Off the Record, On the Stand

Off the Record, On the Stand (WNYC Studios)

About this episode

Recently, On the Media’s Micah Loewinger was called to testify in court. He had reported on militia groups who’d helped lead the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Now the government was using his work as evidence in a case against them. Micah wanted nothing to do with it — he worried that participating in the trial would signal to sources that he couldn’t be trusted, which would compromise his work.

As he considered his options, he uncovered a 1972 case called Branzburg v. Hayes. It involved New York Times reporter Earl Caldwell, who was approached multiple times by the FBI to testify against sources in the Black Panther Party. His case — and its decision — transformed the relationship between journalists and the government.

Voices in the episode include:

• Micah Loewinger — correspondent for WNYC Studios' On the Media

• Earl Caldwell — former New York Times reporter

• Lee Levine — attorney and media law expert

• Congressman Jamie Raskin — representing Maryland’s 8th District

Learn more:

• 1972: Branzburg v. Hayes

• Listen to On the Media's "Seditious Conspiracy" episode. Subscribe to On the Media here.

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Special thanks to the Maynard Institute For Journalism Education for allowing the use of its Earl Caldwell oral history. 

Supreme Court archival audio comes from Oyez®, a free law project by Justia and the Legal Information Institute of Cornell Law School.

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