Interested in a free press? If you're not, it can safely be said you're not interested in your own freedom. Sometimes, sure, the media is guilty of excesses and some in it -- a minority, please believe -- are sensationalist.
But most of what we know about the state of our lives and our world, from the president on down to the street person we spied yesterday scanning a discarded USA Today in McPherson Square, flows from what we read or what we view and hear in media protected by the First Amendment.
End of sermon. This is to publicize an unmuseumish program tomorrow at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, in cooperation with the National Press Club. Its topic: "A Free Press: Endangered or Dangerous?".
Those who attend (no tickets necessary) will hear some of the heavy hitters of American print journalism. The three-hour program, divided into segments on the 1930s and 1940s, the 1950s and 1960s and the 1970s and 1980s, begins at 1 p.m.
Speakers: '30s-'40s -- labor specialist John Herling; retired Washington Post diplomatic correspondent Chalmers M. Roberts; veteran United Press International writer and executive Grant Dillman. '50s-'60s -- Edwin Bayley, longtime Milwaukee Journal correspondent and expert on Sen. Joe McCarthy; Charles Bailey, veteran Minneapolis Tribune correspondent and editor and now National Public Radio editor. '70s-'80s -- Seymour Hersh, who broke the My Lai story in The New York Times; Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame with The Washington Post and later with ABC News; D. Brooks Jackson of the Associated Press and now of The Wall Street Journal, an expert on the Carter administration.
The moderator will be Richard M. Schmidt Jr., general counsel of the American Newspaper Publishers Association.