April 15, 2017

Graphic Fail: USA Today Thought MOAB Was Almost As Destructive as Hiroshima A-Bomb

On Thursday, the U.S. military dropped a MOAB (Mother Of All Bombs) on an ISIS tunnel complex in Nangahar Province in Afghanistan. Shortly after that, USA Today posted a breathtakingly ignorant graphic purporting to show that the MOAB contained over 70 percent of the destructive force of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.

This epic fail occurred even though the following comparison was known early on:

The MOAB has the force of 11 tons of TNT. For comparison, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 had the force of 15 thousand tons of TNT.

The destructive force of the MOAB dropped on ISIS therefore had 0.07 percent of the force of the first A-bomb.

That comparison was totally lost on the graphic-creating wizards at USA Today and its alleged layers of editors and fact-checkers (HT Washington Free Beacon; red box is mine):


The graphic appeared at USA Today’s original published story on the attack for several hours, but has since been corrected to indicate that the Hiroshima A-bomb had the force of 15 kilotons of TNT.

Given the genuine comparison, though, the real question is why the post-correction graphic remains. In the words of one commenter at the story who was one of the first to point out the original graphic’s error:

Someone should contact the author and let them know their research is whacked. The Hiroshima bomb was 15,000 tons of TNT equivalent, compared to 11 tons for the MOAB. That makes it less that 1/1000th as big. It’s disingenuous to compare the two. The MOAB is just a really, really big conventional bomb.

It is indeed disingenuous to compare the two — unless the goal, even after the correction, was to somehow create a false equivalence between a conventional bomb which reportedly killed almost 100 in an attack targeting enemy combatants and an atomic bomb which leveled an entire city, killed 90,000 – 146,000 of its inhabitants, and left thousands of others with life-shortening and deeply life-affecting burns and radiation-caused illnesses.

USA Today’s error gives away the fact that someone there actually believed that the U.S. military under Donald Trump — but not requiring his permission — dropped a bomb 73 percent as destructive as the Hiroshima A-bomb. Further, those involved in reviewing the graphic before or perhaps immediately after it went live, which one would hope included reporters Jim Michaels and Tom Vanden Brook, either agreed with that comparison or were too naive to question it.

In other words, there is every reason to believe that Trump Derangement Syndrome — originally betrayed when USA Today’s Editorial Board broke a since-inception 34-year tradition of abstaining from presidential election recommendations by declaring the Republican nominee “unfit for the presidency” — is thriving at the enterprise which pretends to be “The Nation’s Newspaper.”

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.



  1. Good story, but you have to be careful with the statistics of how many died from the atomic bomb droppings in Hiroshima, the official estimates have been colored by the Japanese government for years to make them as high as possible to vilify the US. Also, the lifespan of the atomic bomb survivors has been shown to be about the average for Japan, casting doubt on the idea that radiation after the fact was responsible for mass amounts of disease.

    Comment by zf — April 15, 2017 @ 11:57 am

  2. Well, I do see estimates here that are lower (66K for Hiroshima, 39K for Nagasaki):

    This link quotes nearly the same numbers but then notes that “The subsequent, short-term death toll rose significantly due to the effects of radiation and wounds” without citing numbers:

    I’d say the low end presented in the post for Hiroshima is probably fine, and that the high end may be exaggerated. That said, how do you get an accurate count in a relatively primitive situation of all those who immediately vanished?

    Comment by Tom — April 15, 2017 @ 12:52 pm

  3. #2, I was referring more in the long term to deaths attributed to the bombings years later, when virtually any death from cancer or the like in Nagasaki and Hiroshima no matter how old the deceased was was blamed on the bombs to make the US look as bad as possible. In the years shortly after the war, however, my impression is that most Japanese were thankful that we had rid them of the Imperial military dictators, ended the war, and were spending so much time and effort to rebuild their country to harbor too much resentment.

    Speaking of inaccurate data, MoveOn claimed after the MOAB was dropped that it cost 300 million. Wow, not even close.

    Comment by zf — April 15, 2017 @ 2:36 pm

  4. I did a post on the cost calamity Sunday afternoon. What a joke.

    I think the Japanese view of Americans is still generally pretty good, and that’s based on some personal knowledge. There was a point in time in the early 1990s when some of their more aggressive businesspeople thought they would kick our proverbial butts, but the past two decades of Keynesian screwups have been quite humbling. They’re still considered pretty good companies to work for here in the U.S.

    Comment by Tom — April 17, 2017 @ 12:09 am

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