Friday, February 16, 2007

Stringers: David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan Say "Ouch!"

Given the current problems with anti-US and anti-Israeli stringers in the Middle East, it's interesting to read that this is not a new phenomenon:

"Two of the sources upon whom the journalists [in Vietnam in 1963] relied most heavily, Pham Ngoc Thao and Pham Xuan An, were actually Communist agents. . . . Pham Xuan An [pictured] was a member of the international press itself, for he worked as a stringer for Reuters. Muoi Huong, the Communist who recruited both Pham Ngoc Thao and Pham Xuan An, later said that he had told An to become a journalist for the very purpose of influencing foreign reporters. . . . [David] Halberstam [of the New York Times] and [Neil] Sheehan [of UPI] relied heavily on information from Pham Xuan An; Halberstam considered An to be their best source on the South Vietnamese officer corps because of his supposed contacts among the officers. The newsmen's reliance on Pham Xuan An goes a long way toward explaining why the press kept reporting dissatisfaction among the officers in 1963 that did not actually exist."

Mark Moyar, Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965 (New York: Cambridge University Press 2006), at 214-15.

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