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Notable New     Yorkers
Select     Notable New Yorker

John B. OakesJohn B. Oakes
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important question in newspaper-court relationships ever since. Of course there have been dozens of cases in the last ten years relating to this.

Well, I had a view that was a rather moderate one, in respect to the rights of the newspaper to publish this kind of information. I always felt, while a very, very strong believer in freedom of the press and freedom from any kind of censorship, I always felt that the Sixth Amendment right, guarantee of a fair trial, was equally important, and it worried me that there was a tendency on the part of the press, and I felt even of the New York Times sometimes, to exceed the bounds of what we really should print, in regard to prospective defendants. This of course deals almost entirely with criminal cases. It always worried me.

So in one, I believe probably the first time this issue arose in my regime, as editor of the editorial page, was in the late sixties, when there was an occasion for us to do an editorial on this issue. I do not recall the precise circumstances, but the date was December, 1969, and the editorial that was drafted was entitled “Fairness on Trial,” which gives exactly the gist of the controversy.


This was your own editorial?


This was an editorial that was proposed, that was intended to be published on the editorial page, and I can't even say to you now that I myself had written it. I think I did. It could have been written by one of my associates. But in any case, we would not have written, I would not have published any editorial on this subject without giving the

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