The Era of Disrespect and the Business of News

I hate to follow up all of the fluff posts on this blog with something so dark, but I sit here absolutely compelled to write about this. I arrived home this evening and did my usual search of the news. As I scrolled through, a story caught my eye. I am not going to mention the title or the news site, only because it serves to prove a point.

Today, September 4th, against the wishes of a father who recently lost his son, the Associated Press published a photo of a brave Marine’s last moments. This wasn’t a flag draped coffin. This picture depicts a man who has lost both of his legs, is bleeding out, and being dragged away by members of his squad.

I don’t care what your political leanings are regarding this ongoing war in Afghanistan. There are some things that should remain sacred. This Marine’s father watched his son volunteer to protect this country. How awful that the last image he has to remember him by is gruesome and the stuff made of nightmares. Any parent would be devastated to know their son died bravely. To add salt to the wound by publicly offering up such a horrid last moment is depraved and ultimately unjust.

If I were a betting woman, this is what happened:

As the AP was neatly wrapping up these photos with the word, “EMBARGO”, stamped on the front, some greedy bastard was licking his/her lips at the amount of hits and controversy these pictures would cause. Oh so clever, he/she prepares a bullshit, CYOA excuse if general reaction gets out of hand.

As I briefly discussed this with a good friend, he mentioned being torn. Sympathy for the family who lost their son vs. dealing with wars too easy for the American public.

I am sorry, but for me, there is no question in my mind that sympathy and respect for the family wins that argument every single time.

This Marine was a volunteer.  This Marine was fighting for you and for me. This Marine died for his country.

 The AP essentially wiped their ass with any thought of handling this in a professional and respectful way and then passed out the shit stained document like it was caviar.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree that as a country, with the recent exception of 9/11, we are relatively sheltered. We don’t seem to care about fighting or deaths unless it’s happening on our own soil. When news of casualties both innocent and coalition are reduced to footnotes on news broadcasts, only to be followed by a news story that flip- flops are out to kill you, its no wonder people have tuned out.

This isn’t an easy war. If newspapers and networks weren’t balancing budgets by playing the fear game, news would be news again. Instead, this war and probably any future war takes the back seat until spectacular and gruesome images just happen to be caught on film. Then we remember. Scratch that, then we are forced to remember.

If anything, the AP is counting on both sides of the political spectrum to attach themselves to this controversy. The AP is also counting on the darker side of human nature as well, hoping that as the story gains momentum, it will bring visitors to sites carrying the picture if only to sate morbid curiosity.

However, and I’m hoping there are more out there like me, who will be appalled that any semblance  of conscience has finally left our news agencies so eager to make a buck and win pretentious awards.

There is always a heavy cost to any war being fought. The war in Afghanistan is no different. The AP had the decision to run a story without the photo and to most of us, the ones who do care, it would have mattered. Just like it would have mattered to a devastated father and mother.

And the only reason it matters now is because this picture is nothing but propaganda and dollar signs.

Rest in peace, Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard. Truly, a most sincerest thank you for fighting and making the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

3 thoughts on “The Era of Disrespect and the Business of News

  1. Something like that is why I despite our local paper. A schoolmate committed suicide right before we were to graduate from college. Local paper the next day had a color picture of his half covered body lying along the bank of the river from which he was pulled, above the fold on the front page of the paper.

    Every time I walked past a paper box I cringed.

    The news media must realize that there are humans they are hurting when they oh so casually publish photos of the dead.

    I hope the bastards who made that decision rot in hell.

  2. Kate, an excellent piece. As you know, I have some ambivalence. I also have a reply, here, that I hope explains some of those conflicted feelings.

    Thank you for this piece, and also for bringing all this to my attention.

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