Washington Post Video Explains What It Means to be A Whistleblower
KKC Partner Stephen M. Kohn is featured in a video series “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” by Washington Post reporter Libby Casey. Ms. Casey draws from Kohn’s expertise to explain the origins of modern whistleblower protections and what steps to take to be protected.
The video chronicles two important whistleblowers, Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower, and Joseph Rannazzisi, who blew the whistle on the opioid crisis in the U.S., to highlight the risks of whistleblowing.
“Daniel Ellsberg created modern whistleblowing. He pointed out that there were defects in the law that made it impossible for honest civil servants to report fraud and corruption lawfully. He changed how we do business for the better,” Kohn said.
Kohn explained that whistleblowers often face swift retaliation but laws were passed as a direct response to the Ellsberg case to protect federal employees.
Whistleblowers speak out despite the personal risks at stake. Rannazzisi, former chief of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Deputy Assistant Administrator, retired after attempts to report issues internally were not well received. Kohn explains that while Rannazzisi blew the whistle after he retired, that he too should be “protected as a whistleblower since he was an insider with something to lose.”
“The three pillars of whistleblowing are found in the First Amendment,” says Kohn. “Freedom of speech, that’s the whistleblower. Freedom of press, that’s the way you get it to the people. And the right to petition Congress, that’s going to oversight.”
Watch the video here: What is a whistleblower: How to be a journalist
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Stephen M. Kohn, serves as the executive director of the National Whistleblower Center and is 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.