Journalists Short of Facts Have to Rely on Fish-Market Lingo

Robert Fisk of UK’s The Independent’ is a renowned hack who has been so loaded with baubles and trinkets of a variety of weights and glister that it comes as no surprise that he has lost his balance. One example is his libellous piece replete with fish-market lingo published last week about Bahrain.

In the piece he come across as a copybook example of a pen-pusher without a sense of perspective or proportion. It is one thing for the Persian poets to claim that Bahrain was invaded by the Saudis in the wake of February-March troubles. But for a so-called respectable journo to say that from now on Bahrain news reports should be datelined ‘Manama, Occupied Bahrain’ is nothing short of scurrilous.

Saudis did not walk into Bahrain of their own volition. They were invited by the government of Bahrain to assist in controlling the situation when it looked like things might get out of hand. And they were invited under a GCC defence pact signed many years ago. And the Saudi forces were under the command of Bahraini superiors. And they never interfered in civil administration. Surely Fisk must have known all this while filing his reports. Or does he do no research?

This being the case, how could Fisk pass the slur that it was Occupied Bahrain? It’s like someone attempts to attack a person in his home and when he cannot control the man and asks his neighbour to come and help him, the Press next day declares that the neighbour was his wife’s paramour. One wonders at whose behest has Fisk given the command performance? Is he on the payroll of the Persian poets?

Journalists like to play with words as it suits them. Men of Fisk’s ilk never said the US “invaded and occupied” Iraq though it was nothing short of that. Instead, they called it an operation to bring freedom to Iraq. What cheek. Iraq had not been occupied by anyone. Then why didn’t Fisk write a scathing piece against the US? Why didn’t he call Bush an “invader”? “Oh, but Saddam was a dictator,” Fisk would squeal.

But is America under a contractual obligation to the world to get rid of dictators? And when did Fisk care to write a scathing piece when Bush was tight with Dictator Musharraf of Pakistan instead of eliminating him a la Saddam?

Secondly, how could Fisk call the trial of health workers ‘utterly fraudulent’? Has he been privy to all the documents and video footage, including amateur mobile phone images, which nail the workers? On what ground does he call it fraudulent except that perhaps some opposition activist on the run who he won’t like to name told him so over the phone? ‘Fraudulent’ is a loaded word which journalists are taught to use with caution. Is he using it to denigrate a government because taking pot shots at an Asian government is a surefire way to win another award? Is it because small Third World countries are soft targets to monkey around with? Fisk must rise above the sound of the gaseous release his name invokes and answer these questions.

Brij Sharma is an Indian journalist and editor based in Bahrain. Brij tells us the interesting stories we don’t usually hear from the middle east country.