The Vietnam War occurred at an interesting time in the development of television. It was not the first war to happen while television existed; both World War II and the Korean War were fought in the infant stages of television. During these two conflicts, few Americans had television sets and the equipment necessary to cover a war was still much too bulky to facilitate a great deal of news coverage. By the time the Vietnam War escalated in the mid-1960s, television was ready to capture the war's images and most Americans were able to watch in their homes. News coverage of the Vietnam War was much different than news coverage of later American conflicts because it was largely uncensored. Cameras captured images that the United States" government did not want people to see and news anchors as well as reporters in the field added a surprising amount of editorial commentary. As a result of this commentary, news coverage of the Vietnam War from 1965 to 1970 influenced the American public's opinion of the war effort.
It is important to place the news media of the middle and late 1960s in the appropriate context. The average cable subscriber in 1999 has access to a multitude of news sources such as CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News, MSNBC, Bloomberg, as well as many other regional news sources. The Internet also provides a wealth of news resources that give up-to-the-minute briefs on developing news sources. In 1965, when Vietnam War coverage began intensifying, cable was not widespread and was used primarily in rural mountainous areas to improve reception of broadcast channels. A family that owned a television could receive the three major networks and possibly a few local channels. The major national television news sources were the evening network newscasts anchored by people like Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley, and David Brinkley. The all news stations such as CNN would not arrive for over another decade, so news time devoted to the Vietnam War was usually limited to a half hour in the early evening.