The man behind the My Lai Massacre and Abu Ghraib stories, among countless others, says journalism just isn’t what it used to be. “It’s pathetic, they are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy,” said Seymour Hersh of President Obama, as part of a classic rant to the Guardian. Speaking about the Osama bin Laden raid, he added, “Nothing’s been done about that story, it’s one big lie, not one word of it is true.” Not a word! And don’t even get him started on the NSA.
“On the podium, Sy is willing to tell a story that’s not quite right, in order to convey a Larger Truth,” this magazine reported in 2005. “I can’t fudge what I write,” Hersh said at the time. “But I can certainly fudge what I say.” He’s a pro at getting his point across, and with an added “get off my lawn” quotient now that he’s 76. But it comes from an idealistic place about the role of the press. As he told the Guardian, “I have this sort of heuristic view that journalism, we possibly offer hope because the world is clearly run by total nincompoops more than ever.”