Reston, James B.
July 1966
Foreign Affairs;Jul1966, Vol. 44 Issue 4, p553
This article examines the interrelationship among the press, the president and the formulation of foreign policy in the U.S. The United States had a press before it had a foreign policy. This is a large part of the trouble between its writers and its officials today. The natural and historical differences between the American diplomat and the American reporter are still the main cause of their present trouble. The American diplomat before the Second World War was trained in the days of our isolation to be a silent observer of world affairs. The conduct of foreign policy is a process that never ends; the production of a newspaper or a television news program is a miracle that has to be accomplished somehow on the split second. There has been a decline, too, in recent years in the relations between the experts in the U.S. State Department and the reporters. The reason for this is that the experts know the President likes to dominate public announcements and are afraid that they might disclose something that would detonate his temper. And since the most useful information comes, not from the top leaders, but from the men who brief the leaders, this chokes down a very valuable stream of information.


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