Jewish World Review June 23, 2003 / 23 Sivan, 5763

Neil Cavuto

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The big pitch for the "big get," no big deal! | The big interview. The big exclusive.

The big one-on-one with the name of the moment for the pow-wow of the moment, or shall I say "P-O-W" of the moment.

Right now, Pfc. Jessica D. Lynch is the Big Get, and this is her moment.

Still recuperating from her wounds before and during her daring rescue in Iraq, the 20-year-old soldier is being wooed big-time.

Katie Couric sent a bunch of patriotic books; Diane Sawyer sent a locket with a photograph of Lynch's family.

And then there's CBS, part of a vast conglomerate that teased enormous synergies for Lynch, including a possible book deal through its Simon & Schuster unit, an MTV News special, a possible hosting stint on MTV2, maybe a Country Music Television special, a documentary on CBS News, and a made-for-TV-movie produced by CBS Entertainment.

Top that, Katie and Diane!

If I were Jessica's agent, and I understand she'll have one soon, I'd go for the CBS deal -- because there's nothing wrong with taking it, and there's nothing wrong at all with CBS offering it.

It's all about leverage. And, let's face it, CBS has lots of it, and boy, doesn't it know how to use it!

Conglomerates do things like that. Couric's General Electric-owned NBC is no stranger to using the combined clout of the No. 1 morning show, on top of the most watched news division. The possibilities are enormous. Crafty bookers there might even dangle a Jessica Defense Stock Index for GE-owned financial channel CNBC!

Sawyer's ABC could use the Disney connection and throw in a trip to the Magic Kingdom. If you've got it, flaunt it and sell it. I know this sounds sacrilegious, but I don't have a problem with any of it.

Here's why: Media companies are bigger today. They might as well flaunt what they have. I know this is going to shock some Edward R. Murrow types, but making news and making money are not mutually exclusive.

For decades now, news organizations have been doing both. They've used every means at their disposal to get The Get. It might be as innocent as The New York Times touting the fact it's the newspaper of record (so, who else would you talk to?) or Barbara Walters insisting more people watch her news specials than any other (they do) or even the far-flung media juggernaut for whom I toil, News Corporation, reminding folks it's FOX News and The New York Post and Twentieth Century Fox (to say nothing of Homer Simpson!).

Big Gets deserve Big Treatment from Big Players who tout Big Organizations. It's natural for those organizations to flaunt their stuff. It's up to the interviewee to decide who flaunts it the best.

All I'm saying is after the flaunting, get to the questioning. And when it comes time for that interview, whoever conducts it, conduct it like any other. Step on all subjects, even if it means stepping on toes. You can't avoid it. Just do it.

What matters after The Get are the goods you get from The Get. And that depends on the questions. They should be tough, but fair. Sympathetic, but probing.

Do ask Private Lynch about her harrowing experience, but also ask about disputed reports that the rescue itself may not have been as harrowing as earlier thought.

Do ask her about the horror of that experience, but also ask her about the enormous financial opportunities that have arisen because of that experience, maybe opportunities your very organization dangled to get The Get!

You don't have to be obnoxious. But you do have to ask.

She seems like one remarkable woman. And believe me, if she could take what Iraqis dished out, she can take whatever questions inquiring journalists can throw out.

Just ask those questions.

She'll be better for it. You'll be better for it and, heaven forbid, the evil conglomerate journalists love to complain about will be better for it.

I say, let us report. And let Jessica decide.

Remember, even Edward R. Murrow had sponsors. They didn't prevent him from asking the tough questions he did then. They shouldn't prevent us from asking the tough questions we should now.

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Neil Cavuto is managing editor of Business News at FOX News Channel. He is also the host of "Your World with Neil Cavuto" and "Cavuto on Business." Comment by clicking here.


© 2003, Neil Cavuto