Rescued POW begins to face #039;Lynch mob#039;

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 13, 2003

Tribune editorial staff

The U.S. military may have been able to rescue Jessica Lynch from her Iraqi captors, but it is highly unlikely it will be able to save her from the media.

Having made her first two television appearances - a taped interview with ABC's Dianne Sawyer Tuesday and a live spot on NBC's The Today Show Wednesday, America's favorite soldier could soon be asking herself if being held captive by the Iraqis was really worse than diving into the shark-infested pool of the media, which has been in a feeding frenzy since her rescue.

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So many are trying to take advantage of her celebrity status. Her book, "I am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story," written by biographer, Rick Bragg, hit book shelves Tuesday; NBC's made-for-TV movie "Saving Jessica Lynch" aired Sunday; talk shows are lining up to have her as a guest; even porn king Larry Flynt has gotten into the Lynch frenzy, claiming to have topless pictures of her in her possession.

Even though the Palestine, W.Va., is still a hot commodity, it is getting harder to pull the wool over the public's eyes. Lynch herself has said the initial report of her capture was inflated, denying reports of heroic feats in which she supposedly fought off Iraqis, sustaining gun and knife wounds, until she ran out of ammunition. Instead, she says, her gun jammed and she "did not shoot, not a round, nothing… I went down praying to my knees. And that's the last I remember."

Honesty seems to be the most intriguing part of Lynch's story. Instead of trying to capitalize on her heroine status and basking in hyped-up glory, which others have done, Lynch has downplayed her role in the war. Instead of going along with what appear to be stories intended to boost support for the war, she is setting the record straight.

"I'm not about to take credit for something I didn't do," she told Sawyer.

Lynch says she wants to live a simple life plans to marry Army Sgt. Ruben Contreras in June and has aspirations of being a teacher. "I want a family. I want kids. I guess that’s kind of everyone’s dream," she said.

It is unfortunate the war is not over for Jessica Lynch. She is now the innocent bystander in a battle for television ratings. We should all back off and allow her to live her dream.