Ed Kennedy's War: V-E Day, Censorship, and the Associated Press

By Cook, Russell | Journalism History, Summer 2012 | Go to article overview

Ed Kennedy's War: V-E Day, Censorship, and the Associated Press


Cook, Russell, Journalism History


Cochran, Julia Kennedy, ed. Ed Kennedy's War: V-E Day, Censorship, and the Associated Press. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2012. 248 pp. $34.95.

Ed Kennedy reported in Europe for die Associated Press from 1935 until Nazi Germany's capitulation to the United States Army on May 7, 1945. By his account, he was the most prolific journalist of World War II, having filed more dispatches and more scoops dian any other newsman in die European theater. Yet, the wire service forced his retirement at 40 under ignominious circumstances, and his memoirs did not find a publisher until 2012.

Kennedy's wartime memoirs debut in this edition, which is the seventh book in Louisiana State University Press' series, "From Our Correspondent," and is dedicated to forgotten works and unpublished memoirs by pioneering foreign correspondents. The series is edited by John Maxwell Hamilton, who was a distinguished foreign correspondent.

Kennedy's May 7, 1945, wire service dispatch announcing the end of the European war was published by thousands of newspapers and broadcast stations around the world, making it possibly the most important news bulletin in the history of journalism. However, Allied military authorities censured Kennedy for violating an embargo on the news, which was delayed by President Harry Truman to allow the Soviet Army to announce the peace on the next day. Competing correspondents, such as United Press International's Walter Cronkite, howled protests of cheating. The president of the Associated Press, Robert McLean, publically expressed the company's regret for Kennedy's sending his dispatch before the military embargo was lifted, effectively undercutting him before Kennedy had a chance to explain himself.

On grounds that the Allies had violated the embargo when the peace news was released via German radio prior to Kennedy's dispatch, Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight Eisenhower subsequently exonerated him and reinstated his journalistic credentials. Neverdieless, the controversy ended his career with the Associated Press at the zenith of his powers. He returned to the United States, declined numerous big media offers, and chose to finish his newspaper career as editor and publisher of the Monterey (California) Peninsula Herald, where he served with great distinction until his death in 1963.

For his part, Kennedy did not harbor a grudge over his fate, which had journalistic ethics winning out over expethency. "My vindication was evidence, of course, that if the AP had supported me instead of allowing itself to be panicked into a cowardly retreat, it would have come through with flying colors." On his office wall, he kept a framed copy of his May 7, 1945, bulletin published on the front page of the New York Times. …

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