The Four Corners

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Jessica Lynch: "The True Hollywood Story" Even though it has been well over a month since Private Lynch was recovered from an Iraqi hospital in Nasiriyah, the details remain stretchy.

Despite hard work from many reporters including the recent report by Post reporters Dana Priest, William Booth and Susan Schmidt, the facts remain elusive. But one thing is for sure, the Hollywood firefight version the Pentagon and Washington Post played up was deeply flawed.

The real story goes more or less like this: Lynch, with her Company, were traveling up "route Blue" a code for a particular Iraqi highway. Orders had come that they need to take another route "Jackson" --another highway-- but somehow, the message didn't get down to her convoy. It seems they were in and out of radio contact and as much as 12 miles behind the main group. So they stayed on the old path, only to take a wrong turn and get ambushed by Saddam's private army-- the one still killing Americans in Iraq today.

Lynch tried to fire her gun, but it jammed severely and somewhere along the way, her HumVee smashed into a giant trailer/truck carrying supplies. This killed some in her vehicle and severely injured her, as well as knocking her unconscious. [Some claim that her injuries might be from Iraqi beatings with the end of a weapon, but I doubt it]

Afterwards, Iraqi doctors tried their best to tend to her injuries, both through the motivation that she would make a good human shield/bait/hostage and out of humane concerns. After being treated in a military hospital, she was moved to a civilian one with a guard stationed outside her room.

American soldiers were naturally cautious when learning of her location, thinking it sounded too good to be true. The BBC report that the siege on the hospital was staged seems unfounded. While it turned out that resistance was minimal, I truly doubt any such claim of firing blanks.

Speaking of blanks, Lynch herself can't remember much of what happened. This is part injury, trauma, and "national security." Maybe some day we will get to bottom of what really happened. But until then, all those movie producers and novelists are going to have to change it to BASED on a true story.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Media savvy 101 This weekend proved the value of good PR.

Before interviewing General Wesley Clark, Meet the Press anchor Tim Russert played a radio ad by a grassroots group called and did screen shots of the website.

Does any other Presidential Candidate have anything close to that level of free advertising? Or any advertising for that matter [Dean is prepping work for $300,000 worth of TV ads in Iowa over the next two weeks, sounds like he is running out of steam]?

The media attention (CNN has also played excerpts of the radio ad) and, more importantly, Clark's performance on MTP was a proverbial gold mine for the Clarkies: On Friday at 5pm, the Meetup numbers for Clark were at 520, on Monday at Noon, they were at 980, a 188% increase! Similarly, webmasters for the various Draft Clark sites told me they were getting petition letters from supporters at the rate of a letter every 90 seconds. I assume this has slowed up somewhat since Sunday.

Clark's appearance at the New Democratic Network's (a soft/hard money fundraising group for moderate DLC-style Democrats) annual meeting tomorrow should similarly generate lots of media buzz and excitement from supporters in DC (Meetup numbers suggest their are 50-60 in the greater DC area).

In stark contrast, poor Sen. "Sponge" Bob Graham "Cracker" (D-FL) can't seem to catch a positive break by the media, who have labeled him, in a word "boring." Most insiders talk about him as a VP candidate, and not a serious contender. Why?

Slate's William Saletan explains, "The trouble is, Graham doesn't seem to know what he wants to do with the job." "Graham has had many chances to make his case [on why he is running for President] ... Each time, I've come away baffled at his failure to explain why anybody should vote for him rather than one of the other Democrats seeking the job." Ouch!

Graham has spoken at the April 9 Children's Defense Fund forum, the May 3 South Carolina debate, his May 6 campaign kickoff, a May 17 AFSCME conference, last weekend's Iowa Democratic Party picnic, and a town hall hosted by Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, where Graham spoke and answered questions for 90 minutes. No one knows what he stands for besides his resume. And by the way, he has been passed by on 3 occasions for the Vice Presidential nod, what makes him think this is the time?