Labrador transformed

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Last updated on August 3rd, 2017 at 11:22 am

Robert Fisk recently visited the US. Or his version of the US:

Watching the pathetic, old, lie-on-its-back frightened labrador of the American media changing overnight into a vicious rottweiler is one of the enduring pleasures of society in the United States. I have been experiencing this phenomenon over the past two weeks, as both victim and beneficiary.

Only in Fisk’s world can an overnight change be an enduring pleasure. Do labradors, when frightened, lie on their backs? Robert can’t write.

In The New York Times, that ancient luminary Ethan Bonner managed to chide me for attacking American journalists who – he furiously quoted my own words – “report in so craven a fashion from the Middle East – so fearful of Israeli criticism that they turn Israeli murder into ‘targeted attacks’ and illegal settlements into ‘Jewish neighbourhoods’.”

It was remarkable that Bonner should be so out of touch with his readers that he did not know that “craven” is the very word so many Americans apply to their grovelling newspapers (and quite probably one reason why newspaper circulations are falling so disastrously).

Let’s look at the recent performance of Fisk’s own newspaper: “The Independent posted its first year-on-year circulation drop since it launched a tabloid version in September 2003. Its headline circulation figure was down 2.47 per cent to 255,603.” Weekday circulation of the UK Daily Telegraph: 904,660.

But the moment that a respected Democratic congressman and Vietnam war veteran in Washington dared to suggest that the war in Iraq was lost, that US troops should be brought home now – and when the Republican response was so brutal it had to be disowned – the old media dog sniffed the air, realised that power was moving away from the White House, and began to drool.

Right. Up to that point, the US media had been rock-solid behind Herr Chimpler the Rove-Powered Jesus Goblin.

On live television in San Francisco, I could continue my critique of America’s folly in Iraq uninterrupted.

And none of that notoriously conservative city’s slavering Bush killbots intervened? Unprecedented!

Ex-Mayor Willie Brown – who allowed me to have my picture taken in his brand new pale blue Stetson – exuded warmth towards this pesky Brit (though he claimed on air that I was an American) who tore into his country’s policies in the Middle East.

Maybe—just maybe—Brown exuded warmth because he completely agrees with Fisk about the war. Just maybe.

On the east coast, too, the editorials thundered away at the Bush administration.

There’s a first.

Seymour Hersh, that blessing to American journalism who broke the Abu Ghraib torture story, produced another black rabbit out of his Iraqi hat with revelations that US commanders in Iraq believe the insurgency is now out of control.

Hersh broke the Abu Ghraib story? According to the New Yorker: “The abuses at Abu Ghraib were exposed on January 13th, when Joseph Darby, a young military policeman assigned to Abu Ghraib, reported the wrongdoing to the Army’s Criminal Investigations Division. He also turned over a CD full of photographs. Within three days, a report made its way to Donald Rumsfeld, who informed President Bush.” Full credit to Fisk for that “black rabbit out of his Iraqi hat” line, though.

Even in Hollywood –

Don’t tell me even Hollywood has turned against the war! I WON’T BELIEVE YOU!

Even in Hollywood – and here production schedules prove that the rot must have set in more than a year ago – hitherto taboo subjects are being dredged to the surface of the political mire. Jarhead, produced by Universal Pictures, depicts a brutal, traumatised Marine unit during the 1991 Gulf War …

And then there’s Syriana, [George] Clooney’s epic of the oil trade which combines suicide bombers, maverick CIA agents (one of them played by Clooney himself), feuding Middle East Arab potentates – one of whom wants real democracy and wealth for his people and control of his own country’s resources – along with a slew of disreputable businessmen and east coast lawyers. The CIA eventually assassinates the Arab prince who wants to take control of his own country’s oil (so much for democracy) – this is accomplished with a pilotless aerial bomb guided by men in a room in Virginia – while a Pakistani fired from his job in the oil fields because an American conglomerate has downsized for its shareholders’ profits destroys one of the company’s tankers in a suicide attack.

Sounds like Fisk’s kinda movie.

“People seem less afraid now,” Clooney told an interviewer in Entertainment magazine. “Lots of people are starting to ask questions. It’s becoming hard to avoid the questions.”

Clooney actually spoke to Entertainment Weekly, not something called Entertainment. Fisk can’t even read a magazine cover accurately.

Yet still they avoid the “Israel” question. The Arab princes in Syriana – who in real life would be obsessed with the occupation of the West Bank – do not murmur a word about Israel. The Arab al-Qa’ida operative who persuades the young Pakistani to attack an oil tanker makes no reference to Israel – as every one of bin Laden’s acolytes assuredly would. It was instructive that Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 did not mention Israel once.

“As every one of bin Laden’s acolytes assuredly would.” It’s instructive that, just like these acolytes, Fisk mentions Israel so often.

Americans are ready to discuss the United States’ relationship with Israel. And America’s injustices towards the Arabs. As usual, ordinary Americans are way out in front of their largely tamed press and television reporters. Now we have to wait and see if the media boys and girls will catch up with their own people.

People are in fact catching up with their media. Fisk might learn of this if he expands his reading a little.

(Via J.F. Beck, who finds additional flaws in Fisk’s addled report)

Posted by Tim B. on 12/04/2005 at 09:08 AM
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