How Graphic Should War Coverage Be?

The brother of a soldier slain in Afghanistan reacts negatively to a recent PBS segment that showed graphic footage from a firefight in that country:

Footage included a soldier getting shot in the head; fortunately his helmet slowed down the bullet. Another soldier lost part of his arm. It was as if this were just a segment from an action film or a so-called reality show. But this is real life. The wounds are not special effects. They won’t go away when the cameras are turned off. The families of these soldiers could see them in danger and being wounded. And somehow, it’s all right to expose audiences, including families, to this very real brutality being done to U.S. soldiers; but the same audiences are too fragile to hear the f-bombs that, in such circumstances, are very understandable.

He asks if the segment should’ve been shown at all:

….these are selective facts. Did they show footage asking the soldiers whether they have any positive interactions with the Afghans? Did they ask the soldiers what they think of their mission? No, and they didn’t even allow them the expression of an f-bomb. So much for hearing the soldiers in their own voices. Instead, they were exploited by the graphic images of their activities. As the saying goes, if it bleeds, it leads. But if an audience is too fragile to hear certain words, surely it’s too fragile to see real life casualties.

Segments like this convey nothing but fear and futility. They give no context to the situation. To me it seems that they undermine the concerns of our soldiers insofar as they create greater fear and anxiety for families, precisely what the soldiers don’t want, all in the name of journalism so slanted that it looks more like propaganda aiding the enemy.

With respect for the loss suffered by the writer, it is long past time that the American media stopped shielding us from the brutal realities of war. The shocking nature of what our troops and innocent Afghan civilians face is an argument for confronting it ourselves. If every neocon had had to face what Michael Ware saw, they might even be able to grapple with remorse, or re-thinking. The Dish stands by its policy of airing every image that illuminates the truth of war.