Saturday, September 10, 2005

Zero traction for 'zero access'

The U.S. government on Friday tried to cut off the media's right to cover the recovery of Hurricane Katrina victims' bodies in New Orleans, asserting that such coverage was improper.

Prior restraint of reporting on unclassified governmental actions is about as egregious as First Amendment violations get, and U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison on Friday issued a temporary restraining order against the plan. The government then dropped its "zero access" policy today in the face of a CNN lawsuit.

To give the government the benefit of the doubt, I'll assume the policy aimed not to improve the public's increasingly negative view of officials' hurricane response but to protect victims' dignity and to avoid upsetting their family members with highly graphic images. Even so, such coverage decisions and the fallout from them belong to media outlets, not public officials. In the words of CNN's brief, "It is not the place of government to replace its own internal judgment for that of a free and independent media."

Kudos to CNN and Ellison for preserving the First Amendment.


Blogger porchwise said...

Wonder what the Mobile Registrar is going to show Bush's approval rating as being in its next poll. He's also going to catch a lot of flack for not just firing Brown who had the audacity to say, "I'm just going back to look over the big picture" or words to that effect. Oh well, God called Dubya this morning and I took notes off my Godlink.

2:16 PM  

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