Required reading for newsies

April 20, 2004

William Greider on our inability to remember.

The war in Iraq is different from Vietnam in one fundamental respect: A substantial portion of Americans (and others around the world) were in the streets protesting this venture before the shooting started. The media generally dismissed them and often caricatured the protesters as aging hippies on a sixties nostalgia trip. It’s a pity reporters didn’t listen more respectfully. Virtually every element of what has gone wrong in Iraq was cited by those demonstrators as among the reasons they opposed the march to war.

How could such forgetfulness prevail, especially among a smart, engaged group like news people? It is perhaps not as sinister as it sounds. Most of the men and women now in charge of the news processes were boys and girls during Vietnam. The youngest reporters were not yet born. Their generation, I imagine, experienced the war more distantly as a disturbed era that ended in national humiliation. An air of shame hung over their growing-up years, a residue of bitterness and guilt all around. Did Americans wimp out? Did the news media poison their patriotism? My hunch is that many of today’s reporters and editors came to think so and were determined to be less squeamish, more “manly” about warmaking. Editors over 50 can’t hide behind this excuse.

Link via Romenesko.

3 Responses to Required reading for newsies

  1. Jeff on April 20, 2004 at 10:25 am

    Then there’s that whole volunteer army thing…

  2. tom on April 20, 2004 at 11:11 am

    The real problem w/the comparisons to Vietnam is that they oblige us to “do it right” this time. Problem being, once you’ve invaded somebody’s country with a bunch of heavily armed people who shoot back, there really aren’t any ways to do it right.

  3. Jerry on April 20, 2004 at 8:42 pm

    As someone who *was* in Vietnam, who saw the bodybags and flag-covered coffins heading back state side, this is all too much deja-vu all over again.
    Vietnam was a waste of 10 years and over 50,000 American lives. Let’s all hope this time the government sees the light much sooner.