Dog bites man: Scoop fed to Sy Hersh by Robert Fisk might be a little "shaky"

Media Blog’s on it. I know this garbage is poisonous but I still can’t help laughing at the chain of reportage. From the British head of an Arabist NGO to the guy who once basically thanked a pair of Afghans for beating and mugging his sorry western ass to another guy who recently smeared the U.S. military and is on record as saying it’s okay to lie to audiences (but certainly never in print!).

The scoop from March: Lebanon’s anti-Syrian government may have offered to send weapons to a small, er, Syrian-linked jihadist group based in northern Lebanon to wage jihad on the much-bigger, also Syrian-linked Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. This would be the same jihadist group, Fatah al-Islam, whom the same Lebanese government has been laying siege to for weeks now.

Sure does make the U.S. look bad, though, so it must be true:

Sharp-eyed reporters in Beirut read the article in astonishment. Siniora, of the Lebanese Sunni establishment, was assisting allies of Al-Qaida who had split off from a pro-Syrian organization? And the United States was aware of this and might even be planning it, in order to strike at Hezbollah? And all this was in the context of aid to the Sunni forces in the Middle East in their conflict with Shi’ites backed, according to Hersh, by Iran? A world turned on its head. How could it be?

But it was published in The New Yorker, a magazine known for its meticulous fact-checking. The Lebanese reporters began investigating the story on their own.

Hersh said he heard the story from Robert Fisk, the bureau chief of The Independent’s Beirut office. But Hersh did not check out the story himself. For his part, Fisk said he heard the unconfirmed report from Alastair Crooke, a former British intelligence agent and the founding director and Middle East representative of the Conflicts Forum, a non-profit organization that aims to build a new relationship between the West and the Muslim world. Crooke, who gained his reputation through his involvement in the conflict in northern Ireland, does not know Arabic. When Lebanese journalists spoke to Crooke about the report, they said he told them only that he had heard it “from all kinds of people.”

Thus are reports about the Middle East generated, I thought to myself. And this is a case involving two well-known journalists and an even more well-known magazine.

It’s Haaretz, which tilts left, so he politely neglects to mention which way those well-known journalists and their well-known magazine tilt themselves. Meanwhile, a month to the day since fighting broke out, the Lebanese army now claims to have overrun all major Fatah al-Islam positions inside the refugee camp in which the group is based. Palestinian leaders are trying to negotiate a ceasefire; the Lebanese, in cahoots with the group per the Hersh-Fisk theory, seem intent on ending it with force, oddly enough.

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Ed Morrissey 10:01 AM on December 06, 2022