WASHINGTON: The Pentagon took another step in distancing the media from US casualties of war last week with the announcement of new restrictions on funeral coverage at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC).
Any reporter wanting to cover a soldier's funeral at the Virginia cemetery will now be required to stay within a distant, roped-off area. This "bullpen" is described as an area far enough away from the proceedings that a clergyman or family member's words cannot be clearly heard.
The new restrictions come on the heels of a Pentagon announcement last month that reporters were no longer permitted to witness the return of soldier's bodies returning from overseas combat. At the time, Pentagon spokesman Captain David Romley explained the ban this way: "The media can get a better, more complete understanding of the person who has passed by attending and covering funeral services as opposed to coffins arriving aboard an air station."
Last week, Romley confirmed the new policy, but declined to comment on the apparent contradiction between it and his previous explanation. Instead, he directed calls to the ANC press office, which did not return calls seeking comment.
Family members have always been required to give permission for media to cover a soldier's funeral at the cemetery. The new restrictions could likewise be waived if the family allows it.