Veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, the man who exposed the Mai Lai massacre during the Vietnam War and the U.S. military’s abuses of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib in 2004, is probably the most influential journalist of the modern era, with the possible exception of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the pair who exposed Watergate.
For decades, Hersh has drawn on his extensive contacts within the U.S. security establishment to bring us the story behind the official story, to disclose facts that have often proved deeply discomfiting to those in power and exploded the self-serving, fairy-tale narratives the public were expected to passively accept as news. His stature among journalists was such that, in a sea of corporate media misinformation, he enjoyed a small island of freedom at the elite, but influential, outlet of the New Yorker.
Paradoxically, over the past decade, as social media has created a more democratic platform for information dissemination, the corporate media has grown ever more fearful of a truly independent figure like Hersh. The potential reach of his stories could now be enormously magnified by social media. As a result, he has been increasingly marginalised and his work denigrated. By denying him the credibility of a ‘respectable’ mainstream platform, he can be dismissed for the first time in his career as a crank and charlatan. A purveyor of fake news.
Hersh’s investigations have not only undermined evidence-free claims being promoted in the west to destabilise Assad’s government but threatened a wider U.S. policy seeking to ‘remake the Middle East’. His work has challenged a political and corporate media consensus that portrays Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Assad’s main ally against the extremist Islamic forces fighting in Syria, as another dangerous monster the West needs to bring into line.
For all these reasons, Hersh has found himself increasingly friendless. The New Yorker refused to publish his Syria investigations. Instead, he had to cross the Atlantic to find a home at the prestigious but far less prominent London Review of Books.
This post was published at Counterpunch