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Sunday, August 2, 2020

History Channel Explores Atomic Bombings

Tonight at 9 ET (and might be 9 everywhere), History Channel airs one of the few streaming of network docs set for the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings.  Quite a contrast to the 50th anniversary, with its ultra-wide coverage, including a primetime ABC doc with Peter Jennings which dared to fully question the decision to use the bomb  (and Jennings was then fully roasted for it).   I will be fact-checking it as it rolls along, here and on Twitter, so check back to follow that, or after it.  (I have written hundreds of articles, and three books on the subject, including the new one,  The Beginning or the End: How Hollywood--and America--Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb).  Hopefully, the errors tonight will not be as obvious as they were in Chris Wallace's recent Fox special....

9:40 ET:    Ok, first real issue--they just passed off a March of Time newsreel re-creation of moments leading up to Trinity test (with Oppenheimer etc.) as the real thing, and even falsely labeled it as "Dept of Energy" film. 

9:50 ET    History Channel w/ cursory moment on scientists raising questions about using bomb but then the usual Official Narrative that Japan would only possibly quit if bomb used.

Also no mention of Russia entering war and Truman writing in diary "fini Japs" when that happened, even with bomb. 

Covers Potsdam ultimatum to Japan to surrender but no mention of those urging Truman signal emperor could remain after war--a key omission.

10:05  Film by now has fully endorsed "official narrative" bombing.   Japan now surrenders but still not a single mention of shock of Russia entering war or U.S. allowing emperor to remain--a combination that many believe, and believed, might have caused surrender in same time frame.   Plus nothing on major questions about Nagasaki as unnecessary, maybe a war crime--or fact only 200 military died there.  No mention of U.S. POWs perishing in Hiroshima.  

10:12    Nonsense claim that scientists had no idea radiation might draft to earth and imperil people but be blown away. Already at Trinity test they found severe effects nearby on ground.

10:20    I am more familiar with the color footage shot in Hiroshima and Nagasaki than anyone maybe--and I believe History Channel just added clouds of flies buzzing in front of cameras to illustrate what someone was saying.   

10:45   Landing again near end with full embrace (via Groves) that the bomb alone "ended the war" and save hundreds of thousands of American lives. No mention of any counter view, of course.  

11:00   Special ends with the usual cop-out: shows and talks to victims of bomb, stresses bombs should not be used again--but fully endorses their use in 1945, ignoring any evidence to contrary. Meaning they are more likely to be used again.  Few factual errors, not bad treatment of building of bomb and aftermath but horrid omissions in treatment of decision to use bomb and alternatives for ending war.

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