Seymour Hersh kind of went around the bend

Seymour Hersh’s “reporting” is getting more bananas by the year. It’s a real shame to watch a respected investigative journalist — who broke stories like the My Lai massacre and the Abu Ghraib prison scandal — go into a a total tailspin in public. His Syria chemical attack claims in 2013/2014 were so thoroughly debunked that I just assumed he made up the (highly questionable) Bin Laden story / conspiracy theory as soon as it “broke.” Vox:

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.

I hadn’t even heard about the speech in 2011 where he said racist things and tried to allege that the US military ranks were filled with members of Opus Dei (like from the Dan Brown books, not the real ones).

There’s a certain set of people who keep citing his reports even when it’s increasingly clear they’re ludicrous paranoia because they already believe the conspiracy theories he’s validating.

Based on personal experience when I was a little kid growing up with aging relatives with certain genetic predispositions, I assume we’re going to find out later that 78-year-old Hersh has been suffering from dementia. But my relatives losing their grip on reality weren’t hugely influential journalists with major platforms. His home publication (the New Yorker) has reportedly stopped printing his stories (because they can’t be supported/confirmed) and he’s responded with tantrums. This “story” about Bin Laden and the last big report were only published in London.

Complicating things is that he has genuinely reported on actual coverups before. So it’s likely that anything disproving his “research” or “sources” on stories now is just convincing him in his confusion that there’s an even more massive coverup or conspiracy afoot when really there isn’t in this case. Coverups typically only work when there are few people involved and the incident being covered is fairly small and low-profile. They fall apart very quickly for anything bigger because there are simply too many people willing to talk. His latest allegation involves a vast multi-national intergovernmental conspiracy involving one of these least-reliably secretive intelligence outfits in the world (Pakistan’s ISI), and Hersh has convinced himself based on very thin and indirect sourcing that everyone has managed to keep their mouths shut for four years.

I’m afraid people with less reputable journalistic platforms are taking advantage of Seymour Hersh’s increasingly obvious disconnect with reality to get clicks and attention.

Bill Humphrey

About Bill Humphrey

Bill Humphrey is the primary host of WVUD's Arsenal For Democracy talk radio show and a local elected official.
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