PCC Weighs In On Fisk

Independent281006Not once but twice, we called on The Independent to retract a cover story by Robert Fisk accusing Israel of firing depleted uranium shells at Lebanon during last year’s war. Despite the fact that a UN team and, later, Lebanese experts themselves put the canard to rest, The Independent never retracted its coverage.

So when HonestReporting reader Gavin Gross lodged a formal complaint against The Independent with the Press Complaints Commission, the PCC was forced to weigh in. See the woeful response (pdf format):

The Commission therefore considered that the article had clearly presented the allegation that Israel had used uranium-based weapons in Lebanon as such. Readers generally would — in the Commission’s view — be aware that the article represented the speculative views of the journalist and experts quoted, and would not be misled into believing that the allegations had been proved, or that Israel definitely used uranium weapons.

That said, the Commission was pleased to note that the newspaper had published a follow up article reporting that the UN Environment Programme had “failed to find any evidence that Israel used depleted uranium, enriched uranium, or any other radioactive material in bombs dropped on Lebanon…” Notwithstanding the complainant’s concern that the newspaper had failed to afford this article sufficient prominence, or indeed report the expert panel’s subsequent unanimous rejection of the allegations, the Commission was satisfied that the publication of the follow up piece was sufficient remedial action….

The remedial “follow up” the PCC found pleasing to note is based on a mere two sentences buried in a November report about phosphorous shells. It hardly balances out The Independent’s sensationalized front page.

A surprising decision? Not necessarily. According to another PCC ruling, journalists may call Israel an apartheid state.