cites an Associated Press story, Februaryn16,1968, based upon an interview withnGalbraith. The story begins:nProfessor John Kenneth Galbraithntoday predicted that important unitsnof the South Vietnamese army willneither disappear into the woods ornjoin the Vietcong within the nextnmonths. ‘It’s been an open secret for anlong whUe,’ Galbraith said, ‘that importantnunits of the South Vietnamesenforces up in the 1st Corps area or then25th Division south of Saigon have anclose working relationship with thenVietcong and will either disappearninto the woods or join the Vietcong.’n. . . Galbraith said his conclusion ofnimminent collapse of the South Vietnamesengovernment and army is basednon a ‘carefiil reading’ of the news accountsnof the war.nGalbraith was President of the Americansnfor Democratic Action at that time;nit can be assumed that a very large numbernof liberals in the U.S. felt confirmednin their “knowledge” that not only hadnTet been a disaster for South Vietnamnand the Americans but also that the truencorruption and all-around wickednessnof the South Vietnamese govenmientnwas so bad that entire units of troops andnnumerous citizens alike were defectingnto the Vietcong. Braestrup cites materialnfrom Edward J. Epstein that tells how, innlate 1968, an NBC producer suggestednto his chief that a three-part series bendone on television showing that Tet hadnbeen a victory for the Americans andnSouth Vietnamese. The suggestion wasnrejected because, said NBC to the producer,nTet was already established “innthe public’s mind as a defeat, and thereforenit was a defeat.” I have no doubt thatnsimilar experiences were suffered bynmany a newspaper reporter or subeditor.nIt is unnecessiuy to cite further examples.nThe question now is: What isnthe explanation for the immense chasmnthat separated reality in South Vietnamnfrom the false representation of it whichnseized nearly all of the U.S. media, leadingnthem to declare defeat and disasternwhere, in fact, victory lay? Braestrupndoes not think that ideological forcesnhad much to do with phenomenon—napart from the working press’s generalnhostility toward President Johnson andnsome of his close advisers. He calls it “annextreme case,” writing: “The special circumstancesnof Tet impacted to a rare degreenon modem American journalism’snspecial susceptibilities and limitations.nThis peculiar conjuncture overwhelmednreporters, commentators, and theirnsuperiors alike.” He correctly points outnthat credibility of the Johnson Administrationnwas extremely low in the media’snopinion—^and in that of the general public,nfor that matter—^from about 1966non. Johnson (who as Vice-President hadnbeen lukewarm toward any participationnat all in Vietnam and was perhapsnthe only voice in opposition to U.S. participationnin the coup that overturnednDiem) became simply overwhelmed bynthe war. He doubtless sensed early thatnit was going to be a lethal blow to his aspirationnto greatness as President. In anynevent, as Braestrup notes, Johnson’snleadership as commander in chief wasnpretty much in shreds. Some of his pressncotiferences and interviews on the warnin Vietnam are almost nightmarish innretrospect. Such a President and the attendantncondition of chaos in the WhitenHouse made accurate reporting difficultnfor even the few really exceptionalnmembers of the media, both at homenand in South Vietnam.nBut, Braestrup declares, beyond Johnson’snlack of candor and the confusionnhe disseminated lay signal inadequaciesnand failures on the part of the “medianmanagers.” These are the people in pressnand television who are the ultimate determinersnof what is wanted, what is relevant,nand what is actually printed ornbroadcast. In the end it was failure ornwillful refusal of the news managers atnhome that “brought down the curtainnwhile the play was still going on.” Disasternfor the U.S. had been quickly assumednwhen Tet began, and no amount of contrarynevidence proved capable of alteringnthis assumption, this state of mind.nnnBraestrup ends his book with a warningnthat the inadequacies of the media arenwith us still, the sorry tale of Tet notwithstanding,nand “in view of all these fectors,nunsatisfactory performance in anothernsurprise crisis or near-crisis appearsnlikely.” Braestrup has akeady, severalntimes, been proved correct as a prophetn—^El Salvador, especially on television,nbeing a special example.nI do not agree entirely with Braestrup’sndismissal of the ideological factor in thenpress’s coverage of Tet. Granted that innthe field ideological considerations matterednlittle if at all once the Tet offensivenbegan. But surely the “media managers”nback home were, by I968, exceedinglynsensitive to ideological considerations.nThe revolutionary 1960’s were alreadynin full display. There is no question at allnin my mind that the relentless and steadilynmounting opposition to the war innVietnam from the left—which includedna substantial number of intellectuals andnother opinion-makers as well as thenthousands of students whose demonstrationsnand riots were the regular stuffnof the evening news—^had a great deal tondo in shaping what the French call anmentaltte among news managers asnwell as “managers” in the churches, thenschools, and the universities. It is impossiblento believe that the rather abject departurenfrom government of thenMcNamaras, Bundys, Hillsmans, andnSchlesingers had nothing to do with thenrain of hatred and scorn that so many ofnAmerica’s best-known intellectuals, fromnNew York to San Francisco, had beenndfrecting against these Presidential advisersnsince 1965. It is equally impossiblento believe that the same rain of hatenand scorn did not also affect media managers.nLet’s hope that in future U.S. militarynand political engagements (e.g., innLatin America) the media managersnclean house a little beforehand. But nonmatter how clean they get their house,nthey (and we) should be warned thatnthe same rain of hell fire that fell on theirnheads in the late 1960’s from the politicalnleft is going to fall again, this time,nperhaps, much more heavily. DnAugust 1983n