In an interview with The Huffington Post, Steve Harrigan, who is in Libya for Fox News, called Nic Robertson—who tore into the network and Harrigan himself on Monday—"dull," said that Robertson would have talked to him in person "if he was a man," and said that his idea of news reporting was "bullshit." (Scroll down for CNN's response.)
Robertson harshly criticized Fox News on Monday over a report by defense correspondent Jennifer Griffin that alleged that he and other journalists were being "effectively used as human shields" by the Gaddafi government during a trip to Gaddafi's bombed compound.
Robertson did not take kindly to this claim. He also took issue with Griffin's original assertion that Fox News had not sent Harrigan or any other representative along on the trip because it was concerned that they "could be used as human shields." According to Mediaite, Harrigan also called the trips "propaganda" and "not worth our time" in an earlier report. Griffin later admitted making a mistake about this point, and reported that Fox News had in fact sent a security guard on the trip to cover the tour.
At the time of Robertson's comments, though, she hadn't yet made this correction, and he said that, since a Fox News employee had gone on the trip, the report was "outrageous and hypocritical." The CNN reporter added, "when you come to somewhere like Libya, you expect lies and deceit from the dictatorship here. You don't expect it from the other journalists."
But Robertson also took some strikingly personal jabs at Harrigan. "I see him more times at breakfast than I see him out on trips with government officials here," he said. "...We very rarely see the Fox News team."
Harrigan took these comments personally. "This is the first time I've been attacked," he said, on the phone from Tripoli. "[Robertson is] in the same hotel as me. A man could come down and say, 'what’s up?' But instead he's saying I’m lazy, that I’m a liar and that I’m as bad as Gaddafi."
Harrigan said his CNN rival had no reason to go after him, because he had never even mentioned CNN on the air. He also said that he had not tried to hide the fact that a member of his security team had gone on the tour, but had even mentioned that fact on the air. He hadn't gone, he said, because the trips are often a "waste of time." He also said that, since he is the only reporter working for Fox News in Tripoli, he had to give live reports every half hour and had to prioritize his time.
"I can stand outside my balcony and report what I see," he said. "I can talk to people about what they see...but for someone to say I'm lazy who doesn't know me, who's not in our working condition, who doesn't know our schedule...this guy has a screw loose!"
Harrigan also called Robertson "a hard worker," but added, "I think he's dull. I fall asleep when he gives a report." He noted that many journalists in Libya, such as the four captured New York Times reporters, the BBC reporters who were subjected to mock executions, and the Al Jazeera cameraman who was killed, had been "heroic" in their reporting—even more, he said, than he had been. But he said Robertson could not claim the same thing.
"Is that heroic what he’s doing?" he said. "He puts on his blue blazer and gets on the government bus, and then pats himself on the back and calls that news? Bullshit."
UPDATE: A CNN spokesperson sent this response to The Huffington Post: “Fox News has reported and is continuing to report without an accurate and respectful grasp of the conditions for all the reporters on the ground. We have no further comment on this.”