472. Telegram From the Embassy in Thailand to the Department of State1

3098. In re discussions with Sarit, we have recommended in previous messages mentioning unrepresentative nature Thai press which dominated by leftwingers. Believe in Department’s discussions would be useful refer specifically to Sarn Seri and Thai Raiwan, Sarit-con-trolled papers. Incongruity of Thailand’s asking us for additional aid while papers he controls constantly belabor motives behind this aid [Page 997] (and other US policies) should be brought to his attention. Question arises as to what Thai foreign policy really is and impression Thai neighbors must get of this policy from reading Thai press.

Sarit’s probable disclaimer of control over these papers not to be taken seriously since he is backing them financially. This connection, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] report [document number not declassified]2 prepared [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] early February which says of both papers: “This paper under supervision Major General Net Kemayothin. Company under patronage FM Sarit Thaharat. This paper can very well support itself”. Any reference to “freedom of press” or New York Times criticism Thailand can be met by contrasting Sarit backing two papers in question and lack of government control US press which in aggregate truly representative public opinion.

Believe salutary effect if Sarit takes remedial action will be far greater than merely removing two papers from leftwing column (itself highly desirable) since Sarit’s control these papers commonly accepted fact in government circles.

Have just seen Deptel 27233 and believe obvious answer to any request for US-backed pro-government paper is that Sarit should swing Sarn Seri and Thai Raiwan behind government. Both making money and need no additional backing. Will comment separately on other points Deptel 2723. Summaries recent editorials these papers in separate message.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 792.551/5–258. Confidential; Limit Distribution.
  2. Not found.
  3. Document 470.
  4. Reference is to telegram 3099 from Bangkok, May 2. (Department of State, Central Files, 792.00/5–358) Samples from the Thai press are also in the briefing materials for the Sarit talks; Ibid., 792.5–MSP/5–1358.