Pulitzer prize-winning reporter and writer David Halberstam was an icon of American journalism. He died yesterday in a car crash in California. He was 73.
In the early years of the Vietnam War, Halberstam infuriated President John F. Kennedy with his tough, critical reporting of the realities of Vietnam — realities that ultimately lead to America's withdrawal.
He would call that war America's greatest tragedy since the Civil War. Now the country is at war again.
This hour On Point: Friends and colleagues talk about David Halberstam and the American media at war from Vietnam to Iraq today.
Quotes from the Show:
"It was ironic that a man that went through all the dangers that David did would die in a car accident but that's the way I guess life is. There's no replacing him, he was an original." Neil Sheehan
"The truth was being denied right and left in Vietnam and not just by the military at all but I think primarily by the civilians on down through the top brass of the military." William Prochnau
"I think he and his band of brothers set the bar on how to talk truth to power during wartime. And when my generation came to Vietnam reporting later in the 60s and then in the 70s, it was no longer possible to just take the word of press offices and embassy officials and generals. You had to go out in the field... So the path that those guys set ... was the one that became the way to report the war after that." David Greenway
"What he should be remembered for is his deeds. ...He was one who carefully sought out the truth." Listener
"He asked the tough questions. He had the ability to think ahead and really ask the questions." Listener
"He could write very fast. ... And of course, his breadth was so enormous. ... But he was also extremely generous to comrades and others. I think his generosity should be mentioned here as one of his traits." David Greenway
"He was a dynamic person who filled the room. ...He was remarkable, organized, enthusiastic." William Prochnau
David Greenway, foreign affairs correspondent for the Boston Globe, longtime Vietnam correspondent for Time Life and the Washington Post. He was in Saigon when the city fell in 1975.;
William Prochnau, who covered the Vietnam War for the Seattle Times, and author of "Once Upon a Distant War: David Halberstam, Neil Sheehan, Peter Arnett --Young War Correspondents And Their Early Vietnam Years.";
Neil Sheehan, journalist and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1989 for "Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam"
This program aired on April 24, 2007.