60 Minutes” segment on the NSA should follow it up with this story involving Morley Safer — who, at 82 years old, is still a correspondent at “60 Minutes”:
In August, 1965 Safer appeared in what became one of most famous TV segments
of the Vietnam War, showing U.S. troops setting fire to all the huts in
a Vietnamese village with Zippo lighters and flamethrowers.
A year later in 1966, Safer wrote an article about what he’d seen
firsthand during a visit to Vietnam by Arthur Sylvester, then Assistant
Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs (i.e., the head of Pentagon PR).
Sylvester met with reporters for U.S. news outlets at the U.S. Embassy
There was general opening banter, which Sylvester quickly brushed
aside. He seemed anxious to take a stand — to say something that would
jar us. He said:
“I can’t understand how you fellows can write what you do while
American boys are dying out here,” he began. Then he went on to the
effect that American correspondents had a patriotic duty to disseminate
only information that made the United States look good.
A network television correspondent said, “Surely, Arthur, you don’t
expect the American press to be the handmaidens of government.”
“That’s exactly what I expect,” came the reply.