About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for Suppressed: Confessions of a Former New York Times Washington Correspondent

Greetings from the National Archives’ flagship building in Washington, DC, which sits on the ancestral lands of the Nacotchtank peoples. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to today’s virtual author lecture with Robert M. Smith, author of Suppressed.

Before we begin, though, I’d like to tell you about two upcoming programs you can view on our YouTube channel.

On Monday, May 10, at 5 p.m., Bob Drury and Tom Clavin will tell us the true saga of Daniel Boone and the conquest of the frontier, the subject of their new book, Blood and Treasure.

And on Thursday, May 13, at noon, historian Jonathan Zimmerman and Pulitzer Prize–winning cartoonist Signe Wilkinson will present their new book, Free Speech. This brief but bracing book tells the story of free speech in America and makes the case for why we should care about it today.

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For more than 120 years, the New York Times has proclaimed that it publishes "All the News That's Fit to Print."

At some point, someone is deciding what is “fit to print,” and the results of those decisions are the subject of our featured book, Suppressed.

Robert M. Smith spent years as a reporter with the Times, and in his new book he examines how some stories make it to print, how some do not, and how the filters work.

The First Amendment to the Constitution declares that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” With that freedom comes responsibility, and this book reminds us that news outlets approach that responsibility in different ways.[1] [2] 

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Robert M. Smith is a former New York Times White House and investigative correspondent who was witness to some of the most important stories in modern history, including Watergate, the Pentagon Papers, and the My Lai Massacre.

He began at the Times in his 20s, quit, went to Yale Law School, and was re-hired by the Times. He became a lawyer in a prestigious firm, served in the administration of President Jimmy Carter, and worked as an international commercial mediator in England and in the United States.

He won an award for newswriting from United Press International, won several awards while at the New York Times, and has written a comprehensive legal treatise on mediation and arbitration.

Now let’s hear from Robert M. Smith. Thank you for joining us today.