CNN correspondent Nic Robertson has a bone or two to pick with Fox News, which reported today that he and other journalists were used by the Libyan Ministry of Information as human shields, in a successful bid to block a coming, second attack on a compound in Tripoli, supposedly controlled by Qaddafi.
“[T]his allegation is outrageous and it’s absolutely hypocritical. When you come to somewhere like Libya, you expect lies and deceit from a dictatorship here,” Robertson told Wolf Blitzer. “You don’t expect it from the other journalists.”
Fox claims their own correspondent, Steve Harrigan, declined to accept the invitation from the Libyans for fear of being used as a propaganda tool, and perhaps a human shield. But Robertson claims Fox did indeed send an employee on the trip — not a regular news guy — and that Harrigan has been asleep on the job since hostilities began.
“I see him more times at breakfast than out on trips with government officials here,” Robertson said. “So for them to say and call this — to say they didn’t go and for them to call this and say this was government propaganda to hold us there as human shields when they didn’t even leave the hotel … is ridiculous.”
Fox is staking out high-ground here, claiming they were above being used by the government. Nonsense, says Robertson. “They sent a member of their team. He was not editorial. He was nontechnical, not normally a cameraman.”
Robertson added that the reason he and many other reporters agree to this and similar outings is simple. “[W]e go on these government trips … for a very simple reason because we don’t want government officials to film it themselves, edit it themselves and hand it off to us,” Robertson said, raising the suggestion that Harrigan’s reporting from Libya is suspect or incomplete.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.