Dateline-Saigon | Protagonists
Dateline-Saigon is a powerful, haunting documentary about 5 journalists reporting the truth about the Vietnam War
Dateline-Saigon, documentary, Vietnam War, reporting, reporters, journalism, Thomas D. Herman, David Halberstam, Malcolm Browne, Neil Sheehan, Peter Arnett, Horst Faas, John F. Kennedy, President Kennedy, New York Times, Associated Press, United Press International
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Protagonists

Peter Arnett

Associated Press
Born: November 13, 1934, Riverton, New Zealand
Lives: Los Angeles, CA
Awards: 1966 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his work in Vietnam

Born in New Zealand, Peter Arnett bounced around Southeast Asia as a free-lance journalist before being hired by the Associated Press in Saigon in 1962 as the U.S. was escalating its involvement in the war. He reported from Vietnam for the Associated Press for 13 years until 1975, covering some of the most intense fighting without suffering anything, he proudly recounted, worse than a scratch. He found Vietnam to be, “a witch’s brew of excitement and drama that is irresistible to journalists.” Arnett was awarded the 1966 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his extraordinary work in Vietnam. He was one of a handful of Western correspondents who remained in Saigon after it fell to North Vietnamese forces on April 30, 1975. Subsequently, Arnett worked as a correspondent for CNN for 18 years. He was the first western journalist to interview Osama bin Laden. Arnett is the author of a memoir, Live from the Battlefield: From Vietnam to Baghdad, 35 Years in the World’s War Zones. In March 1997, the Journalism School at the Southern Institute of Technology in Invecargill, New Zealand, was named after him. He lives outside of Los Angeles with his wife, Nina.

Peter Arnett

Associated Press
Born: November 13, 1934, Riverton, New Zealand
Lives: Los Angeles, CA
Awards: 1966 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his work in Vietnam

Born in New Zealand, Peter Arnett bounced around Southeast Asia as a free-lance journalist before being hired by the Associated Press in Saigon in 1962 as the U.S. was escalating its involvement in the war. He reported from Vietnam for the Associated Press for 13 years until 1975, covering some of the most intense fighting without suffering anything, he proudly recounted, worse than a scratch. He found Vietnam to be, “a witch’s brew of excitement and drama that is irresistible to journalists.” Arnett was awarded the 1966 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his extraordinary work in Vietnam. He was one of a handful of Western correspondents who remained in Saigon after it fell to North Vietnamese forces on April 30, 1975. Subsequently, Arnett worked as a correspondent for CNN for 18 years. He was the first western journalist to interview Osama bin Laden. Arnett is the author of a memoir, Live from the Battlefield: From Vietnam to Baghdad, 35 Years in the World’s War Zones. In March 1997, the Journalism School at the Southern Institute of Technology in Invecargill, New Zealand, was named after him. He lives outside of Los Angeles with his wife, Nina.

Malcolm W. Browne

Associated Press
Born: April 17, 1931, New York, NY
Died: August 27, 2012, Thetford, NH
Awards: 1964 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting; 1963 World Press Photo of the Year; George Polk award for courage in journalism; Overseas Press Club Award

Malcolm Browne was born into a Quaker family in New York City in 1931. He graduated from Swarthmore College, intending to become a chemist. He discovered his passion for journalism when he was assigned to write for Pacific Stars and Stripes while serving in the U.S. Army in Korea and switched careers. Browne was sent to Saigon as AP Bureau chief in 1961. He was just 30. He reported from Vietnam first for the AP and then for ABC-TV, off and mostly on, through April 1975, leaving Saigon on one of the last helicopters of the American evacuation airlift. When he asked for a little more candor about the political and military situation from obfuscating Vietnamese and American officials, he was told to “get on the team”, tantamount in the eyes of some to being called a traitor. “It felt at times as if the world was only made up of journalists and truth suppressers,” he said of government public information officers. On June 11, 1963, Brown took the famous photograph of the self-immolation of the Buddhist monk, Thích Quảng Đức. After his service in Vietnam, Browne reported on international affairs and on science for the New York Times, and then served as Senior Editor of Discover Magazine. He covered the 1991 Gulf War for the Times. Browne is the author of The New Face of War, and Muddy Boots and Red Socks, a memoir. He died from complications of Parkinson’s disease at his summer home in Thetford, Vermont, in 2012. He was 81. Browne is survived by his wife, Le Lieu Browne, and two children.

Malcolm W. Browne

Associated Press
Born: April 17, 1931, New York, NY
Died: August 27, 2012, Thetford, NH
Awards: 1964 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting; 1963 World Press Photo of the Year; George Polk award for courage in journalism; Overseas Press Club Award

Malcolm Browne was born into a Quaker family in New York City in 1931. He graduated from Swarthmore College, intending to become a chemist. He discovered his passion for journalism when he was assigned to write for Pacific Stars and Stripes while serving in the U.S. Army in Korea and switched careers. Browne was sent to Saigon as AP Bureau chief in 1961. He was just 30. He reported from Vietnam first for the AP and then for ABC-TV, off and mostly on, through April 1975, leaving Saigon on one of the last helicopters of the American evacuation airlift. When he asked for a little more candor about the political and military situation from obfuscating Vietnamese and American officials, he was told to “get on the team”, tantamount in the eyes of some to being called a traitor. “It felt at times as if the world was only made up of journalists and truth suppressers,” he said of government public information officers. On June 11, 1963, Brown took the famous photograph of the self-immolation of the Buddhist monk, Thích Quảng Đức. After his service in Vietnam, Browne reported on international affairs and on science for the New York Times, and then served as Senior Editor of Discover Magazine. He covered the 1991 Gulf War for the Times. Browne is the author of The New Face of War, and Muddy Boots and Red Socks, a memoir. He died from complications of Parkinson’s disease at his summer home in Thetford, Vermont, in 2012. He was 81. Browne is survived by his wife, Le Lieu Browne, and two children.

Horst Faas

Associated Press
Born: April 28, 1933, Berlin, Germany
Died: May 10, 2012, Munich, Germany
Awards: 1965 and 1972 – Pulitzer Prize for Photography; 1964 and 1997 Robert Capa Award; 2005 German Society of Photography – Salomon Prize for lifetime achievement

Born in Berlin in 1931, Faas was recognized as a gifted and courageous photojournalist from the very beginning of his career. By the age of 21 he was covering important international events for major news organizations. In 1956 he joined the Associated Press where he acquired a reputation for being an unflinching hard-news war photographer in such trouble spots as Algeria and the Congo. In 1962, he became AP’s chief photographer for Southeast Asia and was based in Saigon until 1974. Working closely with Malcolm Browne and Peter Arnett, Faas was a leading member of AP legendary Saigon Bureau. “I personally tried to stay out of the arguments between the embassy and the correspondents. As a photographer at the time, the most important thing for me was to be out in the field as much as possible and reflect in photographs the reality of the war.” He was severely wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade while on a military patrol in 1967. In addition to his own photographs, Faas was famous as a mentor to younger photographers and as a gifted picture editor. He was instrumental in publishing of two of the most famous images of the Vietnam War: Eddie Adams’ chilling photograph of the summary execution of a Viet Cong prisoner by Saigon police chief Nguyễn Ngọc Loan in a Saigon street, and Nick Ut’s famous photograph of the “Napalm Girl”, Kim Phuc. Faas produced four books on his career and those of other news photojournalists, including Requiem, a book about photographers killed on both sides during the Vietnam War, co-edited with fellow Vietnam War photojournalist Tim Page. Faas died in Munich in 2012 from complications of a stroke he suffered in Hanoi while teaching a class for young Vietnamese photographers. He was 79.

Horst Faas

Associated Press
Born: April 28, 1933, Berlin, Germany
Died: May 10, 2012, Munich, Germany
Awards: 1965 and 1972 – Pulitzer Prize for Photography; 1964 and 1997 Robert Capa Award; 2005 German Society of Photography – Salomon Prize for lifetime achievement

Born in Berlin in 1931, Faas was recognized as a gifted and courageous photojournalist from the very beginning of his career. By the age of 21 he was covering important international events for major news organizations. In 1956 he joined the Associated Press where he acquired a reputation for being an unflinching hard-news war photographer in such trouble spots as Algeria and the Congo. In 1962, he became AP’s chief photographer for Southeast Asia and was based in Saigon until 1974. Working closely with Malcolm Browne and Peter Arnett, Faas was a leading member of AP legendary Saigon Bureau. “I personally tried to stay out of the arguments between the embassy and the correspondents. As a photographer at the time, the most important thing for me was to be out in the field as much as possible and reflect in photographs the reality of the war.” He was severely wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade while on a military patrol in 1967. In addition to his own photographs, Faas was famous as a mentor to younger photographers and as a gifted picture editor. He was instrumental in publishing of two of the most famous images of the Vietnam War: Eddie Adams’ chilling photograph of the summary execution of a Viet Cong prisoner by Saigon police chief Nguyễn Ngọc Loan in a Saigon street, and Nick Ut’s famous photograph of the “Napalm Girl”, Kim Phuc. Faas produced four books on his career and those of other news photojournalists, including Requiem, a book about photographers killed on both sides during the Vietnam War, co-edited with fellow Vietnam War photojournalist Tim Page. Faas died in Munich in 2012 from complications of a stroke he suffered in Hanoi while teaching a class for young Vietnamese photographers. He was 79.

David Halberstam

The New York Times
Born: April 10, 1934, New York, NY
Died: April 23, 2007, Menlo Park, CA
Awards: 1964 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting; 1963 George Polk Award for Foreign Reporting

David Halberstam was born in New York City in 1934. After graduating from Harvard in 1955 where he served as managing editor of the Harvard Crimson, he headed to the Deep South to work on the small-town Daily Times Leader of West Point, Mississippi, so he could cover what he viewed as the most important story of the time: the emerging civil rights struggle. When the New York Times offered him the job of its Saigon correspondent in 1962, he jumped at it. “If you wanted a ticket to history, you got on a plane to Saigon.” The Pentagon and the State Department were insisting that the U.S. and its South Vietnamese allies were winning their war against a communist insurgency, but Halberstam and his colleagues saw a vastly different reality in the field. The insurgents, known at the Viet Cong and backed by Ho Chi Minh’s communist government in the North, enjoyed widespread support in the countryside, where the U.S-backed Saigon government was deeply unpopular. Halberstam’s reports were denounced by the Kennedy administration and others, including a number of reporter colleagues, as naïve and dishonest, and he was condemned by some for being disloyal to his country. President Kennedy suggested to the Times’ publisher that Halberstam be removed from Vietnam. In 1964, Halberstam, then aged 30, won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his reporting from Vietnam. His acclaimed history, The Best and the Brightest, examined the gifted men who were responsible for planning the war in Vietnam and their inability to change course once the plan began to fail. The book was a number one best-seller and continues influence American thought on foreign and military policy. Halberstam gave up daily journalism after leaving Vietnam to concentrate on writing books. He authored 22 of them, many of which were award-winning best-sellers. Halberstam was killed in an automobile accident in California while on his way to conduct an interview for his 23rd. book in 2007. He was 73. He is survived by his daughter, Julia.

David Halberstam

The New York Times
Born: April 10, 1934, New York, NY
Died: April 23, 2007, Menlo Park, CA
Awards: 1964 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting; 1963 George Polk Award for Foreign Reporting

David Halberstam was born in New York City in 1934. After graduating from Harvard in 1955 where he served as managing editor of the Harvard Crimson, he headed to the Deep South to work on the small-town Daily Times Leader of West Point, Mississippi, so he could cover what he viewed as the most important story of the time: the emerging civil rights struggle. When the New York Times offered him the job of its Saigon correspondent in 1962, he jumped at it. “If you wanted a ticket to history, you got on a plane to Saigon.” The Pentagon and the State Department were insisting that the U.S. and its South Vietnamese allies were winning their war against a communist insurgency, but Halberstam and his colleagues saw a vastly different reality in the field. The insurgents, known at the Viet Cong and backed by Ho Chi Minh’s communist government in the North, enjoyed widespread support in the countryside, where the U.S-backed Saigon government was deeply unpopular. Halberstam’s reports were denounced by the Kennedy administration and others, including a number of reporter colleagues, as naïve and dishonest, and he was condemned by some for being disloyal to his country. President Kennedy suggested to the Times’ publisher that Halberstam be removed from Vietnam. In 1964, Halberstam, then aged 30, won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his reporting from Vietnam. His acclaimed history, The Best and the Brightest, examined the gifted men who were responsible for planning the war in Vietnam and their inability to change course once the plan began to fail. The book was a number one best-seller and continues influence American thought on foreign and military policy. Halberstam gave up daily journalism after leaving Vietnam to concentrate on writing books. He authored 22 of them, many of which were award-winning best-sellers. Halberstam was killed in an automobile accident in California while on his way to conduct an interview for his 23rd. book in 2007. He was 73. He is survived by his daughter, Julia.

Neil Sheehan

United Press International
Born: October 27, 1936, Holyoke, MA
Lives: Washington D.C.
Awards: 1988 National Book Award for Nonfiction and 1989 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction

Cornelius (Neil) Mahoney Sheehan was born on a dairy farm in rural Holyoke, Massachusetts, in 1936. He won a scholarship to Harvard where he was an editor of the college literary magazine, the Harvard Advocate. Drafted into the army out of college, he served in Japan where he moonlighted part-time for the United Press International wire service. After his discharge, he joined the UPI full-time. Within weeks, he was sent to Saigon as bureau chief. Sheehan and his colleagues discovered that the US involvement in the war against the communist insurgents was far greater than the US government admitted, and that war wasn’t going well. His reporting brought him into intense conflict with the Pentagon, the State Department, and South Vietnamese officials. “I was very glad I briefly joined the Republican Party as an undergraduate at Harvard. I knew they wanted to find something to call me a pinko.” At the recommendation of David Halberstam, who had become his good friend in Vietnam, Sheehan was hired by the New York Times. As a Times correspondent, Sheehan acquired the Pentagon Papers, the Defense Department’s classified history of the war, which revealed a long-standing pattern of government deception about the origins of the conflict and prospects for its favorable outcome. The Nixon administration attempted to block their publication. The Supreme Court unanimously backed Sheehan and the Times in a decision that vindicated the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of the press. Sheehan won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction for A Bright Shining Lie, his epochal study of the Vietnam War, for which he was also awarded the 1988 National Book Award for Nonfiction. He lives in Washington D.C., with his wife, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Susan Sheehan. He continues to write about foreign policy.

Neil Sheehan

United Press International
Born: October 27, 1936, Holyoke, MA
Lives: Washington D.C.
Awards: 1988 National Book Award for Nonfiction and 1989 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction

Cornelius (Neil) Mahoney Sheehan was born on a dairy farm in rural Holyoke, Massachusetts, in 1936. He won a scholarship to Harvard where he was an editor of the college literary magazine, the Harvard Advocate. Drafted into the army out of college, he served in Japan where he moonlighted part-time for the United Press International wire service. After his discharge, he joined the UPI full-time. Within weeks, he was sent to Saigon as bureau chief. Sheehan and his colleagues discovered that the US involvement in the war against the communist insurgents was far greater than the US government admitted, and that war wasn’t going well. His reporting brought him into intense conflict with the Pentagon, the State Department, and South Vietnamese officials. “I was very glad I briefly joined the Republican Party as an undergraduate at Harvard. I knew they wanted to find something to call me a pinko.” At the recommendation of David Halberstam, who had become his good friend in Vietnam, Sheehan was hired by the New York Times. As a Times correspondent, Sheehan acquired the Pentagon Papers, the Defense Department’s classified history of the war, which revealed a long-standing pattern of government deception about the origins of the conflict and prospects for its favorable outcome. The Nixon administration attempted to block their publication. The Supreme Court unanimously backed Sheehan and the Times in a decision that vindicated the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of the press. Sheehan won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction for A Bright Shining Lie, his epochal study of the Vietnam War, for which he was also awarded the 1988 National Book Award for Nonfiction. He lives in Washington D.C., with his wife, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Susan Sheehan. He continues to write about foreign policy.

Supporting Cast

Sam Waterston, Dateline-Saigon Narrator

Sam Waterston – Narrator

Acclaimed actor Sam Waterston has won many awards during his long career. He was nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award for his performance in The Killing Fields.

Walter Cronkite

Walter Cronkite (1916 –2009)

Longtime CBS News anchor and Executive Editor.

Morley Safer

Morley Safer (1931 – 2016)

CBS broadcast journalist, reporter, and correspondent for CBS News and “60 Minutes”.

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