Wells Lai also eventually had a large impact upon

Wells argues that the media did play a huge part in the
withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam, this was a problem as this was one
of the first televised wars with lots of photographers and reporters in the
warzone all sending back their reports and photos the magazines and newspapers.
These were then read by the whole of America and this was the first time that
the public had seen the horrors of war. One of these examples is the
well-televised attack on the US embassy in Saigon as part of the January 1968
Tet offensive convinced many Americans at home that the war was unwinnable,
which helped to reduce support for the war still further. This quote by
Marshall Mcluhan describes how this ‘Television
brought the brutality of war into the comfort of the living room. Vietnam was
lost in the living rooms of America — not on the battlefields of Vietnam.’1 This is
important as it clearly highlights the impact that the evolution of technology
supported the impact of the media on the unfolding of the Vietnam War. Therefore,
as Marshall McLuhan said, it is arguable that Americans did not lose the war to
the Vietnamese Communists but to the power of their “democratic” media but it
didn’t actually lose America the War as the American Strategies and tactics
couldn’t handle the Guerrilla tactics and strategies employed by the Vietcong
in the jungle.

This favours Wells argument that the anti-war
movement was hugely influenced by what the media had to say especially with the
increase of Journalism coming from the war exponentially increasing throughout
the period as in 1965 30,000 people attended a rally in Washington and this
grew massively to 300,000 in 1967 with Wells saying “The
American Public was meanwhile losing heart for the war in rapidly growing
The American public were opposed to the war because they had seen how horrific
it was on TV. They were appalled by pictures showing the effects of napalm,
Agent Orange and Rolling Thunder on Vietnamese civilians. Coverage of incidents
like My Lai also eventually had a large impact upon how the public viewed the
war. By now, many people had colour TVs, which made the TV pictures even more
realistic, gruesome and graphic. One disagreement to this is David F. Schmitz’s view that it was
the single failure to deal with the Tet Offensive in 1968 which was undoubtedly
as “there had been no progress in the war since 1965 “3 and that the officials
thought they “would have supported further escalation…no longer see that as
feasible” In late January 1968, the Tet Offensive occurred and marked a major
turning point in media’s coverage of the war. With this rise in lack of support
for the War growing with the media coverage of the war showing that the role of
media in the withdrawal of troops was vital to the US loss of the Vietnam War.

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Even though the offensive was clearly a military failure for
North Vietnam, the way the media reported told a contrary story. While focusing
on a few unfavourable combat actions such as the Battle of Hue or the Viet
Cong’s attack on the U.S. embassy, the media missed the winning story of the
big picture. As a result, the public misled by the media viewed the offensive
as a triumph for the communists and quickly changed their opinions against the
war and this is one of the major reasons why the US had to withdraw from
Vietnam due to the huge opposition created by these images. ‘Vietnam was the first war ever fought without any
censorship. Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the public
mind.’.  Doctor Ian Horwood argues that on the other hand, if the
US didn’t use the media to their own advantage they may have lost out on the
little support that they already had as it may have “limited the disenchantment
of the American public enabling the United States to sustain its war effort in
Vietnam for longer,”

 After the
Tet Offensive, media coverage of the war became predominantly negative. Images
of both civilian and military casualties were increasingly televised. The
percentage of victory stories reported by journalists decreased from 62% before
to 44% after the Tet. Additionally, many iconic pictures of the war such as The
Execution of a Vietcong Guerrilla or “The Napalm Girl” exerted a negative and
lasting influence on the public feeling. As the war became uglier on screen,
its public support also declined significantly. It is now clear that
the media had a huge influence on the war in Vietnam politically. In fact,
American public so depended on the media to know and understand the war that as
the war was depicted as a failure on screen, it also became their perspectives.
That resulted in public opposition, at first, against the war and, later, against
the government who waged it. The increasing opposition led to American troop
withdrawal as well as significant drop in financial aid to South Vietnam which
mainly contributed to the fall of Saigon in 1975. Tom Wells disagrees with this
view of the Vietnam war as he argues that if American hadn’t pulled out at that
precise time they were going to pull out eventually with as the anti-Vietnam
war movement was growing so rapidly in the US that eventually it would’ve
presented a serious problem for the Government and would’ve also “cost in
domestic peace and more forcefully on the minds of US officials” This would’ve
consequently lead to much more political restraints upon the Vietnam War which
meant that the Army couldn’t exercise its full force upon the Vietnamese which
was their main strength. Furthermore, this was the only thing keeping them in
the war and if they removed these powers from the US army then they would’ve
eventually pulled out of the war anyway to avoid embarrassment or complete
failure in the War.

In chapter six Hess deals with the revisionist
argument that the media undercut popular support for the war. Here he argues
that the balance of scholarship shows that the media was not biased against the
United States, indeed it was generally supportive, and that the war weariness
that eventually sapped the American effort in Vietnam would probably have
happened anyway, with or without the new medium of television. Consequently,
the revisionist view that the media was biased towards the doves merely makes
‘the Media a “scapegoat” for the shortcomings of the policies of the nation’s
civilian and military leaders’4


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