This is not ‘Nam, this is bowling. There are rules.

Wow, long chapter.

Indochina Wars (I) Vietnam

The basic premise is that the war in Vietnam was immoral and that the media did not empathize with the victims of US violence, but rather took the view of the US. They also claim that the media did not lead public opinion, but followed it by reading a Freedom House report on media coverage of the war.

The story of the beginning of the Vietnam war is described starting in the ’50s. The containment policy is never mentioned. This is strange for two reasons. First of all, it would buttress the contention that communism is the big filter. Secondly, it would show that the authors empathized with the people that they are writing about, since they spend much of the chapter discussing how the American press had no empathy for the Vietnamese people. There isn’t too much about the actual war that I didn’t know, or at least have a sense of from general history and movies. It seems like everything from Apocalypse Now, to Coming Home in a Bodybag, The massacres and inhuman treatment on civilians has been documented.

The bulk of the chapter attempts to refute the Freedom House report. They actually claim that the press is lazy, which I think explains 95% of their entire book. It seems like Chomsky is annoyed that the press isn’t objective. Well, here’s the problem. If the only information the press gets is from the US government, then that will be the view that they take. Then he talks about individual reporters, and statements made by them and claim that they don’t go far enough.

The actual data analysis in this chapter is extremely poor. They make the case that the media didn’t lead the public by comparing some time series of public opinion and some media metric (I forget which) and claiming that the media didn’t lead the public. He doesn’t show any of graphs, just makes the claim. Maybe he doesn’t know anything about data analysis.


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