did not witness any combat on a firsthand basis
could not interview American soldiers while serving
accepted the U.S. government’s justification for the war
called the military’s press briefings “five o’clock follies”
— were led by the nose by communists.
1) Journalists, photographers and TV cameramen saw plenty of combat during the Second Indochina War (commonly referred to as the Vietnam War).
There were many “journalists” who never saw actual combat, preferring to remain in the rear while there were others who saw combat constantly. Photographers and TV cameramen HAVE to see plenty of combat to get the “pictures”.
2) Newsmen (journalists, photographers and TV cameramen) often spoke and interviewed soldiers from the various forces (US, ARVN, Australian, Thai, New Zealand, South Korean). Some newsmen were actually living on the bases permanently. UPI had a permanent journalist based with the Australians at Nui Dat.
3) At the start of the war in 1954 (or November 1955 whichever date you choose to use as the start date) MOST newsmen supported the US intervention in the war. Within a short time the newsmen were sending back reports of gross human rights abuses by the “South Vietnamese” government and the Ngo family, but they were still supportive of the war. It was around 1959-1960 that the newsmen in Indochina started to report more critically about the war and to be less supportive. Their reports were often altered by the editors back in Australia and the US. It was not until around 1967-68 that the media within the US itself was critical of the war and 1969-70 when the media in Australia was critical.
4) Yes, the media called the military briefings held by the US and the Vietnamese ARVN as the “Six O’clock follies” and the “Five O’clock follies” (depending on when they were being held. The media called them that because they were so full of lies. The newsmen themselves saw first hand many events that were completely different from what the US and ARVN military were saying.Source(s): A former TV news cameraman and journalist with over 30 years in the industry in Australia and Southeast Asia, including as a War Correspondent during the Second Indochina War.
Currently a SE Asian historian.
Most of the big name journalists who were actually assigned to Vietnam spent most of their time lounging around their hotel bars trading stories and rumors, then filing them as “eye witness reports from the battlefield.” The only real combat most of these bozos ever saw was during the Tet Offensive when the Communists infiltrated Saigon and actually shot the place up. Most of them panicked and never did understand what happened, reporting what was in fact a great military victory for the South Vietnamese as a defeat for the American troops. These smug, sell effacing jerks refereed to the military briefings derisively as “the five o’clock follies,” because they thought they were smarter then the generals and understood what was really going on in their narrow little world of the hotel bars.