The Problem With Vietnam
Wartime in the United States has always placed pressure on the government and the citizens of the country to provide support by whatever means to the situation. During World War II, that support was propagated by the government in the form of censorship and a strategic public relations plan to maintain the public opinion in favor of the cause. Glorification of America's involvement in the war helped America maintain the image of "a cause worth fighting for." Technology and de-censorship would later transform America and the world's image of war, which had been formed by such propaganda as seen during WWII, into the truth about war as seen in the media's coverage of the Vietnam War. During this period, uncensored media coverage helped to morph American views about military conflicts forever as well as changing the media's role in war.
World War II was a time in American history of patriotism. However, that patriotism came a price to the American public according to The Censored War, written by George Roeder. He discusses the impact that censorship had on the American public, and how lies and propaganda gave the citizens of America a false view of war. By portraying participation in the war as heroic, using such propaganda as posters depicting fallen GI's as Christ-like figures (Rodeder 33), the US government formed the perspective for the public, rather than allowing them to develop their own sense of reality. Photographs of dead or wounded soldiers were withheld from the public in order to keep public opinion on the side of the government. Pictures of dead or wounded American soldiers were kept in a file dubbed "the Chamber of Horrors", not to be released for public viewing until many yea...
... middle of paper ...
... Than the Sword. Ch.12 Vietnam War: Bringing the Battlefield Into the American Living Room Pg.187. (Colorado. UK. Westview Press)
Hallin, Daniel C. (1994). The Uncensored War: The Media and Vietnam.(New York, NY).
Boylan's (1986). Declarations of Independence," Columbia Journalism Review, November/December.
Graves, Nelson(1996, October). Vietnam seeks place on world's newsstands. Reuters
Foster, Gaines(1990, January). Coming to terms with defeat: Post-Vietnam America and the post-Civil WarSouth. Virginia Quarterly Review. Vol.66, pp 17.
Braestrup, Peter. (1983). Big Story: How the American
Press and Television Reported and Interpreted the Crisis of Tet 1968 in Vietnam and Washington. (New Haven, CT: Yale UP.
William M. Hammond, Reporting Vietnam: Media and Military at War. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998.
Click here to unlock this and over one million essaysShow More
Beginning in the early 1960's American journalists began taking a hard look at America's involvement in South Vietnam. This inevitably led to a conflict with the American and South Vietnamese governments, some fellow journalists, and their parent news organizations. This was the last hurrah of print journalism, as television began to grow in stature. William Prochnau's, Once Upon A Distant War, carefully details the struggles of these hardy journalists, led by David Halberstram, Malcolm Browne, and Neil Sheehan. The book contains stories, told in layers, chronicling America's growing involvement in South Vietnam from 1961 through 1963.
Anderson, D. (2002). The Columbia guide to the Vietnam War. New York: Columbia University Press.
Government had a hard time keeping up with censoring what any American could potentially see when they tuned into the evening news. With the fast-paced increase in television sets in American homes, came a lack of adequate government control. The multitude of graphic images and videos from Vietnam that were being broadcasted in the living rooms of so many families is what made the Vietnam war the “Living-Room War.” Hundreds of thousands of NBC viewers watched Col. Nguyen Ngoc Loan shoot his captive in a Saigon street. It was violence like this that heavily impacted America’s feelings toward the war. “Vietnam was a journalistic milestone: according to Daniel C. Hallin … it was the first war in which reporters were routinely accredited to accompany military forces, yet not subject to censorship”(Blumenthal Web). This lack of censorship is what caused America to see the truth of the vietnam
World War Two was marketed to the civilians of every nation as a cataclysmic struggle requiring unprecedented public sacrifices and involvement, and in the early years of the war, the fear of defeat, invasion and scenarios all too horrific to comprehend motivated Americans to sacrifice, work hard and build the staggering infrastructure that produced the Allies to certain victory. In these early years of the War (1941-1942), propaganda did not need to be more than fear-mongering, yet America was not yet fully invested in open warfare. American airmen, sailors, Marines and soldiers were fighting and dying, but the vast majority of the American military- to say nothing of its civilian p...
The word “Vietnam” means multiple things to many people today. To many, it means a conflict that was highly payed attention to for eight years of American life. To others, who fought in it, it entails the friendships and sorrows of combat, or ...
Fussell, Paul. "Vietnam." The Bloody Game: An Anthology of Modern War. Ed. Paul Fussell. London: Scribners, 1991. 651-6.
With the conflicts on the other sides of the oceans, Americans would not witness the brutality, destruction, and suffering of civilians and soldiers alike. ?Only the United States was not both a destroyer and a victim of the destruction in the war.? (73) The civilians of the United States, therefore, relied on other sources to shape their view of World War II. ?Ads implied that if you bought a war bond your sacrifice was on par with that of the man in the front lines.? (74) The US government and industry played on Americans? sense of patriotism in order to get them to support the war or buy their products. However, ?it [advertising] is by nature emotional, rather than intellectual; it sells feelings rather than ideas.? (73) Government propaganda and business advertising were not the only factors in forming the inaccurate myth of the Second World War.
Media played a vital role in changing the views of pro-war Americans to anti-war views by giving death counts, setting the stage for the anti-war movement to perform on, and publicizing leaked government information. The Vietnam War was known as the first televised war (“Vietnam Television”). Americans could watch as United States Troops fought, and the nightly news updated Americans on the death count and progress of US Troops in Vietnam (“Vietnam Television”).