Foreign Policy and the Press: An Analysis of the New York Times' Coverage of U.S. Foreign Policy

By Nicholas O. Berry | Go to book overview

Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs:
The Press Oinks and Then Squeals

John Fitzgerald Kennedy began his presidency as a classic cold warrior. A dispute still rages over whether his frame of reference changed during his thousand days in office. Few doubt, however, how he began. JFK's early foreign policy rhetoric was not only bold and belligerent, it was full of determination that the many "perils" facing the nation could be overcome.

Kennedy's frame of reference for his general foreign policy and his particular situation analysis of Fidel Castro's Cuba show strong congruency with his actual foreign policy. Although the Bay of Pigs operation was supposed to be covert, excellent investigative reporting by the Times (and stray remarks by administration officials) revealed the policy before it was executed. In reporting the policy the reporters shared Kennedy's frame of reference and remained nonjudgmental over how the president's policy would work. The Times' coverage was consistent with U.S. foreign policy as defined by the administration during its formulation and execution stages. Questions on the facts, challenges to JFK's wishful situational analysis, and estimations of the effectiveness of his hopeful strategies were largely absent on the front page.

Once the outcome occurred, the dismal results of Kennedy's policy were reported as such, in spite of major efforts by Kennedy and Secretary of State Dean Rusk to diminish the perception of failure. Both men rhetorically escalated "the threat 90 miles from our shores" in order to create the impression that the defeat of the Cuban exiles by Castro was only round one of a long bout. They hoped to maintain a favorable press for an eventual favorable outcome after other strategies were attempted. However, for the Times, it was a first round knockout. The administration's attempt to manipulate the press failed as badly as its Cuban policy.

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Foreign Policy and the Press: An Analysis of the New York Times' Coverage of U.S. Foreign Policy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xi
  • 1- Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs 1
  • 2- Johnson and Vietnam 27
  • 3- Nixon and Cambodia: the Press And the President Part Company 53
  • 4- Carter and the Iranian Hostages 81
  • 5- Reagan and the Intervention in Lebanon 109
  • 6- Findings, Implications, And Conclusions 139
  • Appendix A 153
  • Appendix B 155
  • Selected Bibliography 159
  • Index 161
  • About the Author *
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