I’d like to respond to Michael Newmark’s opinion piece (“The Republican Propaganda Masters at Work”, CT, 11/20/03) concerning a recent television program on Jessica Lynch that “reeked of the American military’s propaganda.” Mr. Newmark was proud to point out that he hadn’t watched the movie, but that didn’t stop him from commenting on it’s imagined content. I didn’t see it either, so we’re both on even ground.
It seems to me that any excesses or deficiencies in the wartime coverage of Jessica Lynch were less a reflection of Pentagon propaganda than those of a media in hot pursuit of a good story. The story unfolded as it did due to two striking features that set this conflict apart from earlier wars: a deliberate Pentagon policy decision to allow the highest degree of access and minimum of controls to journalists in the field, coupled with high-bandwidth technology that enabled real-time reporting. It may be argued – with the benefit of hindsight – that the hospital was a benign environment and Pvt. Lynch may have been rescued less dramatically, but the fact that she was proved manna from heaven to reporters on the ground. Her rescue, and the later rescue of her fellow captives, was very good news that both Pentagon public affairs officers and media reporters were more than happy to share.
Pvt. Lynch wouldn’t describe herself as a hero (at least she didn’t when I caught her on Letterman) and I would agree she was not, but rather a soldier doing her duty under difficult circumstances. The timing of the movie release had nothing to do with foreign events but everything to do with the launch of her book. Now that she’s been caught up in the media spin-cycle she may come to wish she were back in Iraq.
Gavin D. LowderCAPT, USN (Ret.)