Friday, February 7
Journalists are under fire for telling the truth
Robert Fisk, December 18, 2002
First it was Roger Ailes, the chairman of the Fox News Channel, who advised the US President to take the "harshest measures possible" against those who attacked America on 11 September, 2001.
Let us forget, for a moment, that Fox News's Jerusalem bureau chief is Uri Dan, a friend of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the author of the preface of the new edition of Sharon's autobiography, which includes a revolting account of the Sabra and Chatila massacre of 1,700 Palestinian civilians and Sharon's innocence in this slaughter. Then Ted Koppel, one of America's leading news anchormen, announced that it may be a journalist's duty not to reveal events until the military want them revealed in a new war against Iraq.
Can we go any further in journalistic cowardice? Oh yes, we can. ABC television announced, a little while ago, that it knew all about the killing of four al-Qa'ida members by an unmanned "Predator" plane in Yemen but delayed broadcasting the news for four days "at the request of the Pentagon." So now at least we know for whom ABC works.
I will tell you. Journalists are being attacked for telling the truth, for trying to tell it how it is. American journalists especially.
I urge them to read a remarkable new book published by the New York University Press and edited by John Collins and Ross Glover. It's called Collateral Language and is, in its own words, intended to expose "the tyranny of political rhetoric". Its chapter titles – "Anthrax", "Cowardice", "Evil", "Freedom", Fundamentalism", "Justice", "Terrorism", Vital Interests" and – my favourite – "The War on..." (fill in the missing country) tell it all.
Meanwhile, rest assured, the journalists are getting onside, to tell you the story the government wants you to hear.
See also: Tyranny of words and war
Antonia Zerbisias, Toronto Star, February 6, 2003