Thursday, June 11, 2015

Seymour Hersh 2


This is the only letter on the subject that the London Review of Books published in the issue after the one with Seymour Hersh's article about the killing of Osama bin Laden:


The allegations in Seymour M. Hersh’s article about the killing of bin Laden have received official denials and journalistic gasps similar to those that greeted his 1974 reporting on the CIA’s MH-CHAOS domestic spying programme and the revelations in his 1983 book The Price of Power about Henry Kissinger’s masterminding of the carpet-bombing of Cambodia and hiding it from the US Congress (LRB, 21 May). I suppose that’s no surprise. I’m curious to see whether the embarrassing admissions that followed and confirmed those stories arrive too. In the meantime the CIA has put out a variety of documents including a list of the books on bin Laden’s shelves. It turns out he preferred Bob Woodward to Seymour Hersh.

Colin Leonard
London NW2

Rob's comment:

I don't remember any "journalistic gasps" about those Hersh stories in 1974 and 1983, but maybe I was already jaded about that sort of thing during the Nixon/Kissinger regime. 

At the bottom of the page, the LRB tells us that Hersh's story got 2 million online hits.

In recent years, Hersh's stories have been published in the London Review of Books:

The reason I like the LRB is that it isn’t tied down to Americana. It is more open to being...In Europe people think this story makes sense. There is not the quibbling. It is a different approach. By that I mean that the view of America is less cheery abroad but the standards are the same. The people at the London Review knew whom I talked to. It is the same at the New Yorker. David Remnick knows who I talk to. I do have sources, which is a problem for a lot of people that don’t.

But the New Yorker, famous for its fact-checking, reportedly rejected the story:

Sources with knowledge of the matter said Monday that Hersh began pitching the magazine on the story years ago and that The New Yorker declined it on the grounds that it didn't hold up to scrutiny. The New Yorker similarly declined Hersh's 2013 article, also published in the London Review of Books, alleging that the Obama administration "cherry-picked intelligence” from the chemical attack in Syria in order to make the case for attacking President Bashar Assad. Hersh did not respond to a request for comment; New Yorker editor David Remnick declined to comment.

My question: If there are no "embarrassing admissions" from the government or any follow-up stories confirming Hersh's claim that President Obama and his administration lied about the killing of Osama bin Laden, will the London Review of Books publish a story about that?

Not likely, since it wouldn't get 2 million hits, and, just as important, it would call into question the LRB's editorial judgment in publishing Hersh's conspiracy story in the first place.

The earlier post on Hersh.

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