America is welcoming two young women home from what had to be a trying ordeal. Laura Ling and Euna Lee filled morning TV screens and Internet blogs as former president Bill Clinton enjoyed a moment in the limelight for his efforts in securing their release.
Ling and Lee are described as“journalists” with Current TV, former vice president Al Gore’s interactive Website. As far as I can tell, Current TV works sort of like the statist-leaning Huffington Post, with users generating content, sharing in hobby mode or vying for selection from what Current calls the “collective journalism” team. There’s not much on the website about payment for contributors. On the jobs page, there are listings for technical jobs and interns.
Current does pay for some content: “Yes, we will still pay for full-length pods and VCAMs, and we are in the process of re-vamping our VC2 leaderboard, so stay tuned for more information.” Those payments are fairly generous. Current bills itself as an online community similar to other sites where much content is uncompensated and user generated.
An Associated Press wire story said, "Ling, a 32-year-old California native, is the younger sister of , a correspondent for CNN as well as and . Lee, 36, is a South Korean-born U.S. citizen." From the construct of that sentence, it is impossible to tell which Ling the modifying clause describes.
According to NY Daily News, the two women were “reporting on North Korean refugees living across the border in China.” They were detained in March.
Fox News said, “Administration officials said that the families were told ‘sometime in June’ that the journalists would be released if Clinton came to get them. The families told former Vice President Al Gore, who co-founded the Current TV company the reporters worked for -- Gore passed on the message to the Obama administration.”
How, I wonder, did Clinton and Gore’s obviously warm relationship with North Korea impact the situation when George W. Bush was president? Bush took a different tactic with North Korea, because despite the cozy Clinton years, North Korea did what it wanted to and still does. The United Nations has been as we say in the private sector, ONV—of no value.
There’s an ironic quote in a Newsweek article from 1998: “Southern hawks argue that President Kim's sunshine policy has produced little warmth. Since the policy was unveiled in February, they point out, Pyongyang has dispatched spy submarines and launched a new rocket capable of hitting all of South Korea and most of Japan.” My, my,how times don't change.
Those ‘Southern hawks’ statists and blue chip media love to hate were apparently, not for the first time, exactly right. A recent Newsweek article said, “Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's high-profile visit to Pyongyang didn't yield the deal President Clinton had hoped for. Critics said it only legitimized the regime.” Not for the first time those critics are right as well.
On TV as press descended on the young women upon their arrival in Los Angeles, Clinton was up front and center and quite naturally, energy financier Al Gore was right by his side.
In my opinion, more questions arise from this incident than answers. What prompted two women to undertake that kind of expense and risk? Were they paid “journalists”?
And above all, exactly what future benefits may come to North Korea’s “dear leader” as a result of his dialog with Clinton? The Fox News story suggests the regime asked for Mr. Clinton. We already know exactly how good Clinton was to Kim.
That’s intriguing enough to warrant a few questions. It's not likely blue chip media will ask any questions since all the players are Democrats.
Whatever the case, we welcome the women home and are very glad they arrived intact.
But the entire narrative is strange, perplexing and raises more questions than are answered. The real winner here is Dear Leader Kim Jong Il. He’ll get good press at home and abroad by reconnecting with his old American friend. And above all, what are the implications for President Barack Obama who is certainly aware of the relationship between our former president, our former vice president and an emerging nuclear power?
The truly perplexing case of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, 'journalists' for Current TV
by Kay B. Day
The US Report, Aug. 5, 2009