Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tet's Real Lesson!

By James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal Editorial page:
We have long argued that America's mainstream media--because of what they see as the "lessons of Vietnam"--are actively working to promote American defeat in Iraq. (We gave this theme a lengthy treatment in a talk last November at the Hudson Institute, which later became an essay in the February issue of The American Spectator.) From CNN comes one of the most striking bits of evidence yet that this is the case. This promo for a "CNN exclusive" appears today on the homepage of (we've captured it here for posterity as well):

"Almost 2,800 Americans have been killed so far in Iraq and one of the most dangerous insurgent opponents is the sniper. CNN has obtained graphic video from the Islamic Army of Iraq, one of the most active insurgent organizations in Iraq, showing its sniper teams targeting U.S. troops. The Islamist Army says it wants talks with the United States and some Islamist Internet postings call for a P.R. campaign aimed at influencing the American public. The video is disturbing to watch but CNN believes the story, shocking as it is, needs to be told."

By airing this video, CNN is participating in what it acknowledges is "a P.R. campaign aimed at influencing the American public" in ways favorable to America's enemies. And the network does not even seem to realize what a shocking admission this is.

With the midterm elections less than three weeks away, the media are filled with Tet talk. Here's Simon Hooper, in a commentary that also appears today on

"For veteran statesmen such as [James] Baker, the parallels with another era-defining American war must also be striking. In the late 1960s the U.S. military found itself fighting an unwinnable conflict, enduring mounting casualties against a growing chorus of dissent at home--in Vietnam."

On Wednesday [President] Bush himself acknowledged parallels between the current situation in Iraq and the 1968 Tet Offensive--widely considered to be the point when American public opinion turned against the war.

As we noted yesterday, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times also drew the analogy in a column whose description of Tet is worth repeating:

Although the Vietcong and Hanoi were badly mauled during Tet, they delivered, through the media, such a psychological blow to U.S. hopes of "winning" in Vietnam that Tet is widely credited with eroding support for President Johnson and driving him to withdraw as a candidate for re-election.

Tet, that is, was a military victory for the U.S. that turned into a propaganda victory for the communists because American journalists presented a false picture of what had happened.

The media today are eager to repeat their "success" in Vietnam--and it was a success inasmuch as the media were hugely influential over the course of events. But from a journalistic standpoint it was a gross failure. The real lesson of Vietnam is that journalists got the story wrong. We are not at all convinced that the American people are about to get fooled again.

Click on the title for a link to the column.