Shot in the Dark notes that the Tet Offensive, that legendary rallying cry still heard today, began thirty-eight years ago yesterday. And writes:
More subtly and insidious, though, was the media’s intrusion into one of the most famous images of the war, the extemoraneous execution of Nguyen Van Lem by a South Vietnamese general, Nguyen Ngoc Loan (no relation). If you are an American who’s not been under a rock for two generations, you’ve seen the photo:
…and probably also seen the footage of the same event from nearly the same angle, shot by an NBC cameraman.
When the media reminds you of the benefits of the major media’s layers of gatekeeping and their monastic commitment to telling the truth, it’s worthwhile to remember the story of the shooting. Of all the media that covered the story, only the Associated Press mentioned that Lem was the leader of a Viet Cong assassination unit that had just murdered 34 civilians – including women and children – that had been found in a nearby ditch. None mentioned that there were reports General Loan’s family were reported among the dead of that day.
But did they show the silent footage (there was no audio man along for the shoot)?
No – NBC news added a gunshot when they broadcast the event on their evening news.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. One man’s Tet is another man’s Bulge. It’s all in the eye of the beholder, and don’t make the mistake of believing that YOU are the beholder. We are usually beholders not of events but of reports, and students not of history but of interpretations.