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Part:         Session:         Page of 512

VJD
Part IV, Session #2
Interviewee: John B. Oakes
Interviewer: Mary Marshall Clark
Location: New York, New York
Date: December 23, 1996

Q:

We're doing a little addendum on the Op-Ed page today, although it's been discussed previously. But we want to bring it up to date, partly because of the situation in which Harrison Salisbury has, in writing, taken somewhat credit for the origination of the page, and we wanted to address that issue.

Oakes:

I simply am saying that after quite a lot of years, I've gotten quite fed up with the idea that Harrison or, actually, [James] “Scotty” Reston, as I've recently discovered -- Scotty, perhaps less explicitly, but he still took a good deal of credit for originating the Op-Ed page. I never had realized that until recently.

Q:

Is this in his book Deadline?

Oakes:

In the book Deadline, yes. Harrison had done it earlier. There's nothing more embarrassing, in my view, than having a public -- or even private -- squabble over credit for some idea, yet I have been rather distressed to find that my own, many-year struggle to get the Op-Ed page into the Times was totally overlooked by Salisbury and Reston, who certainly knew better. In Harrison's case, the fact is that Harrison was named the first editor of the Op-Ed page, under my supervision, named by me, actually, although it certainly was done at Punch [Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr.]'s insistence. That's true.



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