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 Media Reality Check

For Immediate Release: Katie Wright (703) 683-5004 - Thursday, May 8, 2003

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Jennings Finds Another U.S. Military Action To Complain About

They Saved Private Jessica Lynch, But They Ruined All The Doorknobs?

      ABC and Peter Jennings have found yet another U.S. military action to complain about. On the Wednesday World News Tonight, Jennings teased at the start: "Saving Private Jessica Lynch: The Iraqi doctors who looked after her say it wasn't quite how the military portrayed it." Later, he later mocked the military effort in a pre-commercial plug: "Rescuing the prisoner of war Jessica Lynch: Perhaps not so dramatic as it sounded at first."

     Jennings introduced the overblown-rescue story: "When U.S. commandos stormed an Iraqi hospital to get Private Jessica Lynch last month it was described, you'll recall, in very dramatic fashion - U.S. commandos rushing an enemy compound to save a comrade in the dead of night. Now we hear that it may have been less dangerous and maybe even less challenging than Central Command first told us."

     From Nasiriyah, ABC reporter David Wright quoted doctors at the hospital who maintained that the U.S. military overreacted: "The hospital staff says there were no Iraqi troops or officials on the premises when the Americans rushed in. They had all left at 10am the morning before the rescue." Over video of a door with doorknob area punched out, Wright added, "The soldiers broke down doors in the intensive care unit when they could have just asked where she was." Wright did not ask: would you consider it smart soldiering to stroll in with your weapon down and ask politely where the prisoners are, when you have no idea whether Iraqi fighters are inside? He also did not report that the mission included recovering the corpses of eight other American prisoners, a fact which might downplay the notion that the hospital was safe ground for Americans.

Broken doorknob as shown on ABC     Over more video of broken doors, Wright intoned: "But the hospital still bears the scars of that midnight raid. The administrators had to sell precious drugs to pay for the damage." Wright did not ask: If the drugs were so precious to doctors, why were they putting patient care below doorknob replacement?

     Another problem with Wright's conclusion: If they had to sell "precious drugs to pay for the damage," why is ABC showing the doors all still broken?

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