The New York Times refuses to correct an unambiguous error:
The centerpiece of the photograph . . . shows a naked child, screaming in pain as she fled an aerial napalm attack near a village in South Vietnam. . . The Times described the image as “the aftermath of one of the thousands of bombings in the countryside by American planes: a group of terror-stricken children fleeing the scene, a girl in the middle of the group screaming and naked, her clothes incinerated by burning napalm.”
But as I pointed out in an email sent to the Times soon after the obituary was published, the aircraft that dropped the napalm wasn’t American; it was South Vietnamese.
The newspaper’s assistant obituary editor, Peter Keepnews, replied to me on May 22, stating in an email:
“You are correct that the bombing in question was conducted by the South Vietnamese Air Force. However, the obituary referred only to ‘American planes,’ and there does not seem to be any doubt that this plane was American –- a Douglas A-1 Skyraider, to be precise.”
As if the aircraft’s manufacturer were a crucial element in the napalm strike by the South Vietnamese.
UPDATE (8/29): The NYT belatedly, half-heartedly corrects. They stick with the it-was-an-American-plane-because-Americans-built-it argument, but at least they put the facts in front of the reader. Two-and-a-half weeks later.