Supreme Court and the Press

Archive Report

Rising Judiciary-Press Tensions

Media's Fear of Basic Rights Slipping Away

From the Pentagon Papers to the Progressive magazine's atomic secrets case, the 1970s have seen a steady escalation in the tension between the government and the press in the United States. Tension between these two powerful institutions was built into the American system. The press was expected by the Founding Fathers to fill the important function of keeping citizens informed of the workings of the government. But the widespread skepticism and the new activism of journalists during the turbulent years of Vietnam and Watergate spawned an unprecedented number of collisions between the interests of government, the press and society.

A record number of these disputes found their way to the U.S. Supreme Court. From the court, the ...

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