Collection Summary

Creator: McCue, Edward O.
Title: Addendum to Edward O. McCue Records Pertaining to Westmoreland v. CBS [a]
Accession: MSS 88-4a
Parent Collection: Edward O. McCue Records Pertaining to Westmoreland v. CBS
Location: This collection is stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections before your visit to ensure your papers are available.
Photograph Collection: View 0 digitized photographs
Digitized Content: 0 objects

Collection Description & Arrangement

This addendum to the McCue collection contains a random compilation of some materials - mostly photographs - of public record relative to the controversy generated by the CBS documentary “The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception."

Biographical & Historical Information

Mike Wallace interviewed Westmoreland for the CBS special The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception. The documentary, shown on January 23, 1982 and prepared largely by CBS producer George Crile III, alleged that Westmoreland and others had deliberately underestimated Viet Cong troop strength during 1967 in order to maintain US troop morale and domestic support for the war. Westmoreland filed a lawsuit against CBS.

In Westmoreland v. CBS, Westmoreland sued Wallace and CBS for libel, and a lengthy legal process began. After the trial was in progress, Westmoreland suddenly settled with CBS for an apology, no more than CBS had originally offered. Some contend that Judge Leval's instructions to the jury over what constituted "actual malice" to prove libel convinced Westmoreland's lawyers that he was certain to lose. Others point out that the settlement occurred after two of Westmoreland's former intelligence officers, Major General Joseph McChristian and Colonel Gains Hawkins, testified to the accuracy of the substantive allegations of the broadcast, which were that Westmoreland ordered changes in intelligence reports on Viet Cong troop strengths for political reasons. Disagreements persist about the appropriateness of some of the journalistic methods of Mike Wallace in particular.

A deposition by McChristian indicates that his organization developed improved intelligence on the number of irregular Viet Cong combatants shortly before he left Vietnam on a regularly scheduled rotation. The numbers troubled Westmoreland, who feared that the press would not understand them. He did not order them changed, but instead did not include the information in reporting to Washington, which in his view was a decision that the data were not appropriate to report.

Based on later analysis of the information from all sides, it appears clear that Westmoreland could not sustain a libel suit because CBS's principal allegation was that he had caused intelligence officers to suppress facts. Westmoreland's anger was caused by the implication of the broadcast that his intent was fraudulent and that he ordered others to lie.

During the acrimonious trial, Mike Wallace was hospitalized for depression, and despite the legal conflict separating the two, Westmoreland and his wife sent him flowers. Wallace's memoir is generally sympathetic to Westmoreland, although he makes it clear he disagreed with him on issues surrounding the Vietnam War and the Nixon Administration's policies in Southeast Asia.

[Wikipedia contributors, "William Westmoreland," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Westmoreland (accessed 10/30/2015)]

Acquisition Information

Date Received 2008
Donor Information These materials were donated to Special Collections by Mr. McCue in 2008.

Content List

  • Virginia Committee on Statues of Great Lawyers.
  • Memoranda, invitations and photographs of busts of Sir William Blackstone, John Marshall, George Wythe by Felix de Welden, sculptor. 
  • Group photograph in front of busts:  Lewis Powell Jr., Davis Y. Paschall, James E. Palmer Jr., Edward O. McCue III, Felix [illeg.] W. de Weldon; Robert L. Simpson, William L Ellis, Mortimer Caplin, Rev. Frederick Brown Harris, J. Vaughn Gary, Arthur B. Hanson, Michael A. M. Ross, C.M.G. 

 

Associated People

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