Friday 23 May 2003

Jason Blair isn't the only deceiver

by Dave Zweifel

Reporter Jayson Blair's ability to deceive his editors at the New York Times is bad enough, but it pales in comparison to the U.S. military's apparent deception of the U.S. media last month.

If we are to believe an investigation by the British Broadcasting Corp., which as far as I know has no axes to grind in any of this, the entire "heroic" rescue of Pvt. Jessica Lynch was nothing more than outright military propaganda.

I personally started to wonder about the Lynch rescue shortly after we ran a Washington Post story on the front page of our April 3 editions that reported Lynch was fighting to the death when she and the rest of her unit were captured by the Iraqi military. The story, which was based on unnamed military sources, said that the West Virginia soldier "continued firing at the Iraqis even after she sustained multiple gunshot wounds" and that she was even stabbed when the Iraqis closed in.

It was a story that described uncommon heroism and I ordered it to appear on Page 1 as did dozens of other editors across the country. Stories that moved on the wire in ensuing days, however, appeared to contradict the Post's story. Doctors who examined Lynch after she got back to our hospitals reported that she was not shot or stabbed, but her injuries were incurred when the truck she was in overturned.

That, however, was only part of the strange and conflicting "facts" associated with the story. None of it, by the way, diminishes the trauma and military dedication on the part of Lynch. It now appears, though, that she may have been exploited by the Defense Department's public information folks.

Full story...