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tv   Vietnam War and the Press  CSPAN  June 5, 2016 8:50am-10:01am EDT

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>> watch the entire program at 8:00 p.m. on sunday here on american history tv. only on c-span3. >> next on american history tv, former correspondent dan rather and peter arnett talk about their work on the front lines in vietnam. and how their experiences compared with the official government reports of the war. dan rather aired on cbs. and peter arnett work in vietnam for the associated press from 1962-19 five -- 1975. andrew sherry of the night foundation, a former foreign correspondent moderated the conversation. we begin with a two-minute video clip of dan rather reporting from vietnam. this conversation was part of a three-day conference at the lbj presidential library in austin, texas that organizers call the vietnam war summit. it's about one hour.
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[chatter] [video] [gunfire] >> they are now firing back. could you tell us what is happening here and what the situation is? >> i think this is the second or third day i was in vietnam. >> this is the special landing force? they were trying to get to the ridgeline. >> just before you go to the high ridge over there. move, ias they began to caught the crossfire and this young marine was hit badly. they needed help getting him out. and naturally i helped. it doesn't take much imagination to know what i was thinking. >> we need some help over here. >> i will give you a hand. mr. rather: i see this young man cut down.
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and you say to yourself my god, , this is somebody's son, brother, husband. when you are there if you let your emotions for a second out of you, then you will not be able to do what you need to do. >> dan rather, cbs news. mr. rather: very few people in a lifetime get to see this as an observer. >> we are inside the main pagoda now. a tank just popped his head around the corner. mr. rather: your role is to show them and tell them as best you can what it is like, what it is really like. >> somebody just spotted the tank. they opened up on the tank now. mr. rather: as opposed to what some imagine it is like or
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telling you it is like. a lot of people believe that was ar, death.fe they do fear that, but it's not the big fear. the biggest fear is that they will somehow let their comrade down. worthyoldier that is leaveto believe they somebody on the field and abandon him. this outfit was rained on yesterday, rained on again this morning. they are going to pay out here until they find the body of rudolph nunez. >> everybody gets to be like brothers. he's the best friend you can never have. [helicopter] >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome dr. don carlton, executive director of the briscoe center for american history at the university of texas at austin. [applause]
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dr. carlton: good afternoon. the briscoe center is delighted to sponsor this session this afternoon, which is titled "the war and the fourth estate." we are especially proud to sponsor the session because the center houses a valuable archive of papers and photographs documenting the history of the american news media, including the papers of walter cronkite and morley safer, and the photographic archives of eddie adams, steve northrup and david kennerly. the briscoe center has produced an exhibit of documentary material selected from these and other collections relating to the various aspects of the vietnam war. this exhibit is titled "vietnam: evidence of war," and it's
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currently on display of the third floor of the lbj library. i invite all of you who are attending this summit to come and visit our exhibit while you are here. today we are honored to have two renowned journalists on our panel who will explore the crucial role that the media played in shaping perceptions of the vietnam war. those panelists are peter arnett, a pulitzer prize and emmy award-winning correspondent who has spent nearly a lifetime covering wars and international crises for major american news organizations. he covered the vietnam war for the associated press for 13 years, from the buildup of u.s. military advisers in the early 1960's to the fall of saigon in 1975. he wrote more than 2000 news
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stories from vietnam for the associated press. he has written several books, including his autobiography. live from the battlefield. and his memoir on the vietnam war called "the fall of saigon." and then dan rather. my friend dan rather has been a fixture in broadcast news for over six decades. during which he has won every major journalism award. dan has interviewed every president since eisenhower and he has covered almost every important date line of the last 60 years, including of course extensive coverage of the vietnam war. dan spent 43 years at cbs, 24 years of which he served as the anchor and managing editor of the cbs evening news.
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today he is founder, president and ceo of "news and guts," an independent production company specializing in nonfiction content. our moderator is andrew sherry, vice president of communications at the night foundation, the country's leading funder of journalism and media innovation. as a journalist he was based in hong kong, hanoi, and paris . first for the afp in the dow jones where he became the regional editor of the far east economic review. one of his most memorable assignments including covering the opening of vietnam. please join me in welcoming our panel today. [applause]
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mr. sherry: thank you for that intro. it is great to be here. we are very fortunate to be here with two reporters whose long and storied careers personify the healthy tension between a free press and government. just a word on format. i want to spend the first half of the panel asking -- i will be leading questions to them so we can bring up a range of insights that they have to offer, which really go from experiences in vietnam to the evolution of the relationship between the press and the military in later conflicts, to look forward to the fragmentation of the media landscape and its applications -- implications are.
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now, peter, you are in vietnam from -- probably, your first reporting trip in 1962, before the u.s. military buildup. and you did not leave until 1975, after the fall of saigon. mr. arnett: basically yes. mr. sherry: why don't you set the scene for us. mr. arnett: i was here through the conference call yesterday and i saw henry kissinger's presentation. overnight i made a few notes. [laughter] mr. arnett: i think it's clear from the panel discussions at this conference, the important policy of president kennedy, and nixon involving vietnam were carefully concealed from the american public to maintain deception.
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and the media policies of all three presidents attended heavy-handed news manipulation and intimidation of reporters in the field and their superiors back home. the objective was to proceed with actions in vietnam that the objective was to proceed with actions in vietnam that have publicly debated would meet resistance at home and concern abroad. our leaders endeavored to compel a powerful news industry with a long tradition of bold, moral reporting to bend to the whims of policymakers making questionable judgments on issues important to the american public. judgments often made far from the battlefields. in earlier significant american wars, the government, with official censorship, took upon itself the burden of deciding what news was fit to print. what information gathered by reporters in the field might harm the security of military operations or what might not.
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to keep on message in terms of achieving the overall objectives and keeping the support of the public at large. but not for the war in vietnam. an enterprise deemed too sensitive politically -- let me say that again. an enterprise deemed too sensitive to justify censorship. so from the beginning, as early as june 1962 when i arrived in saigon, assigned to the ap bureau, the beginning of the credibility gap waiting media and military relations that only worsened as the years went by. in the course of our discussion this afternoon i know we will track this evolved situation that continues to plague american media relations.
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i will conclude these initial remarks by quoting a letter sent to president kennedy on june 18, 1963 by the president of the american society of newspaper editors herbert kroeker, then editor of the harvard -- he refers to an incident with a buddhist protests in saigon to the policies of president noted dim in 1963. i was beaten up by quite -- plainclothes police and later arrested with my ap colleague malcolm brown and held on assault charges. his letter in part said, "in recent weeks, as you are aware mr. president, there have been charges that the enemy secret police pommel, knockdown and kicked american reporters and smashed their cameras." " it is not yet certain that all possible efforts are being made to prevent further deliberate obstacles to free reporting." whatever the difficulties, we
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urge you to bear in mind the needs of the american people that have the fullest possible factual information from south vietnam, no matter what anyone may think is right or wrong about the situation there." this letter not only represented the full support of the main stream media about open reporting from vietnam at that time, but remained the view of editors and tv producers at home who supported the war in the work of journalists in the field for the entirety of the war. mr. sherry: i hope people in the audience were taking notes as well. we will open it up for questions and comments at the end. that was an interesting insight
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about the importance of -- from the mainstream media. dan, i'm interested in hearing this. he went back and forth between vietnam and new york. how different was it the first time you arrived? what type of reception did you get for your reporting and how much did your network support you in telling what you thought was the complete story? mr. rather: i went the first time in october of 1965 and state the better part of a year. i was back three times after that but never for that long. to answer your question, when i went to vietnam it was clear to me and it remained clear to me throughout all the time i was there that i had the complete unmitigated support of not just cbs news as a division of cbs incorporated, with the full support of the corporate entity that owned cbs news. william s paley who had found a cbs news was still have the corporation. there was never any question whatsoever about having support of the brass back home.
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that was a long cbs news tradition. they helped establish it as the predominant position of electronic journals and in general. there was not any doubt about it. when i went the first time i was unprepared to cover the war. perhaps it can be said of most correspondents that they are unprepared to cover the war. i had covered the india-pakistan war in the summer of 1965. but this was the first time i have been privileged to cover american men and women. it was almost men in combat -- exclusively men in combat. i was prepared -- unprepared is an understatement. he was three days after i arrived. i quickly went north to i-corp and covered a combat operation
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near ton key. that was the first time i had seen eyewitness to war in which my neighbors and the young sons of people all over the country was involved. i never got over the shock of it. the real screams of the wounded, the moans of the dying. when i saw the first one did american i had ever seen in combat i had no apology for saying i threw up and then i wept. mr. sherry: what was the impact that your reporting was having back in the united states? peter, you are writing for the associated press and it was being sent all around the world.
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what kind of feedback we do getting of the impact of your storytelling? mr. arnett: for the first three months i was there in 1962 we were getting messages from washington bureau saying, "how come their coverage in washington of the government, the pentagon, the state department, and the white house was 180 degrees difference -- from what was happening in vietnam?" those of us in vietnam were not concerned too much about our buddies in washington. we were concerned about what we were seeing in the field. when i was assigned the vietnam, the ap president said peter, report the truth, report when you see and we will support you all the way. when i arrived david halberstam came from the new york times,
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malcolm brown from the ap with a great photographer, stanley carnot was coming in and out of hong kong for time magazine, all of us were reported but we refining. what were refining? -- what were we finding? american advisers, 10,000 when i arrived, would go to saigon or meet in the field and start complaining about the reluctance of the south vietnamese military to listen to their advice. there was an incident at a battle in the first few days of 1963 where several american helicopters were shot down and americans were killed on the ground. we were tipped off by one of the pilots that call this to tell us about this. neil sheehan and the reuters guy flew in a helicopter to the scene. i drove down 40 miles south of saigon with steve stevens, a texan working for the stars and
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stripes of the time. we got our information from the americans on the ground. the information we were getting also politically was that the american role in vietnam was not working. i will add one whether point -- one point. in december 1962, the speaker of the senate mike mansfield visited vietnam of the team. he asked to meet us at the hotel. we thought he wanted us to brief him. he briefed us on what he felt were the negatives about the regime, the information being picked up all week during his visit. he criticized the american embassy. and what was interesting is he went back and briefed president kennedy on his version of the war, which was very similar to our version. this did not stop the pressure because soon after that
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president kennedy called me -- the managing editor of the new york times asked that he be reassigned. mr. rather: when i first got the vietnam, from the very first moments i was in vietnam the distance between what was the reality on the ground, what you poor witness to, and what was being spoken of washington and being talked about all over the country was that such variance it was a shock. it was a shock to never subsided. from the moment you were in vietnam, you had to say to yourself what i'm seeing is not matching with the politicians are saying. the longer i was there, the greater this cap.. -- gap got. when i came out of vietnam the
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first time after being there almost a year i was made the white house correspondent for cbs news. at any rate, i was in associated press -- johnson said perhaps you would like to come to the briefing room downstairs. it's called the situation room. we can give you a briefing on what is going on. i found it somewhat curious, a briefing by people who never been there. [applause] [laughter] they had only been there for a very short time. this never left my mind and it underscores much of what peter just referred to. i'm down in the situation room and a good and decent american, a very intelligent gentleman gave her briefing on the battlefield situations. he pointed with his pointer towards one particular place on the cambodian border near what
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became known as the hook. he was describing the success of our armor there. one of two things is very evident. i hate to use the word, either he is lying through his teeth or he is vastly misinformed because just before i left saigon i had been in the very area which is swampy. believe you me nobody takes armor in there. in short, it in cap sold -- and cap sold -- encapsuled. and i think he believes it. right there was the nut of the problem for me. the people who would been there,
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people like peter barnett -- let me pause and say there's never been a braver or more -- a correspondent with more valor that was there for all those years. the kind of things that peter and malcolm brown reported was in such variance that if you had any decency as a journalist you had to say i have been there. i spent almost more than a year there. what i saw was in -- does not match this breathing i'm getting. if that's the briefing the president got, then we can see how the problem developed over the years. mr. sherry: what you think it is that made the relationship between the press, military and government so different in vietnam than it was in world war ii or korea? it seems like some of the
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military assumed it was a problem with society or the press. but if the nature of the conflict was fundamentally different and it led people to behave differently. which do you think? mr. arnett: i will answer that. censorship was a difference. every member talking to walter to walterber talking cronkite about censorship and world war ii. he says i did not particularly liked it. i did have access to the whole war. he flew over normandy in a glider on d-day. he said at least ahead access to the war. after the war we could come out and we know all about it. censorship was not introduced into vietnam. i interviewed the secretary of state. he said he did not feel the climate -- political climate at the time would have supported that kind of onerous restrictions involving having censorship of the war theater. ok.
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but without censorship we were free to go and report stories where we can find them. what is not understood is that each american division that landed in vietnam came from hometown, from fort bragg, fort hood. the 25th infantry division, the pineapple division from hawaii. those soldiers one of the folks back home to know what they were doing in vietnam. the information officers from these units would come to saigon and lobby for the attention of the media. i'm sure dan was invited many times. the marines had a very successful operation to invite journalists. all the units wanted our appearance. i wrote 2000 stories, many written with these troops in the field.
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kept getting invited back. so in terms of the antagonism between the military and the media, it did not exist in vietnam. if you feel antagonist? mr. rather: quite the contrary. this is a point. with television even more than print you have to have the pictures. in vietnam, as a journalist, we had an ideal situation. i think the military felt they had an ideal situation. peter's point that the military wanted you to be upfront. they wanted you to be the -- be in the middle of combat. they wanted you to fill it --film it. we could go anywhere in vietnam that we wanted to go. basically we were in the hitchhiking business, sometimes the helicopter, sometimes by
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plane. once in a while the ground convoy. but you could go anywhere. we've reported individual correspondents. i did it from the far north to the mequon delta and saw everything in between. the military during the war was either for correspondents to see the war as it was and have a transmitted back to the states. they were eager. on the question of censorship, i agree the big difference was in world war ii and the korean war there was censorship. no censorship during the vietnam war. frankly, i think the american people were served much better by the circumstances in vietnam vis-à-vis the press and the military than it ever had been. but one decent, hard-working people could disagree with -- in the military and what led to
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restrictions. for example, compared gulf war one in 1990 two the first gulf war. the whole mindset changed. they did not want correspondents to see combat. they successfully prevented it, news coverage of what i would call the ernie pyle dogface coverage of what the soldier was going through. there was a change between gulf war 1 and what happened in vietnam. the military thought they learned a lesson. they've learned the wrong lesson. it was keep the press out. don't let the sea with the war is like. in terms of vietnam, one of the things the military and the administration put with kennedy, johnson, or nixon administration wanted you to see was the
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effective war on civilians. anybody that is seen were knows this truth. war is idiotic, terrible, ghastly, savage for everybody involved. those who suffer the most are women, children, and old people. the military never wanted you to see the civilian casualties. i never wanted to emphasize that. going forward to gulf war 1 in 1990, it was our job. you keep the press out. keep the press of from anything approaching frontline combat and don't let them see any civilian casualties. mr. arnett: there are a couple of points to make. with dan being here, but i will tell the story. morley safer, who i hear is quite ill these days, he did a
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piece from a village in vietnam in 1965 that was shown on cbs. president johnson watched it, pick up the phone in the early hours of the morning and called the president of cbs, dr. frank stanton. frank, your boy this morning shat on the flag because of the nature of this report. i will give you a few other things. the johnson administration tried to limit the coverage the ap was a prime target. my own reports, graphic reports that dan has been talking about, gas experiments and the military operations early in the war, equipment failures, weapons shortages so angered washington that president johnson ordered the fbi at one point to go through my life looking for dirt
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to silence me. he did the same with john chancellor. ap headquarters was aware of the generalities of the criticism, but only much later did we learn the extent of white house unhappiness. press secretary bill moyers, a revered journalist later and assure a good pal of yours, observed in 1965 memo that the coverage of cbs correspondents was "irresponsible and prejudiced" and because we were foreign-born we did not have the basic american interest at heart. morley was from canada. moyers problems -- promised to tighten things up. i was indeed foreign-born from new zealand, but some of my old schoolmates were officers in the kiwi new zealand forces in vietnam and australia in combat
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alongside u.s. soldiers. one presidential assistance? landy heard -- jack valanti wrote "the mode to bring up the problem of peter arnett, who has been more damaging to the u.s. cause than a hope italian of viet cong -- battalion of viet cong." [laughter] mr. arnett: gallagher was prepared to encounter the criticism had a briefcase full of facts this -- disputing the stories. prior to the meeting, two ap never managing editors reported to gallagher that the president had complained to them about my coverage. in the ap chief went to the meeting anxious to resolve this issue.
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the american president and gallagher where a formidable pair, both were tall, tough people. tough-minded. but the luncheon went on entry to an end with no mention of the war. gallagher said at last, mr. president, and understand you are being critical of some of the ap story some vietnam. oh no, the president replied. i think the ap is doing a great job. not willing to challenge the president on what he is been told a few days earlier from other managing editors, oliver said, i just want you to know, mr. president, that the ap is not against you or for you. well, johnson replied, that is not quite the way i like it. [laughter] mr. rather: one important thing rings through here.
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let's take the great report on the burning of a village. it was a shock. the difference between yesterday's vietnam and today, it's important without being preachy for every citizen to understand while it's true the president johnson picked up the phone and gave frank stanton, the second man down of the cbs corporate entity, gave him unmitigated hell about the report and applied maximum pressure, at no time was or even the slightest indication that bill paley who owned the company or dr. stanton who ran the company was going to influence coverage in any way. that was true of nbc and abc. the point to be grasped that quality journalism whether it's covering the war anything else, it begins with an owner, a
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publisher, leader who has guts. who will back his reporters. there was all kind of pressure. i know of no case were they caved to it. we're talking some 50 odd years later. the whole corporate structure of so much of national distribution news is controlled by two conglomerates. there is a whole different atmosphere. journalists are operating in a different kind of arena. all too often, the corporate leadership does not have the sensitivity about the value to society, to american society of a truly independent, fiercely independent press.
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during the vietnam war, that existed at almost every corporate level. i'm sorry to say it no longer exist. mr arnett: it's an interesting point. there was very little criticism during the actual coverage of the war. there were reporters everywhere and we were welcome, willing to take every kind of risk for a story and there were soldiers who appreciated our company. it was in the latest stages, the nixon presidency where there was no real victory insight that the tension started to materialize. i have a quick note here from william hammond who did an official study and wrote in one book that in the and what happened in vietnam, what happened in the news media was symptomatic of what happened in
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the united states as a whole and mentioned the u.s. has supported the war effort at did -- as did most america and containing russia behind an anti-communist the at mom and said under the influence of many that's and -- under the influence of many deaths and contributions, the public changed in the american society moved to repudiate the earlier decision and news organizations and newspapers that supported the war started to turn against it. the military and the government was unable to follow this idea that the war was not worth continuing and with most of the soldiers out, those who were remaining behind in vietnam in
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the embassy or military units, they stayed to retrieve whatever national face they could, those emotionally tied to the policy fixed their anger on the news media. the most visible component that rejected them and what we see today became the most inevitable results. it was only after the war that we had these numerous meetings between the media and the military arguing about policy. it was because we lost the war. the press would not have faced the kind of criticism that exists today. >> both of you brought up a number of significant things regarding the war in the fourth estate and significant changes
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over time. you talked about how when you go to the first gulf war, the military learned some good lessons from vietnam and having a plan for pulling out afterwards, but the lesson they took for the press was to isolate them by only allowing embedding or mostly allowing embedding. in the iraq war, the government almost went on the offensive with information about weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to be accurate. just looking at that, how much of the things around the iraq war and invasion, people in the pentagon playing the new york times or was the press caught up in the patriotic fervor post
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9/11 and actually drop the ball? mr. rather: i think the latter is the greater truth. in this criticism of the time leading up to the iraqi war, i do not accept myself that by the time he got up to the invasion of the iraq war, there were certainly exceptions, the no venti group was an example. by the time we reach that point, american journalism in general had lost some of its spine and i speak for myself and others noting that there are some exceptions, got caught up in questions that arise in your mind that say if you raise those
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questions, you are going to pay a very heavy price. i've used this metaphor for because to ask the tough question and ask the tough follow-up question because frequently your follow-up question elicits more than the original question. you will have a sign around your neck -- liberal, unpatriotic, bolshevik. there are no excuses by way of explanation. we lost our guts in many ways. you know the question needs to be asked, but this train is rolling and we are going to war. every journalists do it. it was palpable but nobody wanted to talk about it. a certain amount of cowardice.
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if you question us too much, if you don't get on board this invasion train, you are going to wind up metaphorically, like in south africa when the worst of the south african civil war was underway, they would put a earning tire around people's net. metaphorically, if not that sign marking you as an unpatriotic person, you are going to have this burning tire put around you. this is not by way of excuse. it is by way of explanation with the press, noting there were some exceptions said the president of the united states says it's about stopping possible nuclear war or chemical warfare. there was talk about being tied
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into al qaeda which was also untrue. but having said if we lost our guts or if you like the spine metaphor better, when the president of the united states who is not only head of state but head of government, when he says something and the whole administration was orchestrated from one point of view, then any voices of dissent to oppress or otherwise got obliterated and most of us did not speak up when we should have spoken up and did not ask the right questions. was it a case -- frankly, we americans are afraid to use the propaganda. there was an immense campaign to build public opinion for the war and i complement those in journalism who stood up in the face of that. mr arnett: the first goal war
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-- first gulf war really changed the nature of foreign coverage. it represented the american media, certainly the one created in the 80's and ultimately tom johnson decided to expand the restraint beyond american involvement and to cover the other side and look at both sides of the story. this hadn't happened in the past. saddam hussein and his people invited cnn to stay and other media were included that it was cnn that decided to stay in baghdad. why did we do that? one was the vision of ted turner who believed cnn could be a vehicle to get both sides of
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international stories in particular. the other was we could effectively do live coverage of a war theater. this was helped by your own tom johnson who had taken over cnn and had used this context to have one of the first cell phones, which was 80 pounds in a box and sent to baghdad. then when the war started, we were able to cover it despite great objection by the u.s. government and others and opponents of moving in that direction to get the other side coverage. my interview with saddam hussein attract a lot of criticism but then did not attract any criticism at all. iraq changed from being a story
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that was covered to the moment american troops were in action, it became forbidden territory, but not to ted turner and not to cnn. i was the only reporter for much of the war in baghdad covering a wonderful team covering it live. there were 40 other live television units and the whole nature of international coverage changed because the communication allowed reports from ordinary people all across the globe. the effect of this, there was a negative effect on the u.s. military because they closed up the access to their own people
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and because of this barrage of information, they wanted to control it. but by doing that, journalists in iraq who were unhappy with the embedding were reluctant to do much coverage with the u.s. because you couldn't take any pictures of wounded americans or any american casualties. but reporters could go all over the countryside. most pulitzer prizes given for international coverage, including this year's was stories about ordinary people living in victims of the war. these stories added up to a criticism of american involvement. it was an explosive mixture of technology.
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mr. rather: we have not talked much about technology but in thinking about vietnam, it has in more than 50 years ago. keep in mind there was no life battlefield coverage. in vietnam, we mentioned earlier in film, if you filmed the battle, there was no putting up on the satellite in vietnam. not only were there no cell phones, there were virtually no telephone contact. yes, if you happen to be in saigon and stood in line at the government building -- the only communication was basically by telex. you put it on the helicopter and we had yellow grapefruit bags on
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cbs news which we made a point to say if you see a yellow grapefruit tag, get it to the airport in saigon and ship it to tokyo. the film has to find its way, making its way to saigon, where a jet plane takes it to tokyo and is transferred to a flight to san francisco and that gets to new york. generally speaking, there were a few exceptions, but whatever you saw on the evening news was at least three or four days old. compare that to today where if a story is three or four days old, it's not going to see care. the lack of communication not just for journalistic enterprises, no telephone service to speak of, no satellite access to speak of translated to a sense with
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troops in the field and i always want to come back to the soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen who fought this war, there was a sense of aloneness and a sense of being in an alien land which is almost totally different from today. a soldier today can get on skype and talk to his children on their birthday on their birthday while he is in a combat region. this is so far from the reality of coverage in vietnam that it frequently gets overlooked but it is worth considering when we talk about the media and the press in general with the it -- with vietnam. the difficulties of getting these stories out, never mind the pressure from the administration of propaganda, just the physical problem of
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getting reports out even if you were with the ap. you were not going to cover the war from saigon or from a marine enclave. you have to be in the field. the problem of getting your report from the field to someplace where it could be transmitted back to the united states was a hard proposition on a day-to-day basis. mr arnett: one of the problems is you have official statements and commitments of troops to one place or another and it ethical to get public interest in the kind of investigative reporting more inside stories that were common in vietnam. the public is missing out on the picture that was important to their understanding. what i think is lacking today and what you do not see any more are what we call the hometown stories about soldiers in action, the daily routine and
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the kind of reporting -- the where is the ernie pyle of vietnam. you don't have anyone -- you don't see the stories because if you are embedded with the u.s. military, they don't encourage soldiers to talk about it much. that is lacking in the american public and the family -- families of those men over there missing out are getting -- on getting a sense of view of what is happening. mr. rather: this is worth pondering. during the vietnam war, soldiers, including officers, with the exception of possibly generals, soldiers were free to talk to reporters anyway they wanted to. today, even platoon commanders are schooled on how to handle
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the press. they operate on a set of rules. in vietnam, captains and sergeants were the keys to knowing how the war was really going. length and breadth of my own time in vietnam, i never had someone field grade officer or below tell me anything except what they thought was true. it was not uncommon to take incoming mortar rounds or fire and the captain might say -- and i will clean this up for this audience, he might say we are getting our butts kicked here. the coverage would reflect they were getting their butts kicked in that particular area. now, you probably could not get to a frontline situation where you are taking incoming. second, if you got there, the
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captain would be very reluctant to talk to any journalists because he's been taught to be careful of the press and that seeps down to the sergeants and people down below them. it is a whole different dynamic. the advantage of being in the field was you could find out what was really going on as opposed to what somebody wanted you to believe what was going on. >> where do we go from here? you have talked about the changes in corporate structure where you have news divisions and all of these have made a difference and you mentioned technology which has produced a complete fragmentation of the media landscape, but we have talked about something that may be lost. a lot of this conversation seemed to be about the press and conflict with other entities. you have talked about the role the press plays building trust
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in a democratic society so that it can actually function. if that is at the root of what the fourth estate is about, how do we move toward rebuilding that in the current context? mr arnett: that is a very good point and i think what has to be done is renegotiating between the mainstream media and important organizations and the military about how to approach the story of young americans committed to war and several countries whose story is not being told. today, when you have an incident overseas like seal team six does something, we are never told about it. you wait five years for the books to come out. i think there have been 15 or 20 books on the death of saddam and bin laden.
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there's a delay and learning with these boys are doing over there and i think the pentagon should get together with the media operatives and talk about how do we improve the embedding to where we get to tell the story? young men sent overseas, 300 going to syria, some will get their lives. -- give their lives. what they are doing is far more important than the political campaigns being launched at this moment that dominate the news. [applause] mr. rather: amen to that. it is true that in a society such as ours, a constitutional republic based on the principles of freedom and democracy, it is absolutely essential, never more imperative than during wartime
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that there be a high degree of communicable trust between the leadership and the lip. what happened in vietnam, a lot of that communicable trust built up over the years was fractured and got worse as time went along. your question is where do we move from here? better heads than mine would have to come up with a link the answer to that question but you can begin with political leaders, whether they be republican, democrat, muslim, independent, whatever, understanding how vital it is to build that trust with the public and you cannot build that trust if you run an administration, whether it is county judge or president of the united states, if you are operating behind the scenes and create an atmosphere of deceit and lawlessness.
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it is an unfortunate and unpleasant truth, but it is the truth. as the vietnam war wore on and we went from the kennedy administration -- by the time we got to the next and administration, there's no joy in saying this -- the record is clear that you had an administration led by a president who did deal in deceit and did deal in lawlessness and repairing this split between the trust and the leadership, reporters are trained to be skeptical, not cynical, but skeptical, to ask questions. you should always say that's what they are saying, what is the truth behind them? with political leadership, it begins there and there has to be a rededication. you cannot sustain a war, much
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less hope winning the war unless there's a high degree of communicable trust. go to the invasion in iraq, what the president said were the reasons for going into iraq were not true. people can argue did he know it was not true or not, but whether he did or didn't know, he had plenty of reasons to question it. running for the foreseeable future, this is going to cause us continual problems. sometimes, war is imperative. americans say world war ii was not a choice. but having the public recognize what war is and my concern about television coverage of war is that it tends to flatten were out. it lacks perspective, context,
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particularly any historical context and the very fact you have a flat screen, it is hard to describe it. with the television camera, the viewer has to understand when he is looking at war coverage that the camera is like a flashlight. the camera shows you what is at the end of the beam but does not show you what is above, below, or on either side. understanding the limitations of television coverage, this business of building trust, it's going to be slow but we have to start sometime and now would be a good time to start. mr arnett: a new generation of young journalists being produced high this university and others around the country are up to the
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challenge. they want to get out -- the successes of dan rather and myself, they want to emulate what we do. they are ready to go out and with the cooperation of the military and news industry, they want to tell the story about american boys overseas and i hope that will happen. >> what we fear what happened has happened. we have run out of time. you will have to find dad -- find dan or peter afterwards. you can pull them aside. please join me in thanking them for a fantastic question and answer session. [applause] mr arnett: thank you. that was great. mr. rather: thank you very much. mr arnett: it is a live audience.
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[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] you are watching american history tv, 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span 3. c-span us on twitter @ history for information on our schedule and to keep up with the latest history news. "the, communicators" the electronic communications privacy act requires the government to get a warrant to
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search e-mail that is less than 100 days old, written before most americans used e-mail and cloud storage, congress was to expand protection to those forms of personal data. the house passed an e-mail privacy act in april and the senate is considering legislation. the legislative counsel for the commonwealth's attorney in alexandria, virginia, have different perspectives on the legislation. they are joined by ami nasir, a technology reporter. that govern when police access the content have not been updated since 1986. there have been court set of said, we have to get a warrant before they get things like facebookr private messages. what this would do is put that protection into the law. >> from the law enforcement field, that is what our main concern is, is to make sure there is electronic communications provided with the
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same level of protection, not an extra level of protection beyond what you would expect in your home. >> watch "the communicators," monday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span 2. all weekend, american history tv is featuring las vegas, nevada. it's home to the stratosphere, the tallest freestanding observation tower in the united states at 1149 feet. the city tour recently visited many sites. learn more about las vegas all weekend on american history tv. bubbling] >> when you talk about the history of las vegas, there are two one is water, it brought the
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earliest travel through here. the other one is transportation. transportation has always been an issue here. water is something that, when you are in the desert, is more precious than anything else. we are traveling to the desert, when you are doing leading pack mules, aipac train, you have to carry enough water for every animal. you may not have had water. but your animals had to have water, otherwise they would die and you and i get your goods to the market in your train but not work. what they found was running artesian wells, a running stream and an area that became known to the mexican travelers through here as vegas, which means metal. -- means meadow. las vegas is the meadows and it got the name as a descriptor for the location, not because somebody named the vegas was
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here. it was a description of this wonderful spot in the middle of the desert. the first actual settlement in the vegas valley was in 1855. that is when the mormons came into this area. they were sent down here by brigham young in order to create a settlement here. the idea was to help solidify the area that he saw. not just utah, but what is nevada and parts of eastern california and pieces of new mexico and arizona, pieces of colorado and wyoming. this was part of what they were looking at. the problem was a settlement only lasted two years. by 1857, for a number of different reasons, the settlement was unsuccessful and the settlers were allowed to go back to salt lake city. the church fathers allowed that. and the first settlement here
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was abandoned. they moved back to salt lake city and beware basically -- we were basically unoccupied for a number of years after that. after the mormons came to this area, prospectors came into the area near the valley. and in the case of a couple of those prospectors who were better at ranching than prospecting, they came up into the vegas valley and by the 1870's, 1880's, you had six ranches in this area. we are only talking 20 or 30 people at that point in this entire valley. it was not a heavily settled area. in 1900, a fellow named william andrews clark, an ex senator from montana decided that he would build a road.
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he had to have a water stop in the desert. the only place that had enough water was this valley and it was the las vegas rancho. he came over here. his employees negotiated with helen stewart who had the rancho at that point and bought the rancho and brought the railroad through here. in may of 1905, they had a big auction sale block and las vegas townsite was created. las vegas is a 20th-century town. one of the interesting things in the history of las vegas is that most people know las vegas from the movies. they know las vegas as it is today. so they think that las vegas has always been focused on gaming and on entertainment and on the service industry, and it was not. one of the people who did more damage to the history of las vegas than anyone else was oliver stone, when he did bugsy,
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and had this guy show up in the middle of the desert. there was already a community here. that community was one that had been built by a lot of workers who had come in here initially with the railroad, later on with building the dam in the 1930's, the 1940's, what we had here was a lot of federals ending because of magnesium, the airbase, the school -- we had a lot of things going on well before gaming became as big as it was. there is a bigger history. much different than what we are today. >>
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learn more about las vegas and other stops on our tour at you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. each week until the 2016 election, wrote to the white house rewind brings you archival coverage of presidential races. next bill clinton except his party's presidential nomination at the 1992 democratic national convention in new york city. in his speech the arkansas governor presents himself as an agent of change after 12 years of republican rule. he offers ideas to revive america's economy. governor clinton defeated president george h.w. bush and a 7%.ral election 43%-30 ross perot finish


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