...The pervasiveness and Vietnam era-origins of the lamentable press hostility toward the media are confirmed in the current issue of the New Yorker. An article appears there by Thomas Bass, 'The Spy Who Loved Us," about Pham Xuan An, a South Vietnamese correspondent for Time magazine during the Vietnam War.
Pham was able to use his position at Time to spy for the North Vietnamese. Among his "accomplishments" was playing a key role in identifying targets for the Viet Cong preparatory to their savage Tet offensive, which killed thousands of people (and during which the US Embassy was attacked) and chauffeuring one of the key planners around Saigon before the launch of the attack.
Pham’s cover was never blown during the war, and he was rewarded with a promotion to general in the North Vietnamese army. What is telling are Bass's interviews with American correspondents regarding Pham. Despite thousands of Americans and South Vietnamese killed or wounded with the help of this traitor, the American journalists uniformly praise and admire Pham.
Fellow Time correspondent Robert Sam Anson was captured by the North Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge in Cambodia where at least 25 other journalists were already dead or unaccounted for (left unsaid by Bass were the thousands of soldiers enjoying the same status). Through the intercession of Anson's wife, Pham was able to secure his release.
In 1987 Anson asked him why he was saved. Pham responded that he liked Anson. Of course, Anson does not consider the fact that many American soldiers were harmed through his "friend's" efforts. An admiring Anson, to this day, keeps a photo of Pham on his desk.
Bass notes that almost all the journalists who worked with Pham are united in their support of him. Peter Arnett praises him as a "bold guy". Frank McCulloch, who was the head of Time's Asia bureau when he hired Pham said he was "absolutely not" angry when he learned of Pham’s spying and said, "It's his land, I thought. If the situation were reversed, I would have done the same thing."
McCulloch, says Bass, remembers Pham with "tremendous fondness and respect" and says it was a great pleasure to raise thirty-two thousand dollars to send Pham’s son to journalism (!) school in America.
Richard Pyle, the former A.P. Saigon bureau chief, praises Pham for saving Time from embarrassing itself by publishing stories that weren't true (because Pham had sources on the other side). Legendary reporter David Halberstam says he has "no grudges" against Pham and "I still think fondly of An. I never felt betrayed by An." Halberstam and the other reporters did not feel betrayed by An because he helped them in their careers by having the inside scoop about our enemies (and in the case of Anson, springing him from captivity). While their status soared, American soldiers were sinking into the swamps of Vietnam.
Not one journalist interviewed for the article had a negative word to say about a traitor and a spy whose devious efforts helped to cause the death and the maiming of thousands. Not one.
What can we say of a guild - members of the press - who have cut their ties with America. They are a nation apart ... a nation of neutrals. And if asked to choose between traditional American values and bararism will objectively choose barbarism.
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