I have begun reading the book authored by Malcolm Browne (the photographer of “Self Immolation”) titled Muddy Boots and Red Socks, which chronicles his entire time spent in Vietnam, as well as his own commentary behind the political choices made, and the journalistic styles at the time. The book has provided interesting detail that seems to outline a struggle experienced between Browne and David Halberstam and other journalists reporting events occurring in Saigon. Browne makes clear he and Halberstam saw the war more cynically than other journalists, noting that most of the reporters of the time period were writing under the impression that Vietnam was another World War II or Korea, a war that they seemed to view as black and white. A war in which the United States was justified in fighting, and was deemed a worthy cause. This answers my previous question as to why the New York Times declined to run the original photograph of Duc ablaze in the streets of Saigon. Many of the journalists overseas at the time did not see the war as a negative for America, and thus their writings and overall coverage was far too skewed to show the repercussions of Diem’s brutal rule, an image that Browne himself had managed to capture on film.
I have also discovered an article on Buddhism Today’s Archive that states Browne’s original photograph was ran in the Philadelphia Inquirer on June 12, 1963, just one day after the event. I attempted to navigate the archives of the Philadelphia Inquirer with no avail, and instead will have to look at the microfilm of the paper from June 12, 1963. The coverage of the photo, including the page it appeared on, the caption under it, and the story that accompanied it, will reveal to me the ways in which the event was reported to the public, so far as I know, in the only news source that revealed the image just one day after it was taken. I have also purchased William Prochnau’s book Once Upon a Distant War which is a third party account and review of the reporting done by Halberstam and the battles he faced as a foreign correspondent. I am hoping the book solidifies what Browne and Halberstam argue themselves, in the dramatic differences between journalistic approaches and political views at the time, and the ways in which this directly influenced the information presented to the American public.
Buddhism Today Article:
Amazon Links to Books: