Seymour Martin Hersh

Robert Waldmann

There is something which I genuinely don’t understand about US journalism. Why don’t US journalists cite Seymour Hersh more ? I have never heard anyone rank him as an investigative journalist lower than number one, yet his stories vanish for months or years until someone else reports them.

For example, yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported on page 1 that Cheney ordered the CIA to set up an assassination team to kill top al Qaeda leaders. This is sortof a scoop as people have been wondering what super secret program was hidden until late June not only from congress but from Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA.

Except for the fact that Hersh described this program months ago. The fact that he knew about a CIA program months before the director of the CIA tends to support his number 1 ranking of course.

But why didn’t people including, say, Leon Panetta, pay more attention to Hersh.
Has he made inaccurate claims in the past ? His articles report claims by anonymous sources and are not supported by official documents. One might assume that, given that sort of evidence, he is often wrong. I can’t recall a case in which he was wrong. I am almost forced to conclude that reliable investigative reporting is possible if one demands confirmation from multiple sources.

I am also forced to conclude that the very strong evidence about Mr Hersh based on his track record is being ignored by other reporters. This isn’t really surprising, since admitting that Hersh reports at a level above everyone else is humiliating, but reporters shouldn’t allow their pride to keep them from informing the public.