The Impact of the Media on the Vietnam War Essay

The Impact of the Media on the Vietnam War Essay

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Vietnam was a country divided into two by communism in the North and capitalism in the South. The Vietnam War, fought between the years 1959 and 1975, was, in essence, a struggle by nationalists in the north to unify the nation under a communist government. This was a long standing conflict between the two sides that had been occurring for years. It wasn’t until 1959 when the USA, stepped in, on the side of southern Vietnamese, to stop the spread of communism. It was a war that did not capture the hearts and minds of the American people as it was viewed as a war that the US army couldn’t win and so the government lost the peoples support for the war. This ultimately led to the withdrawal of the US army from Vietnam. Some people, like government and army officials, have attributed this loss of popular support to the media, to the fact that it was the first television war which allowed the people of America to know about, first hand, the atrocities of war, whereas other people argue that the media alone, focusing on television, couldn’t have possibly, on its own, have turned a nation against a war. The debate of why America lost is still hotly debated today not only because it is still in the minds of the living but because of the legacy it left that continues today.
The guilty media thesis is one that blames the media as to why America lost the war; it was mainly government and military officials who took this view and they were adamant that the war was “lost in the living rooms of America, not on the battlefields of Vietnam.’ It was the first ever televised war with the advancing technologies making it easier to transmit news instantaneously. The reporting of the conflict showed the brutality of war turned the people against it a...

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..., The “Uncensored War” The Media and Vietnam, (Los Angeles,1989), p. 106
Carruthers, Media, p. 113
Clarence R. Wyatt, Paper Soldiers: The American Press and the Vietnam War, (Chicago, 1995) p.81
David Culbert, ‘Television’s Vietnam and Historical Revisionism in the United States’, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol.8, No. 3 (1988), pp. 259 - 260
Hallin, Uncensored, p.107
Hallin, Uncensored, pp 107 - 108
Carruthers, Media, p. 111
‘Tet Offensive’, The History Channel website,, consulted January 2nd 2014
Culbert, Televisions Vietnam, p. 255
Bruce Southhard, quoted in David Culbert, ‘Television’s Vietnam and Historical Revisionism in the United States’, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol.8, No. 3 (1988), pp. 257 - 256
Bonior, Champlin, Kolly, Vietnam Veteran, pp. 4 - 5

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