Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Canadian = communist

I'm currently doing research for an essay on the impact of television in America in the 1960s, focusing in part on the role it played in the Vietnam War. Which is how I came across the fantastic quote below, found in Chester J. Pach, Jr.'s chapter 'And that's the way it was: the Vietnam War on the network nightly news', from The Sixties: from memory to history, edited by David Farber.

Morley Safer was a CBS correspondent who, in 1965, filed a report about a US search-and-destroy mission in Cam Ne. In the report Safer questioned the way the mission, and the war as a whole, was conducted. Unsurprisingly, Safer immediately came under fire from several quarters, including the President, which is where the following bit of gold comes from.
Even more vehement than the official criticism of Safer's reporting was the attack on his integrity. Leading the assault was Lyndon B. Johnson. "Are you trying to fuck me?" Johnson asked caustically in a telephone conversation with CBS president Frank Stanton. "Your boys shat on the American flag." The president was convinced that Safer was a communist, but an investigation proved only that he was a Canadian.
Anti-Canadian, Anti-Communist gold! Take note, people: according to LBJ, Canadian = Communist. Watch out for your children. The fun continues, as officials try to argue that being Canadian means you can't provide a 'balanced' outlook on the war:
"Well, I knew he wasn't an American," Johnson sneered. "Why do you have to use foreigners to cover that war?" inquired Bill Moyers, an aide to Johnson, of another CBS correspondent. Canadian birth was reason enough for Arthur Sylvester, the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, to demand Safer's relief. "I think that an American reporter," Sylvester wrote Friendly, "would be more sensitive" to the need for "balance" in reporting U.S. actions in Vietnam.
I'm sure you'll all be glad to know that Safer did keep his job with CBS and wasn't deported for being communist/Canadian, although Pach does provide evidence that Safer did moderate his tone after the incident, and actually started carrying a gun when in Vietnam out of fear that "an accident" might befall him.

In other less-entertaining news, my fucking tooth has started hurting again. I finally went to the specialist yesterday to have a root canal, but he must have agitated it or something because I'm in rather large amounts of pain right now. I'm supposed to go back in September so the root canal can be finished (he only did one out of the three roots on Tuesday), but I'm thinking I might give them a call tomorrow to see if they can't fit me in a little sooner! I'm so over this whole thing, and can certainly think of better ways I could be spending my days. Especially when the procedure on Tuesday cost me $857!! I can definitely think of better ways to spend that kind of money...

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