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Saving Private Lynch

I actually turned on the TV last night. MSNBC (one of the two stations that gods of You Are Not Paying for Cable have somehow deigned to let through), in its spiffy new 15-minute news cycle, was hammering on the news that Jessica Lynch had been rescued (NYT, WaPo). Telling the story, showing some video footage of some one-sided nighttime firefight supposedly having something to do with the operation, showing her picture. Again. Again. Again. (And I only watched for 20 minutes.)

It felt so incredibly wrong. It is good — miraculous, some would put it — that she was rescued. And I understand why MSNBC (and, no doubt, every other network) jumped on it: It's a singular tale, the only soldier to be captured, and then, heroically no doubt, rescued. So it's an easy sell, resonating with more than a few Hollywood moments. But this isn't some damn Hollywood story, safely staged somewhere in Los Angeles or maybe Canada; to me, at least, last night, every reminder that she was rescued was also a reminder — a painful reminder — that she had needed rescuing. She had needed rescuing for over a week. That wasn't exactly a happy thought, even before they mentioned her injuries. Not a thought I wanted MSNBC to remind me of, again and again and again. No thanks.

Not that I think war news should only be good news, or that this shouldn't have been reported. Just that the idea that this was, overall, good news, was in fact a false motivation. If the networks are looking for happy tales, they should tell, perhaps, of soldiers who didn't make that fateful wrong turn into enemy territory. (And if — if — they are looking for honest news, they should also cover what likely happened to the soldiers who weren't rescued.) But what happened to Pfc. Lynch isn't something to merrily trumpet home about, nor does reporting it's relatively happy conclusion do justice to the less singular stories of the war, the everyday — until you actually look at them — tragedies and miracles that truly define the experiences of the soldiers on the field.

April 2, 2003 2:16 PM

Comments (and TrackBacks)

I'm Portuguese, and my country enjoys a degree of freedom of the press much, much higher than the USA. But during the Invasion of Iraq the US media coverage really sunk to Soviet levels. Just one example: the "Saving Private Lynch" story. Do you want to know what really happened? No problem, I saw, in the comfort of my living room, a TV interview with the male nurse, a middle-aged man, that was caring for her at Nasyria Hospital. He said she was brought to the hospital by the Iraqui army, with a few broken bones and bruises (along with the bodies of a dozen marines, which were properly buried). This male nurse had obviously developed fatherly feelings for the girl, and said she cried day and night and kept repeating "I just want to go home". He (and the colleagues around him) looked a bit shocked, which may be understandable considering the Nasyria Hospital where Private Lynch was beeing cared for had been stormed the night before by the brave US marines to capture a patient. One last detail: since no one at the Pentagon thought it might be come in handy to teach the marines some rudiments of the language of the country they are about to conquer, great confusion prevailed during the assault, with the consequence that the marines failed to "rescue" another wounded comrade who was in a different ward of the Nasyria Hospital.
Or perhaps they just wanted to rescue the pretty Miss Lynch?

Posted by Luis on April 11, 2003 8:09 PM

How sad that the only good news to come out of Iraq is so totally and garishly staged and, yes, false.
Oh well, I guess you CAN fool most of the people most of the time, providing you have the power to manipulate the media.

Posted by Diederik on May 22, 2003 11:29 AM

Private Lynch's story is very secret to the media.
She has the right to keep her story private also.
It is part of the soldier privacy policy.

Posted by Masaka Johnson on June 17, 2003 3:20 PM

jessica lynch is one of my heros i idolize her because she is strong. I have all of my faith in jessica

Posted by Anonymous on January 12, 2004 10:01 AM

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