an obsession with action-packed photography to the exclusion of all else. 49 Threaded through it all was the bias reflected by those young producers in New York, imbibed from nowhere else than the editorials and ideologically infected news columns of the New York Times, the only comprehensive report of the war to which those producers and the more senior executives had ever been exposed.
There were rare exceptions to the general atmosphere of messianism and irresponsibility. Bill Wordham of ABC News was eyewitness to repeated incidents in which Marines had died because their M-16 rifles had jammed. Although the Marine chain of command bitterly and vociferously denied that there was any such problem, Wordham persisted until a more honest investigation established that, indeed, there was a major problem and it was fixed. Without question, Wordham saved many American lives.
With three years remaining in the decade Army Chief of Staff Harold K. Johnson said it would take to defeat North Vietnam within the strategic straitjacket imposed by the McNamara regime, and when only half of the million-man U.S. expeditionary force Johnson said would be required had been deployed, the United States deserted its South Vietnamese ally.
Initially, powerful voices in American journalism claimed that the reporters of print and broadcast had brought about that abandonment.
"The reporters and the cameras," James Reston of the New York Times wrote as North Vietnamese armored columns overran South Vietnam, "forced the withdrawal of American power from Vietnam." 50
William J. Small, then director of CBS News in Washington, claimed that television news had "caused the disillusionment of Americans with this war, the cynicism of many young people towards America, and the destruction of Lyndon Johnson's tenure of office." 51