Over the weekend, Seymour Hersh caused a sensation when The London Review of Books published a piece by the Pulitzer Prize winning author in which he claimed that much of what the American public has been told about the raid which Osama bin Laden was killed four years ago is false. More precisely, Hersh argues that the mission was done with the knowledge and co-operation of the Pakistanis contrary to White House claims the raid was carried out without Pakistan’s knowledge.
Naturally, the Obama Administration denies the story. It is also worth noting that the story has been greeted with a great deal of skepticism in the media as Max Fisher’s piece in Vox and Bobby Ghosh’s piece in Quartz demonstrate.
I, too, am inclined to be skeptical of Hersh’s claims. For a number of years, Hersh claimed that the Bush Administration was going to bomb Iran. This, of course, never came to pass. But I did find one paragraph in Fisher’s piece particular interesting:
A decade ago, Hersh was one of the most respected investigative journalists on the planet, having broken major stories from the My Lai massacre in 1969 to the Abu Ghraib scandal in 2004. But more recently, his reports have become less and less credible. He’s claimed that much of the US special forces is controlled by secret members of Opus Dei, that the US military flew Iranian terrorists to Nevada for training, and that the 2013 chemical weapons attack in Syria was a “false flag” staged by the government of Turkey. Those reports have had little proof and, rather than being borne out by subsequent investigations, have been either unsubstantiated or outright debunked. A close reading of Hersh’s bin Laden story suggests it is likely to suffer the same fate.
Now Fisher does mention Hersh’s claims that the Bush Administration was going to bomb Iran later in his piece. While he acknowledges that Hersh’s claims were “far-fetched”, he writes, “Hersh had a long record of excellence, and who was going to doubt Cheney’s capacity for hawkishness?”
it is curious that Hersh only starts to lose credibility with journalists once he starts to question the Obama Administration. I grant you that Hersh’s claims against them are just plain kooky. But his accusations about the Bush Administration invading Iran were based on equally shaky claims and dubious sources. But then Hersh was given the benefit of the doubt because “Bush invading Iran” and anything involving Dick Cheney and Halliburton was part of the left-wing narrative. Let me put it this way. Hersh is now being marginalized by the Left because he is no longer spouting their narrative. Hersh is being marginalized because he isn’t setting his sights on the Nixon Administration or the Bush Administration.
However, should a Republican win the White House in 2016 and Hersh writes an expose about that administration I suspect that the Max Fishers of the world will once again refer to him as “one of the most respected investigative journalists on the planet”.
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