Did opposition to the Vietnam War increase or decrease with the Tet Offensive?  

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Opposition to the Vietnam War increased after the Tet Offensive. The offensive, which was a tactical failure for the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army, was nevertheless conducted on such a scale, and inflicted so many losses, that it raised the possibility in the minds of many Americans that victory was not attainable. This shift in public opinion was heavily influenced by media coverage of the war. By 1968, each of the major television networks had sent war correspondents to Vietnam, and the footage they sent back was difficult for Americans to accept. Images of American casualties and the brutality of guerrilla warfare (including the burning of Vietnamese villages) horrified many Americans. This culminated with Walter Cronkite, CBS News anchorman, warning on television that the Tet Offensive showed that the war was very likely to end in a "stalemate." After the Tet Offensive, the "credibility gap" between the news reports and the government (whose spokespeople claimed that the war was going well) only worsened. Domestically, the effects were profound--antiwar movements across the country became more frequent and more strident, the Democratic Party split between "hawks" and "doves," and President Lyndon Johnson declined to seek renomination for the Presidency. Johnson also began to attempt to roll back American involvement in the war by increasing bombing at the expense of ground operations. In short, opposition to the war dramatically increased (and went more "mainstream") after the Tet Offensive.