Censorship of the Media During Wartime
Censorship. Mark Paxton. Historical Guides to Controversial Issues in America Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2008. p21-47.
Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 Mark Paxton
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2. Censorship of the Media During Wartime

Censorship of news reporting during times of war developed during the 1800s, declined in the 1960s and 1970s, then experienced a resurgence in the 1980s. Although there is little doubt that the nation's media face a contradictory mission during times of war—reporting information the public needs to know, while at the same time avoiding reports that threaten the safety of troops in the field—the history of wartime censorship illustrates that military censorship of reporting has often had the primary aim of deflecting news that reflects poorly on those in power.

During the early days of this country, military leaders were little concerned with battlefield reporting because of the tremendous time involved in delivering messages to the newspapers. There was no telegraph, no method of delivering the reports except by horseback and hand delivery. By the time a report of a battle could make it into print, the battle was long over and the troops had moved on to new objectives. There were no war correspondents as we know them today. For example, a reporter's account of the April 19, 1775, battle of Lexington, Massachusetts, believed by many to be the first battle of the Revolutionary War, did not appear in print until May 3 in the Massachusetts Spy and not until May 22 in the New York Gazette. A relatively current account of the Battle of Long Island, which took place on August 27–29, 1776, appeared in the Connecticut Courant on September 2.1 Nevertheless, military leaders still complained about newspapers. General George Washington, in spring 1777, wrote, “It is much wished that our printers were more discreet in many of their publications. We see in almost every Page 22  |  Top of Articlenewspaper proclamations or accounts transmitted by the by the enemy of an injurious nature.”2


The Sedition Act of 1798, as detailed in chapter 1, was enacted after the colonies had won their independence and was aimed at critics of the governing party, not at war reporting. In fact, when the fledgling United States declared its first war as a nation, against England in what became known as the War of 1812, the federal government took no steps to establish a similar law, perhaps still smarting from the way the Sedition Act had been used against the minority party; as a result, newspapers were free to editorialize against the war without being prosecuted for sedition.3 The War of 1812 was not a popular war, with the declaration of war winning approval in the House of Representatives 79–49 and in the Senate 19–13-4 Newspapers had no organized method of reporting on the war, so that there was no need to institute censorship rules for reporters.5

War reports still took time to travel from the battle to the presses, in part because many of the battles took place far from the new nation's population centers. One of the most famous battles of the war, the Battle of New Orleans, ironically took place two weeks after the war had been declared over with the Treaty of Ghent because the delivery of news from Washington was so slow.6 In one of the first examples of military censorship of the press, General Andrew Jackson, who led the U.S. forces in the Battle of New Orleans, was incensed when the Louisiana Gazette reported—accurately, as it turned out—that the peace treaty had been signed and the war was over. Jackson ordered the newspaper to run a retraction, which it did, accompanied by an editor's note that read in part, “We cannot submit to have a censor of the press in our office, and as we are ordered not to publish any remarks without authority, we shall be silent until we can speak with safety”7

For the next 30 years, America was at peace. But the Mexican War, which lasted from 1846 to 1848, was fought over 530,000 square miles of land in the Southwest. For the first time, newspapers attempted to provide contemporaneous reports of the fighting. Samuel Morse had invented the telegraph in 1846, and some newspapers used steamships to deliver stories to their printing presses; these new technologies allowed the rapid delivery of news reports from distant sites back to the newspaper office for quick publication, meaning readers at home could keep up-to-date. Some journalists printed single-sided news sheets on the battlefield.8 Despite these technological developments, however, it still took time for news of some remote battles to reach readers. The Baltimore Sun scored a scoop when it printed that Veracruz, Mexico, had Page 23  |  Top of Articlefallen; it took 12 days for the news, traveling by Pony Express riders, steamer, and runners, to arrive in Maryland.9


The Civil War presented new problems for both the press and the military. With the spread of the telegraph, reporting was no longer restricted to hand delivery, and the delays in getting news into print were rapidly disappearing. Coinciding with the spread of the telegraph was the creation of what would become the Associated Press (AP), which relied on reports from journalists throughout the country to provide news to its subscribers.10 Reporting from the scene of the fighting became commonplace, and the firsthand accounts were riveting to readers at home. For example, a New York World reporter watched the shelling of Fort Sumter by rebel forces, marking the beginning of the war.11

Donna Dickerson, in her book The Course of Tolerance: Freedom of the Press in Nineteenth Century America, writes that censorship of the press took three forms during the Civil War: arrest of correspondents and/or expulsion from the front, censorship of communication via the telegraph or mail, and suppression of newspapers.12 All three forms were used both in the North and in the South, but perhaps no one was more adept at or more vigorous about censoring the press than famed Union General William Tecumseh Sherman.

Sherman had a long-lived distrust of reporters and often thought their actions were aimed at undermining his authority or helping the Southern forces he was fighting against. Throughout the Civil War, Sherman did whatever he could to eliminate press coverage of his military campaigns, writing in one letter that Civil War correspondents were “dirty newspaper scribblers who have the impudence of Satan” and calling them “spies and defamers” and “infamous lying dogs.”13 Sherman is said to have reacted with joy when told that three reporters had been killed by an exploding shell: “Good. Now we'll have news from hell before breakfast.”14

Sherman's animosity toward the press can be traced to early reporting about the war. The Cincinnati Commercial reported on Sherman's appearance at Lebanon Junction, 26 miles from Louisville: his uniform was too small and he had the appearance of someone who had “suddenly tumbled out ten minutes too late for train.”15 Worse, the rumor that Sherman was mentally unbalanced appeared in several newspapers, including the New York Tribune, the New York Times, and the Cincinnati Commercial, which published the blunt headline “General William T. Sherman Is Insane.”16 The story in the Commercial was especially damning: “Gen. William T. Sherman, late commander Page 24  |  Top of Articleof the Department of the Cumberland, is insane. It appears that he was at the time while commanding in Kentucky, stark mad.”17

Based on this reporting, it should be no surprise that Sherman placed severe restrictions on the press. When he left Memphis for Vicksburg in December 1862, he issued an order that anyone “found making reports for publication which might reach the enemy giving them information and comfort, will be arrested and treated as spies.”18 That order was tested by Thomas Knox, a reporter for the New York Herald. Knox reported on the siege of Vicksburg, which ended in defeat for the Union forces, and wrote an article commenting not only on the military conflict but also on Sherman's fitness for command, writing, “General Sherman was so exceedingly erratic that the discussion of the past twelve months with respect to his sanity, was revived with much earnestness.”19 Sherman reacted by accusing Knox of publishing military information that would allow the Confederate army to know within 1,000 soldiers how many troops Sherman had at his disposal, even though Knox's account did not appear in print for three weeks. Sherman charged him with being a spy and convened a court martial to try Knox; he was found not guilty of spying, but a jury did find that he had disobeyed Sherman's orders and banished him from the front.20

Although the press's treatment of Sherman and Sherman's treatment of the press are among the best-known incidents involving newspapers and the Civil War, they were by no means unique. When troops from Massachusetts marching through Washington, D.C., at the start of the war became involved in a riot with Southern sympathizers, Secretary of State William H. Seward prohibited newspapers from publishing the names of the dead and wounded and placed a censor in the city's telegraph office so that news of the melee would not get out.21

Union General Winfield Scott issued an order in 1862 banning any military information from the telegraph lines unless he personally approved the transmission, although he later amended the order to allow newspaper correspondents to transmit stories about battles that had already been fought. That amended order went by the wayside, however, when the Union army was defeated at the first Battle of Bull Run in Virginia; General Scott ordered the Washington telegraph office closed to prevent dissemination of news about the defeat. A week later, General George McClellan issued a new order banning all communications about military affairs, including troop movements, without McClellan's personal approval; violations could bring the death penalty22

Scattered censorship of reporters continued throughout the war. For instance, when the Union army began massing in the Washington area to prepare for a march on the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, Secretary Page 25  |  Top of Articleof War Edwin Stanton revoked all press passes and ordered reporters to leave the area, and several reporters were arrested.23 McClellan, waging a long battle against Confederate General Robert E. Lee, banned correspondents from reporting about the campaign, and the editor of the Baltimore American was arrested for reporting about McClellan's forces and about a private conversation the editor had had with President Lincoln.24

The government in Washington also took steps to rein in the press, particularly border-state newspapers that promoted secessionism or urged a quick end to war; it shut down as many as 300 papers during the Civil War.25 Several newspapers were banned from the mail because they opposed the war; most were edited by Democrats who opposed Lincoln's Republican administration.26 The editor of the New York Daily News, Benjamin Wood, and one of his correspondents were arrested for supporting secession, and the paper was ordered closed by Secretary Stanton. Similarly, the mailing privileges of two German-language newspapers were revoked at the suggestion of a grand jury.27 Union soldiers destroyed the Columbus (Ohio) Crisis in March 1863, and two months later the military government of Missouri banned the sale of a number of newspapers; in addition, General Ambrose Burnside suppressed the Chicago Times and prohibited the New York World from being sold in Ohio.

At times, military leaders censored the press because of criticism of their actions. General John Charles Fremont had the editor of the St. Louis Evening News arrested and the newspaper office seized after it printed an article blaming him for the Union army's defeat at Lexington, Missouri. In New Orleans, Major General Benjamin Butler, upon taking control of the Southern city, issued a series of orders prohibiting signs of disrespect for his soldiers or his command. One order stated that any women who “by gesture or movement insult, or show contempt” for Union soldiers or officers would be treated as prostitutes. When the New Orleans papers refused to print the order, Butler ordered them closed.28

Some newspaper editors supported the military's censorship rules. The Cincinnati Daily Gazette wrote that the military had a duty to suppress information that might be helpful to the enemy and that “in times of war, the press must concede a portion of its rights and interests to the common good.”29 The New York Times wrote that the temporary suspension of the “minor” rights such as the freedom of the press “is a small price to pay for their permanent and perpetual enjoyment.”30 Others acknowledged the need to restrict the transmission of some information over the telegraph wires but urged the government to appoint censors who would use common sense, rather than instituting a blanket ban on war information.

But some editors objected to the idea that newspapers could be censored in cities in the North where there was no fighting. Famous New York Tribune Page 26  |  Top of Articleeditor Horace Greeley called a meeting of New York newspaper editors in the wake of Burnside's seizure of the Chicago paper. They agreed that in times of war, although no journalist should be allowed to publish incitement to rebellion or treason, any limits on a free press “should be confined to localities wherein hostilities actually exist or are imminently threatened.” Burnside eventually rescinded his order.31

In the South, little censorship of the press occurred because there was little printed dissent against the Confederacy. Most editors who opposed the war simply sold the papers and left the South. For instance, in 1860, while talk of secession was in the air, two abolitionists were hanged in Fort Worth, Texas; when a grand jury in a neighboring county recommended that the editor of the Fort Worth Chief be treated the same way, he took the hint and sold his paper to a secessionist.32 One who did not sell was the editor of the Galveston (Texas) Union, who advocated caution in the war and saw his paper's offices trashed by a mob. One editor who did run into censorship by the Confederate government was William G. Brownlow, who published the Whig in Knoxville, Tennessee. Brownlow, who supported slavery but opposed secession by the Southern states, was charged with treason and, when he refused to swear loyalty to the Confederacy, also with sabotage. Sentenced to jail, he escaped, was captured in North Carolina and brought back to Knoxville, went to jail, and eventually was banished in 1863 to live in the North. Ironically, when the Union seized Knoxville in 1864, Brownlow returned, reopened his newspaper, and eventually was elected governor of Tennessee in 1865 and again in 1867, then was elected to represent Tennessee in the U.S. Senate in 186933


Although censorship of the press had become commonplace during the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, which began in 1898 over perceived aggression by Spain in the Caribbean, brought more restrictions for reporters because delivery of correspondents' accounts and subsequent publication in newspapers was much faster than during the Civil War, with a telegraph dispatch from Santiago, Cuba, to Washington taking just 20 minutes.34 In addition, the Civil War had taken place mainly in the eastern United States, giving newspaper correspondents relatively easy access to the site of fighting. The Spanish-American War, in contrast, took place primarily in Cuba, accessible only by sea and only with the cooperation of military leaders. When a reporter asked to go ashore with the first U.S. troops heading into Cuba, General William Shaffer responded, “I don't give a damn who you are.”35 Telegraph messages from Key West and Tampa, Florida, were censored, not only to prevent newspapers from printing information the enemy could use, but Page 27  |  Top of Articlealso to search for messages from Spanish agents. For the first time, a former reporter, Lieutenant Grant Squires, who had worked at the New York Tribune, was named the chief telegraph censor in New York.36 Hiring former journalists to be wartime censors was an idea that would prove popular for the government in twentieth-century conflicts.

Telegraph censorship was pronounced. Telegraph operators were functioning under censorship orders and sometimes would censor news stories based on their own interpretations, including a nearly total block of reporting from Key West.37 Admiral William Sampson cut the underwater telegraph line from Havana to Key West to prevent reporters from getting their stories to their publications.38 But some reporters had their own boats, accompanying U.S. troop ships as they arrived in Cuba, bypassing some censorship efforts.39 Telegraph transmission of news by reporters was given the lowest priority, and some correspondents were limited to transmitting no more than 100 words a day40

Another trend that continued from the Civil War was censorship for purely public relations or public opinion purposes. When the war spread to the Philippines and the United States took control of the island nation from Spain, Elwell S. Otis, the military commander and governor general, told his censor in Manila “to let nothing go that can hurt the administration.” When journalists complained that his censorship was turning their reporting into pro-American propaganda, he threatened them with court martial for conspiracy against the government.41

Many of the efforts to censor the press failed, however, both because the sheer number of reporters overwhelmed the small number of censors and because political leaders in Washington, seeking to win public support for a war that was not overwhelmingly popular, were more interested in having news of battlefield successes published than they were in restricting what newspapers could publish.42 After the war, Squires argued that censorship of the press had been minimal, and Brigadier General A. W. Greeley wrote that reports of severe censorship during the Spanish-American War were “entirely unfounded.”43


Censorship of the press continued when the United States entered World War I in Europe. As recounted in chapter 1, the federal government used the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 to quash dissent at home, including opposition to the war or the draft. But the Espionage Act presented to Congress included a provision that made it a crime to publish information that the president decided might be useful to the enemy. This Page 28  |  Top of Articleprovision brought objections from the press, including the American Newspaper Publishers' Association, and the House of Representatives narrowly defeated it 188–144.44

Censorship of the news media began even before the United States entered the war. As early as 1914, while the United States was still proclaiming neutrality in the growing European war, President Woodrow Wilson issued an executive order banning radio stations from broadcasting anything about the war that was not neutral, and the navy assumed control of long-distance radio stations on the Atlantic Coast, relying on an attorney general's opinion that the president had broad power to “preserve the integrity of the United States.”45 Few newspapers took note of the increasing number of censorship laws. As historian James Mock put it, “So engrossing to Americans was the world scene during World War I that, apparently, they were never aware of piece after piece of federal legislation which, when fitted together, made the mosaic of censorship.”46

As the war effort began in the United States, President Wilson created a Committee on Public Information, which had the dual role of using public relations techniques to drum up support for the war and of imposing a system of voluntary self-censorship on the press, including limits on the publication of troops' sailing dates. In addition, the committee ruled that all photographs or motion picture films about the war had to gain prior approval. George Creel, a journalist and public relations expert, was placed in charge of the committee.47 Some press members criticized Creel's committee for its censorship efforts, but there was no widespread opposition to the committee's actions, with 99 percent of the nation's newspapers following the self-censorship guidelines, which left it to the newspapers to police their own content and whether it complied with the Creel committee's guidelines.48

Once the United States gave up its neutrality and entered the war in 1917, the Wilson administration took swift action, giving the War Department the authority to censor telegraph and telephone lines and giving the navy censorship control over undersea cables.49 The president also established a Censorship Board, made up of the secretaries of war and the navy, the postmaster general, the War Trade Board, and Creel as head of the Committee on Public Information. Newspapers, preoccupied with the World Series and other news, paid little attention.50 During the war, the post office denied mailing privileges to more than 400 issues of newspapers and magazines because their content was seen as interfering with the war effort.51

Censorship was the rule for journalists wanting to cover the fighting. In order to report from Europe, reporters had to undergo a lengthy accreditation process, including an appearance before the War Secretary, and post a $10,000 bond that would be forfeited if they violated the rules.52 Once at Page 29  |  Top of Articlethe front in Europe, reporters had to wear uniforms and submit their stories to army censors. Stories could not mention the names or locations of army units, and reporters were forbidden to do anything that might harm the troops' morale. A statement of censorship principles issued in 1918 made it clear that, in addition to protecting the troops, one of its purposes was public relations: stories had to be accurate, not provide information to the enemy, not harm morale, and not embarrass the United States. At least four reporters either voluntarily left the front to protest the draconian censorship or had their credentials revoked for violating the rules, but almost all journalists complied.53

In at least one instance, press reports were censored because the news reflected incompetence by those in power, not because military secrets were disclosed. When the secretaries of war and the navy denied reports that military recruits were not receiving needed supplies and equipment—they were getting shipments of lawn mowers and floor wax but not food or clothing—General John Pershing asked that censors allow newspaper stories about the problem to be published, but the Censorship Board refused. The news still got out when reporters wrote letters to former president Teddy Roosevelt, who forwarded the complaints to a Philadelphia newspaper, which then published the stories without having to go through military censors.54

For the first time in a U.S. war, the new medium of film was subjected to censorship. The Exhibitor's Trade Review, a publication targeting theater owners, acknowledged the need to be careful what films they showed to ensure public support for the government: “Any influence which tends to rob the government, of that support, or to weaken it, could properly and would undoubtedly be put down. This is true of any other medium of expression as it is of motion pictures. But it is particularly true of the motion picture.”55

In a continuation of the practice that began in the Spanish-American War, a former journalist, Frederick Palmer, was named as the army's chief censor in Europe, admitting after the war that he had been a “public liar to keep up the spirit of the armies and the peoples of our side.”56 Even mail home from soldiers was subject to review and censorship, with soldiers told as soon as they entered basic training what they could write and whom they could write to. They also were forbidden to serve as paid correspondents for any publication.57 All censorship, including voluntary censorship, ended with the conclusion of the war.


Whereas U.S. involvement in World War I came about slowly, World War II, while already under way in Europe, came suddenly to the United States when Page 30  |  Top of Articlethe Japanese military attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. News of the scale of the attack was withheld from the media so that the Japanese would not know how the attack had devastated the U.S. Navy; release of photographs and newsreel footage showing some of the 2,400 deaths was delayed by two years, and news about the damage to ships was delayed for a year until some of the damaged vessels could be repaired and put out to sea. Columnist Drew Pearson, when he tried to publish details of the attack, was rebuked by the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), J. Edgar Hoover, who told him he was being unpatriotic. Consequently, Pearson decided not to publish the material.58 Although some of the censorship of news about the Pearl Harbor attack was aimed at keeping the information out of Japanese hands, it also was aimed at limiting the embarrassing news that the United States had fallen victim to a surprise attack that military officials might have seen coming.

Almost immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the Office of Censorship, which imposed voluntary censorship on the American news media and official censorship on international communication coming out of the United States. Continuing the practice developed during the previous war, the Office of Censorship was headed by Byron Price, an Associated Press newsman for 29 years, and executive editor of the wire service.

If the Civil War was the first “telegraph” war, then World War II was the first “radio” war, with the new medium playing an important role in disseminating information to the public. Although commercial radio had been in its infancy during World War I, by 1926 there were 900 radio stations in America, prompting Congress to create the Federal Radio Commission in 1927 and then the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1934 to regulate radio. Therefore, military orders concerning the media took into account both print and radio. The Office of Censorship, for example, asked radio stations to stop giving weather forecasts over the air because the German navy could use the information in its submarine campaign against U.S. shipping.59 In one bizarre event, a radio broadcast of a 1942 football game between the Chicago Bears and a college all-star team could not mention that the field was enshrouded in fog so thick that the announcers in the booth could not even see the field.60 Four months after Pearl Harbor, the Justice Department ruled that the Office of Censorship had complete control over all radio, ranging from small transmitters used by employers to the 900 commercial radio stations.61

The Office of Censorship attempted to develop a censorship guideline that editors and broadcasters could follow, and in 1942, just a few months after Pearl Harbor, the office distributed 50,000 copies of its Code of Wartime Page 31  |  Top of ArticlePractices, then sent out 70,000 copies of a revised code in mid-1942. But when the Office of Censorship learned that many editors either had not read the document or did not understand it, the office recruited newspaper editors to serve as an informal committee to make sure every editor had a copy of the censorship guidelines and understood them.62 The post office and the FBI monitored the print media for signs of subversive content, and the mailing privileges of four publications were revoked because of their political content. Most newspapers, however, abided by the voluntary self-censorship, including prohibitions on publishing details about the movements of President Roosevelt or other important figures. For example, newspapers did not report that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was traveling to America in December 1941, two weeks after Pearl Harbor, because of fears the Germans would target his ship as it sailed through the submarine-infested Atlantic.63 Likewise, newspapers kept quiet when Roosevelt traveled in his bulletproof railcar on a two-week, 8,754-mile tour of defense plants, even though many in the public saw him and knew he was traveling.64

In 1942, President Roosevelt created a second wartime information agency, the Office of War Information (OWI), headed by broadcast journalist Elmer Davis, to regulate and release information coming out of the military and the federal government, an effort to separate the censorship of media and the release of propaganda and information from the military into separate agencies and avoid some of the problems associated with the Creel committee's efforts in World War I. The Office of War Information also served as a public relations tool promoting the Roosevelt presidency65 The Office of Censorship and the OWI drafted a five-page agreement on the censorship duties of both, and both continued to engage in varying levels of censorship. The OWI included a film censorship division, which reviewed scripts and film content,66 and also assumed control of shortwave radio transmitters.67 The OWI was headed on an alternating basis by three newspaper editors or publishers—Garner Cowles Jr. of the Des Moines Register and several other publications, E. Palmer Hoyt of the Portland Oregonian, and George W. Healy Jr. of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

More journalists covered World War II in Europe and the Pacific than had covered any of the country's previous wars, with 1,646 accredited journalists and as many as 500 war correspondents covering the fighting at any one time.68 As in World War I, war correspondents covering the fighting had to wear military uniforms with a “C” stitched on the sleeve. A few correspondents, most notably United Press correspondent and later CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite, flew on air force planes conducting bombing raids and were trained to fire weapons at enemy aircraft, even though the Geneva Conventions forbid civilian journalists from carrying weapons because if they were Page 32  |  Top of Articlecaptured, they faced execution. As Cronkite tells the story, “Apparently, the Air Force considered, rationally enough, that once you bailed out of an airplane, the enemy could scarcely know whether you had fired a gun or not. And they figured that we might as well be able to take the place of wounded gunners.”69 In fact, Cronkite was assigned a gunner's spot on flights he took and did fire at German aircraft.70 Cronkite was not alone in reporting from the front. During the D-Day invasion of France, 27 reporters accompanied the troops.71

Bad news from the battlefield rarely made it past censors; neither did stories about looting, shooting of unarmed prisoners, or even about reverses suffered by Allied troops. Many journalists willingly went along with the notion that bad news would harm morale at home and at the front. As Cronkite's successor as CBS news anchor, Dan Rather, put it, “When it came to the overall purpose of the war, the US correspondents (and their Allied counterparts) were no less committed to the defeat of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan than were the commanders who led their troops into battle.”72

Even news of peace was controlled. When the war in Europe ended with Germany's surrender, the army issued an embargo—a prohibition against reporting—on news of the armistice until Russian troops could enter Berlin and announce the end of the European war at the same time. An AP reporter, Edward Kennedy, broke the embargo after witnessing the signing of the peace treaty, and the AP broke the news. Brigadier General Frank Allen, head of the Supreme Allied Command's Public Relations Division, responded by suspending the AP's operations in Europe for eight hours, and the AP fired Kennedy73

Among the best-kept secrets throughout the war, at least to the American public, were the Manhattan project and the development of the atomic bomb. An entire city was created in eastern Tennessee, Oak Ridge, whose existence was never reported, nor was the development and testing of the bomb in New Mexico. The subsequent bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki came as a surprise to the U.S. public. Even after the bombings, news about the blasts were strictly controlled; film footage of the devastation was confiscated, and reporters were prohibited from revealing the harm caused by radiation. Even after the war ended, the press and radio broadcasters were urged not to discuss the atomic bomb without first receiving official approval from the War Department.74


The end of World War II in Europe and the Pacific brought with it a new kind of conflict, not fought on the battlefield but waged between the two Page 33  |  Top of Articlesuperpowers that emerged from the war, the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (which eventually dissolved in 1991). Relations between the two countries, strained ever since the Bolsheviks overthrew the czar in 1917 and gained control of Russia, suffered further harm in the years after World War II when it became clear that Russian intelligence had learned how the United States manufactured atomic weapons. President Harry Truman, who had succeeded the late President Roosevelt and oversaw the final days of victory in World War II, made provisions for reimposing military censorship if the United States were to go to war with the Soviet Union.75

However, it was not against the Soviet Union that America next went to war. Instead, U.S. military forces next took to the battlefield in Korea, beginning in 1950, and the eventual opponent was China. General Douglas MacArthur, who was in charge of the U.S. forces in Korea, as well as the military of U.S. allies, initially proclaimed that he opposed censorship, although he did support voluntary censorship of reports that might aid the enemy. MacArthur even reinstated several correspondents who were expelled from Korea for reports that Lieutenant General Walton Walker, in charge of the ground troops, said aided the enemy. When President Truman and the new Defense Secretary, George C. Marshall, urged MacArthur to impose censorship because of the news reports coming out of Korea, MacArthur finally agreed, and the Eighth Army in Korea imposed its own censorship rules on reporters.

Some of the censorship rules were intended to ensure that reporters did not write negative articles. Stories could be censored if they revealed sensitive information, embarrassed the United States or its allies (even neutral countries), or harmed troop morale. Reporters, although not in uniform as they had been in World War II, were still under military control and faced possible court martial if they violated the rules.76

During the peace talks between North and South Korea that eventually led to a truce, the censorship became almost complete. Reporters assigned to the United Nations Command were not permitted to talk to negotiators, and they were briefed hours after the negotiation sessions by an army officer who had not even attended the negotiations. Even the news that was spoon-fed to reporters was often false or misleading, casting the North Koreans as unwilling to compromise.77 As the talks continued, several correspondents were exiled to Tokyo and labeled as “Reds” because they had reported details of the talks.78 News of a riot by prisoners at a United Nations prison camp and the seizure of the American commander by prisoners at another camp was withheld by the military, although both stories still eventually made it into print.79

Unlike World War II, there was no official censorship in the United States, either voluntary or mandatory. The press and broadcasters were free to report Page 34  |  Top of Articlewhat they liked, although the information coming out of Korea was heavily censored. That may have been because almost every mainstream newspaper initially supported U.S. involvement in Korea.80 Before, during, and after the war, however, efforts were made to ensure that newspapers and broadcasters toed the line and did not allow “subversive” content to endanger the political will of the public. The Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, with Senator James Eastland of Mississippi as chair, was assigned the job of detecting subversion and infiltration by those who sought the violent overthrow of the government. The committee called approximately 20 journalists to testify during 1954, as well as leaders of the newspaper workers' union, the American Newspaper Guild. Several journalists lost their jobs either because they acknowledged to the subcommittee that they had once had Communist affiliations or, in the case of a New York Times reporter, because he refused to testify, citing his Fifth Amendment right not to be forced to testify against himself. Then in 1958, 38 more journalists were subpoenaed by the subcommittee, but the subcommittee never succeeded in finding any high-profile subversives.81


Reporters covering wars were subject to censorship during previous twentieth-century wars, but the Vietnam War was different. The news media faced few restrictions on where they went and what they reported. Indeed, Vietnam was the first war in which the news media did not see their primary role as serving the war effort.82 News reporters, including television crews, were free to hitch rides with whatever military unit was heading to a location where the journalists thought there would be some action, with only a few voluntary guidelines. There was no centralized censorship mechanism, as there had been in the previous wars; instead, the military attempted to control the release of information by holding regular briefings for the media. The media responded by largely ignoring or openly ridiculing the officers giving the briefings, which were called the “five o'clock follies.”

One reason for the lack of censorship was that the Kennedy administration, which had been responsible for expanding the U.S. military presence in Vietnam, insisted that no war was taking place in the Southeast Asian country, and if there was no war, there was no need for military censorship. Many of the midlevel officers became disenchanted with the U.S. war effort and freely shared their pessimistic views with the reporters in the field.83

The White House attempted to rein in the press in Vietnam by putting pressure on news executives at home. President Kennedy, in a meeting with New York Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Sr., asked whether the Times had thought about transferring one of its high-profile correspondents, Page 35  |  Top of ArticleDavid Halberstam, from Vietnam. Sulzberger replied that he was happy with Halberstam; he then canceled a planned vacation for the reporter so that the Kennedy administration would not think its pressure had worked. Similarly, President Lyndon Johnson asked the Associated Press's personnel chief at lunch one day whether its reporter in Vietnam, Peter Arnett, had been in Vietnam too long. New York Times writer Harrison Salisbury, who even traveled to North Vietnam and reported on the ineffectiveness of U.S. bombing there, was investigated by the FBI to see whether he was a Communist. When CBS correspondent Morley Safer filmed U.S. Marines burning huts in a village, Johnson falsely accused him of being a Communist and told CBS President Frank Stanton that the network was unpatriotic, threatening to go public with its information about Safer's political affiliations unless he was fired. CBS did not give in to the president's demand and Safer was not fired.84

The emphasis the White House placed on Safer's visual images from the war highlights the fact that the Vietnam War was the first war covered by television journalists, a development made possible both by the fact that most American homes had television sets and by technological developments that made it easy to carry equipment in the field and to get film back to be aired by the three major networks, NBC, CBS, and ABC. Many people believe that graphic footage of wounded and dead soldiers, broadcast into the public's living rooms night after night, persuaded a growing number of people to oppose the war. Studies of newscast content, however, illustrate that the belief of graphic television footage is not accurate. One study found that 22 percent of the television news coverage of Vietnam before the 1968 Tet Offensive depicted battle scenes,85 and another study showed that just 3 percent of the footage from Vietnam showed “heavy” fighting.86 Before the Tet Offensive (which marked the turning of public opinion in the United States against the war when the Vietcong attacked deep inside South Vietnam at a time when the U.S. military claimed it was winning the war), only 16 of 167 television news clips had more than one image of dead or injured.87 Furthermore, claims that unvarnished television coverage showing blood and death prompted a change in public opinion are disputed in another study, which showed that the decline in public support for the Korean War, where there was censorship and no television coverage, and the decline for support for the Vietnam War, where there was television coverage and no official censorship, occurred at the same rate.88 Historian Andrew Huebner writes that television and print coverage of the war was much more complex than suggested by critics' image of a hostile media that undermined public support for the military support:

Despite the usefulness of such interpretations, the common implication that Tet was a turning point in news coverage—as well as the emphasis on journalists' commitment Page 36  |  Top of Articleto the war effort before it—may obscure the fact that troubling images of American GIs did circulate in the media early in the Vietnam War. News from Vietnam between 1965 and 1968 presented the war as anything but a “romantic adventure.” Although the mainstream press was not explicitly “antiwar” before Tet, it did lay bare the confusion, misery, difficulty, and tragedy of the conflict. At the same time, though, the media did not merely sensationalize the war through constant blood and gore. Early coverage of the Vietnam War on television and in popular periodicals was enormously complex, at times foreshadowing the grim and critical reporting of the post-Tet years.89

Military leaders, including the U.S. commander General William Westmoreland, pointed to television coverage of the Tet Offensive, which was a defeat for the Vietcong but was framed as a defeat for the United States because the Vietcong briefly occupied the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, as affecting public perceptions about the war.90 The war also marked an end to the military—press relationship in which both saw their role as supporting the troops. Instead, the Vietnam War marked the beginning of mistrust that poisoned the military—press relationship, breeding skepticism on the part of the press and suspicion on the part of the military.

As the war continued, television coverage began to shift, echoing the public's growing opposition. One study shows that from the Tet Offensive until 1972, the number of times that casualties were shown on television increased, with the biggest increase for casualties among Vietnam civilians.91 By the time Richard Nixon succeeded Lyndon Johnson as president in 1969, it was clear to many people in and outside the government that the U.S. war effort in Vietnam was doomed.


Despite evidence to the contrary, many in the federal government, particularly in the Pentagon, came to believe that the media, particularly television, had cost the United States victory in Vietnam, that journalists were the reason the military withdrew before defeating the Vietcong. William Hammond, a military historian, says U.S. military officers in Vietnam expected the same deference from the media that their predecessors in every war since the Civil War had received. Instead, many of the journalists were skeptical. “In the end,” Hammond writes, “the war itself—rather than the press or the perceived failure of the government to adequately prepare for war—alienated the American public. Every time the number of Americans killed or wounded increased by a factor of 10—going from 1,000 to 10,000, from 10,000 to 100,000—public support as measured by the Gallup Poll fell by 15 percentage points.”92

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By the time the Reagan presidency began in 1980, many of the midlevel military officers who had served in Vietnam had become high-ranking Pentagon officials able to make military policy, and many of them harbored ill will toward the media stemming from their time in Southeast Asia. Their ascension to power meant that the next time the United States took military action, the press would have to abide by new rules.

In 1983, the United States, concerned because of perceived Cuban influence in the tiny Caribbean island nation of Grenada and the threat to American students attending a medical school there, invaded the country. It took just three days to achieve military victory, but firsthand reports of the fighting never reached the America public; for the first time in the nation's history, journalists were not allowed to witness most of the fighting. President Reagan said the exclusion of the media was needed to ensure the surprise element of the invasion, even though the news media in Grenada and elsewhere in the region had predicted the attack.93 The decision to bar the press was widely supported by top military officials, still smarting over the perceived influence of television reporters in Vietnam.

More than merely being banned from the island, reporters attempting to arrive at Grenada by chartered boat actually came under fire from navy ships under the order of Vice Admiral Joseph Metcalf II, who said that his primary mission was to protect the troops and that he had no interest in protecting the First Amendment.94 The news media were not allowed on the island until the third day, when a few mop-up actions were still going on but the bulk of the brief war was over.95

The decision to block reporters from the fighting was widely criticized both in Congress and in the nation's newspapers. The New York Times editorialized that the decision prevented the American public from knowing what was going on, and CBS anchor Walter Cronkite scoffed at the idea that the decision was made to protect reporters' lives. Despite media complaints, public opinion polls supported the decision to bar reporters from the battlefield.96

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in an attempt to end the growing media complaints, formed a committee headed by a retired general to create a workable plan for allowing the media to cover future conflicts. The Sidle Commission, named after its chair, developed a plan to create press pools to cover the initial fighting. A press pool, which was not a new idea, is a way to allow a representative from various types of media to cover an event, such as a trip by the president; the press pool members' job is to document any news that occurs and then provide copies of their reports to other media members who were not in the pool.

Under the Sidle plan, a press pool of 16 members representing all forms of news media would be notified when a military action was about to begin. Page 38  |  Top of ArticleThe plan called for this pool to be taken to the scene to provide a firsthand account of the fighting, and the rest of the media would be allowed to send representatives after the first three days of fighting. The plan was designed to ensure the secrecy of the military plans while still allowing limited press coverage. The first two times the pool was activated—for the bombing of Libya and escorting oil tankers through the Persian Gulf—the process worked well.

But the pool system collapsed during the next major U.S. military action, the invasion of Panama in 1989 to arrest Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney (who later became vice president) ordered the pool to be activated too late for the media to arrive before the fighting started, and when they did arrive in Panama, the members were taken to non-fighting events, such as the arrival of the U.S. ambassador. In addition, special operations soldiers were told not to talk to the press. Even when journalists were taken to “hot zones,” they were forbidden to take pictures or video of wounded soldiers, and the written accounts by wire service and print reporters were delayed because there was no working fax and the commanding officer refused to let them dictate their stories over the phone. Cheney later acknowledged he made a conscious decision, in an effort to maintain secrecy, to activate the pool too late and said given the option, he would always lean toward secrecy if it meant protecting the troops.97


Although secrecy was ostensibly the reason for restricting press access to Grenada and Panama, there was little doubt that the United States was going to war against Iraq over its invasion of neighboring Kuwait. The buildup to war was relatively lengthy, with President George H. W. Bush first telling Iraq's leader Saddam Hussein to leave Kuwait, then starting a massive military buildup in the Gulf region. The war was seen as so inevitable that a CNN crew set up shop in a Baghdad hotel and reported live when U.S. planes began bombing Iraq. For the first time, the American public could watch on live television as a war started.

Once the war began, it became apparent that media coverage of war had entered new territory. With the development of satellite communications, much of what was happening could be reported live on television in the United States—and presumably anyone could view it, including the Iraqi government, which had access to satellite reception. The live aspect of the war was enhanced by the development of 24-hour cable news, creating an insatiable need for more and more “new” news. This live war coverage created a problem for reporters attending military briefings in the war zone. It is common practice for journalists, in an effort to find out as much as they Page 39  |  Top of Articlecan, to ask questions that they suspect will not be answered. During the live briefings, the journalists asked repeated questions about tactics or troop movements that the military officers who were conducting the briefings would not answer. The questions and refusals to answer became so ingrained in the public's consciousness that a Saturday Night Live comedy skit during the war was based on reporters asking inane questions such as “where exactly are our troops located.”

One reporter who came in for particular criticism was CNN correspondent Peter Arnett, a reporter who won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting from Vietnam and who had often angered those in the Pentagon and elsewhere in government because of his unflattering stories. Arnett had been one of the CNN employees who broadcast the start of the war live from a Baghdad hotel, and after the ground war began he reported from Iraqi territory. His reporting was subject to Iraqi censorship, which CNN noted whenever it aired his reports. When Arnett reported that U.S. bombs were hitting civilian targets, 21 members of the House of Representatives signed a letter asking CNN to stop broadcasting his reports because they were discouraging troops and the American public. Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming called Arnett a “sympathizer” and criticized his reporting from Vietnam two decades earlier, accusing Arnett of having a Vietnamese brother-in-law who worked with the Vietcong. Simpson later apologized for his incorrect statements about Arnett's Vietnamese relationships.98

The Pentagon began making plans to activate the press pool even before the war started. Pool journalists would be subject to review by military censors. In addition, the pool reporters would be accompanied at all times by military press officers, prompting complaints by journalists that the military personnel whom they would be interviewing would be inhibited from voicing unpopular opinions by the presence of an officer who would be recording everything the personnel said.

Gary Woodward, in the book Media and the Persian Gulf War, writes that the pool system worked well sometimes: “Some escorts were helpful in getting reporters to key locations and helping them see particular aspects of military operations, especially in its early phases. But more aggressive members of the press viewed the system as an effective filter that worked against the press and in favor of the ostensible news management objectives of the military.”99 The system was designed not to encourage reporting but to limit what journalists saw and what they could report. Some escorts went so far as to tell soldiers not to answer some questions, and when reporters started interviewing soldiers at a restaurant without a supervising officer present, the supervising officer said he would send someone to a fast-food restaurant in Dhahran to make sure no one talked to journalists unless someone from the military press Page 40  |  Top of Articleoffice was present. In another incident, a military escort who objected to an analysis written by a reporter from the British Independent tried to have that reporter removed from a pool.100 Some reports were delayed by censorship so long that the news became outdated before it was ever cleared. Other stories were either altered—describing returning bomber pilots as “proud” rather than “giddy”—or killed outright, such as stories that said Christian church services were held for Marines in Muslim Saudi Arabia or that pilots relaxed between flights by watching sexually explicit movies. Other stories were “lost” when censors objected to a journalist's previous reporting.101

Some reporters felt so encumbered by the press pool system that they went “unilateral,” entering the war zone on their own, without military escorts, risking arrest and eviction from the war zone by U.S. forces, or seizure and possible imprisonment by Iraqi forces. A CBS crew headed by correspondent Bob Simon, for instance, disappeared while on a unilateral reporting excursion; it turned out they had been arrested by Iraqi soldiers.102

As the ground war began, the military began a new method of ensuring positive coverage, using military aircraft to fly in hundreds of local newspaper and television reporters from smaller cities around the country. These reporters would stay in the area for a few days, preparing reports about hometown soldiers, and then be flown back to the United States, to be replaced by more local journalists. Positive news was the Pentagon's goal. One of the enduring images of the Vietnam War showed dozens of flag-draped caskets carrying dead soldiers as they were unloaded from cargo planes and lined up on the tarmac. The White House was intent on not repeating that; therefore, the air force refused to allow journalists to have access to Dover Air Force Base to photograph or film the flag-draped caskets of the Persian Gulf War dead. News media attempts to win a court order permitting them access to the base failed when a U.S. district court judge ruled that the military was acting within its power to control access to a military base.


The end of the Persian Gulf War brought a number of critiques by journalists and academic writers examining how the military—press relationship had deteriorated and making recommendations for the future. When 30,000 U.S. troopers traveled to Somalia in 1992 to protect the distribution of food and other aid, the media did not wait for the military to tell them when and where to report. Instead, they traveled on their own to Somalia and reported where they wanted. In Haiti, where U.S. Marines waded ashore to aid in humanitarian efforts in 1994, the media were already there; one of the enduring images of that event is of television cameras, lights blazing, filming the Page 41  |  Top of Articlemarines as they came ashore in full battle gear.103 But it was in Haiti that the first embedding of reporters began. For the first time, reporters were allowed to “embed” themselves within a particular military unit, going where the soldiers went and observing the action firsthand.

Embedding became more common in 1996 when the United States entered Bosnia to quell racial cleansing that was occurring in the Balkan country. This was the first time the term embedding became part of the military—press vernacular, as 33 journalists were embedded in 15 military units.104 The Pentagon had strict rules for these embedded reporters, however. If the reporters were embedded for more than 24 hours, they had to get permission to quote the soldiers they were with, and everything they saw was considered to be off-the-record background information.105

Embedding was again employed in 1999 when NATO, including the United States, began bombing Kosovo because of the Milosevic government's ethnic cleansing policies; because the conflict was primarily air-based, media members had little opportunity to accompany the military units. Therefore, many journalists reported from Kosovo, getting much of their information from the Milosevic government, occasionally reporting stories such as the mistaken bombing of a refugee camp and reporting Milosevic's defense that no ethnic cleansing was occurring.106 The air war over Kosovo and journalists' efforts to bypass military control of their reporting caused renewed hostility between the two sides. War historian Douglas Porch writes that the media “inevitably, then, was wary of information supplied by the military. Press conferences evoked the media's unhappy Gulf War memories of press pools, denial of access, obfuscation, and apparent manipulation; the press resolved not to be fooled twice. Because [the press] had scant access to Kosovo, it could not see ‘ethnic cleansing.’ Nor could it effectively cover the air war.”107


The terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, D.C., and Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania, on September 11, 2001, in what became known as 9/11, marked the beginning of two wars and two distinct ways of reporting war. President George W. Bush almost immediately announced that the United States was at war with terrorists, stating during a speech before Congress on September 20 that “either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.”108 The first effort to root out support of terrorism was to attack Al Qaeda (the terrorist organization that orchestrated the attacks), its training camps, and the ruling Taliban, all in Afghanistan.

The war in Afghanistan, while no surprise to anyone in the United States or Afghanistan, was still waged in relative secrecy. Much of the early fighting Page 42  |  Top of Articleinvolved special forces troops operating deep within Afghanistan, and operational secrecy meant that no reporters were allowed to cover these incursions. As in Kosovo, some journalists made their way to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, to report on their own. In addition, the Qatari-based satellite television network Al-Jazeera broadcast from an Arab perspective, although its critics—including many in the U.S. government—said it was biased against America. Al-Jazeera officials said it was no accident that their Kabul office was hit by a U.S. bomb on November 3, 2001.109

As the war in Afghanistan continued, the Bush administration began making plans to attack Iraq, ostensibly because Saddam Hussein might have weapons of mass destruction—fears that turned out to be unfounded. As the Department of Defense began planning for the war, officials recognized the need to arrange for press coverage of a war that would dwarf the size of the conflicts in either Kosovo or Afghanistan, taking into account intense media interest in an Iraq War while at the same time maintaining control over the message in an era of immediate communication. The solution was a greatly expanded system of embedding. In January 2002, representatives of the major media outlets met with Department of Defense officials to plan how the press would cover the incipient war.

The Department of Defense decided that a huge embedded-reporter program would serve two purposes. It would give the press access to the battlefield, and, through their reporting, particularly television broadcasts, it would intimidate the Iraqis, who could watch as the overwhelming U.S. forces streamed into their country. More than 700 journalists were embedded during the opening days of the Iraq War, including 400 with army units.110 Embedded journalists had ground rules—for instance, they could not report the location of troops nor the identity of the killed or wounded—but they were free to report what they witnessed. In one high-profile incident, Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera was ordered out of Iraq after he violated the rules by drawing the location of his unit in the sand with a stick while on camera.

Written criticism of the embedded-reporter policy fell into two categories. First, journalists reporting from an embedded unit saw the war only from that unit's perspective. A reporter traveling in an armored personnel vehicle cannot be expected to see the big picture. Second, journalists whose very life depends on the soldiers in the unit where they are embedded would naturally be reluctant to report wrongdoing, mistakes, or even crimes committed by those soldiers. Media critic Andrew Hoskins casts this second criticism as replacing “the standard fare of pool and recorded reports compiled from news agencies” with “hundreds of truly unique perspectives.”111

As troops entered Baghdad, ending the early part of the war, most of the embedded reporters gave up their spots to report from the capital city on Page 43  |  Top of Articletheir own or “went unilateral,” to use a phrase popularized in the Persian Gulf War.


The aims of the military, with its goals of protecting information, maintaining the element of surprise, and controlling the public's perception of military and government leaders, have long been in conflict with the aims of the press, with its goals of learning information and reporting that information to the public. Whether under General Sherman during the Civil War, General MacArthur during the Korean War, or the Department of Defense during the War on Terror, efforts to control the media, and therefore the message, have long been at the heart of censorship during wartime.

Douglas Porch puts the conflict this way: “The basic nature and goals of the two institutions [military and press] are fundamentally in tension. For its part, the military, like most bureaucracies, prefers to do its business behind closed doors… The press, however, responds to the requirement of democracy to expose the actions of government—including, especially, the military—to public scrutiny”112 At the same time, the military and the press have a common goal: serving the public.113 The differences, however, usually outweigh that common goal.

In addition, military policy, especially in the twenty-first century, is more often made by political leaders, whose goal is not only military victory but also victory in the area of public opinion. At times, censorship decisions have been based less on military objectives and more on political purposes. The saying that “truth is the first casualty of war” takes on added meaning when the truth is replaced by propaganda.

As the United States moves forward in the twenty-first century, it seems certain there will continue to be wars. How the White House, Pentagon, and military officers in the field deal with the question of media coverage, particularly in an era in which anyone with a cell phone camera or a laptop computer and an Internet connection can become a journalist, will determine whether the public will get an unvarnished view of war or a sanitized version whose main purpose is to keep the government happy.


1 . Nathaniel Lande, Dispatches from the Front: News Accounts of American Wars, 1776–1991 (New York: Henry Holt, 1995), 8–11.

2 . Lloyd J. Matthews, “Preface,” in Newsmen and National Defense: Is Conflict Inevitable? ed. Lloyd J. Matthews (Washington: Brassley's, 1991), ix—xii, esp. ix.

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3 . Donna Lee Dickerson, The Course of Tolerance: Freedom of the Press in Nineteenth Century America (New York: Greenwood Press, 1990), 40–42.

4 . Ibid., 39.

5 . Ibid., 46.

6 . Lande, Dispatches from the Front, 45.

7 . Dickerson, Course of Tolerance, 47–48.

8 . Lande, Dispatches from the Front, 49–51.

9 . Ibid., 90–91.

10 . The Associated Press (AP) is credited with developing the notion of neutral, objective reporting. Before the AP, the nation's newspapers were largely partisan, with most stories taking an editorial stance and expressing the writer's or the editor's opinions. But the AP was designed to provide news to newspapers of all political persuasions, so that its stories had to be acceptable to all, that is, neutral and not partisan.

11 . Dickerson, Course of Tolerance, 144.

12 . Ibid., 145.

13 . Joseph H. Ewing, “The New Sherman Letters,” in Matthews, Newsmen and National Defense, 19–29, esp. 19.

14 . Christopher Andrew, For the President's Eyes Only: Secret Intelligence and the American Presidency from Washington to Bush (New York: HarperCollins, 1995), 14.

15 . Stanley P. Hirschon, The White Tecumseh: A Biography of William T. Sherman (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1997), 96.

16 . Ibid., 100–101.

17 . Ewing, “New Sherman Letters,” 22.

18 . Lande, Dispatches from the Front, 110.

19 . Ibid., 111–12.

20 . Hirschon, White Tecumseh, 146–49.

21 . Dickerson, Course of Tolerance, 147.

22 . Ibid., 148–50.

23 . Dickerson, Course of Tolerance, 154–55.

24 . Ibid., 156–57.

25 . Geoffrey R. Stone, War and Liberty: An American Dilemma:1790 to the Present (New York: W. W. Norton, 2007), 38.

26 . Dickerson, Course of Tolerance, 167.

27 . Ibid., 170–71.

28 . Brayton Harris, Blue and Gray in Black and White: Newspapers in the Civil War (Washington, DC: Bratsford Brassey, 1999), 103–4.

29 . Dickerson, Course of Tolerance, 155.

30 . Ibid., 169.

31 . Harris, Blue and Gray, 106.

32 . Donald E. Reynolds, Editors Make War: Southern Newspapers in the Secession Crisis (Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 1970), 174.

33 . Harris, Blue and Gray, 109–13.

34 . Dickerson, Course of Tolerance, 232–33.

35 . William M. Hammond, “The Army and Public Affairs: A Glance Back,” in Matthews, Newsmen and National Defense, 1–16, esp. 6.

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36 . Dickerson, Course of Tolerance, 234–35.

37 . Ibid., 235.

38 . Smith, Jeffrey A. War and Press Freedom: The Problem of Prerogative Power (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 122.

39 . Ibid., 236.

40 . Randall S. Sumpter, “‘Censorship Liberally Administered’: Press, U.S. Military Relations in the Spanish-American War,” Communication Law and Policy 4, no. 4 (Autumn 1999): 463–81, esp. 469.

41 . Smith, War and Press Freedom, 123.

42 . Sumpter, “'Censorship Liberally Administered,'” 480.

43 . Dickerson, Course of Tolerance, 235.

44 . Stone, War and Liberty, 46–48.

45 . Smith, War and Press Freedom, 129.

46 . James R. Mock, Censorship 1917 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1941), 39.

47 . Stone, War and Liberty, 49–50.

48 . Mock, Censorship 1917, 48.

49 . Stone, War and Liberty, 130.

50 . Mock, Censorship 1917, 52.

51 . Ibid., 148.

52 . Hammond, “Army and Public Affairs,” 7.

53 . Smith, War and Press Freedom, 140–41.

54 . Ibid., 142.

55 . Mock, Censorship 1917, 176.

56 . Hammond, “Army and Public Affairs,” 8.

57 . Mock, Censorship 1917, 94–95.

58 . Smith, War and Press Freedom, 158–59.

59 . Robert Henson, “The Muzzling of World War II Radio Weathercasts,” Weatherwise 56, no. 3 (May—June 2003): 20–21.

60 . Michael S. Sweeney, Secrets of Victory: The Office of Censorship and the American Press and Radio in World War II (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 100–101.

61 . Ibid., 7.

62 . Michael S. Sweeney, “Censorship Missionaries of World War II,” Journalism History 27 (2001): 4–13.

63 . Robert W. Desmond, Tides of War: World News Reporting 1940–1945 (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1984), 224.

64 . Smith, War and Press Freedom, 152.

65 . Ibid., 146.

66 . Sweeney, Secrets of Victory, 92–96.

67 . Desmond, Tides of War, 221–22.

68 . Edwin Emery, The Press and America: An Interpretive History of the Mass Media (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1972), 528.

69 . Walter Cronkite, A Reporter's Life (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996), 98.

70 . Ibid., 99.

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71 . Douglas Porch, “‘No Bad Stories’: The American Media-Military Relationship,” Naval War College Review 55, no. 1 (2002): 85–107, esp. 88.

72 . Dan Rather, “Truth on the Battlefield,” Harvard International Review 23, no.1 (Spring 2001): 66–71, esp. 67.

73 . Smith, War and Press Freedom, 164–65.

74 . Ibid., 166–67.

75 . Ibid., 168.

76 . Ibid., 169–71.

77 . James Aronson, The Press and the Cold War (New York: Bobbs Merrill, 1970), 114–15.

78 . Ibid., 115.

79 . Hammond, “Army and Public Affairs,” 12.

80 . Aronson, Press and the Cold War, 107.

81 . Ibid., 127–52.

82 . Daniel C. Hallin, The ‘Uncensored War’: The Media and Vietnam (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 6.

83 . Ibid., 39.

84 . Smith, War and Press Freedom, 181–82.

85 . Hallin, ‘Uncensored War,’ 129.

86 . Peter Braestrup, “Censored,” New Republic 204, no. 6 (1991): 16–17.

87 . Hallin, ‘Uncensored War,’ 130.

88 . Braestrup, “Censored,” 16.

89 . Andrew J. Huebner, “Rethinking American Press Coverage of the Vietnam War, 1965–68,” Journalism History 31, no. 3 (2005): 150–61, esp. 151.

90 . Bruce Cumings, War and Television (London: Verso, 1992), 88.

91 . Hallin, ‘Uncensored War,’ 177.

92 . Hammond, “Army and Public Affairs,” 14.

93 . Smith, War and Press Freedom, 189.

94 . Ibid.

95 . Barry E. Willey, “Military-Media Relations Come of Age,” in Matthews, Newsmen and National Defense, 81–89.

96 . Jacqueline Sharkey, Under Fire: U.S. Military Restrictions on the Media from Grenada to the Persian Gulf (Washington, DC: Center for Public Integrity, 1991), 72–80.

97 . Fred S. Hoffman, “The Panama Press Pool Deployment: A Critique,” in Matthews, Newsmen and National Defense, 91–109.

98 . Sharkey, Under Fire, 141–42.

99 . Gary C. Woodward, “The Rules of the Game: The Military and the Press in the Persian Gulf War,” in The Media and the Persian Gulf War, ed. Robert E. Denton Jr. (Westport, CT Praeger, 1993), 1–26, esp. 15.

100 . Sharkey, Under Fire, 134.

101 . Woodward, “Rules of the Game,” 16.

102 . Sharkey, Under Fire, 129–30.

103 . Christopher Paul and James J. Kim, Reporters on the Battlefield: The Embedded Press in Historical Context (Arlington, VA: Rand Corporation, 2004), 46, 73.

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104 . Ibid., 48.

105 . Smith, War and Press Freedom, 46–47.

106 . Paul and Kim, Reporters on the Battlefield, 46.

107 . Porch, “‘No Bad Stories,’” 99.

108 . George W. Bush, “Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People.” United States Capitol, Washington, D.C., September 20, 2001. Available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010920-8.html.

109 . David Dadge, Casualty of War: The Bush Administrations Assault on a Free Press (Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2004), 66.

110 . Paul and Kim, Reporters on the Battlefield, 53–54.

111 . Andrew Hoskins, Televising War from Vietnam to Iraq (London: Continuum, 2004), 127.

112 . Porch, “‘No Bad Stories,’” 86.

113 . Paul and Kim, Reporters on the Battlefield, xiv.

Source Citation   (MLA 8th Edition) 
Paxton, Mark. "Censorship of the Media During Wartime." Censorship, Greenwood Press, 2008, pp. 21-47. Historical Guides to Controversial Issues in America. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http%3A%2F%2Flink.galegroup.com%2Fapps%2Fdoc%2FCX3285800010%2FGVRL%3Fu%3Dgale%26sid%3DGVRL%26xid%3Dca224c10. Accessed 19 Jan. 2018.

Gale Document Number: GALE|CX3285800010

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  • Panama invasion
    • 1: 38
  • Pearl Harbor
    • 1: 29-30
  • Persian Gulf War
    • 1: 38-40
  • Press pools
    • 1: 37-40
  • Price, Byron
    • 1: 30
  • Revolutionary War
    • 1: 21-22
  • Sedition Act of 1798
  • Sidle Commission
    • 1: 37-38
  • Spanish-American War
    • 1: 26-27
  • Terrorism
  • Tet Offensive
    • 1: 35-36
  • TV coverage of Vietnam War
    • 1: 35-36
  • Vietnam War
  • War in Afghanistan
    • 1: 41-42
  • War in Iraq
    • 1: 42-43
  • War of 1812
    • 1: 22
  • World War I
  • World War II