Post & Newsweek Remember Vietnam-- but Forget Critics
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Mon, 15 May 100 14:17:11 -0700
Subject: Post & Newsweek Remember Vietnam-- but Forget Critics
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Excerpted-from:[FAIR-L] Post & Newsweek Remember Vietnam - but Forget Critics
Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting
Media analysis, critiques and news reports
Washington Post and Newsweek Remember Vietnam War-- but Forget Critics
May 15, 2000
(This essay was written by Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive
magazine, and appears on their website: http://www.progressive.org)
In commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of Saigon on
April 30, many leaders of the mainstream media revisited Vietnam to cast
the U.S. role in a flattering light.
The notable exception was the New York Times, which blamed President Johnson
for the "reckless spilling of American and Vietnamese blood." Its editorial
also said, "No compelling national interest was served by waging war in
Vietnam, and the men who directed the war, including Johnson and his
Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, knew it at the time."
The Washington Post, by contrast, rallied around the flag. Its editorial
on April 30 said, "For the sake of the 58,000 Americans who lost their
lives in Vietnam, it is important to recall the large and just cause for
which they made their sacrifice." The Post also expressed relief that "the
Gulf War cured the armed forces of the debilitating Vietnam syndrome."
To reinforce its position, the Post ran an op-ed the same day by Senator
Bob Kerrey, Democrat of Nebraska, who received the Medal of Honor for
service in Vietnam. Kerrey wrote, "We were fighting on the right side. .
. . The cause was just and the sacrifice not in vain." The reason the United
States lost, he said, was: "We succumbed to fatigue and self-doubt."
Next to Kerrey's commentary, the Post ran five accounts from Vietnamese
Americans, every one of them bemoaning the U.S. departure. At least four
of the five were South Vietnamese military officers or their relatives.
On the front page of the Post that day, the coverage was similarly biased.
The article, entitled "Three Roads from Vietnam," profiled three Vietnamese
who eventually immigrated to the United States. All three had been in the
South Vietnam military.
Nowhere in the Washington Post was there a hint of another Vietnamese
perspective, or another U.S. perspective, for that matter.
Newsweek, owned by the Washington Post Company, was equally lopsided in
its coverage. The May 1 issue had two long articles on Vietnam. The first
was by Evan Thomas entitled "The Last Days of Saigon." The piece was all
but bereft of analysis except that Vietnam was "at once a noble cause and
a tragic waste," and "a low moment in the American Century, a painful
reminder of the limits of power."
The other article was by-- I'm not kidding you here-- Henry Kissinger! Akin
to having Goering write about the blitzkrieg, Newsweek let Kissinger (he
of the secret wars in Laos and Cambodia, he of the mining of Haiphong's
harbors, he of the "madman" theory of diplomacy) retouch his own portrait
even as he smeared the protesters once more.
Impervious to this day to the more than two million Vietnamese the U.S.
military killed, Kissinger had the audacity to say: "One of the most
important casualties of the Vietnam tragedy was the tradition of American
'exceptionalism.' The once near-universal faith in the uniqueness of our
values- and their relevance around the world- gave way to intense divisions
over the very validity of those values and the lengths we should go to
promote and defend them."
Still aghast that critics began "challenging the worthiness of America
itself, and of its conduct not only in Vietnam but around the world,"
Kissinger pleads for "a balanced judgment on Vietnam."
I wait for Newsweek and The Washington Post to give Howard Zinn or Philip
Berrigan equal time.
ACTION: Please contact the Washington Post and Newsweek to share your
thoughts on their coverage of the 25th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam
E.R. Shipp, Ombudsman
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© 2000 Peter Langston