Public Opinion Vietnam War

1592 Words 7 Pages
Public opinion is a crucial part to any political campaign. Politicians need the public on their side, and they will often employ whatever tactics they can to ensure this support. Taking control of the news, and controlling what the public is informed is no exception. As television entered the homes of Americans nationwide, President Johnson deployed troops into Vietnam. For the first time during the Vietnam War, television made it possible for Americans to be transported to Vietnam all while in the comfort of their living rooms--Americans put their trust in the media, and this new easy access to information completely shaped their public opinion of the war.
August 4th 1964, a torpedo is supposedly fired at the USS Maddox, yet it is later
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Television gained such a lead due to one very important factor; television is able to do what print cannot, and can literally show the horrors that are occurring: it is one thing to read about atrocities, but it makes an even more significant impact to physically see the death and horror that is occurring. This is also why television newscasts caused so much opposition to the war effort. While sitting in their living rooms, the American public was able to see the reality of war and they were disgusted with that they viewed as senseless killing. So, with more and more American households purchasing televisions, news networks saw the opportunity to capitalize on the war occurring in Vietnam. They began sending multiple field reporters to the South Vietnam and increased their newscasts from fifteen minutes to half-hour slots. With this advancement the government’s fear increased tremendously. They now had to worry about what news cameras would reveal to the public through the most trusted source of media that had the greatest influence on public …show more content…
Nixon took a much more aggressive approach to controlling the media and maintaining a positive public opinion. Nixon also took a much more personal offense to the news stories in the media, and kept a list of those news anchors who had crossed him. He additionally developed a two prong approach to get the people back on his side. The first part consisted of direct attacks on the news networks who Nixon decided had presented unfair or inaccurate information about the war. He accused the executives of the networks of being cohorts and deemed them, not representative of the “views of America.” The second part of his plan consisted of using television to speak directly to the American public. He wanted the people to get their news directly from the White House and to bypass the critical news reports that appeared on the major networks. He wanted to convey the message that he was a strong leader, who would accept nothing less than “peace with honor.” However, tensions still ran high during Nixon’s presidency. With the draft instituted in 1969, and the Kent State protest in 1970, in which the National Guard shot and killed four students, there was plenty for the media to report, and plenty for the public to be critical of. The young men fleeing to Canada to avoid conscription earned the sympathy of the American public, their stories were shared on the news and wrought outrage from the

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