In 1904, The New York Times, along with The Times received the first on-the-spot wireless telegraph transmission from a naval battle, a report of the destruction of the Imperial Russian Navy's Baltic Fleet at the Battle of Port Arthur in the Straits of Tsushima off the eastern coast of Korea in the Yellow Sea in the western Pacific Ocean after just sailing across the globe from Europe from the press-boat Haimun during the Russo-Japanese War. Airplane Edition" was sent by plane to Chicago so it could be in the hands of Republican convention delegates by evening.
It was a jab at competing papers such as Joseph Pulitzer's New York World and William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal which were now being known for a lurid, sensationalist and often inaccurate reporting of facts and opinions known by the end of the century as "yellow journalism".
Because of the high burden of proof on the plaintiff, and difficulty in proving malicious intent, such cases by public figures rarely succeed. On June 30, 1971, the Supreme Court held in a 6–3 decision that the injunctions were unconstitutional prior restraints and that the government had not met the burden of proof required.
In 1971, the Pentagon Papers, a secret United States Department of Defense history of the United States' political and military involvement in the Vietnam War from 1945 to 1967, were given ("leaked") to Neil Sheehan of The New York Times by former State Department official Daniel Ellsberg, with his friend Anthony Russo assisting in copying them. The justices wrote nine separate opinions, disagreeing on significant substantive issues.
One of the earliest public controversies it was involved with was the Mortara Affair, the subject of twenty editorials it published alone.
The main office of The New York Times was attacked during the New York Draft Riots.