12. Telephone Conversation Between President Johnson and the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Mann)1
[Omitted here is discussion of a proposal to send Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to Chile.]
President: What do you think about the Szulc article this morning?2
Mann: [Laughter] Those fellas are really on a vendetta, you know. They’ve got their knives out, and it’s the most biased reporting I’ve ever seen. If I were outside of government—the American election and so forth—I would answer in proper Texan style. But I’m not in a position to get into a donnybrook right now, because I think it might be disruptive.
President: How are we doing—[Page 32]
Mann: What do you think I should be doing about this?
President: How are we doing in Latin America in your judgment?
Mann: Oh, I think we’re making good progress. We’re making good progress, better than I think anybody could have hoped for. The Brazilian development. Colombia’s going well—I just got a report today from [unintelligible]: everybody’s happy, the President’s very delighted, happy the way everything’s going. The Mexicans are happy— I got a message today from López Mateos. Central America’s going good. Chile and Brazil have problems. But this is the bleeding-heart, left wing group; they’re just mad.
President: Well, now what are we doing to hurt them?
Mann: I don’t know, but any [laughter]—Well, I think it’s pretty hard to figure out a way to hurt them effectively. I think we’re getting a broader base with the press, a better understanding, but these two New York Times twins are [unintelligible]. I don’t think they like anything that’s happened since November 22nd. And it’s pretty hard to convince them. I haven’t figured out a way to gag them yet.
President: Do they ever come talk to you?
Mann: Oh, I see them occasionally. I haven’t seen them lately. I’m not sure it’s a good idea to see them because you start to talk, they’ve made up their mind.
President: Where do they get their stuff? Schlesinger?
Mann: I would think so. I would think there and in this club of left-wing reporters.
President: Do you have any people leaking it on you over in the Department?
Mann: Well, I—Yes, we’ve had two or three that we think are out now and we’ve got only one left, and I think maybe Moscoso. I only have one guy that I don’t trust, and I think he—
President: I’d get rid of him.
Mann: Well, we’re going to. We’re going to—I already told him.
President: The quicker, the better.
Mann: Yes, sir.
President: Now, what did Moscoso—why did he quit?
Mann: Well, this I don’t know. I had a very friendly telegram from him today saying that he didn’t expect this news to break so soon, he had expected to talk to me and to you—but I don’t really trust him myself. I’m not sure what he hopes to—
Mann: OK.[Page 33]
President: You call me in the morning.
Mann: I’ll call.3
- Source: Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of telephone conversation between President Johnson and Thomas Mann, Tape F64.26, Side A, PNO 4 &5. No classification marking. This transcript was prepared in the Office of the Historian specifically for this volume. An informal memorandum of the conversation, prepared in ARA, is ibid., Papers of Thomas C. Mann, Telephone Conversations with LBJ, January 4, 1964–April 30, 1965.↩
- The article reported that Teodoro Moscoso had resigned from the Inter-American Committee on the Alliance for Progress in order to return to private life in Puerto Rico. Szulc wrote: “His resignation comes at a time of growing disillusionment in Latin America and among Latin-American officials of the Alliance in Washington over present conduct of the program by the United States. The consensus in those quarters is that the program as conceived by President Kennedy no longer exists, and that Washington seems to have returned to its unilateral approach to problems of the hemisphere.” (The New York Times, May 5)↩
- According to the President’s Daily Diary Mann attended an afternoon meeting on May 6 between the President and the Panamanian Ambassador. (Johnson Library) No record has been found, however, to indicate whether Mann telephoned Johnson in the morning—or later in the day.↩