The Media and Vietnam

1818 words 8 pages
“For the first time in modern history the outcome of a war was determined not on the battlefield but on the printed page and, above all, on the television screen”
-Robert Elegant
Robert Elegant’s quote explains the significant role the media played in the Vietnam War. This essay will argue that the media’s effect was one dominant aspect of why the United States lost the war in Vietnam. Looking in detail at the heavily televised ‘Tet Offensive’, this essay will suggest that this series of battles was the beginning of the decisive part the media played in influencing public opinion. It is worth nothing that there are several factors involved in why the United States lost the Vietnam War, but this essay will focus on just one. Overall, it
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It made the audience develop a negative attitude toward the war, which saw them begin to question if the deaths of American soldiers were worth fighting for. This sort of weary, unoptimistic coverage was substantial in its quantity. Almost each and everyday, seven days a week for more than seven years the Vietnam War was covered on television and in the paper. The reports were often repetitive and not always of immediate significance. Yet the coverage didn’t ease, neither did public opinion. This led to a situation where Americans were more critical of military decisions and the anti-war movement took on a new stride. The general feeling towards the War from Americans proved to be a vial component in why America lost the war in Vietnam.

The unprecedented role that the media played in the Vietnam War was a crucial aspect of why the United States of America lost the war in Vietnam. Political scholar Samuel Huntington believed that during the war there was “…considerable evidence to suggest that the development of television journalism contributed to the undermining of government authority”. The undermining of government authority that the media created came in the form of public pressure. Americans were questioning whether the lives lost were worth fighting for and this came through in public pressure. It was too strong and any decision remotely in favour of the war after the ‘Tet Offensive’ was met by great public backlash. This led President Nixon to


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