One of the more interesting aspects of television coverage of Vietnam is how it handled the domestic anti-war movement. Hall writes, "When new political movements come into existence, it is a matter of critical importance whether they are legitimised publicly within the 'political' category, or de-legitimised by being assigned to the 'deviant' category (sic)."39 The anti-war movement was generally characterized as deviant, and television journalism, instead of engaging in responsible discourse, marginalized those groups even further. Television trivialized protestors by attacking their dress and mannerisms; additionally, "the movement was almost always counterposed with presentations of ultra-right groups, as if to say extremism is extremism."40 In fact, "Most of the time television spoke of the antiwar movement as a threat to 'internal security,' not as a participant in a political debate."41 Protests were "leftist" events, and the protestors were invariably "hippies." In this respect, television journalists acted as representatives of power institutions, denying anti-war protestors a voice and labeling them in such a way as to render their views beyond the pale of legitimate discourse.
Although support for the war was in no way unanimous, public criticism of Vietnam only became marginally more legitimate as it was articulated by traditional authority figures, i.e. congressional leaders. Even after the Tet offensive, when public support for the war waned, there was little sympathy or identification with the anti-war movement among the general public; it was too radical, too contemptible, too threatening. The anti-war movement and its participants remained deviant even as criticism of Vietnam entered mainstream, "legitimate" discourse. So although television might have challenged the reactionary Cold War ideology to a certain extent, it never challenged or threatened hegemonic power; rather, it sustained and reinforced it.