Before entering politics, Dan Quayle worked in his family's newspaper business in Indiana. No one was really shocked, therefore, when he accepted an invitation to speak before the National Press Club for National Freedom of Information Day. But, judging from an article in the Society for Professional Journalists' magazine, The Quill, Quayle's strong defense of press freedom surprised some members of the audience.
"I come from a First Amendment family," said Quayle, whose grandfather, Eugene Pulliam, cofounded the SPJ. "I'm convinced that a strong, vigorous, and skeptical press is vital to the health and well-being of American democracy—even though some might say it hasn't always contributed to the health of my own political career."
Quayle's record in Congress, noted The Quill, seems to bear out his commitment to press freedom. In the House, he introduced legislation to overturn the Zurcher v. Stanford Daily Supreme Court decision that allowed broad searches and seizures in newsrooms. Later, in the Senate, he worked to overturn a Reagan administration National Security Decision Directive requiring prepublication review of writing by persons with access to certain classified documents.
Quayle told the audience that "too much government information is classified." The public, he said, would appreciate the nation's defense needs "if more data that need not be classified were declassified and released."