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Arthur O. Sulzberger, the Pentagon Papers, and the power of the press

Posted by: | October 1, 2012 | No Comment |

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, who died on Saturday the 29th of September, was the publisher of the New York Times and the chairman and chief executive of The New York Times Company from 1963 to 1992. Mr. Sulzberger presided over an incident that is a text book definition of the power of the press when the New York Times released what would be known as the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

The Pentagon Papers was an extensive report from the Defense Department which explained the role of the United States in Vietnam during the Johnson Administration, a role which the public as a whole was very ignorant of.The New York Times (source)


The New York Times was able to not only make the public aware of the almost total lack of truth on the part of the U.S. government, but to also set a precedent for First Amendment rights in the ensuing Supreme Court case New York Times Co. vs United States.

The role that Sulzberger played was that of the head of the New York Times Company. Under his watch the Times launched a hot button story, and even went to far as to defy the United States government. The results of the episode led to the erosion of support for the Nixon Administration in Vietnam, and for the entire conflict in general.

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