The Independent Apologizes for Robert Fisk’s False Reporting
August 4, 2011 13 Comments
I noticed an interesting correction appearing in The Independent while skimming it in a supermarket (you don’t think I would actually buy that thing, do you?).
In his Friday essay on 15 April 2011 (“The Arab Awakening – a long time coming”) Robert Fisk quoted from an order said to have been issued by the Saudi Minister of the Interior, HRH Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud on 11 March, in which he alleged that Prince Nayef ordered his security forces to show no mercy and to use live rounds on unarmed demonstrators.
Although the essay was published in good faith, we now accept that the “Order” in question is in fact a forgery, and that Prince Nayef did not issue any such order. We apologise sincerely to Prince Nayef for the damage and embarrassment which our reporting of it has caused him.
I’m no fan of the Saudi Monarchy, but I hope this starts a trend. Unfortunately, not everyone has the resources of the Saudi Prince Nayef, who apparently fought a vicious court battle for the retraction and won substantial undisclosed damages. I’ve always said the ‘reporting’ of Middle East ‘expert’ Robert Fisk makes lying into an elegant art form. Sometimes, however, Fisk (whose face is also being sued by a tomato for breach of copyright) lets his guard down and pens the absolutely ridiculous. In October 2006 Fisk made the front page of The Independent claiming Israel had used uranium-based weapons in the Second Lebanon War that summer. Days later, an investigative panel of people who actually knew something about uranium-based weapons found no evidence of this, but The Independent never retracted the story. It says something about The Independent when they will placate the Saudis far quicker than they would ever apologize to the Israelis constantly demonized in their paper.
Its a shame that there are many experts on the Middle East, the Muslim world and Israeli history far superior to Robert Fisk that remain virtually unknown in Britain and Europe. There is the fierce critic of US foreign policy Eric Margolis, for instance, who very rarely appears as a talking head on CNN or FOX. I would fiercely disagree with Margolis on many some of his criticism of Israel. Yet the man does have a deep knowledge of military matters, something which should be required of Mid-East commentators but is most often missing. I blame that on the leftist domination of the field. Many of these people who wouldn’t send their kids to the scouts for fear they are too militaristic. Then there is the Israeli revisionist historian Efraim Karsh, who professionally demolishes myths about Israel’s War of Independence, Islam and the quality of Robert Fisk’s writing. If only these people wrote regularly for The Independent, while Robert Fisk performed a more useful function by serving up shawarma in Beirut. I still can’t think of any responsibilities a sensible person might give to Johann Hari.