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Media's Role in Gulf War

February 19, 1991

With the continued brouhaha over access of the media to the war zone and the management of the news by the military, a large majority of Americans are said to back the military over the media in the dispute.

Perhaps they should temper the media-bashing with some sobering facts about the role of the media during World War II.

As a high school student during the war years, I remember the media as being totally allied with our Administration. While completely justified in the initial stages of the war when the enemy was on the offensive, the momentum had shifted to the Allies by the time of the presidential election campaign in 1944.

Perhaps the media would have performed a distasteful but valuable service to America if they had revealed to the voters that President Franklin Roosevelt was a dying man. Perhaps the result would have been a Republican victory for Thomas Dewey or for another Democratic nominee.

As it turned out, President Roosevelt, after his reelection to a fourth term just a few months earlier, joined Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Premier Joseph Stalin at a conference in Yalta in the Crimea between Feb. 4 and 11, 1945.

Among the points the Big Three leaders agreed upon at that conference were: mutual acceptance of the principles that led to the formation of the United Nations, to promote the concept of democracy as nations recovered out of the shambles of war, to divide Germany, to place Poland under Soviet influence and to force Germany to help rebuild the Soviet Union as recompense for the damage it had done.

Many observers believe the Yalta agreement sowed the seeds for the long-lasting Cold War which followed. Two months later, President Roosevelt died.

Stifling the press, even in wartime, may be hazardous to the health and well-being of Americans.

FLOYD A. OLIVER, Los Angeles

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