October 29, 2006

Seymour Hersh meets Canada's dumbest reporter.

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating. But you have to admit that the Montreal Mirror's Matthew Hays did his best to torpedo an interview that should have been a slam dunk. Nonetheless, Hays' interview with investigative journalist Sy Hersh still contains enough interesting info to make it worth reading despite Hersh's obvious exasperation with the poorly thought out and leading questions he had to put up with.

M: Why does so much of the American public often seem wilfully ignorant? Much of the populace seems intent on not knowing what is going on in terms of political and foreign affairs.

SH: This is the strangest interview I've ever had.

M: Why?

SH: Because you're so fucking opinionated. I don't disagree with you, but we're just rolling through your thoughts on things. It is sort of silly. No, it's not silly, but we're just rolling from whatever obsession you have to the next. You're pretty obsessional.

M: Isn't that a fair question?

SH: The ignorance may not be willful. The problem with this is, in order to answer your questions, I have to buy into what it is you're saying. I have no fucking way of knowing whether they're ignorant. I mean, Americans are pretty fucking ignorant. What we don't know is pretty huge. You could never accuse Americans of learning from history or learning from past mistakes. You're talking about a country that went to war in Vietnam with the theory that we had to bomb North Vietnam in order to keep the hordes of Red China from coming, right? Not knowing that Vietnam and China had fought wars for 2,000 years and would fight one four years after the war was over, in '79. What we don't know is just breathtaking in my country. To call this ignorance willful as opposed to general ignorance, I don't know. On any issue, Americans can display an incredible lack of information. I doubt if there's a society which has paid less attention to the facts than any else.

M: There have been many comparisons made between the Vietnam War and the current Iraq War. Though there was resistance to this, Bush recently acknowledged some parallels in an interview. As someone who has covered both conflicts extensively, were you surprised that so many of the same mistakes appeared to be made in Iraq so soon after Vietnam?

SH: Are you suggesting that a) we learn from our mistakes? Or b) that willful ignorance goes from one generation to the other? (laughs) I'm just answering your questions. You are pretty tendentious. It's okay, it's better than dumb questions. It's not dumb, but just don't be a lawyer, because the judge will just say, "Rephrase. You're leading the client." But that's okay, you're entitled to an opinion. I have the same view you do, the problem is that I do believe in being vaguely empirical.

Do make sure to read the whole thing; it's more fun than a barrel of Republicans.

Via Cursor.

Posted by Magpie at October 29, 2006 03:16 PM | Iraq | Technorati links |

Give the Canadian kid a break. The Montreal Mirror is a small English-language indie weekly, in a predominently French-speaking city. Hersh comes across here as a world-weary crusty old journalist who is toying with a fresh-faced kid who hasn't been around the block as long as he has.

Matt Hays may be asking leading questions loaded with assumptions, but don't we see that also from the pretentious blow-dried hacks in the White House press room? I mean, I cringe whenever a reporter calls Bush "Mr. President". Giving that two-bit asshole this grandiose title is a pretty big assumption. It amazes me that real journalists aren't referring to Bush as "the so-called President of the United States", and using scare quotes when writing about "President" Bush and "Vice-President" Cheney.

Who decided that journalists should abandon any pretense of objectivity and act as if these bastards were legitimitely elected?

Posted by: Lt. Bighorn at October 31, 2006 02:44 PM

Another thing.

An "establishment" reporter or editor would have simply edited out Hersh's negative comments about the reporter's questions. Kudos to Hays and the Montreal Mirror for leaving those unflattering yet revealing comments in the article.

Posted by: Lt. Bighorn at October 31, 2006 02:48 PM

The Mirror is a stupid rag. And the Hersh event at McGill last week was really surreal--invaded by LaRouche supporters.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman at November 6, 2006 03:07 AM