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SHAME – Associated Press – SHAME

September 4, 2009

The recent decision by the Associated Press to publish a specific picture of a young wounded Marine, who later died of these wounds in the hospital, has galvanized the military community in a way I haven’t seen in a very long time. The family of Lance Corporal Bernard specifically requested, in an interview, and phone call, that this image NOT be published. This is the stand taken by Secretary of Defense Gates in the recent Dover decision, if the family says no, that means NO. SecDef Gates also requested that it not be published, when contacted by the family.

“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.”

The Associated Press, in an appalling lack of respect for the family, lack of respect for the military community, showing a complete disregard for common decency, decided to publish it anyway. They claimed they needed it because

We feel it is our journalistic duty to show the reality of the war there, however unpleasant and brutal that sometimes is

The Huffington Post has seen fit to post this image also – and I for one am horrified that they would do this. (and no, I won’t link to it, that image does NOT need to be here) There are thousands and thousands of other images, that don’t zero in on one particular man, that can show us all what is happening in Afghanistan. To publish this is a slap in the face to the Bernard Family, and to the rest of the families of the military, amongst whom I am proud to stand.

This will now put into further question the entire embed program. The Secretary said it well, the press has been seen as the enemy by many in this military community, the AP and Huffington Post just solidified that opinion. How stupidly shortsighted this decision was. How hurtful.

To Lance Corporal Bernard’s family and friends, please accept the condolences of everyone here at Left Face.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 4, 2009 3:36 pm

    Once I calm down enough to write coherently, I’ll be sending a letter to the head of AP to express my displeasure and disgust. His name and headquarters address follow.

    Thomas Curley, President and CEO
    Associated Press
    450 W. 33rd St.
    New York, NY 10001

  2. snarkynavywife permalink*
    September 4, 2009 6:26 pm

    I have a question…does the AP care what we think? Or is it a better use of our time to go after folks like Huff-Po and tell them exactly what they can do with their website from here on out?

    Not sure how the end consumer fits into how the AP chooses to conduct business. I know the media outlets publishing this photo care when enough voices speak out. Of course, I’ll hit the AP as well once I’ve pulled back my f-bombs.

    (Thanks, Bette!)

  3. September 4, 2009 6:57 pm

    Interesting…two hours later and the photo has been taken off the lead on HUffPo…still there, but it is further down much more quickly than normal. Leave comments, folks!

  4. September 5, 2009 12:10 pm

    Thanks for the address, Bette. I’ll be sending a letter, too.

  5. Hagenmary permalink
    September 5, 2009 10:33 pm

    Thanks for the address. I’m sending it out to a bunch of like-minded folks, including my Blue Star Mothers group. If we don’t take a stand and let them know how disgusted we are by their actions, then we give consent by our silence. And I’m sick of being silent…it’s time to SCREAM!

  6. Phillip permalink
    June 7, 2010 2:14 pm

    It’s news, so it should be published. As it is, the American public is too distant from our wars, and in my opinion should be confronted with the sacrifices being made in their names.

    The Pentagon wants to limit publication of wounded because it would project a negative image and hurt recruitment.

    I know the families of the fallen are against it, but when their children lay down their lives for their country it is not an event that they personally own, because it’s done in all of our names and I believe people should have to see it.

    That might keep the pols from starting conflicts so flippantly.

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