The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Saturday, February 05, 2005
 

New York Times, JFK, and Cuba - again


[This little run of Times in the 60s pieces: January 30, ditto, February 4, February 5, ditto.]

An interesting-looking Atlantic Monthly piece - not available online [1] - Managed News: Our Peacetime Censorship by Hanson Baldwin from April 1963 noted in this bibliography:
A criticism of the news management policy of the Kennedy administration, which Baldwin charges with increased centralization and restriction of government news and with using such devices as dispensing "exclusive" stories to favored papers, arranging for high-level "leaks," using FBI agents to trace unplanned "leaks," and, during the Cuban crisis, the use of news blackout and deliberate falsehood.

Sounds familiar? Reports of Bush exceptionalism in media control are, it seems, greatly exaggerated [2]. When a particular line of argument or factual claim suits the book of both sides in a dispute, one needs to be especially cautious! Both Bushies and DEWDROPs would have us believe that Bush's ability to pull media strings is utterly unprecedented. I'd say that proposition needs checking out. Baldwin's piece might be a good place to start.

The Spanish thesis I discussed on February 4 mentions that Kennedy, in a letter of May 28 1963 to the widow of Orville Dryfoos [3],
elogi[ó] sus dos actuaciones, particularmente la tenida en el asunto de los misiles cubanos, con una información que solo él poseía. Una decision esta última
que hizo mas efectivas nuestras acciones posteriores y que contrbuyó grandemente a nuestra seguridad nacional.
Letters of condolence tend to say nice things about the deceased; interesting that JFK puts self-censorship under the heading of nice.

Arthur Sylvester, in a presser on October 30 1962, said [4]
the results justify the methods we use

Was there a Rummy smirk there? I suspect not.

  1. The Atlantic used to have a great free archive of past articles added to each month with pieces of relevance to that month's news. Now the site is pay-only. I'm not sure whether Baldwin's piece was in the archive.

  2. On the Mark Twain quote -
    The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.
    - one has an It ain't necessarily so corrective. Which is itself subject to the same word of caution, of course!

  3. Page 210a, referring to Dryfoos' self-censorship of the Tad Szulc April 7 1961 Cuban invasion article, and a missiles article spiked by James Reston in October 1962.

  4. Page 217a: back-translation. Note 59 (p242a) refers to a scheme whereby both DOD and State officials reported all media contacts to their superiors, except where a 'minder' was present. This scheme lasted in the Pentagon until 1967, it says.


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