Is This The Most Horrible Thing Ever Done By American Television?

Probably not.  I'm sure the networks have confronted rape victims in ambush interviews, shown footage of weathermen being decapitated by tornado-propelled flying glass, and branded innocent men as terrorist murderers.

But this is … exceptional:

On May 11, 1955, before an audience of millions of viewers, a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing was shocked to receive a handshake from the co-pilot who flew the mission to destroy his city. This Is Your Life, the show that engineered this stunt, was an enormously popular “testimonial” program, but one that was frequently criticized for its tendency to go overboard in exploiting the emotional responses of its usually unwitting subjects. The Hiroshima episode is so far off the charts in this regard that—even today—it is unsettling to watch the one clip that is available online. …

In a maneuver typical of the middle America-catering show, Edwards took special care to point out to his millions of viewers the dual invocation of the almighty by the bomber and victim:

“And so, Reverend Tanimoto, you on the ground, and you on your military mission, Captain Lewis, in the air, both appeal to a power greater than your own. Almost at the same moment you both utter the same words: My God. Thank you, Robert Lewis, now personnel manager at Henry Heide Incorporated in New York City.”

Read on if you dare.


Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White


  1. CTrees says

    Pretty sure the most horrible thing ever done by American television networks is Jersey Shore.

    Just sayin'.

  2. Jag says

    I had never heard of Tanimoto or the Maidens, so if the legacy of that episode is that people learn about them, then I guess it had a positive effect.