Oral History Project
The Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit
Oral History Project United States Courts
The Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit
District of Columbia Circuit
Interviews conducted by:
George W. Jones, Jr.
June 5, July 24 and August 1, 2013
Preface ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. i
Oral History Agreements
Richard E. Wiley, Esquire ……………………………………………………………………………………. iii
George W. Jones, Jr, Esquire…………………………………………………………………………………..v
Oral History Transcript of Interviews:
1. June 5, 2013……………………………………………………………………………………………………..1
2. July 24, 2013 ………………………………………………………………………………………………….24
3. August 1, 2013 ……………………………………………………………………………………………….59
Index …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..A-1
Table of Cases ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..B-1
Biographical Sketches
Richard E. Wiley, Esquire …………………………………………………………………………………..C-1
George W. Jones, Jr., Esquire………………………………………………………………………………C-6
The following pages record interviews conducted on the dates indicated. The interviews
were recorded digitally or on cassette tape, and the interviewee and the interviewer have
been afforded an opportunity to review and edit the transcript.
The contents hereof and all literary rights pertaining hereto are governed by, and are
subject to, the Oral History Agreements included herewith.
2013 Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit.
All rights reserved.

First Interview – June 5, 2013
This interview is being conducted on behalf of the Oral History Project of the Historical
Society of the District of Columbia Circuit. The interviewee is Richard E Wiley, Esquire. The
interviewer is George Jones, Esquire. The interview took place at Mr. Wiley’s office at Wiley
Rein LLP in Washington, D.C., on June 5, 2013.
This is the first session of the oral history of Richard E. Wiley being conducted at his
office at Wiley Rein LLP in Washington, D.C. The interviewer’s name is George Jones.
Today’s date is June 5, 2013.
Mr. Jones: Mr. Wiley, you were born in Peoria, but I wanted to start a little earlier than that.
What were your parents’ names?
Mr. Wiley: Joseph H. Wiley and my mother’s name was Jean Wiley. J-e-a-n.
Mr. Jones: And what sort of work did your father do?
Mr. Wiley: He was a manufacturer’s agent, I think, for McGraw Edison’s small electronics
Mr. Jones: And was he in retail sales in Peoria?
Mr. Wiley: No, not retail sales. I don’t recall precisely but I think he helped place McGraw
Edison equipment with various retailers.
Mr. Jones: Okay. And how long did you live in Peoria?
Mr. Wiley: Just a few years. We moved to the Chicago area when I was four or five years
Mr. Jones: Chicago was a long ways from Peoria. Do you recall—
Mr. Wiley: Not very far. A couple hours.
Mr. Jones: I mean figuratively speaking Chicago seems to be quite a different place than
Peoria, or at least my imagination of Peoria.
Mr. Wiley: Peoria was a cosmopolitan town. Certainly nothing to compare with Chicago.
Caterpillar was the big manufacturer in Peoria.
Mr. Jones: Oh, is that right.
Mr. Wiley: Yes.
Mr. Jones: I don’t think I’ve ever heard Peoria referred to as cosmopolitan.
Mr. Wiley: (Laugh) Well it’s the quintessential capital of middle America. Let’s put it that
Mr. Jones: Okay. Alright. Did you have siblings?
Mr. Wiley: I had two older brothers. One about 12 years older than I was, and one 4 and a
half years older.
Mr. Jones: What were their names?
Mr. Wiley: Joseph H. Wiley, Jr. and Gerald H. Wiley.
Mr. Jones: So when your family moved to the Chicago area, you moved to a suburb.
Mr. Wiley: Right, Winnetka, Illinois. My parents hadn’t gone to college, it was a different
era then. My dad’s father had died when he was eight years old leaving seven
children. But my father really believed in education, so he sought, I think, a
suburb that had excellent schools which was very fortunate for me.
Mr. Jones: Did your uncle and aunts live in Illinois?
Mr. Wiley: They live in Peoria.
Mr. Jones: Were you close to any of your uncles and aunts?
Mr. Wiley: Not particularly.
Mr. Jones: Alright, so you’re in Winnetka. Where did you go to school in Winnetka?
Mr. Wiley: I went to Winnetka public schools and ultimately to New Trier High School,
T-r-i-e-r, New Trier.
Mr. Jones: Okay. And I understand you were a baseball player.
Mr. Wiley: Yes I was. I played varsity baseball at New Trier.
Mr. Jones: And what position did you play?
Mr. Wiley: First base, some outfield.
Mr. Jones: And this was around 1947 to ’51.
Mr. Wiley: Yes, I graduated in 1951.
Mr. Jones: What was Winnetka like? That’s right after World War II?
Mr. Wiley: Well it was a very nice suburb then and now as far as I know.
Mr. Jones: So you play any other sports in high school?
Mr. Wiley: I played JV basketball.
Mr. Jones: Okay. Okay. What kind of team did New Trier have. What kind of baseball
Mr. Wiley: Quite good. We played in the Suburban League which was challenging.
Mr. Jones: Were you a Cubs fan?
Mr. Wiley: Definitely a Cubs fan, then and now.
Mr. Jones: But I’ve never understood this. I’ve spent some time in Chicago. There seems to
be a very clear difference between Cubs fans and White Sox fans.
Mr. Wiley: Well Wrigley Field, where the Cubs played, was relatively closer to where I grew
up so it was easier to get there. Comiskey Park, on the south side, was quite a
ways. We went down to see the White Sox play, but it was harder to get there.
Took a lot longer in those days, in particular, and so I think you just identified
with the Cubs more if you lived to the North, and the reverse would be true for
people who grew up in the south side of Chicago or in the south suburbs, and
there were a lot of those.
Mr. Jones: Calumet.
Mr. Wiley: And Harvey, and Thornton, and what have you.
Mr. Jones: So it’s geographic?
Mr. Wiley: I think it was primarily geographic.
Mr. Jones: Then and now. So you were very excited when the Cubs won—did they win?
They were in the World Series.
Mr. Wiley: Nineteen forty-five but they lost.
Mr. Jones: That was the last time?
Mr. Wiley: Yes. Well they won in 1907 and ’08. As people say, anybody can have a bad
century. We’ve had hard times, but we’re always hopeful.
Mr. Jones: Weren’t the Cubs recently in the playoffs?
Mr. Wiley: They’ve been in the playoffs from time-to-time, but have never won. They
haven’t been in the World Series since 1945.
Mr. Jones: Well, you should feel right at home in Washington whose sports teams have
difficulties, except for the Redskins.
So, Winnetka High School. What else did you do in high school other than play
Mr. Wiley: Well, New Trier was an excellent school and they grouped students by, I guess,
ability level you might say—homogenous grouping—so I found myself in some
outstanding classes with excellent students. Many of them were planning to go to
Ivy League schools, and I really had no experience in that. But it was a good
opportunity to be in school with children like that.
Mr. Jones: Did you make friendships that lasted into adulthood?
Mr. Wiley: Yes, I’ve kept in touch with my class and with other people that I have known out
there. And we have an alumni organization, so to speak, and still get mailings
from them, and what have you.
Mr. Jones: (Laugh)
Mr. Wiley: I haven’t lived out there for many, many years but I think all New Trier graduates
still have an affinity with the school.
Mr. Jones: Indians’ fans, when they go back to Chicago they see high school games?
Mr. Wiley: Perhaps.
Mr. Jones: Did they change the name? You said they changed the name.
Mr. Wiley: Yes they did. For a while they were the New Trier Indians, now they’re the
Trevians. Don’t ask me what a Trevian is. Basically, after moving around a bit,
my father bought a home right across the street from New Trier so I particularly
had a feeling for the school.
Mr. Jones: Absolutely. And were there any teachers or other adult influences who were
particularly important to you in high school.
Mr. Wiley: The teacher that I remember the best was a man named Lionel Lightner who was
both my great books class teacher and the baseball coach. And he made quite an
impression on me. I say he would rank #1 in my high school influences.
MR. JONES. Did he encourage you to go to college?
Mr. Wiley: He suggested, because I was younger – I was going to get out of high school at 16
– that I might consider prep school. But I really didn’t know much about prep
schools. And I really didn’t know much about colleges to be honest with you. It
was not something I got a lot of guidance on.
Mr. Jones: Now you say a lot of your high school classmates were considering Ivy League
Mr. Wiley: Absolutely.
Mr. Jones: Did you think about applying to Ivy League schools or not?
Mr. Wiley: I really didn’t. I didn’t know where they were. I was somewhat naïve. So, I
ended up drifting into the school that was closer to where I lived which turned out
to be an excellent university, of course, Northwestern. I had always been a
Northwestern fan growing up. I was interested in athletics. I’d seen many
Northwestern games, so going to Northwestern seemed like a good deal to me.
Mr. Jones: Did you apply only to Northwestern?
MR.WILEY: I also applied to Washington of St. Louis primarily because we had lived very
briefly in St. Louis during the war years.
Mr. Jones: And at Northwestern you continued your baseball career?
Mr. Wiley: Yes, I did play varsity baseball at Northwestern. I was not a star. I want to make
that quite clear, but it was a compelling interest in my life. I would have to say
that my initial career plan was to be a high school teacher and a baseball coach. I
really patterned my thinking along the lines of what Mr. Lightner had done, only
obviously I changed my mind along the way.
Mr. Jones: Did you tell him that you wanted to be a baseball coach and a high school teacher
like him?
Mr. Wiley: Well I may have discussed that with him at some point, I don’t recall that
precisely. But he kept in touch with me while I was going to school at
Mr. Jones: So you played baseball at Northwestern. What else did you do?
Mr. Wiley: I studied a lot. I was a pretty devoted student and I think those were my primary
interests. I also had a good time like every young guy would have in school, but I
was a pretty straight-laced student, I would say.
Mr. Jones: You mentioned that neither your father nor your mother had gone to college, but
were both advocates of continued education for you.
Mr. Wiley: Yes, particularly my father.
Mr. Jones: How was the adjustment from New Trier High School to Northwestern for you?
Mr. Wiley: Not too much. I took exams as to whether I needed to take the freshmen courses
and I found that I didn’t have to do so because New Trier was such an advanced
school. And so I was in sophomore classes pretty early. That helped. It gave me
more opportunity later to take different kinds of courses.
Mr. Jones: But you were probably among the youngest people in the class.
Mr. Wiley: Yes, I was.
Mr. Jones: So you were 16 or 17. You were 16 I guess.
Mr. Wiley: Well I’d just turned 17.
Mr. Jones: Seventeen. And everybody else is 18 or 19.
Mr. Wiley: Yes. I found that particularly evident on the baseball team because a lot of people
were more mature physically and I think Mr. Lightner’s advice about going to
prep school probably would have been a good idea. But I wasn’t going to be a
superstar anyway in baseball. One day, a professor at Northwestern suggested
that I ought to go to law school and that’s something, I can tell you, I had never
thought about. I think that professor saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself
at the time.
Mr. Jones: Do you remember who it was?
Mr. Wiley: It was a man named Mr. Grow. Milton Grow.
Mr. Jones: And what did he teach?
Mr. Wiley: He taught guidance counseling and I was in the school of education, of course,
planning to be a teacher. Mr. Grow said why don’t you, over the Christmas
holidays, take some competency exams. And when I did so, he said, “Let’s not
beat around the bush, you ought to go to law school.” So the light went on, you
know. And so I took the LSATs, I did quite well on them, and this time applied
to Harvard, Yale, Michigan and Northwestern, and got admitted to all of those
schools. My plan really was to go to an Ivy League school and get away from
Chicago for a while. But Northwestern offered me a three-year scholarship and
my folks didn’t have a lot of money. Thus, I ended up going to Northwestern.
Mr. Jones: It’s not a bad school.
Mr. Wiley: It’s a very good school. And I have been quite active in the law school. I’ve been
president of the law alumni society and I gave the commencement address one
year. So I’ve had an affiliation with the school that maybe I wouldn’t have had at
Harvard. I have never regretted going to Northwestern Law School at all. But
geographically I would have liked to have gone someplace else.
Mr. Jones: When Mr. Grow suggested that you consider going to law school, did you discuss
it or did you just say okay?
Mr. Wiley: I think I was influenced by him quite a bit, and I said, “Really, Mr. Grow, I have
no experience in that. Why would you say that?” And he just said, “You have
abilities that would stand you in good stead in law school.” I was impressionable
and, you know, this was sort of a father figure who was suggesting something to
me and so I thought I would try it.
Mr. Jones: Did you know any lawyers?
Mr. Wiley: I knew some. Parents of some of my friends in Winnetka were Chicago lawyers.
Mr. Jones: Did you have a sense of what it would be like to be a lawyer? To practice law?
Mr. Wiley: I really did not.
Mr. Jones: Did you—
Mr. Wiley: But I knew that lawyers dealt with words and logic and reasoning, and those were
things I felt I had some facility with. So it seemed like a good fit to me, and when
I did well on the LSATs that was reassuring.
Mr. Jones: And off you went.
Mr. Wiley: You may have had a different experience, but I just didn’t have that background.
Mr. Jones: Well, when we finish I’ll tell you my story.
Mr. Wiley: In any case, I wasn’t sure when I took the LSAT how it was going to turn out, and
I was very pleased that it turned out as well as it did.
Mr. Jones: So you were an education major in college?
Mr. Wiley: Yes. My major was in history and political science. And I took a lot of liberal
arts and economics courses because I didn’t have to take the original freshman
Mr. Jones: When did you have this conversation with Mr. Grow?
Mr. Wiley: I think maybe my junior year, as I recall.
Mr. Jones: So you take the LSAT, you do well. You apply to four of the best schools in the
country and get into all of them—
Mr. Wiley: Right.
Mr. Jones: But Northwestern gives you the most money so you say, “I’ll stay here.”
Mr. Wiley: That’s right.
Mr. Jones: Were there particular areas that you focused on in law school?
Mr. Wiley: I don’t think you did that in those days, and I wasn’t really certain what I wanted
to do. When I got out of law school at age 22, I felt maybe I had the time to get
an MBA and combine the law degree with an MBA and think about an executive
position. So I took the GMAT.
I didn’t take any preparation for it. I just went in and took it and
surprisingly—because I don’t consider myself to be a math expert or anything like
that—I did even better than I did on the LSATs. And I got admitted to the one
business school that I applied to, and that was Harvard. And I had always kind of
wanted to go to Harvard, so I was headed to Harvard business school. But this
was in the 1950s and at that time the government was still drafting young men for
two years of basic training. In my senior year of law school a colonel from the 5th
Army Headquarters in Chicago had come around and asked some of us if we
would consider a 3-year commitment to the Army Judge Advocate General’s
Corps. I told him that was an attractive option but—Colonel Ryan, his name
was—I said, “I’m going to Harvard. I’m going to business school.” However, I
got a call from my draft board in Evanston, saying, We think you’ve had enough
education for now and we’re going to give you a low draft number and you can
expect to be drafted. So I called Colonel Ryan back and said, “You know, I’ve
changed my mind. (Laugh) If that’s still available, I’ll opt for the JAG Corps.”
And that’s exactly what happened. I got a telegram to report to basic training and
then on to the Judge Advocate General school at the University of Virginia.
Mr. Jones: We’ll come back to the JAG Corps. In law school were there any professors or
classes that you particularly enjoyed.
Mr. Wiley: What was most memorable is I got a job with a firm called Hart, Stevens &
Rothschild. And I had a chance to work with the future Justice Stevens. I still
know him. I also had Willard Wirtz who had been Secretary of Labor as a
professor, and I was very impressed with his course.
Mr. Jones: You worked with the Stevens firm in the summer?
Mr. Wiley: No, just during school.
Mr. Jones: Oh, during school. Were you a legal assistant?
Mr. Wiley: Just a legal assistant doing research. Things like that.
Mr. Jones: What was Justice Stevens like?
Mr. Wiley: He was a wonderful man. He still is. He lives out near where I do. Likes tennis
like I do.
Mr. Jones: He still plays.
Mr. Wiley: He still plays.
Mr. Jones: Remind me to tell you about that too. I have that connection as well.
Mr. Wiley: Okay, good.
Mr. Jones: Was Wirtz at the same firm or was he a teacher?
Mr. Wiley: He was a teacher at Northwestern, and I thought he was a very good one and so I
got interested in labor law. But that just shows the influence of good teachers,
you know. But I didn’t have any set view at all on an area of practice. But in my
three-and-a-half years in the JAG Corps, I became really focused on becoming a
practicing lawyer. That was really the first time I did.
Mr. Jones: Were people at Northwestern mostly from Illinois or did they come from
throughout the country?
Mr. Wiley: Today it’s very much more a national school, less so then. I think they’ve done a
great job. Dean Van Zandt, in particular, was the dean there for a long time and
he really focused on making it less of a Chicago and Illinois school and one that
has a national following. Some of my classmates were from California and
various places, but a lot of them turned out to be Chicago lawyers.
Mr. Jones: Were you particularly good friends with any of the people in your class in law
Mr. Wiley: Oh sure. I’ve maintained those relationships.
Mr. Jones: Anything else memorable happen in law school?
Mr. Wiley: (Both Laugh) During the summertime I continued my interest in playing baseball
and still continued to follow the dream, so to speak, but I was beginning to see
that I didn’t quite have the ability that would take me to where I might want to go.
Mr. Jones: Now you mentioned playing amateur baseball.
Mr. Wiley: Yes.
Mr. Jones: Did you continue that all during law school?
Mr. Wiley: Quite a bit of it.
Mr. Jones: What teams did you play for?
Mr. Wiley: The Kenosha Chiefs was one of the teams I played with around Wisconsin, and a
variety of other teams that you would never have heard of.
Mr. Jones: They are amateur leagues?
Mr. Wiley: Right. We couldn’t take payment, you know, because during college it would
impair your amateur standing. So you got meal money and that was about it. One
year I got up during the summertime over 300 times, so we were playing 5, 6
games a week.
Mr. Jones: (Laugh) But did you do that during law school?
Mr. Wiley: I did it only after the first year. Then after the second year one of my roommates
and I decided that we would take some summer courses at the University of
Colorado. James William Moore, a famous civil procedure professor, was
teaching. I thought I would get civil pro out of the way and also take another
course and see Colorado. I had never been in the West at all. I really hadn’t
traveled that much. Again, that was not something we did in those days, at least
coming from the kind of environment that I was in. It was a terrific experience,
and that was the summer I began to wean myself away from baseball.
Mr. Jones: (Laugh) And I take it that that was before the time when law students worked at
law firms.
Mr. Wiley: Absolutely. I didn’t know anybody who was working.
Mr. Jones: How did you and your law school classmate get to Boulder?
Mr. Wiley: We drove.
Mr. Jones: I don’t know how long that is.
Mr. Wiley: Well, a long trip. But it was great. I hadn’t seen some of those areas, so I
enjoyed it tremendously. And Boulder, I don’t know whether you’ve been there
or not, but it’s an interesting place. It’s the foothills of the Rockies, so to speak.
And Moore was a wonderful teacher.
Mr. Jones: He ended up at Yale.
Mr. Wiley: Well he was at Yale. This was a summer program. He had the definitive treatise
in civil procedure at the time.
Mr. Jones: Was that common for law students to take extra courses during the summer?
Mr. Wiley: I don’t recall. I just thought, gee, that it would be interesting. I was single and I
didn’t have any particular obligations. My school was paid for, and it made it a
little more leisurely. You were able to take more optional courses in your senior
year—seminars, so to speak.
Mr. Jones: Who was the other professor that you took at Colorado?
Mr. Wiley: You know, I don’t recall. I’m blanking on what the course was now, but it was
not particularly memorable.
Mr. Jones: Okay. Alright. You did well in law school?
Mr. Wiley: Yes.
Mr. Jones: Thought Mr. Grow must have been right?
Mr. Wiley: Well, who knows. (Both laugh) But certainly he had an impact on my life. I
would say he would be one of the two men who had the most impact on my life.
We’ll get to the other one down the road, you know.
Mr. Jones: So, if you hadn’t met Mr. Grow, and Mr. Grow hadn’t suggested going to law
school, what do you think you’d be doing?
Mr. Wiley: Well, I might have been a teacher. I was in the school of education and I really
was enjoying teaching. I ended up teaching law school for eight years. I also
have taught courses in communications around here at night from time-to-time.
So, I’ve got a natural proclivity for that kind of activity. But Grow was a
particularly impressive man who had a wide background in business and worked
for General Electric. He came with some authority when he said things. And I
was young, so somebody saying that to me, it made an impression.
Mr. Jones: Now what did he teach? Oh, he was a guidance counselor.
Mr. Wiley: Guidance counselor.
Mr. Jones: Alright. So, you graduate from law school, still young
Mr. Wiley: Why not get an MBA then? Right. That was the decision. I should go get an
But I just went in and took the GMAT and the results were kind of
stunning to me. But it did get me into Harvard business school. And I was
definitely planning to go. I still think the combination would have been quite
Mr. Jones: Oh, no. Absolutely. But the draft board had another plan for you.
Mr. Wiley: Yes. They said if you got to age 24, you didn’t have to be drafted. I think that’s
what they told me. And they said, We think you’re trying to avoid the draft. And
I said, “No, that’s really not my purpose.” It really was an educational purpose.
And I sketched my career plan for them—to a very skeptical audience I might
Mr. Jones: Oh, I’m sure.
Mr. Wiley: And they rejected it and said, Our plan is that you should expect to be drafted. So
two years as an enlisted man against three years as an officer in the legal area—it
was an easy decision. I think we had about 60 people in the JAGC class, and they
told us part way through you’ll get your choice of assignments depending on how
well you do in school. I was a bachelor and I kind of wanted to go to
Washington, DC. So I worked hard and got my choice of assignments basically.
I chose the Pentagon and the government appellate division. I worked on appeals
from general courts martials, which were the serious crimes. My job was to
sustain the conviction on appeal. Down the hallway was a group, many of them
my classmates from the JAG school, who were in defense appellate. And their
job was to try to find holes in the decisions below. And so we would write
opposing briefs and face off before boards of review at the Pentagon, and also in
the Court of Military Appeals—COMA, as it was called then. I think now it’s the
United States Court for the Armed Services, or something like that. So, there I
was, fresh out of law school, twenty-three years old maybe, arguing cases before
federal judges with black robes. It was kind of intimidating. After a while you
did get used to it.
But then 1960 came and John F. Kennedy was elected president. And the
decision was made, for reasons I don’t know, but to reduce the number of line
JAG officers in the Pentagon and keep only one lieutenant-level person, and I was
selected. And they said to me, We’re going to transfer you from government
appellate—I’d spent a year and a half or so doing that kind of work—and we’re
going to put you in legal assistance. You are going to be the legal assistance
officer for the Pentagon. We’re going to give you a private office and we want
you to wear a suit. By the way, I only had one suit, and so I said, “I’d like to wear
my uniform some time because I was counting on that.” (Both laugh)
Over the next two years, I saw 5,000 clients. They were mostly officers,
all the way up to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but also enlisted men and dependents.
Fortunately, the Pentagon had a very good law library, and so I found myself
down there trying to bone up on a lot of the subjects I had to know. Now the
subjects weren’t great constitutional law issues of the day, they were primarily the
run-of-the-mill type work a small town lawyer—maybe, say, from Peoria—would
be doing. But for me it was a tremendously rewarding and maturing experience
because I had to deal with all kinds of people. And, I had to be Johnny-on-thespot because I was scheduled as tight as I have ever been in my legal career. All
day long with appointments every fifteen minutes or half an hour.
Mr. Jones: And you did that for about two-and-a-half years?
Mr. Wiley: About two years. I’d spent a year-and-a-half in the appellate division. So I
thought it was a very good combination but I also wondered what my classmates
were doing in Chicago and thought they’re working on probably pretty big,
complex matters for big law firms. Here I am drafting wills, talking about
divorces, real estate deals, small contracts, and what have you. And I just
wondered how am I going to match up when I go back to Chicago, which was
definitely my plan. My folks were older and I definitely wanted to go home.
So I decided to get a master’s degree of law at night at Georgetown. And
I also started writing articles on military law for the Federal Bar Association
publication. One day I got a call from somebody at the ABA who had seen one of
those articles in Chicago and said, you know, We’d like you to write an article for
the Young Lawyers Speak—specifically, on the voir dire process.
Well I had never selected a jury in my life but I thought this was going to
be a pretty good opportunity. I didn’t want to say no, so I went down to the law
library again, read a lot of books on the voir dire process, and decided on an
article entitled “50 thoughts on selecting a jury.” I don’t know what happened but
I must have been miscounted because when it came out in print I was just shocked
when I saw the title: “49 thoughts on selecting a jury.” My editors liked it and
requested similar articles on direct examination and after that on crossexamination. None of these subjects were in my knowledge base, I can assure
you. (Both laugh) But I repaired once again down to the law library, did the same
process, and produced 49 thoughts on direct examination and cross-examination.
And they are laughable now in a way, but I saw myself reading those humble
articles in state bar publications for the next few years.
As a result of all this, I was asked to be the editor of the publication, and
later, Chairman of the Young Lawyers Section of the ABA which turned out to be
very important to my career. In all, I tried to make the most of my years in the
Mr. Jones: Was your plan to go back to Chicago to work at a big firm?
Mr. Wiley: Yes, that’s what I wanted.
Mr. Jones: What were big firms in those days?
Mr. Wiley: Big firms in those days? I think the firm I ultimately joined had 40 people. But
that was one of the larger firms in town at the time. Meanwhile, my personal life
was changing. I went to church one morning and met a lovely Arlington school
teacher and it worked very well between us. And after a year of courtship or
something, we got married. And during the Pentagon years, we had our first
child. Then, in June of 1962 we moved to Chicago and I started practicing law
out there.
I was interested in litigation primarily at that point, and I chose a firm that
specialized in antitrust/trade regulation work. It was Chadwell Keck Kayser
Ruggles & McLaren. And Dick McLaren was the partner for whom I worked
mostly, and he later became head of the antitrust division at DOJ. And that’s part
of the story also.
When I got back to Chicago and started working I felt like it would be
good to hone my legal skills by teaching legal writing and research. Northwestern
and Chicago didn’t have night school divisions. I went over to John Marshall
Law School which was a couple blocks from 135 South LaSalle where I was
practicing with the Chadwell firm. And I asked the dean there if he could use a
legal writing and research teacher. I got there just before school was going to
open and he said, We’ve got it all filled, but do you happen to know torts because
our torts teacher just died.” And, of course, did I happen to know torts (laugh)?
No, but I said, “Sure.” I said, “I’d be happy to teach that course.”
I managed to stay ahead of my classes somehow during the first semester,
and for seven-and-a-half years, all the time I was in Chicago during that period, I
taught night law school before catching the train to go out to the suburbs. I
worked during the daytime and I’d teach that class at night. Along the way the
Viet Nam war came and my classes grew from 35 to over 100. (Laugh). And the
only thing that was interesting about that is that for years and years thereafter I
would run into people out here who’d say, “I took your course in torts.” So it was
kind of amusing.
During this same period, I began to get into local Republican politics.
My dad was a Republican. If you were a small businessman from Peoria
at the time, you’d probably be a Republican, you know. And this came at the
same time when I became Chairman of the Young Lawyers Section. When the
1968 election began, the Nixon folks called me and asked if I could suggest some
young lawyers who might work in the campaign. The people I recommended
were well-received. As a result, I was invited to go down to the Republican
Convention in Miami and, later, to take a position in the campaign.
So I took a leave of absence from my job, moved temporarily to DC and
worked at the Willard Hotel, which was then sort of in a state of disrepair. That’s
where the United Citizens for Nixon/Agnew was located which was primarily an
adjunct of the campaign to interest independents in being involved. I worked
pretty hard and thought maybe I might get a position in the new administration.
But nothing happened. I really had no contacts with any top persons in the
Nixon administration. So I went back to Chicago, made partner in my law firm,
moved to a different house and basically forgot about it. However, this is where a
second man who had a great influence on my life entered the scene. George Bell
was a retired real estate executive who worked with me at the Willard. George
took a liking to me for some reason. And he said, “If anybody should ever get a
job in the administration, it ought to be you.” And I said, “Well George, it didn’t
happen. I’m back to Chicago.” But every once in a while he would call me in
Chicago and say, “How would you like to be working in the Arms Control
Disarmament Agency or at the Federal Home Loan Bank Board.” And I said,
“George, I’ve made partner now, I’m heading in a different direction, I have a
wife and a couple of kids. I’ve got to concentrate on what I’m doing. It was a
dream but it’s not happening.” However, I also said, “If you ever get something
in Federal Trade Commission I might have some interest.”
One day he called up and said, “When could you come down to see
Chairman Weinberger”—Caspar Weinberger was the Chairman of the Federal
Trade Commission—and I said, “Well, now you’re talking. What about
tomorrow?” So he lined up an appointment for me to meet Caspar Weinberger
and we hit it off well. By that time I was a partner and I was 35 years old. I
wasn’t just going to come down here unless I really saw it was going to be worth
my while. Weinberger talked about the possibility of my being head of the
Bureau of Consumer Protection, which was a terrific job. The general counsel
position was what I was hoping for, but that was filled. So when George was
driving me back to National Airport he said, “What do you think.” And I said,
“Well, I think this is really good. But I’d really like to be general counsel.” And
he said, “Well there’s a general counsel’s position over at the FCC.” I had to
think for a minute – FCC: Federal Communications Commission. He said, “Why
don’t you come back next week and I’ll get you an appointment with Dean Burch
who’s the Chairman of the FCC.” My wife was wondering, What are you doing?
But I went back and told Dean Burch that I had no experience in communications.
I knew regulatory agency work, but not the FCC. He said, “Dick McLaren (who
by that time was head of the antitrust division) said you’re great and I think I’d be
interested in talking to you. I’m going to keep the existing general counsel on my
staff.” That was the guru of communications law, Henry Geller, and I thought at
the time he’s going to be on your staff and I’m going to be this junior grade
general counsel. That might not be the best job security. But Burch offered me
the job a couple weeks later and I took it.
That was the turning point of my professional career I would have to say —
to be general counsel at age 35, 36 years old. Once again, I left my wife and kids
in Chicago and moved down here. All day I’d work at the FCC and at night I’d
go into the library and try to read everything I could on communications law. I
had two big advantages: one, Geller had had a terrific staff and they were very
decent and helped me to get up to speed and, number two, the field wasn’t as
complex as it is today. You basically had broadcasting, telephone and telegraph.
So I, was able to learn a lot in those three months. And then my family joined
me. You said three stages. We’re at the end of the first stage.
Mr. Jones: Alright. Terrific.
Second Interview – July 24, 2013
This interview is being conducted on behalf of the Oral History Project of the Historical
Society of the District of Columbia Circuit. The interviewee is Richard E Wiley, Esquire. The
interviewer is George Jones, Esquire. The interview took place at Mr. Wiley’s office at Wiley
Rein LLP in Washington, D.C., on July 24, 2013.
Mr. Jones: Mr. Wiley, at the conclusion of Phase One you had been appointed to serve as the
General Counsel of the FCC at the tender age of thirty-something, is that right?
Mr. Wiley: Yes, I had just turned 36.
Mr. Jones: Remarkable. And you were in Chicago at the time?
Mr. Wiley: I was.
Mr. Jones: And you had no background in communications law, is that right?
Mr. Wiley: No, I did not. I was an antitrust lawyer. I had a lot of interaction with the Federal
Trade Commission so I knew regulatory work, but I had no experience with the
FCC. I think we covered it the last time how I managed to get that introduction to
Chairman Dean Burch of the FCC and get the job.
Mr. Jones: I think we did. How did you prepare for this massive job?
Mr. Wiley: Well, I discussed last time how I left my poor wife and several children in
Chicago, moved down to Washington, DC, worked at the FCC during the
daytime, and went home every night and read all I could about communications. I
served as General Counsel starting in late September of 1970 and, during the next
15 months, which was my tenure as GC, I tried to learn everything I could about
communications law, about the FCC’s regulations, and about the communications
industry then.
Keep in mind the industry was less complex than it is today, less complex.
We had in the industry, for example, the telephone field largely dominated by
AT&T, which for a hundred years had been a benevolent monopolist of both long
distance and local telephone service; Western Union, which was the big telegram
company at the time—we don’t think about telegrams very much anymore—and
then, of course, the broadcast industry. This was before cable, satellite and
wireless and all the rest of it.
I also tried during this period to learn the people involved in the
communications field both within the Commission and outside the Commission.
In particular, I tried to get to know the FCC staff and to gain their confidence,
because I was taking the place of a very renowned individual, Henry Geller, who I
mentioned before was sort of the guru of the communications legal field. All this
came in very handy as I moved up within the Commission. Of course, I couldn’t
foresee that at the time.
All in all, George, it was probably the most challenging period of my life,
but there was more to come that, again, I did not anticipate.
Mr. Jones: Just the beginning. Did you address any significant communications or broadcast
issues during your tenure as General Counsel or did those all come later?
Mr. Wiley: Yes, that was primarily later. I was really advising all seven Commissioners. We
had seven in those days. And, I began to make, for the first time, public
appearances in the field; I argued a case before the United States Court of Appeals
for the DC Circuit—I lost, by the way.
Mr. Jones: What was that case?
Mr. Wiley: It was Friends of the Earth. [Friends of the Earth v. FCC, 449 F.2d 1164 (D.C.
Cir. 1971)] It was a fairness doctrine case.
I started making speeches to various industry and public groups; I assisted
the Chairman in congressional hearings—I had never been before Congress
before so that was a fascinating experience. As I learned my craft, I also began to
engage in industry and public interviews and meetings.
One thing I decided early on was that I would maintain an open door
approach, and I have to say that I continued that throughout my tenure at the FCC.
That is, I saw just about everybody I could within the limits of time—those who
agreed with the Commission and those who didn’t.
I had a big advantage in that Dean Burch gave me an opportunity for input
into the FCC policy. You asked me once before if General Counsel come in
different flavors. Sometimes you’re strictly a lawyer, and sometimes you’re also
a policymaker; I tried to be both because Dean Burch wanted it that way. He
allowed me to sit in on briefings with his staff. The Commission used to meet
once a week on various items that would come up. We would go over them, and
that was a real learning experience to hear his staff (all very experienced people)
brief the Chairman, hear what the Chairman was saying and what his conclusions
were. I found that Dean Burch and I shared a common philosophy in the sense
that we both favored increased competition and perhaps less regulation as more
competition made that possible.
You asked me before, “Well, how was it that we could have more
competition in the communications field,” which had been largely, as I said, a
monopoly in the telephone area and maybe an oligopoly in the media field. It was
because a tremendous technological revolution began in the very early 70’s, and I
was very fortunate to be there at that time. It made it possible for the FCC to
allow competition to AT&T in the form of so-called specialized common carriers.
Burch also had an “open skies” policy that brought about COMSAT, the first
satellite communication company that the United States had along with, of course,
Also, ultimately the development of cable television called Community
Antenna Television—CATV—at the time which began to compete with the
broadcast industry. What happened was that the signals from broadcast stations
in Philadelphia and in Pittsburgh did not reach well into the mountains of central
Pennsylvania. An entrepreneur got the idea of stringing a wire from a large tower
down into the homes in little hamlets and create so-called community television
with the advantage of more programming and more channels. Broadcasting was
primarily a one-channel service. So we had to chart out how that entry was going
to develop from a regulatory standpoint. For me, all in all, it was a very heady
Mr. Jones: Sounds like it. So, did the CATV development and the telephone competition
occur simultaneously?
Mr. Wiley: More or less. They were evolutionary, you understand, along with satellite
developments. I was just General Counsel, so I wasn’t making the policy
decisions in those days. Dean Burch, I think, did a very good job of trying to
allow competition to occur. Looking back, probably the competition could have
been more rapidly introduced, but we were feeling our way, so to speak. We
didn’t want to undermine telephone and broadcast service which went to all
Americans by this specialized competition. Today, of course, cable essentially
reaches 98% of the American public. In those days that was not true.
Mr. Jones: Were you aware that you were at the beginning of a technological revolution both
with respect to cable television and telephone in the early 70’s?
Mr. Wiley: I think we became increasingly aware of that. It was a fascinating experience.
And, of course, a lot of it came during my tenure as a Commission member and as
Chair of the Commission.
Mr. Jones: I don’t remember whether it was you or somebody else who made the comment
that in the early days telephone communication was by wire and television
broadcasts were in the air. Today it’s almost exactly the opposite.
Mr. Wiley: Absolutely. I think I did say that. We probably would have built our industries
exactly the opposite that we did, but we, of course, couldn’t foresee it all. You
know with telephone, you don’t have to sit at your desk, you can carry the phone
around today. But we didn’t have cellular telephone then, we didn’t have
wireless. The very first “mobile” telephone I saw was when I was Chairman of
the FCC. Motorola brought it in to a social event and it was this big Dynatac,
they called it. It was like carrying a brick over your shoulder—a very large brick
I might say. And, we did not understand that you could have hundreds of
channels of broadcast programming.
Mr. Jones: So, Dean Burch was the Chair of the Commission—
Mr. Wiley: Yes.
Mr. Jones: And who were the other Commissioners when you became General Counsel?
Mr. Wiley: I have two pictures here, George, of my Commission.
Mr. Jones: Okay, the best of your recollection.
Mr. Wiley: Perhaps I could cover it when I became a Commissioner.
Mr. Jones: Okay.
Mr. Jones: So you were General Counsel for only 15 months. How did it come about that
you became a Commissioner.
Mr. Wiley: Well, it was an interesting experience. One day, I think it was sometime in early
fall of 1971 after I had been there not quite a year, the Chairman called me in and
said, “What are you doing to become an FCC commissioner”? I said, “What am I
doing? I’m not doing anything. I’m your General Counsel.” He said, “Well, you
know, Commissioner Wells”—Bob Wells was a former broadcaster from
Kansas—is leaving and you’d better get over to the White House, because they’re
going to pick somebody else if you don’t make your appearance there.” I was
dumbstruck. Maybe I should have known Wells was leaving, but I didn’t. I said,
“Well, would I have your support, Mr. Chairman,” and he said, “Yes, but it’s not
going to be my decision ultimately.” So I made an appointment very quickly and
got over to the White House. I met with presidential personnel and also some of
the President’s personal aides—some of them I knew from the campaign. And
they knew me. During my year as General Counsel, I apparently had made a
favorable impression on them. I made the case as to why I, as a young vigorous
guy, could be a good commissioner.
Mr. Jones: Thirty-something.
Mr. Wiley: I had just turned 37, and I thought I could really help the Chairman in operating
the Commission. I was perhaps more of an activist commissioner than some.
They said, “Listen, no argument with us. We think you’d be great, but there’s a
key Senator that perhaps wants this seat to go to a female or a minority.” And I
said, “Well, who’s that”? They said, “Senator Charles Percy from Illinois”? Well
I knew him. I had been head of the Republican Party in a small township in
Illinois when he was running for the Senate at the time. I backed his candidacy
against perhaps some of the more conservative elements that thought he was
perhaps too moderate. I had been a “big tent” guy, so to speak, and I hoped that
he would remember that.
So I made an appointment, went up to see him and, in fact, he did
remember it. Our discussion went very well, particularly when I told him, “By
the way Senator, there is a Democratic vacancy coming up in about five months.
Perhaps you might see fit to allow me to have the Republican appointment, and
then perhaps a female or minority could be selected for the Democratic seat.” He
thought that was a good idea. Later, I found out I was only going to get a recess
appointment. Senator Percy was going to make certain that the next appointment
went to a minority, and we would have to be confirmed together. So lo and
behold comes January 5 of 1972, I was a commissioner.
Mr. Jones: Senator Percy’s strategy sounds like an early application of Reagan’s maxim
“trust, but verify.”
Mr. Wiley: Yes, perhaps so. I suddenly found myself on the Commission. And, of course,
having been General Counsel was a great background for my new duties. You
knew the Commission staff, and you knew all the issues. So I started voting early
and often on just about everything that came up. And it never occurred to me at
the time—I know this sounds tremendously naïve by today’s political standards—
that there might be some hazards in that because I had not yet been confirmed by
the Senate.
If you spent five months voting on everything, you could win some friends
and you could also make some enemies. And those enemies could oppose your
confirmation. But it was a different era then and that didn’t happen. I came up
for confirmation five months later with Reverend Ben Hooks, a Black Baptist
minister and lawyer from Tennessee who had been appointed to the Democratic
seat. And we were confirmed together and became great friends thereafter. I later
visited his churches in Detroit and Tennessee and, more recently, when he was
preaching here in northeast Washington. Frances and Betty—my wife—have
been very good friends through the years. Ben just died within the last couple of
years, but he was a great orator and excellent commissioner, I thought.
So I spent two years as commissioner, really as an ally and a confidant of
Chairman Burch. I was probably a pretty active, aggressive commissioner—a
little younger than my colleagues as you can see by this photograph that I’m
showing you of the commissioners.
I am standing in the back behind Dean Burch and the other
commissioners. I had good relationships with all the commissioners, both
Republican and Democrat. Again, it was perhaps a different era then. I never
thought our issues were partisan and we all got along quite well, including Nick
Johnson who was sort of the “enfant terrible,” you might say, of the Commission.
He was a very liberal firebrand that Dean Burch didn’t particularly care for, but
he and I were about the same age and we got along even though we might have
thought quite differently.
Mr. Jones: Where was Nick Johnson from?
Mr. Wiley: Iowa.
Mr. Jones: Iowa.
Mr. Wiley: And he later ran for Congress against Chuck Grassley. Grassley beat him and
then went on, of course, to the Senate. And he’s still in the Senate as you know.
Mr. Jones: So the commissioners—
Mr. Wiley: This is in the Burch era.
Mr. Jones: The Burch era.
Mr. Wiley: And then you had Charlotte Reid, a former radio singer in Chicago. She married
a congressman from Illinois who died in the course of running for re-election.
Within just a couple days, Charlotte made the decision to replace him. She was
supposedly President Nixon’s favorite congresswoman. I was General Counsel
when she came on the Commission and I briefed her on the issues. Charlotte Reid
was a wonderful person. She lived to 93, and just died within the last five years
or so. Rex Lee standing in the back next to me was a Democratic commissioner
and a fine gentleman. Mr. Barkley down in front was the fellow who was leaving
in five months whose seat Ben Hooks took. And then on Dean Burch’s left is
Bob Lee who served four seven-year terms, the longest in history. Twenty-eight
years on the FCC. He was a Republican from Chicago. One of the problems I
had when I was trying to move up to the Chairman was that the three of us were
Republicans from the same state: Illinois.
Mr. Jones: Democrats and Republicans on the Commission. Did the commissioners share a
vision of how the telephone and TV industry should develop?
Mr. Wiley: I think more or less they did. I think some would have gone faster in introducing
competition and some slower. But I think all of them could see that technology
was driving us. If we had been completely clairvoyant and more farsighted than
we were, we would have made decisions a little bit better than we did. But we
were struggling with, really, a fast changing world which by the way continues to
this day and, as with the advent of the Internet, has accelerated exponentially.
Mr. Jones: Just before we get too far from your beginnings on the Commission, do you have
a sense of why Senator Percy was such an influential person for this particular
Mr. Wiley: You know, I don’t recall that. I think he was an activist in terms of wanting to
have diversity on these commissions and I think the White House was listening to
him. But, fortunately, since he was from my state, and since there was another
vacancy coming along, he could see the advantages of the suggestion I made to
I began to travel and speak widely during my two years as a
Commissioner and really to develop myself as a Commission member. There was
some press speculation that eventually I might be a future chairman candidate
even though I was still in my thirties. Then, one day Chairman Burch didn’t
come to the Commission meeting. The Chairman runs the Commission meetings,
so this was unusual. Afterward I went into the Chairman’s office and I said to his
secretary, “Hey, where was Chairman Burch? And she said, “He’s in Key
Biscayne,” which you may recall was Nixon’s sort of—
Mr. Jones: Southern White House.
Mr. Wiley: Southern White House. And she said, “And he’s going to be calling you.” And,
in fact, he did call me an hour or two later and he said, “Dick, I’m going to the
White House. I’m going to be an aide to President Nixon, and you’re going to be
the next Chairman.” Boom. And I remember saying to him, “The President’s had
some problems. Aren’t you concerned about that”? He said, “No, I think it’s
going to work out for me.”
Mr. Jones: Was this ’74?
Mr. Wiley: This was ’74. And he said, “Stay by your phone; the President will be calling.”
So, I went back in my office and I told my secretary if you get that call let me
know. Every once in a while I’d have to go down to the men’s room, but I rushed
back. Two days came and went and I got no phone call. I envisioned a Rose
Garden swearing-in with my wife and children there and the President swearing
me in. What I got instead was a two-sentence letter from the President, “I hereby
appoint you as Chairman.” Dean Burch said, “Take it and run.” I agreed with
So suddenly, May of 1974, I was the Chairman. You see this other
photograph as the Commission began slightly to change. Charlotte Reid and Bob
Lee are still on the Commission. There’s Ben Hooks, who took Mr. Barkley’s
place. Then along came Jim Quello who came shortly after I did. A Democrat
from Michigan—second from the right, and then later on, on the top left, a
Republican, Abbott Washburn, who had been a former ambassador. And, finally,
we have Glenn Robinson, a Democratic member who was a professor of law at
the University of Minnesota and later at the University of Virginia.
Within three months after I became Chairman, President Nixon resigned.
Mr. Jones: August of ’74.
Mr. Wiley: August of ’74. I had never met the President and, after he resigned, I wondered
what was going to happen to me. Fortunately, President Ford invited all of the
independent regulatory agency chairmen to come over to the White House. He
had us in the Cabinet Room, talked about his vision for the presidency and for our
areas, generally speaking, and it was pretty clear that we were his guys. So that
was a great relief for me. He said, “You’re all going to stay in your positions.”
Since I only had it for three months, I certainly wanted to stay in that position.
So, at that point, I began to set some goals. The first thing I felt was that
the Commission historically had been very slow moving under both Republican
and Democratic administrations. We think about the great policy decisions, but
there are also just a lot of applications and demands for action that people want
and the Commission didn’t always reach determinations very quickly. So I
wanted to set deadlines, make decisions, move paper. I had the advantage, again,
of knowing all the Bureau chiefs. So I decided to hold a weekly meeting with
them and asked, “Let’s agree that you’re going to identify any item in your
Bureau that’s over one year old. Let’s agree on a date by which you can bring it
to the Commission to make a decision. If you can’t do it down at the staff level
because it’s too complex, too controversial, then let’s get it up to the Commission
and we’ll make the decision.” I started establishing three-month calendars. I told
the commissioners, we’re going to meet three times a week, not once a week.
Now the commissioners meet once a month, but we moved from once a week to
three times a week.
Mr. Jones: Are you saying now?
Mr. Wiley: It’s once a month.
Mr. Jones: Wow.
Mr. Wiley: They make a lot of other decisions by circulation, and we did too in those days.
But I wanted to get a lot of big matters teed up–major decisions. Set aside a
Tuesday on which we’re going to decide this big decision, and nothing else, then
have our standard meeting on Wednesday and then another big decision on
Thursday. I told the commissioners if you want to travel, make speeches,
whatever you need to do, do it Monday and Friday because Tuesday, Wednesday,
Thursday are going to belong to me. I published my three-month agendas inside
and outside the agency, which locked everybody in.
Mr. Jones: Including you.
Mr. Wiley: Including me. We did move a lot of paper. It was a fast-moving era. When you
move fast, you make mistakes. I’m sure we did, and we can talk about some of
the bigger ones later, but at that time I was just trying to decide a lot of relatively
minor issues rapidly.
In particular, there had been a huge backlog of petitions to deny broadcast
licenses. In those days broadcasters got three-year licenses. Today their licenses
are for eight years. The standard for upsetting that license renewal, as we call it,
is much more difficult since the 1996 Telecommunications Act. But, in those
days, a lot of people thought maybe they could knock off some of the
broadcasters by filing so-called petitions to deny. Three years would go by, and a
second term coming up, and still no FCC decision. I thought that was ridiculous.
So I started telling the staff to bring up twenty-five at a time. We’re going
to have a meeting called Petition to Deny Day, and we’ll take twenty-five at a
time. Maybe there’ll be a difficult case here and there, but the rest we’re going to
move on. Because a lot of them were pretty routine, I thought. So we did clean
that backlog up and that was good.
I also continued Dean Burch’s very important policy of competition in the
telecommunications side of the industry—in the specialized common carrier and
satellite fields. But one particular area that had not been dealt with—it just hadn’t
developed during the Burch era—was equipment.
In those days you could not attach an answering device, let’s say, to your
telephone unless you got AT&T’s approval. AT&T would have these products
manufactured by an independent company and when they were attached to the
AT&T lines, there wasn’t a problem. But if MCI attached it, there was a big
problem. AT&T was a very good company, so I’m not knocking them. It was
just a different era.
So we established interconnection standards for all carriers alike and if the
foreign attachment, as it was then called, caused harm to the network, then we
were going to shut it down. But if it didn’t—and most of them didn’t—they
would be allowed. And robust competition in the equipment field began to
develop. And, of course, it has continued to this day.
My very first speech as Chairman was to the National Association of
Broadcasters. I had a reputation of being deregulatory-minded and I suppose they
were looking for a speech that would say let’s deregulate more. I may have given
that speech later, but this talk was saying that we should do more for children’s
television. You know, cartoons are great—nothing wrong with them. On
Saturday morning, I like to relax a little bit more and children perhaps would like
to watch cartoons. But why, I asked, not use this great device—window into the
world as I called it, television—also for some educational and informational
programming. I didn’t intend more regulation, because in programming it is very
sensitive. The Commission can’t be a censor. So, I couldn’t tell them put this on;
I could suggest to them they should. I used the bully pulpit, so to speak. And, as
a result perhaps, Captain Kangaroo, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, Squire Rushnell
and others began to appear on the airwaves. So it was a good speech, I guess.
I also tried to further something Dean Burch had been interested in: equal
employment opportunity rules. We had a pluralistic society; I said we also should
have a pluralistic industry. Make information on jobs available; make sure that
the percentages in the community were matched by the employment structure you
had at various broadcast stations.
I also established what I call the New Ethic, that if broadcasters engaged
in improper billing practices, or if they didn’t give equal opportunities to
Democrat and Republican candidates, we would take regulatory action. During
that era, despite my reputation as being sort of deregulatory-minded, we took
away thirty-four licenses from broadcasters. I don’t say that with any great joy,
but these were people who violated FCC rules, and those denials were upheld in
I also thought that broadcasters ought to do news and information
programming, but, again, it was difficult without being a censor to tell them how
much news and information they should do. So, I came up with the idea and sold
it to the industry of guidelines. We used to get all the percentages, so we knew
what everybody was doing around the country, generally, and what the industry
standards were. And, we said, If your station meets those, you’re going to get
renewed at the staff level easily. (And remember this was a period where renewal
wasn’t that easy.) If you don’t want to meet those levels, your renewal will come
up to the Commission. That doesn’t mean that you can’t argue your programming
performance is appropriate, but we’re going to look at it. Well a lot of people, of
course, carrot-and-stick, decided they were going to meet those percentages. So,
that worked out fairly successfully.
We also had two policies, the Fairness Doctrine and Equal Opportunities,
which is often thought of as equal time. The Fairness Doctrine dealt with
controversial issues of public importance. In general, if you covered one side of
the abortion issue, you had to somewhere in your programming cover the other
side. It wasn’t with mathematical certainty. The Equal Opportunities rule was
mathematical, and it was candidate-oriented. If you sold a half-hour of time to
Candidate Carter you had to offer a half-hour of time to Candidate Ford.
Now there were some exceptions to the equal opportunities rules and those
were for bona fide news programs. If you had the evening news, you couldn’t
have twenty-four people who were running for President on the program and give
equal opportunity to all of them. And the same if you had a news interview; that
also was an exception. But one thing that was not an exception, historically, was
Presidential debates.
Henry Geller, former FCC Chairman Newton Minow, and I were all
Northwestern Law School graduates, and we agreed that we were going to make
1976 a model year in political broadcast coverage. We decided to establish
debates as a bona fide news event. I thought I was going to get a 7 to 0 vote for
Commission approval but, after some Congressional opposition, ended up with a
5 to 2 bipartisan vote. So that became the rule. And, in 1976, we had the
Ford/Carter debate as a bona fide news event.
On the fairness doctrine, one of the problems we had was
counteradvertising. People would argue that, if broadcasters were going to run a
product ad, they had to run a counter ad that would give the health deficits of this
product. I felt that the fairness doctrine should only apply if the ad made an
explicit argument on a controversial issue of public importance. So we
reformulated the fairness doctrine and that became the standard, and ended the
counter advertising controversy. I got support on Capitol Hill for that view, by
the way.
Now I did lose some decisions, important ones, but I will say that I
ultimately won some of them later. One of them was indecency. There is a
federal criminal statute that forbids the broadcast utterance of profane, indecent
and obscene material. Profane is sort of “damn” and “hell,” and it really wasn’t
regulated much in those days. Obscene is the hardcore stuff that is banned 24-
hours a day. The question was whether there was something in between—
so-called “indecency”—for example, words that you wouldn’t normally hear or
see on radio or television on which we should take regulatory action.
I got all sorts of input from Capitol Hill, because people were running
programs and slipping in words that Congress felt shouldn’t be said. In particular,
at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, allegedly, a father and son were searching for the
Yankees ballgame on their car radio and instead of the Yankees ballgame they got
George Carlin’s famous comedic sketch, 11-minutes long, of the seven words you
can’t say on radio and television. Some people called it “the seven dirty words.”
And some of those words, believe me, were not “damn” and “hell.”
So, we decided to make this a test case, and we said on two basic
standards it was an indecent program. One was the ubiquitous entry of
broadcasting into the American home, and, second, the presence of children in the
audience. The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, under Chief Judge Bazelon,
was considered by some as rather regulatory and liberal where I might have been
considered deregulatory and more conservative. And they upset my standard.
We took it to the full court of appeals en banc and lost 5 to 4. Finally, we took it
to the Supreme Court and, in the famous Pacifica case in 1978 after I had left the
Commission, the Commission was upheld—and on the very two bases that we
had established. It is indeed still the standard to this day. One can argue whether
or not it’s narrowly tailored and whether it’s needed as much, as many
broadcasters do. But at that time it was a big victory.
The next case was Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership. I had
inherited a rulemaking from Chairman Burch that questioned whether or not
broadcasters and newspapers should be co-owned by the same owner in the same
marketplace. The concern then was that newspapers which were a very dominant,
powerful industry in those days—you wouldn’t think of that today—would
perhaps dominate the electronic medium. So ultimately we issued a rulemaking
order that said we weren’t going to break up longstanding co-owned arrangements
like the Chicago Tribune and WGN in Chicago, and many others around the
country which for years and years had served their communities, but looking
forward you couldn’t own a newspaper and broadcast station in the same market.
We would look at waivers, however.
Mr. Jones: When you say broadcast do you mean television and radio?
Mr. Wiley: Television and radio.
Mr. Jones: Or television or radio?
Mr. Wiley: Television or radio.
Mr. Jones: Got it.
Mr. Wiley: And, by the way, it’s still the rule today. And I again got upset by the Bazelon
court of appeals which would have divested everything immediately. We took it
to the Supreme Court, which again in 1978 upheld our rule: 8 to 0. That was a
great relief for me, but it came, again, after I had left the Commission.
Another one was radio formats. It’s a little hard to believe this today
when we have CDs, Pandora and Sirius XM, et cetera. In those days, if a station
had a classical music format, it might have been the only one in town. And if the
people who owned that station made the decision that they were going to drop
classical music and take a country format or something like that, people got very
upset. It was their classical music station. But I felt this was a marketplace
decision because stations were constantly changing their formats to reach larger
audiences. The court of appeals overruled me, but that also was upheld later. So
this all sounds good, sounds like I had a successful chairmanship, but I can tell
you I did make some mistakes.
Mr. Jones: Wait, before we go to the mistakes I’d like to talk just a little bit more about the
various initiatives that you described in general. First, competition in the
telephone industry: did you have a sense of Bill McGowan who was the chairman
of MCI at the time?
Mr. Wiley: Yes I did. Very dynamic, very demanding. He really wanted to move faster than
the Commission was moving because we were feeling our way. And he really
wanted to become equal in every way to the dominant telephone companies and
he eventually got there.
Mr. Jones: Right.
Mr. Wiley: He was one of the most amazing individuals I met during that period. A great
person in many respects.
Mr. Jones: One of the things that I have come to think about him is that he was a person who
came from outside the telephone business and you probably needed somebody
who was outside the telephone business to even conceive of an MCI that would
compete with AT&T from end-to-end.
Mr. Wiley: Yes. What really happened was that Chicago and St. Louis brokers were selling
stocks and bonds and they wanted a dedicated line because their customers were
calling in all the time, and AT&T wouldn’t provide it. MCI came in and offered a
dedicated line, and that’s how it all got started. That was the first little homely
Mr. Jones: But that’s before the specialized common carriers decision.
Mr. Wiley: Right, but the specialized common carrier really made it possible for other
carriers to compete in these areas. I’m only touching on the surface, but the
Commission was moving in the right direction.
Mr. Jones: As you watched MCI develop, were you surprised by how successful they were?
Mr. Wiley: Yes, to some extent I was.
Mr. Jones: Why?
Mr. Wiley: Well because they were taking on the big kahuna, right? And we were making
these decisions and never foreseeing that in 1983 AT&T would be broken up.
The Kingsbury Commitment of 1913 gave AT&T a monopoly in return for
making telephone service available to everyone, including in the rural areas which
was expensive to do. But the tradeoff began to splinter a bit when other
companies came in and started taking parts of their business, sometimes the most
lucrative part of their business. And so AT&T had legitimate concerns.
On the other hand, if you were going to have competition you had to move
in that direction. So when the Justice Department brought an antitrust lawsuit
against AT&T, the company made a deal to spin off the local Bell operating
companies, keep the long distance and the equipment—and that was probably the
wrong decision, but who knew, right? The Baby Bells then took over the parent,
and the current AT&T, of course, is actually Southwestern Bell Company, the
smallest of the seven Baby Bells, but led by a very dynamic management that
started buying the other Baby Bells. Today we have three of those original Baby
Bells, more or less, still in existence.
Mr. Jones: I guess the Justice Department had filed suit against AT&T—
Mr. Wiley: Just at the end of my tenure. Just before I went out of office they told me they
were going to bring this lawsuit.
Mr. Jones: If you had foreseen while you were Chairman that allowing MCI and the other
competitive carriers to get into the business, to compete with AT&T, would
ultimately lead to the breakup of AT&T and to the revolution of telephone service
in the United States, do you think you would have had the votes to go forward?
Mr. Wiley: Well it’s questionable because I remember Ben Hooks was very concerned about
my policies of competition to AT&T and here he was a Democrat and a minority.
He used to come and say to me, “You’re a Republican. You’re a conservative
from the Middle West. What are you doing to this big company, AT&T”? And I
said, “Ben, we’re not trying to hurt them, we’re trying to create competition for
the public.” And Ben ultimately supported it, but he had a concern. Would we
harm the nation’s telephone system, which is vital to this country? And would we
harm the nation’s broadcast system which was vital to this country at that time,
particularly because there were no options? Those were real concerns. And
looking back today you’d say, Well, gee, Burch and Wiley and all these guys
could have moved competition a lot faster than they did. And I accept that
criticism, but we were playing with an unknown frankly because these were vital
services. And we received a lot of criticism on Capitol Hill. In fact, there was the
so-called Bell Bill, which got several hundred congressional supporters actually
trying to constrict what we were doing to AT&T. I had to go up and testify and
say, “Look, this is a wonderful company, but we feel there’s a chance for
competition. Technology has made it possible.” I don’t want to sound like a hero
here because as I said I think we made our mistakes along the line but that one
wasn’t one of the mistakes.
Mr. Jones: Was there a Bill McGowan in the cable industry?
Mr. Wiley: Yes, John Malone who’s still out there.
Mr. Jones: Oh.
Mr. Wiley: John Malone was one of them. And there were other entrepreneurs around the
country. And they were pushing us to deregulate them much faster than we did.
Dean Burch had an elaborate cable policy that he had set up in ’72, which I had
voted for when I was a commissioner, to put a bunch of restrictions on cable to
make sure we were protecting local broadcast service. Then slowly but surely we
began to remove those restrictions as we became convinced that cable wouldn’t
harm the basic over-the-air service. But the tension between broadcasters and
cable is a difficult problem even to this day.
Mr. Jones: The Presidential debates, was there any opposition?
Mr. Wiley: Lots. And from the Hill, in particular. Senator Pastore called Ben Hooks and
some of our other commissioners, and they would come in and see me and say,
Gosh, what are you doing. I’d say, “You’ve got to stick with me. We agreed we
were going to do this.” Fortunately, we managed to get the votes. But there was
a worry as to whether somehow we were upsetting Presidential politics. You
know, for an independent regulatory agency, that’s not what you want to get into,
Mr. Jones: Right. But was the concern about the policy or the potential political impact?
Mr. Wiley: Definitely the latter. One of the best known lawyers in town at that time came to
me and said, “How could you do this?” He said, “How could you turn this agency
into a partisan agency?” I said, “This isn’t a partisan thing.” Fortunately I had
Henry Geller and Newton Minow with me. It certainly helped a great deal that
we were together on that.
Mr. Jones: Now, was Geller a Democrat?
Mr. Wiley: He was a Democrat. Remember he was the General Counsel before I got there.
Mr. Jones: Right. But was Burch a Democrat?
Mr. Wiley: No, he was a Republican, but Burch kept Geller on his staff.
Mr. Jones: I got it.
Mr. Wiley: That often happens.
Mr. Jones: So Geller the Democrat, Newt Minow the Democrat and you.
Mr. Wiley: Wiley the Republican. But we all agreed that the policy was in the public interest.
Mr. Jones: Right.
Mr. Wiley: And in the end we had a bipartisan Commission. It was demonstrably the right
decision for the country. Unfortunately, in the debate with Jimmy Carter, Gerald
Ford said that Poland was not under Communist rule and many people thought
that he lost the debate and, therefore, lost the presidency. And, as a result, I was
going to lose my job!
I had a wonderful seven years at the Commission. The Commissioners
and I used to have rotating dinners at their homes, which I think would be a good
idea today. We were all friends. We would disagree from time-to-time on an
issue, but then you’d see each other on Friday night. It’s a little hard to cuss
people out if you’re seeing them at their homes for dinner. In all, it was the most
enthralling, enjoyable period of my life. But when the 1976 election results rolled
in, I said, “Gee, my government career, which I greatly enjoy, is about over.”
In December, I got a call from the Carter transition team. And I said to
my secretary, “This is it.” So I went up to Union Station where the Carter
transition team was officed, and I met this fellow and I said, “Look, I’ve been a
commissioner before and I’m happy to be a commissioner again. My term runs to
the following June. I’m going to stay and finish my term.” It sounds very
honorable, but it would also give me a chance to practice law before the agency
immediately. That was the rule then. Obviously you couldn’t get involved in
things that you had decided, but you could go over to the Commission right away
on other matters if you finished your term.
Mr. Jones: Whose rule was that? I mean was it a statute or just a policy?
Mr. Wiley: I don’t recall now what it was, but they changed it obviously to one year and now
I guess it’s two years.
Mr. Jones: Right, for senior people. So the Ethics in Government Act, that comes after
Watergate. It’s in ’78.
Mr. Wiley: Yes. So I told this gentleman, I said “Look, I’m going to stay until June so you
can do whatever you need to do.” He said, “I’m a Kansas public broadcaster. I
know and like your policies. We don’t have our guy yet so why don’t you just
stay on as Chairman.” I was really surprised to say the least, but also very pleased
because I loved the job.
The one person that wasn’t pleased, by the way, was my wife who was
assuming that after seven long years at the Commission I might be leaving and
actually earning some money; because we were not in good financial shape at that
point. I had just made partner out in Chicago before I joined the FCC and my
income went down and hadn’t really gone up very much. So I went back to the
Commission, called the three Democrat members in and said: “Guys, you’re
looking at the next Chairman of the FCC.”
Mr. Jones: Looking a lot like the old Chairman, right?
Mr. Wiley: Yes. The old Chairman and I’m the new Chairman. I said, “I think they’ve got
somebody else in mind who maybe isn’t ready yet. But whatever it is,” I said,
“They’ve asked me to stay on and I’m going to do it.”
Ben Hooks later decided he would leave. He wasn’t going to get to be
Chairman. He could see that, and so he became head of the NAACP which was a
great job for him. And the other two commissioners stayed on.
I started working with the Carter White House. I traveled internationally
with them to various treaty organizational meetings. Sy Lazarus and Rick
Neustadt who were the Carter aides at that time became good friends of mine.
Rick actually became such a good friend that he later came with me to Kirkland
Ellis, the firm that I joined—we’ll get to that later. Rick was the son of the
famous Harvard history professor, Richard Neustadt, and he was a terrific
Carter and Ford had similar policies, I would say. Call it moderate
deregulation. So the Carter folks didn’t seem to have much problem with my
policies, and it was a good opportunity for me because I knew later I was going
into private practice and I got to know these guys. It was only a short time until
June, I figured, so it was good.
Comes June I got a call saying, Hey, come over to the White House for
lunch. They took me around, showed me Amy’s tree house, and they showed me
the tennis court, because they knew I was a tennis buff. They said, Look, we’re
still not ready. Any chance you could stay on until Labor Day? My wife was,
again, not particularly happy. Senator McClellan, a very conservative Democrat,
who liked me said, “We’re going to get you reappointed.” I said, “No, that’s not
what I had in mind.” I would get a divorce, I think, from my wife and I didn’t
want that. But I said, “I’ll stay on until Labor Day.” So, finally, it was October
18 of 1977, within two weeks of the day that Ford had lost, that they finally
replaced me at the Commission. And I realized that my seven-year journey at the
FCC was over and I would have to find a job in the private sector. George, I
guess that’s stage three.
Mr. Jones: Well, we’re not there yet. We have some more to talk about in stage two. So as I
think I understand it, the obstacle to Presidential debates was the Equal
Opportunity Doctrine.
Mr. Wiley: Absolutely.
Mr. Jones: Is that statutory, regulatory Commission decision?
Mr. Wiley: Oh, it’s statutory.
Mr. Jones: Statutory. And to have Presidential debates without having to invite fifty
candidates you reinterpreted the statute?
Mr. Wiley: Yes, exactly. There were exceptions as I said earlier for bona fide news events
which would include news casts, news interviews and other kinds of sudden news
events. We said that a presidential debate could be a bona fide news event.
Mr. Jones: I see. I see.
Mr. Wiley: In those days the League of Women Voters had to be the moderator. It was
before the days in which the networks took over. Now, we don’t think of debates
as being controversial. Indeed, we think of them as being one of the most
important elements of the public’s determination of who they’re going to vote for,
Mr. Jones: Yes. On indecency, were you the leader on that?
Mr. Wiley: Yes. I was the Chairman, I had to make that decision and I thought that we had
the right grounds because there was a concern about children being subjected to
this kind of language which, by the way, with little kids at the time, I shared. I
didn’t want the “F” word being broadcast during times when children were likely
to be in the audience.
Mr. Jones: You mentioned “ubiquitous”—
Mr. Wiley: Immediate availability into the American home by mere turn of a dial or a knob,
Mr. Jones: So would that apply to cable stations?
Mr. Wiley: No, that would not apply to cable and, as a matter of fact, I was pilloried by some
people on Capitol Hill on this point. They would bring me up, and show me
Midnight Blue, which was a cable program that was very explicit and they’d say,
What about this Mr. Chairman? And I’d say, “We can’t regulate it because it’s
like movies. You want to go see a XXX film and you pay your money, the
government can’t stop that. And this is the same thing”. And the courts later
upheld that position. You’re paying a monthly subscription for cable. Unlike
broadcasting which is advertising supported and is immediately available to every
Mr. Jones: Who has a TV. And that’s a distinction that has continued to exist even today?
Mr. Wiley: Yes. And people are questioning whether or not that still makes sense, because
there are so many ways in which programming can now be made available to the
public. Only this one little segment is sort of pristine. But the most recent
Supreme Court decision has upheld—
Mr. Jones: Fox.
Mr. Wiley: Fox, yes. Has upheld it, and even upheld the “fleeting expletive” policy of the
FCC, which when Bono, the lead singer for U2, held up his Golden Globe award
and said, “This is f’ing brilliant,” the Commission ruled that that was indecent and
the courts have basically upheld that. Now, the Commission may move away
from that policy and I happen to think that’s probably wise. It’s so hard to
regulate in that area. But, on the other hand, I don’t like to see gratuitous use of
bad language on the airwaves.
Mr. Jones: So you mentioned common ownership. You were worried about the newspapers
controlling radio or television in the same market.
Mr. Wiley: By the way, that is still the rule today. But the world of the Internet and
fragmented media and multiple competitive sources have made that rule, in my
personal opinion, outmoded and counterproductive.
Mr. Jones: So, at the outset, the concern was that newspapers would dominate
communication to the public?
Mr. Wiley: Yes. If you owned a newspaper and you had your television station in the same
marketplace, you would be in a very super competitive status compared to the
other stations in the marketplace.
Mr. Jones: And charge more for advertising?
Mr. Wiley: Perhaps. And control what went on that station. There were all those concerns.
Mr. Jones: Lots of power. You could influence the candidates who were elected and the like.
And today you have almost countless avenues for communication.
Mr. Wiley: George, I’d like to use you as one of my witnesses here when we go to the FCC
next time because that’s what I’m saying over there. But so far we haven’t sold it.
Mr. Jones: And the notion is that because you have multiple ways of communication there is
no way for anybody to dominate communication?
Mr. Wiley: Well, I would argue that, but others still are concerned about too much
Mr. Jones: You might have the equivalent of the failing company defense in the antitrust
Mr. Wiley: Well we do have a failing station rule over at the FCC, but not failing newspapers
because the FCC doesn’t regulate newspapers. They only regulate their coownership of television stations.
Mr. Jones: Okay. Let’s talk about your mistakes.
Mr. Wiley: Yes, well I’ve made a few. I think we were slow sometimes in our pace of
deregulation, particularly, in pay television. But the big one was—and this was
kind of akin to the indecency situation—concerned so-called “Family Viewing.”
People from Capitol Hill expressed concerns to me about violence and sexually
oriented programming that was appearing on television. So I decided to call in
the presidents of the three major networks—ABC, NBC and CBS—into my
office. I wanted to have an adult conversation with them about this problem. I
suggested, for their consideration because, again, you’ve got the—
Mr. Jones: First Amendment.
Mr. Wiley: First Amendment. And you’ve got the no censorship provision. I suggested to
them intelligent scheduling that would say that in the first two early hours of
prime time—say, 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. in the East Coast—you wouldn’t have
programs that were not suitable for the entire family.
And I also suggested the avoidance, even in the later hours, of gratuitous
violence and sex when it wasn’t necessary to the programming line. And finally I
said, “How about warnings to parents if there’s going to be a program that may be
upsetting to some?” And you see those warnings today.
Mr. Jones: Right.
Mr. Wiley: So I made those suggestions. I never used the term family viewing. Arthur
Taylor was a young, dynamic president of CBS. And he made a speech a couple
weeks later calling for a family viewing hour, and it basically followed the outline
of my suggestions. The first two hours of prime time would be appropriate for
family viewing, there would be warnings, avoidance of gratuitous violence and
sex. I, of course, liked it.
Mr. Jones: Did he attribute it to you?
Mr. Wiley: Well he said we had discussed it, but he said, “This was our idea.” And I
endorsed it as a landmark in self-regulation. It was all looking good. But
Norman Lear and some of the folks in Hollywood didn’t see it that way, and they
sued the networks for antitrust violations and sued me, again, for violation of the
First Amendment. It went to a District Court. I remember the judge telling me
that he thought Norman Lear was a genius, which he may well be. (Both laugh) I
didn’t take that as a comforting sign.
Mr. Jones: During the hearing?
Mr. Wiley: He actually said that. This was in Los Angeles and we lost that case.
Mr. Jones: I’m shocked. (Laugh)
Mr. Wiley: Yes, I’m shocked there’s gambling going on here. Fortunately, a couple years
later the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and vacated that decision. But
by that time, the family viewing hour concept had come and gone although you’ll
still see references to it. You had asked me once whether it really was a mistake.
No, I believed in it. I thought it was a good idea. Maybe I could have handled it
better. I never thought about getting sued.
Mr. Jones: That’s the biggest one, or the only one?
Mr. Wiley: Oh, there were many, I am sure, but that’s the biggest one that I’ll always recall
because I had to have the Justice Department representing me, and I had my
deposition taken and my cross-examination by a very smart lawyer from Munger,
Tolles. I still remember that.
Mr. Jones: Who was the lawyer?
Mr. Wiley: I can’t recall who it was, but he was good. (Both laugh) I thought I held my own,
but obviously the judge didn’t see it that way.
Mr. Jones: I’m not sure I would regard that as a mistake, if I were you.
Mr. Wiley: You’re nice to say that, but at the time it was upsetting and it was nerve racking.
To be sued, and it got lots of press. It was not a comfortable position to be in. So
I was very pleased when the Ninth Circuit issued their decision.
Mr. Jones: Did they come out with the decision while you were still Chairman?
Mr. Wiley: No, I was gone. I got all the good decisions after I left office. (Both laugh)
Mr. Jones: The weekly dinners with the commissioners, was that your innovation or was that
a continuation of—
Mr. Wiley: No, it was mine. And, you know, again, it was self-serving in the sense that
obviously it helped me to have good relationships. But that was my nature
anyway. I liked these people. They all remained friends of mine. Unfortunately,
the only one that’s still living to this day is Glen Robinson—up there in the far
right of that picture—and he’s retired from the University of Virginia Law
School. But just a terrific fellow. And you know Glen was a libertarian
Democrat, so when we did the children’s television proceeding he actually
opposed it because he thought the FCC shouldn’t be involved in this area. I said,
“Well, Glen, we’re just trying to do something in the public interest and we’re not
regulating.” But he was a purist in that respect.
Mr. Jones: Was it unusual for a person like Charlotte Reid who was a performer, not—
Mr. Wiley: But she was a congresswoman. I think she served four or five terms as a
Mr. Jones: Oh, I see.
Mr. Wiley: So she was a performer earlier and then was the wife of a congressman and then
became a congresswoman herself. As I say, Nixon thought highly of her. She
was a very smart woman and ultimately decided, after many years, to get
remarried and she left the Commission.
Mr. Jones: Sy Lazarus, the guy you mentioned as being one of the Carter administration
Mr. Wiley: Carter people, yes.
Mr. Jones: —was at our firm for a few years.
Mr. Wiley: Oh, is that so?
Mr. Jones: Yes, he’s a good guy. I see him from time-to-time.
Mr. Wiley: Oh, a very good guy. Is he still practicing?
Mr. Jones: Not with us. He does a lot of work with, I think, the Constitutional
Accountability Center.
Let’s see. We’ll call this the end of Phase Two.
Mr. Wiley: Phase Two or Stage Two, you called it.
Mr. Jones: Stage Two.
Third Interview – August 1, 2013
This interview is being conducted on behalf of the Oral History Project of the Historical
Society of the District of Columbia Circuit. The interviewee is Richard E Wiley, Esquire. The
interviewer is George Jones, Esquire. The interview took place on August 1, 2013.
Mr. Jones: So, when we stopped last time you were about to re-enter private practice to your
wife’s great delight. Tell me about that process.
Mr. Wiley: Yes. On October 18, 1977, I had to leave the FCC, and I started talking to a
number of firms and decided ultimately on Kirkland & Ellis. I had overtures from
various firms—Hogan & Hartson, Skadden Arps and Dow Lohnes, which is a
communications firm here in town, as you know. I thought K&E was a very
strong firm. It was headquartered in Chicago which, of course, is my hometown.
I thought there was a possibility I might want to go back there someday, maybe
get involved in politics; who knows? And it had a small communications practice
at the time, maybe seven or eight lawyers—
Mr. Jones: In DC?
Mr. Wiley: In DC. I thought I could use that to build on. It was a good base. And, most
importantly, Kirkland asked me to be the partner-in-charge here of the
Washington office which gave me an opportunity for a leadership position of the
sort I had enjoyed at the FCC. I thought if the practice didn’t develop, it would
give me something to do. (both laugh)
Luckily, however, the practice did take off. The second day I was at
Kirkland I got a call from a Los Angeles lawyer who was here in town and he was
going to interview three firms, including ours. He had seen my name quoted in
the Wall Street Journal that day, so he said he came to me first. He was with
Xerox Development Corporation, a subsidiary of Xerox, in Los Angeles. He told
me they were thinking about a new technology project. I was very interested,
because it wouldn’t involve any conflicts for me. It was something I had never
worked on at the FCC. He decided after our meeting not to visit the other firms,
and retained me more-or-less on the spot.
The nice thing about it is for the next three or four years I worked on that
project to a large extent. I must have gone to Los Angeles three or four dozen
times. It was a very interesting project. I also began to bring in a number of other
clients—Xerox, the parent, of course; GTE, which was later merged into the Bell
system, but before that was very much an independent telephone company; CBS;
Texas Instruments; Motorola; Twentieth Century Fox; Newspaper Association of
America; COMSAT, which is the satellite company that we had talked about
before in Dean Burch’s “open skies” program, if you recall—
Mr. Jones: Sure.
Mr. Wiley: After three or four years, we got Xerox Development Corporation everything they
wanted, but the parent company decided not to proceed with the project. So, I had
done my job. I had been well paid for my efforts. In the course of five years at
the firm, I had been able to grow the communications practice from seven or eight
lawyers to twenty-five. So, obviously, all was going very well for me and I
enjoyed it greatly.
There was a little bump in the road. In 1980, as you will recall, Ronald
Reagan was elected President. That was only three years after I had left the FCC,
but I knew a lot of the people in the Reagan campaign and I got invited by
somebody who had worked for me at the FCC to serve as head of the Justice
Department transition team. They said you’ll be great because you don’t have
any conflicts and you can do this. Well, I didn’t know too much about all the
DOJ issues, but I can assure you that I started learning the first day they asked me.
Mr. Jones: Sounds familiar.
Mr. Wiley: They gave me a part-time office over at the Department of Justice. First thing I
did was to interview Ben Civiletti, who was, I thought, a great guy, and Charles
Renfro, the deputy attorney general, who was a wonderful man who later became
a federal judge. They were both very cooperative.
Mr. Wiley: In any case, the next thing I was asked to do was to go to Los Angeles and brief
William French Smith, who was going to be the new Attorney General, Judge
Smith as we called him. I worked really hard to get ready for that trip. I had
some backup here at the firm, including a young man named Henry Habicht, who
later went to the Justice Department. I recommended him to Judge Smith. I also
had help from a young fellow named Ken Starr, who was in Judge Smith’s
Washington office, and who I later recommended to the Judge. Those two
fellows eventually became counselors to the new Attorney General. So I went
out, met Judge Smith, and developed a good relationship with him. We later
played tennis during his tenure here. He was a big tennis buff, and I was also.
We played both in Washington and out at the Claremont Club to which he
belonged in California. He was really a fine man.
One night we were having dinner at the Jefferson Hotel over on 16th
Street. He said, “Look, I’d like you to come into the administration. I’d like you
to be Associate Attorney General.” And, boy, I was very excited about that
prospect; for one thing I liked public service. I had spent eleven years in the
federal government: three and a half years at the JAG Corps and seven and a half
years at the FCC. So I went home to see my dear wife.
Mr. Jones: I know what the reaction was.
Mr. Wiley: (laughs) And the reaction was what you’d expect, because I was really building a
practice at Kirkland. It was three years out, and these clients—the kind of clients
which I recited for you—which would be on anybody’s list of great clients to
have was something that I was beginning to accumulate. Obviously, the offer was
an honor. I liked Judge Smith. It was very tempting, but ultimately I decided, no.
It was the same level of position that the chairman of the FCC was, a Level 3; it
would have caused me to have to leave the communications practice I had spent
over seven years at the FCC and now three more at Kirkland really honing my
expertise on. In those days the Associate Attorney General’s responsibilities were
criminal. The deputy’s were civil. I don’t know if they continue doing that.
Mr. Jones: I think it’s still the same.
Mr. Wiley: So, anyway, I didn’t know anything about criminal law, and I would really be a
duck out of water. William French Smith said you can learn it and, of course, one
of my capacities is to pick things up pretty rapidly. But I ultimately decided that
it would interrupt my practice. I enjoyed K&E and I just decided to turn it down.
Mr. Jones: You said you built the—before we get too far—So, how large was K&E’s
Washington office when you joined in ’77?
Mr. Wiley: Well when I left it was seventy-five, so it was probably around 60 or something
like that.
Mr. Jones: Oh, I see. And seven to eight communications lawyers?
Mr. Wiley: Yes.
Mr. Jones: Were you doing FCC-related projects for Xerox and Texas Instruments?
Mr. Wiley: Yes, all these clients.
Mr. Jones: I see.
Mr. Wiley: The work that came to me was largely work that I had not been involved with at
the FCC, which was good.
Mr. Jones: And the rules permitted you to practice—
Mr. Wiley: Practice before the agency right away, but on the Xerox Development
Corporation project I really didn’t have to go back to the FCC at all. I may have
done so during that period for other clients, but XDC was really a project that was
headquartered in California. I was meeting with the executives out there, and
talking to them about the new technology opportunities that they were thinking
Mr. Jones: I see.
Mr. Wiley: So, I just decided that things were going well for me. I was going to stay. Well
that looked like a good decision. And, by the way, I was also earning some
money for the first time. When I left the FCC I was basically pretty tapped out. I
think I told you the story of trying to buy a new car and had to take a loan for it.
Mr. Jones: Right.
Mr. Wiley: So it seemed like a great decision, but one day I was down in Florida on business.
I got a call from the managing partner of Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago, a man who
had really been responsible for my being hired. He had conducted the
negotiations with me.
Mr. Jones: Was that Johnson?
Mr. Wiley: Elmer Johnson, yes. And he said, “Guess what?” He said, “I’ve got great news
for you. I’m going to become the general counsel” of what he called Midwestern
Bell, but was really Ameritech, as it turned out to be. The name hadn’t been
selected at that time.
Mr. Jones: Was it Illinois Bell then?
Mr. Wiley: No, this was one of the Baby Bells that had been spun off from AT&T in the
Mr. Jones: Oh, that’s right. So it’s right after the divestiture?
Mr. Wiley: It was right after the divestiture.
Mr. Jones: I see. Ameritech.
Mr. Wiley: Ameritech. It wasn’t called Ameritech at that point; this was really just getting
formed. He said, “I’m going to stay a partner at Kirkland & Ellis.” Well, from a
conflicts standpoint, this really locked it in. It was obviously very good news for
Kirkland & Ellis. They were very excited about it. I said I thought it was going
to be a problem for me because I was on the other side of the Bell Companies on
many issues at that point. I had argued cases before Judge Greene who was
presiding over the breakup of AT&T. (All that changed later in my career, as we
can talk about.)
So Elmer said, “Come out to Chicago, let’s talk about it.” He had the
whole management committee for dinner at the University Club and Bert Rein
and I were there also. They indicated why this would be advantageous to them.
Sidley had AT&T, and they would now have Ameritech. It made sense from their
standpoint. But for me, it was pretty clear I would have to leave Kirkland & Ellis
to maintain the competitive communications practice that I was building. The
local Bell company was going to be a monopoly. They told me that I needed to
give up my telecommunications clients, but could keep CBS and other media
clients. Of course, I just didn’t want to think about that. I was in full blush of
building this practice, which was coming together better than I ever expected it to
do, to be very candid.
This was a heady time for me after the wonderful FCC years. I was
greatly chagrined when I had to leave the FCC. I have to admit it. I’m one of
those people who loved the agency and the job and never wanted to leave, as you
can tell by the Carter administration experience that I had.
So, I now was going to have to leave Kirkland & Ellis, which, in truth, I
didn’t want to do.
Mr. Jones: I’m sure they didn’t want you to leave either.
Mr. Wiley: Oh, they didn’t want me to leave, but they wanted to take this client. I had a
number of major conflicts. I just thought this was going to frustrate the future
development of my practice, as I explained to them. So the departure was
friendly and businesslike. I had no ill feelings about it, except that I didn’t want
to go. Of course, I had financial insecurities. I was doing well at that point. They
had been very generous to me, and that should be said. I was given three months
to leave.
It got into the papers and the trade press that I was leaving – in particular,
a big article in the Chicago Tribune, which was not particularly kind to Kirkland,
but very kind to me because it looked like they were pushing me out. I don’t
really think that was true. As Fred Bartlett, one of the top partners there said,
“This is just business, Dick; don’t take it personally.” And I didn’t. I felt badly
about it, but I didn’t take it like they were getting rid of me or wanted to get rid of
In any case, we had thirty-one firms contact us during that period. I
remember one of those snow days when I was home and could not get out of my
cul-de-sac in Arlington. A catalog of great firms called that day and it was very
flattering. Latham & Watkins was the firm that I focused on most, because it is a
wonderful firm, but it seemed a lot like Kirkland from my standpoint. Skadden
came back again and locally, Hogan. Those were sort of the firms that I thought
most about.
But I was worried that the same thing could happen to me again. That I
could build a practice, and get hurt by conflicts. At my own firm, I thought
maybe I could control my own destiny. So Bert Rein, who I had known a little bit
in the State Department during the Nixon and Ford years, but who I’d gotten to
know quite well during the five years at Kirkland, and I began to think about
maybe starting our own firm. He indicated that he would be willing to come with
Mr. Jones: He was at Kirkland when you joined?
Mr. Wiley: Yes he was at Kirkland. And the twenty-five communications lawyers were
essentially going to go because I was largely the rainmaker. Then Jim Wallace,
who was then, and still is, our lead IP litigator said that he would go. Ultimately,
it broke down that half the firm, thirty-seven, by exact number, would leave. I
was still worried that was not enough to make a practice. So I walked down the
street to the Commodities Future Trading Commission and talked to Phil Johnson
who I had met at Kirkland. He had gone into the administration as Chairman of
the CFTC, and now was thinking of leaving. I said, “Phil, why don’t you come
with us. We’ll make you a name partner, Wiley Johnson & Rein.” I said, “Can
you build a commodities practice here in Washington,” because I thought it was a
practice that needed to be in a market like in New York and Chicago. He said, “I
think I can do it.” His general counsel also joined us.
So, on May 1, 1983, we formed the new firm and ventured into a legal
unknown. Basically, Kirkland had four floors, 9, 10, 11 and 12 in this building.
The communications floors were 10 and 11. So we took 10 and 11, and they took
9 and 12—
Mr. Jones: (laugh)
Mr. Wiley: —which I think was odd. The other thirty-eight lawyers on 9 and 12 were all
friendly. I mean there were no ill feelings on their part. Their practice was
largely tied into Standard Oil and the other major clients that Kirkland had.
May 1, 1983 was a Sunday, and I went to church and knew I was still a
partner at Kirkland & Ellis until noon. When church was over, I got in my car
and drove downtown to do some work here. Barry Strauss, who was the firm
Mr. Jones: For Kirkland or for your new firm?
Mr. Wiley: For Kirkland, but Barry decided to cast his lot with us. I had been close to the
staff; I had been the managing partner right from the start, as I indicated. So, he
and the entire staff came with me which made life a lot easier. I didn’t have to
worry about hiring secretaries or ordering pens and pencils. So Barry Strauss had
put up a temporary sign on the 11th floor. When I left, on Friday, the sign was
Kirkland & Ellis, one of the great firms in this country, and I mean that sincerely.
On Sunday, I got off the elevator and I saw Wiley, Johnson and Rein. I thought,
What have I done? (both laugh) What have I done?
What we found was that the clients that I had all said they would come
with me, and Bert’s clients came, and Jim Wallace’s came, and pretty quickly
things began to purr. I talked to Chuck Verrill who had been a name partner over
at Patton Boggs and an old friend of mine. He came with us and started an
International Trade practice. A couple of years later, Rand Allen came through
and wanted to develop a Government Contracts practice. He had been with
Crowell & Moring, and I said, “Come on in.” Tom Brunner was over at DLA
Piper—Piper Marbury it was called then. He said, “I have the Dick Wiley
problem,” which was a conflicts problem. The clients at that firm were running
into his insurance practice. So, he said he would join us. Over the years we
continued building. Then in 1987, ’88, somewhere along that line, a good friend
of mine, Fred Fielding, was going to be leaving the Reagan administration—
Mr. Jones: He was the White House counsel?
Mr. Wiley: White House counsel. Fred lived in Arlington, less than a mile from me, and I
had known him well. I said, “Fred, why don’t you come”? Johnson had departed
by that time to practice in New York City. “We’ll change the name from Wiley
Rein to Wiley Rein & Fielding.” Fred decided to do that, rather than going back
to Morgan Lewis. He was here twenty-one years, and we can talk about that story
later. But, Fred joined us. So, we had a nation of immigrants, you know, to help
build the firm.
Our goal at the time and our vision was to develop a large diversified law
firm here. Yes, we had a communications practice, but we needed to build away
from it a little bit. To try to build a practice focused on Washington and on the
federal government and on litigation, regulation and, to some extent, transactional
matters. Today we have about two dozen practices and 275 lawyers. What we set
out to do, we largely have done.
We also had a vision of the culture. I felt like you could have a work-life
balance and still be able to compete with large Washington firms, not necessarily
Skadden Arps or Kirkland & Ellis in terms of profits, but successful enough. I
feel good about the fact that over the years Barry is still here as the firm
administrator and we very seldom have lost people to other law firms, usually
only to the government. Hopefully, some of them will come back; indeed, some
of them have.
We wanted this, for both professionals and non-professionals, to be a
place where you can have a home – and where everybody knows each other. I
can say I know every lawyer here and most of the staff. We are an old-style firm
in that regard. In this day and age, I realize the multi-city firm is the model, but
our model is just a little different than that. We’re very efficient, because we
don’t have to duplicate all our systems and our accounting and technology. It has
worked for us, at least in our own view.
Mr. Jones: How large are you today?
Mr. Wiley: About 275.
Mr. Jones: That’s pretty substantial.
Mr. Wiley: Well, I think in terms of Washington law firms, boots on the ground, we’re about
tenth in size. Now that doesn’t mean we’re tenth in overall size, of course. But,
in terms of people right here in Washington, it’s around tenth.
Mr. Jones: Right. We have a similar number in Washington.
Mr. Wiley: Yes. If you look at the numbers, George, your firm and our firm and Patton
Boggs, they all come up—
Mr. Jones: Ten, eleven, twelve in size.
Mr. Wiley: Yes, ten, eleven, twelve or something like that. So, it’s worked out pretty well the
way we wanted to. Fred, by the way, was here until George W. Bush invited him
to go back to the White House—which really surprised me because I didn’t think
he’d want to do the same job again. But, just like me, I suppose if I could have
gone back to the FCC at sometime—I couldn’t have done that, of course, because
of conflicts.
Mr. Jones: Right. I was about to say.
Mr. Wiley: It would have been a great experience, to go back and really know how to do it
this time. I think Fred did a fine job for Bush in the very last couple of years of
that administration. When he got out, Fred was going to do a lot of arbitration
work and really needed an international office and a New York office. So, in a
very friendly manner because we are still friends—his wife also is a good friend
of my wife—he decided to go back to Morgan Lewis. I understood that totally.
Throughout the last three decades, I have been very active in the
communications practice. I’ve also served as the managing partner through all
the years, except in the last year or two I have been elevated to the role of
chairman, but I’m still very active in the management. Peter Shields is now our
managing partner. He and I work pretty closely together. Being a managing
partner and being a rainmaker is probably two full-time jobs. It’s probably not
what you want to do, I think, with your rainmakers.
It’s been possible for me for several reasons. Number one, my partners
have been very supportive. I have had a great team. We have seventy-five
communications lawyers, so there’s an expert on every aspect of the practice.
Dick Wiley doesn’t have to know every single jot and tittle. There is somebody
down the hall that will know the details better than I will in a lot of respects. And
number two, I had Barry Strauss—and he and I are very close—and the excellent
staff that he has assembled. Number three, as you can see, I have a lot of energy
and enthusiasm. I think that goes a long way in life, maybe more than skill.
But, there it is. It has worked out nicely, I think, for us. Once I started the
firm, it was really impossible for me to leave and go back into the government. I
thought maybe there would be other opportunities that would come along in the
Reagan administration, after I’d turned down the associate AG’s position. But,
once the firm started, I really couldn’t think about it. I had to stay here.
We have tried to develop the firm not only with the laterals we brought in,
but also tried to compete with great firms like yours as far as bringing in younger
people just out of law school and judicial clerks, including Supreme Court clerks.
One of the things I found is we would win matters at the FCC, but lose them at
the court of appeals. I was used to that from my FCC days (both laugh). Andrew
McBride came over from the Cooper Carvin firm and started an appellate
practice. And, then, Helgi Walker, who also was a Supreme Court clerk, joined
us. And Bert, himself, is a Supreme Court clerk. We’ve got a bunch here. Not
like your practice, but a lot of ours is built around the communications field,
As we talked about before, Bert argued two cases recently before the
Supreme Court and always argued a lot of other court of appeals cases. Indeed, I
also have argued a number of cases before courts of appeal. But, what I have
done primarily is to develop a ubiquitous communications practice. A lot of firms
emphasize media or telecom, but we’ve tried to do all of the above that you can
do within the confines of conflicts and business relationships. So we cover
telecom, media, wireless, international.
A few years ago, David Gross, who’d been for eight years at the State
Department, head of Communications and Information Policy, came over to help
us expand our international practice. Basically, our objective is to have expertise
in all aspects of the communications field.
My own work has largely been in large, complex transactions. Mergers, if
you will, and like the bankruptcy of Tribune, more recently. I represented
JPMorgan in that case. The mergers largely involved the Bell Companies. You
might ask, well, how did that happen, because I had to leave Kirkland because of
conflicts with the Bells.
Mr. Jones: I was dying to ask you that question.
Mr. Wiley: I had represented the Newspaper Association of America in cases before Judge
Greene. In 1996, Congress decided to pass a new Communications Act, and
largely supplant the Communications Act of 1934. This was the
Telecommunications Act of 1996. And, one day thereafter, I was visited by a
PacTel executive. PacTel was the Baby Bell on the West Coast. He said, “We’d
like you to consider being our lawyer and do our work.” I said, “Well, gee, you
ought to talk to your management about that because they may think I’m Public
Enemy No. 1.” He said, “That’s old thinking. The 1996 Act changed
In fact, I had been thinking about how I could kind of jump the hoops over
to the Bell system, because it was obvious the Bell companies were going to be
the survivors and the strong players in the future. In fact, PacTel even talked
about us opening up an office on the West Coast. But then they ended up getting
acquired by Southwestern Bell. Southwestern Bell also acquired Ameritech, and
there were a number of other mergers in that field, and we were involved in a lot
of them. GTE, which had long been my client, ended up merging into the Bell
system even though they had been highly independent.
CBS also had a number of mergers. Westinghouse, you’ll recall and
Viacom which, of course, they’re owned by now. We were in all those
One day I got a call, and an individual asked me to come over to the
Willard Hotel and meet with him. It turned out to be Craig McCaw, who is an
interesting billionaire. He wanted to get into the wireless field, and we
represented him for many years, until his company was acquired by AT&T.
Indeed, we started doing work for AT&T and for Verizon, as they began to
We also handled the AOL/Time Warner and Comcast/Adelphia mergers,
just to name another two.
Mr. Wiley: And we continued the work with other media companies, like Belo. Belo owns a
number of newspaper companies and broadcast stations and now they’re merging
with Gannett, which was also a client.
In 1990 I started doing work for a company which was called CD Radio.
CD Radio had the idea of satellite radio, and ultimately became Sirius. Then we
were engaged in the Sirius/XM merger for my old friend Mel Karmazin, who had
been head of CBS. I had handled the CBS/Infinity merger years before when his
company was Infinity. So, I’ve known Mel for a long time.
I worked for a number of newspaper/broadcast companies, and the
JPMorgan representation sort of grew out of that. Comsat was a longtime client,
one of the largest clients I had for many years, but ultimately, of course, Intelsat
took it over.
Mr. Jones: Intelsat, the one right up on Connecticut Avenue?
Mr. Wiley: Yes, exactly. They’re moving to Virginia ultimately.
I was also involved in major FCC rulemakings – for example, one
involving the Newspaper Broadcast Cross-Ownership rules. While those rules
may have made sense in 1975, they make absolutely no sense today. John Sturm,
who’d been my legal assistant at the Commission, became head of the Newspaper
Association of America here in Washington, and we worked to eliminate the
rules, but unsuccessfully I have to say.
Mr. Jones: So far.
Mr. Wiley: Yes, so far. Some day it will have to happen. All these projects and all these
rulemakings have taken me back to the FCC, which has always been my port of
call, you might say—a place where I feel very comfortable. I still walk through
there and know a lot of the people that I once worked with when I was there.
Now, they’re beginning to retire, but a lot of them are still there. I’ve always
enjoyed the FCC. That was a great experience for me.
Again, I was able to do all this because of the deep bench we have here.
Two people, in particular, that I’ve talked to you about before: Larry Secrest,
who’d been my top media aide and helped me with the 1976 debates issue. And
Mike Senkowski, who was FCC chief of staff and my top telecom guy. They
both have been partners here in our firm. As I said in that article in the DC Bar
Mr. Jones: Washington Lawyer.
Mr. Wiley: —Washington Lawyer, “You don’t succeed in this practice alone.” It’s just too
complex. All these big regulatory practices take great expertise. So it’s
wonderful to have an expert team here.
But the truth is I still yearned for public service. So, in 1987, I got a very
welcome call from Dennis Patrick, who was then the Chairman of the FCC. I
knew him, of course, and he asked if I would come over and see him. He said,
“We’re thinking about a new transmission standard for broadcasting.” The socalled analog television standard, to which all sets had to be manufactured, was
the original television norm that we had in this country as TV emerged starting in
the early ‘50s.
That standard was set, if you can believe it, back in 1941. That’s how
early they were thinking about television. Patrick said, “We want to develop a
new standard” for what he called advanced television. He said, “Research and
development has been going on in Japan and in Western Europe. Congress and
our Commission are very concerned that the United States is going to be left
behind. So we’d like you to come in and head up what is called a Federal
Advisory Committee”—it’s under the Federal Advisory Act in which you have to
have meetings in the public, and you can’t have any conflicts.
I didn’t represent any set manufacturers at that point, so that wasn’t a
problem for me. I thought, I could take this on. He said, “It’ll probably be a twoyear project.” I was worried about the two years of pro bono work. I’m the
managing partner. I’ve worked and developed all these clients. I mean, how
much time do I have? I want to see my wife and kids—
Mr. Jones: You’d be surprised at how little sleep you really need.
Mr. Wiley: Well, that is one of my secrets, if you want to know the truth.
Mr. Jones: You don’t sleep?
Mr. Wiley: (laugh) A little bit. But anyway, I said, “Fine.” It turned out to be nine years, not
two years. But when you’re having fun, as I’ve said, who’s counting?
Mr. Jones: Right.
Mr. Wiley: So anyway, I took it on. But what did I take on? I had to first figure out who is
going to be on the Advisory Committee. Patrick wanted the leaders of the major
broadcast companies, like Rupert Murdoch and Larry Tisch at CBS at the time,
and the leading cable companies, set manufacturers and later, computer
companies. He said, “There will be twenty-five people on the Advisory
Committee and you’ll be the CEO, basically.” So, October ’87, I was sitting back
in my old chair up there in the Commission meeting room. I was back; my
dreams had come true (laugh).
Mr. Jones: The Chairman is back.
Mr. Wiley: I had returned to the FCC. While the staff people over there didn’t work for me, a
number of them were available to me because this was an engineering project, a
standard. I’m not a technical person. While I have learned enough to be
dangerous about electronic communications, I needed an expert engineering staff.
The goal was to develop this new standard. But how do you do it?
I remember going to a restaurant down the street with the chief engineer of
the FCC and on the back of an envelope we sort of charted out a committee
structure. And I said, “But we’ve got to have co-chairmen. Because we have to
have a cable guy and a broadcast guy. We’ve got to make it look very fair.
Otherwise, we will not get the support of these industries. They will be concerned
about each other.” My old political instincts were useful in this regard.
Mr. Jones: Essential, it sounds.
Mr. Wiley: Basically, what we devised that day was to have an international competition. We
would invite everybody by June 1 of 1990 to develop systems that we could test.
Then I helped convince the cable and broadcast industries to build a laboratory
down in Alexandria where we could test these systems. Twenty-three different
proposals were submitted but a lot of them were just ideas, and, so, there was
nothing to test.
We made the decision early on that we were only going to deal with the
players that could bring us systems that we could actually, under objective
standards, test. The Japanese were developing a so-called MUSE System which I
had seen in Las Vegas at the National Association of Broadcasters convention. I
saw pictures of geisha girls walking in gardens. You could see their faces very
clearly. It was the first time I had ever viewed high-definition television—it was
Mr. Jones: Right.
Mr. Wiley: It was better than anything we had ever seen at that time in our homes. I said,
“We want that.” But the geisha girls weren’t making much movement. It wasn’t
like sports or anything like that. This was just at the very inception. So the
Japanese wanted to be in our competition.
Mr. Jones: A Japanese company?
Mr. Wiley: It was NHK, which is their big engineering company. RCA and Phillips, which
were the big European companies at that time, and AT&T wanted to be in the
game. Zenith, which was the last American set manufacturer, Sarnoff
Laboratories, and MIT also were interested in participating. Then a company
called General Instruments, of which Don Rumsfeld was chairman of the board,
decided to enter our competition. But all these entities were proposing analog
transmission, which was the old technology. I began to think about and hear from
some of the engineers that the Holy Grail was digital transmission.
Mr. Jones: Do you mean the proposals that they made were all analog?
Mr. Wiley: All of the proposals were analog, advanced analog; high definition. And the
Japanese system was analog.
Mr. Jones: I see.
Mr. Wiley: I had begun to hear rumblings of digital transmission. I was talking to a lot of
people in and out of the Commission. I went to New York one time to make a
speech at some investment banking conference, and the chief engineer of CBS
came over and said, “Hey, we had an interesting demonstration today, a digital
transmission; the language of computers.” I said, “Well, I want to hear about it.”
June 1, 1990 was approaching and we were getting ready for testing, and I
said, “Everybody who’s going to be tested has got to be in by that time.” The
entity proposing digital transmission turned out to be General Instruments. I said,
“If they want to play, then they’d better get in by June 1 because we’re going to
cut it off at that point. We’re going to start doing our testing, our evaluations. It’s
going to be a very long project.”
I had already been working on the Advisory Committee for three years, so
I wanted to get it going. Just before Memorial Day I was invited to meet with
General Instruments. They said, We have a digital system. And I said, “Terrific.
Give me a check for $175,000”—which I had established as the entry fee to pay
for all the costs because we had to get a budget here too.
Mr. Jones: Right.
Mr. Wiley: We didn’t have any money. We were making this up as we went along. I
remember MIT did not want to pay $175,000. “We’re an academic institution”
and I said, “Pardon me. You want to be in this game, you’ve got to pay
$175.000.” I knew the commercial entities were all paying and, if I started
making cut-rate deals, I’d get a lot of heat. So General Instruments got it in by
June 1.
Then I started getting calls from the other proponent systems saying,
“What do you think about digital transmission”? Well Japan and Western Europe
had spent all those years developing an advanced analog system and they were
bureaucratic, government-run systems. I didn’t want anything to do with that at
all. I was focused on the private sector, looking for the best that technology had
to offer. So I said, “It’s your decision, but to me I’d think about digital,” because
I said, “That’s the future.”
I went over and made a speech in Europe and got booed off the stage.
(laugh) I said, “You’ve got to go digital. It’s going to be digital.” The audience
didn’t agree! The Japanese even told me that it would be 2005 before digital
transmission would happen. I said, “I think we can do it faster,” because I had
talked to General Instruments and the other systems. They were all switching to
digital. Then they started talking about merging. They came in and said, What do
you think about a merger? I encouraged all mergers.
Mr. Jones: Right.
Mr. Wiley: Because I figured the stronger they got and the fewer systems I had to test, the
better it would be. So we ended up testing four digital systems and the Japanese
system, which had been developed over many years. And, guess what, under
objective standards, we found out, to our amazement, that the digital systems did
better even than the MUSE system, which was a real revelation that we had
something going here. Incidentally, the European systems had shifted too.
Mr. Jones: They were digital.
Mr. Wiley: They were digital. But here was the problem. All of them had been developed on
the fly because digital transmission had been introduced so recently. They were
learning from each other and copying from each other. One day, Zenith’s CEO
Jerry Pearlman called me—a Saturday. I remember it to this day. He said, “You
know, we’d really like to have our improved system tested.” I said, “But we just
put everyone through testing at $175,000 for each one of them.” He said, “Yeah,
but our system’s much better than it was.” I replied, “Well, Jerry, they’re all
going to say that.” He said, “Well, do you want to pick a system that isn’t as
good as it could be”? I said, “No, you’re right about that.”
Mr. Jones: (laugh)
Mr. Wiley: So I got the “brilliant idea” of writing a letter to all the proponents. I said, “I’m
going to give you two choices. Either a second round of testing and another
$175,000, millions in developmental work, and another year or two,” or, I said,
“We could have”—and I just picked the term out— “a grand alliance of systems.
We’ll take the best elements of each system and combine it into one.” At first
they thought the “Grand Alliance” was a silly name, but they got enamored of it
somehow. It became the name.
They started having meetings to see if they could reach agreement. They
would report back to me and say, We’re working on it. Finally, the big meeting
was May 1 of 1993 — I think I’ve got the right date —at the Grand Hotel by
chance which is now the Westin. It’s at 24th and M. And they said, We’re all
meeting over here, and I thought, oh boy, this is it.
Paul Misener, who was my assistant (now the head of Amazon’s office
here in Washington and internationally and a brilliant engineer and lawyer) and I
were sitting here on pins and needles waiting for the call. Finally, Robert Graves,
who was AT&T’s representative, telephoned and said, “It didn’t work. They’re
breaking up and going home.”
I said, “Wait, wait. I’m coming over.” So I went over and asked, “Why”?
They said, “Well, we can’t agree on this and on that.” And I said, “Let’s forget
what we can’t agree on, let’s talk about what we can agree on. Don’t we want
HDTV? That’s what we all really want. And don’t we all agree that the digital
picture has to have over 1,000 scanning lines”?
Mr. Jones: For the sharpness of the picture?
Mr. Wiley: Yes. And they all agreed. Then there was the question of whether it would be
progressive scanning or interlace scanning. I don’t want to turn this into a
technical treatise, but computers are progressively scanned. And television is
interlaced. And all the programming was interlaced.
I said, “Well, don’t we think that it would evolve to progressive, but right
now we’ve got to have interlaced scanning.” MIT said, “No way, it’s got to be
progressive right from the start or we’re not playing.” I said, “Hey guys, we’ve
been at this now—you know, this is 1993. We’ve been at this six years. We’re
right on the cusp. We’re all here, think about it.”
So they all broke up into different suites, and I circulated around to them.
I finally got MIT to call Boston and talk about it and said, “You’ve got to be part
of this.” Finally, they all said they’d meet the next day. We met all day long.
Jim Quello—you saw him in the FCC photograph—was then the
Chairman of the FCC. And one thing I wanted was a press conference. If I saw
they were coming together, I wanted to lock it all in by announcing it. So I called
Jim and said, “Can we come over at two o’clock and meet with you in the
Commission meeting room.” But the meeting dragged past two o’clock because
the proponents were still talking about patent royalties. That’s one issue I didn’t
want to get into.
I said, “You guys figure that out, I’m only dealing with the technology and
what’s good for the country.” So, finally, about 4:30, they all voted to join the
Grand Alliance. I said, “Let’s all go over to the FCC. Chairman Quello will be
So we all kind of signed it in blood, and it was reported in the papers. The
next day the “Grand Alliance,” and they liked that term, was born. But we
weren’t done, we were just starting. It was really not the beginning of the end, it
was the end of the beginning because we had to build the system.
Mr. Jones: And when you say, build the system do you mean build the TV sets?
Mr. Wiley: No, a model TV system based on digital transmission which turned out to have
1080 lines. You’d have to have an engineer explain why it was. It was a very
complex system that had to be built and tested.
Mr. Jones: And is it that the group of seven are still—
Mr. Wiley: The Grand Alliance. They were the Grand Alliance. It was wonderful.
And at one point, we had over a thousand engineers working on this as
volunteers. They were the cream of this nation’s video engineering talent. The
nice thing about the Federal Advisory Committee Act is that we did it all in
public. So, you had a peer review. Some guy would say—I’m making this up—
we need 1080 scanning lines. Well he would have to get up and explain why in
front of his peers.
Mr. Jones: Right.
Mr. Wiley: Way above my pay grade, I can tell you that. And, as we built the various
systems, we’d have technical bake offs—we used to call them—for individual
elements. For example, the audio quality. Phillips and Dolby had competing
concepts. And there was a huge fight over which one was going to be included in
the new system and standard. Somebody accused me of putting a thumb on the
scale for the Dolby system because it was American. I said, “Listen, I don’t play
that way. We want what is best for this country technology-wise. This is for
future generation of American citizens.” Sounds heroic, but I’m just telling you
that’s what I had to do. Having been Chairman and being backed up by the then
Chairman of the FCC, Al Sikes, at the time, I could kind of influence them a little
bit. And, when Dolby did better, it got selected.
Then there was a fight over the modulation technique. Zenith and the
cable industry had different technologies. And so there was a major debate on
that. So, you know, it went on and on and on. But, ultimately, to make a long
story short and not to bore you on this thing, the Grand Alliance system was built,
and tested by our Advisory Committee. Tested in the lab and in the field as well.
But, then, Reed Hundt, the Democratic chairman, wanted something different.
Mr. Jones: Oh no.
Mr. Wiley: He wasn’t especially enamored with high definition. Instead, he wanted so-called
multicasting. And the public television guys told me that they wanted it also.
Mr. Jones: What does that mean?
Mr. Wiley: Our digital system had a through-put of 19.4 million bits per second. Most of the
bits could be used for a single high definition signal. And broadcasting always
had been a one channel service. But the alternative was to break the bitstream up
into four or five channels of standard definition which would be equivalent to
analog television. I said, “Well, why would we want that? We worked all these
years for HDTV.” The public TV reps said, because we want to put on
educational programming during the daytime when nobody cares what the quality
is. We could do a lot of good with that. And, by the way, the commercial stations
could put on a local news channel and a local sports channel—which is exactly
what many are doing.
Mr. Jones: (laugh)
Mr. Wiley: It was too late to test the concept because we had completed all the testing by that
time. But, fortunately, we were able to prepare a technical paper which said that
digital multicasting was feasible, which it has proved to be. Many of the stations
today transmit several multicasting channels. And the beauty of the FCC’s
standard—the Grand Alliance standard—is that you can shift flexibly between
HD and multicasting in different time periods. By the way, progressive versus
interlace scanning—that big fight—all went away because Intel developed a chip
that made it invisible in the television set.
Mr. Jones: It didn’t make any difference.
Mr. Wiley: It didn’t make any difference. We fought about that for years.
Mr. Jones: Now is this all going on at the same time that telecommunications transmissions
are going digital?
Mr. Wiley: Yes. The whole world was going digital—telephone companies were out ahead
of that technical initiative, and I assumed broadcasting had to go digital. By the
way, we also wanted to make the standard accessible to cable and satellite
transmission and, now, telephone (FIOS for Verizon, U Verse for AT&T). So
they all used the same standard for video, and that’s the beauty of it. As
indicated, the FCC’s standard is very flexible, so you can shift in different parts of
the day between high definition—primetime, sports, movies—to standard
definition for educational programs or the local sports channel or the local news
channel during the daytime, when the quality isn’t quite so important.
Mr. Jones: Right. People aren’t watching, they’re just listening while they do other things.
Mr. Wiley: Well, that may be. So, we got it done finally. But, after all those years, it took
the FCC nine torturous months to go through their regulatory process. Chairman
Hundt was concerned about it being a computer standard as well.
And, of course, what is happening today is that the television set and the
computer are merging, and with service to handheld mobile devices as well.
Anyway, we got it all done, and the FCC ultimately adopted the new standard in
December of 1996, and the epic was over for me. I certainly didn’t design the
system. As you can tell, I’m not an engineer, but it was great to be part of the
process and receive an Emmy to boot.
Mr. Jones: The Grand Alliance folks—did they get Emmys as well?
Mr. Wiley: Most of them did and should have. During these nine years, incidentally, I
probably spent fifteen to twenty percent of my time working on the standard.
Mr. Jones: For anybody else that would have been a full-time job.
Mr. Wiley: Yes, well maybe so. Now some weeks you wouldn’t have to worry about it, just a
couple of phone calls. Other weeks it would be almost full-time. There’s a book
written by Joel Brinkley, who was a New York Times reporter and the son of
David Brinkley.
Mr. Jones: Sure. Absolutely.
Mr. Wiley: His book, Defining Vision, tells the whole story. Everything I’ve told you, he tells
in an amusing way. It’s not a technical treatise.
Today, as I said in that DC Bar article, when I hear my neighbors and
friends say, HDTV, isn’t it great? It gives me a lot of personal satisfaction.
Starting the firm and being Chairman of the FCC were wonderful. But if I had to
pick the single thing that has given me the most personal satisfaction, the
achievement of my life, it would have been this one.
Mr. Jones: I can believe that because it has significantly affected every person in the United
Mr. Wiley: Yes, that’s true. The first generation of HDTV sets weren’t very good, and
people were even questioning whether we picked the right standard. And there
was reason to argue that position, because if we had done our work ten years later,
we would have emphasized mobile technology more than we did. We were
thinking, again, of people sitting in front of a great big screen—
Mr. Jones: Right, sitting in front of it.
Mr. Wiley: My vision was a screen that would be hung on a wall which is what many people
have today. Believe it or not, after all this effort, people are working now on what
is called Ultra High Definition. It’s going to be much better. I have seen it at the
London Olympics on a very large screen and in Las Vegas. It’s the next big
thing. So, what you’re going to see is technology continuing to move ahead. And
if there’s any lesson that I needed to learn when I was in my thirties and was FCC
Chairman, which I didn’t fully understand at the time but do now, is that you’ve
got to give technology its head in this country. By the way, it’s moving a lot
faster than it did when we were there. In other words, the standard was set in ’96
and really just fully implemented in the United States in 2009. Within ten years
after that, sometime in this decade, there’ll probably be a new one.
Mr. Jones: A new FCC standard, do you think?
Mr. Wiley: A new standard, maybe, but the only thing that will slow it down is not the
technology; it’s going to be the marketplace. Because people aren’t going to want
to run out and buy another new television receiver too soon.
Ultimately, there will be very high resolution pictures on hand held
devices the kids carry around. You see it now in high definition, and it’ll be even
better. Then, in your home the only thing that’s going to limit the adoption of
ultra high definition is just how big do you want the screen to be, and how big a
home you have. The ultra high definition set I saw had a 100 inch screen. It was
tremendous. But you don’t need it in your house. You need it for motion picture
houses, sports bars and things like that.
Mr. Jones: Or stadiums.
Mr. Wiley: Yes.
Mr. Jones: Is that what they have?
Mr. Wiley: That’s HDTV.
Mr. Jones: That’s still HDTV.
Mr. Wiley: But it’ll be ultra HDTV. The Japanese are working on super high vision, which is
even more.
Mr. Jones: More pixels or more lines?
Mr. Wiley: More pixels. But I think this will not be as revolutionary as the move to HDTV.
One of the other things people are thinking about, of course, is 3D. But they’ve
had trouble with it. I think the answer is you’ve got to have no glasses.
Mr. Jones: Exactly. Exactly.
Mr. Wiley: It’s called stereoscopic 3D, which means no glasses. You can bring the set home
and watch 3D. Everything comes in its time. Our biggest fear in HDTV was that
the sets would not be good enough or the programming wouldn’t be sufficiently
available. Chicken or egg, if you will.
One big advantage we had was Hollywood. Hollywood shot movies in
wide-screen cinematography, which was equivalent to HDTV. So we had a lot of
HD programming in movies. Once the networks began to see that sports in
HDTV would be a big winner, the programming started to come.
Now all prime time is HD. First the ads were not in HD; now they are.
Another thing we had to pick was the dimensions for the new HDTV sets. It’s
16:9. The old picture was more boxy at 5:3. All those decisions were made by
our advisory committee. Incidentally, Hollywood wanted 18:9, but it just didn’t
work with the algorithms that we had.
Mr. Jones: 18:9 would be good for movies?
Mr. Wiley: Movies. But it did not pan out for what we were trying to accomplish. Basically,
we provided leadership. But the standard was developed by engineers. They
could find a solution for every problem. I came away from this experience with
great admiration for them.
Mr. Jones: Were there representatives from all of these represented pieces of the industry?
Mr. Wiley: Yes. The key guy was Joe Flaherty of CBS who’d been the chief engineer back
when I was Chairman of the FCC, so I knew him.
Mr. Jones: Right. And he volunteered too?
Mr. Wiley: They all volunteered. For these guys this was the next frontier.
Mr. Jones: Right. Like going to the moon.
Mr. Wiley: This was quite a technical achievement, and something they are all proud of.
Mr. Jones: So, you had representatives from the various pieces of the industry on the
advisory committee?
Mr. Wiley: Yes.
Mr. Jones: And then you had the proponents of the systems?
Mr. Wiley: Yes, and we had the twenty-five people on the Advisory Committee itself. And
all sorts of committees and subgroups, with co-heads drawn from various
One of the mistakes we made was that the computer companies felt
excluded from the process. They came into the game a little late and we had to
get them assimilated quickly. This progressive versus interlace issue was a big
problem. But, as indicated, it got solved. At the end of the day, pretty much
everybody bought into the new standard so I could go back to practicing law and
running the firm full-time.
Mr. Jones: So, in December ’96, the standard was adopted?
Mr. Wiley: Yes. But then we had to have a transition. There were two major problems.
First, you had to give every broadcaster two channels. Why two channels? You
had to maintain the analog system on one channel while you slowly transitioned
over to digital on the other. And second, what would happen to all the analog sets
in people’s homes when digital comes in?
Mr. Jones: Right.
Mr. Wiley: A lot of people can’t afford a digital set or maybe the digital set isn’t working as
well and they want to use their analog sets. So we proposed converter boxes.
Mr. Jones: Right.
Mr. Wiley: The government ultimately brought into that and largely paid for them. They
spent a couple billion dollars on it. I don’t know whether you have one, but up in
my bedroom I have a little analog set with a converter box. I want to keep it as
sort of a relic, if you will.
Mr. Jones: An antique.
Mr. Wiley: It converted the digital signals (counter intuitively) back to analog so you could
watch it on your analog set. That was really a stopgap thing. Maybe the
government shouldn’t have spent that amount of money, but for a lot of older
people, poorer people, and non-English speaking people, people who were going
to have analog sets, it sufficed.
Mr. Jones: Why would non-English speaking people—
Mr. Wiley: Well, immigrants, who perhaps didn’t have the necessary finances.
Mr. Jones: So it’s just people who don’t have the money to buy?
Mr. Wiley: It’s economics, not a language issue.
Mr. Jones: It happened fairly smoothly, I think.
Mr. Wiley: No.
Mr. Jones: What I mean is—
Mr. Wiley: From the outside looking in you’d say fairly smoothly.
Mr. Jones: Right.
Mr. Wiley: Things happened, even at the very end. The gold standard in broadcasting has
always been VHF, the lower part of the spectrum. UHF was the wild and woolly
area when television first was introduced. You could hardly receive the picture,
and then, over time, it became better and better.
So we assumed all the television stations would want to maintain their
VHF signal. Well, guess what? No engineer predicted it, but when the transition
occurred the VHF signals sometimes were less good. In the digital world the
UHF—the higher band—turned out to be generally better. Who knew? I
certainly didn’t, but that’s what the FCC figured out. So there were a lot of
problems for stations in the early years of the transition.
Mr. Jones: I know that I only saw the very tip-top of the glacier, but my sense was there was
a lot of concern when the government said on such and such day, digital
television. Everybody has to have it. People were, as Americans are, up in arms
that they were being told that they had to do something by such and such date. I
don’t know how to do this. What am I supposed to do? I don’t want to buy
another television. I don’t want to have to pay for cable. And then the
government made the decision to provide the converter boxes—
Mr. Wiley: And the FCC did a wonderful job of going around to various broadcast markets
and educating the people. They would go into markets, and hold seminars; this
was a huge project for the FCC. Much as today, with the switch to broadband,
which is high capacity Internet service.
Mr. Jones: Over the cable wires.
Mr. Wiley: Or telephone.
Mr. Jones: But once it actually happened and people saw HDTV, they said, Wow, that’s
really great.
Mr. Wiley: That was the saving grace. It’s what you could see, right?
Mr. Jones: And people who said, Well, I still don’t want to pay money for a new television,
and I don’t want to pay money for cable, and I don’t want to pay money for this,
they had the option of keeping what they had and they could still watch the
programs that they watched the same way they always watched them.
Mr. Wiley: The converter box program probably didn’t make a lot of sense except from a
fairness standpoint to make sure that it wasn’t only wealthy people who got
digital and others lost the use of their existing sets. It was essential for that period
of time.
Mr. Jones: Absolutely. And, it may not have made sense from a purely economic
perspective or even a policy perspective, but it made tremendous sense from a
public relations standpoint. The process, again, looking at it from the outside,
once it happened, Wow, this is great stuff. We should have done this earlier.
This is wonderful. My wife says that she hopes it doesn’t get any clearer because
when you’re watching a sports broadcast, you can see everything. You can see
the pores in a pitcher’s face as he’s about to pitch.
Mr. Wiley: But it will take some time to see ultra high definition, and you’ll see that TV can
get even better. I think our telephone service is terrific but, with broadband, it’s
going to get better, right? Now, they’re talking about HD voice. And guess what
radio is doing? They are working on HD digital radio, which would not only have
the advantage of clearer reception, but maybe have multiple radio channels which
would give you more capacity.
All this is, again, the inevitable, undeniable march of new technology.
That was something that I didn’t fully appreciate when I was in my thirties and,
therefore, made some mistakes. I now understand that you’ve got to get on the
side of new technology. The United States may not always produce the
equipment—but we have a terrific capacity in software and programming.
Obviously, HDTV wasn’t put into effect in this country fully until 2009. People
were watching it all during the early part of the 2000s, but the changeover, the
transition day, was in June 2009.
Mr. Jones: Right. It was a remarkable thing to witness. Having heard about the effort that
went into it, I wonder to what you attribute the success of the project? Putting
together seven or eight—
Mr. Wiley: It was unlike the European and Japanese systems. Ours wasn’t a top down
system; it was really bottom up where engineers, through peer review and without
government or private sector management or interference, actually were able to
design the “perfect” system or as close to it as we could develop at that time. And
we tested and retested it. We really tried to make sure it worked, because we
didn’t want to screw up people’s television sets. My name would have been mud
in this country.
Mr. Jones: Right.
Mr. Wiley: So, it was a great achievement. Not by me, but a great achievement by all of
those people who worked on it and they feel that way about it. I feel a good
sense, when I’m with them, that this had really been the crowning moment in their
professional lives as it was for me.
Mr. Jones: I can imagine. About how many people, do you think—just a ballpark estimate—
contributed to the successful result?
Mr. Wiley: Over 1,000.
Mr. Jones: All volunteers?
Mr. Wiley: All volunteers. Now there was a core group, a hundred maybe, because all of the
major companies had engineers that were working with us. FCC Chairman Al
Sikes and I agreed on one thing, we were going for the gold. In other words, one
network wanted to have what they called “enhanced definition.” It wouldn’t be
high definition, it simply would be enhanced. I told the National Association of
Broadcasters that this would be like when Technicolor came in, we would settle
for Sepia. No way. I’m a baseball fan, as you know. I watch the Nationals and
the Orioles, and I love watching those games in HD.
Mr. Jones: What I was referring to, I went to a Nationals game and this huge screen that they
have there—
Mr. Wiley: Spectacular.
Mr. Jones: It’s amazing, absolutely amazing. Sometimes you catch yourself at the game
watching the screen. It is amazing, and it’s amazing that it’s so big and still so
Mr. Wiley: That’s HDTV technology. Ultra high definition will be even better.
Mr. Jones: And still big.
Mr. Wiley: Even bigger. Now it’s going to take some years for this to occur, but it’s coming.
Mr. Jones: Did HDTV change require the broadcasters to install new equipment for
Mr. Wiley: Huge. That’s why they are somewhat put off by the thought of yet another
transition coming along because it took so much capital for them to build their
HDTV systems. Even now some of the newsrooms are just getting into HDTV at
the local level. The networks have done it, but they perhaps are in a better
financial condition. HDTV makes the news so much more spectacular, I think.
. Jones: The difference is astonishing. How could we have watched this all those years?
When you doing it, it seemed fine, but now that you’ve seen HD you can’t go
back to the farm.
Mr. Wiley: So that’s the story of Dick Wiley’s life here. Not very enthralling, perhaps, but I
have enjoyed it.
Mr. Jones: No, absolutely enthralling; absolutely enthralling.
Mr. Wiley: Well you’re nice to spend the time you have on this.
Mr. Jones: You’re the only lawyer in Washington with two Emmys, I’m sure of that.
Mr. Wiley: (laugh). Well, that’s probably so. I was trying to figure out some way to get an
Oscar, but I couldn’t do that. (laugh).
Mr. Jones: Well, you know, never say never. It could happen.
Mr. Wiley: Never say never.
Mr. Jones: One of the ironies that you alluded to when you were talking about leaving
Kirkland to start your own firm was that the impetus for your leaving was that
Johnson was going to become the General Counsel of the Midwestern Bell
Company and that created conflicts with your competition carriers, or your
competitive carriers.
Mr. Wiley: Yes.
Mr. Jones: And after ’96 you ended up representing many of the Bell companies. At the
Mr. Wiley: Timing is everything in life.
Mr. Jones: Fair enough. Was Johnson still alive when that happened?
Mr. Wiley: Well, what happened, very ironically was before I left Kirkland & Ellis, Johnson
decided to leave Ameritech and become General Counsel of General Motors.
Mr. Jones: Right.
Mr. Wiley: So the same guy who wrote that article in the Tribune, Jim Warren, who is a very
good reporter, called me and said, “Guess what, he’s leaving. You don’t have to
leave.” And I said, “Jim, we’ve crossed the Rubicon.”
Mr. Jones: That ship has sailed.
Mr. Wiley: We had the firm set up. This was sometime in the winter. I remember it was a
cold night when he called me and I said, “We’re gone on May 1. It’s over.” But
it was tempting to think about it because I had a good experience with Kirkland &
Ellis and I’m a great admirer of that firm.
Mr. Jones: Okay. Well I think that may conclude. If you have additional stories that you
want to tell, we can have another session.
Mr. Wiley: No, I think not. I think I’ve bored you and bored anybody who ever reads this
stuff. But it has been interesting to relive these three stages.
Oral History of Richard E. Wiley
ABC television, 54
Adelphia/Comcast merger, 74
and common ownership, 53–54
and Fairness Doctrine, 40–41
and HDTV transmission, 90
Allen, Rand, 68
American Bar Association, 18, 19
Young Lawyers Section, 19
Ameritech, 64, 65, 74, 98
analog transmission, 76, 79, 80, 81, 86, 91–94
transition from, 91–94, 95
answering machines, 37
antitrust, 19, 22, 24
AT&T divestiture, 44–45, 65
failing company defense, 54
television network violation suit, 55–56
AOL/Time Warner merger, 74
Arlington, Virginia, 66, 69
Army Judge Advocate General’s Corp. See JAG
AT&T, 74
breakup, 44–45, 65
digital transmission, 86
monopoly, 25, 27, 44
telephone equipment, 37–38
transmission standards, 79, 82
See also Baby Bells
Attorney General. See U.S. Attorney General
Baby Bells, 45, 60, 64–65, 98
mergers, 73–74
bankruptcy, 73
Barkley, Robert, 33, 35
Bartlett, Fred, 66
amateur, 13, 14
Chicago professional teams, 3–4
HDTV transmission of games, 96
high school varsity, 3, 5, 6, 7
Northwestern, 6–7, 8
Bazelon, David L., 42, 43
Bell, George, 21, 22
Bell system. See Baby Bells
Belo, 74
Bono, 53
Boulder, Colorado, 13, 14
Brinkley, David, 87
Brinkley, Joel, 87–88
Defining Vision, 88
broadband, 93, 94
broadcast industry, 23, 25
and cable television, 47, 52
children’s programming, 38, 57
competition, 27–28, 29, 33, 46
deregulation, 38, 39, 54
educational programs, 38, 39, 86
Emmy awards, 87, 97
equal employment opportunity, 38–39
Equal Opportunity Doctrine (equal time), 40, 51
failing station rule, 54
Fairness Doctrine, 26, 40–41
family viewing time, 54–56
indecency issue, 41–42, 52–53, 54
information programs, 38, 39, 40
license renewal, 37, 39
and FCC rules violation, 39
Petition to Deny Day, 37
mergers, 74–75
and New Ethic, 39
newspaper cross-ownership, 42–43, 53–54, 75
news programs, 39, 40, 51–52, 97
parental warning, 55
political campaign coverage, 39, 40–41, 54
equal time rules, 40, 51
presidential debates, 40, 47–49, 51–52, 76
self-regulation, 55
standards and guidelines, 39
and technological revolution, 29, 46
digital transmission transition, 91–94, 95
HDTV-multicasting shifting, 86
transmission standards revision, 76–97
See also radio; television
Brunner, Tom, 68–69
Burch, Dean, 22, 24, 25, 26–27, 34
cable TV policy, 46–47
and commissioners, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33
competition policy, 27, 28, 37
and equal employment rules, 38
“open skies” program, 27, 60
Bush, George W., 70–71
cable television, 27, 28, 46–47, 94
indecency issue, 52–53
transmission standards, 77, 78, 85, 86
Captain Kangaroo, 38
Carlin, George, “seven dirty words,” 41
Carter, Amy, 50
Carter, Jimmy, 40, 48–51, 58, 65
CATV (Community Antenna Television), 27–28
CBS network, 54, 55, 60, 65
digital transmission, 79
engineering, 91
and Federal Advisory Committee, 77, 91
mergers, 74, 75
CD Radio, 74–75
cellular telephones, 28–29
Chadwell, Keck, Kayser, Ruggles & McLaren, 19, 20, 21, 22
Chicago, 1–2, 5, 19–21, 22, 24, 33
baseball teams, 3–4
Kirkland & Ellis office, 64, 65
law firms, 19, 21, 59
newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership, 42
and telephone industry, 44
Chicago Cubs, 3, 4
Chicago Tribune, 42, 66, 98
Chicago White Sox, 3, 4
and family viewing hour, 54–56
and indecent language, 41–42, 52
and television programming, 38, 57
Civiletti, Benjamin, 61
civil procedure law, 13, 14
classical music format, 43
COMA (Court of Military Appeals), 16
Comcast/Adelphia merger, 74
Comiskey Park (Chicago), 3–4
Commodities Futures Trading Commission, 67
Communications Act (1934), 73
Communications Act (1996). See Telecommunications Act
communications industry
and competition, 27–28, 37–38, 46, 53–54
early 1970s components, 23, 25
interconnection standards, 38
and mergers, 73–75
multiple aspects, 54
“open skies” program, 27, 60
technological revolution, 27–29, 33
See also telecommunications; transmission standards; specific types of
communications law, 22–23, 24–26, 59–63, 67, 69, 71, 72–75
and conflicts-of-interest, 63, 64–66, 98
and mergers, 73–75
Community Antenna Television. See CATV
computer industry, 77, 79, 83, 91, 93
See also Internet
COMSAT (satellite communication), 27, 60, 75
Congress, U.S., 26, 76
and FCC policies, 46, 47, 54
and indecency issue, 41, 52
See also Senate, U.S.
Constitutional Accountability Center, 58
Consumer Protection Bureau, 22
Cooper Carvin, 72
Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. See U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia Circuit
Court of Military Appeals, 16
courts martial, 16
cross examination, 18
Crowell & Moring, 68
DC Circuit. See U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Democratic Party, 39
FCC appointees, 30, 31, 32–33, 35, 45, 47, 48, 49, 57, 58, 85
Department of Justice. See Justice Department, U.S.
deregulation, 38, 39, 46, 50, 54
digital transmission, 79–97
Grand Alliance of systems, 82–87
model, 84
and multicasting, 85–86
transition to, 91–94, 95
UHF signal, 93
See also HDTV
District of Columbia. See U.S. Court of appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit;
Washington, DC
District of Columbia Bar Association, 76, 88
DLA Piper, 68–69
Dolby audio, 85
Dow Lohnes, 59
draft, 11, 16
educational programming, 38, 39, 86
Emmy awards, 87, 97
equal employment opportunity, 38–39
Equal Opportunity Doctrine (equal time), 40, 51
Ethics in Government Act (1978), 49
Europe, broadcast transmission system, 76, 79, 80, 81, 95
failing company defense, 54
Fairness Doctrine, 26, 40–41
family viewing hour, 54–56
FCC. See Federal Communications Commission
Federal Advisory Act (1972), 76–77, 84
Federal Advisory Committee, 76–97
achievement, 95–97
adoption of new standard, 91, 95
competition and testing, 78–79, 85, 95
Grand Alliance of systems, 82–87
industry representation, 77, 90–91
structure, 78, 91
Federal Bar Association, 18
Federal Communications Commission
appellate work, 26, 42, 43, 72
bipartisanship, 48
and censorship, 38, 39, 55–56
chairmen, 76, 83, 84, 85, 87, 96
See also Burch, Dean; Wiley, Richard E.
commissioners, 29, 31–34, 35, 40, 57–58
female/minority appointees, 30, 33, 45
seven, 25–26
and competition, 27, 28, 37, 43–44, 46, 53–54
and deregulation, 38, 39, 46, 50, 54
exemptions to regulations, 52, 54
General Counsel, 22–23, 24–30, 47
and indecency issues, 41–42, 52–53, 54
Petition to Deny Day, 37
policymaking, 26–27, 28, 33, 35–37, 75
and presidential debates, 40, 47–49, 51–52, 76
programming suggestions, 38, 39
and technological revolution, 27–29, 33, 88–89
transmission standard revision (Federal Advisory Committee), 76–97
analog-to digital conversion, 91–94
Grand Alliance standard, 86, 87
Federal Trade Commission, 21–22, 24
Fielding, Fred, 69, 70–71
FIOS, 86
First Amendment, 55–56
Flaherty, Joseph A., 91
“fleeting expletive” policy, 53
Ford, Gerald, 35, 40, 48, 50, 51, 66
Friends of the Earth case, 26
Gannett newspapers, 74
Geller, Henry, 22, 23, 25, 40, 47–48
General Electric, 15
General Instruments, 79, 80, 81
General Motors, 98
Georgetown Law School, 18
GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test), 10, 15
Grassley, Chuck, 32
Graves, Robert, 82
Greene, Harold H., 65, 73
Gross, David, 73
Grow, Milton, 8, 9, 10, 15
GTE, 60, 74
Habicht, Henry, 61
hand-held devices, 89
Hart, Stevens & Rothschild, 11–12
Harvard Business School, 10, 11, 15–16
Harvard Law School, 8, 9
HDTV (high-definition television), 78–79, 83, 85, 88–97
capability for shift to multicasting, 86
transition day (2009), 95
ultra high definition, 88, 89, 94, 96–97
HD voice, 94–95
high-definition television. See HDTV
Hogan & Hartson, 59, 66
Hollywood, 55, 90
Hooks, Benjamin, 32, 33, 35, 45–46, 47, 50
Hooks, Frances, 31
Hundt, Reed, 85, 87
Illinois, 30–31, 33
See also Chicago
indecency issue, 41–42, 52–53, 54
and federal criminal statute, 41
“fleeting expletive” policy, 53
test case, 41–42
Infinity/CBS merger, 75
Intel, 86
Intelsat, 75
interconnection standards, 38
interlaced scanning, 83, 86, 91
international communications, 72, 73
Internet, 33, 53
switch to broadband, 93
Iowa, 32
Ivy League schools, 5, 6, 8
JAG Corps (Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps), 11, 12, 16–19, 62
Japan, broadcast transmission system, 76, 78–79, 80, 81, 89, 95
John Marshall Law School (Chicago), 20
Johnson, Elmer, 64–65, 98
Johnson, Nicholas, 32
Johnson, Philip, 67, 69
JP Morgan, 73, 75
jury selection, 18–19
Justice Department, U.S., 19, 56
Reagan transition team, 61–63
See also antitrust
Karmazin, Mel, 74–75
Kennedy, John F., 17
Kenosha Chiefs (amateur baseball team), 13
Kingsbury Commitment (1913), 45
Kirkland & Ellis, 50, 58, 59–66, 67–68, 69, 97–98
Latham & Watkins, 66
Law School Aptitude Test. See LSAT
Lazarus, Sy, 50
League of Women Voters, 51
Lear, Norman, 55–56
Lee, Rex, 32–33
Lightner, Lionel, 6, 7, 8
long distance phone service, 25, 45
Los Angeles, 60, 61
U.S. District Court, 55–56
LSAT (Law School Aptitude Test), 8, 9–10
Malone, John, 46
McBride, Andrew, 72
McCaw, Craig, 74
McClellan, John, 50–51
McGowan Bill, 43–44, 46
McGraw Edison, 1
MCI, 43–44
McLaren, Dick, 19, 22
media. See specific types
mergers, 73–75, 81
Midnight Blue (cable TV program), 52
Midwestern Bell. See Ameritech
Minow, Newton, 40, 47
Misener, Paul, 82
MIT, 79, 80, 83
mobile technology
early model, 28–29
high resolution, 88, 89
monopolies, 25, 27, 65
AT&T breakup, 44–45
Moore, James William, 13, 14
Morgan Lewis, 69
Motorola, 28–29, 60
movies, wide-screen cinematography, 90
Mr. Roberts Neighborhood, 38
multicasting, 85–86
Munger, Tolles & Olson, 56
Murdoch, Rupert, 77
MUSE system, 78–79, 81
National Association of Broadcasters, 38–39, 78, 96
NBC television, 54
Neustadt, Richard, 50
Newspaper Association of America, 60, 73, 75
broadcast cross-ownership, 42–43, 53–54, 75
mergers, 74, 75
news programming, 39, 40, 97
presidential debates as, 51–52
New Trier High School (Winnetka, IL), 3, 4–7
academic excellence, 5, 7
influential teacher, 6, 7
varsity baseball team, 3, 5
NHK (Japanese company), 79
Nixon, Richard M., 20–22, 32, 66
FCC appointments, 29–30, 34–35, 57
1968 election campaign, 20–21
resignation, 35
Northwestern Law School, 8–9, 11–13, 19–20
FCC commissioner graduates, 40
Northwestern University, 6–8, 10
obscenity definition, 41
“open skies” program, 27, 60
Pacifica case, 42
PacTel, 73–74
Pastore, John, 47
Patrick, Dennis, 76, 77
Patton Boggs, 68, 70
Pearlman, Jerry, 81–82
Pennsylvania, 27
appellate division, 16–17
legal assistance, 17–18
Peoria, Illinois, 1, 2, 20
Percy, Charles, 30–31, 33
Philadelphia, 27
Phillips, 79, 85
Piper Marbury. See DLA Piper
Pittsburgh, 27
political campaigns, 39, 40–41, 54
equal time doctrine, 40, 51
presidential debates broadcasts, 40, 47–49, 51–52, 76
presidential election of 1968, 20–21, 29–30
presidential election of 1976, 40, 49, 51, 76
presidential election of 1980, 61
profanity definition, 41
progressive scanning, 83, 86, 91
public television, 85–86
Quello, James, 35, 83, 84
format changes, 43
HD digital, 95
newspaper cross-ownership, 42–43, 53–54
satellite, 74–75
RCA, 79
Reagan, Ronald, 61–63, 69, 72
Regional Bell Operating Company. See Baby Bells
Reid, Charlotte, 32, 35, 57
Rein, Bert, 65, 66–67, 68, 72
Renfro, Charles, 61
Republican Party
election candidates, 39
FCC commissioners, 31, 32, 33, 35, 46, 48
Illinois, 30–31, 33
National Convention (Miami, 1968), 20–21
Young Lawyers Section, 20–21
Robinson, Glenn, 35, 57
Rumsfeld, Donald, 79
rural areas
telephone service, 45
television service, 27
St. Louis, 44
Sarnoff Laboratories, 79
satellite communication, 27, 37, 60
digital transmission, 86
mergers, 74–75
Secrest, Larry, 75–76
Senate, U.S., 30, 31, 32
Senkowski, R. Michael (“Mike”), 76
Shields, Peter, 71
Sidley Austin, 65
Sikes, Alfred C. (“Al”), 85, 96
Sirius/XM merger, 74–75
Skadden Arps, 59, 66, 69
Smith, William French, 61–63
Southwestern Bell, 45, 74
specialized common carriers (telephone), 27, 37, 44
HDTV broadcasts, 88, 89, 90, 94, 96
See also baseball; tennis
Standard Oil, 68
Starr, Ken, 61
State Department, U.S., 73
stereoscopic 3D, 90
Stevens, John Paul, 10–11
Strauss, Barry, 68, 69, 71–72
Sturm, John, 75
Supreme Court, U.S., 72
indecency standards, 42, 53
newspaper/radio cross-ownership ruling, 43
Taylor, Arthur, 55
technological revolution, 27–29, 33, 37–38, 60, 63
and competition, 46
and transmission standards, 76–97
analog transition, 91–94
and competition, 37
digital transmission, 86–87
See also specific types
Telecommunications Act (1996), 37, 73
telegraph, 23, 25
telephone industry, 23, 60, 64–65, 74
antitrust suit, 44–45, 65
and competition, 25, 27, 28, 29, 33, 37–38, 43–46
digital transmission, 86
equipment, 37–38, 45
mobile devices, 28–29, 88, 89
monopoly, 25, 27, 44, 65
service revolution, 45
technology, 28–29, 37–38, 46, 94
analog transmission, 76, 79, 80, 81, 86, 91–94
CATV (community antenna), 27–28
children’s programming, 38, 57
digital model, 84–85, 86
extent of FCC regulation, 51–53
family viewing time, 54–56
high-definition. See HDTV
multicasting, 85–86
network antitrust suit, 55–56
newspaper cross-ownership, 42–43, 53–54
technology, 28, 78–89
VHF vs. UHF signal, 93
television sets, 77, 79, 86, 88
analog, 91–94
changing technology, 88–89
converter boxes, 92, 94
HDTV dimensions, 90
screen size, 88, 89
tennis, 12, 50, 62
Texas Instruments, 60, 63
3D transmission, 90
Time Warner/AOL merger, 74
Tisch, Laurence (“Larry”), 77
transmission standards, 76–97
adoption (1996), 91
audio quality, 85
engineer development, 90
Grand Alliance of systems, 82–87
international competition, 78–80
laboratory testing, 78, 80, 81, 85
modulation technique, 85
progressive vs. interlace scanning, 83, 86, 91
transition period, 91–94
Tribune Company bankruptcy, 73
Twentieth Century Fox, 60
UHF signal, 93
ultra high definition, 88, 89, 94, 96–97
United Citizens for Nixon/Agnew, 21
United States Court for the Armed Services, 16
University of Chicago Law School, 20
University of Colorado, 13–14
University of Michigan Law School, 8
University of Virginia, 11
University of Virginia Law School, 35, 57
U.S. Associate Attorney General, 62–63, 72
U.S. Attorney General, 61–63
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 26, 42, 43
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 56–57
U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, 55–56
U Verse, 86
Van Zandt, David, 12
Verizon, 74, 86
Verrill, Chuck, 68
VHF signal, 93
Viacom, 74
Vietnam War, 20
voir dire process, 18–19
Walker, Helgi, 72
Wallace, Jim, 67, 68
Wall Street Journal, 60
Warren, James (“Jim”), 98
Washburn, Abbott, 35
Washington, DC, 16–17, 21, 22, 23, 24
Kirkland & Ellis office, 59–60, 63, 67–68
law firm size, 70
sports teams, 4, 96
Wiley Rein practice, 67–96
Washington Lawyer, 76, 88
Washington Nationals, 96
Washington Redskins, 4
Washington University (St. Louis), 6
Watergate, 49
Weinberger, Caspar, 21–22
Wells, Bob, 29
Western Union, 25
Westinghouse, 74
WGN (broadcast station), 42
White House counsel, 69, 70–71
Wiley, Betty (wife), 21, 22, 23, 24
friendships, 31, 71
and husband’s private practice, 49, 50, 51, 59, 62
marriage, 19
Wiley, Gerald H. (brother), 2
Wiley, Jean (mother), 1, 2, 7
Wiley, Joseph H. (father), 1
belief in higher education, 2, 7
Republican politics, 20
Wiley, Joseph H., Jr. (brother), 2
Wiley, Richard E. — Personal
Arlington (VA) home, 66, 69
and baseball, 3–4, 5, 6–7, 8, 13, 14, 96
birthplace, 1
brothers, 2
and draft, 11, 16
energy and enthusiasm, 72
father, 1, 2, 7, 20
friendships, 5, 31, 50, 57, 71
Georgetown Law School master’s degree, 18
important influences, 6, 8, 9, 15, 21–22
JAG Corps, 11, 12, 16–19, 62
law school applications
Ivy League acceptances, 8, 10
LSAT performance, 8, 9–10
Northwestern scholarship, 8–9, 10
MBA plans, 10–11, 15–16
GMAT score, 10, 15
Harvard Business School acceptance, 10, 11, 15–16
mother, 1, 7
New Trier High School, 3, 4–6, 7
influential teacher, 6
varsity baseball, 3, 6
year graduated, 3
Northwestern Law School, 8–9, 11, 13–14, 40
alumni activity, 9
memorable experiences, 11–13
scholarship, 8
University of Colorado summer course, 13–14
Northwestern University, 6–8
academic achievements, 6, 7, 10
attendance at young age, 6, 7
baseball team, 6, 7
factors in choice, 6
major subjects, 10
sports interests, 3–4, 5, 6–7, 8
teaching career plan, 7, 8, 15
and tennis, 12, 50, 62
wife and children, 21, 22, 23, 24, 31
See also Wiley, Betty
Winnetka home town, 2–6, 9
Wiley, Richard E. — Professional
and antitrust law, 24
and appellate work, 16–18, 72
career turning point, 22
Chadwell, Keck, Kayser, Ruggles & McLaren (Chicago), 19, 20
partner, 21, 22, 49, 60–61
and communications law, 22–23, 24–26, 59, 60–61, 62, 63, 65, 71, 72–73
and complex transactions, 73–74
Emmy awards, 87, 97
Federal Communications Commission
Chairman, 34–58, 62, 64, 88–89
aides, 75–76
and Carter administration, 48–51, 65
cases, 41–43, 53
equal employment rules, 38–39
and First Amendment violation suit, 55–57
goals setting, 35–39
initiatives, 43–45
love for job, 49, 65, 71, 75
mistakes, 54–58
as Nixon appointee, 34–35
relationships with commissioners, 31–33, 57–58
resignation, 51, 59
speeches, 38
and technological revolution, 28, 95
Commissioner, 29–34
activism, 31–32
goals setting, 35–36
travel and speechmaking, 34
duration of service, 62
Federal Advisory Committee, 76–97
Grand Alliance transmission standard, 86, 87
General Counsel, 22–30, 32
activities, 25–27
duration of office, 22–27, 29
open door approach, 26
preparation for job, 24–25
unhappiness at leaving, 65
financial situation, 49, 60, 63–65, 66
and HDTV achievement, 88
JAG Pentagon division, 16–19, 62
appellate law, 16–18
legal assistance work, 17–18
Kirkland & Ellis, 50, 58, 59–68
clients, 60–61, 62
conflicts-of-interest problem, 63, 64–68, 69, 71, 73, 97–98
forced departure, 66–68, 97–98
managing partner, 59–60, 68
Washington, DC, office, 59–60, 63, 67–68
legal writing and research, 18–19
political instincts, 78
public service interest, 62, 76–78
and Reagan Justice Department transition, 61–63
and Republican politics, 20–21, 30, 48, 61–63
starting own firm, 66, 67, 97
See also Wiley Rein
teaching law, 15, 19–20
Wiley Rein, 67–96, 98
administrative staff, 68, 69, 71–72
appellate practice, 72
clients, 68–69
communications lawyers, 71–72
culture, 70
current size, 69, 70
expert team, 75–76
founding and offices, 67
goal and vision, 69–70
and large complex transactions, 73–74
management, 71
and mergers, 73–74
partners, 67, 69, 70–71, 76
as Wiley, Johnson & Rein, 67–68
as Wiley, Rein & Fielding, 69
Winnetka, Illinois, 2–6, 9
wireless communication, 28, 72, 74
Wirtz, Willard, 11, 12
World Series, 4
Wrigley field, 3
Xerox Corporation, 60, 63
Xerox Development Corporation, 60, 63
XM/Sirius merger, 74–75
Yale Law School, 8, 14
Young Lawyers Speak (ABA publication), 18, 19
Zenith, 79, 81–82, 85
Oral History of Richard E. Wiley
Communications Commission v. Pacifica 436 U.S. 775 (1978), 42
FCC v. Fox Television Stations, Inc. 556 U.S. 502 (2012), 53
Friends of the Earth v. FCC, 449 F.2d 1164 (D.C. Cir. 1971), 26