Journalists forbidden from reporting details of British casualties

British armoured vehicles and challenger tanks during the 1991 Gulf War. © IWM (GLF 603) via Wikimedia.

24 February 1991

[ 24 February 1991 ]

On 24 February 1991, during the First Gulf War, Colonel John King of the Media Response Unit, informed embedded British journalists, who had been summoned to a tent in the desert near the border of Iraq occupied Kuwait, that there were to be severe constraints on what they were allowed to report.  Although there would be no restrictions on reporting Iraqi casualties, they were not allowed to report the number of any British casualties or to provide any description of the nature of the injuries. They were not even permitted to show the preparation of field hospitals to take the expected casualties for fear it might undermine public support for the war.  Nor, under any circumstances, were correspondents to interview any Iraqi prisoners, with authorities apparently nervous over such conversations revealing too much about the horrors of war.1

FOOTNOTE

  1. Martin Bell, War and the Death of News: From Battlefield to Newsroom – My Fifty Years in Journalism, Oneworld London 2018, pp. 127-128 and p. 138.

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