With Tet, Vietnam finally got America's attention. Millions of
Americans watched the battle for Saigon on the evening news, and
many who were not personally involved took notice for the first
time. In the winter dusk of American as 1968 proceeded, dreadful
sights were broadcast. The cameras recorded burnings, executions,
even the sight of American soldiers falling in battle. MACV was
powerless to control news media that no longer trusted him. He
had sincerely believed there would be nothing to hide.
Lyndon Johnson tried to explain it away and his own credibility
suffered. On February 27, the avuncular Walter Cronkite, a public
surrogate, pondered the question of whether "the bloody experience
of Vietnam is to end in stalemate." The decade that had opened
in the winter sunshine of Kennedy's inaugural was flickering out
in a confusion of shadows and unwholesome light.