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June 23, 2004
Finally, A Newspaper With Guts

Today's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review contains an apologia from the editor, Frank Craig, regarding his decision to carry photographs of the decapitated body of American Pual Johnson, a hostage of al-Qaeda who was brutally murdered earlier. Not many news outlets carried the photographs of Johnson, but just about every broadsheet and media Internet site carried photo after photo of the abuses at Abu Ghraib, and Craig won't tolerate the hypocrisy any longer:

Like many newspapers and magazines, we previously published a photo of a smiling Pennsylvania soldier leaning over a corpse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. I felt that image was important to see, because it inarguably conveyed the cruelty that occurred there. ...

I decided to publish the letter and its photos on an inside page, in black-and-white rather than in color and in a scale far reduced from the original size, to somewhat minimize its gruesome impact. I added a translation of the terrorists' statement. I placed a note prominently on Page 1 to warn readers of the material inside. ... Because the statement with its photos - issued so casually, like some bland press release - demonstrate compellingly the brutality, the inhumanity, and the deadly danger of the enemy we face. Words alone could not fully convey the cold-blooded savagery of this graphic declaration, with its gloating tone and its threat of more such acts.

Three cheers for Frank Craig and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. I notice that not only do Abu Ghraib pictures regularly appear on news sites accompanying a story on the abuse, but often appear with stories whose only relation is that they come from Iraq. The AP feed on Yahoo! is particularly egregious in this regard; one story on the selection of Allawi as PM had the notorious picture of the detainee standing on a box under a poncho, with wires attached to him. Nowhere in the story was Abu Ghraib discussed; the picture just served as a mute reminder of the editorial bent of either the AP of Yahoo!.

If we are strong enough to see the pictures from Abu Ghraib, which I believe we are, then we need to see the pictures of the work of our enemies as well. The savage brutality of their handiwork doesn't disqualify from publication -- in fact, that's the point. Only then will the American public understand the nature of the people who want to kill Americans by the thousands, regardless of location or political stripe. Frank Craig understands this. Too bad more editors do not.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 23, 2004 12:13 PM

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