Skip to comments.Walter Cronkite On Vietnam Revisited
Posted on 02/26/2018 2:25:40 PM PST by Nextrush
".....To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest that we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic if unsatifactory conclusion.
On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy's intentions, in case this is indeeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people, who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.
This is Walter Cronkite, Good Night."
Walter Cronkite Commentary-CBS News Special "Report from Vietnam"-2/27/1968
"I have asked for this radio and television time tonight for the purpose of announcing that we today have concluded an agreement to end the war and bring peace with honor in Vietnam....."
President Richard M. Nixon Speech 1/23/1973
Fifty years ago today the three major networks of the time (CBS, NBC, ABC) were the cutting edge media viewed by millions and having dominance of the audience and virtually no competition in their medium.
They focused on entertainment but their news programs were the leading ones, viewed by millions and influencing public opinion.
I tuned in the CBS News program that night to see the war, which was fascinating me as a seven year old child.
The commentary was a bit over my head viewing on the monocrhome set in the bedroom. I went into the living room where my father watched it on the color television set.
He was all sold on the notion of getting out of Vietnam.
My anti-Communism was yet to be awakened and my understanding of the policies of the Uniparty politicians who policed the world as envisioned by the Democrat Progressive Woodrow Wilson was not there yet.
The Vietnam War was the new Korean War to begin with, a war to police and get the Communists to a negotiating table from the beginning. No victory like World War II was intended from its inception with deadly consequences for thousands.
Back to Cronkite's commentary. Many see it as left-wing propaganda, pro-Communist.
The liberal news stars of CBS News from this era like Dan Rather and Roger Mudd always decried their "conservative" management when confronted about their biases.
But what were the political views of CBS management. One interesting insight into that comes from the fact that Prescott Bush, Republican from Connecticut, who was the father and grandfather of future RINO Presidents of the United States served on the board of CBS around 1950.
In his biography of Walter Cronkite published in 2012, historian Douglas Brinkley noted that the CBS management as in Chairman William Paley was "Rockefeller Republican". Brinkley also outed Cronkite's liberalism as well in his extensive work.
The commentary on the war produced 50 years ago would be a joint venture between Cronkite and his "CBS Evening News" Executive Producer Ernest Leiser with the sanction of CBS News President Richard Salant as a sort of "Executive Editor" of the whole enterprise.
Salant was a right hand man of CBS boss William Paley brought in to replace Fred Friendly, the onetime Edward R. Murrow associate ("See It Now" etc.) who wanted coverage of anti-war Senate hearings on Vietnam to be aired instead of regular programming on CBS.
While Cronkite's commentary would be in line with liberal anti-war interests like those of Eugene McCarthy and Robert F. Kennedy within the Democrat Party who opposed President Johnson it would also be in the interests of the Republican Party to defeat the Democrats in the fall election.
And the notions of Cronkite of an "honorable people" who would "negotiate" would be translated by the victor of the 1968 election, Richard Nixon, into the notion of "peace with honor" as Nixon put it.
Of course the media would pounce on Nixon and there would be a war between the two, but that's another story.
One could argue that CBS management got their way in this arrangement as well with the election of a "moderate Republican, Rockefeller Republican" in the end in 1968.
Video links are below......
Cronkite would probably be disappointed if he saw Vietnam today. One of the most capitalist countries on the planet.
Walter Cronkite did the lead in on a report on the Battle of Ia Drang Valley - 1965, first major battle in Vietnam. While a win for us - we lost a lot of men - war is like that.
At the end of the report the reporter (the field reporter, or maybe it was Cronkite in “summary”) says something like,
“So while the battle is considered by some to be a victory, it remains to be seen how long the American public will stand as the number of these boys coming home in body bags only increases.” (Footage of the body bags laid out on the ground behind).
The first major battle of the war!!
I lost faith in the MSM when it covered Khe Sanh. The infamous burning plane crash got photographed more than Raquel Welch.
Is there ANYTHING your blog isn’t an expert on?
Rockefeller himself ran for the 1968 nomination. The conventional wisdom of the punditry at the time was that the Republicans should nominate Rockefeller because tricky Dick was to conservative to win.
Of course, we now know that the country and the Republican Party were changing. The nomination of Barry Goldwater was not a disaster, but a sign of changing times in the party. The Gipper himself entered the 1968 primaries. The conservative movement left Nixon behind or perhaps more accurate, he didn't keep up.
That’s why they don’t allow live reporting from a combat zone any longer. The press used it to divide the nation in the 60’s and early 70’s. And you wonder why so many brave American soldiers were reviled when they returned from Vietnam.
It may not have made a difference but showing the brutality of the Maoist and communist regimes might have clarified our mission. As it were, the leftist press were allowed to only shown one side of the issue and promote the antiwar agenda. Maybe not fake news but only half of the story — the half that they favored.
My how times have changed — this would not happen today; in the age of the Internet. Most of us are much more aware of things now than ever before. Makes it harder for the propagandists.
Blast from the past. Thanks. I served in the Navy stateside in the Navy and would get calls from friends who came back shot up. The stuff that was going on would shock anybody. One of them was a tank commander and had to get permission to return fire on the nva who were hiding in rubber plant groves. They were told not to do it because we had an agreement with the French that would pay them 1 million dollars for each rubber tree that we destroyed. Occasionally, they would squeeze off a few shells just to vent and piss off the brass. Almost everyone that served during that time (including me) were disgusted with the war because the politicians never let the military finish the job.
Oddly Vietnam is a "defacto allie" of the United States today. They fear China. American Warships actually make port of calls in Vietnam now.
Raquel Welch appeared inside the back cover of Soldiers Magazine in February 1968, and her pin-up soon could be found on every bunker wall throughout Vietnam. Of course I kept one in my memorabilia, and here it is:
“The press used it to divide the nation in the 60s and early 70s.”
Nothing has changed, except the public schools and universities do a better job to prepare kids to fall hook, line and sinker for whatever bias reporting the press puts out.
I was with the 298th Signal overlooking the strip when that
Dangerous place.We took fire earlier that day
at the infamous Rockpile.
Uncle Walter my **s,friggin` defeatist commie stooge.
It offers an opinion, an analysis. I don’t claim the status of God or the final word.
They certainly spun things to get attention and ratings at the very least with some very biased and jaundiced.
Peter Arnett was one of the “press corps” in Vietnam for example.
Nixon had Pat Buchanan by his side beginning in 1966 and as the story goes Nixon would ask Buchanan “What do they want?” when it came to conservatives.
They work hard with the images coming out of Syria nowadays but many of us see right through it.
It was sad to see the waste of human lives and treasure in Vietnam. We lost lives by the thousands and Vietnam along with the Great Society even more so piled up the spending and began the financial bleeding of massive national debt.
And it was approved by management as well as I point out here.
“It was sad to see the waste of human lives and treasure in Vietnam.
The Korean War,which lsted only 3 years, was worse-——the death rate was much higher than Vietnam.
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