Jan. 30 – The Tet Offensive

Gay Lynn HillAmerican History(BR), Bell Ringers

On Jan.30, 1968, communist forces of the North Vietnamese army and the Viet Cong broke a cease-fire established to celebrate the Vietnamese New Year.



While American and South Vietnamese forces eventually repelled the attacks and killed as many as 40,000 soldiers (against losses of about 3,000), the Tet Offensive shook the confidence of the American public, and greatly increased domestic opinion against the war.

The Vietnam War was the first war in which embedded journalists has almost free reign to cover events as they saw fit. While television penetration grew rapidly during the Korean War (1950-53). It was only with the Vietnam War (1962-75) that the vast majority of American households could watch events, in color (and with the beginning of satellite transmission), and almost in real time. As a result, Vietnam is considered the first “television war.”


Questions:
  1. What impressions do you get from watching the interviews of soldiers in the clip? How would you describe their attitude towards what they’re doing?
  2. Contrast the interviews with the soldiers, with the coverage of the flag-raising. What message do you think the story is meant to convey?
  3. Today, much is made of “fake news.” How would you contrast stories wholly made-up, from stories where the author uses the media to express an opinion, rather than present facts?
  4. When watching the clip, do you get the impression that 10 times as many North Vietnamese and Viet Cong were killed as South Vietnamese and Americans? If not, then why not?

Image Citation:

24, Jan. 2018 Damage to a Saigon Street [digital photograph].  Retrieved from <alphahistory.com>.