Vietnam War and the Media

2830 words 12 pages
Write an essay that offers a critical examination of the concept of the ‘guilty media’ thesis in respect of any war of your choice

Natasa Perdiou

The Vietnam War was the first war that allowed uncensored media coverage resulting in images and accounts of horrific events that served to shape public opinion of the war like nothing that had been seen before. This portrayal by the media led to a separation between the press and the U.S. government, as much of what was reported defied the intentions of government policy. The media has fell blame by many for the result of the war, as it is widely believed that the war could not have been won under the scrutiny that came from the American people as a result of the media
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In reality, the final result was a success, in military terms, for the US as the Vietnamese did undergo serious casualties and were driven back. However, the America media were not expectant of the attack and assumed that the military did not either. Seeing the US embassy being undertaken by the Vietnamese presented the event as a defeat, ‘television fell prey to its chronic lust for drama.’[1] After the Tet offensive the media began to attack the American involvement in Vietnam. It became clear to the American public that there was no clear way to win the war. Also, in reaction to public mood the media started sending damaging reports from the frontlines; they suggested that American troops lacked the specific training for the terrain and the type of warfare they were subjected to. They also gave the idea to people that the new rebellious generation and the great pressures of the war meant that many soldiers were drug abusers and carrying out atrocities. The media concentrated on civilian casualties and incidents such as the one in My Lai,

These images on people’s televisions, left people in outrage, many had lost faith in the war and saw no military plan capable of wining such a war. They were outraged by their country’s conduct in the war and were set into a moral panic, seeing brutal scenes of civilian casualties committed by their own troops. The war was now seen as a shameful one and the government was seen to be at fault, forcing


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