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(c)DRUDGE REPORT 2004
Since the end of the Vietnam War successive American presidents have worried that their military actions would lose support once the public glimpsed the remains of U.S. soldiers arriving back at air bases in flag-draped caskets. To this problem, the Bush administration has found a simple solution: it has ended the public disemination of such images by simply banning news coverage and photography of dead soldiers’ homecomings on all military bases.
The problem is that they haven’t thought through the consequences. Hundreds of photos capturing flag-draped caskets carrying dead soldiers home from Iraq have hit the Internet this week. When are governments going to appreciate the power of the web and the PR consequences? In the Internet era information and images flow without respect to government decree. An old PR once posited the theory of ‘elephant traps’, a very old phrase describing the pits into which most people in the public eye fall sooner or later if they don’t exercise care and attention. Well, the spectres at the Pentagon have tumbled into a huge trap, and it underlines the arrogance of government media minders, who should really work from a premise that they can never get it right.