Seymour Hersh, one of a handful of real journalists working in the English language over the past 40 years, comes out guns blazing at a talk on journalism in London.
He calls the US media “pathetic”, saying they are “more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy [Obama]”.
how does [Obama] get away with the drone programme, why aren’t we doing more? How does he justify it? What’s the intelligence? Why don’t we find out how good or bad this policy is? Why do newspapers constantly cite the two or three groups that monitor drone killings. Why don’t we do our own work?
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. …
I’ll tell you the solution, get rid of 90% of the editors that now exist and start promoting editors that you can’t control. I saw it in the New York Times, I see people who get promoted are the ones on the desk who are more amenable to the publisher and what the senior editors want and the trouble makers don’t get promoted. Start promoting better people who look you in the eye and say ‘I don’t care what you say’.
It almost sounds as if Hersh has been reading his Herman and Chomsky.
The Guardian is making hay of Hersh’s comments, which may in part be explained by the fact that the Guardian is investing heavily in breaking into the US market. Publicising Hersh’s attack on its US rivals certainly won’t hurt the Guardian’s efforts.
But everything Hersh lays at the door of the US media could equally be laid at the door of the UK’s liberal media, the Guardian included. Would the paper then be giving house-room to such criticism? I don’t think so.