05. November 2006 · Comments Off on Memo: See More, Harshly · Categories: General, GWOT, Iraq, Media Matters Not, Rant

To: New Yorker Magazine
From: Sgt. Mom
Re: Seymour Hersh’s Lecture Circuit

1. For nearly as long as I have been paying attention to news in general, Mr. Hersh has been represented to the public at large as a fearless and principled investigative reporter, with connections and sources in the corridors of power that lesser mortals can only dream of, and gnash their teeth in helpless envy to contemplate. After all, he won ( insert portentous drum-roll here) a Pulitzer Prize for breaking the story of the My Lai Massacre – never mind that a veteran and minor journalist named Ron Ridenhour had already done much of the legwork, tracking down the source of ugly rumors that he had heard as a GI, locating and interviewing many key witnesses.

2. Mr. Hersh has since gone on from strength to strength in his journalistic endeavors, culminating in his employment at your hallowed establishment. Funny thing, though: none of his more current journalistic scoops are usually cited when he is introduced, perhaps because of the suspicion that his “sources” over the years are feeding him questionable data for their own purposes. Or that his journalistic crystal ball sees but murkily these last few decades; he has proposed for example that the US was deeply involved in the Soviet shoot-down of KAL Flight 007, and that the war in Afghanistan was toppling into the deep abyss of failure-quagmire-gloom-despair-and-misery. This last magisterial judgment had the ill-luck to be published just before Taliban rule collapsed like a wet paper bag, inspiring at least one wit to comment that Mr. Hersh was an invaluable source for knowing what was really going on— in that in hindsight, he was invariably wrong.

3. Over the last five years, Mr. Hersh has chosen to spread the blessings of his special insights to a wider and more uncritical audience on the lecture circuit. Like some unsavory chunk of solid waste, he has popped to the surface of the slightly-less-than-mainstream-media-sewer in the same week that John Kerry clumsily maligned the education and intelligence of those currently serving in Iraq and by extension in today’s military. Senator Kerry has been savagely mocked for appearing to forget that there is no draft any more and the military today is for damn sure not the military that he condescended to grace with his presence forty years ago. Mr. Hersh, who appears to also be stuck in a similar meme and time, is currently improving the idle hour by lecturing receptive audiences on the endless series of ghastly atrocities being perpetrated by American forces in Iraq, describing in loving detail, assorted crimes of massacre, rape, sodomy and torture .

4. Strangely, for a hard-charging investigative journalist, he is a little short on the actual specific details of these incidents, or any of those described in other lectures – say, a specific time, place, unit or other disinterested witnesses. Corroborative information is a little thin on the ground; a curious omission, considering the numbers of personnel who have rotated in and out of country and the military, NGO busy-bodies, other media outlets and other investigative reporters desirous of winning a Pulitzer. But Mr. Hersh insists that he has listened to tapes, taken phone calls, seen the documents – but of course, he can’t share these with the audience, for some reason, can’t publish the specifics and most certainly has not shared what he knows with those who would be rightfully charged with investigating such crimes. How very convenient – and recalls Senator Joe McCarthy, with his so-called incriminating and ever-changing little list which he kept in his pocket and waved around when he needed to intimidate the doubters.

5. This particular story quoted him indirectly saying that if Americans knew the full extent of U.S. criminal conduct, they would receive returning Iraqi veterans as they did Vietnam veterans. Well since so many of the so-called Vietnam atrocity stories turned out to be fraudulent and related by equally fake veterans, I wish Mr. Hersh and the rest of the legacy media the best of luck getting that to happen. In these days of google searches, internet access, e-mail and mil-blogs, we can fact-check all kinds of fakes now: fake veterans, fake atrocities – even fake investigative reporters, in a way that we couldn’t forty years ago. Jesse McBeth, anyone?

6. Seriously, have you ever considered suggesting a career change to Mr. Hersh, since the actual investigative reporting thing may be played out? Walmart greeter, perhaps? Just a thought.

Sgt Mom

(Previous Memo regarding Mr. Hersh here)

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