“Do You Believe Everything You Read?”

… queried John Metzler, Arlington National Cemetery superintendent.

“No. That’s why I’m calling you,” responded Inside the Headquarters, looking for his side of the story.

Arlington recently has come under fire over the sudden firing of its public affairs director, Gina Gray, who claims the beef was over her handling of media access at funerals. She and her lawyer since have hit the cable TV talk show circuit. “It’s up to the families to decide how close or far away they want the media to be,” Gray says. “It is not up to Arlington Cemetery officials to do that.”

We’re sure she believes that.

Both sides’ stories probably have merit. We did not discuss Gray with Metzler, just Arlington’s media policy. According to the superintendent who has decades on the job, the cemetery leaves the decision to the family. If the family agrees to media presence, Arlington alerts the media outlets that have asked to be contacted. Those that attend are placed in a holding area from where they may cover the burial. Fifty yards might seem like a lot, but Metzler points to frequent The Washington Post photos that (and we agree) do look as if they were taken up close.

Metzler maintains he and his staff want to keep the cameras and reporters out of the funeral ceremony itself — literally out of the movement of the color guards, marching platoons, and the like. There can be a lot of moving parts, he says.

Could media be closer? Probably, though Arlington might be protecting bereaved families from something they might not be ready for. Gray is wrong about at least one thing, it is up to Arlington officials to lay some ground rules. Should Arlington be more flexible with the media and families? Possibly, and that is probably why Army Secretary Pete Geren is looking into the matter — not Gray’s termination but Arlington’s media policy, which Metzler says long has been in place. In D.C.’s game of political placation, our guess is there will be some give in the policy in the near future.

Get this: Regarding the investigation, Gray’s lawyer, Mark Zaid, stated “You’re going to see some skeletons unearthed at Arlington.” (Where did she find this guy?)

Maybe they should lay some ground rules for lawyers.

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