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Media Affects Of The Vietnam War

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Media Affects of the Vietnam War

War is truly a horrific event that unfortunately occurs in our world frequently. There are a variety of ethical questions surrounding war, such as how much should citizens know about the fighting? When it comes to reporting the news, it is the goal of the network to report the news first. The benefit to this is people will turn to them first when it comes to breaking stories. However if the news is delivered based on speed and not accuracy this can be harmful to society. War is a very serious event and should not be taken lightly. Therefore, reporters must make sure facts are correct and unbiased. In both the Vietnam War and our current war we see reporters going to extreme measures to be the first to report information that may have been inaccurate.

There was certainly not a lack of information to report when it came to the Vietnam War. Unfortunately some of this information was highly inaccurate. Such as the event that started the war. The battle of Tonkin was proved to have been false as reported by a Japanese Newswire in July 1984. In the bay it was reported outside Vietnam that the North Vietnamese had sunk a US ship killing just two soldiers. The American people heard this and became outraged, and the congress gave President Lyndon B. Johnson a blank check to run the war. It was later discovered the tragedy never even occurred. The news networks reported this event and the American Government confirmed the false event and the war began, as the newswire reports. If this lie was never reported chances are the war would have never started. An Asian news source reported the Gulf of Tonkin as an illusion from the start (Japanese Newswire, Lexis Nexis), this proved to be true but what Americans at the time period would believe the Asian News Networks. This can easily be related to the current war in Iraq. In order to get the war underway the administration made claims of weapons of mass destruction that could potentially harm us. If American media was not allowed into these war situations the government could simply make up another lie and point out old weapons found in Iraq and there would be no proof of proving these weapons old. Lies and corruption capture people. Therefore people will always pay attention to the stories about our government lying to us. These weapons have still not been found and this is extremely similar to how the ship may not have ever been shot down in Tonkin.

Despite numerous inaccurate reports there were attempts of trying to report the war accurately. However whenever a news channel would report Americans getting killed in Vietnam the government would work quickly to cover it up. President Nixon is quoted as saying "the press is our biggest enemy." This one phrase sums up the war. The press would try to report fairly to the American people, but the government would squash it and make the press look bad (Media Beat Vietnam War, Solomon and Cohen). Therefore the press would only report good things so that the government would look highly upon them and give them better seating in white house briefings. This highly affected the people working in Vietnam. They were forced to be there, and the stories they were trying to report were not even reported.

There are certainly a lot of examples of war reporting being inaccurate. When we read John Kerry's letters to his mother we realized what Kerry was telling his mother and what his mother was hearing on TV were two totally different stories. Kerry wrote to his mother about bloodshed, continuous fighting, and Americans losing

their lives daily (Brinkley, 3). While his mother watched the television and was learning how America was easily winning the war. Certainly the American Government wanted the news from Vietnam to be good. This would help their efforts in convincing Americans that the unpopular war was beneficial and worth while to fight. The American Government would set up propaganda that the North Vietnamese were being pushed back and they were not getting any further and that the Americans were taking many captives. However it was the Americans being pushed back and our soldiers like John McCain being captured, Americans were completely unaware of these events occurring. When it came time the 1964 and 1968 elections I believe Americans voted for politicians who favored the war thinking it was a great cause. Come to find out the cause was not worth it. What if a news circuit had reported that Americans where getting murdered everyday. Would the war of ended any earlier? I do believe so.

When we look at the current war in Iraq, often reports are given by embedded reporters. They are reporters following and working directly with the certain unit they are with. At the beginning of the war we saw a lot of approval by the American people because we watched on our television the tanks race into Baghdad.



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