It’s funny, I’ve been watch Seymour (Sy) Hersh interviews incessantly, and then today there’s a World Socialist Web Site review on his latest book, Reporter (2018). The review was good, so I left a comment. Here it is in full:
Excellent review of a thoughtful & courageous reporter with ethics! Sy Hersh clearly explains why he’s now so censored in this book, and in many interviews since. Barack Obama was obsessed with leaks, and wanted them stopped. Hersh was even more vilified after publishing the “Killing of Osama bin Laden” in 2013, which has been reviewed by the WSWS. This story debunked Obama’s narrative, reinforced by “Zero Dark Thirty” (2012), a Hollywood propaganda movie on bin Laden’s execution by Navy Seals.
Most recently, Sy Hersh has been unable to publish his biography of Dick Cheney, because of sourcing, as he would have to give his sources away (something he doesn’t do), and put them in jeopardy– perhaps of being killed. Therefore he wrote this memoir, “Reporter” instead.
Essential political books by Sy Hersh also include: The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House (1983) and The Dark Side of Camelot (1997).
But as so often happens, I can’t leave it alone. As Peter Falk in Colombo would say, “Something’s still bothering me…,” and it was the second-to-last paragraph in the piece, which pointed out political disagreements the SEP/ICFI has with Hersh. This can be easily misunderstood & distorted by unprincipled agitators, therefore there is need to clarify a theoretical issue on polemics. Marxist WSWS writer Andre Damon correctly writes:
“We do not share many of Seymour Hersh’s views, including his appeals to what he calls the reasonable sections of the US military and intelligence apparatus for a change in US foreign policy. But, as the book’s title implies, he is a genuine reporter; he knows the difference between the truth and a lie and works to expose it before the world public.”
A demagogue would try to use those political differences to divide Hersh from Marxists, which would be a mistake. Sy Hersh is a real reporter, which means he isn’t allowed to be politically biased towards any party. That’s a requirement to do his job well. Identifying with Marxism would have ended his career. Also, if Hersh had ever become openly partisan, he would have lost the confidence of his sources, and then access. This is the hardest-hitting establishment reporter in American political history, and this “self-censorship” is the price he’s had to pay. I politically wish he would publish everything he knows, but I understand why he doesn’t.
Most “journalists” today are biased and/or embedded, which makes them flunkies & apologists. Sy Hersh is pretty much on an island at this point, in terms of his profession– which (like all others) has been destroyed by corporate corruption & greed. Since “The Killing of Osama bin Laden” was published in the London Book Review in 2013, Hersh’s articles have no longer been released or discussed much in American media. He’s so popular among readers, and so widely known that it doesn’t matter where he’s published, as the Internet broadcasts him to a global audience hungry for the truth.
Like Julian Assange & WikiLeaks, Sy Hersh is fighting for the truth, and being persecuted by the ruling establishment. This common experience is shared with Marxists, and it’s why Trotskyists consider them to be comrades-in-arms– in our common fight against tyranny & injustice. Marxists are armed with political theory, and dialectical materialism as philosophy. Marxism is a powerful tool for analysis of political economy and planning revolutionary action, but only if there is helpful & accurate data with which to work.
If we as a society don’t have journalists like Hersh & Assange publishing the truth in its rawest forms, then Marxists (and all others) are in the dark. It’s a symbiotic relationship between Trotskyists and the best reporters, whistle-blowers, activists, and other forms of truth tellers. Trotskyists analyze data and can quickly come to correct political conclusions, using Marxist science & dialectics. The correct message & political line can then be relayed to the disenfranchised youth & exploited workers of the world.
If all the real journalists are persecuted & silenced, then there are no more publicly known facts. This makes achieving socialism impossible, because there will be no facts around which to base political arguments. It will be only variants of fake news, which is what we have now– mostly. That’s why Marxists always stand with and defend these journalists, who are actually socialists in deed, which is why they are being punished in the media & politically.
Whenever Sy Hersh is asked a stupid or bad question in an interview, his reflexive reply is to the effect that, “You have to understand these matters are complex, and that I’ve been doing this a long time…” Then, he takes a few minutes to clarify the issues, which usually means giving background & context.
I’ve labeled Sy Hersh as a crimefighter in the title, because he is. The greatest crimefighter in American fiction is Superman. What’s ironic here are Hersh’s resemblances to mild-mannered Clark Kent reporting for the Daily Planet, making him more powerful in real life than the “Man of Steel” ever was in fiction. What if the next Superman franchise featured an emphasis on Clark Kent’s writing & investigative reporting? I think it would be a helluva story. Anyways, in this age of the Internet, the pen is still mightier than the sword, despite what DC Comics, Hollywood, and the rest of the establishment try to tell you.
Hersh has had serious, high-level political contacts on every continent for decades. He grew up in Chicago, and understands the realities with the police & the mafia, etc. Most people don’t have anywhere near his understanding of how the world works, much less who controls it. One his best assets is his ability to be patient, clear-headed & appear friendly in the face of hostility. It is rare to have mastery of all these social skills, and Seymour Hersh is one of those geniuses. He needs to be more widely read, understood & defended.
* New Superman premise: Decades of being surrounded by a beltway of Kryptonite has robbed our Man of Steel of his super-human strength & immortality. In order to continue his fight against evil, Superman has mothballed his spandex & cape, and permanently assumed the role of mild-mannered reporter, who now must combat evil with his wits & keyboard. Instead of sensationally flying from scene-to-scene to valiantly save the day, our aging reporter has become the chummy drinking companion of many top political figures, allowing him untold access into this nefarious world of political criminality…