Role of Media in Vietnam War Essay

The Vietnam War was a state of deep-seated ill-will and a state of political and military hostility between countries using means short of armed warfare that came to pass in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam form 1st November 1955 to the fall of Ho Chi Minh City, a city in South Vietnam formerly (as Saigon) it was the capital of French Indochina on 30th April 1975.  Vietnam War complied the 1st War of Indochina and was crusaded among North Vietnam and South Vietnam. Communist allies supported the North Vietnam while United States and other nations supported the South Vietnam in this war. The army of North Vietnam involved in more formal and conventional war. South Vietnam and United States had confidence on air force and overmastering firepower for searching and destroying operations and had involved many ground forces, airstrikes and artillery (Hallin, 1989).

Vietnam was separated into North and south, for a limited period of time when in 1954, French left the erstwhile colony of Vietnam. Ho Chih Minh and his Viet Minh were in charge of the North. The government of South Vietnam with the aid of US eluded the people and citizen of the country Vietnam to vote for conjugation and union of the South and North Vietnam. The Offensively self-assured and despotic role of Ngo Dinh Diem in South Vietnam and communist party and quality of Ho Chih Minh fed into insurgency of southern Communist. President John F. Kennedy sent a team in 1961 to give an account on terms in South Vietnam counseled a buildup of American military, technical and economic aid with the objective to face the threat of Viet Cog.  Under the ‘Domino Theory’  that states that if one of southeast Asian Country came to the communism, many of others follow, Kennedy enhanced the U.S aid by sending the Special Forces with an organized rebellion aimed at overthrowing a constituted government through the use of subversion and armed conflict that was finally moved on into a fully military intercession (Wood, 2011).

By 1962, in South Vietnam, the U.S military reached with 9000 troops, equated with less than of 800 on 1950s. After an assault in 1968, Richard Nixon contracted the doctrine of Nixon to withdraw the troops in Vietnamization process. All U. S troops were keeping away by 1973 when they signed the Paris Pease Accords although U. S gave economic aid without any interruption to the South Vietnam. Finally the end came, nevertheless, as DRV tanks drifted south along with national highway and in April 30, 1975 Communist forces conquer the Saigon the presidential palace (Hallin, 1989).  

Different types of weapons were used in the Vietnam War in which 40 type of rifles like M16,M14, and SKS carbine and 22 gun machines, rocket propelled grenades, armored vehicles, grenades, and chemical weapons During Vietnam War over 3 million Vietnam soldiers and 1.5 millions soldiers of Laos and Cambodia were lost. U.S also had lost its over 58,000 soldiers. More than 900,000 soldiers had severe wounds, painful stress disorder and amputations (Hallin, 1989). 

Many of scholars disagree to what degree the media deserves the duty for engendering the change in public opinion from one endure of intense outspoken opposition against the involvement of America in Vietnam. Certainly, it played a substantial role but to what extent is the real question. Since 1975, two theory or challenging models have been emerged, elitist opinion theory and mirror theory that explain how the media role in Vietnam War (Wood, 2011).

According to the research book of Once Upon a Distant War (1996) in which role of government has shown very clearly during War Vietnam that lights up the main issue of that time how do control the press. As Prochnau tells that government was trying to get control on press in Vietnam by giving favour to its journalists like Joe Alsop and did not giving permission to the reporters who reported critically. All war was completed with the same outright falsehoods and distorted statistics. The research shows how military failed in Vietnam due to the failure of war. Many of journalists, news organizations, UPI, AP, and the New York Time and many other mainstreams showed that war was “Quagmire” in word of David Halberstam’s word (Prochnau, 1996).  

The Green Berets gives a real picture of the time of War Vietnam during 1960s and describes the big broadcast of Iconic John Wayne in which he gives an account about the communist forces trying to take over the states and involvement of America in Vietnam in very beautifully. It is just a simple war propaganda with historical significant. The green berets is a delighting tale that is capable of arousing and holding the attention of the audience specifically its first half epic where John Wayne begins as the character of Colonel Mike Kirby who comes at fort to prepare the green beret to the Vietnam. In it broadcast the harsh realities and cruelties of the conflict and gives a real picture of war (Moore, 2002).

The book gives a review on the role of media that how it justified the decisions that were made in 1964 to 1968. Brain Van De Mark gave the reasons being made and shows how Johnson reputedly took the U.S more mysterious into the Quagmire of Vietnam. In this book the Brain shows how the government took media as propaganda when media started conducting interviews from the companions of the soldiers who were killed in the Vietnam War and give acknowledgement to the audience and pointed out the views of the survival soldiers. The book also reveals the American Foreign Policy who helps till the end of the War to the South Vietnamese (Moore, 2002).

Malcolm Brown’s book “Muddy boots and Red Socks” begins with memories of war. It mirrors the excellent description of the young reporter of America in Vietnam and about their work. The Vietnam media was regulated in constricted manner by the government of Vietnamese. At first media is a tool for government propaganda and information. The government considers the media as the voice of masses and of party and it is of the view that information that is spread for the purpose of promoting party policies. However, market challenge has given rise to the Vietnam media to cover the culture; ratio, newspaper and television are still obliged to manifest the basics of Leninism and the ideas of Ho Chi Minh (Brown, 1994).

In 1960s, Vietnam made first broadcast through television when U.S started new two channels in Saigon in English and Vietnamese language. And this was the first war that was shown to the public through Television. The traditional enlightenment has commonly been that for worse or for better it was influence of anti war. It added the horror of war in the living rooms of the people and finally animated revulsion and debilitation. The perception often has been made that war shown in an unrestricted way by TV would finally lose the support of the public. Researchers told the other story about it (Hallin, 1989).

There were surely many occasions when TV showed the violated and suffering of the people in images but in 1965, when CBS aired an account by Morley Safer in which Marines lighting the roofs of the Cam Ne village with Zippo lighters along with harsh and critical commentary on the handling of the villagers. The entire story was told without any censorship or cutting and it generate a violated reaction in the people. During the Tet offensive, NBC news viewers saw the Col. Nguyen Ngoc Loan extinguish the brains of confined in a Saigon street. In 1992, when the North Vietnamese bounce offensive, the consultations and audience found the aftermath of fallible napalm strike in which planes of South Vietnamese erred their own run away quickly for North Vietnamese army (Hallin, 1989).

The battlefield collectively would be followed by a story from Washington and then film cover the field typically the story of five days old although the real war is continue. With much television news, the stress was given to visual as well as personal accounts: “American boys in state of action” was the real story and accounts underlined their skill of handling the technology of war and bravery of the boys. Many of reports directly spoke in response of Morley Safer’s Cam Ne story, which was showing burning huts, and killing of people that was actually a routine destroy and search operations. The main stress was given its importance that it is necessary because these villagers were communist. On Thursday, causality figure freed in Saigon would be presented in a report, coming along with the flags of combatants and naturally show the good score for America (Hallin, 1989).

A significant change in TV news was that it started the personal and up close style. In early days when people have strong moral then television showed only the optimistic welfare of the troops but with the declined in the moral, the tone has totally changed (Hallin, 1989). 

There was a great change in 1960s to the providing of film violence before long before the U.S attack on Vietnam filed in the public mind through mass media. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho assumed the horror film towards a new direction with his depiction of serial murder, specifically the famous scene of film shows where the heroine is poked to death and stream of blood is running down. The violence of Bonnie and Clyde, comes to pass in arid version of John Ford’s landscapes, was elaborated especially for the Vietnam War in 1960s. At the end of the film that combines the quick cutting in slow motion in which a portion of head of Clyde is blown away shows the shocking murder and according to Penn the murder of Kennedy was depicted as a home movie by Abraham Zapruder (Hallin, 1989).  

The penetration of United States into South Asia happened as Television was attaining its apex as the main medium of entertainment and news. The Vietnam War was regularly and routinely covered in different night news programs, showing the footage in which real violence was appeared against the people of American living rooms. When the United lost the war with the Tet Offensive of 1968, war footage appeared ubiquitous. Some newscasts consisted on the outrageous footage like the image of children running to save from the napalm attacks. Coverage of Vietnam War along with the protestation against the war and assail by the African and American police brought a great change in the sensibility of public that was reflected in the fury of late 1960s cinema and then films (Halin, 1989). 

Since the country’s reversing against the war, Hallin concluded that Television was more an acolyte than a leader of public notion. The conventional media argue that compounded in 1968 tended to narrowly focused on the ability to win the war not at the morality of war or its consequences on the Vietnamese, two millions of them were killed harshly (Hallin, 1989).

The minor focus of media on the impact of Vietnam War in whose concern the war was according to what had been alleged fought, persist today. The editors of Newsweek says that two years ago when they made decision not to issue the story of Thanh Phong massacre and Kerrey, due to Sen. Kerry already had selected not to consort for president.  This may be a mark of racism, or at least a belief in the superiority of one’s own ethnic group, that journalists could not judge this story about the different causality of Vietnamese as about the presidential dreams of a single American (Wood, 2011).

The Wild Bunch was a speculation on disputed American ideals that was as necessary as the Citizen Kane. The violence and fury of The Wild Bunch nearly blotted out the dramatic power of the film according to the many journalists’ reviewers, who often put comments on the blood ballets of Peckinpah rather than the quality of description. The Wild Bunch was the direct reaction of the United States intervention in Vietnam War (Wood, 2011).  

In short many of the films and writing or research shows the both two aspects of villain and heroism. When media show the blood stream of people killed in the Vietnam was an act of Villain that America was contributing in helping the South Vietnam and showed more a villain role in the War and for the Vietnamese. 


Browne, Malcolm. Muddy Boots and Red Socks: A War Reporter’s Life. Three Rivers Press. 1994. Print.  

Hallin, Daniel. The Uncensored war: The Media and Vietnam, with a new preface. University of California Press. 1989. Print. 

Moore, Robin. The Green Berets. St. Martin’s Paperbacks. 2002. Print. 

Prochnau, William. Once Upon a distant War. New Jersey: Vintage. 1996. Print.  

Wood, Robert. Goodbye Vietnam. Varangon Corporation. 2011. Print.