The Tet offensive is widely considered to be one of the most significant turning point in the Vietnam War. The Tet Offensive was a series of attacks launched by the Viet Cong on the American and South Vietnamese forces around the New Year holiday of 1968. The Viet Cong forces attacked major South Vietnamese cities in the hopes of repelling the American forces. During these attacks both the North and South sustained large loss of life, however the most significant effect was not necessarily the loss of life, but rather the loss of moral and public support for the war. The negative feelings that the public felt in response to the Tet Offensive is what lead artists like the Rolling Stones to write hopeless tumultuous songs such as “Gimme Shelter.”
After the Tet offensive was over, both sides claimed it as a victory for their respective cause. While the American and South Vietnamese were able to successfully drive back the Viet Cong troops they were severely weakened by doing such. When the American public saw this broadcasted on the nightly news it was then that the majority realized that this wasn’t going to be a short simple war, as had been promised them. The support that President Johnson had had before these attacks had all but dwindled. After the attacks, Walter Cronkite, who was the face of the news media at the time, had an interview with commanders of battalions involved in the Tet Offensive, after this interview he voiced his disapproval of the Vietnam war, saying:
“To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that mili tary and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy’s intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.” (Walter Cronkite, 1968)
This caused a severe drop in public opinion. Because of this, Johnson shifted a majority of the fighting responsibilities onto the South Vietnamese.