Credibility gap

Credibility gap is a term that came into wide use with journalism, political and public discourse in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s. At the time, it was most frequently used to describe public skepticism about the Lyndon B. Johnson administration's statements and policies on the Vietnam War.[1] It was used in journalism as a euphemism for recognized lies told to the public by politicians. Today, it is used more generally to describe almost any "gap" between an actual situation and what politicians and government agencies say about it.[2][3]


The term "credibility gap" came against a background of the use of the term "missile gap", which the Oxford English Dictionary lists as first being used by then-Senator John F. Kennedy on 14 August 1958, when he stated: "Our Nation could have afforded, and can afford now, the steps necessary to close the missile gap."[4] "Doomsday gap" and "mineshaft gap" were the imagined post-apocalyptic continuations of this paranoia in the 1964 Cold War satire Dr. Strangelove.[5]

The term "credibility gap" was widely in use as early as 1963, according to Timetables of History.[6] Prior to its association with the Vietnam War, in December 1962, at the annual meeting of the U.S. Inter-American Council, Senator Kenneth B. Keating (R-N.Y.) praised President John F. Kennedy's prompt action in the Cuban Missile Crisis, but he said there was an urgent need for the United States to plug the "credibility gap" in U.S. policy on Cuba.[7] It was popularized in 1966 by J. William Fulbright, a Democratic Senator from Arkansas, when he could not get a straight answer from President Johnson's Administration regarding the war in Vietnam.[8]

"Credibility gap" was first used in association with the Vietnam War in the New York Herald Tribune in March 1965, to describe then-president Lyndon Johnson's handling of the escalation of American involvement in the war. A number of events—particularly the surprise Tet Offensive, and later the 1971 release of the Pentagon Papers—helped to confirm public suspicion that there was a significant "gap" between the administration's declarations of controlled military and political resolution, and the reality. These were viewed as examples of Johnson's and later Richard Nixon's duplicity. Throughout the war, Johnson worked with his officials to ensure that his public addresses would only disclose bare details of the war to the American public. During the war the country grew more and more aware of the credibility gap especially after Johnson's speech at Johns Hopkins University in April 1965.[9] An example of public opinion appeared in The New York Times concerning the war. "The time has come to call a spade a bloody shovel. This country is in an undeclared and unexplained war in Vietnam. Our masters have a lot of long and fancy names for it, like escalation and retaliation, but it is a war just the same." - James Reston.

The advent of the presence of television journalists allowed by the military to report and photograph events of the war within hours or days of their actual occurrence in an uncensored manner drove the discrepancy widely referred to as "the credibility gap."

Later usage

After the Vietnam War, the term "credibility gap" came to be used by political opponents in cases where an actual, perceived or implied discrepancy existed between a politician's public pronouncements and the actual, perceived or implied reality. For example, in the 1970s the term was applied to Nixon's own handling of the Vietnam War[10] and subsequently to the discrepancy between evidence of Richard Nixon's complicity in the Watergate break-in and his repeated claims of innocence.

Since 2017, the term has been used to describe the Trump administration, particularly in relation to the use of what White House Counsel Kellyanne Conway called alternative facts.[2][3]


  1. ^ Rouse, Robert (March 15, 2006). "Happy Anniversary to the first scheduled presidential press conference - 93 years young!". American Chronicle. Archived from the original on September 13, 2008.
  2. ^ a b Hohmann, James (February 15, 2017). "The Daily 202: It's bigger than Flynn. New Russia revelations widen Trump's credibility gap". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Credibility gap: Our view". USA Today. January 23, 2017. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
  4. ^ Preble, Christopher A. (December 2003). ""Who Ever Believed in the 'Missile Gap'?": John F. Kennedy and the Politics of National Security". Presidential Studies Quarterly. 33 (4): 801–826. doi:10.1046/j.0360-4918.2003.00085.x.
  5. ^ Dr. Strangelove - TV Tropes
  6. ^ Gunn, Bernard Grun (2005). The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events (4 ed.). Touchstone. ISBN 9780743270038.
  7. ^ (Source: Associated Press article dated December 10, 1962, available online at
  8. ^ "1966 Year in Review". UPI. 1966. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  9. ^ Vietnam and America edited by Marvin E. Gettleman, Jane Franklin, Marilyn Young and H. Bruce Franklin
  10. ^ "Again, the Credibility Gap?". Time. April 5, 1971.
1929 in radio

The year 1929 in radio involved some significant events.

1968 in radio

The year 1968 saw a number of significant events in radio broadcasting history.

1998 in radio

The year 1998 in radio involved some significant events.

Blue Thumb Records

Blue Thumb Records was an American record label founded in 1968 by Bob Krasnow and former A&M Records executives Tommy LiPuma and Don Graham. Blue Thumb's last record was released in 1978.

Carla Marinucci

Carla Marinucci is a political reporter for Politico, formerly of the San Francisco Chronicle, specializing in California state gubernatorial politics and national politics. Marinucci is a veteran California political reporter and has also covered business and crime in the past for the Contra Costa Times and The San Francisco Examiner. She has won more than two dozen national and state awards. Marinucci has broken numerous national political news stories, including about California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. She also appears frequently on the PBS Public Television show This Week in Northern California in the San Francisco Bay Area and has appeared several times on Hardball with Chris Matthews.She received international attention in April 2011 after posting a video on the internet of Barack Obama saying US Army Private Chelsea Manning (then known as Bradley) "broke the law". Supporters of Manning accused Obama of jeopardising Manning's chances of receiving a fair trial. Marinucci was punished by the White House, which withdrew her privileges. The White House was then accused of hypocrisy. The San Francisco Chronicle accused the White House of a "credibility gap on press coverage".

Marinucci also appears on the Ronn Owens KGO talk show in San Francisco.

Marinucci is married to fellow Bay Area journalist Roland De Wolk and has two sons.

Five O'Clock Follies

The Five O'Clock Follies is a sobriquet for military press briefings that occurred during the Vietnam War. Richard Pyle, Associated Press Saigon bureau chief during the war, described the briefings as, "the longest-playing tragicomedy in Southeast Asia's theater of the absurd."The briefings occurred in Saigon's Rex Hotel, and journalists alternately cracked cynical jokes and shouted at officials, often complaining about a credibility gap between official reports and the truth. Public affairs officer, Barry Zorthian, led the briefings. He once lamented that where the US government's word was once true until proven false, in Vietnam, it would be questioned until proven true.Journalists updated the name during the Gulf War. Press briefings at that time were unofficially known as the "Four O'Clock Follies."


A gatekeeper is a person who controls access to something, for example via a city gate. In the late 20th century the term came into metaphorical use, referring to individuals who decide whether a given message will be distributed by a mass medium.

Harry Shearer

Harry Julius Shearer (born December 23, 1943) is an American actor, voice actor, comedian, writer, musician, radio host, director and producer. Born in Los Angeles, California, Shearer began his career as a child actor. From 1969 to 1976, Shearer was a member of The Credibility Gap, a radio comedy group. Following the breakup of the group, Shearer co-wrote the film Real Life with Albert Brooks and started writing for Martin Mull's television series Fernwood 2 Night.

Shearer was a cast member on Saturday Night Live between 1979 and 1980, and 1984 and 1985. Shearer co-created, co-wrote and co-starred in the 1984 film This Is Spinal Tap, a satirical rockumentary, which became a cult hit. In 1989, he joined the cast of the animated sitcom The Simpsons; he provides voices for characters including Mr. Burns, Waylon Smithers, Principal Skinner, Ned Flanders, Reverend Lovejoy, Kent Brockman, Dr. Hibbert and more. Shearer has appeared in films including A Mighty Wind and The Truman Show, and has directed two, Teddy Bears' Picnic and The Big Uneasy. He has written three books. Since 1983, Shearer has been the host of the public radio comedy/music program Le Show, incorporating satire, music, and sketch comedy.

Shearer has won a Primetime Emmy Award, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the radio category, and has received several other Emmy and Grammy Award nominations. He has been married to singer-songwriter Judith Owen since 1993. He is currently "artist in residence" at Loyola University, New Orleans.

Irwin (surname)

Irwin is an Irish, Scottish, and English surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Alexander Irwin (died 1752), British Army officer

Alexander J. Irwin (1799–1843), United States territorial legislator

Andy Offutt Irwin, an American storyteller and singer/songwriter

Arthur Irwin (1858–1921), a Canadian-American shortstop and manager in Major League Baseball

Ashton Irwin (born 1994), Australian drummer in the band 5 Seconds of Summer

Barney Irwin, a professional wrestler

Bill Irwin (born 1950), American actor and clown

Charles Irwin (1824–1873), an Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross

Clint Irwin (born 1989), an American soccer goalkeeper

Denis Irwin (born 1965), a former Irish football player

Elaine Irwin, a former American supermodel and current spokeswoman for Almay Cosmetics

Frederick Irwin (1788–1860), an acting Governor of Western Australia

George Rankine Irwin (1907–1998), an American scientist specializing in fracture mechanics

Hale Irwin (born 1945), American golfer

Heath Irwin (born 1973), American football player (nephew of Hale)

Herbert Carmichael Irwin (1894–1930), an Irish-born aviator and athlete

Inez Haynes Irwin (1873–1970), an American feminist author

J. David Irwin, an Electrical Engineering Educator

James Irwin (disambiguation), several people

James Bruce Irwin (1921–2012), New Zealand botanist

Sir James Murray Irwin (1858–1938), a British Army doctor who served in Sudan, the Boer War and the Great War

Jared Irwin (1750–1818), a former Governor of Georgia

Jeff Irwin, an American musician

John N. Irwin (1844 – 1905), American politician and Governor of Idaho Territory (1883) and Arizona Territory (1890–2)

John N. Irwin, II (1913 – 2000), American diplomat

Julia Irwin, an Australian politician

Julienne Irwin, an American singer

Kenny Irwin, Jr. (1969–2000), a NASCAR Winston Cup driver and 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year.

Les Irwin (1898–1985), an Australian politician

Lew Irwin, a radio broadcaster and founder of The Credibility Gap.

Malcolm Robert Irwin (1897–1987), American immunogeneticist

May Irwin (1862–1938), an actress, singer and major star of vaudeville

Michael Irwin (disambiguation), several people

Noel Irwin (1892–1972), a British World War II general

Patrick Henry Irwin (1837–1908), an American self-taught civil engineer and surveyor.

Robert Irwin (disambiguation), several people

Scott Irwin, a professional wrestler and brother of Bill Irwin

Steve Irwin (1962–2006), an Australian conservationist and television personality

Bob Irwin (born c. 1940), Steve's father, an Australian naturalist

Terri Irwin (born 1964), Steve's widow, an American-born naturalist

Bindi Irwin (born 1998), Steve and Terri's daughter, an Australian television personality

Robert Irwin (born 2003), Steve and Terri's son, an Australian television personality

Steve Irwin, an Australian rugby league footballer

Stu Irwin (1903–1967), an American actor

William Irwin (disambiguation), various people named William or Bill Irwin

Edward Frederick Lindley Wood, created Baron Irwin in 1926

John Gilliland

John Sanford Gilliland, Jr. (October 18, 1935 – July 27, 1998) was an American radio broadcaster and documentarian best known for the Pop Chronicles music documentaries and as one of the original members of The Credibility Gap. He was born and died in his hometown of Quanah, Texas. He worked for a number of radio stations in Texas and California including KOGO in San Diego (1961–1965), KRLA 1110 in Los Angeles (1965–1970), and KSFO (AM) in San Francisco (1971–1978).


KMET was a Los Angeles FM radio station owned by Metromedia (hence the "MET" in its call sign) that broadcast at 94.7 MHz, beginning in June 1968. It signed off on February 14, 1987. The station, nicknamed "The Mighty Met" (among other nicknames), was a pioneering station of the "underground" progressive rock format.

KPPC (defunct)

KPPC-FM was a Pasadena, California FM radio station best known during the period 1967–1971, when it was one of the leading "underground" radio stations in the United States, presenting a freeform mixture of experimental and historical music with countercultural ideas. In contrast to the dominant Top 40 format, each KPPC disc jockey selected his own music, which would veer between genres, including rock and roll, folk music, blues and comedy.

Hosts included B. Mitchel Reed, Steven Segal (a.k.a. "The Obscene Steven Clean;" not related to the similarly named actor), Susan Carter (a.k.a. "Outrageous Nevada"), Barbara Birdfeather, Jeff Gonzer (a.k.a. "Bonzo" Gonzer), Tom Donahue, Program Director (2014 Rock Radio Hall of Fame inductee) and DJ Les Carter, novelty music historian Dr. Demento, Charles Laquidara, Ted Alvy (a.k.a. "Cosmos Topper"), Elliot Mintz (whose late-night Sunday show played everything from Baba Ram Dass lectures to listener-created recordings), blues archivist Johnny Otis, comedy troupes The Credibility Gap (featuring Harry Shearer, Richard Beebe, David L. Lander, Michael McKean), and The Firesign Theatre. Station promos were sung by the a cappella singing group The Persuasions. Other staff members included: Don Hall, Larry Woodside, DJ and production wizard Zachary Zenor, Joe Rogers (a.k.a. Mississippi Fats), Sam Kopper, Steve Fasching (a.k.a. "Stereo Steve"), the Pierce Family, and Ron Johnson (a.k.a. "Dr. Sound").

KPPC (AM) was also a Pasadena, California AM Christian radio station from 1924 until September 1996.


KRDC (1110 AM) is a family-targeted country-formatted broadcast radio station licensed to Pasadena, California, serving the Greater Los Angeles Area. The station is owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company. The KRDC broadcast license is held by ABC Radio Los Angeles Assets, LLC.KRDC, formerly Radio Disney station KDIS, was broadcast in the HD (hybrid) format until late 2014 when all Radio Disney affiliates were sold except for the Los Angeles station which returned to analog transmissions. KRDC is still licensed for digital (HD) operation.1110 AM is a United States clear-channel frequency.

Len Chandler

Leonard Hunt Chandler, Jr. (born May 27, 1935), better known as Len Chandler, is a folk musician from Akron, Ohio.

Lew Irwin

Lew Irwin has been a Los Angeles-based journalist for more than 50 years. He was the original anchor/reporter at KABC-TV from 1957–1962 and the news director of Los Angeles radio stations KPOL, KRLA, KDAY, and KNX-FM. While at KRLA in the late 1960s, he created The Credibility Gap, a 15-minute news program, broadcast every three hours, that integrated topical satire and music with the news. He also has interviewed Presidents Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan, as well as such show business personalities as The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, David Bowie, Peter Sellers, Jack Nicholson, Dick Clark and Elvis Presley. He is the author of Sinatra, a Life Remembered, a coffee table book about Frank Sinatra and since 1992 has been the publisher/editor of the daily entertainment industry digest Studio Briefing.

R. W. Goodwin

Robert W. Goodwin (born 1943), billed as R. W. Goodwin, is an Australian-born American television producer and director best known for his work as senior executive producer of The X-Files. He lives in Bellingham, Washington.He also directed and produced the 2009 low-budget independent feature Alien Trespass.

Richard Beebe

Richard Paul Beebe (December 5, 1929 – August 29, 1998) was an American radio personality who was on the air for five decades in Los Angeles and won two Golden Mic Awards. A founding member of The Credibility Gap, his experience and wit were key to most versions of the group. He was an original Beatnik still working and being creative in the late 1960s when he discovered Harry Shearer, David L. Lander, and Michael McKean, all much younger than he. Most of their early work can be heard at The Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles and New York City.

Beebe performed the voice of Dewey Phillips on the Pop Chronicles documentary.An Air Force veteran, he died of lung cancer in 1998.

The Credibility Gap

The Credibility Gap was a satirical comedy team active from 1968 through 1979. They emerged in the late 1960s delivering comedic commentary on the news for the Los Angeles AM rock radio station KRLA 1110, and proceeded to develop more elaborate and ambitious satirical routines on the "underground" station KPPC-FM in Pasadena, California.

Founded as a loose collective centered on KRLA staff members Lew Irwin, John Gilliland, Thom Beck, Richard Beebe, and folk singer Len Chandler, the group is chiefly remembered today for its 1971–79 lineup, comprising Beebe, Harry Shearer, David L. Lander and Michael McKean.

Thom Beck

Thom Beck was a founding member of The Credibility Gap while at KRLA 1110 radio, where he also narrated part of the Pop Chronicles. He was also a disc jockey at KRLA and KIIS. He is deceased.

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