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Truth in Our Times*

Big, Smoochy Kiss for the First Amendment

I am not quite sure what I was expecting when I chose this book, but it was a far more compelling and insightful read than I imagined it would be. I was drawn to it because I wanted to see what the lawyer for the New York Times had to say about the topic since The Times seem to have been embroiled in a battle with the Trump Administration since the president’s inauguration. I was curious about The Times side of the story.

While the book does spend a good portion discussing The Times versus Trump, it is far more than that. It is a riveting combination of legal history about the First Amendment as well as an in-the-moment professional memoir of the fight to keep one of our most sacred amendments to the law of the land intact. Trump is not the only one looked at here; any politician who has attempted to diminish the First Amendment up for scrutiny.

The author pulls you into the surprisingly fascinating world of a media lawyer to a big-name news outlet that is regularly called out by those in the highest government positions. He calls himself a “raging moderate,” which is a phrase I love and might adopt myself. You get the sense that he not only appreciates the First Amendment because it is a part of his job, but instead, he sees it as one of the cornerstones necessary for a true democracy. Shame on those who want to dismantle this freedom, either by blunt force or slowly chipping away at it. The book presents a solid case about why it is essential to have free speech and free press in a democracy. It lays bare the dangers if they are flouted or threatened.

I thought, perhaps, when I started reading the book that it might be an interesting subject but a boring read (legalese, you know), but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Because the author keeps us mostly in the moment, only summarizing occasionally, it was as much of a page-turner as any good thriller fiction. I think those on both sides of the debate of fake news should read this book to get a glimpse of how the First Amendment works from the inside, not just as an ideal. It gives you a better sense of the forces at work in the country today and what is at stake. It’s a big smoochy kiss to the First Amendment, and I think it needs a little lovin’ at the moment!

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