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tv   Elizabeth Becker You Dont Belong Here  CSPAN  September 9, 2021 10:39pm-11:34pm EDT

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there. theres really is. >> thank you s so much for spending your evening with us and if you are not enticed to read the book when women invented television for your favorite online platform at your favorite independent bookstore we have to let the folks that home go back to watching good tv. good night. your
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program. >> thank you for coming to this book you with a backer, you you don't belong here which is a rating and fascinating and and that was an account of those who covered the vietnam war i'm happy to welcome you here with the media specialization at the school of international public affairs. and the work on conflict resolution.
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and others of the columbia community in the audience. thank you everybody and i thank you will start by showing some slides? do you want to say anything before you begin? >> it's wonderful to be here. i've already introduced my son-in-law and who just completed his studies her studies the journals inco school. so i would like to start a brief presentation and then they reframed it. a french photojournalist to pave their own way to vietnam she flew from paris to saigon
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she had zero experience as a photographer in her mid- twenties. and was a high school dropout that yet by her own work and her outsiders view she took amazing photographs and became the first woman to win the torch pork award for photography and theh gold-medal award. the next woman down is the most privilege by a longshot of a blueblood wasp background intellectual family of wealth. as a cia director she arrived
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on her own, no job and she ended up taking a completely different view of vietnam and the vietnam war looking at the vietnamese point if you and the vietnamese history. and what the war was doing. it actually led her to writing fire in the lake. that won every award possible in 1972. she was 31 years old at the bottom is an australian a family of intellectuals born in new zealand raised inec australia and then with her typewriter no job.
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yet work a very different path as a combat reporter into the cambodians and theth vietnamese telling the story that had a human dimension the others hadn't and her contributions were recognized with the k-12 award to the asian journalist with the greatest determination and courage in journalism. >> this is the french photographer. my book is not filled with the agenda this, agenda that and they lived big lives.
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already and accomplished pianist and parachute and was the only journalist it turns out male or female photographer or writer or reporter j who was qualified to jump under the 73rd brigade and the only air assault of the war. look at her. barely 5-foot tall. 87 pounds. her equipment almost overtakes her. three cameras around her neck. my husband who is an accomplished parachutist said he cannot believe she could jump and the cameras did not fly in her face that she did. she took these amazing photographs while she did with her three cameras while she is
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jumping into a combat zone she lands and writes in her diaries the sophist landing she has ever had. needless to say that photograph has been reproduced everywhere. >> this is one of her iconic photographs she is small petite tiny, she used her size and almost acrobatic abilities to get as close as she could to her subjects even in the middle of combat. this is a 20 -year-old medic one of the great battles you can see theou desolation of the battleground and she is crawling in the night getting close enough as he tries to
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save soldier and the soldier dies and he cries out in english and then picks up the soldiers rifle to kill the vietnamese on the other side who injured and killed his comrade. it is so close the medic couldn't believe she was even there he said where was she? i did not see her and she was this close. >> that is her am old. a soldier in the classic position of waiting, alert, ready. she can see it in his eyes and the way of his own posturing the great ap bureau chiefs that i haven't seen since world war ii. her photographs were standing.
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>> and the civilians. and was adept at catching that moment as the battles proceed and they force villages out of their homes. they have close to nothing. they are on the road barefoot. not sure where they are going. >> this is frances fitzgerald. she came with the lot of privilege and connections. that was used against her. she's got it made she can just get easy stories but she didn't. she did the opposite she did the hardest kind of reporting
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in the kind no one else was doing. she would go to the battlefield but then go to the civilian hospital how they were taking care of in her privilege life she had never seen anything like what they were going through. the hospital or the smell and the noise she recorded it all and wrote it down. this is when she was trying to tell the story of all this damage was not helping the american cause to spend a lot of time in one village alone to write a long piece for "the new york times" called the life-and-death of the village. and a showed you katrina's pictures and wanted you to read from that magazine article from 1966 only at war
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for one year and already she was zeroing in on the problem. from our helicopter the land look sculpted by a a history as a constant as the motion of water. the american and south vietnamese armies with the radio and the trucks and airplanes have altered the village sense of time and space the very numbers in the vast power hasto distorted the human proportion with the scale of possibilities but to uprooted for farmers pushing over the edge and onto the road with the washing wave upon wave and in combination with the vietcong terror and suspicion that above all uncertainty. one year into the war.
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>> she wrote the book in 19721 the pulitzer prize, the national book award in the bancroft history award nobody has repeated that accomplishment. she filled the void and show the american public what the world look like from the vietnamese point of view. here's an example from the book they resented the french no more and no less and of course the french where the columnist who came before them. the men that focus that w resentment but the fact that many vietnamese of the city wanted the americans to
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intervene not only for practical reasons but psychological ones. they wanted theam americans to be the all-powerful barbarians to take responsibility for the war at the same time they feared american domination. by one of those strange reverses with the desire merged in the expression of fear the americans would lead them. thereff best efforts and their lives in vietnam the less influence they have to reform the government of south vietnam with men and resources they are enforcing corruption and destroy the tissue of vietnamese society. that is a stunning work. here is kate webb, the
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australian. she was in on the story and gave her fall attention and intelligence she arrived but the australians have the same rule covering on the battlefield but the australians actually enforce it and americans had been convinced not to so in many ways one of which a few women before them had convinced them to suspended let the women stay in the field as long as they didn't cause any problems as it turned out that became permanent and these women allow the women of the future to cover the war. the first of all kate was a
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freelancer just as frankie and katrine. but kate made in 1968 in january at the beginning of the tet offensive which i will remind everyone was the turning point of the war. january 68 the president of the united states and general westmoreland who was in charge of the troops in vietnam everyone promise light at the end of the tunnel they could see an american victory and instead the vietnamese and they launched a countrywide uprising attack and to the horror of americans back home it included breaking into and
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taking over 14 of the us embassy kate was the first one there and wrote a dispatch that made her name that empathy look like a butcher shop her reporting even her photographs were on the front pages and she finally got a job with united press international and for the humane approach that we would now call human rights the other two did as well that was very much the outsiders point of view. even in combat it wasn't all bang bang. this is the wire service report so there is no thinking this is old-fashioned times where she probably dictated it
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maybe she was in saigon the right a very quickly. it's called life-and-death of the helicopter crew. came in 1968. there are times when the war makes the fingers shake while holding a pencil. my handshakes. i saw them go to our many times and now i've seen their bodies come back. the days before that thursday i rode withsd them as they flew out again and again over the jungle supply and medevac it was a special routine of life-and-death each time with the pilot stick coming up the gunners doors sliding down over their eyes high over the
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green jungle wind and the personal army reports the helicopter crash burned all four crewmembers killed in action. haven't seen many articles and bring tears to your eyes like that one. >> but when the united states was spreading the word to that country it was named deputy bureau chief. within a few months of your chief was killed was named the bureau chief himself.
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as full-time reporters as a bureau chief but at the culture of the time there was no press release that a woman was doing it and it is so rare for women that if you kept the profile low nobody would know still relegated that case like ran out and in 1971 she was captured by the north vietnamese in cambodia. and held for 23 days mr she was held it was reported her body was found and declared dead. friends and family were in
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morning and her sister did not believe it. she held out all hope. for a while everybody was worried that kate was dead that she was undergoing a tremendous captivity. the food was lousy had a good to eat exactly which was the vietnamese soldier which was white one —- reising rule she was sick and the medical care was awful. but she still kept her sense of humor andll they all managed to memorize a lot of what they saw in figure howow to take note so one of the best things from her memoir was called on the other side 23 days. this is what she was interrogated by the north vietnamese capture.
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here is how it goes. to go down highway 4, the north vietnamese asked. kate said i wish i had been away. on the other hand it's given me the firstopportunity of my life to meet you , the government. it was my job to see what was really happening. we find it unbelievable that you would go down the highway is very dangerous alone in your car just looking for the truth. she answered, that made it sound pretty silly. looking for a rare flower on the battlefield. everyone knows there no truth on the battlefield except getting killed, getting out alive and the unenviable in between of being maimed. sometimes i think my job is crazy myself she said crazy myself.
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next slide please. but she got out and became a legend overnight. the australian country went crazy. every newspaper had huge headlines that looked like the end of world war ii. after she finished her work she went back to be with her family and brought her to the all mail correspondence club in sydney and then here she is taking great delight in being the first woman to ever have a drink at the correspondence club. she went on to continue work and was in hong kong when i arrived.
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in my backpack i had the book iron the like and i literally was following in their footsteps. but i was covering a differentli war. next slide, please. this was cambodia a lot differentt than. it was a country completely unprepared for war. from 55 until 1970 when the war did break out that the previous
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ruler had tried to keep it neutral playing one against the other. the north vietnamese refused and spread out. and the american air force was free to bomb cambodia so i watched the bombing. i covered the bombing in cambodia and back from hong kong to tell me a lot about the ropes. so i literally lived the kind of life these women did. like a one-way ticket. had to find a job and after i became the washington post which
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was a contract reporter on the ground in brunswick and in those days there were very few short time staff reporters in cambodia i think you can count them on one hand. that's how i broke in. next slide, please. >> this sort of epitomizes a lot of the war. there's corruption so the army was replete. i wonder if i could turn the other cheek when it came to ms. believing and wondering whethernd or not it was everythg
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happening to me. there was a parody on the stationary when they stated the only reason i was doing well is because i was doing my feminine. that's not part of the era that i was in. next slide, please. >> thesera women came when the liberation was barely a movement back in the united states. if anybody showed they actually believed there were institutional obstacles to the women's advancement, then they
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made fun of you and said you were looking for a crutch. that is the one i have in my whole book that says outsiders that these women had a history of war because they had fresh eyes. they had different ways of life and expanded the conception of war that there was a more humane way to write it and especially to write about the countries wheree the war was taking place so that's who they are and i look forward to your questions. thank you very much. >> thank you so much for the presentation. one thing i enjoy is seeing the photos and texts because you give a flavor of how telling and
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dramatic their coverage was. i think in a way the story you tell is an extraordinary story and you are always so modest about what you've done, but you freely told for the first time a piece of history. i myself in the vietnam have read tons of books about vietnam by many of the journalists, the david halverson's and i actually didn't know any of this at all. so, the story you're telling i think is really phenomenal and important and it makes a hugean contribution. another t thing is the incredibe trauma these women suffered from. the toll, the emotional and
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psychological toll that it took on them. andd another thing is how terrible the men were to them, how jealous they were to undermine them, how they tried to get them fired. you know, we thought a lot of the male reporters were awful when we were there in the '90s. but there are elements in this book as well as heroines. the ap editor i didn't know how supportive he was, but the destruction many of them, the male journalists seen one of the other extreme things about the book is you talk about their love lives and personal relationships and some of the men these women were involved with do not come off very well. i won't maybe say who because they should read the book. but another thing i want to add is everybody that i know had
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gotten a hold of this book has read it in about two days. i seeth people in the audience e nodding. it is serious research but an unbelievably gripping book as well for your storytelling and the story that you told and the way that you told it. >> to add to that, i also have the family, the right to their parents and to their friends. i wanted the full life because that's what i always find missing from any memoir. but especially to understand the toll that it took for instance i remember when she was beginning to realize the male photographers were trying to get her thrown out of the country she goes back to her mother and says so and so you know, here
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women are viewed either as a wife or a horror and they were trying to be professionals and there's not a lot of space for them. so anyway, thank you. >> not at all. i think we are all bursting with questions. thank you and congratulations. it is a wonderful book and i want to encourage you to pick up your copy if you haven't done so already. i wonder if you can speak about the process and sources because it is a gripping narrative and page turner and there's so much rich detail." can you speak a little bit about the source material and what keys did you uncover or how many challenges in getting access to the material, can you expand on that a little bit?
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>> okay. i had a huge advantage. i knew where to look and i could read the material and know what was important and what was not. so to start there i had a big leg up. it took me a while to know how i was going to do it. there's no question. once i did a lot of research about everyone, about the whole context and what the laws were. i had to do an entire context will before i could narrow it down. once i made a photographer it all took place. keep the combat reporter, frankie fitzgerald was clearly the long form. and then of course katrina for
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the photography. they were such outstanding women that a couple of people ask about one person or another person that these three worthy outstanding. and so then, what were my source materials? i lucked out on this one. kate left everything to her sister and brother and her sister was beside her all the way. shee had a really tragic childhood and her parents were killed when she was 18 so her sister was family. the sister had everything in plastic bins in a storage unit. so my husband and i flew to sydney and i spent lots of time with rachel, the sister. i found stuff and said this and she said no. so wonderful and fully
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cooperating. and they were open, they wanted their sisterss story told, every aspect. so the stuff she never talked about, they knew the story needed to be cold so that was wonderful. katrinehe had a diet about the same time in her early 60s. she had no family to speak of. her mother died shortly thereafter so it was her friends and david burnett. they collected money to make a foundation and it was scattered to the winds and they were still discovering stuff and they made
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it all available to me. they had done interview videos of contemporaries so i was able to use those as well. frankie is alive and an incredibly smart, astute, reserved woman and had given her papers to boston university. she gave them everything. it was a a gold mine. she couldn't remember what she had given. whenever i ran across something i didn't know and i would askr her a question, she knew the answer. she had such a respect for history she never steered me wrong. there was a point i was stuck because it was so boring writing about her writing a book. what's moreng boring, so i said
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didn't you have a boyfriend and she said yes. alan well chuck, the novelist. so i find him and it's fabulous. suddenly that section came alive. but as i said it really helped that i knew the people they knew, i knew their friends. i didn't go in cold at all. sometimes i felt like the narrator off screen with that helped. does that answer your question? >> mckenzie is asking when you learn more about the stories of these women was the largely validating during your time as a reporter were there any
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surprises in doing your research for the book? >> the best example i think is katrine. she had itt worst because she ws a photographer in the field all the time. you couldn't be a war photographer without being inut the field and that was the greatest challenge to masculinity to see this small woman running circles around the men because this was supposed to be male territory. these are the head of the press that led a group of other journalists, most of them anonymous who created what they call a black file, military file to discredit and take away her press credentials that would have meant she had to leave the country. they accused her of things like
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being coarse, vulgar, pushy, arrogant. those are the general descriptions of any of the used that to take away her credentials. it worked temporarily but after that, she was very determined to do well. i was shocked. i'd never even come close to that although i remember like one of my best friends in cambodia, the woman that helped to bring me up there, she did an investigation and wrote a piece about how.s the u.s. was a legal helping in the bombing of cambodia and she was thrown out just like that. about a week or so later sydney of "the new york times" wrote about essentially the same story and nothing happened to him.
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he wrote a great story, wonderful. so i was witnessing the difference sometimes institutionallyut and sometimes professionally. >> the next is having technical difficulties, so i will speak for her. she says hearing you speak about the steps see parallels to today although very different mediums today studies show female reportersho facing more on the social media. do you see any advice from the great women you write about complying the current environment? >> i'm not veryy good at lesson, i haveer to say. i left it l out in the book. one thing that was amazing and i will use kate, she pushed
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everything aside. she was a diplomat. she wanted to get her career. she could ignore stuff and knew how to avoid the worst of the guys but then as she thought she figured a way around all of this it hit her right after the war when she should have been recovering from all the trauma and the ptsd, she was appointed to singapore but instead of being able to continue her career, her boss demanded she become his mistress. she refused and he filed a complaint on another charge and she quit journalism. the obstacle she thought she figured a way around so she quit for ten years and then came back. when she did, she joined a different -- she joined the french press.
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so that's one lesson kate learned. >> thank you. jacob is going to ask a question. >> thank you so much. it's been a great talk. so, reading through the book i was gripped by how much you describe the male colleagues, fitzgerald and also the experience and i was curious to know a what were the ways if any that you took to try to take care of yourself and preserve your mental health and if you knew of any ways the women looked at that as well and if there's any way that they supported each other or because the nature of their work they had to find individual ways of accomplishing that. >> we wereio not that conscious.
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we didn't say we are going to xyz. it just happened. were not thinking that way. and what i found amazing is that all of o us had trouble taking vacations. it's amazing. we had a horrible time leaving because we were so dedicated to that story and those countries we almost wroteal the same word, all of us like i had to come back. then when you left, and i couldn't take it anymore, it's hard to get over it. i know that i went to a therapist when i got home and i know the others didn't. i know that she wrote she couldn'te cross the streets in paris without flipping out and it was only when she got an assignment to go to new york to cover a music festival called woodstock she could relax and she hung out with some veterans that were there and i think that
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was sort of the beginning of her somewhat recovery although it wasn't complete. but we were not cognizant of all that. i mean, -- >> some of them and i worked with in vietnam suffered ptsd and physical injuries is of course journalists get shot at. i never covered a war, thank god but i remembered when i would come back from leave in new york i would lie away with my jet lag and think i can do this. i'm not good enough. they are going to find out. i think it's really common for women to have imposter syndrome and think they got lucky p and that's how they got their job there joband they can't actuallr job. self-doubt is the way we undermine ourselves sometimes. >> although i must say these three had a confidence level
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that i admired a lot. they just did not falter ever. >> i know you are probably going to call on the next. it's been referenced a little bit today in the chat but i am curious there were certain sections from each of these women i think speaking to the american cases where legislation, the women were not allowed to be reporters and then they made special exceptions and re- invoked that. it seemed they went back and forth allowing women into the reporting and i'm sure moving into the future if you have any insights on did they use this and test cases like we can never do something like this again? like these women have proven that these and others have proven that they do not make any
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sense. this reporting is just as good if not better or more diverse than we had int the past. how did those informed the future landscape? >> after vietnam there was no more banningor equipment. women were forever on the t battlefield. it took other countries a little bit longer but the next time the to war wases went 1991 gulf war and by then the women that arrived were staff correspondence. they had wages, health insurance, equipment. they didn't think they got the same access as men, but they were war correspondents and that's remained. evenre australia dropped it. i think it took a while, but all countries now allow women on the
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battlefield. but the problem now is the battlefield itself has become more dangerous for reporters male or female. it's now possible in many respects you could say journalists arelo targets. look at the story on marie. she was targeted and journalists are targeted and captured and kidnapped for ransom. it's a different problem entirely. but after vietnam, those women didn't realize it but they effectively ended the ban on women in combat but they didn't tell her story for 30 years. they kept it quiet because they were afraid that it might be reimposed. and it was only 30 years when they did a collection of personal reminiscence and a p wonderful book called war-torn
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that they actually told their story. was that scary that they might be reimposed but it was never reimposed. >> there are so many questions. i know we have to close down at seven but i was wondering how optimistic do you feel about me to do and do you think it will help change or is it sort of a flash in the pan? >> thank you. it's inevitable. it reminds me of the various beginning stages of the women's movement where some serious work on getting rid of institutional barriers was reduced to they are just burning brawls. the need to movement is more than a hashtag. it's that women should not have
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to go g through that sexual harassment in order to be the professionals or whatever that they want b to be. so there's no question. is it misused et cetera, et cetera i'm not going to get into that but it is essential. >> we were talking about this in class last week, how important the movement has been and i think when we talk about sexual harassment and the problems of women and the abused i think journalists don't always like to talk about what they think, but as people have pointed out in this conversation, the harassment of journalists and black women and black women journalists is really very serious and now of course because of social media, it can happen in so many different places as well. so your book is also talking about a certain earlier version in some ways.
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>> no question. >> i apologize. i'm on on my phone, not my desktop. thank you so much for being here and sharing with us and putting on. this is wonderful. i'm curious some from a war correspondents perspective how, the vietnam war in so many ways was a new kind of warfare the united states was engaged in as a new kind of journalism. there was the photography and videos of battles for the first time that we were reaching a lot of people and keeping public opinion of the war and today it's almost like we have the opposite problem in some ways. like if you look for it, there's still much video coverage. there seems to be kind of you
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can be overwhelmed by the amount of content about some of the horrible things going on in the world and i guess i'm wondering what you think from your perspective and the perspective of the journalists you've covered, to kind of humanize the stories and sharing photos but what do youu think today needs o be done or do you think anything needs to be done to kind of continue to tell these stories in a new cutting edge way, do we need to tell them better or include more voices? i guess i'm just wondering what you think about the future of the war correspondents. >> i will answer from a slightly different angle. one of the reasons the vietnam war was so well covered was because the american public was hungry for the details. we werehu at war. whenever the united states is at war you get a lot of saturation coverage.
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now they are not. they are the forever wars that the american, you don't see them fighting anymore. it's the iraq he is that nobody can keep track of who is fighting. the russians were doing this. so you know, one of the problems that you described of the scattered nature, you don't know where to find it is the fact that the americans aren't the focus and the united states is a kind of country where if it's not in america, we are not interested. and that is a general problem with all of our foreign coverage, is that particularly the last four years of the trump administration, my goodness. it seemed like a foreign news was lost. hopefully now with the biden administration, there will be this breathing space and we can be more a part of the world. but i think the problem we have is getting the american public and the american media, everybody to focus even when the united states is in the one fighting and that is the way
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that i would phrase it. >> thank you so much. >> do we have any final questions? mean from the journalism school is here and they've been a cosponsor so i just want to acknowledge and say thank you so much for coming and for putting thisng together. it's so important for journalists to feel that the journalism school is involved withnv their event, so it's reay great that you were able to join and help promote this event. a really fascinating discussion. again we have copies of book culture and all of you are welcome to drop by and pick one up and really wanted to thank elizabeth and all of the cosponsors and everyone for coming and for all the great questions.
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congratulations again. you've had fantastic reviews and we just couldn't be happier about hosting. thank you so much to everybody. >> thank you all for coming and for asking these wonderful questions. it means a lot. >> 20 years ago on september 11, 2001, 2 large commercial airliners flew into the world trade buildings in new york city. 2,763 people lost their lives. a few minutes later, american airlines flight 77 crashed into the pentagon killing a total of 189 people. a fourth plane, united 93 crashed into a field near shanksville pennsylvania at three minutes past 10 a.m. on the morning. forty-four perished. these events as everyone knows were a great shock to the nation and the world. as a small way to commemorate
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this moment in u.s. history, here are some of the calls to the c-span network the morning after beginning at 6 a.m. the entire united states is shut down. you are talking to people around the country and around the world who are shaken to their roots by this. >> you look back on the september 11 attacks on this episode of booknotes plus. listen on, or wherever you get your podcasts. you think this is just a community center? know, it is way more than that. comcast is partnering with


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