17. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam1

729. Joint State/USIA. WG/VN for TF/Saigon. Request your frank, general, and confidential evaluation overall job being done by U.S. newsmen in reporting war in Viet-Nam to U.S. public. Context our concern as follows:

We are still getting adverse play in daily press; somewhat better coverage in weekly publications (e.g. Newsweek Jan 28, Life Jan 25). In general war in Viet-Nam going better than being reported to U.S. public.
Poor relations between U.S. press reps and GVN not likely be significantly improved.
Realize wire service correspondents have difficulty in leaving Saigon, where they in contact with home office, to go into country.
If correspondent has time, how difficult is it for him to get transportation a, to cover military operations, b) to go into countryside to cover strategic hamlets and other rural activities?

In general is it TF view that, given local obstacles and problems, U.S. correspondents are doing adequate or inadequate job of covering war?

Would appreciate your carefully weighed overall view this 1ong vexed question and would welcome any suggestions as to how we may assist or encourage them to do better job either here or in Saigon.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 951K.6211/1-2463. Confidential. Drafted on January 22 by Wood. Cleared by Frank P Lockhart, Harriman, Robert J. McCloskey, and in USIA by James N. Tull. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD.