The Acting Secretary of State to the Chargé in Iran (Merriam)
11. Your 21, March 15, 9 a.m.8a On March 14 the Iranian Chargé d’Affaires called upon me to protest against the article which appeared in the New York Mirror. He handed me a message8a which he had been instructed to deliver, one section of which contained a threat to sever relations unless immediate steps were taken by this Government, even as an exceptional measure, to have the article amended. I told him that in view of the friendly relations existing between Iran and the United States I preferred not to discuss the message but rather the unfortunate Mirror article.
I said that this Government naturally regretted any indignity against the head of a friendly state, explained that the Mirror was an unimportant journal with limited circulation, and that the reference to the Shah would be noticed by few and promptly forgotten even by them. I also pointed out the lack of control which this Government had over the American press and expressed doubt whether, in view of the constitutional provisions concerning freedom of the press, there was any law which would apply in such a case as that presented. I agreed, however, to study the situation with the utmost goodwill.
After careful consideration the Department is left in no doubt that this Government is entirely without means to take any legal action in this matter. However, in order to demonstrate clearly our sincere desire to liquidate this incident to the satisfaction of the Iranian Government we are approaching the publishers and urging them, as a matter of cooperation and in the interest of our continued friendly relations with Iran, to publish a suitable correction.
On March 17 I conveyed to the Iranian Chargé d’Affaires the information contained in the preceding paragraph.[Page 355]
The foregoing is for your information. In view of the delicate character of the question you should refrain from taking it up in Teheran. However, if the subject is broached to you, you should be guided by the above considerations, in which connection you should stress these obvious facts: (1) that this Government, under its constitution, is prohibited from interfering in any manner with the freedom of the press and (2) that the action it is taking with a view to obtaining a correction by the New York Mirror is altogether unique and is being taken only because of its sincere desire to cultivate friendly relations with Iran. It must not be regarded as constituting a precedent and you should lay particular emphasis on that point in any conversations into which you are drawn.