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.

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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

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