The surprise offensive was a � huge gamble and the US didnt fully realize how

The surprise offensive was a ? huge gamble and the

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was the most difficult, lasting for a month. The surprise offensive was a ế huge gamble, and the U.S. didn’t fully realize how counterproductive Tet had been for the communists at the time; the picture became clearer after Soviet archives opened in 1992. The American public and media instead interpreted the Tet Offensive as a setback. Some understood that the troops had rallied and everyone heard the Pentagon’s spin that Tet was the enemy’s Battle of the Bulge, referring to Hitler’s last- ditch Belgian offensive in 1944. But General Westmoreland, commander of U.S. operations, had also told the public that the U.S. was just months away from winning the war, so they were surprised to see troops back on their heels, even if temporarily. They were also increasingly put off by the brutality they were seeing on the nightly news, including an allied South Vietnamese general shooting a Viet Cong POW. South Vietnamese National Police Chief Brig Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan Executes a Viet Cong Prisoner
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During The Tet Offensive, February 1st, 1968, Photograph by AP’s Eddie Adams Won a Pulitzer Prize The Tet Offensive broadened what came to be known as the credibility gap : the difference between how LBJ and the Pentagon wanted the war spun and how embedded journalists were increasingly coming to report it. In some ways, Tet should’ve narrowed the credibility gap since this time there was some truth to Westmoreland’s spin. Either way, the growing tension between the Pentagon and media was important because Vietnam was the first war with footage and body counts featured nightly on the evening news. Americans followed WWII with newspapers, radio, and newsreels before movies. Before cable and the Internet fragmented coverage, Americans all watched a small handful of anchormen on the three networks, mostly getting their information from the same three-headed source along with newspapers and magazines. The most famous and trusted of these newscasters was Walter Cronkite , a University of Texas dropout and veteran WWII correspondent who anchored CBS News. After Tet, Cronkite gave a brief op-ed piece toward the end of his newscast — as rare then as straight news is today on cable — in which he told Americans that if Tet was, indeed, a last gasp by the enemy, then the U.S. should follow through and finish the job. But he also said it was becoming “clear to this reporter” that the U.S. was “mired in a stalemate.” If that was the case, he concluded, the U.S. should negotiate a peace similar to the Korean settlement, with the country divided along a border:
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Object 2 LBJ had three television consoles in the Oval Office so that he could watch the newscasts simultaneously (even presidents didn’t have DVR’s then). After Cronkite’s piece on Tet, LBJ purportedly uttered, “That’s it…if I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost America.” That wasn’t quite the case, but it’s true most Americans trusted Cronkite more than they trusted Johnson and support for the war was eroding compared with where it had been in 1965-66. Media analyst Marshall McLuhan
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