Pentagon Slams AP for Publishing Photo of Dying Marine

AP Defends Publication as Journalistic Duty

by Jason Ditz, September 04, 2009

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates publicly condemned the Associated Press today for the publication of a photograph taken by photographer Julie Jacobson, which depicts a wounded Marine, Corporal Joshua Bernard, who later died of his wounds.

Gates said the publication of the photo showed that the enormous news organization lacked “compassion and common sense” and said it was appalling that the photo was showed on the front page of a number of US newspapers. Gates did however concede that the AP was within its legal rights to publish the photo.

The commander of the American Legion also publicly condemned the release of the photograph, saying that the Marine’s killing in the Afghan War was “too private, too personal, and too tragic” to the made public by the media. He also called for the military to change the rules regarding embedded journalists to ensure that they were never allowed to publish such photos again.

The controversy appears to have been fueled in part because Cpl. Bernard’s father had asked that the photograph not be published. The Associated Press insists, however, that they have a responsibility to accurately cover the grim realities of the war, which has seen an increasing number of US soldiers slain.

The report is likely to draw further attention to the recent reports that the Pentagon has been “profiling” the reporters allowed to be embedded in Afghanistan, particularly with the American Legion’s call to further crack down on what the journalists are allowed to cover.

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