The first TV war - Sample Essay

By 1968, the war was a stalemate. The USA could not defeat the Vietcong and in turn, the Vietcong, as shown by the Tet Offensive, could not drive out the USA. However, American public opinion could. In August 1965, 61% of the public thought that America had not made a mistake by sending troops to fight in Vietnam in view of developments made since they had entered. However this figure drastically dropped to only 28% in May 1971, showing a stark reversal of public opinion. This could have been caused by a number of reasons; the most important being the power of the media at home.

Within five years, President Lyndon Johnson marked the loss of the Vietnam War by announcing that he would not only withdraw from Vietnam but he would also not stand for re-election, only five years after the supposed victory in the Tet Offensive, which shows just how pivotal support at home is in order to win a war. By 1968 the war effort was being undermined on the Home Front because not only did it not appear as if America was not winning the war, but it did not appear to be fighting for a very just cause.

Public opinion about the war was strongly affected by the media coverage of the war which the government at this time made no official attempt to censor. The Vietnam War is regarded as the ‘first TV war’ and because of this fact, the public received gruesome pictures and videos of what was actually happening and, as it turned out, the American people could not handle the horrific reality of the war that they were fighting. The significance of media coverage in public perception of the war is very obvious in the Tet offensive.