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News Brief

August 4, 1971
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

“We never received a reply one way or another from Carson or his staff,” the CSSJ leader reported today. Yaroslavsky said “it would be tremendous if Carson would go to Moscow and interview leading activists for Soviet Jewry, or even hold a debate between government representatives and active Soviet Jews.” But he concluded: “Unfortunately, we all know too well that Moscow would never allow that to take place. Accordingly, we warn the Johnny Carson show not to travel to the Soviet Union.” Yaroslavsky did not elaborate on his warning, but his group has in the past favored demonstrations and boycotts in similar situations. From San Francisco, the chairman of the Bay Area Council on Soviet Jewry cabled Carson to “publicly refuse” the Soviets’ invitation and thus “help” Soviet Jewry. “Only world public pressure, not diplomatic talks, forced them (the Soviet government) to increase Jewish emigration,” wrote Harold B. Light. “Now the Kremlin has virtually stopped Jews from leaving, and escalated persecution, arrests and confinement in insane asylums.” Light offered to discuss the matter personally with Carson.

The announcement of the invitation was made by Carson, apparently on the spur of the moment, on last Thursday’s “Tonight Show,” originating from Burbank, Calif. He was interviewing Italian actress Claudia Cardinals, who told him of making her latest film in Moscow and suggested he go there too. A source close to lntourist told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that NBC-TV was “embarrassed” at Carson’s disclosure so early in the game (there will be no negotiations until the show’s staff returns to New York on Aug. 23). “The Russians weren’t pleased by this development,” the source said. “It may wash the whole thing out. I think NBC lost face. The Soviets were bending backward up to this point in trying to get Carson.” The source close to Intourist said the Soviets were willing to let Carson book individuals of “the liberal attitude,” but only “within reason.” An NBC official, however, said such bookings were unlikely, not only because of fear of a Soviet veto but because Carson has been totally non-political in his professional life. “It’s not Dick Cavett,” he said. “It’s an entertainment show.”

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