Paper Soldiers; The American Press and the Vietnam War / Edition 1

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Praised and condemned for its aggressive coverage of the Vietnam War, the American press has been both commended for breaking public support and bringing the war to an end and accused of misrepresenting the nature and progress of the war. While in-depth combat coverage and the instantaneous power of television were used to challenge the war, Clarence R. Wyatt demonstrates that, more often than not, the press reported official information, statements, and views. Examining the relationship between the press and the government, Wyatt looks at how difficult it was to obtain information outside official briefings, what sort of professional constraints the press worked under, and what happened when reporters chose not to "get on the team."

"Wyatt makes the Diem period in Saigon come to life—the primitive communications, the police crackdowns, the quarrels within the news organizations between the pessimists in Saigon and the optimists in Washington and New York."—Peter Braestrup, Washington Times

"An important, readable study of the Vietnam press corps—the most maligned group of journalists in modern American history. Clarence Wyatt's insights and assessments are particularly valuable now that the media is rapidly growing in its influence on domestic and international affairs."—Peter Arnett, CNN foreign correspondent

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Citing the widespread belief that the American press served as a kind of collective antiwar, antigovernment crusader throughout the Vietnam War, Wyatt reveals that the record shows instead a fluctuating mix of confrontation and cooperation between journalism and the government/military leadership during the 1962-1975 conflict. He traces the development of the press's reliance on information provided by the government from the days of the Eisenhower administration through the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations. He documents how the executive branch gradually increased its power to control, restrict and manipulate information--about the downing of the U-2 spy plane, for instance, about the Cuban missile crisis, and finally about the Vietnam War. Readers of this instructive study will be surprised to learn the extent to which the press's coverage of that war reflected, virtually unchallenged, official goverment handouts. Wyatt teaches at Centre College in Kentucky. (Apr.)
Library Journal
For two decades and more, ``conventional wisdom'' has been that the American press was a major factor in the U.S. failure in Vietnam. Simply put, author Wyatt (history, Centre Coll.) demolishes that theory. With prodigious research, he has pieced together a study that reveals that the press was not the scapegoat; more often than not, the press reported official information, statements, and views with relatively little dissent. ``The press,'' Wyatt writes, ``was more a paper soldier than an antiwar, anti-government crusader.'' As the war dragged on, it became clear that there was a growing lack of public confidence in the credibility of both the government and the press. An important book; recommended for all libraries.-- Chet Hagan, Berks Cty. P.L. System, Pa.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226917955
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1995
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,417,816
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Ch. 1: A Different Kind of World: The Cold War and Secret Government
Ch. 2: Managing the News: The Press, Public Information, and Foreign Policy in the Kennedy Years
Ch. 3: Dramatize the Truth: Coverage of Vietnam, 1955-60
Ch. 4: In Country: The Press Comes to Vietnam, 1961-62
Ch. 5: "Let Them Burn": The Buddhist Crisis of 1963
Ch. 6: "Get on the Team": The End of Diem
Ch. 7: "I Don't Know": Explaining the War, 1964-67
Ch. 8: "Fighting in the Open": Sources and the Story, 1964-67
Ch. 9: "Buddha Will Understand": The Crisis of Confidence, 1967-68
Ch. 10: No More Bodies: Turning Away from Vietnam, 1969-75
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