Recent scholarship has shown that U.S. policymakers went to war in Vietnam despite full knowledge of problems they would find there. Why then did policymakers set aside their worries and head down a highly uncertain road? This article proposes examining why institutions that criticized U.S. policymaking did not do so as forcefully as they might have. Specifically, it explores constraints that operated within the news media by investigating the controversy that swirled around a series of stories written by Harrison Salisbury and published by the New York Times in 1966 and 1967. These stories, written during and after Salisbury's extraordinary trip to North Vietnam,directly challenged several of the Johnson administration's claims about the war. Predictably, administration officials criticized the series. More surprisingly, Salisbury encountered condemnation from other publications and even his own paper. The article describes these critiques and discusses constraints on independent, critical reporting within the media.

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