Fisk: 'Cut out the government spin doctors'

The Independent's veteran Middle East correspondent, Robert Fisk, has attacked US press reliance on official government sources, and claimed he never uses press releases or government officials in his own reporting.

Speaking at the Frontline Club in London, Fisk also asked why journalists don't approach the world more sceptically.

Reading out a front-page Los Angeles Times article that referred to US government sources, Fisk said: "You don't need the ministry of fear when you have the press. This paper should be called ‘government officials say'.

"So should the New York Times and the Washington Post. Some of our papers are the same, but they're not nearly as bad. Why don't we approach the events of the world more sceptically as journalists?"

He added: "It is the officiallyinspired leaks and contact with government [that create] the osmotic, parasitic relationship between the press and power.

Cut out the press officers, refuse to go to the spin doctors' briefings, and then they'll try to come to you, and other people will come to you, and they'll come with the documents and details — and that's what you need. It works in the Middle East too."

Fisk said that the big problem about the Lebanon was that the "new narrative" was being invented by Israel.

He said: "One part is that the reporting of the children at Qana was anti-Semitic, because it was recreating the myths of Jewish child killers of the medieval age.

"This is a problem because I'm not an anti-Semitic person and I hate anti-Semitism as a slander against decent people.

"It will make anti-Semitism respectable if they keep doing that. But how do you deal with that if it means you can't report the killing of children by Israeli aircraft?"

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