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November 20, 2004

In The Quest For The Marlboro Man

Here’s an update regarding the recent attempt by the media to turn a US soldier into an icon.

If you recall, I recently detailed an effort, on the part of the LATimes, to hype the photo of James Miller — a soldier taking a smoking break during the attack on Fallujah. (Original post.) I then followed up by highlighting an apparent response, by the NYTimes, to create their own “GI Marlboro Man.” (Follow up post.)

Again, here is the image the NYTimes ran on its front page.


Disturbingly, I received an email this week from Jill Pristavec, who identified herself as the mother of Lance Cpl. Michael Pristavec. Michael Pristavec is the person named by the NYTimes as the subject of this photo. She writes:

I happen to be Lance Corporal Michael Pristavec’s mother and I can unequivocally tell you that the photograph that appeared in Sunday’s New York Times is not my son.  The New York Times mistakenly used my son’s name to identify the smoking marine whom I assume is serving in the same unit as my son (First Battalion, Eighth Marines, Bravo Company).  As of this moment, I do not know whether my son is alive or dead in Fallujah and I would appreciate it if you do not contribute to the continued misidentification of him started by the New York Times.  The newspaper obviously did not verify its facts, so please dont believe what you read in there.  Thanks.

Jill Pristavec

Presumably, this was an innocent mistake. Even so, you have to wonder how important it was to the Times to get the right names when what they primarily seemed interested in was “the right face.”

(photo: Ashley Gilbertson — New York Times)

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