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article imageOp-Ed: Seymour Hersh on how to fix journalism

By Ken Hanly     Sep 28, 2013 in World
Seymour Hersh is an American investigative journalist and winner of a Pulitzer Prize. He contributes regularly to the New Yorker magazine on military and security issues.
Hersh's first came to prominence when he exposed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam in 1969 for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 1970. He also wrote reports on the Abu Ghraib prison where detainees were mistreated by the US military.
Hersh suggests that a start to fixing journalism in the US would be to close down the NBC and ABC news bureaus, fire 90% of editors, and return to the fundamental job of journalists, which Hersh claims is to be an outsider. Hersh claims that American journalists are timid and fail to challenge the White House or to be an unpopular messenger of truth.
Hersh is very critical of the New York Times, which he claims spends far too much time "carrying water for Obama". He thinks that the official story of the Osama bin-Laden raid is one big lie, although he leaves us to find out later exactly why. since he is devoting a chapter to the issue in his new book about US national security.
Hersh claims that the Obama administration lies systematically but most of the big leviathans of US media do not challenge the lies. In an interview in the Guardian Hersh says: "It's pathetic, they are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy [Obama. It used to be when you were in a situation when something very dramatic happened, the president and the minions around the president had control of the narrative, you would pretty much know they would do the best they could to tell the story straight. Now that doesn't happen any more. Now they take advantage of something like that and they work out how to re-elect the president." I should think that the right wing press exemplified in the main stream by outlets such as Fox News have often been rather active in criticizing Obama. The silence comes more from the mainstream liberal press.
Hersh claims that Edward Snowden's documentation of NSA spying changed the whole debate on the issue. It was impossible to ignore his documentary evidence. All along critics had complained about the spying but Snowden provided concrete documentation. Even so Hersh doubted that the revelations would lead to that much change: "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"..
Hersh considers Obama worse than Bush: "Do you think Obama's been judged by any rational standards? Has Guantanamo closed? Is a war over? Is anyone paying any attention to Iraq? Is he seriously talking about going into Syria? We are not doing so well in the 80 wars we are in right now, what the hell does he want to go into another one for. What's going on [with journalists]?"
Hersh thinks that US journalism is being hampered by a lack of resources, and a wrong notion of what journalism entails. He thinks that there is actually too much emphasis on prizes. Much journalism is packaged to deal with specific issues such as the safety of railway crossings. While Hersh admits this is a serious issue there are other serious issues that are not tackled because journalists do not have the courage to do so.
Hersh uses the example of Obama's drone program. Journalists rely upon a few groups who research the issue rather than doing research themselves."Our job is to find out ourselves, our job is not just to say – here's a debate' our job is to go beyond the debate and find out who's right and who's wrong about issues. That doesn't happen enough. It costs money, it costs time, it jeopardises, it raises risks. There are some people – the New York Times still has investigative journalists but they do much more of carrying water for the president than I ever thought they would … it's like you don't dare be an outsider any more."
Hersh thinks that the troublemakers within the media are the ones that should get promoted but instead they are the ones who get fired. Hersh concludes by claiming that in the US the administration lies about everything and journalists should do something about it. Surely Hersh is incorrect in thinking that there is little criticism of Obama. There is plenty. The problem is that the criticism is often as stupid and irrational as the policies being criticized. Hersh's comments on the Bin Laden affair were picked up by Alex Jones the talk show host, libertarian and conspiracy theorist. I have appended a video from his Infowars channel.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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