It’s no secret mainstream journalists have a hard time describing complex realities with even remote accuracy. Today’s breed can’t even get history when it’s right at their fingertips on the web.
Best example, right now, Associated Press’s story on the disassembly of a large Cold War bomb, the B53.
The last of the nation’s most powerful nuclear bombs — a weapon hundreds of times stronger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima — is being disassembled nearly half a century after it was put into service at the height of the Cold War.
The final components of the B53 bomb will be broken down Tuesday at the Pantex Plant near Amarillo …
According to the American Federation of Scientists, it was 600 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, at the end of World War II.
The reporter, Betsy Blaney, gets the name of FAS wrong.
She neglects to mention the yield of the B53 — 9 megatons or the equivalent of 9 million tons of TNT. (By contrast, the Hiroshima bomb was 12-15 kilotons, or 12-15 thousand tons of TNT.)
The B53 was a thermonuclear device (which means fusion triggered by a fission “fuse”). The Little Boy at Hiroshima, as many know, was an atomic fission bomb. Details, but important ones and easy to make clear. There’s a big difference between the two, one obviously germane to the story of nuclear weaponry, a bit gone entirely missing from the Associated Press story.
AP’s story is so poor the best the reporter comes up with is a factoid about 300 lbs of explosive needing to be taken part. In a bomb that weighed 8-10 tons and blew up with the force of 9 megatons.
The news agency even failed at accurately doing the simplistic, “Hey, lookit the big old bomb!” story.