By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

How graphic?

The Phoenix’s Adam Reilly flags a post on Wonkette, of all places, that includes a gallery of extremely graphic photos taken after the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. Wonkette’s Megan Carpentier writes:

These are pictures of real violence, and of the horrible things people all over the world will do to one another, and it isn’t conveyed by seeing the reaction of another person.

But though Carpentier imagines that the U.S. media won’t touch such images, the New York Times today offers a narrated slide show containing many of the same pictures, taken by John Moore of Getty Images. It’s not quite as grotesque as Wonkette’s raw feed, but believe me, you’ll get the idea.

My own instinct is to show everything as long as it’s newsworthy. Obviously these pictures are. (I’m refraining from posting one only out of copyright concerns.)

Among other things, seeing the true horror of yesterday’s attack provides a context for the polite Pakistani man who called a BBC radio program and told the shocked host that he thought Bhutto’s assassination was a good thing, since it would open the way for a new generation of political leaders.

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Benazir Bhutto is killed


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  1. Tobe

    Dan,I made the following comments in a Herald story;”But the carnage, Berkovitz argues, should be seen no matter how raw because of the “political and historical implications” in the nuclear-armed nation.”“This is not some movie starring Denzel Washington or Matt Damon,” said Berkovitz. “This is reality.”Very different from the media’s addiction to showing gratuitous carnage of events that don’t affect the lives of the the average citizen. Car crashes are not the same as terrorism and assassinations.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Tobe: Thanks for checking in. Here is the Herald story in which you’re quoted.

  3. man who thinks it's about time more of these photos were published

    One could argue that the “separation” between the American public and the current wars we are fighting is a large part of “what’s wrong with America” these days.You have an all-volunteer army coupled with a very media-controlled war that means that people have no connection to the death and destruction our leaders wreak in our name (sometimes necessarily, often not). And then we wonder, as a nation, “why they hate us so much”? Jeez guys, if you’d paid attention you’d know why.In short, you have an uninformed populace, which means you have a non-functioning democracy. Making the horror of war and violence a front-and-center issue starts the informing process…and it’s long overdue in my book; if people are offended by them, maybe they should start electing different leaders.

  4. BosPhotog

    Yes! Show this horrific account of “the most dangerous place on earth”….and…Just a side note that needs to be touched upon…These pictures do not just “take” themselves.I believe that the photographers who do this type of work are heroes. They put their very existence on the line to bring the world the truth, while facing Post Traumatic Stress etc. when they come home. As a Boston press photographer who has dealt with violent local street scenes, I could not imagine the hell that confronts these journalists in these situations overseas.

  5. Peter Porcupine

    IMHO, this is one of the best uses of the Internet.On broadcast TV or in a paper, the photo is THERE – you have no control. On the Internet, you can CHOOSE to access or not.I remember agonizing over the Daniel Pearl video – I didn’t look at it immediately, but weeks later, as I realized that this was something I needed to see in order to understand. Or attempt to understand, as I really don’t understand the executioner’s motives fully to this day.And Photog – A+ for your observation about news photo journalists.

  6. Robin Edgar

    If people are offended by images of graphic violence maybe they should stop watching CSI Whatever etc. These news photos are tame in comparison. . .

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