‘Without Damaging The Extremely Delicate Balance Of The Negotiations’ – July 6, 1951

Everybody had some 'splainin' to do.

Everybody had some ‘splainin’ to do.

– CBS Radio – Edward R. Murrow News With Don Hollenbeck – July 6, 1951 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

News for this day 64 years ago had much to do with the situation in Korea and the Red Scare that went along with it.

Starting with reports that the U.S. was canceling all tariff concessions on goods shipped from Russia, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Rumania, effectively cutting off U.S. dollars to those Communist countries. Following shortly were to be Czechoslovakia and China, just as soon as the legal steps were figured out.

Just what this action would mean in dollars and cents to businesses and exporters in those effected Communist countries was impossible to figure out at this early stage. Since the governments listed in the embargo exercised trade monopolies anyway, they would continue shipping goods at the higher costs. The logical effect would be to raise the prices of some Communist goods sold in America, making it more difficult for them to compete with similar items produced in the U.S. – but some felt it would have a negligible affect, since those being able to afford higher prices wouldn’t care anyway.

As long as Communist countries were being hit economically, the State Department sent two more notes demanding that Russia stop stalling on the settlement of its long overdue $11 billion lend-lease account – to return at once 672 Naval vessels it had loaned the Soviets in World War 2. The Russians made an offer for the ships that the U.S. refused to take seriously – roughly 1/3 the value the U.S. put on them.

All of this was by way of intending to put pressure on the Truce Talks taking place in Korea. It was serving notice of its displeasure over the North Korean jailing of American businessmen and reporters and the expulsion of American diplomats.

In the area of ironies – the White House announced that President Truman asked the Russian government to acquaint its people with the Congressional resolution which reaffirmed American friendship for all people, including those of the Soviet Union. The resolution had been recently adopted by members of the Senate and House.

While that was going on, Korean Truce negotiations were continuing with crossing t’s and dotting i’s. And after seven days, the departure of a convoy consisting of 5 jeeps and trucks bearing white flags from Pyongyang, bound for the city of Kaisan was spotted, carrying Communist negotiators. While the U.S. was sending its negotiators in by Helicopter. Both sides were expected to sit down at the table sometime the following day. The big problem facing the American forces was how to get news of the truce talks out without damaging the “extremely delicate balance of negotiations”. It was finally decided by Gen. Ridgeway and his staff to bar all correspondents, keeping them in Seoul, some 30 miles south of Kaisan. They felt it was the only way to prevent getting the wrong word out at the right time. As a consolation of no on-the-spot reporting, updates on the talks would be routinely given out by communiques and briefings and a special Air Force plane would deliver film and tapes to Tokyo for broadcast.

And calls for a study to be made, regarding the ethics and morals of those in government. With the wave of revelations and the endless reports of corruption within the halls of Congress, it was proposed a special commission be set up to look at the situation and make suggestions to raise the standards and ethics of those on Capitol Hill.

That’s just a small slice of what went on this July 6th in 1951, as reported by Don Hollenbeck, substituting for Edward R. Murrow and The News.

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