The Official Story
During the years of the Vietnam War, public trust in American politicians reached an all-time low. Journalists coined the term “credibility gap” to describe the chasm between official descriptions of the war and the reality of the conflict. The phrase “credibility gap” was first used by reporter David Wise in a May 23, 1965, article for the New York Herald Tribune. At the time, there were only a few thousand American combat troops stationed in South Vietnam, but the antiwar movement was gaining momentum. Public suspicions about the truthfulness of the Johnson administration escalated as well. Murray Marder, a reporter for the Washington Post, popularized the term “credibility gap” in an article on December 5, 1965, in which he argued that government officials were being disingenuous in painting a rosy picture of a war that was actually going quite badly. The 1971 publication in the New York Times of the so-called Pentagon Papers exposed to the entire world just how disingenuous public officials had been. Four American presidents—Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon—had been guilty of misleading the American people.
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