How Networks Covered the Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan Chopper Crash

By Alex Weprin 

Yesterday we shared the story of the young boy who submitted a photo of his father to CNN, his father being the pilot of the helicopter that was shot down in Afghanistan last weekend. The New York TimesBrian Stelter shares that story and others from the media’s coverage of the crash, including ABC News:

On Tuesday night’s “World News,” ABC News took the unusual step of showing the names and, when available, the photos of the 26 known service members killed on Saturday, only after some internal debate about the appropriateness of such a step. In the early years of the Iraq war, some conservatives claimed that another ABC program, “Nightline,” was politicizing war deaths by scrolling the names and faces of the dead on the screen on Memorial Day.

“We thought the deadliest day for U.S. troops in Afghanistan deserved a hopefully moving way to convey the sense of loss — the troops, their names, their faces,” said Jake Tapper, the correspondent who put together the “World News” segment.

Stelter also got some back-story on why the boy submitted the photo to CNN, and the process CNN went through to confirm it:

Braydon’s aunt, Sue Keller, told CNN on Monday that Braydon was motivated to send in the photo because his father, an Army pilot, was not being mentioned on the news. She said Braydon told his family, “They always say Navy SEALs. They never say my dad.”

After seeing Braydon’s iReport submission, CNN journalists contacted the Nichols family to verify that it had been notified of Mr. Nichols’
death and that the photo was genuine. CNN then shared Braydon’s story on several newscasts. By Wednesday, Braydon’s post on the iReport Web site had been viewed more than 100,000 times and shared widely.