'A good man gone'

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Freelance writer Candice Reed looked at the grisly photos of charred American bodies dangling from an Iraq bridge and thought, Thank God that isn't anyone I know. Then came the email from a friend asking, "Isn't this your Navy SEAL?"

I stared at the name—Scott Helvenston—and remembered the grisly photo. Suddenly I felt sick. Then I burst into tears. It was definitely my Navy SEAL.

As a freelance writer I've interviewed thousands of people. I've listened to their stories, written them and filed them away. But Scott was different.

Four years ago we spent eight weeks together—two hours a day, three days a week. A small local paper wanted me to write a series of articles about what it was like to train with a fitness guru. My job was to write about the ex-Navy SEAL who had given Demi Moore a new body for her movie "G.I. Jane." Scott's job was to turn a semi-couch potato journalist into an athlete. He would get some publicity for his business. I would get copy for eight weeks, and maybe a new body. We were both just doing our jobs.

Her piece is in today's L.A. Times magazine, which also has a profile of "The Boondocks" creator Aaron McGruder by staffer Greg Braxton and a freelanced piece on best-selling Christian novelist Tim LaHaye, who believes the end is near so he's writing as fast as he can.

Meanwhile, the LAT follows up Tim Rutten's Friday review of Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack in the daily paper with a second favorable take, this one in today's Book Review by Robert Scheer. Um, the two reviews are quite similar in their political view and appreciation of the book's revelations -- as you might expect given the reviewers' long relationship as friends, colleagues and collaborators. If you're going to run two reviews, two days apart, why not seek out a broader range of reviewers? After all, the book is generating a lot of discussion, including about Woodward and the merits of his journalistic approach. Commenter Mike Turmon over in the Rutten review thread from Friday points to a 1996 Joan Didion piece in the New York Review of Books on Woodward.

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