Thursday, June 06, 2013

Today in 1943: Those pesky facts

In case you didn't think history had a habit of repeating itself, have a look at what the Association of Canadian Advertisers was being told, according to the June 6 Globe and Mail:

Mr. Clark* said he was making a "frank confession" on the subject, and declared that from now on the people will have to content themselves with being given less factual data and news about the size or operations of the Canadian fighting forces. This did not mean, he said, that the Government planned to clamp down on information "but it does mean that we have to become more sensibly cautious about the extent and nature of that information."

I'd complain about the deck a bit. It sounds to me as if he means less data, not fudged data, but he does think the government has been a little too generous:

... "In our anxiety to reassure the people of Canada I am  convinced now that we told them too much," the speaker continued. "I do not mean that it would be possible to keep the public too well informed -- far from it -- but I do mean that in keeping them informed, we also have kept the enemy informed."

The flip side of that view, coincidentally, had been the front page** precisely a year earlier:

Lieutenant-Colonel George A. Drew charged last night that "blood-curdling facts" had been withheld from the public in the report of Sir Lyman P. Duff, who conducted the Royal Commission inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the despatch of the Canadian expeditionary force to Hong Kong. Colonel Drew was the counsel for the Conservative House Leader R.B. Hanson at the inquiry.

And that's really the history of wartime press-public-politics relations in two headlines and a nutshell.
* PR director for the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force, per the lede.
** This is a Lesser Flying Verb; there's a 1A streamer about the battle at Midway with a deck on the Hong Kong hearing, attributed at the end to Drew. All the other heds above the fold (this is in columns 1-2, and the Midway story starts at 7-8) are active or passive.

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