20. "Carter and Media Snub Major International Disarmament Conference"

The United Nations held a major five-week international conference from May 23 to July 1, 1978, which received little mass media coverage.

The purpose of the U.N. Special Session on Disarmament (SSOD) was to publicize the danger of the arms race and define a set of principles and a program of action to reverse, or, at least, reduce the cost of military security.

Representatives from 149 nations, including China and France, which previously had consistently boycotted disarmament conferences, attended the extraordinary session.

Many of the nations looked to President Carter and the United States to set an example to start a trend toward arms de-escalation.

But, at the last minute, after the President of France, the Chancellor of West Germany, and the Prime Minister of Britain, among other major leaders, had agreed to address the disarmament conference, Carter pulled out and assigned his role to Vice President Mondale.

By coincidence, a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was called in Washington at precisely the same time as the U.N. disarmament conference. The NATO allies wanted to be assured that Carter was going to maintain and even to increase Washington's military defense of Western Europe.

This was a dilemma for Carter. He couldn't make a credible speech to NATO on increasing U.S. arms in Europe and at the same time make a credible appeal for reducing arms at the U.N. conference.

The failure of the mass media to widely publicize the concerns and actions of the U.N. conference and President Carter's boycott of that session qualifies this for nomination as one of the "best censored" stories of 1978.

SOURCES:

New Directions, July/August/September, 1978, "Successes, Failures of U.N. Disarmament Session," by Homer A. Jack.

The Progressive, June, 1978, "A Chance to Speak for Survival."

James Reston Reports, May 28, 1978, "The Host Who Wasn't There."