24 Apr 2004 Coffin Photos
NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi points out the media has already shown its lack of respect for the dead:
The media’s zeal to publish photos of war dead returning to Dover Air Force Base has blown up in their faces as it is now being reported the photos of flag-draped coffins distributed by many news services are actually old photos of the late crew of the space shuttle Columbia.
The first Bush Administration banned the media from taking photos like these back in 1991 with good reason. In 1989 after the liberation of Panama and in 1991 during the first Gulf War, networks spliced images of the returning dead with the President joking around or relaxing. Intentional or not — and I believe it was intentional — it made the President look disrespectful. Either way, it was wrong, and it showed the media was not up to the somber responsibility of reporting on these activities. This ban was honored by both Clinton and the current President.
One of the employees who was fired for taking photos of returning caskets did so for the families of the dead. She wanted the families to know their loved ones were being treated with honor and respect rather than as luggage (if you want to see my point, try to catch a rerun of the new A&E show “Family Plots” where a mortician is shown stuffing a corpse — still in a body bag — into a casket and run out to a closed-casket burial they’d forgotten about). Instead of sharing this reverence, the media seems to be shouting, “Look! Dead bodies!” And, if you want to find a pattern of morbid behavior in the media, you need only remember earlier this week when CBS was criticized for showing death photos of England’s Princess Diana.
If the media wants to be reverent about our war dead, fine. But their current behavior proves the first Bush Administration was correct. They still haven’t learned their lesson and cannot be counted on to act mature.