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AP Defends Photo Of Dying Marine

Here is a statement from the Associated Press from earlier this week, defending their despicable action:

Tom Curley, president and CEO of the Associated Press

AP and the Death of a Marine

September 3, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) — The Associated Press is distributing a photo of a Marine fatally wounded in battle, choosing after a period of reflection to make public an image that conveys the grimness of war and the sacrifice of young men and women fighting it.

Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard, 21, of New Portland, Maine, was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in a Taliban ambush Aug. 14 in Helmand province of southern Afghanistan.

The image shows fellow Marines helping Bernard after he suffered severe leg injuries. He was evacuated to a field hospital where he died on the operating table.

The picture was taken by Associated Press photographer Julie Jacobson, who accompanied Marines on the patrol and was in the midst of the ambush during which Bernard was wounded. She had photographed Bernard on patrol earlier, and subsequently covered the memorial service held by his fellow Marines after his death.

"AP journalists document world events every day. Afghanistan is no exception. We feel it is our journalistic duty to show the reality of the war there, however unpleasant and brutal that sometimes is," said Santiago Lyon, the director of photography for AP

Journalists embedded with U.S. forces in Afghanistan must sign a statement accepting a series of rules which among other things are designed to protect operational security and lives of the soldiers and Marines who are hosting them.

Critics also maintain some of the rules are aimed at sanitizing the war, minimizing the sacrifice and cruelty which were graphically depicted by images from the Civil War to Vietnam where such restrictions were not in place.

The rule regarding coverage of "wounded, injured, and ill personnel" states that the "governing concerns" are "patient welfare, patient privacy and next of kin/family considerations."

"Casualties may be covered by embedded media as long as the service member’s identity and unit identification is protected from disclosure until OASD-PA has officially released the name. Photography from a respectful distance or from angles at which a casualty cannot be identified is permissible; however, no recording of ramp ceremonies or remains transfers is permitted."

Images of U.S. soldiers fallen in combat have been rare in Iraq and Afghanistan, partly because it is unusual for journalists to witness them and partly because military guidelines have barred the showing of photographs until after families have been notified.

Jacobson, who was crouching under fire, took the picture from a distance with a long lens and did not interfere with Marines trying to assist Bernard.

The AP waited until after Bernard’s burial in Madison, Maine, on Aug. 24 to distribute its story and the pictures. An AP reporter met with his parents, allowing them to see the images.

Bernard’s father after seeing the image of his mortally wounded son said he opposed its publication, saying it was disrespectful to his son’s memory. John Bernard reiterated his viewpoint in a telephone call to the AP on Wednesday.

"We understand Mr. Bernard’s anguish. We believe this image is part of the history of this war. The story and photos are in themselves a respectful treatment and recognition of sacrifice," said AP senior managing editor John Daniszewski.

Thursday afternoon, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called AP President Tom Curley asking that the news organization respect the wishes of Bernard’s father and not publish the photo. Curley and AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll said they understood this was a painful issue for Bernard’s family and that they were sure that factor was being considered by the editors deciding whether or not to publish the photo, just as it had been for the AP editors who decided to distribute it

Later, when she learned he had died, Jacobson thought about the pictures she had taken.

"To ignore a moment like that simply … would have been wrong. I was recording his impending death, just as I had recorded his life moments before walking the point in the bazaar," she said. "Death is a part of life and most certainly a part of war. Isn’t that why we’re here? To document for now and for history the events of this war? …

Lance Cpl. Bernard is clearly recognizable in the photograph, which, as even the article notes, makes it a violation of the military’s embed rules.

It may even be a violation of the (sacred to journalists) Geneva Conventions.

But never mind any of that. You see:

The Associated Press is distributing a photo of a Marine fatally wounded in battle, choosing after a period of reflection to make public an image that conveys the grimness of war and the sacrifice of young men and women fighting it.

Unless we have photographs of this young Marine dying we would never know that war is grim or that young men and women make sacrifices for their country.

It is up to the Associated Press to remind us of those important facts, to instill in us a better respect for our military and patriotism in general.

AP journalists document world events every day. Afghanistan is no exception. We feel it is our journalistic duty to show the reality of the war there, however unpleasant and brutal that sometimes is," said Santiago Lyon, the director of photography for AP.

The AP documents events unless doing so would put at risk their reporters or reporters for the New York Times.

Then they help cover up the news. Even going so far as to have it removed from other sites, like Wikipedia.

That too is their ‘journalistic duty.’

By the way, notice how any and all discussions of the media publishing photographs of US war dead invariable reference the Civil War and Mr. Mathew Brady’s photographs of the battlefield dead.

Never mind that Mr. Brady’s photographs never appeared in the newspapers, but only in galleries, where they were treated with great respect – indeed as artwork.

And never mind that even the New York Times complained about Mr. Brady’s photographs in a October 20, 1862 editorial:

Mr. Brady has done something to bring home to us the terrible reality and earnestness of war. If he has not brought bodies and laid them in our door-yards and along the streets, he has done something very like it….

These pictures have a terrible distinctness. By the aid of the magnifying-glass, the very features of the slain may be distinguished. We would scarcely choose to be in the gallery, when one of the women bending over them should recognise a husband, son, or a brother in the still, lifeless lines of bodies, that lie ready for the gaping trenches.

But that was then, and this is now.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, September 9th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

15 Responses to “AP Defends Photo Of Dying Marine”

  1. canary says:

    Update on AP journalist who took pictures of Marine that died, after legs hit by grenade. Journalist admitted making the choose to take pictures rather than help save life. I posted excerpts on article Sep 4th, selected news, incase you want to hear of what a brave awesome marine and U.S. citizen. Lance Cpl Bernard is now in the Highest Heaven.

    AP picture of wounded Marine sparks debate
    By Associated Press Writer David Bauder Sept 5, 2009

    NEW YORK – Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressed disappointment Friday at news outlets that used a picture taken and distributed by The Associated Press depicting a U.S. Marine mortally wounded in combat in Afghanistan.

    The AP distributed the picture despite personal pleas from Gates and the dead Marine’s family in a case…

    The picture, by AP photographer Julie Jacobson, showed Lance Cpl. Joshua “Bernie” Bernard, 21, lying on the ground with severe leg injuries after being struck by a grenade in an ambush on Aug. 14, his fellow Marines tending to him. Bernard later died of his wounds.

    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.

    John Daniszewski, AP senior managing editor, said he respected Gates’ view but that sometimes the government and press have different perspectives.

    “We thought that the image told a story of sacrifice; it told a story of bravery,” Daniszewski said. “We felt that the picture told a story that people needed to see and be aware of.”

    Jacobson and reporter Alfred de Montesquiou were embedded with Bernard’s unit and had followed them on patrol in Dahaneh, Afghanistan. She took her pictures from a distance using a long lens. The AP on Thursday ran a package of photos from that day and others that showed his life in uniform and his memorial service. The AP also distributed a detailed story, accompanied by the photographer’s journal and an article explaining why the photo was used.

    “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.”

    A check on Friday found the story had been used on at least 20 newspaper front pages. None used the picture of a mortally wounded Bernard on the front page,

    although it was used inside newspapers and on Web sites like the Huffington Post.

    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.

    Although the family was shown the pictures ahead of time as a courtesy, “we did not ask permission” to use them, Daniszewski said.

    “There was no question that the photo had news value,” he said. “But we also were very aware the family wished for the picture not to be seen. That created a difficult choice between our job to document the war and our respect for the suffering of the corporal’s family.”

    The Huffington Post put the picture on its front page Friday under the headline, “Snapshot of an Unseen War.”

    It provoked a vigorous debate among its readers. One wrote: “This just isn’t right. The man is dead. Not injured. Dead. Just wrong.”

    Associated Press Writer Pauline Jelinek in Washington contributed to this report.

    • wardmama4 says:

      The embedds sign a contract – it states that consent must be obtained – the individual in this case could not consent and his parents refused. Thus AP and all involved in this picture going public should 1) have their credentials revoked, 2) be banned completely from ‘reporting’ on the War and 3) be open to a lawsuit from the family.

      It is wrong on so many levels – and disgusting too. Why is it only the Armed Forces that the msm seems so willing to abuse in such ways? They are our sons & daughters, our husbands and our wives, and our mothers and our fathers – they are America. These cretins would not show a black youth shot & dying in the street. They would not allow for a nano-second the police pictures of a rape victim – so that the public could see the ‘grimness and sacrifice’ a perfectly innocent person suffered and they (most especially Huff Po) would scream mightily if oh say a Pro-Life worker would show an ultrasound picture to a woman prior to an abortion. But our Brave Armed Forces are fair game for anything – including lies and breaking the law.
      AP did it on purpose to create outrage and incite the Left to rise up and force Obama to pull our Troops out in defeat and humiliation.
      And that is Treason. Where is a good hanging when you need it.
      God Rest the soul of LCPL Joshua Bernard. May John & Sarah Bernard be granted comfort in this horrible time of grief made worse by public exhibitionism via the AP.

    • Liberals Demise says:


      Tom Curley………you have no morals and I’d love to teach you some.
      You sir(?) make me sick!!!!!!!!!

  2. ilzito guacamolito says:

    ~ The AP waited until after Bernard’s burial in Madison, Maine, on Aug. 24 to distribute its story and the pictures. ~
    Well, that makes it all better, doesn’t it? What a bunch of tools.

  3. Liberals Demise says:

    Cowards hide behind the camera recording history while Marines carry weapons facing danger are making history.

    Immediately stop embeds and the lesson will immediately be learned!!

    (I’d love to take the AP and the photog A-hole to the back shed for a lesson in manners…….my brothers insist)

    Semper Fi

  4. Tater Salad says:

    Hey, whats the big deal. The media, the American people and even Robert McNamara didn’t give a crap about us Vietnam vets, whether we survived or not. The American people let us down back in the 60’s and 70’s and no one even cared. What the American people need to do is demand that news reporters (civilian) not be allowed in front line war zones….period! …… But they won’t. So quit whining! Let the damn military do there “thing” without ANY restrictions on how to execute a war and get it done!

  5. catie says:

    I don’t know if his family can sue but if that was my husband I darn sure would.
    Why do the American public need to see remains being returned and the “grimness” of war. WTF? I guess everyone has a reality tv passion for seeing all things grim as long as they’re not involved. If the worst was to happen I don’t want the entire country to know my loved one is dead, it’s not their business, they didn’t know him. Those who want to broadcast it for the world, I don’t get either. Why? What difference is it going to make. As Tater said, they didn’t care in Viet Nam era, and unless they can get some political mileage out of it, they don’t care now either. I’m fed up with these intrusions into the suffering and deaths of the men and women who die in the service of their country.

  6. wardmama4 says:

    This thread is already in the Selected News – which is where I commented on it.

    I was actually on the other side when this issue raised it’s ugly head the first time (2003, my son was part of the initial push into Iraq) – re: a dying soldier being carried to the medivac by his comrades. I believed (then) that as the parent of a dying soldier I would get some comfort of seeing him being taken care of by his comrades rather than dying alone. Damn those emos and look what they’ve done to this War.

    As the War went on and I saw exactly how biased the reporting (most especially AP) – has been – this was not done for some high journalistic purpose nor to help or support our Troops. It is solely about turning America against the GWOT. Even having been an Army wife since 1975 – I had no real clue as to exactly what these young men & women do – and if I did not – imagine how clueless the general public is much less those whose sole goal is to end War (most particularly Republican President started Wars).

    And I realized that the sole intention of these ‘publications’ is 1) illegal – they sign a contract and must obtain consent prior to publication and 2) is disgusting at least, immoral at worst and 3) I believe done solely to incite and gin up the rabid Left to force Bush/Obama to withdraw our Troops in defeat and humiliation – which is simply Treason or is that Sedition?!?

    Either way – their embedds should have been withdrawn and their credentials revoked immediately and the AP should not be allowed to ‘report’ as they have proven they are more concerned with their agenda than common decency, laws or signed contracts.

    Where is a good trial and hanging when you need one?

  7. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Tom Curley, president and CEO of the Associated Press

    Nuthin’ but a pencil-neck geek.

  8. Semper-Par-FI says:

    This strikes a raw nerve with me. I have a Son ( Marine Infantry ) leaving for Afghanistan real soon. The Father must be furious. I know I would be livid with rage if the AP decorated their web page or published pictures of my fallen Son. Tom Curley better pray that Joshua’s Father is not a violent man. As a matter of fact old Tom should start to worry because Joshua’s brothers in arms are known to be violent at times. I’m sure this story will make it to them before they rotate back to the States.

  9. MrBill says:

    Remember how the controversy was resolved over photographing the coffins of the war dead who are being returned home? The families decide. Why wasn’t the same standard applied here? That a photo of a mortally wounded Warrior was published – AGAINST his family’s wishes – is beyond appalling.

    I don’t fault the photographer for taking the photo in the first place. She couldn’t have known for sure that LCPL Bernard was going to die; our medical personnel are doing a wonderful job of saving many people who have been grievously wounded. And, such photos have their place as historical records. However, everyone who was involved in the decision to publish the photo in newspapers should be slapped (at least).

    • Liberals Demise says:

      I stand corrected on the photog but still reserve the right to take the AP to the wood shed.
      Semper Fi, brothers!

  10. Warmonger Infidel says:

    Just two comments from this infrequent poster:

    1-If something like this happened to my Marine grandson, now serving in the sandbox, I’m afraid my freedom would be short lived as I would do great bodily harm to anyone associated with allowing it to happen. Of course I would have to beat my son to the punch and he is capable of much more violent harm than I at my age.

    2-It’s very telling that the SecDef is the only one in the administration protesting this publicly. Although I may have missed it, I haven’t heard a peep from the C-in-C, the Commandant of the Marine Corp or the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Shame on all of them. They have surely lost their compass, as if the C-in-C ever had one.

    Semper Fi from the retired Seabee.

  11. 12 Gauge Rage says:

    The AP is only following the old adage ‘If it bleeds it leads.’ I say shame on them. They have no conscience nor have any desire to have one. Since the press regards themselves as the guardians of freedom, would they allow pictures of the Taliban or Al-Qaida executing fellow journalists? Probably. For after all, one less journalist would be one less person to outscoop them on a newspiece. Our military deserves much better than this.

  12. seanrobins says:

    The AP needs to be “unembedded” from the U.S. military, and any of its free-roving reporters in a U.S. war theatre should be told that they are on their own.

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