Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 8, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

CASHING IN....Yesterday the London Times reported "fury" over the fact that the recently released British prisoners were cashing in on their fame by selling their stories to tabloid newspapers and TV shows. Today, the Times has toned it down to "criticism." The Telegraph calls it "dismay" The Guardian suggests "anger." The BBC thinks "fury" was the right word after all.

In any case, it looks like the prisoners are going to make upwards of half a million dollars between them for selling their stories. But you need to have an angle if you want the really big bucks:

One of the hostages, Dean Harris, 30, an acting sergeant in the Royal Marines, told a Sunday Times reporter yesterday: "I want £70,000. That is based on what the others have told me they have been offered. I know Faye has been offered a heck more than that. I am worth it because I was one of only two who didn't crack."

Indeed. At least until now, anyway.

Kevin Drum 2:44 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

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Comments

I guess if they don't have to go back to Iraq any more and can make some quick cash for "enduring" their time as Iranian captives, more power to them.

At least they didn't stage something intentionally for the publicity.

Posted by: pencarrow on April 8, 2007 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

"hostages"?

Posted by: craigie on April 8, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Why shouldn't they cash in?

It's the same end goal of those who are responsible for stationing them over there in the first place.

Posted by: Ten in Tenn on April 8, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

After all, are we not trying to spread the American way of life to all?

Mission Accomplished!!

Posted by: Keith G on April 8, 2007 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

I had pretty much defended these British clucks and decried belligerent Rambos like Col. Jack Jacobs until now. Thats over. This brings a smelly and fat new vision to their phrase "keeping the British end up".

Posted by: bmaz on April 8, 2007 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Craigie: Right you are. I just slipped there. I've changed it to "prisoners."

Posted by: Kevin Drum on April 8, 2007 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Selling stories is one thing. Selling them three days after you're released is another. It is highly tacky and highly disrespectful of the enormity and significance of the entire experience, for both sailors and for Britian. And perhaps for the world. It is 21-centurism, where everything is for immediate sale, even one's most important and intimate experiences, because nothing is more important than fame, regardless of shame. Imagine the vets of WWII selling their stories a week after they got back from saving the world.

Sometimes I just want to cut if all off and end this entire fucking century before it gets any worse.

Posted by: Dan on April 8, 2007 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Honestly, so what?

Posted by: cld on April 8, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Leave it to Kommie Kevin to disparate people for wanting to put food on their tabels for there families.

Last I checked, UK was a capitalist country. I know that stings for you, but deal with it. Communism collapsed because of Reagen in th e 80s. I know that was the wrost day of your life.

Posted by: egbert on April 8, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Imagine the vets of WWII selling their stories a week after they got back from saving the world.

What makes you think "they" didn't? There were several million of them, of course, but quite a few turned out books and magazine articles. Audie Murphy was horribly embarrassed when he starred in a movie based on his own book, To Hell and Back, but considered it a part of the cynical Hollywood system he had joined (on a recomendation from Jimmy Cagney, no less.)

Oh, I agree with everything else you said. The only people from the early twentieth century who got their predictions about the later twentieth century exactly right were the ones who said the mass entertainment media would corrupt and destroy our culture. Television and the gossip industry are the true opiates of the masses, both directly and indirectly. Like heroin and cocaine, they directly degrade our culture and manners by turning everything we think and do into entertainment. Indirectly, they draw trillions of dollars out of the rest of the economy and that immense store of ready wealth corrupts everything it touches. "Selling out" becomes the norm rather than the exception, because the rewards for selling out (as with the British sailors) are often an order of magnitude greater than the median income in our society.

Posted by: Berken on April 8, 2007 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, I changed history!

Or something.

Posted by: craigie on April 8, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Leave it to Kommie Kevin to disparate people for wanting to put food on their tabels for there families . . . Last I checked, UK was a capitalist country. I know that stings for you, but deal with it. Communism collapsed because of Reagen in the 80s. I know that was the wrost day of your life.

Egbert, Egbert, could you please run the spell checker over your damn messages? Al continues to be the class troll on this forum because, no matter how twisted, misleading, or ignorant his comments might be, he states them well and clearly. I look into some of these discussions just to check on Al and see what the latest high-end wingnut propaganda talking points are on the current topic.

Beyond that, this sentence: Leave it to . . . . Kevin to [disparage} people for wanting to put food on their [tables] for [their] families has the ring of truth to it. Mean yearly income in Britain is (quick google check)14k per year in a working lifetime of forty to fifty years. Each of these released prisoners was offered the equivalent of five years of their probable lifetime earnings just to tell their story to one newspaper instead of several.

Money corrupts, certainly, but I'll cut some slack for the people who cannot afford to kick over the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. On the other hand, millionaire reporters with prestigious network television contracts who are giving us propaganda instead of truth . . . hanging's too good for 'em.

Posted by: Berken on April 8, 2007 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

I blame New Labour.

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on April 8, 2007 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

So which story/publicity stunt do you believe? The one given while the prisoners were in Iran, claiming they were in Iranian territory, and were treated well, or the one the soldiers gave after being briefed by higher ups back in England - where they said they were in Iraqi waters and psychologically abused?

Whichever country releases its satellite data showing the location of the capture is probably telling the truth. While making noises, neither has released anything yet, right?

Posted by: luci on April 8, 2007 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Judging by his incoherence, I think egbert already has several cups in the bag, if ya get my drift. Easter Sunday must mean breaking out the Mogen David 20/20 for some good ole fashioned right-wing yee-ha's and whoop-de-dos. Regarding the topic of this thread, as far as I am concerned, people who are held hostages deserve every penny the silly ass market will bear. Let 'em go on Jerry Springer until the cows come home, for all I care. It's too bad the Bush Administration blocked a lawsuit by the 1979 Iranian hostages, seeking damages. These Bush bastards don't believe in freedom for everyone, despite their pseudo-patriotic propaganda to the contrary.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on April 8, 2007 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

luci wrote:
> Whichever country releases its satellite data
> showing the location of the capture is probably
> telling the truth.

Britian released the exact GPS coordinates of the "capture" over a week ago.

Posted by: Peter on April 8, 2007 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

So which story/publicity stunt do you believe? The one given while the prisoners were in Iran, claiming they were in Iranian territory, and were treated well, or the one the soldiers gave after being briefed by higher ups back in England - where they said they were in Iraqi waters and psychologically abused? . . . Whichever country releases its satellite data showing the location of the capture is probably telling the truth. While making noises, neither has released anything yet, right?

Is it permissable to not give a damn one way or another? If the Brits were deliberately going to violate Iranian territory, they certainly wouldn't have done it with an underarmed and un-escorted cockleshell. If the boat did drift over into Iranian waters, so what? A civilized coast guard would have warned them to check their GPS for bugs and run them off.

Arguing over which side the line the boat was on misses the point. The Revolutionary Guard bully-boys who took them were deliberately playing a poltical fraternity stunt, intending to annoy and embarass us and their own government. They accomplished nothing and wasted everyone's time.

Posted by: Berken on April 8, 2007 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

So what? Of course this is gonna happen. Capitalism works, after a fashion.

Posted by: Tony Shifflett on April 8, 2007 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

From bbc--
"Iranian TV has said it expected some of the British sailors would come under pressure from the UK government when they returned home to change their story."

Posted by: consider wisely on April 8, 2007 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

You can't very well instantly jump on them via the Internet if your main criticism is that they are selling their stories instantly. You live in the instant. Let them live in the instant.

Of course, it is always OK for a Brit _leader_ to sell his story when a "judicious" period of time has passed.

Talk about supporting the class system. Pip, pip. Hear, hear.

Posted by: Guy Banister on April 8, 2007 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

The are various aspects to the unease.

First, these are serving personnel. It's the MoD that gave them the green light. They seem to have mounted a temporary smokescreen to the real probelms that sit behind this event, and how and why it happened.

Second, serving, uninjured -- atleast physically -- in any way, these people are profiting from an accident of time and place where those who have given blood and limbs have a low visibility; just as here. How much better a hero Tillman than the truth!

Third, it all smacks of The Sun rather than THe Times which, say what you want, many British recognize reflects badly on their society. It's already been compared to "real" reality TV gold rush.

What would have been wrong if the MoD had let them negotiate fees but 90% would go to any one or all of the plethora of vets charities and help groups.

I don't think US society is any significant level above this embarassing $-rush phenom.

Posted by: notthere on April 8, 2007 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

The 15 marines and sailors once captured were subjected to two days of mildly alarming non-physical pressure. They caved in, and appeared on the world TV screens confessing to having trespassed on Iranian territory, then smiled and took gifts from Ahminejad and came home. Total supine and abject appeasement. When they got home, they sold their stories to the tabloid press. And the naval and defence authorities in London acquiesced.

Meantime, four British soldiers were killed in Iraq the day the heroic 15 scurried home. Two of the slain were women. When these four get home, they will be in coffins, and there will be no fat fees from the press for their stories.

And meantime again, over in Guantanamo, there are hundreds who are incarcerated without trial, subject to psychological and physical pressure - torture in fact - and they have been there for four years - so far. Not for them an appearance on the world's TV screens where they can confess and get to meet a smiling Pres. Bush who forgives them and sends them home with gifts.

In London at the moment there is showing a film of the stand at Thermopylae. Leonidas and the 300 stood against a Persian (Iranian) army of thousands; they refused to surrender, and died. I wonder how many of the heroic 15 will spend some of their new found wealth by going the cinema to watch that film and ponder on their own contribution to the defence of democracy and western civilisation.

Posted by: Mike G on April 9, 2007 at 7:55 AM | PERMALINK

egbert, every day is "the wrost day of your life."

Posted by: Kenji on April 9, 2007 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Jeez, the Brits could probably power greater London by attaching magnets to Nelson's rapidly spinning corpse.

How far a once great Navy has fallen.

Posted by: Susan Paxton on April 9, 2007 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter complainers: I live in a fantasy world where the working class are pure of heart even while the rest of society are a bunch of corrupt, money-sucking pigs.

Posted by: tb on April 9, 2007 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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