222. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union0

376. Embtel 407.1 Washington Newsweek Bureau feels Bassow expulsion based on at least two other 1962 issues in addition to August 13 jokes. These are Hulda Clark story January 8 and material February 5 issue. Also Department understands that interview with school principal may have been maneuvered despite prior refusal and objections by principal.

Department has advised Newsweek this issue best played low key in order not jeopardize possibility replacement. Department not considering retaliation at this time. Newsweek has indicated both to Department and White House that they also do not wish Department to retaliate for same reasons. Newsweek London correspondent Erwin Goodwin now has valid Soviet visa which issued him as summer replacement for Bassow. Newsweek intends apparently send Goodwin soonest to Moscow in order maintain Bureau representation.

Embassy may at its discretion approach Foreign Ministry on informal basis to request explanation for expulsion. Matter already discussed informally with Soviet Embassy here. As for legality of telegraph office failure notify sender his message not acceptable, Department feels this question not too meaningful since Soviet practices cannot be equated with those followed Western countries.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 961.6211/8-1862. Confidential. Drafted by Ramsey, cleared by Manning and Guthrie, and approved by Tyler.
  2. On August 16 the Embassy in Moscow had reported that Whitman Bassow, a Newsweek correspondent in Moscow, had been expelled from the Soviet Union, an expulsion which was both unexplainable and unexpected. (Telegram 394 from Moscow; ibid., 961.6211/8-1662) In telegram 407, August 18, the Embassy reported that the expulsion appeared to be based on a cable Bassow had attempted to send in connection with the story “What Makes Ivan Laugh?,” which appeared in the August 13 issue of Newsweek. The telegram concluded with the suggestion that, in view of the U.S. interest in increasing the flow of information from the Soviet Union, the Embassy should be authorized to approach the Foreign Ministry at an appropriate level to ask for an explanation of the expulsion. (Ibid., 961.6211/8-1862)