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Monday, February 05, 2007

From 1971 CBS Newscast: Vietnam Vet Was Spit At

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The old CBS Evening News show watched by millions of American when Walter Cronkie was in the anchor chair always closed the nightly broadcast with his trademark signoff, "And that's the way it is . . " Cronkite was gone -- probably on holiday -- when a story appeared on the network's national newscast two days after Christmas 1971. Charles Collingwood was subbing 36 years ago.

Collingwood introduced a piece about a Vietnam vet from a small town in Kansas. He had come home to a nation divided about the war in Southeast Asia.

The vet told CBS Correspondent Morton Dean he was spit upon in Seattle, and Dean put it on the air for millions to see. The story ran for nearly six minutes, a huge chunk of airtime in a 20-minute news window. The Monday, December 27, 1971, broadcast is in the Television News Archive at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. A summary of the story from the archive is HERE.

Why bring this up now? In recent days, some people have contended reports of such spitting incidents were urban myths. They say the myth seems to have started in the early 1980s, perhaps around the time of Sylvester Stallone's Rambo movie. They suggest that the recollections of spitting incidents are fabrications, or false memories.

Much of what they say is based upon the work of a professor at the College of the Holy Cross. In 1999 (see post immediately below) Jerry Lembcke authored a book based on his research that shows spitting incidents seem to be absent from media accounts during the years the Vietnam War was being fought.

But the newscast in the Vanderbilt archives appears to be clearly at odds with Lembcke's urban myth thesis. Ohio blogger Tom Blumer at posted the archive's abstract about the 1971 newscast segment Sunday. (This blog was trying without success to track down the subject of the story, a medic who was one of 2.5 million Vietnam vets at the time of the 1971 CBS report.)

The medic who was the subject of the story went back to college from a small community in rural Kansas. He was described as a hero.

Let's all hope that life has gone well for him.


  1. Do you still not get the point? People can say whatever they like. That doesn't make it true.

    Have network news stations ever reported false stories before, just because the person on screen CLAIMED a certain event happened?

    You have not documented anything, which is Lembcke's point. Unless the video actually shows him being spat upon, this is more hearsay.

    The real story about the peace march was captured in this video at The Cincinnati Beacon. But your spin is designed to characterize anti-war people as monsters.

    With the millions of vets who returned home, and the thousands of stories, why can't a single one be DOCUMENTED?

    (You do know what that word means, right?)

    And what about your own "vivid" story, that comes after you left a movie that didn't even exist yet?

  2. Thanks, Dean. Where did I say "after" I left the movie the movie? Not hostile. Just curious.


  3. My humble apologies, Mr. Sloat. You did not write the word "after." You wrote this:

    We were not on Bourbon Street, but did go to see to see a movie that day, a porno flick called the Devil Is Miss JOnes, where the woman slit her wrists in a bath tub at the end, which freaked us out. A girl spit at me at me as we walked to the HoJos.

    While you did not use the word "after," you did write about the spitting after you wrote about seeing a movie that did not exist in 1970.

    Most people, when they read in the normal fashion, take events presented in such an order to be chronological.

    I am sorry for making such wild presumptions about your timeline.

    But speaking of timelines, how about you address the fact that the porno you saw in 1970 didn't exist until 1973?

    Thank you.

  4. Thnaks, "Dean." Why quibble about a minor detail? By the way, do you have a name? Why would you make up a name?

  5. The pathology of those on the left who want to rewrite history is getting overwhelming, like the stink of a rotting corpse in the room. They want so badly to scrub all memory of the evil they and their predecessors in the Vietnam War did in the past and pretend what we know happened never did.

    It reminds me a lot of holocaust revisionists. Once the last survivor dies, they'll become even louder, with noone to walk up and show them a tattoo on their arm. The same thing will happen with the "peace protesters" when there are no vets left to say "hey I was there, it happened to me."