May 20, 2003
THE MORE I THINK ABOUT IT, the more I wonder if the Jessica Lynch rescue wasn't a clever Pentagon disinformation campaign designed to entrap anti-American journalists into revealing their sloppiness, bias, and willingness to report untruths as fact. Then again, why bother? They seem to have some sort of credibility death-wish.
How else could you explain this Robert Scheer column, which takes the BBC story as an excuse to foam at the mouth in classically over-the-top Scheer fashion:
After a thorough investigation, the British Broadcasting Corp. has presented a shocking dissection of the "heroic" rescue of Pvt. Jessica Lynch, as reported by the U.S. military and a breathless American press.
A 'thorough investigation" that involved unnamed sources making charges that were not checked out, and people saying that the U.S. forces fired blanks, credulous repetition of unconfirmed facts by parties with an interest in lying, and obvious ignorance of matters military, as well as misrepresentation of the coverage at the time, and that has been contradicted by other reports from the scene.
Of course, to Scheer any investigation is thorough if it reflects badly on the U.S. military and the Bush Administration. Scheer even repeats the "firing blanks" claim -- one that makes no sense on its face to anyone who knows anything. Too bad for Scheer that he's been left hanging by the BBC's own backpedaling on the story.
The L.A. area really needs a new newspaper that will keep an eye on the Los Angeles Times.
UPDATE: BIASED-BBC has more on this, and has preserved the story in case it "quietly changes," as BBC stories have been known to do. It notes:
What is interesting is that (as of 9.50pm) nearly all of the comments supporting the Kampfner version and praising the BBC story are predicated on the assumption that a Pentagon fraud has been revealed by the BBC. But Kampfner himself says there was no fraud. See the first question and answer of the CNN interview linked to below:
HARRIS: Is it your belief right now based upon your investigation that this rescue of Lynch was in any way a staged event and not real?
That wasn't all his answer, of course. He then goes on to say all sorts of other stuff along the lines of "the US military are spinmeisters" which is true but not the point. The point is that the journalist who started the story when asked whether it is now his opinion that the rescue was faked answered with a unambiguous No. Wouldn't it be more responsible of the BBC to say this loud and clear?
It would have saved Robert Scheer from looking like an idiot today, anyway.
ANOTHER UPDATE: I was on Hugh Hewitt's show earlier tonight. It wasn't my best performance -- I took ten minutes out of a Brownies parents' meeting to do it by cellphone -- but Hewitt is clearly on Scheer's case and is smelling blood. I should note that the Scheer article also treats the Saddam / Al Qaeda connection as bogus, which seems pretty damn bogus itself to me -- plenty of evidence of an Al Qaeda connection has come out since the war, and even Robert Fisk was reporting that the Fedayeen were basically Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda-style non-Iraqi Arab Islamists.
Meanwhile, Roger Simon says that Scheer is "making an ass of himself" with this, and adds:
I think this is all kind of sad actually (small s) because I'm sure Scheer is fundamentally a good guy and a good journalist. The problem is he's been reified. Scheer should know that word--it's pure Sartrean sixties. It means, essentially, objectified as a product for sale. He's spent so many years as a professional dispenser of left/liberal orthodoxy he's terrified to see things objectively. He might lose his place in the market.