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John B. OakesJohn B. Oakes
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at the Times, news department executives, as well as whatever others came in, were very critical of the editorial position as being much too dove-ish, to use the phrase of that period. The only specific thing that I can report on that is something that I think I have already mentioned in a previous session, and that was a letter that the then foreign editor of the Times [Sydney Gruson], on a trip to Southeast Asia to figure out what was happening -- It was certainly after Punch had become publisher, which was '63. Gruson wrote a letter from Vietnam to the publisher, complaining strongly about our editorial position, which was very heavily critical at that time of the Diem government. This would have had to have been in-

Q:

In '63.

Oakes:

-- in '63. In any case, he wrote a letter to Punch that Punch was kind enough [laughing] to pass on to me, strongly criticizing our editorial position and reflecting, obviously, Syd Gruson's letter, obviously reflecting the view of the American Embassy in Saigon, as well as of the American military there. Syd Gruson, by the way, was a quite left- leaning liberal politically, but for whatever reason he seems to have been snowed by what he heard from the embassy and from the military, who, of course, were highly critical of our editorial position that early because we were so anti -- so critical of the Vietnamese government that we, the United States, were beginning to spend blood, particularly, as well as sweat and tears, in defending. And so anyway, that was one specific case of high-level internal sniping at our early pro-peace editorial position. My impression is that quite a few of the other top news executives -- despite the stories that our excellent correspondents and the news people generally, including the AP, as I remember were filing from Vietnam -- my strong impression is that none of the news executives were at all supportive of our dove-ish



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