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Part:         Session:         Page of 512

Part III, Session #3
Interviewee: Mr. John B. Oakes
Interviewer: Louis M. Starr
Location: New York, New York
Date: February 15, 1978

Q:

Suppose we start out on this February 15th session by your giving a little - you've told us what will in effect be Appendix I, the supersonic controversy.

Oakes:

This was an exchange of memos.

Q:

These will be right in the memoir itself, as Appendix I. What I'd like you to tell me now, you mentioned yourself that Eugene Black was perhaps in the picture but you couldn't be certain; what led you to believe that?

Oakes:

Well, the reason that I think this, and there's nothing particularly sinister about it at all, it's just interesting, is that I believe that Punch probably got steamed up on our supersonic, anti-supersonic position, I suspect that he was steamed up by Gene Black, who was very close to the Sulzbergers, and at that time he may even have been a director of the Times. I'm not sure of that. It could easily be ascertained. But I think he probably was. He was very active in the supersonic controversy, and in fact, we quoted from a report of his in the editorial that we finally produced, after Punch raised the question of our reversing our position. We went through about a month's discussion, as these memos showed, and worked out an editorial that was perfectly satisfactory to me and to my associate, Murray Rossant, who was the prime writer and authority on this subject, and one that was of course ultimately satisfactory to Punch also. The sudden announcement to me in March



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