With a journalistic career spanning many decades, Seymour Hersh has some definitive views in an interview with The Guardian on what is wrong with modern day journalism and how the problems should be corrected. He suggests that shutting down the big bureaus like ABC and NBC and firing the majority of publishing editors would go a long way to getting reporting back to where it was in the past. Hersh has been striking fear in the hearts of those in power for over 50 years and has been described as “a terrorist”. He can get pretty fired up when discussing his profession and how his contemporaries are failing to deliver the news by pandering to the headline makers. He challenges the validity of stories like the death of bin Laden and is included a chapter dedicated to this subject in his upcoming book focused on national security.
He is completely outspoken on the subject of dishonesty in the current administration and claims that it is almost impossible to get the straight story from anyone that is representing the White House. His opinion is that every decision and action taken is based solely on the re-election of those in power. Hersh expresses concern that even when evidence is documented such as that brought forward by Edward Snowden, he doubts that the narrative on policy will undergo any serious reconsideration. While he references others, including himself, that have alluded to the presence of surveillance, he says that the concrete substantiation of Snowden’s revelation bring it beyond dispute.
Hersh is disillusioned by the reticence of current journalism and in speaking to journalism students, he tries to muster up a bit of a pep talk in hopes of reigniting the fire of journalism past and send the new generation out into the world to dig and dig for the truth and not to stop until they find it. He advises them to put in the hours and to do the legwork until they can produce the kind of evidence that makes it unquestionable. He says that it is not enough to just say what is happening, journalists need to go out and prove it.
He describes true journalists of the past as outsiders who weren’t afraid to offend anyone and who can’t be hushed and controlled. His attitude is that the media should be run by the troublemakers but instead, what he sees is that those who don’t make waves are the one that get promoted into the editor’s desks and beyond. His impression is that current journalists are more considered with shooting for awards and ingratiating themselves to that end. There is, he states, a lack of resources and a crisis of confidence among those in the news business today.
At age 77, he’s currently on hiatus from journalism to complete a book which is focused on today’s US federal administration and he has not decreased his tenacity on bit since his youth. Hersh says that lying has become the staple and that it is time for journalists to do something about it.