Media Influencing Public Opinion Of Vietnam War Compared To Afghanistan And Iraq War

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Media Influencing Public Opinion of Vietnam War compared to Afghanistan and Iraq War

Vietnam War and Media's Influences on Public Opinion

President Lyndon Baines Johnson referred the Vietnam War as “that bitch of war”, after he left his office in 1969. The major reason behind the Johnson's not seeking reelection was the influence of media on the public opinion. It was very clear that by the end of the war it was only a governmental concern, and public support for the war nowhere to be found and according to the government only media to be blamed in this regard. The government of the Unites States and its allies, anticommunist agencies encountered opposition from press agencies that were reporting in Vietnam at the times of the war and also from United States diplomats. The American media though initially not involved in Vietnam, portrayed Vietnam parallel as Korea. The general public of America already tired from Korean War, and was not supportive for another war in Asia. Johnson's administration increased money and resources in South Vietnam. The main difference between the policies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson was, JFK was never in favor of sending military troops to Vietnam, while LBJ carries the idea of “win at any cost”. This resulted in excessive bombing, in the Northern region of Vietnam.

According to McCombs, Holbert, Kiousis and Wanta in their book “The News and Public Opinion: Media Effects on Civic Life”. During this period, 90% of the American media news was consisted of war, and more than 50 million people witness human brutalism every night. Up until 1967, the media, Congress and the public strongly supported the American war. However, this support gradually decreases; this was because no military censorship was developed and news reporters follow soldiers into the battle field and report their observation without formal censorship. These journalists presented graphic images in news to the public and some interviews with the soldiers, who were frustrated with the happening of war. The most important reason was the Tet offensive in 1968. Tet caused massive amount of casualties in northern Vietnam, and considered to be as US victory. However, media supported that the growing perception that United State was not able to win the war (par. 29).

As referred by Siegmund in his book “How Far, If at All, Do the Media and Public Opinion Influence US Foreign and Defense Policy?” The media coverage of American involvement in the Vietnam War became mostly negative after Tet offensive. Filming of combat scenes increased during this period as were the number of casualties. The portrayal of American troops was the most negative element that brought the change in the public perception. After Tet, a number of stories projecting negative morale were presented. Most of these references include racial conflicts, drug use, and noncompliance of US soldiers (Par. 35). My Lai massacre coverage proved most damaging for the reputation of US soldiers. Initial reports indicated that the operation killed more than 100 enemy soldiers in the ...
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