Wednesday, 18 December 2002

Journalists are under fire for telling the truth

by Robert Fisk

click here to visit his website 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.

The Pentagon said that the murdered men – and let's not lose sight of the "murdered" bit, though that's not the word ABC used – were between "two to 20" of the top ranks of al-Qa'ida. Really? So were they numbers two, three, four and five in al-Qa'ida? Or numbers 17,18,19 and 20? Who cares? The press are onside. Don't ask who is resisting forthcoming US censorship of the Iraq war. Ask who is first to climb aboard the bandwagon.

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