Remember the Name Gen. William Westmoreland? CBS News Does

By Chris Ariens Comment

Gen. William Westmoreland is back in the news today, related to GOP presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson.

Gen. Westmoreland was the U.S. Army chief of staff during the Vietnam war. In 1969, then 17-year-old ROTC cadet Ben Carson met Gen. Westmoreland.

As Carson told Charlie Rose last month: “I was offered a full scholarship to West Point, got to meet General Westmoreland, go to Congressional Medal of Honor dinners, but decided really my pathway would be medicine.” Carson’s claim of being offered a full scholarship is being disputed today.

For veteran tvnewsers, the name William Westmoreland is a memorable one.

Westmoreland sued CBS News and correspondent Mike Wallace for $120 million over their 1982 documentary The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception. The 90-minute special contended that Westmoreland suppressed evidence of a rise in Viet Cong troops in 1967 in order to maintain U.S. troop morale and support for the war. He sued for libel. CBS News became the news.

As Wallace would later write in Guideposts, the Westmoreland lawsuit sent him into a depression.

Day after day, I sat trapped in room 318 at the courthouse, hearing people I didn’t even know attack the work I’d done… Right before the new year, I was admitted to the hospital, “suffering from exhaustion,” a CBS spokesman announced. The truth, I was to learn from Dr. Marvin Kaplan, the psychiatrist I started seeing, was something I’d never imagined. My defenses were pretty much broken down by then. I told him about the trial; about the doubts that plagued me; about not being able to eat, sleep or enjoy the things I used to. “You feel as you do, Mr. Wallace, because you are experiencing clinical depression,” Dr. Kaplan explained.

Westmoreland dropped the suit in early 1985. He died in 2005, at age 91. He’s buried at West Point. Wallace died in 2012 at age 93.