Along the Tracks

Friday, May 30, 2003

The media's Private Lynch-ing

If you're part of the American military, you simply must be a liar.

That was the message of tonight's "in depth" report concerning the rescue of Private Jessica Lynch on "NBC News with Tom Brokaw."

Now, let me state flatly, I was expecting a "correcting the record"-type report which, while noting discrepancies from the first reports about Lynch's capture and subsequent rescue, basically admitted that the overall version of the story was correct, and the BBC went far over the line in its accusation that this was the most "managed" story the Pentagon released during the war.

Wow, was I disappointed.

First, let's make something clear: the facts. If you ignore the constant editorializing and look at what NBC "uncovered" (items which differ from the canonical version of events), here's what you get: a) Lynch may or may not have been left unconscious when her vehicle was wrecked by the attacking Iraqis, meaning she may or may not have fought them; b) Lynch was not shot; c) doctors and nurses at the hospital treated her well - or at least as best they could under the circumstances; d) the Special Forces which rescued the private used "flash grenades" to stun and confuse hospital workers without killing them, then used plastic handcuffs to control them, injuring no one.

Not exactly scandalous; not even necessarily different from what we learned in the first couple days after the rescue - just more details. The closest thing to a contradiction is the claim Lynch was unconscious at capture - which NBC based on interviews with doctors at the hospital, not (interestingly) Lynch or military spokespeople.

The rest of the report was a line by line explanation of how the BBC's report, could, in certain lights, be considered accurate, or at least feasable. Special forces shooting blanks? Well, those concussion grenades aren't meant to actually kill. A "stage-managed" rescue? One Iraqi did say the soldiers were yelling "Go! Go! Go!" just like he'd seen in the movies. The Iraqis offered to turn over Lynch, but the Americans refused so they could stage a rescue? Well, NBC just ignores this one, the worst of what the BBC put out in its documentary.

The NBC report closes (and actually, it opened) with a general statement that American's have been kept in the dark about the truth of Lynch's capture and rescue for two months - in other words, backing the BBC in its twisting of the facts and ridiculous sourcing. I guess media members have to watch each others' backs. Next up with Brokaw: "How Jayson Blair was shafted by whitey."

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