Former WA premier Peter Dowding writes: Christian Kerr’s piece in yesterday’s Crikey – “Blood Steyns the blogosphere as Islam meets the West” (item 2) – records the view: “The Independent‘s Robert Fisk is regarded as one of the sages of Middle East reporting. Yet his article yesterday was headlined ‘In the face of Bush’s lies, it’s left to Assad to tell the truth’. Trust the President of Syria? Here’s the summary of Amnesty International’s latest report on what he and his regime stand for”. At a time when accurate reporting is so important and critical comments should be soundly based, this article does Christian Kerr and your newsletter absolutely no credit. Fisk is properly regarded as one of the sages of Middle East reporting precisely because he is careful, truthful and evenhanded, possessing a highly developed sense of the importance of cutting through the lies. One may assume that even if the headline of the story is not set by a sub editor – as it patently was – Fisk nowhere eulogises the Syrian regime. He says in the article: “That it should be Syria, of all nations, which can state this to so much applause probably says more about Washington than it does about Damascus”. Nor does he anywhere suggest that one should trust Assad, in fact, he goes on to say, “The fact that Syria could bellow about the ‘achievements’ of Hezbollah while avoiding the destruction of a blade of grass inside Syria suggests a cynicism that has yet to be grasped inside the Arab world. But for now, Syria has won”. Kerr’s comfy world may be a long way from Fisk’s dangerous environment, but the least you can do is to ensure objectivity and not inaccurate criticism about a fine journalist. And thank God for such a brave journalist or the true outrage of the attacks on Lebanon might have not been understood in our country.

John Kelly writes: Re. “Blood Steyns the blogosphere as Islam meets the West”. Christian Kerr is a journalist? Commentator? Entertainer? I don’t know what the correct term is these days. Whatever Herr Kerr thinks he is I know what Robert Fisk is – one of the best journos in the business today. Kerr’s suggestion that Fisk is some slave to the forces of evil because of a headline is bizarre. Did you read the entire article Christian or were you seeing red(s) again after only 14 words? Fisk, who lives in that weird ol’ mid-east, makes the point that there’s something up when the President of Syria’s version of truth is closer to reality than the President of the United States’s version. Is this a betrayal of western cultural values? How? Explain this to me, because I do not understand. Although by your reasoning, it seems I myself may be a traitor to that particular cause. Whatever it is.

Peter Fray

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