The Common Good screened ‘Nobody Speak: The Trials of the Free Press’, followed by a lively discussion on threats to freedom of the press with director Brian Knappenberger and legendary first amendment defender, James Goodale, best known for his courageous and brilliant leadership role in the Pentagon Papers, developing protections for reporters and their sources, as well as National Security Act limits,
The film starts with the legal proceedings of professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, who (with the financial backing of billionaire Peter Thiel) had filed a lawsuit against Gawker Media, seeking $100 million in damages for releasing a sex tape featuring him and Heather Clem. Gawker Media subsequently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, as a direct result of the lawsuit. Thiel had reportedly wanted to bring Gawker down for having published an article nine years earlier which outed him as gay.
The film then covers an incident where casino mogul Sheldon Adelson bought the Las Vegas Review-Journal, while keeping his identity as the buyer a secret, even to the journalists employed by the company. The management also did not reveal the new owner of the company to the employees, and denied that the Adelson family was involved when asked about the possibility. Adelson himself had also denied his ownership in an interview with CNN. This caused a couple of its journalists to start investigating it on their own by calling their contacts. They eventually uncovered that Sheldon Adelson was indeed the new owner, and after publishing an article with the revelation, were forced to step down.
Brian Knappenberger is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, known for The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists, and his work on Bloomberg Game Changers.
James C. Goodale was the former vice president and general counsel for The New York Times and, later, the Times' vice chairman. He is the author of Fighting for the Press: the Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles. The book was named twice as the best non-fiction book of 2013 by Alan Rusbridger, editor in chief of The Guardian, and Alan Clanton, editor of the online Thursday Review. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit cited "Fighting for the Press" in its decision May 7, 2015, limiting the controversial National Security Agency (NSA) domestic phone monitoring program.