“I always say that reporters should be neutral and unbiased on the side of those who suffer.”
—Robert Fisk, 1946-2020
Throughout the years, award-winning war correspondent Robert Fisk spoke several times at MECA events in the 1990s and early 2000s. He would never accept a speaking fee and requested that all money raised instead be sent to Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon. His speaking events sold out to crowds of 800 or more, earning generous revenues for MECA’s work.
Besides being a journalist and author, Fisk was ultimately a mesmerizing storyteller. He had audiences hanging on every word, as he showed video clips of the Middle East war zones he covered, and narrating these clips with stories of the humanity, courage, and resilience of the people affected by those wars. In response to the idea that journalism is or should be “objective,” Fisk said, “I always say that reporters should be neutral and unbiased on the side of those who suffer. If you were covering the 18th-century slave trade, you would not give equal space to the slave-ship captain. … At the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Beirut in 1982, I did not give equal time to the Israeli army who watched the killings and whose Lebanese allies committed the atrocity.”
MECA Co-Founder and retired Executive Director Barbara Lubin met Robert Fisk in Iraq during the first Gulf War and spent time with him in Beirut, where he lived and wrote for more than forty years. Barbara recalls, “Wherever we went people knew him, greeted him and thanked him for telling their stories. He put himself in such dire situations and took enormous risks to tell the rest of us what was happening. But I think my favorite memory of Bob is the time we traveled by car to various speaking events in Northern California. Almost the whole time, he sang all the words to every song from ‘The Titanic,’ which was his favorite movie. Despite all the horrors he witnessed he never lost his own humanity and joy for life.”
Thank you, Robert Fisk. We will miss you.