Jul
20
2009

On Cronkite as (Belatedly) 'Courageous Truth-Teller'

Norman Solomon has noticed (Common Dreams, 7/20/09) that "media eulogies for Walter Cronkite–including from progressive commentators–rarely talk about his coverage of the Vietnam War before 1968." An "obit omit" Solomon deems "essential to the myth of Cronkite as a courageous truth-teller": But facts are facts, and history is history–including what Cronkite actually did as TV's most influential journalist during the first years of the Vietnam War. Despite all the posthumous praise for Cronkite's February 1968 telecast that dubbed the war "a stalemate," the facts of history show that the broadcast came only after Cronkite's protracted support for the war. In […]

Jul
09
2009

For the WaPo, McNamara Is the Real Victim of the Vietnam War

The Washington Post's editorial (7/7/09) on the death of Vietnam-era Defense Secretary Robert McNamara managed to outdo even the New York Times' victim-erasing obituary. The Times cited the number of invading troops killed by McNamara's war of aggression while ignoring the vastly larger number of Indochinese deaths–but for the Post, neither the aggressors nor their victims are as important as the "agonizing" that the architect of the war went through. As the editorial concludes, "The true McNamara's War, as it turned out, was longer than Vietnam, and was fought mostly within himself." It's a given that the Washington Post empathizes […]

Jul
07
2009

Moral Perversity and the McNamara Toll

In the sixth paragraph of his front-page obituary of Vietnam War-era Defense Secretary Robert McNamara (7/7/09), the New York Times' Tim Weiner tries–and fails–to give some idea of the human cost of McNamara's war: Half a million American soldiers went to war on his watch. More than 16,000 died; 42,000 more would fall in the seven years to come. What's missing, of course, is the number of Vietnamese and other Indochinese who died as a result of the war whose escalation McNamara oversaw; estimates range from 1 million to more than 3 million, but Weiner never gets around to mentioning […]

Apr
20
2009

MSM: Pioneers in Selective Memory

Norman Solomon is unable to resist the irony (Huffington Post, 4/11/09) of a lead New York Times article titled "Brain Researchers Open Door to Editing Memory," inverting the futuristic character of news that scientists possibly "could erase certain memories by tinkering with a single substance in the brain" to look back on how "American media outlets have been pulling off such feats for a long time": The scientists trying to learn how to wipe out "specific types of memory" are lagging way behind. Don't need to remember the vast quantities of napalm, Agent Orange and cluster bombs that the U.S. […]