October 08, 2009

The Financial World Meets Robert Fisk

This would be really funny if it were not so serious. After Robert Fisk -- whose very name has long been a verb meaning to viciously fact-check -- wrote a very thinly sourced article in the Independent on how the end was neigh for the dollar, traders and speculators made and lost billions as the dollar weakened. Now a search has begun to discover Mister Robert's source. (Hint: probably his driver Abed.)

On behalf of all those who have lived in, worked in or studied the Middle East for the past decade, let me spare you the effort. At this point in Fisk's career, it is increasingly hard to tell when Fisk is even sober let alone actually reporting a story. It's really sad, too, because once upon a time (as I discovered while searching through the newspaper archives on Lebanon from the 1980s) Robert Fisk was a great reporter. Now he's a punch line, despised by his fellow journalists for the way he stopped real reporting years ago yet makes himself seem in his articles as if he -- and he alone -- has the courage to really report the news in muddy boots. I once challenged him to his face about an article he wrote about Margaret Hassan in which he suggested the U.S. military was behind her murder. He got angry and let me know that such was his reputation that his editor at the Independent never feels the need to check his sources. And that's exactly the problem, I replied. Some people only buy the Independent for Robert Fisk, so the newspaper -- which is never in the best of health -- has a strong financial incentive to let him do whatever the hell he wants.