Claim: In 1941, newsman Edward R. Murrow penned a piece about the need for restraint in the American response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
What Should We Do?
By Edward R. Murrow
December 8, 1941
President Roosevelt will call for a joint session of Congress today to discuss yesterday's bombing of Pearl Harbor and the reported loss of 2,400 Americans. I can report that our commander-in-chief is calm and will not ask for a precipitous "outright" declaration of war against the Japanese, but instead leans toward a general consensus to "hunt down the perpetrators" of this act of "infamy." Speaking for the Congress, Senator Arthur Vandenberg promised bipartisan support to "bring to justice" the Japanese pilots. Many believe that the "rogue" airmen may well have flown from Japanese warships. In response, Secretary of War Stimson is calling for "an international coalition to indict these cowardly purveyors of death," and will shortly ask the Japanese imperial government to hand over the suspected airman from the Akagi and Kaga — "and any more of these cruel fanatics who took off from ships involved in this dastardly act." Assistant Secretary Robert Patterson was said to have remarked, "Stimson is madder than hell — poor old Admiral Yamamato has a lot of explaining to do."
[. . .]
Origins: No, this isn't a vintage 1941 piece by famous newsman Edward R. Murrow. Once again, more than a few Internetters have been fooled by the appearance in their inboxes of a clever piece of satire stripped of its attribution and other identifying information.
This article is a speculative piece titled "What If?: Rethinking 1941 with Edward R. Murrow" by writer Victor Davis Hanson, which was published on 27 September 2001 in the conservative journal National Review. Hanson has used the conceit of Murrow's reporting on American reaction to Pearl Harbor in 1941 as a framework for lampooning calls for understanding and cautious diplomacy rather than military action in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.