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The day the Citizen opposed free press

Guest Writer
Guest Opinion


Everyone has had a run-in with the Tucson Citizen. My run-in has stuck with me all these years.

In early 1972, when I was writing primarily for the underground, anti-war press, I was subpoenaed to a federal grand jury in Tucson.

It was a special grand jury set up by the Nixon Justice Department to investigate radical activity.

A number of these grand juries were set up around the country, and those they called as witnesses were in the outer circle of radical activity but known to have contacts with the inner circle.

I moved to quash my subpoena based on First Amendment grounds that to haul a reporter behind closed doors would, in effect, compromise freedom of the press.

It became a nationally known freedom-of-the-press case, and dozens of journalists and editors around the country, including a few in Tucson, wrote affidavits on my behalf – among them Julie Szekeley and Dennis Eskow of the Citizen.

The Tucson Citizen editorialized against me, saying I wasn’t really a journalist, just someone who wrote for the radical underground.

And it fired Szekeley and Eskow for having the temerity to write affidavits – actually very simple statements saying they’d seen me cover events – on my behalf.

U.S. District Judge William Frey agreed with me, and I never had to testify.

Still, in my mind, the Tucson Citizen, though many editors and owners later, will always stand out as the one newspaper in America that came out against the First Amendment.

I should add as a postscript that a number of years later, the Citizen, under subsequent management, editorialized in favor of a First Amendment press shield law. I was off the paper’s blacklist and wrote a few pieces for Dave Mitchell’s weekend supplement, “Ole!”

Tom Miller is a Tucson author.

Our Digital Archive

This blog page archives the entire digital archive of the Tucson Citizen from 1993 to 2009. It was gleaned from a database that was not intended to be displayed as a public web archive. Therefore, some of the text in some stories displays a little oddly. Also, this database did not contain any links to photos, so though the archive contains numerous captions for photos, there are no links to any of those photos.

There are more than 230,000 articles in this archive.

In TucsonCitizen.com Morgue, Part 1, we have preserved the Tucson Citizen newspaper's web archive from 2006 to 2009. To view those stories (all of which are duplicated here) go to Morgue Part 1

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