Guardian piece on the legendary journalist Seymour Hersh, 76, holding forth to young English journalism students.
He is angry about the timidity of journalists in America, their failure to challenge the White House and be an unpopular messenger of truth.
Don’t even get him started on the New York Times which, he says, spends “so much more time carrying water for Obama than I ever thought they would” – or the death of Osama bin Laden. “Nothing’s been done about that story, it’s one big lie, not one word of it is true,” he says of the dramatic US Navy Seals raid in 2011.
Hersh is writing a book about national security and has devoted a chapter to the bin Laden killing. He says a recent report put out by an “independent” Pakistani commission about life in the Abottabad compound in which Bin Laden was holed up would not stand up to scrutiny. “The Pakistanis put out a report, don’t get me going on it. Let’s put it this way, it was done with considerable American input. It’s a bullshit report,” he says hinting of revelations to come in his book.
Other great stuff:
“But I don’t know if it’s going to mean anything in the long [run] because the polls I see in America – the president can still say to voters ‘al-Qaida, al-Qaida’ and the public will vote two to one for this kind of surveillance, which is so idiotic,” he says…
If Hersh was in charge of US Media Inc, his scorched earth policy wouldn’t stop with newspapers.
“I would close down the news bureaus of the networks and let’s start all over, tabula rasa. The majors, NBCs, ABCs, they won’t like this – just do something different, do something that gets people mad at you, that’s what we’re supposed to be doing,” he says….
“The republic’s in trouble, we lie about everything, lying has become the staple.” And he implores journalists to do something about it.
(One comment. The guy’s an investigative journalist. I remember when Hersh fired me with a passion for investigative journalism, back in 1975; he visited my college newspaper and when I asked him what to investigate said that Harvard had likely cooked its admissions standards to exclude radical troublemakers. I couldn’t confirm this. I lacked the chops. At that time, Nick Lemann said “to be an investigative journalist, you have to have a low threshhold for outrage.” Wonderful insight.)