What is a whistleblower

The release of the Steven Spielberg film The Post (starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep) has prompted a new upsurge in interest about whistleblowers. In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times, Washington Post and other newspapers which published the shocking revelations of how the American people had been lied to about the Vietnam War for decades.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Stephen Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center, explains how whistleblowing is a fundamentally American creed. The country’s original whistleblower law dates to the founding fathers and whistleblower protections can be found in three places in the First Amendment: the freedom of speech (so whistleblowers can inform about misconduct), the freedom of the press (so whistleblowers can get their message to the public), and the ability to petition the government for redress (so whistleblowers can seek institutional change).  The release of the Pentagon Papers and the Courts’ subsequent protection of Ellsberg and the press reaffirmed these core American values.

Watch the video here: What is a whistleblower: How to be a journalist

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Stephen M. Kohn, is an partner in the Washington, D.C. based law firm of Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto and the author of The New Whistleblower’s Handbook. Mr. Kohn created a special online resource for each of the rules contained in the book to be used as a tool for his readers: 30 Rules and Resources for Whistleblowers.