I wondered how the best way to present this topic. One book that I read to help get a feel of the meaning of the Vietnam conflict was The Green Berets, by Robin Moore. The more and more I read this book, I started to analyze it in a different perspective. This book in fact had everything to do with my proposed question and I will show you why. I also intend to contrast the styles used in both the Vietnam conflict and the Gulf War. In order for me to best depict what The Green Berets means, we must first learn how this book came to be.
But even before that I must begin by letting those who do not know, what/who the Green Berets are. The are an elite fighting group under the Department of the Army. There purpose is to conduct covert operations all over the world. Some operations are teaching other friendly nations how to effectively use tactics of war and how to implement them. They are a unit, one that is highly trained in guerrilla-warfare tactics in the jungles of Southeast Asia (Moore. p. 5).
And because of their superlative training they are allowed to show this by wearing a Green Beret as ordered by former President of The United States, John F. Kennedy. President Kennedy was very instrumental in the inception of the Special Forces, throughout our armed forces. The Green Berets paid back this appreciation by naming the school after him, it is known as the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Now getting back, this book in itself is unprecedented way of how one form of the media was used during the conflict. John Moore wanted to write a book about this unit. The department of the army agreed to it but, as a condition he had to receive similar training to that of the unit, to better understand the unit.
Moore agreed, three weeks later he was in Airborne Jump School, Fort Benning, Georgia. He was the first civilian to earn SILVER WINGS. Once he completed this, he was sent to the John F. Kennedy Warfare Center where he would spend the next three months learning just what it takes to be a Green Beret. I perceive this to be one crucial part in answering my question. In order for Moore to get a story he had to receive training. He would later be attached ( military term used to described an outside constituent, working with the unit), and be considered as a member of the unit.
Working side by side with the other soldiers in the unit at the same time gathering information for his book. By todays standard, I would think that the military would not allow this to happen. One, for fear that the reporter would cite his/her first amendment right for free speech in being able to write exactly what he/she had seen. In contrasting both views a very important fact must be retained. During the days of the Vietnam conflict news reporters and journalists were considered old school (is how I like to put it). There was more of a sense of appropriateness when it came to reporting.
The media respected the fact that news concerning military actions had to be cleared by the proper channels in order for its release. Another important fact during this time period, we saw more journalists actually in the field than any major war to date. The Vietnam conflict was considered a sit-down war; because of the fact that you would come home and watch propagandas highlights on the evening news while you ate dinner with your family. I used the term propagandas highlights as a term that to me, is used fittingly.
We were greeted by how many V. C. killed today, smiles of our boys, millions of miles away from home, not realizing what was truly happening. We had some idea, and this was due to the journalists efforts. One particular incident which changed the way the press covers the political ongoings of the government can be traced back to a precedent in journalism. Woodward and Bernsteins remarkable stories that uncovered the plot of stealing files from the Democratic Party Headquarters in the Watergate Hotel, in Washington D. C. ; is what change the way reporters now handle certain stories.
This allowed the line to be moved a little in favor of the press and the media. Another factor was the pure fact that many officers during the Vietnam conflict wanted the public to know what was going on. They wanted The American public to see the difficulties and daily frustrations of combat against an enemy of uncertain origins in obscure locations (Denton p. 8). I feel this was meant to say that if the American public knew what was going on, the true side of this war they would be more sympathetic to the cause. Now lets get down to the way the media covered the Gulf war, both operations, Dessert Shield and Dessert Storm.
I intend to focus on the medium of television, and show the differences between them. Starting with the two front-runners, that received much appraisal for their coverage. CNN(Cable News Network), due to its 24 hour news format became the most up to date source of what was going on. Because of this 24 hour format, CNN is not a conventional news service. CNNs status as an international news service, with live reports and journalists behind enemy lines raised questions about its uniqueness(Denton p. 108). This statement can be taken in two ways as I see it.
On one hand it shows its commitment into getting the facts out in a hurry. Could it be for the purpose of t. v. ratings or the fact that CNN is truly committed letting the American people and the world, know what was actually happening? Or the statement could mean that CNN has no regard for the consequences in its style of reporting. Eager to get the facts out might give hints and other possible information that might prove harmful against the allied forces. Notice that I used the term allied forces. CNN was also praised for showing the entire picture of who was involved in the fighting.
Many stations, for obvious reasons only displayed the American involvement in the war. The reason being for this is CNN is a global news service, whereas the likes of ABC, NBC, and CBS cater to the American Public. Due to the mixed emotions about the way CNN covered the war, ABC was also highly praised, in chief part due to its credibility of its anchors. Peter Jennings was designated the most credible anchor by television viewers (Morrin 1991). This along with the fact that both networks presented the war in an extremely well view.
It was not the actual coverage of the war that set both networks off on the right foot. It was the days leading up to the invasion. They got out the facts, to the extent that all who viewed knew what was really happening step by step. I myself, remember I was a little pissed that my favorite shows were interrupted due to the coverage of the conflict. Now that I look back at that time period, I gained some knowledge of how the government works when it comes to acts of war. Forced to watch coverage of the conflict also let me understand the structure in which actions are to be made.
The biggest impact that I remember was the fact that the press wanted to tell everything they saw. Due to the fact that some material was deemed sensitive it could not be released. An example of this would be when the press pools would attend briefings given by Major General Norman H. Schwartzkopf, if a question was deemed classified or unable to be answered due to the fact that a units mission was not done yet, you could see the frustration build between the two groups. That is what I hope to show. Where due the limits lie? How much should the public be informed about.
Another important view into the political structure was the involvement of C-SPAN (Cable Satellite Public Affairs Network). First we must understand the function of C-SPAN and then you will see why this network was important in the public views of this war. It was started in 1979 as a non-profit organization with the duty of providing Gavel-to-Gavel coverage of the proceeding of the House of Representatives. It has since then expanded, adding a second channel, C-SPAN II. This change came about when the need arose to cover more than the house.
It has since then focused its attention into covering rallies, speeches, and other hearings that make this nation work, politically. Unlike other networks C-SPAN has no intention of voicing one particular opinion over another. Its sole purpose is to get information out and let the viewer decide what he/she feels. The reason why I have included the involvement of C-SPAN, I feel that its importance should not go unnoticed. The network covered both foreign affairs and state side debates and arguments as well. This importance is entirely due to its 24 hour coverage.
This allows for more in depth coverage without the possibility of braking for a paid commercial advertisement. This is how the medium of television and in some cases the print media worked. One topic that I enjoy discussing is the form of film and its effect on a persons view of war. We begin by contrasting the genres of war films. If you ever noticed, films that were made before Korea all had similarities to each other. Depictions of war were entirely different than what war really is. Many of the films, that I have seen showed some hardships but, not to the extend of what really happened.
Many graphic details were left out. Why? Due to history, many Films showed the good guys winning. It wasnt until Vietnam that we were really unsure of the basis of war. All of this created a feeling that war was acceptable as long as the unspoken horrors where never revealed. It was not until films challenged the viewer to think for themselves, that the real side of war has come out. Movies like Apocalypse Now, Born On The Fourth of July, and the recent Steven Speilberg Film Saving Private Ryan have really stirred many emotions. Some are in a good way.
Like remembering the importance of our NATIONAL holidays of Veterans Day, and Memorial Day. (I would like to add that I am disgusted with Hofstra University for allowing classes to proceed on this past Veterans Day. ). This is one reason why I think that this movie created by Steven Speilberg, is good for this country. So that we never forget the opportunity given to us. Also, so that we honor those who have fought in wars, and given the ultimate sacrifice for their country. This type of film also stirred many bad emotions of war.
Many Veterans relived excruciating experiences when they sat in a theater watching this particular movie. Unfortunately good sometimes can come from the bad. In this case due to veterans struggles we can show the rest of the public just what the realities of war are. I would like to conclude by stating that mediums of various types have a profound impact onto what we see, say, and feel. It is in the best interest that one must obtain as much information as possible and then make an educated response to a given situation.