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David McCraw

David McCraw, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of The New York Times

Did the First Amendment Go and Get Old?  Press Freedom in the Age of Trump and Twitter

Click here to watch the 115th Donahue Lecture. 

David McCraw, Deputy General Counsel of The New York Times, was described last year by one veteran reporter in an online forum as “the lawyer every journalist dreams of having.”

Mr. McCraw has spent the last 15 years at The Times, where he serves as the newspaper’s top newsroom lawyer.  He has been the lawyer behind virtually every major investigative story The Times has done in recent years, including its Pulitzer Prize-winning stories on workers’ deaths at a Texas foundry, the lethal aftermath of Hurricane Katrina at a New Orleans hospital, and the secret fortunes of China’s political elite.

In October, a letter Mr. McCraw wrote to Donald Trump’s lawyer defending the paper’s right to publish a story about two women who claimed to have been groped by Mr. Trump became one of the lasting artifacts of the presidential campaign.  More than two million people read the letter on The Times website.  Times columnist Roger Cohen wrote, “Of all the sentences written about Trump over many, many months now, my favorite is the last in the letter sent by David McCraw.”

Mr. McCraw is among the nation’s most prolific litigators of freedom-of-information cases.  He has litigated more than 40 FOIA suits, winning the disclosure of secret documents on topics ranging from drone strikes in Yemen and terrorist investigations in the U.S. to the government’s burgeoning surveillance program after 9/11. Mr. McCraw also heads up The Times’s crisis management team coordinating the paper’s response when journalists are kidnapped or detained overseas.

Mr. McCraw is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Cornell University, and Albany Law School. He is an adjunct professor at the NYU Law School.  In 2010, the New York City Bar awarded Mr. McCraw its Cyrus Vance Award for his international pro bono work on behalf of free expression. His pro bono work on behalf of government transparency and press freedom has included projects in Yemen, Montenegro, Bahrain, and Kuwait and workshops for lawyers and journalists in South America, China, Russia, and Eastern Europe.

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