This article is from 2007.
John Pilger has been attacking government tyranny for almost half a century. He tells Brian Donaldson that he will never give up on exposing the West’s war of terror
In this day and age, journalist is a job title which is afforded a disdain from the general public on a par with estate agent, parking attendant and serial killer. Trust is a commodity that is lacking when it comes to relations between newspaper people and those in the public eye who are written about on an all-too frequent basis. In such a context John Pilger is that rarest of beasts: a journalist who can be relied upon to come up with the stories which will hurt those in authority, but written purely from the perspective of the facts rather than with any salacious motives or barely hidden agendas in mind.
So, what does his job title mean to the Australian-born investigative writer? ‘A journalist is a representative of the public,’ declares Pilger. ‘His or her job is to keep the record straight and truthfully to pursue facts and, if at all possible, the meaning of those facts. A journalist is not a representative of authority in any form, and the task of looking behind the official version of events and investigating and challenging them, is a duty.’
In the course of his duty, Pilger has exposed the hell of Pol Pot’s Cambodia, revealed the suffering in East Timor and shed a light on little known atrocities such as the enforced depopulation of the Chagos Islands by Britain for largely military reasons in the late 60s. To his credit, Pilger has never been afraid to have a pop at those whom liberals wished to put faith in: he describes Tony Blair as the most ‘anti-freedom prime minister in the modern era’ and believes that US presidential candidate Barack Obama ‘is a classic right-wing liberal democrat, who currently “doesn’t rule out” attacking Iran.’ With his latest small screen work about America’s relations with its Latino neighbours, War on Democracy, having recently aired on ITV, Pilger shows no sign of becoming any less of a thorn in governmental sides.
John Pilger, 24 Aug, 6.30pm, £8 (£6).