50 pages 1 hour read

Edward S. Herman, Noam Chomsky

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media

Nonfiction | Graphic Memoir | Adult | Published in 1988

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Chapter 5-ConclusionsChapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 5 Summary: “The Indochina Wars (I): Vietnam”

In the aftermath of America’s withdrawal from Vietnam, critics blasted news coverage of the war, blaming it for turning public opinion against the government and, in effect, losing the war. In defense of its coverage, the news media argued that its job is to take an “adversarial” stance. Herman and Chomsky assert that coverage of the Vietnam War was rarely adversarial and followed the propaganda model more often than not. When the U.S. introduced ground forces and began its devastating bombing campaign in 1965, media support of the war effort was almost unanimous. Any skepticism was limited to “questions of tactics and costs” (172). When political discourse shifted against the war, it was largely due to spiraling costs, and media opinion predictably followed. The framing of the war coverage then followed a failure-of-good-intentions narrative, portraying the U.S. as the savior fighting to prevent communist aggression but sadly unable to work its noble magic against a vicious and amoral foe. The media questioned American judgment but never its morality.

Contrasting Soviet military interventions—Hungary, Poland, Afghanistan—with the U.S. war in Indochina, media and establishment elites routinely framed Soviet interventions as “aggression” while sparing U.