Monday, September 07, 2009

The Ghouls at Associated Press

UPDATE 2: I removed the photo of photographer Julie Jacobson from this post even though it was printed in the Daily Mail article and therefore freely available. First, publishing her photo may cause Jacobson and her family distress. Second, it is not clear that Jacobson knew about the suffering publishing the photo caused the Bernard family. She never talked to them. The top brass at the Associated Press had all the information, and they are the culpable parties in this despicable, appalling action.

UPDATE: Here's a link to an audio interview with John Bernard. The deceptiveness of the Associated Press is revealed. John Bernard said that the photos AP showed him were "black and white" and "fuzzy". Not the color, high quality photos AP printed.

The Associated Press has sunk to a new low.

It has published a photo of a dying American soldier with one leg shot off and the other leg mangled. The Associated Press did this despite twice talking to Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard's family and being asked in strong terms not to publish the photo.
"While the story was being written, an AP reporter visited the home of John and Sharon Bernard to learn more about their son. The couple was shown Jacobson's pictures, and requested that they not be used. In a later fact-checking phone call, John Bernard asked in stronger terms that the photos not be used, Daniszewski said." (from AP's own account)

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was dismayed at the AP's decision to publish the photo. Gates pled both in a letter and follow up phone call that the AP have regard for Bernard's family in not publicly displaying young Bernard's final, anguished moments.
"Gates wrote a strongly worded letter to AP President and CEO Tom Curley on Thursday, saying it was a matter of "judgment and common decency" not to use the photo. A Pentagon spokesman said Gates followed up with a phone call "begging" Curley not to use it.
. . .

"Gates wrote that use of the photo of a wounded Bernard would mark an 'unconscionable departure' from the restraint that most journalists have shown in covering the military since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The AP did not change its decision.

"'Why your organization would purposely defy the family's wishes knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish is beyond me,' Gates wrote. '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 newspapers is appalling.'" (from AP's own account)

The Associated Press rejected Gates' plea.
"John Daniszewski, AP senior managing editor, said he respected Gates' view but that sometimes the government and press have different perspectives." (from AP's own account)

Whatever the AP thought about the government's view it also had a "different" perspective than Bernard's family and disregard for their grief.

AP also has a "different" perspective than most Americans who feel that showing the agony of someone's death to enhance a story sold to news outlets is contemptible.

The picture was taken with a long distance lens by AP photographer Julie Jacobson embedded with Bernard's unit in Afghanistan.
"It shows Bernard, 21, of New Portland, Maine, lying mortally wounded with one leg blown off and another badly mangled as his colleagues try in vain to save him."

Former Governor Sarah Palin, who knows what it is like to have a son serving in a dangerous theater of war, expressed a "different" perspective as well.

"Many of us join Secretary Gates in condemning the Associated Press for its heartless and selfish decision to turn its back on the wishes of a grieving family in order to exploit the tragic death of a true American hero.

"Lance Corporal Joshua 'Bernie' Bernard was a selfless young American who sacrificed everything for our freedom.

"Shame on the AP for purposely adding to the grieving family's pain. Ignoring the family's wishes by publishing a sacred image of their loved one proved a despicable and heartless act by the AP. The family said they didn't want the photo published. AP, you did it anyway, and you know it was an evil thing to do."

For the AP to ask the family twice and be asked in strong terms not to publish the photo, use the private information and photo the Bernard family gave, and then treat the family like garbage says volumes about the lack of integrity and human values of the Associated Press.

Also, consider the impact on the military unit AP reporters are embedded in. Not only do our brave military men and women have to worry about the enemy trying to kill them, but also about the reporter and photographer the government has assigned to their unit. In an already dangerous, stressful situation, our fighting men and women now have to worry that their families may soon be viewing illustrated stories with their mangled body being the photo headline of a nationally released story.

It is "appalling" (Secretary Gates) and "despicable and heartless" (Palin). But that's what making a buck is about for the AP.

H/T Drudge Report

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