Contextualizing the Pentagon Papers Publication with Todd Gitlin, Steve Wasserman, and David Rudenstine

In a talk following the March 3 performance of Top Secret, Professor Todd Gitlin of Columbia and Steve Wasserman of NYU’s NY Institute for the Humanities, built on the themes discussed in the below post regarding seeing the publication of the Pentagon Papers as an act of courage or protest.

In the talk, Wasserman tied the publication of the papers by the New York Times and the Washington Post to the larger acts of protest going on against the Vietnam War at the time, including prior publication of leaked documents and information by more radical “alternative” presses against which, Wasserman theorized, the Times and the Post were in competition to break news of the stories behind the war.  Wasserman described this spirit of protest as a “tide that lifted all boats,” leading to the Times and Post‘s publication.

Gitlin went further, contextualizing Ellsberg’s leaking of the Papers and the Times and the Post‘s acts of publication, not only within the anti-war movement, but within the larger spirit of protest that captured the nation and inspired many of its journalists throughout the 1960s and 70s. Gitlin tied the spark of this protest spirit to the civil rights movement, through which many Americans saw a rupture between what they saw on the ground and  information they received from the government and authorities — a rupture that permitted them to challenge the received information and authority.

For more, check out Gitlin’s book The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage and listen to the audio of the March 3 talkback, which also features commentary on the court system and behind-the-scenes stories about the Pentagon Papers case from David Rudenstine, Sheldon H. Solow Professor at Cardozo Law School and author of The Day the Presses Stopped, a definitive and highly-detailed history of the Pentagon Papers case.

Audio Recording of 3.3.2010 Discussion Now Available:

Audio: Top Secret 03.03.10 Wasserman, Gitlin, Rudenstine Panel Discussion

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