The Associated Press apologized today for firing World War II correspondent Ed Kennedy after he broke a pledge of secrecy to break the news of the German surrender on May 7, 1945.
Did the people’s right to know the war was over in Europe trump the Allied chiefs’ plan to let Stalin stage his own Nazi surrender? What would you have done?
Here’s how the AP story on the apology explains the embargo: “British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Harry Truman had agreed to suppress news of the capitulation for a day, in order to allow Russian dictator Josef Stalin to stage a second surrender ceremony in Berlin.”
Kennedy, who was one of 17 correspondents allowed to witness the surrender in a French farmhouse at 2:41 a.m. on May 7, 1945, originally agreed to hold off on reporting it – as the other 16 did. But he then decided that the news was too big to be kept from the world for 36 hours, for the sake of staged politics.
For going around the military censors and reporting the the surrender a full day before anyone else, Kennedy was excoriated by the other correspondents, expelled from the European Theater and fired by the AP.
What would you have done then? What would you do in a comparable situation today?