The mercurial role of the U.S. media in wartime : the Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Thesis (M.A.L.S.)--Georgetown University, 2010.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. The various roles of the U.S. media comprise one of the most complex elements of U.S. foreign policy especially during wartime because the media has the ability to sway public opinion for or against any foreign policy agenda. The Vietnam War is the greatest example of the media's mercurial role in U.S. foreign policy. The diverse and uncensored media coverage of the Vietnam War forever changed U.S. foreign policy during wartime. The emergence of television as a viable source of information and the transmission of war images into American living rooms served as vivid reminders of the toll Americans paid for U.S. participation in the war. The daily onslaught of war images forced policymakers and the American public to reevaluate U.S. foreign policy.; The aim of this thesis is to document and analyze the complex multidimensional relationship between the media and the American people throughout the four presidential administrations that became entangled with the Vietnam War. Its scope spans from 1961 to 1975 covering the Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford administrations. This thesis is organized into six parts. Chapter I, "Setting the Stage: U.S. Media Involvement in the Vietnam War," provides a brief historical background of Vietnam, a survey of U.S. Vietnam relations to 1961, and an assessment of U.S. media coverage during wartime. Chapter II, "The Agenda Setting Media and the Kennedy Administration, 1961-1963," addresses the media's portrayal of the Ngo Dinh Diem regime and of the Buddhist Crisis. Chapter III, "The Bellwether Media of the Johnson Administration, 1963-1968," focuses on press coverage of the Gulf of Tonkin Incident and the 1968 Tet Offensive. Chapter IV, "President Nixon's Complex Relationship with the Media, 1969-1974," discusses Nixon's covert policies in Indochina and the media's publication of the Pentagon Papers. Chapter V, "The Final Curtain of the Vietnam War: Media Coverage under President Ford, 1974-1975," chronicles Ford's handling of the Vietnam problem and the Fall of Saigon. Chapter VI, "Conclusion: The Media's Encore -- Lasting Implications of Vietnam War Media Coverage," analyzes the long-term effects of Vietnam War media coverage on U.S. foreign policy, the mercurial nature of the media, and the future of wartime media coverage.
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