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Commentary :: Media
Jill's Phony Reunion
06 Apr 2006
The Jill Carroll/Christian Science Monitor story gets weirder by the hour.
On Monday Carroll supposedly surprised her colleagues with a spontaneous, emotional visit to the Monitor's Boston newsroom, though the meeting was filmed and appears managed. Later the paper posted video of Jill's visit on their website,, and held a press

conference as though they just had an audience with a head of state.

An off the record source at the paper tells me that since Carroll was only an Iraq-based freelancer, the apparently emotional reunion in the video was actually Carroll's first meeting with most of the Monitor staff, though that didn't stop the paper from milking the event for all it was worth.

Has there been such a cynical exploitation of celebrity victim hood since Hillary Clinton's 2000 US Senate campaign? Why is the Monitor exploiting Carroll's abduction so shamelessly?

One reason is plainly financial. Subsidized by the "Church of Christ, Scientist," a wealthy, new age cult which holds that illness is an illusion and rejects modern medical practices like surgery or pharmaceuticals, the Monitor has recently come under intense pressure from church directors to turn a profit. A Christian Science insider, Richard Bergenheim, was named editor in 2005 with a mandate to turn the paper around, though advertising and subscription revenue has remained flat to date.

The troubled paper has experienced staff layoffs, and has come increasingly to rely on freelancers and temps like Carroll, who was not paid benefits, health insurance or retirement for her dangerous assignment in Iraq.

(In a dubious face saving move, Carroll was hired as a full employee a week after her abduction.)

The Carroll abduction story, however, has put the CSM back in the news and management plainly hopes the hype can turn the operation around.

At the press conference, Monitor Senior Editor & Washington Bureau Chief David Cook, looking like some species of deep sea slug being exposed to sunlight for the first time, recounted Carroll's visit to the Monitor's offices and announced that photos and video, along with a home video of Carroll's reunion with her family, would be posted to the CSM website, saying "Here comes the shameless commerce portion of my statement--the website's name is"

"Once she feels ready, [Jill] will tell her own remarkable story in her own words on our website,," said Cook.

In response to a question about Carroll's condition, Cook made a weirdly insulting comment that Carroll "appeared in good spirits, healthy, and well fed," then he said "I should talk"--apparently a joking reference to his own weight.

The truth, however, is that Carroll does appear healthy in pictures on the Monitor's website, which raises the issue of the statement she made at the offices of the Iraqi Islamic Party in western Baghdad after her release.

“I was treated well, but I don’t know why I was kidnapped. They never hit me. They never said they would hit me,” said Carroll at the time.

Judging by her appearance in Boston, this appears to have been true. Carroll plainly was not mistreated or hit by her captors. But her words displeased right wing bloggers, who had begun grumbling that Carroll hadn't denounced her captors forcefully enough to suit their tastes, so Carroll recanted, retreating behind the old journalism canard of "objectivity" meaning - I guess - that journalists aren't free to make an obvious moral distinction between a foreign military occupation and the nationalist insurgency resisting it, but whatever.

My only question is, why assume that Jill's post release comments at the Iraqi Islamic Party office were coerced, and her later statement taking it back and denouncing the insurgents as "criminals, at best" was voluntary?

It couldn't possibly be the other way around, could it?

Cuz it's not like there's a right wing lynch mob in America enforcing "support the troops" loyalty and policing any real debate about this war or the nature of the insurgency (Oh wait...). Remember, we weren't even allowed to say the word "insurgency" until the second year of the war.


"Don't judge Jill by what she said when she had a figurative gun to her head. To have her patriotism impugned is disgusting," said Cook, a lefty contributor, wrapping himself in the flag on Carroll's behalf during the press conference.

But what is so unpatriotic about saying that the insurgents who didn't mistreat Carroll, didn't mistreat her?

The other big problem with this lie is that Jill had already been released when she said she was treated well, and there actually wasn't any gun to her head, figurative (whatever that means) or otherwise.

But what am I saying? Of course you can always speak your mind in free speech America, especially when journalism careers, bottom lines and millions in book deals and movie rights are on the line.

In America you're especially free to say what you want when denouncing the Arab insurgents who didn't mistreat you while praising the troops, spooks and cops who didn't rescue you. Now there's something neocon bloggers can really get behind!

Cook read a statement by editor Bergenheim praising every evil monster in sight--"I'm delighted today to acknowledge how extensive the government's effort was... US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad in Iraq and all the services of the United States that come under the embassy's umbrella worked on Jill's case with a passion.

"The US military did the same, and its care of Jill after her release was compassionate. The FBI has a special responsibility toward US citizens who are in danger abroad, and Director Robert Mueller employed his resources fully as well. To everyone who assisted, we extend our special thanks."

Thanks Bob!

So where are we? Basically, right now Carroll is holed up in a Copley hotel writing a first person account of "Jill's Adventures in Baghdad," which will be the basis for the book and the screenplay, and is the horse CSM management hopes to ride back to solvency. What light any of this bullshit sheds on the Iraq war I have no idea, but it is very revealing about how things work on the home front.

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Re: Jill's Phony Reunion
06 Apr 2006
Did the terror ists give her cake and ice cream on July 4? If they really wanted to torture her they'd force her to read the international press' take on US foreign policy. That stuff hurts me (on the inside)
Re: Jill's Phony Reunion
07 Apr 2006
She never said she was hit, she said she was THREATENED.

And the CSM as far as I can tell has complete editorial autonomy from the Church.
Re: Jill's Phony Reunion
07 Apr 2006
You guys loved her when you thought that she loved the murderous muslims. Now that you found out that she sees them for the murderers that they are, you hate her.
Re: Jill's Phony Reunion
07 Apr 2006
who on earth is "you guys" here? you do realize that this newswire attracts wingnuts from all over the political map?
Re: Jill's Phony Reunion
07 Apr 2006
You guys are the bleeding hearts - mostly the left, but also the "who am I and what do I believe?" anarchists. These people are the "you guys" who have been clamoring for universal health care. Now that you have it, you don't want it. I guess that's the meaning of anarchy.
Jihad! LET IT GO!
08 Apr 2006
With the selected prez? Sssoooo much little time. The key is to oust this blatant, "hell with the constitution...", tyrant.
Jill is a diversion.
Da Vinci Code in Beantown?
08 Apr 2006
you know the christian scientists are a weird bunch. I grew up in Boston. And I rarely met a Christian Scientist. But they have that big Vatican of theirs over by Huntington Ave and the Pru.

You'd only hear about them when a court grabbed a little kid for medical treatment cause the CS parents wouldn't let a doctor touch the kid. But what's really weird is to go to the "beliefnet' website. They have a quiz many people take to check out what religion they are closest to. If you check off the answers that would be the most secular but check of "IMPERSONAL GOD" for what kind of God you believe in, you come up with a high propensity on Belief Net scale for Christian Science (with Secular Human and Unitarian right around the same score!). I even checked off that I was strongly opposed to praying for sick people and opposed religious avodance of medical treatment. And the survey still called me a Christian Scientist!

What are they? What goes on behind the walls of the Beantown Vatican? Why do they try to publish a cut-rate version of the New York Times?
Re: Jill's Phony Reunion
11 Apr 2006
Why is this nutty Luddite cult running a second rate version of the NY Times? They claim to have editorial independence but the paper is good PR for the church; they wouldn't pay the big bills for their pet neoliberal journos otherwise!
Re: Jill's Phony Reunion
11 Apr 2006
i don't see why postings stating "i'm sick of the jews running america" or stating, falsely, that carrol and csm's editor are jews and zionists are not flagged as hate speech. no wonder this site is now dominated by pseudo-leftist anti-israel fanatics.
Re: Jill's Phony Reunion
11 Apr 2006
Thanks for pointing it out! We had missed those last few comments.
Re: Jill's Phony Reunion
11 Apr 2006
this article has nothing to do with israel. antiwar is not anti-israel.
Re: Jill's Phony Reunion
11 Apr 2006
I think the anti-semitic racists on these threads are Republican provocateurs. They're trying to link all antiwar activism with antisemitism. But you can be against this war and still be pro-jewish. Don't let them fool ya, Love your brotherman!
Brotherman, aka Definitions aka @
11 Apr 2006
Suckering more IMC patrons into discussion of Jews.
Re: Jill's Phony Reunion
12 Apr 2006
check out to see some genuinely righteous anti-war Jews in Israel. They are against Zionism. they are Jewish. they are brave. they are beautiful. they are awesome. did I mention they're against Zionism? right wing republicans (and war-mongering democrats) and right wing Israelis deserve each other. the rest of us, whatever our ethnic or religious identity must reject all hate, whether it comes from Zionists, republicans, or lesbian dog catchers. period. don't call people Nazis for finding fault with the history and methods of the Zionist project--there is more than enough wrong with it, and no amount of bullshit will make it smell any better.
Re: Jill's Phony Reunion
12 Apr 2006
www.alllies.ORG , sorry!
12 Apr 2006
My lesbian dog catcher is very upset with you.
Re: Figurative Gun
15 Apr 2006
You know there's some serious BS going down when the natterers are just making up shit like "figurative gun[s]." What the #$#%@ is a figurative gun? I mean, either there's a gun or there ain't. This whole Jill Carroll abduction episode's got SCAM written all over it.
dishonest piece
16 Apr 2006
Excuse me, but the picture of Cook on this page appears to have been photoshopped, making him appear "whiter" than the original on Is this what Indymedia stands for, anonymous crazies and political extremists on the Internet slandering good people with high tech hit pieces like this? I think it's a disgrace! Finally, does the Boston IMC have permission from the Monitor to use copywrited images from their website? They know all about what's going on here because I emailed them....