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Part:         Session:         Page of 512

Part IV, Session #3
Interviewee: John B. Oakes
Interviewer: Mary Marshall Clark
Location: New York, New York
Date: June 24, 1997

Q:

Today is June 24th, 1997, and this is an interview with John Oakes. My name is Mary Marshall Clark, and this interview is for the Oral History Collection at Columbia University. I wanted to talk to you today about the New York Times' editorial positions on Vietnam. In just doing some general reading, it's interesting, for example, I came across a letter to the editor that you had written in response to Arthur [M.] Schlesinger [Jr.]'s review of a book on Vietnam in which the Times was described, in Schlesinger's words, as “rather hawkish,” early on. I found that in contradiction to some of the early articles that I was reading as early as early 1963, when the Times began to question -- one of the articles was “What's Wrong in Vietnam?” There were a series of articles early in '63 on the Buddhist dilemma, the internal conflict in Vietnam. I would just like for you to characterize your thinking in that period on Vietnam and how your thinking was formed.

Oakes:

Right. We're talking about 1963.

Q:

Yes. But you can go back before that if you like.

Oakes:

To go back even -- after all, I only became editor of the page in '61. I would say that in the period in the early '60s I felt, as the paper felt, I felt very uncomfortable about the original position, basic position of the United States adamantly opposing the recognition of China, the admission of China to the UN. This is related, really, to the subsequent development in Vietnam. One of the first things I did when I became editor was succeed in



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