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John B. OakesJohn B. Oakes
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We had an editorial after the judgment, in which we pointed out-of course, we felt as we certainly did feel that this was an attack on the freedom of the press, as I'm absolutely convinced it really was. I am not one of the people who shouts “freedom of the press” at the drop of every attack and so forth, but this seemed to me, and to all of us who knew anything about this suit, that it really was a very serious attack on press freedom in a very basic way, that is, an effort to make it so expensive for a newspaper that was taking a given position that was in disagreement with the position of the ruling people, or of the government, or of the controlling group in the given area, in this case, Alabama, to make it so expensive to oppose this, that they simply wouldn't be able to. This was a direct assault, it seems to me, on real freedom of reporting, rather than on freedom of editorials, because they hit us through, in one case, through reports and reporting. In the other case, it was through the ad that we carried, which, by the way, took as its caption-and this was mere coincidence-the caption of the ad that caused the Montgomery suit was taken right straight out of an editorial that I had written.

There's no conflict there at all. Now, in fact, the Times' news policies surely in this sense, the effort to get the news and report the news would, of course, be supported editorially, because we believe in-so there's no question of conflict, and I had no hesitation in running the editorial the day the suit was announced. It appeared the day after, which explained what we thought the significance of the suit was. It's too bad more newspapers around the country didn't recognize the same thing, and didn't realize their own interests were very, very deeply involved.

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