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The term living room war (or television war) was first coined to describe U.S. intervention in the Vietnamese civil war. The war coincided with the apex of the popularity of televisions in American households, and as such, the conflict was experienced and understood by those at home in a radically different manner than previous wars. Implicit in the term living room war is the assertion that televisions “brought the war home”—that they provided immediate access to the experience of military conflict for civilian viewers.

The same argument has been made for the Gulf War and the Iraq War, both of which saw a dramatic increase in war reporting. The simplicity of such assertions, however, can belie the consciously constructed nature of war reporting and contribute to ...

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