[63], Tensions between the news media and the Nixon administration only increased as the war dragged on. [24] Throughout the war PAVN/VC troops were continuously portrayed as "brutal, cruel, fanatic, sinister, untrustworthy, and warlike". The Vietnam War was near its height 50 years ago and is getting renewed attention, in part through a PBS series this month. Henry A. Rhodes. Others felt betrayed by their government for not being truthful about the war. [11], Although the US mission was irate over the reporting of the battle, even the US Public Information Office (PIO) in Saigon had to admit, from partial information on an emotional subject, the reporting was "two-thirds accurate" and that the correspondents had done quite respectably. He promised to continue to support the South Vietnamese government (through Vietnamization) and held out a plan for the withdrawal of American combat troops. The media played an immense role in what the American people saw and believed. By August that number had jumped to 419. THE VIETNAM WAR NEWS COVERAGE 2 The Vietnam War New Coverage The Vietnam War is known to be the longest-lasting war in U.S history. [49], Support for the war plummeted, and though 200,000 troops were requested at the beginning of the Offensive, the request was denied. The South Vietnamese military was once again on the defensive, and the leadership of the nation was isolated and increasingly paranoid… Nixon's goal, like Kennedy's, was for the press to have nothing to report. Coup followed coup as South Vietnamese generals vied for power. During the 1968 Tet Offensive, the North Vietnamese government erred in its certainty that widespread assaults would trigger a supportive uprising of the population. The News Media’s Coverage of the Vietnam War. For the United States, the Vietnam War was over. [62] After the battle's conclusion, major battles of attrition involving American ground forces became rare – as did commentaries from correspondents like those surrounding Hamburger Hill. [22] Although the US Department of Defense offered a brief introductory course for journalists on the history and the culture of Vietnam, few attended it. Of the Americans present, 72 were more than thirty-one years old, and 60 of them were over the age of thirty-six. The nightly coverage of the action in Vietnam and the streets of America went unnoticed by few. After the United States threw its weight behind Ngo Dinh Diem, who became South Vietnam's president in 1955, media in the United States ignored the new leader's despotic tendencies and instead highlighted his anti-communism. 1 of The Easter Offensive of 1972 (a conventional North Vietnamese invasion of South Vietnam) was generally depicted by MACV and Washington as a "true test" of the policy of Vietnamization. [4], The news then reflected communism and the Cold War. Lichty, Lawrence W, "Comments on the Influence of Television on Public Opinion" in Peter Braestrup, ed. The news media aided this shift in opinion through its coverage and subsequent narrative of the attack on the U.S. Embassy. Yet analysis of the content of actual news broadcasts does not support the contention that nightly news programs were filled with pictures of battle, or the dead, dying and wounded. [44] Adams won a prize for his iconic photo, which was said to be more influential than the video that was released of the same execution. Email | Broadcast Index | Login | Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries | Broadcast Index | Login | Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries "[42] Because he reported from the communist side, Burchett was regarded by many in Australia as a traitor and was persona non grata with the Australian government, but he also possessed extraordinary information. [38] That change would have far-reaching detrimental effects. According to Clarence Wyatt, the American disengagement was: like watching a film running backward. The American public was also dissatisfied with the course of events in South Vietnam. Intense levels of graphic news coverage correlated with dramatic shifts of public opinion regarding the conflict, and there is controversy over what effect journalism had on support or opposition to the war, as well as the decisions that policymakers made in response. [57], Television's image of the war, however, had been permanently altered: the "guts and glory" image of the pre-Tet period was gone forever. ABC News – America’s Final Hours in Vietnam. The communists were once again on the advance, spreading their influence closer and closer to the major cities. Although highly successful, the operation would see a resupply convoy: Column 21, disabled and pinned down under heavy enemy fire. "[25] Asian stereotypes extended to the American soldiers' view of their South Vietnamese allies too;[26] most effectively never met a South Vietnamese soldier or really knew the farmer and peasant in the field. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. War IL' Television coverage might, alternatively, have soured the American people on their government's policies in Vietnam by slanting the news, by putting the American effort there in an unfavorable light. After it, correspondents became steadily more convinced that they (and, by extension, the American people) were being lied to and withdrew, embittered, into their own community.[13][14]. Reporters had also become quite aware that all sides (the South Vietnamese and American governments, the US mission, MACV, the Buddhists, and the Viet Cong) were trying to manipulate them. Reporters were doing more research, conducting more interviews, and publishing more analytical essays. Media correspondents were invited to attend nightly MACV briefings covering the day's events that became known as the Five O'Clock Follies, most correspondents considering the briefings to be a waste of time. According to Daniel Hallin, the dramatic structure of the uncensored "living room war" as reported during 1965–67 remained simple and traditional: "the forces of good were locked in battle once again with the forces of evil. More than 58,000 Americans were killed over two decades of the Vietnam War, including those who covered it. Heavily influenced by government information management in the early years of the conflict, the U.S. media eventually began to change its main source of information. The French colonial government set up a system of censorship, but correspondents traveled to Singapore or Hong Kong to file their reports without constraint. Of the 282 at the beginning of the year, only 110 were Americans, and 67 were South Vietnamese, 26 Japanese, 24 British, 13 Korean, 11 French, and seven German. [33], The U.S. Mission and MACV also installed an "information czar", the U.S. Mission's Minister-Counselor for Public Affairs, Barry Zorthian, to advise MACV commander, General William Westmoreland on public affairs matters and who had a theoretical responsibility under the ambassador for the development of all information policy. The chain of events led to the interesting conundrum of American periodicals attacking the accuracy of their own on-the-spot reporters. There was also increasing coverage of the collapse of morale, interracial tensions, drug abuse, and disciplinary problems among American troops. Many Americans were unaware of the extent of the brutality involved in the war, but the Tet Offensive changed that, and American television cameras were available firsthand to record footage of the bombing of cities and the execution of prisoners of war. As the war lengthened and the withdrawals continued, the two sides became more and more antagonistic toward one another and they battled constantly over the issues of combat refusals and the drug and morale problems of American troops. The traditional view holds that Americans watched the news in horror and were pushed against the war by graphic and misleading portrayals of the war. "[17] During the Buddhist Crisis, the number of correspondents in South Vietnam swelled from an original nucleus of eight to a contingent of over 60. For his effort, Salisbury received heavy condemnation and criticism from his peers, the administration, and the Pentagon. The reporting of what became a debacle for the South Vietnamese military, and the condemnation heaped upon it by the Western press became a controversial issue that then attracted a great deal of public attention. Many of the examples used to support the traditional view, including the exposure of the My Lai Massacre and a broadly published photographof s… Barron enlisted into the Navy in … "[59], As the American commitment waned there was an increasing media emphasis on Vietnamization, the South Vietnamese government, and casualties – both American and Vietnamese. meREWARDS lets you get coupon deals, and earn cashback when you complete surveys, dine, travel and shop with our partners, Displaying At the same time, advances in video and audio recording enabled both easier and more news coverage. The traditional sources – press conferences, official news releases, and reports of official proceedings were less utilized than ever before. Many Americans felt betrayed by the government for withholding or deliberately manipulating information about the progress of the war, and once they saw on their televisions and read in their newspapers firsthand a less optimistic version of the war than the government had painted, public pressure to withdraw from Vietnam mounted. It concludes that while there was a substantial increase in critical news content during the Vietnam War, [12] Ap Bac and the controversy surrounding it, however, marked a permanent divide in the relations between the official US position and the news media in South Vietnam. Tools for this unit: Your feedback is important to us! Most depictions of [them] employed hateful imagery or reinforced racial stereotypes of the era associated with Asians. Although the ambushers would be forced back and the survivors rescued, the United States Marine Corps would deny the Column's existence just the very next day, preferring to focus on the operation's success instead, much to the ire of the reporting journalists, who had risked their lives to help load the column's many casualties onto their impromptu evacuation helicopter. Episode 1407 of the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast will feature a story about the unrestricted media coverage of the Vietnam War with an emphasis on that of CBS. One reason was that most journalists spent on rotation only six to twelve months in South Vietnam, providing little incentive for reporters to learn the language. [54], The gradual dissipation of American support for the war was apparent in changes in the source of news stories. Various News – 1972 Election Coverage CBS News – 1972 Election Day Coverage. "[24] The domino theory was utilized to justify the American intervention in order to prevent regional domination by China, overlooking centuries of hostility between the Vietnamese and the Chinese. Diem's beliefs and accusations against the press, however, had little basis in fact. Under that framework, the Americans' role in South Vietnam was only to render advice and support in its war against the Communists. Fully half of those accredited were not reporters but instead technicians, secretaries, drivers, translators, and wives. KPRC-TV sent news cameras to Vietnam in December 1966, more than a year before Cronkite, and produced two television documentaries: A Christmas Card from Vietnam and The Vietnam Diary. In a key televised debate from 15 May 1965, Eric Sevareid, reporting for CBS, conducted a debate between McGeorge Bundy and Hans Morgenthau dealing with an acute summary of the main war concerns of the U.S. as seen at that time: "(1) What are the justifications for the American presence in Vietnam – why are we there? The later years of Vietnam were "a remarkable testimony to the restraining power of the routines and ideology of objective journalism… 'advocacy journalism' made no real inroads into network television. That was followed by other journalists arriving from Reuters, AFP, Time and Newsweek. Cold War tensions ran high as the country relentlessly fought against the alleged evils of communism. "[53] Nixon's policy toward the media was to reduce as far as possible the American public's interest in and knowledge of the war in Vietnam. He maintained liaison between the US embassy, MACV, and the press; publicized information to refute erroneous and misleading news stories; and sought to assist the Saigon correspondents in covering the side of the war most favorable to the policies of the U.S. The situation was only exacerbated during the Buddhist Crisis of May 1963, when the Diem government considered the foreign press as its enemy and was unwilling to communicate its side of the story effectively. Vietnam was a war of firsts in many respects. John McCain: Those in Vietnam remember former prisoner of war | Video, US COVID-19 death toll exceeds Americans killed in Vietnam War as cases top 1 million. The same was true of the 143 non-Americans. In this era before cable television, whole families still gathered to watch the evening news. In September and October 1969, members of the administration openly discussed methods by which the media could be coerced into docility. ... Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device. A study authorized by the Trilateral Commission in 1975 to examine the "governability" of American democracy found that "the most notable new source of national power in 1970, as compared to 1950, was the national media," suggesting also that there was "considerable evidence to suggest that the development of television journalism contributed to the undermining of governmental authority. "[37] During late 1967, MACV had also begun to disregard the decision that it had made at the Honolulu Conference of 1966 that the military should leave the justification of the war to elected officials in Washington. "[60] The U.S. military resented the attention and at first, refused to believe that the problems were as bad as correspondents portrayed them. The role of the media in the perception of the Vietnam War has been widely noted. The impact of television coverage of the Vietnam War was meaningful, but probably in a different way than is usually explained. The reportage of the Tet/Battle of Khe Sanh period had been unique, and after it was over reportage settled back into its normal routines. From the early stages of the war and until its end, the South Vietnamese people were regularly viewed by the media with condescension, contempt, and disdain. [43] He was later joined by Madeleine Riffaud, of the French communist newspaper L'Humanité. [19] It did not help matters that JUSPAO was also MACV's propaganda arm, a fact that was well known to news correspondents. Support began to decrease in the fall of 1967, but the major turning point in television's coverage of the war occurred during the Tet Offensive in late January 1968. The Vietnam War was raging and the american public was deeply … A January 1965 Gallup poll indicated that two out of three Americans agreed that the country would never form a stable government and that four out of five Americans felt that the communists were winning. AFVN News – Armed Forces Vietnam Network – Feb. 3, 1973. After visiting South Vietnam during the Tet Offensive, Cronkite said in an editorial on 27 February 1968, "To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. [10] The correspondents, however, did not question the black-and-white assumptions of the time that the war was a part of the larger struggle between the free world and totalitarianism or whether the war was beyond America's ability to win. On 3 November 1969, President Richard M. Nixon made a televised speech laying out his policy toward Vietnam. This page was last edited on 26 November 2020, at 19:43. 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