LYNCH – CASHING IN ON FAME
The saga of “America’s sweetheart,” Jessica Lynch, the fresh-faced, female soldier with blond hair and blue eyes that Pentagon “spin doctors” hoped would spur female recruiting in the U.S. military, has suddenly gone sour.
The former Private First Class, whose innocent, teen-aged face adorned the covers of national news magazines after her dramatic “rescue” from Iraqi captors, is no longer just a country girl from the hills of West Virginia.
She has become a cash commodity for those who see “big bucks” in marketing this “heroine” for all she’s worth. And at last estimate – that’s plenty!
RAKING IN THE “BIG BUCKS”
Lynch has already landed a million dollar book deal, made a nice piece of change on a photo essay in VANITY FAIR magazine, signed on for a Diane Sawyer television interview, and been the adoring subject of an NBC “made-for-TV” movie. What’s next? A photo spread in PLAYBOY?
Darva Conger, [remember her?], the finicky blond who dumped her hubby right after an “on-air” TV show “marriage,” got close to half a million bucks, we are told, for posing in the buff for the famous men’s magazine. And it wasn’t her slender figure that earned her a high modeling fee from PLAYBOY. It was the “notoriety” of her fame. Jessica could easily command as high a price, if not more.
There’s been “no comment” from the Lynch camp regarding press reports of “nude photos” taken of Jessica back at Fort Bliss before she shipped out to Iraq. The embarrassing pix were allegedly offered to the GLOBE tabloid, who wisely turned them down. Not for the $200,000 asking price, but because even a supermarket newspaper would suffer from public wrath if they risked running such unflattering photos of a “media darling.”
THE ALL TOO CONVENIENT “MEMORY LOSS”
Something has smelled about the too-perfect story of “heroine” Jessica Lynch from the very beginning. The Pentagon deserves its share of the blame for leaking a totally false story to the Washington POST about the female PFC “firing her weapon” until she “ran out of bullets,” leaving the ground covered with dead Iraqi soldiers until she finally was overwhelmed with bullet wounds in the legs and bayonet wounds to the torso.
Just the right “Amazon image” to bolster feminist demands for women in combat. A regular female “Audie Murphy.” But it wasn’t true.
Worse, the actual heroics are shared by several “male” soldiers, including (see our earlier story) SGT. Donald Walters who actually did empty his rifle into the onrushing enemy. He was killed in action, shot repeatedly and stabbed with a bayonet. Neither he nor his family gets a million dollars, much less a full-time public relations spokesperson to “shoo away” pesky reporters with questions about what really happened that day a U.S. Army convoy took a fateful wrong turn on the road to Nasiriyah.
Few people believe the convenient “memory loss” story Jessica’s Army doctors floated after she was transported to a military hospital in Germany for medical treatment. Lynch is sticking to the official line, but its wearing a bit thin.
THE “SEX ASSAULT” ANGLE
Rick Bragg, the former New York TIMES reporter who resigned in the wake of an “ethics” scandal at the venerable “newspaper of record,” claims that Jessica’s medical records indicate she may have been the victim of sodomy after her capture. Never mind the difficulty in that happening with a female prisoner with multiple broken bones, or the vehement testimony by Iraqi doctors that they examined the young private and saw no sign of any sexual assault.
The public pretty much knows the Pentagon’s story. And since Jessica is still holding to the “amnesia” angle, she can’t discuss anything on a first-person basis anyway. So it’s up to Bragg to “spice up” the account of the young soldier’s ordeal by leaking to the New York DAILY NEWS (who printed an advance peek at the book: “I am a Soldier, Too”) the juicy “details” of Jessica’s supposed assault.
Whoever has been advising Jessica on what to do and say has fumbled the ball. First, as we reported earlier, Jessica’s recent photo-op “media event” at a local VFW post where she accepted fawning praise and a bouquet of red roses from well-meaning old soldiers flopped when an Associated Press reporter attempted to ask Jessica a couple of questions.
“No way,” said the private’s public relations person. “She is under contract to ABC and won’t be giving any interviews until later.”
SNUBBING THE MAN WHO HELPED SAVE HER
To compound the crass commercialism of her situation, Jessica openly snubbed Iraqi lawyer Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaief when he came to Palestine, West Virginia October 29 to meet the hamlet’s most famous daughter.
Townspeople threw a big dinner in his honor and showered him with gifts and heartfelt thanks, but new media star Jessica Lynch was “too busy with other commitments” to meet with her benefactor that day. That was the word from her “spokesperson.”
Could it be that jealousy raised its ugly head, as the Iraqi refugee has already come out with his own book – “Because Each Life Is Precious” before Lynch could rush her tome to the bookstores? Some “free publicity” for her savior might cut into sales, and that would not please Knopf publishers, who are, pardon the pun, “banking on” a big sale to recoup Jessica’s sizeable advance payment.
Better to fatuously claim she doesn’t “remember” the Iraqi gentleman at all, implying he is fake, instead of her. Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaief’s dangerous trek to American lines with news of Jessica’s whereabouts counts for little when measured against the almighty “bottom line.” Money must be made from the American public, and the more the better.
COURTING THE HOWARD DEAN CROWD
The latest gimmick to increase public interest in Jessica is to have her slam the Pentagon and President George Bush’s handling of the war.
“They used me to symbolize all this stuff,” Lynch whined. “It’s wrong. I don’t know why they (the military) filmed it (the rescue).” Of course not.
That might play good with the Howard Dean crowd, but appearing to be too calculating and ungrateful to the troops who allegedly risked their lives to bring her back safely, won’t go over well with middle America.
About the only thing Jessica can do now to try and salvage some of the enormous public adulation she’s squandered in the past few weeks, is to share some of her considerable loot with the families of those who died that day in the Iraqi ambush.
But that’s about as likely as seeing pigs fly through the air.
As time goes on, the American people will get over its infatuation with the seemingly sweet, wide-eyed country girl who so captivated everyone’s imagination in the first moments of her ordeal. But for now, there’s still “money to be made.” And you can be sure, PFC Lynch’s handlers won’t miss an opportunity to “cash in” while the getting is good.