It is remarkable how often Jessica Lynch pops up in media reports, even though eight years have passed since the bogus story about her heroics in an ambush in Iraq thrust her into the international limelight.
It’s likewise remarkable how seldom the Washington Post is identified as the sole source of the tale about her derring-do — how Lynch, a private in a non-combat Army maintenance unit, supposedly fought ferociously against Iraqi attackers, despite being shot and stabbed.
None of it was true; Lynch suffered neither gunshot nor stab wounds. She was badly injured in the crash of a Humvee as its fled the ambush. But Lynch never fired a shot in the attack, which took place March 23, 2003, in Nasiriyah in southern Iraq.
Predictably, the account made no mention of the singular role the Washington Post played in thrusting the bogus hero-warrior story into the public domain. The ensuing worldwide sensation had the effect of making Lynch the single best-known American soldier of the war.
Instead of mentioning the Post, the History Channel feature referred vaguely to “news accounts indicating that even after Lynch was wounded during the ambush she fought back against her captors.”
And just as vaguely, it blamed the government for the bogus story, noting that critics “charged the U.S. government with embellishing her story to boost patriotism and help promote the Iraq war.”
So just who in the “U.S. government” concocted the Lynch story “to boost patriotism and help promote the Iraq war”? Nor surprisingly, the History Channel feature didn’t say: Such accusations typically are unaccompanied by specific details.
But that claim is untenable for at least two reasons, as I discuss in my latest book, Getting It Wrong.
One, public backing for the war in Iraq was quite strong in the conflict’s early days. For example, a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, taken of 1,012 American adults on March 29 and 30, 2003, found that 85.5 percent of respondents thought the war effort was going “very well” or “moderately well” for U.S. forces. And that was before Baghdad fell to U.S. ground forces.
So there was no need or incentive to concoct a hero-warrior tale to bolster support for the war.
“Our sources for that story were not Pentagon sources.”
Loeb also said in the interview, which aired December 15, 2003, on National Public Radio, that the Pentagon “wouldn’t say anything about Jessica Lynch.”
“I just didn’t see the Pentagon trying to create a hero where there was none. I mean …they never showed any interest in doing that, to me.”
“Far from promoting stories about Lynch, the military didn’t like the story.”
The Post is under no obligation to protect the identity of sources who misled it so badly. Identifying them would clear the record by clarifying what role, if any, the Pentagon or other U.S. agencies had in the derivation of the bogus tale.
And doing so certainly would help make those periodic retrospective pieces such as the History Channel’s writeup about Lynch more complete, revealing, and accurate.
Recent and related:
- WaPo eludes responsibility in bogus hero-warrior tale about Lynch
- Lynch heroics not ‘the Pentagon’s story’; it was WaPo’s
- Time for WaPo to disclose sources on bogus Lynch story
- Myth and error: Recalling the rescue of Private Lynch
- False narrative about Jessica Lynch and Pentagon surfaces anew
- Jessica Lynch returns to spotlight in unedifying Bio interview
- Ignoring the astonishing reporting lapses in Lynch case
- Lynch says she could’ve embraced Post’s phony hero story
- Too good to be disbelieved: The military, myth, and Jessica Lynch
- Jessica Lynch one of ‘Time’ magazine’s ‘faces of the decade’
- WaPo journo on Jessica Lynch story rejoins paper
- Inflating the exploits of WaPo’s Watergate reporters
- ‘Getting It Wrong’ goes on Q-and-A