Gates Slams AP's Decision to Run Dying Marine's Photo

Agency says it sought to show 'reality of war'
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2009 1:02 PM CDT
This undated photo provided by the US Marine Corps shows Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard, 21, who was killed in Afghanistan Aug. 14.   (AP Photo/USMC)
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(Newser) – Robert Gates is blasting the Associated Press for transmitting a photo of a dying 21-year-old Marine against his family’s wishes, Politico reports. The defense secretary calls the decision “appalling.” In a letter to Thomas Curley, the AP’s president, Gates asked him to reconsider, citing “common decency.” The AP defended the distribution of the photo of Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard as part of its “journalistic responsibility to show the reality of the war” in Afghanistan.

"AP journalists document world events every day. Afghanistan is no exception,” said the wire service’s photo director. Nonetheless, many newspapers declined to run the photo, Editor and Publisher reports—though some did, often with explanations. “We believe that it is important for those of us for whom our soldiers, sailors, air crews and Marines serve to understand the sacrifices they make,” wrote the Wheeling, W. Va., Intelligencer of its decision to run the photo.