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CNN fights for First Amendment rights to report on body recovery

Just because public officials responsible for this disaster can’t tolerate coverage of their failures to protect its citizens isn’t and excuse to ban the news media from covering it. No news organization was promising to show faces of the dead, so the only possible reason for doing this is political “image control,” and a judge agreed.

At the request of CNN, a federal judge in Texas Friday night blocked emergency officials in New Orleans from preventing the media from covering the recovery of bodies from Hurricane Katrina.

Attorneys for the network argued that the ban was an unconstitutional prior restraint on news gathering.

U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison issued a temporary restraining order against a “zero access” policy announced earlier Friday by Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who is overseeing the federal relief effort in the city, and Terry Ebbert, the city’s homeland security director.

You break it, you own it.

A hearing was scheduled for Saturday morning to determine if the order should be made permanent. In explaining the ban, Ebbert said, “we don’t think that’s proper” to let media view the bodies.

In an e-mail to CNN staff, CNN News Group President Jim Walton said the network filed the the lawsuit to “prohibit any agency from restricting its ability to fully and fairly cover” the hurricane victim recovery process.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding