Editor’s note: With the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, WND takes a fresh look at the way CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite’s famous 1968 editorial altered U.S. public opinion about the war – a broadcast that was untrue, turning a monumental defeat for the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces into a propaganda victory. This is the first of a three-part series.
By WND staff
WASHINGTON – A newly discovered CBS News clip broadcast by Walter Cronkite while still in Saigon following the Tet Offensive reveals the influential newsman had a much different perspective on the battle than he expressed in the history-making commentary he delivered after returning to New York days later.
Anyone who had reached the age of awareness when Cronkite delivered his famous live editorial Feb. 27, 1968, knew the significance of what “the most trusted man in America” was saying: The U.S. had lost the Vietnam war. President Lyndon Johnson’s famous reaction told the story: “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America,” he is reported to have said.
“Tonight, back in more familiar surroundings in New York, we’d like to sum up our findings in Vietnam, an analysis that must be speculative, personal, subjective,” he said in opening his brief closing report. “Who won and who lost in the great Tet Offensive against the cities? I’m not sure. The Viet Cong did not win by a knockout but neither did we.”
Cronkite went on to say it was now clear that the war was headed for a stalemate and that it was time to negotiate a way out, “not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.”