Deadline: A Memoir

Reston, James

Random House, 1991

pp. 309-310

President Lyndon B. Johnson dragged the U.S.A. deeper and deeper into the Vietnam war.  He didn’t want to be the first President to lose a war.  He became paranoid about his opposition, whether it was professors at major universities, or “Negroes” influenced by Martin Luther King, or Bobby Kennedy, or major news outlets, or columnists within them.  As he said to Doris Kearns Goodwin in a taped interview, “then the Communists stepped in.  They control the three networks, you know, and the forty major outlets of communication.”  He especially savaged newspaper columnists.  He thought they were always angling for Pulitzer Prizes and could hope to win one only by writing columns opposing the President’s convictions and policies.  He claimed the columnists were sheep who followed Walter Lippman and James Reston.  “And isn’t it funny,” he said to Kearns Goodwin, “that you could always find [the Soviet Ambassador] Dobrynin’s car in front of Reston’s house the night before Reston delivered a blast on Vietnam?”