Having just won the 2008 Weblog Award for Best Military Blog, Michael Yon is considering filing a lawsuit against schlockumentarian Michael Moore.
Since last May, Yon has been trying without success to get Moore to remove from his website an award-winning picture the milblogger took back in 2005 (photo available here).
Yon explained the situation to his readers on Monday (photo courtesy AP via NYP):
My attorney may have to file a lawsuit against Mr. Michael Moore. In May we contacted Mr. Moore, through his counsel, about Mr. Moore’s unauthorized use of my work on his website. He did not respond. My attorney has written again. If Mr. Moore and his counsel continue to ignore our correspondence, we will proceed with a lawsuit.
This lawsuit, though, should not be a distraction from combat reporting; the proceedings should be easy and require almost zero hands-on work from me. But it will be potentially costly. I’ve never sued anyone in my life. Looks like Mr. Moore might be the first.
According to the New York Post:
Last year, to illustrate one of his anti-administration bombasts, the portly polemicist posted on his michaelmoore.com Web site a heartbreaking photo from Iraq of an American soldier carrying the blood-spattered body of a child. The picture was snapped by acclaimed independent war correspondent Michael Yon, who has been very careful about how his images are distributed and goes out of his way to make sure they aren't used for demagogic diatribes.
Yon - a Special Forces vet who posts regular dispatches from the front at michaelyon-online.com - is considered by many as the "Ernie Pyle of our time." [...]
The misappropriated photo shows US Army Maj. Mark Bieger cradling an Iraqi girl wounded by car-bomb shrapnel. She died a short time later.
"The implication on Moore's Web site was that our soldiers were somehow responsible for that kid being wounded," Yon's lawyer, John Mason, told Page Six. "That is absolutely not true. She was the victim of an insurgent's car bomb." Yon said: "I've never sued anyone in my life. It looks like Mr. Moore might be the first." Page Six e-mailed Moore for his response, but he didn't get back to us, either.
The picture was voted by Time readers as the top photo of 2005. Bruce Willis has said he hopes to produce a movie based on Yon's experiences with the Deuce Four unit.
As Yon posted in 2005, here's the truth behind what was captured in this picture:
Major Mark Bieger found this little girl after the car bomb that attacked our guys while kids were crowding around. The soldiers here have been angry and sad for two days. They are angry because the terrorists could just as easily have waited a block or two and attacked the patrol away from the kids. Instead, the suicide bomber drove his car and hit the Stryker when about twenty children were jumping up and down and waving at the soldiers. Major Bieger, I had seen him help rescue some of our guys a week earlier during another big attack, took some of our soldiers and rushed this little girl to our hospital. He wanted her to have American surgeons and not to go to the Iraqi hospital. She didn’t make it. I snapped this picture when Major Bieger ran to take her away. He kept stopping to talk with her and hug her.
The soldiers went back to that neighborhood the next day to ask what they could do. The people were very warm and welcomed us into their homes, and many kids were actually running up to say hello and to ask soldiers to shake hands.
Eventually, some insurgents must have realized we were back and started shooting at us. The American soldiers and Iraqi police started engaging the enemy and there was a running gun battle. I saw at least one IP who was shot, but he looked okay and actually smiled at me despite the big bullet hole in his leg. I smiled back.
One thing seems certain; the people in that neighborhood share our feelings about the terrorists. We are going to go back there, and if any terrorists come out, the soldiers hope to find them. Everybody is still very angry that the insurgents attacked us when the kids were around. Their day will come.