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  • Stanley Johnston's Blunder

  • The Reporter Who Spilled the Secret Behind the U.S. Navy's Victory at Midway
  • By: Elliot Carlson
  • Narrated by: Joe Barrett
  • Length: 10 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Military

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Publisher's Summary

In 1942 Stanley Johnston is embarked in the aircraft carrier USS Lexington during the Battle of the Coral Sea. In addition to recording the crew's doomed effort to save the ship, Johnston displays great heroism, earning the praise of the Lexington's senior officers. They even recommend him for a medal.

Then his story darkens. On board the rescue ship Barnett, Johnston is assigned to a cabin where messages from the Pacific Fleet commander, Admiral Chester Nimitz, are routinely, and carelessly, circulated. One reveals the order of battle of Imperial Japanese Navy forces advancing on Midway Atoll. Carlson captures the outrage among US Navy brass when they read the 7 June 1942 Chicago Tribune front-page headline, "Navy Had Word of Jap Plan to Strike at Sea." Admirals note that the information in the Tribune article parallels almost precisely the highly secret material in Nimitz's dispatch. They fear Japanese commanders will discover the article, grasp that their code has been cracked, and quickly change it, thereby depriving the US Navy of a priceless military asset.

Drawing on never-before-released testimony, Carlson takes listeners inside the grand jury room where jurors convened by the Roosevelt administration consider charges that Johnston violated the Espionage Act.

©2017 Elliot Carlson (P)2017 Tantor

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  • deb
  • 16-12-2017

Oh so many blunders! Which censors count?

Embedding reporters into military actions may not work out well and which censors should the news media report their work? Stanley Johnston and the Chicago Tribune sure stirred up the naval censors, Washington bureaucrats, FDR, and more in 1942. Elliot Carson masterfully tells the story of all of the people associated with the case of Stanley Johnston's time aboard the USS Lexington through the Battle of the Coral Sea, arrival back to the states and connecting with the home office of the Chicago Tribune with the tale of the battle. Little did the senior editor understand that the navy had separate censors from the bureaucrats in DC and that editorial license would land the reporter, the editor, and newspaper, and everyone associated with the ships and code breakers in hot water.

The grand jury inquiry, FBI, navy, and other records are woven into this story so well that people should wonder why this little scandal is not known today. Epilogues to stories like this one are so much fun to hear.

Take a listen. One might see some comparisons with situations from more current news items that involve military or national security.

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