Hugh Hefner Foundation to Honor First Amendment Defenders, Raise Awareness of Threats to Free Speech and Free Press During

40th Anniversary of Awards

Hugh M. Hefner Foundation Honors First Amendment Defenders


Washington, DC – (September 24, 2020) – The Hugh M. Hefner Foundation will honor eight individuals at their First Amendment Awards event on October 19, 2020. Hosted annually, the First Amendment Awards recognize individuals who have taken outstanding action to protect and enhance First Amendment rights. This year, the Foundation, along with our honorees and supporters, will gather virtually.


“In these times of social justice protest and political polarization, more than ever, Americans have a civic interest in exercising their First Amendment rights with passion and vigor,” said Christie Hefner, founder and chairman of the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards. “Free speech, a free press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion are the cornerstone values of our democracy. But, those who exercise these rights increasingly find themselves under threat.  However, these attacks also reaffirm why it’s critical to recognize and honor some of these brave defenders. I’m proud that each year the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation recognizes everyday Americans who refuse to be censored, and who fight to ensure that threats against the First Amendment do not go unchallenged.”


The Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards were established in 1979 by Christie Hefner to honor her father’s lifelong commitment to defending the First Amendment. The Foundation has recognized over 150 free speech advocates at their annual awards events. A complete list of previous award winners and judges can be found here.


The 2020 honorees are:

  • Law: David E. McCraw, Deputy General Counsel of The New York Times, for his book Truth in Our Times: Inside the Fight for Press Freedom in the Age of Alternative Facts. McCraw has led the Times fight for freedom of information since 2002. From Chelsea Manning’s leaks to Trump’s tax returns, McCraw is central to the paper’s ability to fulfill the public’s right to know.

  • Book Publishing: Andrea Dennis & Erik Nielson, Authors, for their book Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics, and Guilt in America, a groundbreaking exposé about the alarming use of rap lyrics as criminal evidence to convict and incarcerate young men of color.

  • Journalism: Omar Jimenez, Journalist and CNN Correspondent, for representing the power of consummate professionalism during his on-camera arrest while covering the George Floyd protests in Minnesota.

  • Arts & Entertainment: Christina Clusiau & Shaul Schwarz, Documentary Filmmakers, for their successful battle to overcome the US government’s attempts at censoring their film, “Immigration Nation,” and delaying its release until after the November Presidential election.

  • Education: Michael Frazier, student at the University of Kentucky, LGBTQ and First Amendment Rights Activist, for working to eliminate free speech zones on campus and successfully leading the effort to draft and enact the bipartisan Kentucky Campus Free Speech Protection Act.

  • Lifetime Achievement: Ira Glasser, Former Director of the ACLU, for his fierce defense of freedom of speech and expression during his 23-year tenure as Executive Director of the ACLU. He is widely recognized as building the robust infrastructure that is today’s ACLU.  By the time Ira retired, the ACLU had a $30 million endowment, offices in every state, and was more powerful than ever. Additionally, he saw earlier than most the disproportionate racial consequences of the War on Drugs.


After a public call for nominations issued by the Foundation, the awardees were selected by two independent judges:


  • Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., Partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, and global Co-Chair of the firm's Litigation Group. Boutrous received the 2019 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award in the Law category for his work on behalf of CNN and Jim Acosta in connection with the restoration of Acosta's White House press credentials after the White House suspended Acosta’s press access. Boutrous also received the 2020 Freedom of Press Award from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Distinguished Leadership Award by PEN America in 2019 for his leadership in advancing rights and protecting freedom of expression.

  • Kyle Pope, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review, a magazine for professional journalists that is published by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. The Columbia Journalism Review is referred to as “the voice of journalism.” Pope previously served as deputy editor of Conde Nast’s late Portfolio magazine, editor in chief of The New York Observer, and as a reporter, foreign correspondent, and editor during his decade-long career at The Wall Street Journal. In 2017, Pope testified before Congress about threats to the press.




About the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation:

The Hugh M. Hefner Foundation was established to work on behalf of individual rights in a democratic society.  The primary focus of the foundation is to support organizations that advocate for and defend civil rights and civil liberties with special emphasis on First Amendment rights and rational sex and drug policies.