Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs (Boal)
The Spanish Ambassador came in to complain about the newspaper publicity in this country with regard to negotiations between the Spanish and American Governments on commercial matters. He produced several clippings, the one to which he took particular exception being an A[ssociated] P[ress] story appearing in the Washington Star on April 25, which stated in effect that the American Government was on the point of persuading the Spanish Government to cease discriminating against American products.[Page 541]
The Ambassador said that this was an unfair statement for the reason that it made no reference to the unfavorable treatment of Spanish goods by the American Government, which is being discussed at the same time. He added that the republication in Madrid of this story might have a most unfortunate effect upon the attitude of his Government—so much so that it might jeopardize the successful conclusion of our negotiations. Mr. Boal said that he equally deplored this premature publicity but that the Ambassador could assure his Government that no information whatever had been given out by this Government and that the stories were purely speculative, possibly based on a report originally received from Madrid which intimated that negotiations were about to terminate successfully. He told the Ambassador of a call upon him by Mr. Charles S. Smith of the Associated Press a few days ago in which he had impressed upon Mr. Smith the undesirability of premature publicity.
The Ambassador asked whether the Department would consider making a statement to the press at this time. Mr. Boal replied that he felt that such a statement far from soothing the American correspondents would merely whet their appetites and give rise to a dozen different stories in place of the few which had already appeared. He repeated his assurance to the effect that no information had been given out by officials of this Government and informed the Ambassador that he agreed entirely with the Ambassador’s position as to the harmful effect which such publicity might have.
After the Ambassador had gone Mr. Boal discussed his call with Mr. McDermott who agreed that a statement to the press at this time would not have a good effect.