U.S. Backs Down: CNN Can Do Its Job

Ken AshfordDisastersLeave a Comment

As reported here:

Rather than fight a lawsuit by CNN, the federal government abandoned its effort Saturday to prevent the media from reporting on the recovery of the dead in New Orleans.

Joint Task Force Katrina "has no plans to bar, impede or prevent news media from their news gathering and reporting activities in connection with the deceased Hurricane Katrina victim recovery efforts," said Col. Christian E. deGraff, representing the task force.

Glenn Reynolds had this to say (echoed by Powerline) about the media’s desire to show photos of dead bodies:

THE PRESS WANTS TO SHOW BODIES from Katrina. It didn’t want to show bodies, or jumpers, on 9/11, for fear that doing so would inflame the public.

I can only conclude that this time around, the press thinks it’s a good thing to inflame the public. What could the difference be?

Mmmm.  So when CNN wants to show dead bodies, they are doing it to "inflame the public".  That could be the only possible reason.

Let’s recall what Glenn said on September 13, 2003, when he explained why he posted a photo of a falling WTC "jumper":

"I think it’s important not to let the memory of that day be sanitized."

I’m not sure how 9/11 could ever be sanitized.  Most of us have indelible images in our minds of jets hitting skyscrapers, and the towers collapsing.  If those dramatic images alone don’t make 9/11 hit home, I don’t know what does.  At that point, throwing in photos of jumpers is simply sensationalism.

On the other hand, the Katrina disaster, which will probably claim twice as many lives (even with lowered estimates) as 9/11, already is being sanitized.  People on the right and left have been arguing and debating about the political implications, the issues of race, whether or not to rebuild New Orleans, etc.  We seem to forget (and I include myself) about the tragic loss of life.  Maybe a photo or two will remind us.

So I have a question for Glenn: if you don’t think tragedies should be sanitized, why aren’t you applauding the media for trying to do its job, rather than being critical of them?