MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Seymour Hersh and the Disappearing Iconoclast | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. Fox on August 22, 2018

Hersh’s 1974 expose on the CIA’s illegal spying on Americans helped spur one of the best congressional investigations of federal wrongdoing since World War II. 

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/seymour-hersh-and-the-disappearing-iconoclast/

By JAMES BOVARD

When people are comforted by government lies, trafficking the truth becomes hellishly difficult. Disclosing damning facts is especially tricky when editors en masse lose their spines. These are some of the takeaways from legendary Seymour Hersh’s riveting new memoir, Reporter.

Shortly before Hersh started covering the Pentagon for the Associated Press in 1965, Arthur Sylvester, the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, berated a group of war correspondents in Saigon: “Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid. Did you hear that? Stupid.” Hersh was astonished by the “stunningly sedate” Pentagon press room, which to him resembled “a high-end social club.”

Hersh never signed on to that stenographers’ pool. He was soon shocked to realize“the extent to which the men running the war would lie to protect their losing hand.” Hersh did heroic work in the late 1960s and early 1970s exposing the lies behind the Vietnam War. His New Yorker articles on the My Lai massacre scored a Pulitzer Prize and put atrocities in headlines where they remained till the war’s end… 

Any journalist who has been hung out to dry will relish Hersh’s revelations of editors who flinched. After Hersh joined the Washington bureau of the New York Times, he hustled approval for an article going to the heart of foreign policy perfidy. Bureau chief Max Frankel finally approved a truncated version of Hersh’s pitch with the caveat that he should run the story by “Henry [Kissinger] and [CIA chief] Dick [Helms].” Hersh was horrified: “They were the architects of the idiocy and criminality I was desperate to write about.” A subsequent Washington bureau chief noted that the Times “was scared to death of being first on a controversial story that challenged the credibility of the government.”…

Hersh’s career revived after 9/11 with a series of New Yorker exposés on the lies, failures, and shenanigans of the War on Terror. He soon “began to comprehend that 8 or 9 neoconservatives who were political outsiders in the Clinton years had essentially overthrown the government of the United States—with ease.” Hersh eventually concluded that “America’s neocons were a menace to civilization.” But, with the exception of his explosive work on Abu Ghraib and the torture scandal, his articles rarely received the attention they deserved. Hersh’s reports on the war on terror have been far more accurate and prescient than the vast majority of the stories touted by cable news, but he is rarely credited for his foresight…

Reporting nowadays rarely penetrates the Leviathan’s armor. Fourteen years after Hersh broke Abu Ghraib, many of the details of the post- 9/11 torture scandal remain unrevealed. Could anyone imagine Liuetenant William Calley, who was convicted of mass murder for the 1968 My Lai carnage, subsequently becoming a favorite media commentator on military ethics, foreign policy, and democracy? No. But the main culprits in the torture scandal and coverup—from George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, to former CIA chief John Brennan—are all regularly touted these days as founts of wisdom. The veneration of Bush, Cheney, and Brennan is one of the starkest measures of the failure of journalism in our time.

Hersh’s Reporter has plenty of tips for journalists willing to vigorously hound government wrongdoing. But finding good venues for smoking guns may be more difficult now than ever. As Assistant Pentagon Secretary Sylvester scoffed at reporters in that 1965 Saigon briefing, “I don’t even have to talk to you people. I know how to deal with you through your editors and publishers back in the States.” Unfortunately, there are too many editors and publishers who would rather kowtow than fight.

Be seeing you

malcom-x-quote

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: