Last Thursday, Fox News ran a brief segment on a KFC restaurant opening in Fallujah before segueing into an interview with former CENTCOM Commander Tommy Franks, who was asked to comment on the presence of an American fast food restaurant in the notoriously violent Iraqi city. “Do they have a drive-thru window?” Steve Doocy asks. “They get in and get out. And, so far, they do it safely,” answers Brian Kilmeade:
Now, call us cynical, but something about that segment seemed off — oddly upbeat even. On Friday I put in a call to KFC headquarters to ask if the Fallujah chicken joint is the real deal. KFC told me they were looking into the matter. Today, Yum! Restaurants International spokesman Christophe Lecureuil wrote me back:
I understand you wanted some details about the store in Falluja that looks like a KFC. This store is not approved by KFC International and we have working with the US Military to warn the troops of this situation.
Details are still hard to come by. Lecureuil said that the company doesn’t have more information at this stage because “we’ve just started investigating the matter.” Asked how KFC was working with the military, Lecureuil wrote only that: “Concerning the military, we have a long-standing and excellent relationship with them as we have quite a few KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut stores in military bases outside the US.”
So where did the Fallujah KFC myth come from?
The story seems to have popped up two weeks ago in a report by a Marine public information officer. Cpl. Chris T. Mann is a PIO for Regimental Combat Team 1, which is part of the 1st Marine Division. The following photo accompanied his post on the regimental website:
And the footage that Fox used can be traced back to a 5-minute clip at LiveLeak.com, which shows scenes of chicken frying amid assorted KFC-branded signage. Another marine, Public Affairs Chief Josh Higgins of Regimental Combat Team 1, referenced the same “KFC” in a recent article for the Greenville, TN, newspaper.
In an email Saturday, 1st Lt Brian Block, a media officer for Multi National Force – West, told me that Cpl. Mann would be out on a mission for the next couple of days. We’ve also called the number of the faux KFC itself, but no one at the restaurant seems to speak English.
All we know for sure right now is that the original Fox report — that a KFC franchise opened in Fallujah — was bogus.