The guiding principle behind the Twitter feed @LiberateLaura has always been to pass along information that goes beyond my own personal beliefs. Which means I don’t always agree with the opinions being expressed or contend, by sharing something, that I am also suggesting it is entirely accurate.
However, even by those broad standards, an August 9th article in the British newspaper The Daily Mail entitled “In Peril in Pyongyang?…” is a stretch. I tweeted about it because I knew it was going to quickly become part of the Ling–Lee public discourse, but some things in this latest article by frequent Daily Mail collaborators Sharon Churcher and Caroline Graham just don’t sit right. It took a while to get all the footwork done, but I can now categorically state that 99.9% of the new information shared in this article is as wrong as Kim Jong-il’s bouffant hairdo.
For starters, you’d think that a UK newspaper could get the closest thing to a countryman right. But instead of listing Laura Ling’s husband Iain Clayton as being in his early 40s, Australian and a quantitative analyst, they’ve got him at 35, Scottish and working as a financial analyst (a big difference in that business). In addition, the front lawn quote attributed to him is false.
The $1 million book deal offer from Harper Collins? As of the end of this work week, there has yet to be any contact between the publisher and the Ling family camp. Overall, it was the publishers who came prematurely calling while the Burbank Airport solar powered hangar was still warm. Not the other way around.
Six figures for the first TV interview? Anyone who knows Laura (or has even simply watched a few of her globe trotting reports) can quickly glean that this is not a payola gal. The first interview, when it happens, will be for gratis. And if either of the Daily Mail article authors had taken the trouble to properly query American university professor Dr. Han S. Park, they might have been able to get a better handle on the circumstances of Ling and Lee‘s Pyongyang accommodations.
The 0.1% kernel of truth in the piece is the assertion that Euna Lee was holding the camera. That’s because there was more than one camera in the field at that time of the group’s capture.
Beyond that, stay tuned for the upcoming first-reveal chat with Laura Ling and Euna Lee about what really happened at the China–North Korea border in the early morning hours of March 17th, 2009. It’s bound to be Must-See TV.
Update – 01/29/10: There was, of course, no big paid TV interview with Ling and Lee. Rather, Lee signed a book deal with Random House late in the year, for low six figures, while Current TV confirmed on January 22nd, 2010 that Ling is leaving the network to concentrate on starting a family and working on a book with sister Lisa.