Media & Communications Law

Editor’s Book Hits Media Lawyer

A book that chronicles the legal fight to protect a Time reporter and his sources criticizes the high-profile lawyer who represented the magazine.

The book, Off the Record, is written by former Time editor-in-chief Norman Pearlstine. He takes aim at media lawyer Floyd Abrams, saying he was more interested in fighting for First Amendment principles than in finding pragmatic ways to fashion compromise, according to a column by Adam Liptak in the New York Times.

Abrams “gave us less good advice than we deserved,” Pearlstine writes.

Abrams represented the magazine as it tried to fend off a special prosecutor’s attempt to learn the source who leaked a CIA agent’s identity to its reporter. Pearlstine eventually complied with a court order to provide documents about the reporter’s discussions with White House political adviser Karl Rove.

Abrams told the Times that Pearlstine’s decision “was at odds with 200 years of American journalistic history.”

The book “combines a bevy of misleading statements mixed with gratuitous attacks that are obviously designed to take the journalistic searchlight off of him,” Abrams said.

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