The tale of Laura Ling and Euna Lee is of course far from over. But on August 4th, thanks to the tireless efforts of @BarackObama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, @current co-founder @AlGore, former President Bill Clinton and many more good folks in the halls of the @whitehouse and State Department, we reached that monumental first milestone: an official pardon and release from North Korea.
Along the way, two members of a little known network sparked a fascinating vortex of political machinations, media coverage (and lack thereof), diplomatic efforts and humanitarian crisis highlighting. I have become so personally vested in the last item that long after Ling and Lee have returned to a normal routine, I will be tweeting at @LiberateNK, a newer account dedicated to the hundreds of thousands of other North Korean prisoners. In the meantime, here are a few kudos that I wanted to share.
Best Citizen Reporter: He doesn’t work for a newspaper, TV station or Internet concern. But no one, and I mean no one, has been more on top of the details of this case – from day one – than our good friend Spelunker. Commenting here, there, everywhere, as well as sharing his latest thoughts via email or on his private archive, Spelunker exhibited all the trademarks of great reporting: tireless research, creative thinking and, most of all, a willingness to pose the tough questions.
Best Celebrity Supporter: You might think the obvious choice is someone like @aplusk or @lisaling’s old @theviewtv colleague @StarJonesEsq. But for my money, and using the term “celebrity” somewhat loosely, the prize goes to Rachel Maddow. Until the May 11th release of Roxana Saberi, no one in mainstream TV media was covering the case except her. And even after, for a few weeks, she led the charge, anchoring a revealing interview with @GovRichardson. She’s the real deal, with not a speck of Glenn Beck in her.
Best Mitch Koss Profiling: On at least two occasions, @rachelroh’s L.A.-based blog EPICANTHUS took a long, hard look at 56-year-old camereman-producer Mitch Koss, still silent after all these months. I have now personally come to the conclusion that his biggest regrets are: a) how he reacted at the border, and b) not talking sense into the other(s) whose idea it was to cross the border. The same blog also posted some intriguing unedited footage of Ling and Lee’s arrival in Burbank this past Wednesday, August 5th, with help from the Somalian Pirate Network.
Best Ling-Lee Support Team: There’s been a lot of talk about how @lisaling was able, from the moment she started trying to bring Laura and Euna back home, to call on a very impressive Rolodex of contacts such as Obama‘s Afghanistan envoy Richard Holbrooke. But pound for pound, no one beat the formidable trio of @Deepak_Chopra, @mallikachopra and @gothamchopra. Thanks to their heartfelt blogging, tweeting and @kingsthings interviews, capped by Gotham’s remarkable revelations about Michael Jackson’s interest in the Ling–Lee case, they were a savvy second family, intent on keeping the story spiritually alive.
Best Co-Opted Diplomat: Granted, this is a relatively narrow category, but when you put in the blood, sweat and tears that Sweden’s Ambassador to North Korea Mats Foyer did, you deserve a bracket all your own. He was a beacon of hope for one and all, visiting Ling and Lee individually in Pyongyang on four separate occasions while never letting Pyongyang forget he wanted to see them more. Then, as it all came to a climax, he graciously ceded the stage to bigger names for the happy finale.
There are more awards that could be given out, but this will do for now. However, I can’t conclude without mentioning one final (backhanded) kudo. To the person who decided, for reasons unknown, to hack away and delete this blog in its entirety in the wee hours of a recent Friday morning (thank god for daily back-ups), I would love to hear your reasons why. Was it something I wrote? Was it something a commenter said? Or were you just having some fun of your own, and I – somewhat allegorically in this case – became innocently caught in the crossfire?