By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The Globe and the Pentagon Papers

Former Boston Globe editor Matt Storin writes about the Globe’s role in publishing the Pentagon Papers.

Given that the case led to a landmark Supreme Court decision extending freedom of the press, it’s interesting to ponder the note on which Storin closes. He quotes Daniel Ellsberg, the Defense Department employee who stole the documents and gave them to the press, as saying that today he’d simply upload them to the Internet.

Where, indeed, you will find them now.

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  1. Anonymous

    To learn more about the Pentagon Papers case, you can visit, a resource site which accompanies the national touring production of the docu-drama “Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon papers”

  2. Aaron Read

    Frankly, I question Ellsberg’s candor in his assertion that he’d just “put them on the internet”. Yeah, it’d probably be smart to do so as a backup plan…to ensure that there’s no way they could truly buried…but only a total idiot would post a giant “smoking gun” on the series of tubes and expect people to believe it.If Ellsberg had done that, the Administration would’ve simply gone on a smear campaign to discredit him and the information. The Papers would’ve been out there, but nobody would believe they were real. It’s not hard to do; people already distrust much of what they see on the ‘net, especially when it’s something “so big”.No, the smart thing would still be to work with a big, reputable newspaper. Certainly TV News is far too co-opted by corporate interests to really put out a major scoop that makes the administration look bad. Same for radio, except for NPR which isn’t taken seriously enough by “the masses”. If I were Ellsberg today, I would secretly play the NY Times and the London Guardian off each other, to make sure neither of them lost the spine to publish the story…AND I would quietly post it on the web in a handful of specific places to have an insurance policy.But you can’t just barf up a coup and hope the nutballs of Slashdot will rally to your cause; even if they do, they sure as hell aren’t going to get your Average Joe to sit up and notice.

  3. MeTheSheeple

    Aaron, there’s something about your post that has me thinking about the last few pages of Stephen King’s “Firestarter.” Hrm. Just what media would you trust in such a case? Would the government not be monitoring the more “reputable” papers in some way, if things had gotten to that point?

  4. Aaron Read

    Good point, Sheeple…just look at how thoroughly the major papers co-opted themselves in the run-up to the Iraq War.But OTOH, that’s part of the reason why I mentioned the Guardian…which (sadly) has had far more honest reporting of US politics than any domestic paper does. I think perhaps Dan can vouch for that? 🙂

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