From:  Bob Morecook

   Dated:  February 13, 2017

Subject:  News at FEN

se la vie! My own point though was that what you described then was no longer true 72/3. MACV IO controlled output--that was the PR branch.  AFVN news simply read AP and network copy.  Whatever ran in the US, we ran in Nam.  The Bob Lawrence flap may have brought about the change.

All the best,

Bob M


AFVN Group Conversations

    From:  Bob Morecook

   Dated:  February 14, 2017

Subject:  News at FEN

In 72/3 we no longer took our newscasts to anyone.  E2 or E6 we simply read the wire copy.  If a story was controversial then we "attributed" it to its source such as AP.  Really big changes happened after Bob Lawrence

Bob M

    From:  Jordan St. John

   Dated:  February 14, 2017

Subject:  News at FEN

Not entirely accurate.  Before Bob Lawrence made his on-air declaration, those of us doing newscasts were required to take our copy to the duty officer for review.  More often than not, significant anti-war reports from home were pulled from the newscast, even though we argued that the stories were in Stars and Stripes and the papers guys were getting from home.  One of the prohibited terms at that time in the late 1960's was "body count".
Jordan

    From:  Steve Pennington

   Dated:  February 14, 2017

Subject:  News at FEN

Let me deviate from this conversation, as I have no relationship with AFVN except as a loyal and appreciative listener.  When I was at Phu Cat we had a Filipino band playing at the NCO Club.  A tiny Filipina singer got up and sang Stand By Your Man.  She had a HUGE voice and when she was done we were in silence for 10 seconds and then exploded into a huge cheer and applause.  Funny how we remember things like that.

SLP


    From:  Jim White

   Dated:  February 20, 2017

Subject:  News Sensitivies at FEN
 "Ai chi" (sometimes just written/said using the English letter "H") does mean "dirty old man" if you are pointing at or referring to an old man.  More broadly it means anything or anyone sexually offensive or over-sexed.  Which brings me to a strange origin of a word.  Any of you Navy types ever wear "skives"?  I'm sure you did and may still do so today.   The  Englilsh word "skivies" comes from the Japanese word "Su-ke-bei" the name of a Japanese historical figure who was noted for being particularly "H."   In the early days of Western/Japanese contact, the sailors did what sailors do  today.  When they hit a port they head for the bars and the girls.  When they got a girl into appropriate situation they would immediately start stripping for action.  And when they got down to their underwear the girl would point and say "Su-ke-bei," trying to imply that the guy  was being immodest or in too much of a rush--but the sailor (thinking that perhaps that was the Japanese word for underwear)  would simply agree by saying, "Yes, I'm wearing skivies."   Now you know the rest of (or perhaps the beginning of) the story.  

Jim W


NB:  This conversation is a spin-off from one just a few days befoe on "Censorship Again."  

Bob Morecook is replying to a message from Dick Ellis dated February 8, 2017.   Webmaster

    From:  Bob Morecook

   Dated:  February 11, 2017

Subject:  News at AFVN
Dickie
The Bob Lawrence flap may have changed things.  The IG and the SecDef though affirmed that AFVN was to be delivering news - and that it was not to be a PR outfit.  That is, it should resemble Stars and Stripes.  MACV exercised control though in its own way.
They released news to news agencies, they then re-wrote it PLUS reported whatever they got independently.
We simply read copy from AP, UPI, NBC, CBS, ABC, MBS and a few others--especially AP.  We gathered and wrote no news.  The outcome though was that AFVN did report every thing that was being reported stateside, as written by civilian reporters for those and a few other agencies.
We were not PR people at the end.  And probably we were not true 'newsmen and newswomen.'   Better to have called us "news readers."  We were doing what any SMALL market radio-TV station was doing stateside.  Reading what came in over the wire or by other means.  "If AP wrote it, we read it."--every hour on the hour and on the evening TV news too.
Bob M


News at AFVN

(With reference to FEN)

February 2017

    From:  Steve Sevits

   Dated:  February 14, 2017

Subject:  News at FEN

In the few years from '63 to '71 things changed a lot.  Both in Saigon and on Okinawa our only (often unreliable) source was radio teletype of the newspaper wire.  No copy written for broadcast.  We had hoards of writers rewriting everything, translating from newspaper copy to broadcast copy.  Atmospherics sometimes blanked out reception on Okinawa and both AFRTS and the Psy War people had only bits and pieces from which to work.  We came close to having to almost  making up the news.
Steve

    From:  Larry Rogers

   Dated:  February 14, 2017

Subject:  News at FEN

Not only news was subject to “review.”  Visiting bands were given air time on Saigon TV.  One band was included in the weekly shipmate of tapes, but, up-country stations were told NOT to air it.  So why send it?  And who decided it couldn’t be aired at outlying stations?  The band was the Philippine cover band, "The Rubber Band,” with a very buxom girl who maybe did not do anything but “bouncy-bouncy” fronting the band.  The objection of someone was that the words across her bouncies were, “Make Love Not War.”
FrankR


    From:  Frank Rogers

   Dated:  February 11, 2017

Subject:  News Sensitivies at FEN
News on FEN in Tokyo also had sensitivities.
We could not compare any power,  such as earthquakes or nuclear tests, to the power of the A-Bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.  Pronunciation of Japanese names could be a problem.  The name of Foreign Minister  Aichi (Ah ee chi) was unintentionally mispronounced and sounded like the word " Ae chi, " meaning "dirty old man”.  This brought a complaint from the Foreign Ministry.  We had to stay away from the demonstrations in Japan against US actions in Vietnam. In the opposite direction, at one time we were ordered to have one item of Japanese news per newscast, and it could not be offensive to them.
With so many foreign embassies in Tokyo, we had to be careful about what was said re their countries, also.  There were many complaints about how their countries were mentioned.  For example, the Commander had to respond to the French Embassy when one story referred to President Degaulle’s actions as “antics,” as the story had come over the wires and was read by the local announcer.
Outside of news, old radio shows might have something sensitive to the Japanese.  "Fibber Magee and Molly" had a line that was aired, but evidently was not noticed by the locals.  Fibber said, “He can take a hint like Hirohito took San Francisco.”  I heard it and marked the show,  “Do Not Air.”   I did a show that included old Country (Hillbilly) music and had to do the same for the Carson Robison song “A Hundred Years From Now” with the line “the only  Jap you’ll see will be in a menagerie.”   If you google him, you’ll see he did several songs for the WW2 war effort, such as mentioning Mussolini, Hitler and Hirohito, that could not be aired today.
Other banned songs included, “What Can You Do With A General”  and  “Love For Sale.” The TV film review board had to take out all those fake, comedic “Generals” portrayed on “Laugh-In” so as not to offend the local brass.
Frank


    From:  John Workman

   Dated:  February 14, 2017

Subject:  News at FEN

In late 69 ?early 70 before Bob Lawrence “announcement”, I remember having to edit various video of CBS news and even sections of  "Laugh In "that was considered offensive to the South Vietnamese govt.
One "laugh in" satire was when [the]President was saying “US would pull out as soon at the south Vietnamese military was ready to go it alone” was reversed in the satire that “Vietnamese govt was ready to pull out once the US was ready to go it alone”.  Which I guess could be taken as an offense. Guess a lot of PR going on at that time.
After [the] Bob Lawrence affair I was given less to do on editing & dubs to detachments as I was Engineer on duty & made show check recording that night.  Even to [the] point of being considered for court martial related to Bob or because I denied any knowledge of it being planned.
John Workman


    From:  Bob Peetz

   Dated:  February 12, 2017

Subject:  News at FEN

Victoria Bitter!!!


    From:  Mike Jackson

   Dated:  February 13, 2017

Subject:  News at FEN

In 1971 we had access to both A and B AP wires.  And also just about every other news source out there, including even Deutsche Welle.
MikeJ

    From:  Bob Morecook

   Dated:  February 14, 2017

Subject:  News at FEN

Yes David that's the slang term.  But by doing it this way American soldiers got the same news everyone else did in the USA, that is--no censorship

Bob M

    From:  Steve Sevits

   Dated:  February 11, 2017

Subject:  News at AFVN
At AFRS Saigon in ’63 we received radio teletype newspaper copy which had to be rewritten for broadcast.  In the states radio stations received copy written for broadcast, there is a lot of difference, just trying reading a newspaper out loud.  Additionally we had to “style” stories with subtle changes: “White House” was thought to possibly be misinterpreted as “presidential palace” so we would reword it as “residence of the president” or something like that.  We also made some other semantic changes without changing the nature of the story.
There were a few items we were not allowed on the air, things about racial strife in the US or other types of stories which could reflect negatively on the US.
We did a little editorial discretion, but not much.
Steve


    From:  Forrest Brandt

   Dated:  February 12, 2017

Subject:  News Sensitivies at FEN
 1968 - 69 I know that two shows, "Smothers Brothers" and "Laugh In," frequently had more than the usual number of PSAs and CI spots.  One episode of "Laugh In2 was close to only half the normal length.
I often wondered how the folks in G/5 slots, the nation building, MEDCAP, and propaganda side of the house felt about the faux commercials for Nhouc Mong after shave, Water Buffalo Taxi and others.  Given how many Vietnamese could speak enough English to realize they were being mocked and the fact that AFVN was an open signal, I wonder why there was no kick back on these. Then again, I chuckled at a few of them.
FB


    From:  Craig Prosser

   Dated:  February 11, 2017

Subject:  News at AFVN
That White House euphemism policy sure didn't last long.  I arrived at AFRS in late 1963 and never heard of it.  We called the White House just that.  We were told however never to refer to our host country as South Vietnam.  It was The Republic of Vietnam .  Also there were no restrictions on reporting any kind of news from the U-S.  Racial strife was by no means off limits.  The only limitations we had involved stories originating in Vietnam written by news agency correspondents.  Their  copy was almost always rejected by information officers as "speculative or unofficial."
Releases from MAC-V involving operations in the field or terrorist incidents in Saigon were usually dictated to us by information officers.  On the other hand, no clearance was required of Vietnam stories originating from official sources in the U-S such as Congress, the White House, Pentagon, etc.   At one point information chief AIr Force Colonel Lee Baker told us we didn't not need to check with his office on such stories, but after General Paul Harkins , the U-S commander at the time, heard me broadcast that Defense Secretary McNamara would be making another inspection trip to Vietnam in a few days BEFORE he'd been notified of the trip,  the order came down for us to "give them a courtesy call" on those stories.
Craig Prosser 


    From:  David Pinto

   Dated:  February 10, 2017

Subject:  News at FEN

Rip 'n read.


    From:  Dickie Ellis

   Dated:  February 12, 2017

Subject:  Forrest News at FEN
 Well said Forrest....apparently the policies changed a lot each year with command changes.  When I arrived in July of 1967 they gave me the all-night shift in FM.  I was fired and sent to TV for taking requests.....  I said..following a phone call from them.... "Here is a tune for all the Security guys at the  air base...good job guys!" Long time ago..

Dickie


    From:  Forrest Brandt

   Dated:  February 12, 2017

Subject:  News at AFVN
Bob and Dickie,

I recall two incidents (1968-69) from my own work as a PIO--where we did gather and write stories, send out photos, interviews. The first came with an outside-the-box assignment. I was asked to write the Christmas greeting from General Talbot to his staff.  I kept trying to use the Dicken’s phrase, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”  I tweaked it and tweaked it, and each time Major Chick told me It was too heavy on the I’d rather be home theme.  He finally decided he’d have to write the thing himself.   As I look back on the incident I realize that I couldn’t escape my ETS mind set and see that the professionals wanted to be there.  That was their job, their career.
The next one came after we put together the first Duty First Show to run on AFVN.  We went out and gathered interviews with troops from Willy and Wayne’s old units - 1/18th Inf and 1/28th I think. We asked the run of the mill questions, what’s your job, what do you think about the war, what do you miss…  Again, Major Chick liked the show, but, “It sounds like all of these guys can’t wait to go home.  You have to ask them questions that will bring out their pride in the unit, their pride in the mission.”  I protested, (Chick was a great officer, he allowed lieutenants to ask him tough questions and to question his thoughts) "but that’s what they told us. It’s how most of us feel, we’d rather be home.”  Chick listened than said, “Forrest, would GM hire you to tell people the Pontiac was a bad car?  Then what makes you think the army hired you to tell the listeners that this is a bad war?”
Forrest
PS, if Gary Brill, our Aussie is out there, I need some help.  What would have been a favorite beer for Aussie troops in RVN.  I know they had it flown in each week and it sure wasn’t Foster’s.  Would it have been Toohey’s, or Swan?

    From:  Bob Morecook

   Dated:  February 13, 2017

Subject:  News at FEN

Hi Steve,

There was no need to re-write AP in 72/3.  It was written for the ear, not the eye.  At any rate that was the subscription we had. Likely there was also a print subscription.

Best wishes,

Bob M


    From:  David Gale

   Dated:  February 14, 2017

Subject:  News at FEN

I didn't work in news but I sent the follies many nights.  I remember hearing the VC broke through the outer parameter.  When I read about it in Stars and Stripes it read that the entire camp was as overrun.  Always wondered who told the truth.