In chapter 9 of Miracles and Massacres, Glenn Beck’s latest book, we learn the story of Iva Toguri, aka Tokyo Rose, an American citizen whose life was ruined during World War II after she was prosecuted as a traitor in a political decision made by the U.S. government. One aspect of the story that was left out of the book was how Toguri’s pardoning in 1977 – the last act of President Gerald Ford’s administration, almost three decades after initially being charged as a traitor – came to pass.
In a Blaze Books exclusive, we spoke with Ronald Yates, a former Chicago Tribune journalist, who was responsible for publishing the exposés in 1976 that ultimately helped Iva Toguri gain her pardon, and one of only a handful of people who became a close personal acquaintance with Toguri in her later years. This is our first story in a series based on our interview with him.
Ronald Yates, a Kansas City born former Chicago Tribune journalist, former Dean Emeritus of the College of Media at the University of Illinois and current author could not be more different than Iva Toguri, the Japanese-American whose life was turned completely upside down in the aftermath of World War II. Yet through a circuitous and fortuitous path, their two lives would become inextricably intertwined.
Yates joined the Chicago Tribune straight out of college in 1969-1970 where he worked as a general assignment reporter, getting his feet wet in various aspects of the newspaper business. By chance, in response to one of his early columns titled “Action Express,” Yates received a letter that would forever change his life. The letter stated: “I understand that the infamous Tokyo Rose lives in Chicago.”
The young journalist was struck by the message. Yates says “…like most people of my generation I grew up listening to and watching these old WWII movies in the ‘50s and ‘60s and she was always in these movies…somebody named Tokyo Rose was broadcasting to American troops, so I thought well this is an interesting idea, let me go talk to her.”
When Yates tracked Iva Toguri down to Toguri’s father’s store on the North Side of Chicago, his efforts to see her were in vain. He received the following message: “No, she won’t talk to the press.”
But Ronald Yates was not going to let the story die.