Re: Did the media lose the war in Vietnam?

Marc J. Gilbert (
Tue, 5 Nov 1996 10:16:49 -0500

Some sources and an opinion:

Any student working on the media and the war needs minimally consult
the following sources;

The most recent editon of Vietnam Magazine has a review of the book
by Bill Hammond that is vital to this topic. Vietnam Magazine's
editor reviewer (Harry Summers!) wrote in this review that the media
had little to do with the formation of public opinion or with losing
the war. This is very important to a student working on the topic
because this is a knee-jerk "stab-in-the-back" journal that one would
expect would endorse the idea that the media lost the war. I think
Norman Phodhoretz and William Westmoreland may be the only big names
that still believe that the American public was led by the media: the
rest believe that public opinion led the press.

Peter Braestrup is often cited by conservatives who say that his
book on Tet, Big Story, suggests that the press lost the war. They
are wrong. How wrong? Read Peter's interview in Kim Willenson's _The
Bad War: An Oral History--Braestrup blames Westmoreland!

Harrison Salibury, Vietnam Reconsidered and Robert McMahon, The
Vietnam War (D.C. Heath) have selections on this subject from every
possible perspective. Clarence Wyatt has a good book out on the
subject. Lots of reporters who served in Vietnam have written some
good books as well, including Jacques Leslie and Robert Anson. These
sources are readily avaliable and can be searched by author on any
search engine.

I hope the student knows what he is doing: our views of the role of
the media as individuals on a user-net pretty well reflect our
views on the war. Thus, how we think about this topic is less a
reflection of knowledge than of heart and life experience, which
differs according to rather predictable variables. For example, I
had to read the LA Times for most of the war, whose "Vietnam"
reporter, Robert Elegant, was determined to blame Liberals for losing
CHINA. So his reportage from Vietnam and his views on the media
and Vietnam reflect this rather than anything that actually happened
there. The LA Times, of course, reported every 50,000 anti-war march
as only 10,000, so the liberal media myth, in my own experience, was
pretty much a bust. Others, of course, swear by or at it! IMHO,
there is no question that the "media" made mistakes in Vietnam, but
they paled before larger historical forces in "losing" it.

"And that is the way it was, today, November 4, 1996" the day Walter
Cronkite turned 80!

Happy Birthday, Uncle Walter!

Marc Gilbert
North Georgia College