The Wikipedia page on the Tet Offensive, which is the first hit in a Google search, is clearly partisan. "The Tet Offensive is widely, however incorrectly, seen as a turning point of the war in Vietnam," it says in the second paragraph. Now of course I want to know who said that. See the problem? Same set of facts, two different views. In the case of Dowbrigade, I know who's speaking.
I talked about this problem in October. Like the origins of WWI (the example I used in that post), the Vietnam war is still controversial - more so, actually, since many of the partisans are still alive. We won't have anything that begins to resemble a historical consensus on that war (or the part played in it by Tet) for decades - it's too raw, and the people who were of age then - on all sides - simply can't step back far enough. The (American) Civil War is far enough back to enable objective discussions; there are few people out there who still have strong partisan feelings about it. The closer in time an event is to the present, however, the worse the problem gets.
What are the correct facts on something like Tet? It's too close to the present to have a universally accepted view. Trying to declare one now would be like trying to find a consensus on the Civil War in 1900 - the partisans were too close to the event. The power of something like Wikipedia is that (before the recent changes) it allowed for ongoing editing to iterate toward a consensus. Where one is lacking, dispute pages could be created. Now? We'll have editors, and tons of submissions. Like printed encyclopedias, events this close to the present will fall one of two ways:
- The bland, "on one hand, on the other" approach that is so common on newscasts
- A dry exposition of the (few) agreed upon facts, with nothing more
Yeah, that's a whole lot better than what we have now. Especially given that "experts" suffer from the same closeness problem that the rest of us do. Great - we've now got an electronic copy of the hidebound print editions. Editing is time consuming and expensive as well - the further Wikipedia runs down this road, the more pressure there will be to make it ad/subscription supported, in order to pay for that back end editing expense. A good thing ruined, because the MSM pros don't like competition, and a few people who disliked a few things in Wikipedia pitched a fit.