Dynamist Blog


Does showing photos of flag-draped coffins, or other signs of war casualties, demoralize the public and reduce support for military action? Maybe, maybe not. Trying to manage which images reach the public is certainly nothing new, as Chuck Freund explains in his latest Reason Online piece:

Three months after the war began, a New York newspaper bitterly attacked the administration's handling of unpleasant military news. "Their 'information' is treacle for children," thundered the angry editorialist, who compared the military's growing edifice of information control to the work of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. Other publications agreed that war news was being "dry-cleaned" by the Pentagon, which had yet to release a single image of an American military death. Indeed, there were rumors that a paranoid White House was planting informants in newsrooms, and even tapping reporters' phones. It was 1942.

A year and a half later, the White House and much of the press reversed their views on publishing casualty photos. Why? And what happened? Read the article.

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