For the past 18 years the press has been banned from attending the arrival ceremonies of deceased soldiers at Dover Air Force Base. Supposedly this was to protect the privacy of the families, despite the fact that families weren’t complaining at the time the policy was changed during the Gulf War1. But now that the ceremonies are open once again, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Les Melnyk has a different concern:
Last night’s ceremony was a landmark occasion. But now that the ceremonies are likely to be open so often, there’s little guarantee that the press will regularly come out in such force.
“Now that the families are giving their consent, will the media care?” asks Melnyk, who worries that families who consent to coverage, but see no journalists at their loved one’s arrival, may get the impression that the nation does not appreciate their loss. “It ain’t going to be news in a month.”
Yeesh. It’s disrespectful when the press shows up and it’s disrespectful when they don’t. Sometimes you just can’t win.
1More likely reason: Following the invasion of Panama in 1989, George Bush Sr. got pissed off when pictures of coffins arriving at Dover were inadvertently broadcast live on a split screen while he was laughing with reporters at a press conference. Two years later, he made sure that wouldn’t happen again.