Before I get to the Associated Press and its vile decision to publish an embedded photographer’s image of a dying Marine in Afghanistan over the objections of the Marine’s family and the Pentagon, I want to remind you that we’ve been down this disgusting road before.
In February 2007, the New York Times published an embedded staff team’s photograph and videotape of a Texas soldier dying in Iraq. The solider was Army Staff Sgt. Hector Leija and his personal motto was “Bound by Honor”–a foreign concept at the NYTimes. As I noted at the time, embeds are required to read and agree to a clear set of ground rules forbidding release of names and video of wounded service members without their prior consent . I know, because I had to sign the forms when I embedded in Baghad in January 2007:
But ambitious, agenda-driven members of the MSM don’t let rules or wishes get in the way of a good story.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates is objecting “in the strongest terms” to an Associated Press decision to transmit a photograph showing a mortally wounded 21-year-old Marine in his final moments of life, calling the decision “appalling” and a breach of “common decency.”
The AP reported that the Marine’s father had asked – in an interview and in a follow-up phone call — that the image, taken by an embedded photographer, not be published.
The AP reported in a story that it decided to make the image public anyway because it “conveys the grimness of war and the sacrifice of young men and women fighting it.”
The photo shows Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard of New Portland, Maine, who was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in a Taliban ambush Aug. 14 in Helmand province of southern Afghanistan, according to The AP.
Gates wrote to Thomas Curley, AP’s president and chief executive officer. “Out of respect for his family’s wishes, I ask you in the strongest of terms to reconsider your decision. I do not make this request lightly. In one of my first public statements as Secretary of Defense, I stated that the media should not be treated as the enemy, and made it a point to thank journalists for revealing problems that need to be fixed – as was the case with Walter Reed.”
“I cannot imagine the pain and suffering Lance Corporal Bernard’s death has caused his family. Why your organization would purposefully defy the family’s wishes knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish is beyond me. Your lack of compassion and common sense in choosing to put this image of their maimed and stricken child on the front page of multiple American newspapers is appalling. The issue here is not law, policy or constitutional right – but judgment and common decency.”
Contact the Associated Press:
450 W. 33rd St.
New York, NY 10001
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