Columbia News Video Forum

First Amendment Panel Scrutinizes Media Coverage of Anthrax Attack

The media's coverage of last fall's anthrax attack continues to be under scrutiny, specifically as it relates to the federal investigation of biological weapons specialist Steven Hatfill.

Introduction
Floyd Abrams

Anthrax: Trial by Media? The Case of Steven Hatfill
Floyd Abrams, the William J. Brennan Jr. Visiting Professor of First Amendment Issues, cited the delicate balance journalists reporting on crime must keep when incorporating information that is usable but provided off the record, without revealing the source.

Real (15:21)Video
Panel Discussion

Victoria Toensing

Scott Shane

Gary Matsumoto

Pat Clawson

Panelists Affirm Necessity of Further Reporting
Panelists affirmed that journalists should report further, beyond information obtained from leaks, in order to verify the accuracy of information. They said failure to obtain primary sources can lead to unfair accusations against persons before they have been formally charged, tried and convicted. Abrams moderated a breakfast panel in midtown sponsored by the Graduate School of Journalism that included Scott Shane, a reporter for the Baltimore Sun; Gary Matsumoto, writer/reporter and former correspondent for NBC News and Fox; Victoria Toensing, defense attorney and former U.S. deputy assistant attorney general, and Pat Clawson, broadcast journalist and spokesperson for Hatfill.

Real (41:49)Video

Shot: Sep 26, 2002
Published: Oct 04, 2002
Last modified:Oct 07, 2002