Monday, March 30, 2009

Pearl Harbor Bombing

I looked at two articles that the New York Times posted in response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. This event is arguably what thrust America into WW2 and changed a series of events that followed. There were two times that I checked to see if the coverage was any different.  The first article I looked at was published in the NYT the following day and one that was published to weeks later.  The first article was titled: Entire City Put on War Footing.
This article was focused on the rounding up of Japanese in NYC.  It discussed persons of interest that could be Japanese loyalists. 
It mentioned suspicious activity occurring amongst small groups of Japanese in the city. One sentence actually insinuated that a Japanese businessman knew of the attack because he didn't renew his lease on the first of December.  The article referred to Japanese people being taken to Ellis island as prisoners -- that language, even though it may be true, makes it sound like they had been tried and convicted.  The language and insinuations make this piece seem very biased but there were efforts to get quotes and information from people brought to Ellis Island. The third person to arrive was quoted.  There was another problem though -- their were names of people who were brought to the internment camps that were not interviewed and that seemed prime for the possibility of blacklisting.  They weren't quoted and it didn't serve any other known purpose other than to list them as possible conspirators.  
The article did a good job of quoting public officials, even if the quote was that they couldn't comment at that time but they didn't contact or quote any non-detained Japanese people or any human rights representatives. 

The second article was a series of first-hand accounts on site from Pearl Harbor that piece together a timeline of what happened that morning.  It was titled: Torpedo Hit the Arizona First -- Navy Men of Pearl Harbor Say.
I was suspicious of this grouping of accounts because these people were spouting off percentage numbers and, while people do sort of see things like that, there is no precision or professional used to back up the approximations made by the officers.  One person claimed that 60% of the causalities were in one area and another said that 1,000 were wounded but these were officers and they were saying it in the recounting of the events rather than saying "we later found out" or "medical personal said" so there is some suspicion raised there.  Also no civilians or medical personal were added into this piece.  It also quotes the Navy having said something but not what branch of the Navy or what representative or when.  The story gives a fairly clear account of the morning but it raises more questions for me than it answered. It would have been a more balanced, full story if they let the people tell the story first-hand at the beginning then moved on to the provable facts given by officials and others that have been corroborated. 

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