The University of Kansas Student Auxiliary


V.V.A.R.: Leading the student revolt on campus against speech codes, political correctness, multiculturalism, gender feminism, dormitory re-education, lying about Vietnam, and other instruments of academic oppression.


Leonard Magruder - Founder/President

Former professor of psychology - Suffolk College, N.Y.

Member: National Association of Scholars

CONTACT:  -  Phone: 785-312-9303


Part 3 of a 10-part series, Vietnam and the Media, from the archives of Vietnam Veterans for Academic Reform - Leonard Magruder, President

Part 3 - Subject: How the national media lied about the Tet Offensive.

The Tet Offensive, which was portrayed by the New York liberal media as a defeat for the U.S. was in fact, as Westmoreland and all historians agree, an almost disastrous defeat for the North Vietnamese. Not only did they lose half of the 90,000 troops they had committed to battle, the Viet Cong was virtually destroyed.

Contrary to the expectations of the North, the people of the South took not one step to assist the invaders. Instead, they rose up in revulsion and resistance, with the government and the people galvanized into unity for the first time and volunteers for the South Vietnamese army almost doubling.

In the U.S., the facts made clear by the Tet Offensive, that the war was not just a “civil war,” that the South clearly did not wish to live under Communist rule and welcomed American aid, and that it was the North Vietnamese who were engaged in “genocide” and “aggression” with the mass murders at Hue and the rocket attacks on helpless civilian populations, should have ended the arguments of the “peace” movement. It was the moment of truth for those in the universities and the media. They failed the test. The lying continued with renewed fury.

The NewYork media, recognizing an opportunity to manipulate the news to effectively impose its view of the war on the American people now created,. and deliberately sustained, an image of “disaster,” even in the face of incoming battlefield reports that contradicted that image. This image was taken seriously by advisors to President Johnson, totally altering the outcome of the war at the very moment when victory might have been possible. The liberal media robbed the United States government and the American people of the ability to make critical judgements about their most vital security interests in a time of war.

The true reason for the tragic change in policy after the Tet offensive is seen in what Johnson now told Westmoreland, that to pursue the war more aggressively was politically unfeasible, that he had “no choice but to try to calm the protestors lest they precipitate an abject American pull-out.” (America in Vietnam, Levy, l978) In one of the most incredible phenomenon in the history of warfare, there was during this period, thanks to the media, no logical connection between what was actually happening in Vietnam and response on the home front. The response to victory was despair. This is what the media calls the “psychological victory,” which they themselves created.

And to their everlasting shame, the “peace” movement responded to any hint of success by American forces at Tet with panic, fearing that their own country might win the war. As presidential candidate George McGovern said to Vietnam vet and former Sec. of the Navy James Webb, “What you don’t understand is that I didn’t want us to win that war.” (American Enterprise Mag. May/June l997)

The April-June l986 edition of The National Vietnam Veteran’s Review had a front-page article (with photo) titled “Professor Calls for Congressional Investigation of Media’s Treatment of the Vietnam War.” During that period Mr. Magruder had distributed a “Request to Congress” to most members of Congress calling for a Congressional investigation into how it came about that a major American victory had been reported to the American people as a defeat .The request was supported by twelve large Vietnam veteran organizations, and General Westmoreland. As stated in the N.V.V.R. article, “General Westmoreland,who has already made one call to the Steering Committee, stated publicly this week, “Professor Magruder’s project is an extremely important issue and I support his efforts l00%.”

Copies of the material Mr. Magruder sent to Congress were distributed to news organizations throughout the National Press Building in Washinton, but no mention of it ever appeared in print.The media has always tried to dismisss the charge of having lied about the Tet Offensive as a right-wing fantasy, but in his material distributed to Congress Mr. Magruder quoted from 21 standard histories and commentaries on the Vietnam War, as follows:

“The enemy has been hurt badly he committed a total of about 84,000 men. He lost 40,000 killed.” (Report of General Earle G. Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the Tet Offensive. Feb. 27, l968) (Note: the allies lost 927. This is the disaster for the North Vietnamese that CBS called a “stalemate.”)

“The Allied counter-offensive following Tet destroyed the Viet Cong based in the South and was a major defeat for the North. Yet despite this victory the press in the United States turned Tet into an American defeat.” (Great Battles of the 20th Century - Sir Basil Liddell Hart)

“The Viet Cong was suffering severe casualties. .. but this situation was not being reflected in news reports or on television in the United States.” (The Unmaking of a President - Herbert Schandler)

“Following Tet, the enemy was completely vulnerable (but) the most powerful country in the world did not have the will power to meet the situation. (Strategy for Defeat - Admiral Sharpe)

“The North Vietnamese regulars and the Viet Cong guerrillas were defeated utterly on the battlefield. Granted the American superiority at that time, there is at least the probability that North Vietnam forces could have been destroyed.” (Crossroads of Modern Warfare - Drew Middleton)

“The impression created by the press and television coverage of the offensive was of a great defeat for the Americans and the South Vietnamese. (Why We Were in Vietnam - Norman Podhoretz)

“The war still could have been brought to a favorable end following the defeat of the enemy’s Tet Offensive. But this was not to be. Press and television had created an aura, not of victory, but defeat. (A Soldier Reports- General William Westmoreland)

“Newsmen countered official claims of a Communist defeat by saying that even if it were true (which they refused to accept as they did the official account of enemy losses) the communists had achieved a psychological victory. (The Vietnam War - an international panel of historians)

“This is the only war lost in the columns of The New York Times. They created an image of South Vietnam that was as distant from the truth as not even to be a good caricature. There were those who invented, distorted, and lied. (Certain Victory - Dennis Warner)

“Visitors to the Lyndon Johnson Library are told, “While the President was reading reports from the war that made it clear that the enemy had suffered a severe military loss (Tet), newspaper and TV gave the impression that the loss was ours and that defeat was imminent.” (New York Times News Service)

“COSVN, Viet Cong Headquarters, in its internal report #6, March l968, admitted the Tet Offensive had been a failure. “We failed to seize a number of primary objectives. We also failed to hold the occupied areas. In the political field we failed to motivate the people to stage uprisings.”(The Magruder Expose - Leonard Magruder)

“For the first time in modern history the outcome of a war was determined not on the battlefield but on the printed page and television screens - never before Vietnam had the collective policy of the media sought, by graphic and unremitting distortion, the victory of the enemies of the correspondents own side.” (Encounter-British journalist Robert Elegant)

“It was the massive military defeat of the Viet Cong and NVA that proved the main turning point in the United States resolve. In military terms it was a massive defeat for Giap. However, on the television screens of the United States Tet turned into a victory for the Communists.” (Vietnam - Ian Beckett)

“Jack Fern of NBC suggested to producer Robert Northfield that NBC do a documentary showing that Tet was indeed a decisive military victory for the United States. “We can’t,” said Northfield, “Tet is already established in the public mind as a defeat.” (Between Fact and Fiction - Edward J. Epstein)

“When General Westmoreland publicly announced that the Tet Offensive had been a major defeat for the Communists and a major victory for the Allied forces, a fact obvious to anyone who viewed the events dispassionately, he was treated like a self-deluding fool by the news media.” (Battles and Campaigns - Tom Carhart)

“The Tet Offensive proved catastrophic to our plans. It is a major irony of the Vietnam War that our propaganda transformed this debacle into a brilliant victory. The truth was that Tet cost us half our forces. Our losses were so immense that we were unable to replace them with new recruits.”(Truong Nhu Tang - Mnister of Justice - Viet Cong Provisional Revolutionary Government - The New York Review, Oct. 21, l982)

“The military’s conflict with the Saigon press corp was the crucible of the debate over the Order of Battle. But CBS chose not to explore that conflict - to have done so the network would have had to bare its own archives of the period, including Walter Cronkites’s milestone commentary which declared, following Tet, that an American victory was unlikely and that a truce must be negotiated. “ (A Matter Of Honor - Don Kowit)

“Though it was an overwhelming victory for South Vietnam and the United States, the almost universal theme of media coverage was that we had suffered a disastrous defeat. The steady drumbeat of inaccurate stories convinced millions of Americans that we had lost a major battle.” (No More Vietnams -Richard Nixon)

“The myth was created (by the media) that the war was unwinnable, and that had a decisive effect on American resolution. (War in Peace- Sir Robert Thompson)

“Rarely has contemporary crisis journalism turned out, in retrospect, to have veered so widely from reality. Essentially the dominant themes of the words and film from Vietnam added up to a portrait of defeat for the Allies,. Historians, on the contrary, have concluded that the Tet Offensive resulted in a severe military-political setback for Hanoi in the South. To have portrayed such a setback for one side as a defeat for the other - in major crisis abroad - cannot be counted upon as a triumph for American journalism… and it could happen again.” (Big Story - 2 vols. - Peter Braestrup)

“If there is to be an inquiry related to the Vietnam War, it should be into the reasons why enemy propaganda was so widespread in this country, and why the enemy was able to condition the public to such an extent that the best educated segments of our population have given credence to the most incredible allegations.” (Final Report - Chief of Military History - U.S. Government)

When does this inquiry begin? The last four years of the war,the lives lost, and the final abandonment by the U.S.of the peoples of South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, were prices paid to indulge the tantrums of the campus ‘peace’ movement and the New York liberal media. America, through the lack of moral and intellectual sophistication of its liberal academics and journalists had succumbed to the most successful propaganda effort the world has ever seen. How the campus and the media lied about Vietnam is the one great trauma in the tissue of American history that has never been dealt with.

This article may be reproduced in any form.

Leonard Magruder

Founder/President, V.V.A.R.

Phone: 785-312-9303


Part 1, Vietnam and The Media

Part 2, Vietnam and The Media

Part 4, Vietnam and The Media

Part 5, Vietnam and The Media

Part 6, Vietnam and The Media

Part 7, Vietnam and The Media

Part 8, Vietnam and The Media

Part 9, Vietnam and The Media

Part 10, Vietnam and The Media

Part 10a, Vietnam and The Media




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