Myth: Media coverage of the war was balanced and accurate and contributed to development of appropriate US policies

Fact: Media bias played a major role in the outcome of the war.

  • Two of the most reported photos of the war both told false stories.
  • The famous photo of a young Vietnamese girl burned by napalm was falsely reported as caused by US aircraft. It was solely a South Vietnamese operation.
  • The photo of "napalm girl" was cropped to hide the fact that there were soliders walking beside her.
  • The famous photo of a Vietnamese police officer summarily executing a Viet Cong prisoner left crucial details out of the story.
  • The Tet offensive was reported as a defeat for American forces. The opposite was true. The offensive decimated the Viet Cong.
  • Walter Cronkite famously pronounced the Vietnam War "a quaqmire" after Tet.
  • The media has consistently reported that the US lost the Vietnam War. The US left Vietnam in 1973. The war was lost in 1975, after North Vietnam, once again, violated the terms of the peace treaty.

Confirming Evidence

How to Lose A War: The Press and Viet Nam

Media's role during the Vietnam-Era

Have You Ever Seen the Uncropped Version of the "Napalm Girl?"

Vietnam napalm strike: the myth of Kim Phuc

The Story Behind the Man Who was Killed in the Famous "Saigon Execution" Photo

Commanded "Assassination & Revenge Platoon" Slashing Throats Of Cops Wives/Kids

This Week in Photography History: Eddie Adams' Pulitzer Winning Image Was Captured

Impact Of Media On Public Opinion During The Vietnam War

How the national media lied about the Tet Offensive

Television Coverage of the Vietnam War and the Vietnam Veteran