Serving as legal counsel for The New York Times has provided David McCraw with insight into some of the landmark stories and media battles of the last ten years. He joins Media Mayhem to share some of his valuable knowledge of the legal dealings of the most respected newspaper in the free world.
We talk about Julian Assange and Wikileaks, the freedom-of-information act and the Obama administration, and negotiating to release kidnapped journalists in political hotspots–among other things. Through it all, Mr. McCraw keeps his unflappable even-handedness no matter how tricky the subject. This is an incredibly informative talk that sheds light on the stakes of media and the defenders of information.
David McCraw is Vice President and Assistant General Counsel of The New York Times Company, where he is responsible for litigation and for providing legal counsel to the newsrooms of The Times, The International Herald Tribune, and the company’s other 15 newspapers as well as its websites. He has been at The Times since 2002. He previously served as Deputy General Counsel of The New York Daily News and a litigation associate at Clifford Chance and Rogers & Wells. He has lectured on U.S. press law in various countries in the Middle East, South America, and Eastern Europe. McCraw has represented The New York Times in freedom of information lawsuits and other disputes involving the New York Police Department, the FBI and the Bush and the Obama administrations. He also works behind the scenes to secure the return of foreign correspondents who are kidnapped or dealing with other legal issues while on assignment.
He has successfully represented the newspaper in lawsuits that led to the release of thousands of pages of government documents concerning emergency-response efforts in New York City on 9/11, the U.S. Defense Department’s secret campaign to influence public opinion during the War in Iraq, and unsafe workplaces. Mr. McCraw has served as a consultant to the drafters of freedom-of-information laws in Yemen and Kuwait and has conducted workshops on press freedom issues in Russia, Peru, Chile, Bahrain, and various countries in Eastern and Central Europe.
00:01 Episode introduction.
00:42 Welcoming David McCraw.
02:25 Making FOIA requests for government documents from the Obama administration.
04:41 Weighing national security with the public’s right to information.
08:00 The Iraq War and the Bush administration’s response to the Times.
11:23 The push and shove between transparency and the government.
16:53 The Times coverage of the financial meltdown.
18:21 The Obama administration’s war on leaks.
22:23 The distinction between Bush and Obama.
23:03 The Jim Risen case.
25:29 The cost of defending journalists that may get subpoenaed.
27:08 Helping journalists that are kidnapped–David Rose.
32:52 Working with consultants and governments to free kidnapped journalists.
33:50 Working to free journalists from Libyan kidnappers.
37:15 Does the Times work directly with foreign governments or through the US?
41:29 Is it a good policy to continue publishing when their sources are being investigated?
46:50 The Mayhem Round.
47:28 An overview of the procedures to publishing Wikileaks material, and ideas of Julian Assange.
50:31 Defining an injunctive threat to the press.
53:51 How long did the process take to publish the Wikileaks?
58:42 Preventing leaks before publishing.
01:01:01 The enormous amount of “classified” material.
01:04:35 The Trayvon Martin shooting and the media impact on the prosecution.
01:08:19 Thanks and goodbye!