Cafferty File: Why Has U.S. Media Coverage Of Fallen Troops Returning Caskets Disappeared?

September 30, 2009 CNN-- From The Cafferty File: It’s been almost six months since the Obama administration lifted the ban on media coverage of the

September 30, 2009 CNN-- From The Cafferty File:

It’s been almost six months since the Obama administration lifted the ban on media coverage of the returning caskets of war dead… and the press mostly seems to have lost interest.

“The Examiner” reports how back in April, media outlets rushed to cover the first arrival of a fallen U.S. serviceman… 35 members of the press were at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

For the next returning casket — 17 media outlets showed up… that soon dropped to a dozen. The numbers kept shrinking until this month when only one news outlet was on hand to document the return of a casket bearing the body of a fallen Marine. That was the Associated Press.

In fact, the A-P has made it a point to be there at every arrival of a military casket where the family has granted permission — which is more than half of the time. The AP says it’s their responsibility to cover these returns:

“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.”

But where are the rest of the media outlets who protested President Bush’s continued ban on showing flag-draped coffins returning to the U.S.?

This is especially troubling in light of what’s going on in Afghanistan. Nearly eight years into that war, 2009 will record the highest death toll.

Conventional wisdom suggests if the American people aren’t seeing the returning war dead — it’s difficult to comprehend the real cost of war.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean when media coverage of fallen troops’ returning caskets has all but disappeared?

Carol writes:

What does it mean? It means the people of America have not really been touched by either war, Iraq or Afghanistan. We still have everything we want, unless you have lost your house due to the bad economy. But the war? Young people who have given their lives? Who really cares? Not many – that’s the sad, sad truth.

Harry from Baltimore writes:

Jack, It is a symptom of today’s news media environment. Like it or not, if a news story does not reach some arbitrary level of sensationalism, it is not considered “news-worthy” enough to deserve the coverage. The AP is reminding us that a news story is “news-worthy” when it is based on certain coveted principles, such as the ultimate sacrifice our military is prepared to make in the defense of this country.

Dan writes:

It means public interest has all but disappeared. It doesn’t surprise me at all that the AP is the only source still covering this story since they seem to be the only news outlet dedicated to journalism. Everyone else prays before the altar of public opinion. They go where the wind is blowing that day. Right now the wind is blowing towards health care and gossip about “Jon and Kate.” Everything else has become back-page material.

George writes:

Jack, Here in Canada, the media do a good job covering the fallen soldiers in Afghanistan. In the U.S.? Michael Jackson for two weeks… you guys are so sick.

Laurie writes:

They only cared during Vietnam because there was a draft. Our citizens are apathetic about everything.

Jack from Florida writes:

Jack, It means that people have become desensitized to the deaths of our troops. The media has, once again, failed to perform its purpose. Sensationalism is the only coverage the media wants to perform. The death of each serviceman should be the lead in every news story. They are not just coffins. They are our children.

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