor Jane Kirtley participated in a panel discussion entitled, "What Can We Learn from Pointergate?" sponsored by the Minnesota Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Silha Center, the Minnesota Journalism Center, and the Twin Cities chapters of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) at Cowles Auditorium at the University of Minnesota. A video of the event is available online at http://theuptake.org/live-video-post/journalists-discuss-pointergate/.
On September 17, 2014, Professor Jane Kirtley was the moderator for "Freedom and Power in the Digital Age." The event featured a presentation by Ben Blink, Senior Policy Analyst for Google, followed by a conversation with Professor Kirtley. The program and was held in Cowles Auditorium on the University of Minnesota campus and was sponsored by the Minnesota International Center, whose website is available online at http://www.micglobe.org/. A video of the event is available online at http://youtu.be/dlSsIe783tQ, and photos of the event are available at http://goo.gl/QDMj3J.
On July 29, 2013, Professor Jane Kirtley was interviewed by KARE 11 news about the Jesse Ventura trial. The interview aired on July 29 on KARE 11 News at 10 and on July 30 on KARE 11 News Sunrise.
On July 7, 2014, Professor Jane Kirtley was interviewed for WCCO TV's "News at 10" in a segment entitled "Ventura Heads to Federal Court with Libel Case."
On May 15, 2014, The Guardian (London) published an editorial written by Professor Jane Kirtley entitled “Why the US constitution gives you the right to know lethal injection’s secrets.” The article is available online at http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/15/constitution-lethal-injection-secrets.
On October 4, 2013, Professor Jane Kirtley was a panelist at the "Professional
Ethics in National Security Law and Politics" conference in Philadelphia, PA.
The conference was sponsored by the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law at the
University of Pennsylvania Law School. She appeared on Panel 1, "Journalists and
National Security Reporting: The Ethics of Leaks." Additional information about
the conference is available online at:
On July 18, 2013. Professor Jane Kirtley was interviewed by Rob Olson of Fox 9 (KMSP TV) for the "Fox at 5" evening newscast, discussing Rolling Stone's cover with the controversial photograph of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Information about the broadcast is available online at http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/video?clipId=9103584&autoStart=true.
Professor Jane Kirtley and Holly Miller, a JD/MA candidate in the dual degree program through the University of Minnesota's School of Journalism and Mass Communication and its Law School, authored an article entitled, "Media's Quote Approval Practice Raises Ethical and Legal Concerns." The article appeared on the front page of the Winter 2013 edition of Committee News, the Newletter for the American Bar Association's Media, Privacy, and Defamation Law Committee. The newsletter is available here.
While speaking on a visit to Kyrgyzstan, Professor Kirtley was featured in a two-page article in the Vecherniy Bishkek with a headline which read: “No government can limit free speech.” The article was published in October 2012.
The entire article is available online at
September 21, 2012 – Professor Jane Kirtley was a member of the "Media Panel" on TPT's Almanac show, discussing current journalism ethics issues, including the use of the secretly-recorded Romney tape, linking to the "Innocence of Muslims," and The New York Times' new policy prohibiting reporters from granting "quote approval" to sources. The program is available online at: http://www.tpt.org/?a=programs&id=4875
On February 16, 2012, Professor Jane Kirtley was a speaker on a panel, "International Law After
WikiLeaks" at a conference, "The Media World After WikiLeaks and News
of the World," sponsored by UNESCO and the World Press Freedom Committee,
held at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris, France, on Feb. 16-17, 2012. A video of the event is available online here:
(Professor Kirtley's presentation appears in the16 February, Part 3 portion, about an hour into the video.)
Professor Jane Kirtley, Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law and Director of the Silha Center at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota was featured on the College of Liberal Arts homepage after speaking on Minnesota Public Radio's Midday about the state of the media in 2011 on Minnesota Public Radio's Midday program.
Professor Kirtley was on Fox 9 Monday, June 27 discussing the Supreme Court's decision in the "violent videos" case.
That same day the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states do not have the right to ban violent video games from children as this would ban the children's rights to free speech. The 2010 Silha Lecture, hosted by the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics & Law, was delivered by Paul Smith, the attorney who represented the video games industry and whose argument prevailed in the case.
Away from Democracy and Toward a Dictatorship? Hungary's New Media Law
Featuring Professor Jane E. Kirtley, SilhaProfessor of Media Ethics and Law
February 23, 2011, 2:30pm–3:30pm