Sunday, 9 August 2020

Of (atomic) bombs and (media) bias

Two new letters to the press, on the use of atomic bombs on Japan 75 years ago thi sweek, and the impact on the aircrew members of the bomber planes. The other on Labour's perennial problems with the biased media. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Phil Brand is right to point out (Morning Star, Letter, 8 August) that the airs crew of the planes (th “Enola Gay” and (that dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 had their reservations. But he is wrong to assert that this “has never been mentioned.” An article in a Japanese newspaper (in english) two years ago reported that tape recordings of testimonies by Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the Enola Gay aircraft hat transported and dropped the atomic bomb that immolated 200,000 civilians in Hirsoshima ( and with hi screw members) had been put on show at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. “Interview tapes of American airmen who dropped A-bomb on Hiroshima found” (Mainichi Shimbun, 4 August 2018; The records include 27 tapes spanning about 30 hours, and 570 pages of transcripts. The records contain vivid testimonies every crew member and have clear huge historic value. Anoother article (“The Crew of the Enola Gay on Dropping the Atomic Bomb” ( includes thes following testimonies: Captain Theodore Van Kirk, the plane’s navigator, said: “I pray no man will have to witness that sight again. Such a terrible waste, such a loss of life. We unleashed the first atomic bomb, and I hope there will never be another. I pray that we have learned a lesson for all time. But I'm not sure that we have.” Co-pilot Robert Lewis recorded in the official log of the mission "My God, what have we done." Later he explained, "I was dumbfounded. Remember, nobody had ever seen what an A-bomb could do before. ..there was almost no talk I can remember on our trip back to the base. It was just too much to express in words, I guess. We were all in a kind of state of shock. " Private Richard Nelson, Radar Operator, said: “"War is a terrible thing . It takes and it destroys. Anyone feels sorry for people who are killed. We are all human beings. “ Phil Morrison, a Los Alamos atomic weapons scientist on board as an observer said: “We stared in disbelief...there below was the flat level ground of what had been a city, scorched red..” Thirty years ago this week, on a visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki to attend ceremonies to mark the terrible few days when the world safety was changed for the worst forever, I met an old Japanese gentleman, who had survived both atomic bombs! He witnessed the first atomic bomb from the outskirts of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 ; in shock, he headed for his home city of Nagasaki, arriving on its outskirts in time to see the mushroom cloud rise a second tim, on 9th August. I was a very salutary and unforgettable meeting. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Larry Elliott asks plaintively: ‘why are voters not turning to Labour as the economy stalls?’(Comment, 7August) My answer is the malign media: mainly the tabloids ( minus the Mirror, but including the Times) and the Daily Boris cheerleading Torygraph . What happens is these billionaire propaganda playthings run endless puff stories praising the Tories, look for tiny political rifts in Labour and blow them up into mega conflicts. And continuously look for ways of politicising real, but minor anti-semitism with hugely inflated exaggeration. These distortions then set the political agenda for the more open minded serious press (ie your newspaper, the F.T., many regional papers ) and crucially the regulated broadcasters on TV and radio. The press operates in packs, feed off each other, and the readers, viewers and listeners end up with very homogenised - primarily right-leaning - reportage from all major media outlets. These views are then shared between consumers in pubs, in the supermarket, over the garden fence or between high rise balconies, at the school gate, and any number of other social gatherings. Meanwhile more critical narratives bounce around the digital media platforms, but often within very small bubbles, not impacting wider public information and opinion consumption. In this way , politicians can be- and are successfully demonised. For example, the number of people in vox pops coverage who strongly said they could never vote for Corbyn but can never have met or talked to him must be greater than 99% of interviewees. Where did they get the ammunition to dislike him( and Labour) so much? Not from personal knowledge. However diligent a political party’s media team may be, they cannot combat this overweening hostile dominance. Former Labour leader, Tony Blair recognised this early on in the mid 1990s, and as the recent TV series recalled, he courted the favour of media magnate Australian Rupert Murdoch (then owner of the Sun, The Times, the now defunct but best selling News of the World, and the expanding 24 hour Sky News), so he flew 13,000 miles to hob-nob with Murdoch’s News International empire on a private island off Queensland. It worked. As The Sun proudly gloated after Blair was victorious: ‘It was the Sun wot won it! Say no more. Simples, But can this rightist media stranglehold ever be broken in the 2020s?

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