On Monday January 29, 2007, The New York Times published photos and posted video of a dying American soldier in Baghdad.
The article on the Times website originally showed Staff Sgt. Hector Leija on a stretcher after he was shot by a sniper on Haifa street in Baghdad. There was also a 5 minute video from the scene that accompanied the article on their website. Staff Sgt. Hector Leija (in background in photo below) died a short time after the filming of this video.
The family was not contacted by the New York Times before the report was published!
And, the family of Staff Sgt. Hector Leija was outraged when they heard about this.
The New York Times reporters published this “news” even though it violated their signed agreement with the Multi-National Force Iraq “not to publish photos or video of any wounded soldiers without official consent.”
The family asked the Times to take down the video.
The Times said they would make an apology to the family.
But, the video is still playing on the New York Times website and has been since Monday.
Now, the Associated Press is coming to the rescue of the two NYT reporters who broke the story and broke their agreement with the US military. US Today cries tears not for the soldier’s family but for the two reporters who reported the story. The AP is very upset that the two Times reporters may lose their embed status.
But… The Associated Press does not mention, until paragraph 15, that the NYT reporters signed an agreement before they embedded with the troops.
“The military is hurting themselves,” said Sig Christenson, a military writer for the San Antonio Express-News who has made four trips to Iraq during the war.
“They’re hurting the administration’s argument that these troops are making progress. And most of all they’re hurting the people who read these stories back home and are hungry to know what’s going on in Iraq.”
Christenson and others saw the tension as part of a larger conflict in which the administration and military are increasingly suspicious of reporting that shows things going wrong in Iraq — in sharp contrast to the welcome the press received in the first weeks of the war.
“As this war’s gone on, there’s been a greater level of distrust building,” said James Crawley, a national security reporter for Media General News Service and president of the Military Reporters and Editors group.
The paper reported that the journalists broke agreed-upon rules for embeds that require them to contact the family of a soldier killed in action before publishing any photos, even though the family had been notified days earlier of Leija’s death.
(Leiga was killed on Friday the 26th and the Times ran the article on Monday the 29th- obviously not a lot of time to get over the shock of their son’s death as the AP reports.)
The newspaper said Executive Editor Bill Keller spoke with Army Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno and agreed that the paper would write a letter to the sergeant’s family. The statement said that the newspaper took “extraordinary” measures to let the family know an article and video were going to be published. It also said the newspaper acknowledged that the family was distressed and offered its regret.
The video is still playing on the NYT website at the time of this posting- 4:10 PM CST, Thursday February 1, 2007.
Outrage! New York Times Posts Video and Pictures of Dying US Soldier!!
Michelle Malkin has much more on the outrageous New York Times report.
Wilsonizer shares his thoughts on the media’s recent attacks on the military.
Gina Cobb explains the process the NYT goes through before an article goes to print.