What matters to you.

Forum Network

Free online lectures: Explore a world of ideas

Funding provided by:

Vietnam War and the Presidency: Media and Public Opinion

In partnership with:
With support from: Lowell Institute
Date and time
Saturday, March 11, 2006

Brian Williams leads former CBS News anchor Dan Rather, former ABC News correspondent Steve Bell, and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Frances Fitzgerald in a discussion about the Vietnam War. This lecture comes from "Vietnam and the Presidency", a national conference where leading historians, key policymakers of the Vietnam War era, and journalists who covered the war examine the antecedents of the war, presidential decision-making, media coverage, public opinion, lessons learned and the influence of the Vietnam War experience on subsequent US foreign policy. The Vietnam War was the longest and most controversial war that the United States ever fought. It claimed the lives of more than 58,000 Americans and over three million Vietnamese. From the arrival of the first US military advisors in the 1950s to the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, US involvement in Viet Nam was central to the Cold War foreign policies of Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford. The war has continued to affect the policies of subsequent presidents, and its legacy is particularly relevant today during America's war on terror.

Dan Rather is a journalist and former news anchor for the CBS Evening News and is now managing editor and anchor of a television news magazine, Dan Rather Reports, on the cable channel HDNet. Rather was anchor of The CBS Evening News for 24 years. He also contributed to CBS' 60 Minutes.
Steve Bell has been a broadcaster in the US and overseas all his adult life. Bell, who now is a professor of Telecommunications and Endowed Chair Emeritus at Ball State University, has traveled with presidents, interviewed heads of state and was once captured at gunpoint with his camera crew while serving as a Vietnam war correspondent in Cambodia.
FitzGerald was the daughter of New York lawyer Desmond FitzGerald. FitzGerald is best known for her book, *Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam*(1972), which was met with great acclaim when it was published and remains one of the most notable books about the Vietnam War. She was awarded both a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. FitzGerald's subsequent volumes include *America Revised,* a highly critical review of high school history textbooks (1979); *Cities on a Hill* (1987); *Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War* (2000); "Rewriting American History", a short article in *The Norton Reader*; and *Vietnam: Spirits of the Earth* (2002). FitzGerald's writing has also appeared in *The New Yorker*, *Esquire*, *Architectural Digest*, and *Rolling Stone*. She serves on the editorial boards of The Natio and Foreign Policy, and is vice-president of International PEN.
Brian Williams is the seventh anchor and managing editor in the history of *NBC Nightly News*, which represents the largest single daily source of news in America. Recently, Williams became the most honored network evening news anchor. He received four Edward R. Murrow awards, his fifth Emmy award, the duPont-Columbia University award and the industry's highest honor, the George Foster Peabody award. Most were given for his work in New Orleans while covering Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, and all were awarded to Williams in only his second year on the job. Williams was the first and only network evening news anchor to report from New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina hit and was the only network news anchor to report from the Superdome during the storm. He remained in New Orleans to report on the aftermath and destruction of Hurricane Katrina, and continues to travel back and forth to the region to cover the recovery and rebuilding efforts.