by Elaine Lafferty

So the story is that Hillary Clinton exaggerated the dangers of her visit to Bosnia in the 1990s by saying she had landed during sniper fire. The media is jumping on this one like it’s the James Frey scandal. If you’re scanning headlines, you might think Hillary was having tea in Paris instead.

The whole ruckus is strange to hear when you’ve been in a war zone. So wait. What does "sniper fire" mean anyway?

I was not in Bosnia, but I was in Kosovo and other war zones over the years and wrote about snipers and bombing and such things. There were, in Bosnia during Hillary’s landing, "reports of sniper fire."

You know the difference between "reports" and "confirmation" of sniper fire? Confirmation is when you or the person next to you gets hit. Beyond that, it’s reports. But any civilian you can imagine who is entering such a zone and being told there are "reports" is going to assume it means there is sniper fire. What would you think?

All of this puts me in mind of the great women reporters — most of them over 40 by the way — who have covered global conflicts in the last 10 years. They’ve covered stories the way smart women do anything; consistently, doggedly, thoroughly.

Look them up if you want real news and real history: Jacky Rowland, formerly of the BBC; Hilary McKenzie of Canadian Broadcasting Company; Stephanie Nolen of Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper; and Kathy Gannon of the Associated Press.

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  • elaine l March 27, 2008 at 9:43 am

    As a dear friend of mine who spent years in the Balkans covering conflict said yesterday..”Anybody who was in Bosnia in 1996 and does not think there were snipers is either very lucky or dead.”

  • Dr. Pat Allen March 27, 2008 at 8:29 am

    Dear Barbara,
    Thank you for your spirited response to the Sniper Fire issue. This is a long and dirty Democratic primary and each of us is searching for truth from the spin and counter-spin teams of both Senators Clinton and Obama.
    Women’s Voices for Change is a safe forum for women with all points of view. Keep the dialogue lively!

  • Barbara Thornbrough March 26, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Please- stop making excuses for a boldfaced lie.First, it was The President could not go as it was too dangerous for him so he sent his wife and child. This is insulting to the military who would never in a million years let the Clintons get off a plane in the middle of gunfire. Have some respect for the military, please. You should be ashamed of this excuse for Hil you have attempted to put over on us. How dumb do the public look to you?? Pretty stupid I guess.

  • Elizabeth Hemmerdinger March 26, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    There’s way too much sniping going on in the media right here at home. Newspapers, at least in my area, have become house organs. Thanks, too, for reminding us, Elaine, of the brave women (and men) who put themselves in the line of fire, war correpondents — and politicians.