“The Committee to Protect Journalists said that since 1992, 639 reporters have been killed for doing their jobs, and, in 565 cases, the killers went unpunished. According to the group, around the globe political reporting is the most dangerous beat, and local journalists the mostly likely victims. It also found that violence against one journalist has grim, ripple effects, leading to vast self-censorship. When that happens, everyone in society pays a high price.”
Robert Caro, in talking about his next volume on Lyndon Johnson, told his interviewer that he had tons of notes on weekly meetings between the president and his advisors. Caro talked to Charles McGrath for his article in the Sunday Times Magazine of April 16. Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara, Earle Wheeler and Walt Rostow frequently discussed with the president whether to escalate the war in Vietnam. “Look at this stuff,” Caro said to the writer, showing him a thick file of notes. “It’s unbelievable.”
Mike Wallace died this week. Although the 93 year old was famous for “60 Minutes,” in 1982 he anchored a powerful “CBS Reports” documentary about military “gaffes,” ones that were repeated daily during The Five O’Clock Follies.
“(Wallace) anchored a ‘CBS Reports’ documentary called ‘The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception.’ It led to a $120 million libel suit filed by Gen. William C. Westmoreland, the commander of American troops in Vietnam from 1964 to 1968. At issue was the show’s assertion that General Westmoreland had deliberately falsified the “order of battle,” the estimate of the strength of the enemy. The question turned on a decision that American military commanders made in 1967. The uniformed military said the enemy was no more than 300,000 strong, but intelligence analysts said the number could be half a million or more. If the analysts were correct, then there was no ‘light at the end of the tunnel,’ the optimistic phrase General Westmoreland had used.” — Mike Wallace obit, NY Times, April 9, 2012
Here’s a gem about renowned AP journalist George Esper, who devoted a decade of his life to covering the Vietnam War. He’s not as famous as Mike Wallace but no less legendary. In this short film Esper shares his memories leading up to the fall of Saigon and some “personal stories of fear, love and death.” In February 2012, George Esper died.
The movie, first in a planned series about Esper’s life and work, was produced and directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Elaine McMillion.
Since I’m still a news junkie, it still feels right to pick up things that are happening right now. Unfortunately the most recent news items are mostly obits. The best we can say is R.I.P. or C’est la vie. I’m sure that Esper found light at the end of his tunnel. He made the Vietnam War history that we can’t ignore.