Chris Hedges and Seymour Hersh: A Quest For Truth + The World According to Seymour Hersh by David Swanson

My Lai Memorial Site - Vietnam - Diorama of Massacre

Image by Adam Jones via Flickr

Dandelion Salad

Updated: July 2, 2018

with Chris Hedges

RT America on June 30, 2018

Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, Seymour M. Hersh discusses the quest for truth with host, Chris Hedges.

Watch on RT.


The World According to Seymour Hersh

by David Swanson
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Let’s Try Democracy, June 11, 2018
June 30, 2018

Seymour Hersh’s new memoir, Reporter: A Memoir, occasionally notes the failure of the exposure of wrong-doing to result in accountability or policy reforms. That’s the closest the book generally comes to touching on any motivation behind Hersh’s work related to ending war or torture or any other evil. The exception is the bit about Hersh’s time working for Eugene McCarthy’s presidential campaign. In 1960, in Chapter 3, Hersh joins the U.S. Army without one word as to why. In Chapter 14 he self-censors the story of President Richard Nixon seriously assaulting the First Lady because Hersh thought it was a story unrelated to public policy. Wasn’t allowing Nixon to remain in office and unindicted related to public policy?

Of course, Hersh may have a habit and a preference for keeping himself out of the story, even when the story is about him, but it seems rather that what this book tells us is that his motivation for his reporting has been reporting. It’s not a job disconnected from politics or morality; integral to it is pursuit of and exposure of the truth, especially in the face of powerful lies. But it’s enjoyment of that work that has driven Hersh. And if it were anything else, he might not tell us. Last September I worked on planning a conference at which Hersh had agreed to speak, and he dropped out at the last minute, not wanting to be seen together with Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden, which might not have pleased potential sources — or at least that’s the reason he gave. Presumably Hersh’s book, like his life, is created with one eye on pleasing the future sources who will give him what he lives for still.

Hersh writes that he didn’t expect to write a memoir until he’d reached the point of being unable to work. In some senses, perhaps he hasn’t written one yet. With a book that tells as much as this one, what it does not tell is not grounds for complaint, but it is what one comes away wondering about. Hersh’s book is packed with statements of things that he says he promised someone years ago he would not reveal. The reader cannot know in each case whether permission was later granted, or a deal forfeited, or all obligations erased by death or merely by the passage of time. But it is striking how many times Hersh recounts keeping stories or parts of stories untold in order to please a source or an employer or out of actual agreement with a government demand for secrecy, or — apparently — out of a belief that some details are just too horrible to tell. What else does Hersh have, and will he ever tell us? Were he never to say another word, our complaint would remain with most of his fellow reporters and their editors and producers, about whose motivations Hersh reveals a lot more than about his own.

Hersh’s book, like his previous work, names names. But this time they are the names of editors and reporters whose behavior establishes their priorities: closeness to power, U.S. exceptionalism, militarism, racism, and rivalry — and in that order. The New York Times would rather get a story on presidential atrocities before the Washington Post, but would much rather nobody get it at all, and a story on the CIA even less, and one on the mafia less still. Hersh has followed leads that have been available to all, including the My Lai story, but nobody else wanted to follow them. There’s a scene in the book where Hersh is giving a public speech and asks a randomly chosen veteran of the war on Vietnam to come up on stage, and then asks him to confirm that U.S. helicopters made a practice of diving and trying to decapitate Vietnamese farmers with their propeller blades. That kind of story was, is, and shall be sloshing around the streets of the United States for anyone to scoop up, except that most news institutions are designed not to do so.

New York Times editor Abe Rosenthal has a great many shameful moments in this book, but what I find most disturbing is the positive moment when he expresses outrage that CIA Director William Colby does not favor democracies over dictatorships. The shock! The horror! What did he think the CIA was?

Hersh found a way to work for all kinds of people, and he describes his career as happening during a golden age of journalism, explaining that this was the age before the 24-hour cable news cycle, when newspapers had lots of advertising money and reporters had lots of time. Hersh laments the way in which inaccurate stories can be made news today. Accuracy is ever his goal. But the inaccurate stories that drown out the documented outrages are not randomly selected. They’re pro-U.S., anti-Russian, anti-Muslim, anti-Korean, anti-democratic stories of the sort that many journalists seem to have always longed for. That Hersh found a way to fit in with such people without being one, as a sort of permanent whistle blower, has radically improved our knowledge of what has actually been going on.

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson’s books include Curing Exceptionalism: What’s wrong with how we think about the United States? What can we do about it? (2018) and War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Support David’s work.


Updated: July 2, 2018

Ep. 629: Pulitzer Prize-winning Sy Hersh Questions Official Line on NATO, Skripal & ISIS

goingundergroundRT on Jun 30, 2018

In this episode, we are joined by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sy Hersh who exposed NATO nation war crimes of the military-industrial complex. From Abu Ghraib prison in the Anglo-American war on Iraq to the My Lai Massacre, Sy Hersh has exerted a damning scepticism of the official line. His new book “Reporter – A Memoir” is out now.

From the archives:

US Homeland Security Wants to Track Journalists Worldwide

John Pilger: The Contamination of the Corporation Runs Right Through Our Lives

Why The Documentary Must Not Be Allowed To Die by John Pilger + Vietnam: The Quiet Mutiny

If Anyone Knows About the “Heavy Toll of War”, It is the Vietnamese by Felicity Arbuthnot

Edward Snowden: #NoWar2017: Consent Is Only Meaningful If It’s Informed + Daniel Ellsberg + Ann Wright + John Kiriakou + Ray McGovern + Todd Pierce

Self-Censored Questions by Career Questioners by Ralph Nader

All Governments Lie–Film Review (must-see)

Chris Hedges: The Hidden Tragedy of the Vietnam War

Kill Anything That Moves by Chris Hedges + Moyers and Company: Nick Turse Describes the Real Vietnam War

Hearts and Minds (1974)

Sir, No Sir! (must-see)

14 thoughts on “Chris Hedges and Seymour Hersh: A Quest For Truth + The World According to Seymour Hersh by David Swanson

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  5. Excellent article about Hersh and his book though it is surprising when David Swanson wonders:

    ” In 1960, in Chapter 3, Hersh joins the U.S. Army without one word as to why.”

    As Hersh notes in the above interview with Chris Hedges. the reason why Hersh went into the military was for the same reason I did and that is because military service back then was an obligation which people had to contend with before 1970.

      • Yes, that is what I mean. Hersh says, correctly, in the interview that military service back then was compulsory. But the big difference is that when he went in he did not, for the most part, have to worry about being sent to Vietnam which is what happened to me. To be more specific, I had been drafted by the army but went into the navy because my father thought that there was less likelihood that I would end up in Vietnam. It turned out that he was wrong as the ship I was on was in Vietnam and fired rockets to support the troops on land. But what the officers did not tell the crew was that those rockets also ended up slaughtering and grievously wounding many innocent Vietnamese for no justifiable reason whatsoever.

        Also, it is puzzling why Hersh said in the beginning of the interview that he is an immigrant while in the book he writes that his parents came from Russia and Poland while he himself was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois which would then make him, not an immigrant, but an American citizen.

        • Not sure why he said he was an immigrant, maybe that’s how he felt growing up with both immigrant parents.

          Sorry to hear that you were drafted in the military.

  6. Terrific interview! Thanks Lo ~ impeccable stuff. Real talk about the real world. Totally brilliant and eye opening….makes Piers Morgan sound like a kindergarten princess…..

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