Jessica Lynch was on Capitol Hill to talk about her experience in Iraq as a POW and subsequently as a media darling. This article from the Charleston Daily Mail typifies the coverage given to this topic by the media for years now. It portrays Lynch as a victim of military propaganda that pushed her forward as a hero.
The recent hearing was to cover Lynch's 2003 kidnapping and rescue in Iraq, which the Department of Defense painted as a story of heroism, despite a differing account from Lynch.
There are two facts that get left out of this type of reporting:
a) Jessica Lynch is a hero just by serving her country whether she fired a shot or was knocked out immediately during the ambush that injured her severely and
b) the story of her shoot-out with Iraqi forces was not a product of the US military but of the US media.
The US media created this recounting of her exploits from vague, unofficial statements by "undisclosed officials" and having been revealed as rumor mongers started looking for someone to blame. Who else would they pin it on but the US military?
We all know it is hard to prove a negative, in this case that the US military did not create the shoot-out scenario reported by the media. So we have to instead ask questions. If the US military did so, who specifically did it? Do we have a name in all this media hype about the misleading Pentagon reporting? Where was the claim first made? Who was the source?
This USA Today article from July of 2003 is a hint. It states:
Lynch had been mythicized during the war. An initial report in The Washington Post said Lynch had killed several Iraqis. Later, government officials said she had killed no one.
The fact is it wasn't "later" that the government warned against this fight-to-the-death story line, it was at the time of the initial reporting by the media. And as the USA Today article has correctly identified, The Washington Post did run the story first:
'She Was Fighting to the Death'
Details Emerging of W. Va. Soldier's Capture and Rescue
By Susan Schmidt and Vernon Loeb
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, April 3, 2003; Page A01
Pfc. Jessica Lynch, rescued Tuesday from an Iraqi hospital, fought fiercely and shot several enemy soldiers after Iraqi forces ambushed the Army's 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company, firing her weapon until she ran out of ammunition, U.S. officials said yesterday.
Lynch, a 19-year-old supply clerk, continued firing at the Iraqis even after she sustained multiple gunshot wounds and watched several other soldiers in her unit die around her in fighting March 23, one official said. The ambush took place after a 507th convoy, supporting the advancing 3rd Infantry Division, took a wrong turn near the southern city of Nasiriyah.
"She was fighting to the death," the official said. "She did not want to be taken alive." Lynch was also stabbed when Iraqi forces closed in on her position, the official said, noting that initial intelligence reports indicated that she had been stabbed to death. No official gave any indication yesterday, however, that Lynch's wounds had been life-threatening
Several officials cautioned that the precise sequence of events is still being determined, and that further information will emerge as Lynch is debriefed. Reports thus far are based on battlefield intelligence, they said, which comes from monitored communications and from Iraqi sources in Nasiriyah whose reliability has yet to be assessed. Pentagon officials said they had heard "rumors" of Lynch's heroics but had no confirmation. [emphasis added]
So let's get this straight, The Washington Post single-sourced this story from one official that they couldn't even identify. Ask yourself why they couldn't identify a military official praising a soldier. Is that really a secret? This isn't a whistle blower or Bush Administration insider. It would more than likely be an officer or NCO at the tactical operations center if this person existed.
So why couldn't The Washington Post name the source? The answer is obvious; because the reporters don't even know who it was, or if the incident even occurred. It sounds very much like one person's ruminations in passing, chatting about rumors from unofficial sources. Then The Washington Post ran with the information despite army officials warning them about the veracity of such rumors. And this is the military's fault? Are you kidding me?
Isn't the media supposed to be superior to citizen journalists because of all the editorial safeguards and fact checking? But yet in this reporting, one unidentified source who may indeed be a fiction - a literary device to whom to attribute overheard conversation - trumped the military spokesperson. I challenge The Washington Post to identify this source so that this person can be questioned in the current proceedings.
Ray Robison is co-author of the book Both in One Trench, a blogger, and a frequent contributor to American Thinker.