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Jan 30 2018

Fake News and the Tet Offensive

The term “fake news” is overused, and it certainly isn’t something we want Big Government trying to criminalize, as in Europe. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a serious problem. It even cost us a war, following the Tet Offensive launched 50 years ago today:

Despite their ferocity, by most objective military standards, the communists achieved none of their goals. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces held fast, regrouped and fought back. By late March they had achieved a decisive victory over the communist forces. …

But in living rooms across America, the nightly news described an overwhelming American defeat.

In his 1977 book Big Story, Washington Post Saigon correspondent Peter Braestrup blamed the radical disconnect between what was happening in Vietnam and what the American public was told on television’s showbiz aspect.

The TV correspondent, Braestrup wrote, like the anchorman back home, had to pose on camera with authority. He had to maintain a dominant appearance while telling viewers more than he knew or could know. The commentary was thematic and highly speculative; it seemed preoccupied with network producers’ insatiable appetite for “impact.”

However, the choice of narrative was not based on achieving impact alone; mainly, it was based on moonbattery.

“At Tet,” Braestrup assessed, “the press shouted that the patient was dying, then weeks later began to whisper that he somehow seemed to be recovering—whispers apparently not heard amid the clamorous domestic reaction to the initial shouts.”

This same technique is applied to hate hoaxes. When an 11-year-old Muslim claims that some nasty Islamophobe took scissors to her hijab, it is such earth-shaking news that the Prime Minister of Canada weighs in. The unsurprising news that it was all a hoax is whispered toward the bottom of page 22C.

Braestrup thought journalists should stay calm, get the story straight, and not conflate news with what they regard as “truth.” Unfortunately, journalism has rushed headlong in the opposite direction, all the more so recently.

America may have lost the Vietnam War, but the communists didn’t win it — unless by communists, you mean Walter Cronkite et al. However, they won’t defeat America again so long as we remember not to take anything they present us with at face value.

On tips from Varla and Byron.

17 Responses to “Fake News and the Tet Offensive”

  1. Frank says:

    We decimated the N. Vietnamese regular forces and Viet Cong during the Tet Offensive. We could have marched right into Hanoi.

  2. Mr. Freemarket says:

    They don’t want to hear that.

  3. Mr. Freemarket says:

    On a broader perspective, the North Vietnamese never won a single battle. When the US withdrew from Vietnam, the north began to invade the south, looking for the US to step up to keep the promises that we made. When we didn’t (because the democrat congress refused to appropriate any funds), the north continued their assault, taking over the south.

    Then the killing started, mostly in Cambodia.


    Liberals ARE progressives. As such, they have now progressed to the point that you are a racist if you hate ISIS:

  5. Angel says:

    Walter Cronkite and Huntley & Brinkley WERE the news in the ’60s. They delivered it with such stern sincerity, you had to believe it. There was no other rational alternative at the time. This is the situation the left yearns to return to.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Creating a “socially-constructed reality” narrative that won the war for their commie buddies… not that North Vietnam considered them more than useful idiots.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, liberals!!

  8. Occam's Stubble says:

    America did not lose the war. We lost the peace. All our troops had been withdrawn by the time Saigon fell. The Democrats in Congress simply failed to send cash to prop up the SVN government.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Plus their fellow like-minded celebrities…

  10. Mr. Freemarket says:

    The US military cannot be defeated without all the assistance that a democrat congress can provide.

  11. bobdog19006 says:

    May Walter Kronkite roast in hell.

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  13. just a thought says:


    After I learned we had really won, I started calling him “Walter Sickness.”

    It was also when I began to realize that Republicans were the cowardly stupid party, for not having protested such blatant falsehood.

    And it wasn’t just a mistake on his part. He’s always been a rat.

  14. GOPcongress says:

    The most dangerous organization in the world is not Isis. Not Russia. Not China. Not NATO, the UN, the EU, Germany, Mexican drug cartel, or the Bilderberg Group.

    The most DANGEROUS organization is the Democrat Party, aided and abetted by the RINO-progressives. They ALL must be defeated. Once that happens, no other real enemy exists, other than suicidal nuclear despots.

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