CBS defends wooing ex-POW

Network offer mixes news, entertainment proposals to Lynch

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

— CBS News did nothing improper in dangling possible book and TV deals while pursuing an interview with rescued soldier Jessica Lynch, a spokeswoman said Monday.

There was a clear distinction between the request for an interview with Lynch and possible deals with MTV, Simon & Schuster and other Viacom divisions, CBS News spokeswoman Sandy Genelius said.

Network offers have been reviewed for the Lynch family by officials at the medical center in Washington, D.C., where Lynch remains hospitalized, Genelius said.

CBS News proposed a two-hour documentary in a letter to Lynch's family that also noted the opportunities offered by other Viacom units, The New York Times reported Monday. The Times obtained CBS' correspondence to the Lynch family and to the hospital.

"Attached you will find the outlines of a proposal that includes ideas from CBS News, CBS Entertainment, MTV networks and Simon & Schuster publishers," wrote Betsy West, a CBS News senior vice president.

Simon & Schuster "is extremely interested in discussing the possibilities for a book based on Jessica's journey from Palestine, West Virginia, to deep inside Iraq," according to the proposal.

MTV Networks, the letter said, offered a news special and a chance for Lynch to appear on MTV2.