War ‘Minus the Fog’: CBS Celebrates Their Coverage of the Vietnam War

With the U.S./North Korea summit being conducted in Vietnam this week, CBS ended Tuesday’s edition of Evening News with a celebration of their efforts to help America lose the Vietnam War. Or as anchor Jeff Glor put it: it was “the realities of war, minus the fog.”

“Our coverage of the U.S./North Korean summit here in Vietnam marks a return for CBS News. The most important events of the Vietnam War, events that changed our country and this one forever captured in real time by CBS News crews,” Glor boasted as they came back from a commercial break.

He continued his bragging as the video portion of the report got underway. “For the first time in American history, news from the front lines was sent straight into living rooms across the country.”

That quickly gave way to praise for a report by the infamous Morley Safer depicting U.S. Marines burning down a village used by the Viet Cong:

MORLEY SAFER: We were walking into this village when you can hear what happened.

GLOR: The realities of war, minus the fog.

SAFER: The Marines have burned this old couple's cottage because fire was coming from here.

GLORE: In August, as the war was escalating, Morley Safer documented Marines destroying homes in Cam Ne.

SAFER: 150 homes were leveled in retaliation for a burst of gunfire.

Safer's report painted new kind of picture, an ugly, uncensored one,” Glore touted. Of course, there was no mention of how footage like this resulted in our troops being called “baby killers” and rejected by a portion of society when they came home. But he did note how, “the reels kept coming, from the jungles of Hoai Chau, to the streets of Saigon, America's first TV war dragged on.”

 

 

As would be expected, CBS had to remind viewers of “Cronkite address[ing] a war-weary audience.” They were almost obliged to replay the soundbite Cronkite declaring: “To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, if unsatisfactory, conclusion.”

Of course, there was no mention of President’s Lyndon B. Johnson’s famous “if I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America” quote. But they did have time to highlight one more CBS reporter, Bruce Dunnings:

GLOR: Bruce Dunnings' 1975 report on the last plane out of Da Nang, as the city fell to North Vietnamese troops.

DUNNINGS: The stampede of terrorized people tried to storm the plane.

GLOR: It was an unforgettable moment in news history.

DUNNINGS: The pilots reported by radio that the situation was out of control. Men clamored over one another. Members of the air crew dragged them on to the plane trying to fill it as fast as possible.

GLOR: As deserters shoved and shot their way into a plane meant for women and children.

DUNNINGS: They left their wives, their children, their aged parents on the runway.

GLOR: A Boeing turned into a battlefield.

DUNNINGS: The plane began to move as people still clamored up the ladder. Another World Airways plane flew alongside and reported that the cargo hatches were open and if you feel people.

Viewers back home came to terms, on TV, with the end,” Glor gravely proclaimed. And without missing a beat, he teased a segment for Wednesday’s edition of the broadcast, stating, “And tomorrow, we will have more on the emotional return of some veterans.” Um, CBS’s coverage of them, when they were fighting communism, was a disgrace.

This CBS love-fest for itself came almost a year to the day after they celebrated 50 years since Cronkite’s anti-war activism. And they still weren’t any closer to admitting the terrible harm and torture they helped cause for the South Vietnamese with their reporting.

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

CBS Evening News
February 26, 2019
6:55:40 p.m. Eastern

JEFF GLOR: Our coverage of the U.S./North Korean summit here in Vietnam marks a return for CBS News. The most important events of the Vietnam War, events that changed our country and this one forever captured in real time by CBS News crews.

[Cuts to video]

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Landing craft brought most of the Marines through the choppy waves of the South China Sea.

GLOR: On March 8, 1965, cameras were rolling as U.S. Marines landed in Da Nang.

(…)

GLOR: Just four months later, Walter Cronkite’s crew prepared to fly.

(…)

GLORE: For the first time in American history, news from the front lines was sent straight into living rooms across the country

MORLEY SAFER: We were walking into this village when you can hear what happened.

GLOR: The realities of war, minus the fog.

SAFER: The Marines have burned this old couple's cottage because fire was coming from here.

GLORE: In August, as the war was escalating, Morley Safer documented Marines destroying homes in Cam Ne.

SAFER: 150 homes were leveled in retaliation for a burst of gunfire.

GLORE: Safer's report painted new kind of picture, an ugly, uncensored one.

SAFER: There were 16 wounded men on the ground.

GLOR: The reels kept coming, from the jungles of Hoai Chau, to the streets of Saigon, America's first TV war dragged on.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: We have just been fiercely attacked by some of our own troops.

UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER: Stop it, God damn it! Stop firing! Over!

GLOR: More than 58,000 Americans were killed over two decades of the Vietnam war, including those who covered it. Nine CBS News employees died.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: There are six men in this small trench, and two have been wounded, one a CBS sound technician.

GLOR: 33 other staffers were wounded, including the late Ed Bradley, hit by gun shrapnel. In 1968, Cronkite addressed a war-weary audience.

WALTER CRONKITE: To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, if unsatisfactory, conclusion.

GLOR: Stalemate or not, it would take seven more years until Americans saw this:

BRUCE DUNNINGS: Reports from Saigon said thousands of people were roaming Da Nang airfield.

GLOR: Bruce Dunnings' 1975 report on the last plane out of Da Nang, as the city fell to North Vietnamese troops.

DUNNINGS: The stampede of terrorized people tried to storm the plane.

GLOR: It was an unforgettable moment in news history.

DUNNINGS: The pilots reported by radio that the situation was out of control. Men clamored over one another. Members of the air crew dragged them on to the plane trying to fill it as fast as possible.

GLOR: As deserters shoved and shot their way into a plane meant for women and children.

DUNNINGS: They left their wives, their children, their aged parents on the runway.

GLOR: A Boeing turned into a battlefield.

DUNNINGS: The plane began to move as people still clamored up the ladder. Another World Airways plane flew alongside and reported that the cargo hatches were open and if you feel people.

GLOR: Viewers back home came to terms, on TV, with the end.

DUNNINGS: The flight crew put the plane, almost empty of fuel, gingerly on the runway at Saigon. Soldiers poured out of the luggage hold. The men and women of World Airways had brought their plane and its load home.

[Cuts back to live]

GLOR: And tomorrow, we will have more on the emotional return of some veterans.

NB Daily Foreign Policy Asia Vietnam Bias by Omission Military Broadcast Television CBS CBS Evening News Video Jeff Glor Walter Cronkite Morley Safer

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