More debate over Jon Wiener's tobacco expose

Historians in the News


Jon Wiener's March 15 cover article,"Big Tobacco & the Historians," is a journalistic lapse. It tells the story of Robert Proctor, a historian who has long testified for plaintiffs in smoking and health cases. For almost as long, Dr. Proctor has worked extrajudicially to dissuade other historians from testifying against him.

In 2009 Proctor learned the names of University of Florida graduate students who served as research assistants to an opposing historian. On learning the names, Proctor contacted a Florida professor he thought might be sympathetic. He provided her with the students' names and in e-mails urged her to contact, in sequence, the students' advisers, the department chair and the complete department faculty to forbid the students from doing the work. Hints of this reached the students, and judicial discovery ensued. I took Proctor's deposition. The article quotes the plaintiffs' lawyer, but I was not contacted....


Theodore M. Grossman boasts on his web page at JonesDay.com that he is Big Tobacco's"stopper" in winning high-profile cases. For years he has worked to stop smokers with cancer from collecting damages; now he's trying to stop Stanford historian Robert Proctor from testifying as an expert witness on behalf of such smokers.

It's true that Volusia County Circuit Court Judge William Parsons called Proctor the"lowest of the low." But the judge had been asked by tobacco attorneys to exclude Proctor as an expert witness, and the judge rejected their motion. Proctor will testify in the case in question. One other relevant fact, noted by Judge Parsons in his Order Denying Motion to exclude Proctor:"the court has never had the opportunity to meet Dr. Proctor" and"there was no evidentiary hearing" in which Proctor could have appeared or offered a defense....

Related Links

Read entire article at The Nation

comments powered by Disqus