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Vietnam War

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Walter Cronkite In Vietnam

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Walter Cronkite, the CBS television news anchor, reported from Vietnam beginning in February 1968, in time to witness the Tet Offensive by the North Vietnamese. This tragic U.S. military defeat shocked Cronkite who returned to the States with a different attitude towards the war. Usually an objective and unemotional anchorman, he made a great exception on February 27, 1968. Cronkite declared, "It seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is a stalemate."[1] He asked the government to negotiate peace in order that the U.S. could stop the fighting as an “honorable people.” This broadcast helped change the mood toward the war for the American people. Some reports state that when President Johnson heard the broadcast he claimed, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America.” Not long after the broadcast, Johnson withdrew from his re-election campaign and sought negotiations with Vietnam. For the first time, television influenced the popular opinion of a war. Not only was the war televised on local stations, but influential figures like Cronkite spoke out to oppose the war in Vietnam. For centuries, governments and resistance groups used printed propaganda to sway the public in support of or opposition to a war, but in the 1960s the public could watch live footage, view death and destruction, and see, for themselves, the grim reality of war.

 

[1] http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/C/htmlC/cronkitewal/cronkitewal.htm; accessed August 18, 2008

  • February 27, 1968


Contributor: Clio
Created: September 8, 2008 · Modified: June 6, 2015


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