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"The War Beat, Pacific: How the American News Media Went" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2022 9:10 p.m. PST

… to War Against Japan

"Even the barest outline of what had happened was enough to transform America.

The news broke of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor just after lunch on the East Coast. Within minutes, mayors had placed their cities on a war footing, FBI agents were rounding up Japanese Americans, and tearful families were gathering at train stations and bus depots as soldiers and sailors, their leaves canceled, headed off to fight. In Congress the next day, every legislator, bar one, voted for the declaration of war, while the Republican leadership pledged to adjourn politics "for the duration." One opinion survey found the nation "deeply resentful of the treachery." Another concluded that "commentators of all political hues are in agreement that the first Japanese bomb dropped upon Hawaii wrought suddenly the miracle which no amount of logic or persuasion had previously been able to achieve," making isolationism "the initial casualty of the war."

Yet Americans had received surprisingly little information about what had happened in Hawaii on Sunday, December 7, 1941. Early that afternoon, the Navy Department had instructed officers to "place naval censorship in effect." As a result of this order, one reporter had a news alert cut off halfway through transmission—although, he, like others in the US press corps scattered across the Pacific, did not initially mind. These correspondents recognized the extreme importance of denying operational information, including the numbers of ships sunk on battlefield row, to the marauding Japanese enemy. It was only over time, as the Navy persisted with its policy of super-strict censorship, that their frustration grew, especially once the military's concerted effort to control the flow of news was compounded by other problems…"
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