Over the years, Robert Fisk has read a lot of hate mail. Movie stars, Rabbis and politicians have berated him in letters and in public. Papers refuse to reprint his articles and television channels won't play his documentaries.
But he seems proud of this.
As he told the crowd of 500 people at the First Congregational Church Thursday night, all journalists would be facing such criticisms if they, too, told the truth in their reporting.
Fisk, world-renowned British journalist who works for The Independent in London, has investigated the Middle East for 26 years, and condemns American media for biasing their reports towards Israel in order to comply with government propaganda or out of fear of offending readership.
"We have been lying about the Middle East out of fright of being pro-Israel or because we journalists prefer an easy life unaccompanied by hate mail or letters to the editor," he said.
Fisk calls this a "journalistic cop-out," like when CNN or the New York Times call occupied Palestinian land “the disputed territories.” Or when the same media uses the phrase “Jewish neighborhoods” to describe the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
"Journalists have gone out of their way to de-contextulize history," he said.
This type of terminology-twisting biases articles toward Israel, said Fisk. He described an incident in which four Palestinians were killed by an Israeli-fired American missile. The story was top news in European media, but it got buried in the New York Times. In another example of media bias, Fisk said, American papers attribute Israeli deaths to their Palestinian murderers, but they report the Palestinian bodies merely as victims of anonymous “cross-fire.”
Also, American media doesn’t answer the word “why,” especially regarding the Sept. 11 attacks, Fisk said. While there is much coverage on the terrorist's schemes and from which countries they came, and of what can be done to those countries to stop them, but there is no information on why the “terror” has happened – what may have provoked people to hate America, Fisk said.
"I do sometimes wonder if America's focus on that day – to the point of not even looking at the motive – is becoming a dangerous sort of self-infatuation," he said.
Fisk criticized the reluctance of the media to call the Israeli destruction of the Jenin Palestinian refugee camp a "massacre," and discussed the importance of how to label mass murders. From the deaths of thousands of Armenians in a 1915 genocide by the Turks to an incident where Palestinians killed four Israelis in Adora, Fisk said the terms “massacre,” “attack” or “genocide” and “holocaust” are all used with bias.
"Now the definition of a 'blood bath' depends on the religion or the race of those murdered," Fisk said.