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What if the Tet Offensive had been reported as an American victory?

By Randall H. Nunn
web posted June 12, 2006

In 1968, an event occurred in South Vietnam that many credit with bringing about the withdrawal of American troops a few years later and the collapse of South Vietnam in 1975. The Tet Offensive was a massive military effort by the North Vietnamese communists that involved a surprise attack (breaking a previously agreed truce for the Tet holiday period) designed to overwhelm some 70 cities and towns and other strategic objectives simultaneously. Today, most Americans would probably say that the Tet Offensive was a defeat for the United States and South Vietnam. Yet, the Tet Offensive was a decisive defeat for the communist forces. How could a crushing military defeat for the enemy have been turned into a victory? The Tet Offensive became synonymous with "American military defeat" largely through the efforts of the American press which created a false reality by selective reporting. The mainstream media is attempting the very same thing today.

The Tet Offensive has been reviewed and analyzed by many writers since 1968, most of whom have concluded that it was a major setback for the North Vietnamese communists. The communist offensive was decisively repulsed. There was no general uprising in favor of North Vietnam. The South Vietnamese army did not buckle under the attack and the Viet Cong fighting force was virtually destroyed, leaving the rest of the war to North Vietnamese regular troops. Yet, as Robert Bartley, the late editor of The Wall Street Journal said "Tet was a military victory turned into a psychological defeat on the home front." The chief architects of that psychological defeat were the liberals running the mainstream media at the time. If the Tet Offensive had been reported accurately by the media and seen as the victory it really was by the American public, it is entirely conceivable that American opinion at home would have allowed a positive outcome to that war.

One would think that influential leaders in this country, in the media, government, military and the academic world would have reviewed this sad chapter in our history and vowed to prevent such an occurrence from repeating itself. But from that time to the present day, the mainstream media has continued its arrogant and autocratic ways, using its power to write its version of events, rather than objectively reporting the facts. An oligarchy of elitists is still at the controls, forcing the news into its mold and filtering out all that does not fit its world view. And thus far, few politicians have shown the courage to take the mainstream media on in a real fight to reform and correct the abuses that abound.

The recent death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi at the hands of the U.S. military has not been reported as a sign of success in the war against terrorism and the war in Iraq but as an event triggering cries that we can now withdraw our troops or that Zarqawi's death will merely incite the terrorists to greater acts of destruction (as if these killers with prehistoric minds need any incitement).

Since the mainstream media shows absolutely no inclination to cease its propagandizing and engage in objective and fair reporting, Americans need to turn to alternative resources for their news, such as the Internet, talk radio and outlets such as FOX News that more accurately report events and attempt to be fair and objective in the process. As the audience of the mainstream media continues to decline, it will, in time, collapse of its own weight, hopefully leading to a reassessment of the obligations and ethics of the media in a free society that is under attack by forces of totalitarianism. Once the politicians realize that a majority of the country is disgusted with the mainstream media and is not following its lead on issues, they will take up the cry and begin to insist upon reform and a return to professionalism.

America must succeed in Iraq for our own security and preservation. American politicians need to overcome their fear of antagonizing a mainstream media that is attempting an overthrow of American institutions and traditions, or they will be complicit in allowing the mainstream media to manufacture an American defeat in Iraq as it did in Vietnam. The media is unable to trumpet the success of the American military and the victory of free men and women at arms over the forces of ignorance and backwardness. We should not be afraid to do so when it is appropriate and to applaud American courage and determination in the face of such evil. In this battle for our civilization, an unsupportive mainstream media must be viewed much as Robert Kennedy viewed his political enemies -- "if you're not for me, you're against me." Preservation of the freest and finest country on the face of the planet is far more important than preservation of the mainstream media as it exists today.

Randall H. Nunn is a Staff Writer for The New Media Alliance. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

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