Tim Blair


New Criterion



Friday, April 04, 2003
THE INDEPENDENT is defending to the political death the right of its Iraq correspondent, Robert Fisk, to be a credulous dill.

Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, is a smooth politician who relies on nuance to do his dirty work. He did not say, in plain terms, that he disbelieves The Independent's accounts of civilian casualties sustained in Iraq. He did not say that Robert Fisk, our award-winning reporter, is a willing dupe of Saddam Hussein's regime. He simply allowed those suggestions to hang, unspoken, in the House of Commons chamber yesterday. thundered its leader writer today.

Robert Fisk has a proud record of reporting what he sees. He has travelled to dangerous places and described unflinchingly what is happening. He prefers to speak to the people caught up in conflicts rather than report what the generals, politicians and spokesmen are saying.

Or what his fellow journalists in Baghdad are saying.

On the first edition of this evening's PM on Radio National, the correspondent for the Herald-Age of Sydbourne, Paul McGeough, was asked ot comment on Fisk's report that he had seen tanks massing for a counter-attack.

Yeah, well, Robert Fisk gets a bit windy, said Paul, in Uncle's close paraphrase. I was on the same bus as Fisk, and there were two or three tanks. And half a dozen troops getting a drink from a creek.

A bit windy! How about downright, mendaciously delusional.

Could such a journalist be duped by a piece of rocket with a serial number?

Would you abuse your country's defence minister to defend Fisk's judgement?