Remember when it was critically important that news media be able to cover and photograph the arrival of the caskets of dead soldiers when they arrived in the U.S.? This was so the public could be informed about the “human cost of war,” as though reporters knew something about the cost of war that the rest of us didn’t.
The military changed its policy to allow news coverage of returning caskets if the soldier’s family agrees. But, now that the Obama administration is responsible for the country’s wars, interest in this sort of coverage has waned considerably. Byron York investigates:
In April of this year, the Obama administration lifted the press ban, which had been in place since the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Media outlets rushed to cover the first arrival of a fallen U.S. serviceman, and many photographers came back for the second arrival, and then the third.
But after that, the impassioned advocates of showing the true human cost of war grew tired of the story. Fewer and fewer photographers showed up. “It’s really fallen off,” says Lt. Joe Winter, spokesman for the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where all war dead are received. “The flurry of interest has subsided.” …
“It seems that if the weather is nice, and it’s during the day, we get a higher level of media to come down,” says Lt. Winter. “But a majority of our transfers occur in the early evening and overnight.”
Nowadays, the Associated Press is usually the only organization that sends a reporter or photographer to Dover:
“It’s our belief that this is important, that surely somewhere there is a paper, an audience, a readership, a family and a community for whom this homecoming is indeed news,” says Paul Colford, director of media relations for AP. “It’s been agreed internally that this is a responsibility for the AP to be there each and every time it is welcome.”
Kudos to the AP for that. Otherwise, the media’s lack of interest in news that can no longer be used to discredit the Bush administration has become a familiar story.