The last daily newspaper I had the privilege of running in the 1990s was the Sacramento Union, the former home of some distinguished writers – from Mark Twain, who got his professional start there, to Bret Hart and a man who became a journalistic institution later at the San Francisco Chronicle, Herb Cain.
It was my task to save to the Union, then the oldest daily West of the Mississippi, from extinction as it battled the flagship of the McClatchy chain, the Sacramento Bee.
The founder of the McClatchy chain, I discovered while serving as editor in chief of the Union, had dedicated, in the codicil of his will, in perpetuity, that the Bee remain committed to promoting the public ownership of all private corporations – all, of course, except his family’s own private corporation.”
I grew to detest the Bee. After resigning from the Union years before it folded, however, the Bee invited me to be a periodic columnist, as did another hated rival from years earlier, the Los Angeles Times. That was still back in the day when newspapers were self-conscious about offering only the thoughts of certified “progressives” like the kind that dominated newsrooms.
So not having experienced the Bee in so long, I decided to take a stroll down memory lane and see what the paper was writing about these days.
I ran smack-dab into a piece reminding readers about the nasty business of Japanese internment camps 75 years ago. I read it with great interest to see if the Bee remembered who was one of the loudest voices championing the roundups of Japanese Americans near the start of World War II. I don’t mean the very “progressive” President Franklin Roosevelt, who ordered them. I meant V.S. McClatchy, the publisher of the Sacramento Bee.
I guess the Bee staff conveniently forgot that little factoid.
Here it is: “In the early 20th century, the influential Sacramento Bee publisher V.S. McClatchy warned that according to Japanese racial doctrine, blood trumped geography, and thus, Japanese Americans could never be loyal to the United States. That doctrine, he said, was being taught at the language schools to which Japanese sent their children across the United States. Japanese Americans, he argued, ‘plan to serve the ambition of Japan in world subjection as taught in her religion and in her schools.’ When Japan struck Pearl Harbor, this long-running campaign of denationalization provided the intellectual foundation for internment.”
“Conveniently forgetful news” can be found every day in every big “progressive” news outlet.
It takes the form of applying different standards to those who share one’s own ideological disposition.
You’ve seen it: Barack Obama did much that was “conveniently forgotten,” but when Donald Trump does the same thing it’s treated like a violation of the Constitution.
It’s so pervasive it would be impossible to chronicle – like “fake news.”
But one has to be really, really forgetful or embarrassingly ill-informed while commemorating the national disgrace of forced internment camps based only on one’s national heritage in a newspaper formerly run by one of America’s loudest anti-Japanese voices and not recall the role he and his media outlet played in the vicious injustice.
That’s more than an oversight.
It’s more than forgetfulness.
It’s more than poor research.
It’s more than bad institutional memory.
It’s an example of the scourge of the undetected, unnoticed journalistic pandemic of “conveniently forgotten news.”
By the way, the Bee also looks like it is living up to the will of its founder. It also remains hopelessly vitriolic toward free-market capitalism – except when it comes time to its own little monopoly interests.
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