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Television and Vietnam
Television and Vietnam
The 1960s was a period of "rising affluence" and "consensus"
Peter Arnett with burned-out airplane near Bien Hoa in 1965 (AP)
- McHale's Navy, Gomer Pyle, Hogan's Heroes, F Troop, Wild Wild West
1964 Gulf of Tonkin resolution
- gave LBJ authority for "all necessary measures"
- began "massive escalation" of the war
- press cooperated, no "really big falsehoods" but only "endless little ones" according to John Mecklin of London Times
- "racism became a patriotic virtue"
- Gen. James Hollingsworth of the Big Red One
- Peter Arnett became hard-boiled, never involved, but won Pulitzer Prize 1966 and stayed in Vietnam 13 years for AP, then went to CNN and stayed in Baghdad for the Gulf War in 1991
- Larry Burrows shielded his readers from the horror
- combat footage edited down to 3 minutes, lost its context, horror
telefilms of "paranoia" 1964-66
- Bill Cosby and Robert Culp in I Spy
- Robert Vaughn in Man from U.N.C.L.E.
- Peter Graves in Mission Impossible "enshrined the official lie"
Buddhist monk (Time 1963)
Tet attack in Saigon, Life 1968/02/09
|Loan executes a VC, by AP's Eddie Adams|
Harry Rasky in 1965 filmed the war from the USS Kitty Hawk
- "Alice-in-Wonderland" feeling
- photo op of 20 ships in TF77 was expensive public relations (was a better tactice than censorship)
- narrated by Glenn Ford from script written in NY
- Rasky wroteLetters to Holly, about what he felt, not what he saw
Vietnam consensus broke down
- David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan quoted John Vann after 1963 Ap Bac defeat
- Malcolm Browne photographed immolation of Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc 6/9/63
- But correspondents only critical of effectiveness, not intervention itself
- few stories of Diem's corruption, CIA's Air America, massive heroin addiction
- World War II analogy failed
- William Fulbright, Morely Safer, Eric Sevareid
- Pacific radio went to North Vietnam, challenged the "no-guts journalism" of the commercial media
- LBJ "credibility gap"
- Felix Greene produced Inside North Vietnam in 1967, rejected by CBS, shown on NET
- Tet offensive caused Walter Cronkite to change
- death of M. L. King, R. F. Kennedy
- Democratic convention in Mayor Daley's Chicago
- no more opening shootout on Gunsmoke
Nixon era of "upheavals" 1969-74
- caused TV to become "fortress" a psychological refuge
- family shows Bonanza, Big Valley, Addams Family
- "prime time world" celebrated "American ethic of hegemony and supremacy"
- power shows I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched
- beautiful people, glitter, success, fortune
- Nixon promised to end war, but expanded
- atrocities of My Lai, defoliation, lawnmower bombing
- "rising opposition" of TV documentaries Selling of the Pentagon, Who Invited Us?, Behind the Lines
- Lessons of Vietnam
Watergate 1972-74 "came at a crucial moment in the history of public television"
- televised hearings in Congress by Sen. Sam Ervin
- TV cannot be a "neutral conduit" when the conduit is controlled by the establishment
- TV can be an ombudsman finding problems and revealing solutions
"Power of Pictures," part 4 of Television series on PBS hosted by Edwin Newman, 1987
- Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam 1964-1969
- Richard Nixon and Vietnam 1969-1974
- Reagan Presidency 1981-1985 and 1985-1989
- George Bush Presidency 1989-1993
- Gulf War 1991