tv Book Discussion on Seymour Hersh CSPAN February 23, 2014 4:30pm-5:52pm EST
this was the striking thing to me with every day is saturday examined, every government cannot every historical time. i was at the answer. politicians from the working-class really do bring a different gift to political office and politicians who get white-collar jobs and especially politicians who only get white-collar jobs in the private sector. that seems to be a major dividing line in our political institutions. >> next on booktv, robert miraldi talks about life and career seymour hersh. mr. hersh broke stories on the chemical and biological weapons. the beeline massacre and it, watergate, cia domestic spying on the abuse of prisoners at abu ghraib prison in iraq. this is about an hour and 20
minute. [applause] >> good evening. thank you all for being here tonight. it is my pleasure to be here with you on this cold wintry evening in new york city. i got a text message just before i got up here from barack obama who sends his regards, the somehow said something about a species giving somewhere and unable to make it tonight, can never rely on elected officials. it is actually my pleasure to be here back in their city. as did i mention to you, i grew up in work due number of years across the bay of that island. we would always take the staten island ferry across the harbor for big events and there is a big moment for us to come into the city. this two s. always was a city
and is still the city and it's great to be here in the city and great to be your new york city, the worlds greatest city. also great to use your i consider the new york public library. i'm sure we would give some dispute on that from london in the library of congress, but i am sticking with it. i'm also sticking with this. i thank you for joining me tonight to talk about the world's best investigative reporter. "seymour hersh: scoop artist." you may be here tonight -- an outcome i see a lot of old friends. a lot of farmers events. the rest of you i don't know, but i suspect you may be here because you are part of the legion of fans and maybe some of you are enemies of seymour hersh. he is a huge following of friends and a huge following of enemies. a number of years ago at the new york magazine for about a decade
went over the million mark and circulation of david remnick, editor of "the new yorker" magazine was asked, what happened? had issued a 10 million? he chuckled and said we have sy hersh and not put them over the million dark. thank you for being here tonight. i also want to thank the new york public library for inviting me. deborah hirsch and my former student dana sedona for interviewing. i spent much of my academic career across at the new york public library. in 1985 a circuit of my doctoral dissertation on a famous turn-of-the-century american investigative reporter whose name is david graham phillips. phillips was a well-known muckraking journalist over 27 novels. across the street was the only place i could go and find and read all of to 27 novels. in the year 2004, i wrote a book
on a guy named charles edward russell appeared charles edward russell was very much the famous american turn-of-the-century muckraking journalist. ferry and demanding conditions, with story after story and many stories appeared in magazines which you can't find anywhere at all and the only place i could find those magazines is right across the street at the new york public library. when i went to work on seymour hersh, i didn't think i would need to the new york public library. hersh's books are easily available on amazon and other places. he worked for "the new york times." easy to get access to "the new york times" stories. a decade with "the new yorker." easy to get access to his new yorker stories. so i didn't need a -- no i would need the new york public library. from 1972 to 1979, his editor was abe rosenthal, a towering
figure in american journalism. when he died a couple years ago, his wife gave his papers and all of his memoirs and letters and many of the documents he compiled, his editor gave them to the new york public library. so they're boys. i need is an archive of the new york public library crisis trade and i spent a lot of time and they were wonderfully, gc madness inside things i found out about the relationship to "the new york times" right across the street at "the new york times." -- i'm sorry, at the new york public library. so it's a wonderful library. a scoop races sitting at the archive on display and the archivists were always efficient and wonderful and i appreciate the efforts of "the new york times" doing that and actually hope to get back to the archives. lastly, let me think dana sedona for introducing me. a student of mine a bunch of years ago at the college of new
polls. tina was a terrific student. i particularly appreciate that she would always laugh at my jokes. you need to look towards dana and if she laughs, what i just said is supposed to be funny. you were supposed to laugh when dana lasts. lastly, let me welcome c-span tonight. i thank them for coming here to hear me talk about seymour hersh hersh -- "seymour hersh: scoop artist." who is this man i call the scoop artist? sy hersh, seymour hersh, born in 1937 in chicago to immigrant parents. his father owned a dry cleaner -- had a dry cleaning business in chicago. his mother was a housekeeper. he went to public school in chicago. he went two years to a community college and then went to the university of chicago, got a
degree in history. he then started law school, did do very well. he failed out of law school in less than a year. sy hersh is the man most people regard as the best investigative reporter in american history. he is the man who is one more word prices than any other journalist. he has an icon and a hero with hundreds and hundreds of american journalists. he is the darling of the political left. he is the man the political right for us to despise and demonize. he is the man who back in 1969 revealed to us the massacre by american soldiers of 500 civilians in a small village in vietnam called me live. he is the man who almost single-handedly got the nixon administration in 1868 to be in the production of stop filing of
a biological weapon. one of his early, wonderful, wonderful achievements that is still held in some have stated that conditions have changed in the world. he's the man who in 1975 revealed to a startled nation that the central intelligence agents the indirect violation of law was tapping the phones and opening the mail of americans that is to. why do you not look surprised by that? some things never change. the nsa, think edwards noted. sy hersh was telling us about the way of the american government and today it's getting all the heat in the 1975 while the heat to seymour hersh after a scoop on the cia.
the man his 1983 book revealed and showed us the dark, dark underside of the nixon administration, the price of power, kissinger in the nixon white house showed us thousands of needless deaths that took place in the administration of nixon and henry kissinger. he's the man man who in 1998 showed us the darker side yet of the john kennedy white house with a book called -- a book about the dark side of the white house -- blanking on the name. yea. the dark side of camelot. sy hersh's book, the dark side of camelot. the cd side of the white house did not up to that point. he is the man who taken for finished and dropped over the hill in 2004 at the age of 67. he was viciously attacked for his book on john kennedy. everyone simply said it is over for sy hersh. he is washed up and he'll never
do it again. in 2004, he revealed to a startled nation that american soldiers were torturing iraqi prisoners at a prison in abu ghraib. "newsweek" magazine called him the of american journalism. he's back. of course he had never left but from the public's point of view, there he was in that give me the book ends the book be like to abu ghraib with lots of great stuff in between. he butted heads of virtually every american president was lyndon johnson. lbj said we were not bombing north vietnam. sy hersh of us otherwise. richard nixon said we did not help overthrow chile. sy hersh on this otherwise. gerald ford said the cia was not by non-american citizens. ronald reagan's head of the central intelligence william keith e. threatened to throw hersh in jail for a book he wrote about the downing of a korean airliner by the soviet
union. hersh wrote the book anyway. reagan back off. dick cheney later to become vice president threatened to break into his house, threaten to have been thrown in jail because he was writing stories that the board administration didn't like about cobra duties in america. george h.w. bush in two of his sons were accused by seymour hersh of taking gifts from kuwait after gulf war one. needless to say, the bushes never talk to seymour hersh. george w. bush caught him in abject liar. the obama administration, soon after obama was elected immediately called david remnick and sit on your man off. tell him to his job. hersh did not. he recently said i think there's something wrong with that man. undoubtedly he was not invited to the state of the union speech
tonight. he's not ultimately a sly site, king-size, spooky side, terrorist sy and the one i heard so many times from so many people as in he can't be trusted are those who said he had a homerun with that story. go see their way and you either love him or you hate him. he's one of the great characters in american life for four decades. he begins his scoops of his work as a journalist in the late 1950s, early 1960s and he's been doing what he's been doing for my use and you can imagine and he continues by the way to be completely and totally indignant and angry at the conditions and things he sees around him, which separates him from other journalist. he's one of the great care is an american life. stories about him are legion in legendary. he's one of the top two figures in american life.
you know, when biographers take a look at who's great in america, the presidents of the secretary of state, supreme court justices come award-winning actors and actresses and if we look at your last we need to look at seymour hersh, who has in the premier journalist in america for four decades. he is a great character in two ways. he breaks so many rules of ethics for journalists. probably why he gets some of his stories, that is why he. so many people. he'd lusters. he blackmails. he makes so many people angry. i'll tell you the second part of the meal a story. and not since come he's infuriating to so many people because the way he goes about getting a stories. on the other hand, he is heroic. tilting at windmills, fearless, it can tie fatigue of all, going to places no one else will go. other people had the story, knew
that story. it was sy hersh who decided it is a story that had to be written. no one would write that the israelis have nuclear weapons and they have refused with international inspections of their weapons. hersh wrote that story, made a lot of people very serious. he's irascible, a maverick, outspoken and he's a progressive. so that is a bit of a snapshot of my guy, seymour hersh the scoop artist. and then trying to figure out what i could do for you to make you and i thought i would try to do two things in my top. first from a scoop artist outgun in october. i've been doing talks and interviews and a number of questions, repeatedly and maybe a kind of get ahead of some of your questions. some of the questions i would like to research the matter number one come is he the greatest american investigative journalist? to someone else by paul had?
secondly, coming did he cooperate in the writing of this biography? is this unauthorized book? what is it about sy hersh in this book that perhaps resonates today? what does he think of the revolution to make it a material on the security agency by edward snowden. or has hersh been for the last two years? so many people say he's disappeared from the pages of "the new yorker." where has he been? has retired? he is working on a very good book right now it started as a book on the cheney bush administration and he was just about to publish and thought he was close to finishing it and then somebody dropped, as they often do, drabness let the trove of documents indicated to him the offensive covert intelligence that took place had extended right over into the obama years.
so he had to keep going and he is now working on that. he will be back soon and i suspect his a big headlines. the other thing i thought i could do besides answer those questions is this, one other question i would like to answer is will we ever see the likes of seymour hersh again in the age of the internet, the age of bits and pieces of information, can we ever expect someone like scrollbars? the other thing i can do for you tonight is tell you about what is not in the book, about my chasing sy hersh. i've been on this book for about 10 years or so, when my entries goes way back beyond that. so i thought i could talk about my six years of chasing the great muckraking journalists sy hersh. let me set the stage. hersh becomes a famous in her national well-known person in
1969. in 1969, he is a freelance journalist. his phone number, by the way, both his home and office phone number publicly listed. he calls himself a clearinghouse for tipsters all over the country and every person who is a tip on any story can pick up the phone and he'll starlit hersh did listen to you for a couple minutes and dismiss you as he did with me many times also. he gets a tip in the tip is simple. the united states government in fort benning, georgia is holding a soldier of the soldier has been accused of either ordering or killing a number of civilians in vietnam. he said the story smells like it true. he cannot get confirmation of the story. no one will confirm that it's true until finally someone says the story is true. you've got a lawyer.
the lawyer's latin american salt lake city, utah. he immediately called flat of says i'm coming out there. it's on a plane, flight to salt lake city. latimer began to talk to them to make how the conversation. i talked to more people who've had this happen. he bluffs. your guy has been accused of killing 200, 250 civilians have latimer says no, no, it's only 111. [laughter] he got the famous sy hersh glove, which amazes me how many generals in the army were fooled by his busting technique. anyway, the story confirm, hops on a plane, feisty for penning, georgia. for penning georgia is an interesting place. it's one of the hugest military bases in the country. 140,000 acres at 100,000 people worked there 275,000 soldiers on
a daily basis. he walks into the base, 100,000 acres and he said i've got to find william coward, like looking for a needle in haystack. he couldn't call the public relations office and say i'm here to find calley because they would immediately pull him out. he began to soak around the base and find william calley. he wasn't breaking any laws, not yet they've been on the base. he begins early in the morning and they just start knocking on doors. kelly? anybody seen kelley clicks he calls the telephone operators. he's trying to get a phone number. he goes into the post office and poses as a lawyer. they think he's a lawyer and they immediately stop talking to them. and there are two ways located. they convince someone on the
base to steal kelly's file. look at the file, gets the address. this goes on all day long. it's 7:00, 8:00 at night. i make about today, but late at night he's totally exhausted. he said having drinks with different soldiers tried to get them to talk. finally one soldier says hersh, rusty calley, seymour hersh. he finds rusty calley after 12 hours of searching. hersh has this amazing chameleonlike ability to color unshed cuddle up to for the attack to. they talk to seymour hersh interested in. here's this guy from florida whose life and background was totally foreign and alien to seymour hersh, but suddenly they hit it off. he convinces kelley, let's go back to your apartment. they go by a couple states, get a bottle of burden. they go to his girlfriend's
apartment, cook the steaks, drink the burden coming future together and tell them the story. the story is horrible. basically, he's accused of killing 111. the numbers vary, but it's more the five hundreds of people killed. they simply wound it up civilians in the lie and put it near a ditch and they shot him until then. when a young child crawled out from under his mother and try to run away, calley grabbed his second shot and killed the young child. the worst, most dastardly deed and atrocity of that awful war. hersh has already. he goes back to washington. he raked in five installments and eventually writes two books i'm only in the massacre, but the cover up by the government trying to cover up the massacre and he becomes an international hero. the stories that really makes worldwide headlines all across the world, everyone has the
massacre another witness warhurst. i have to tell you, i was 19 years old at this point in time. i was a sophomore in college. i remember me like, but i don't think i connected with it very much. i can't say my chasing a sy hersh began in 1969. a little too distant for me. in 1974, a graduate of graduate school, got a masters degree in journalism, came back to reporting is a little more interested in pursuing journalism and people like seymour hersh. you should know 1974 is a big year for americans. the richard nixon resigned as president, which many people believe he was toppled by two reporters for the washington chorus, robert redford, dustin hoffman, all the presidents men to separate them. although bob woodward was very cooperative in the making of this book. i went to talk to ed and i kept
thinking, he really does not look like redford at all. bob, i'm sorry about that. bob is very helpful, very cooperative in the making of this book. where was i.? 1974 -- thank you. 1974 and like hundreds of others of my generation, my haste i might go into journalism because we have the sense we can save the world in journalism and the purpose of place or we could make wonderful things happen. of course we are looking for role models. the person i began to look at a seymour hersh. of course woodward and bernstein, balsa seymour hersh. he was a different kind of journalist can't even then woodward bernstein. i wasn't alone in my hot duration are looking at him as the rock star of american journalism in america investigative reporting. the pulitzer prize-winning journalist who worked for "the
new york times" told me he came to a journalism conference in new york city in the early 1970s. he said the keynote speaker at this event was seymour hersh. he said he was like a rock star. everyone wanted to be like seymour hersh. so he had this legendary that it's very early. i began to take an interest. that interest was only piqued by the fact that in december 1974, he broke a story that some people think is the story of the decade. that story was pretty simple in the semis today. hersh found out that the americans than true intelligence agency in direct violation of its charter in direct violation of love is opening the mail of american citizens and tapping their phones. only the fbi was supposed to do that by the way. the cia was allowed to do that, but only in europe of the rest of the world. the across overcome them. at the cia and hersh finds out about the story. he was very nervous because he couldn't get a piece of paper.
he couldn't get a document to confirm it. spies don't put this on paper, but he had a lot of sources, including the director of the central intelligence agency and he writes the story in december 1974, page one of "the new york times," causes a huge outcry and the administration tonight. he kicks the three congressional investigations. he is on how to dry for six months when i went simply says didn't happen, didn't happen. he should've won the pulitzer prize in april of that year, but he said no, he didn't have it right at all. we find that six months later he not only had it right, it underestimated the amount of dossiers. compiling thousands and thousands of dossiers on american citizens. their argument then was trying to find out about terrorist. they argue trying to find out about communism following them from europe to america and
breaks is very big story. i clearly remember that story and not have my entries. in 1975 come he breaks another story. less important, but much sexier and a terrific story. here's the story. the soviet union had a submarine that was in the pacific ocean. something happened when the sub sank to the bottom of the pacific ocean, hundred sailors, russian soviet sailors were killed and decided the bottom of the ocean. the soviet technology was not good enough to know where it was. they couldn't find it, but i technology was good enough. we knew where it was in the hatch this path that we was in a huge troller in the glomar explorer would go out for the submarine was. they actually built this huge troller with a special halt. there would pick up the
submarine, haul it up and have this great cold war coup. would have been missiles, the codes and this would be a wonderful accomplishment. either way, this accomplishment cost is $300 million. go out, start to pick it up. the submarine breaks in half, drops to the bottom of the ocean. they have to come back and they are toying with doing it again. hersh hears about it in to, enough is enough. went to write the story. he writes the great explorer story. my little show and tell you. this story has been sitting around in my folders that home for 40 years. cia saw the ship brought up part of soviet of and 1968 failed to raise missiles. i'm beginning to chase the great quaker, sy hersh. had this in my file for many
years. in the same year, may 275, hersh was becoming so famous for so many scoops, "rolling stone" magazine decides to do two-part interview with seymour hersh. inside a seymour hersh, the toughest reporter in america, went on to become a hollywood screenwriter. they do this two-part series interview with seymour hersh, toughest reporter in america. i clipped this sitting around my files for many years. either way, the photos and i am a liebowitz, famous american photographer on the cover of the book is a photograph taken in that point in time when he was working, not as well known for "rolling stone" magazine and she was sent to take pictures of sy hersh. one of the photos is a sy hersh
carrying a typewriter on this tears with one of his children and his wife. as you see when i describe my trying to get hersh and his family to talk, you assert it up when he knew i was going to be using this photograph. i called him and told him that the photograph. i said it is a great shot of view a list, your wife. ..
the price of power. this is a vicious attack and henry kissinger. it probably prevented kissinger from becoming secretary of state again in the reagan administration was you very much wanted immobile when this book came out its burn much over for kissinger. the book was published but had not yet came out. when it came matter became a best seller. it won the national book critics' award. he did thousands of interviews for it, but the book comes out bomb. his proud as a pistol. he talks to the college set to the fall of 1983.
ims host when it comes to a college. i wanted to read to you just one short section from the book that describes his visit to the college. and i think it in some ways captures his personality. i first met seymour merrin hirsch men in the fall of 1945 when he was 40 years old. i invited and the speaker of my university. i taught journalism there for 30 years. i also -- my office was located in the remote part of the 2507-acre campus and i hope that he could find it. he was scheduled for an afternoon workshop, arriving 15 minutes before showtime. it was a tough place to find. i answered, i figured you could find kelly at fort benning. you could find my office. he shuffled his feet and looked away and said that was a long time ago. ed been 16 years diaz's to track
down the tories william kelly. will the mama wifed worried each time she published. we all worry, he said. his boat on kissinger him was being protested. and was ultimately resolved, but the workshop that afternoon, i could not get in to discuss journalistic techniques. instead, he wanted to talk about the cia, intelligence gathering, richard nixon. he only wanted to talk about what he had uncovered in the process of reporting. his passion was reserved to the issues. form and function were of little interest. the president, vice president commanding, and local officials and many others, a celebrity, a
bucking celebrity as he calls himself. one guest was al sharpton who was a well-known personality and a network of national public radio stations that he ran. he had no washington d.c. neighbor who first like the man. they proceeded to argue about him over dinner. and he left for dinner he said to me, who is that will put. i explained that he is a considerably influential pendant in the capital. hearse ordered more part -- uttered more profanity. everywhere he goes from presidents and generals one minute to secretary of state is part of his style and success. the evening lecture but better. they packed the largest lecture hall.
offaly and passionately assailing the moralities of the nixon era to the vietnam to watergate -- watergate. peirce was a hero and they applauded him. he more than earned his feet. in the evening top was over and the answer many questions and received a standing ovation he was staying in a dingy hotel at the college outside of the village before heading home the next day. i missed my family, he said as he left campus, referring to his wife and three children. i did not speak again for nearly 20 years as we produced five more books, a few documentary films, and dozens of articles for the new yorker magazine. i kept trying hirsch, constantly
in the headlines, anyone interested in journalism and investigative panel is an could not miss hirsch. he made headlines in the new york times. seventy-two to 709, left to write a book on henry kissinger, but he still did freelance stuff , and free-lance work for the new york times. and then 1986 -- you remember the name manuel noriega, the president of panama. he was sometimes called the panamanian thug. jeffrey presidential administration, pre american presidential administration had him on their payroll. he was supporting american policies but also running drugs, guns, killing opponents and saying that he was america's allies. and he writes this in a page-one story in the new york times. panama's strongman how much
trading interest, arms, illicit money. and particularly getting to zero nsa after do something about this guy because of the top of my thing and says hersh file. of file with all sorts of stuff. someone has to do this guy's biography at some point in time. in the year 2004i wrote a biography of a long forgotten but once very famous and mark to the american journalist. russell was very angry about conditions. he had story after story. the most prolific rule known as the muckraking journalist. add to his biography and then trying to figure out what comes next.
what begins to come to mind was why hersh? when you write a biography about someone who is dead it is easier you don't have to worry about offending them, making contact with them, where they are. you know where they are. the many times a you run into situations and just don't know what happened. you would love to pick up the phone and say, mr. russell, in 1906 when you wrote that article -- but you don't have that luxury. your stock with memory, memoirs, letters, written record. when you work on a biography of someone who is alive, wonderful possibilities and real disadvantages. a wonderful possibility, of course, is that you can talk to the person. if the person talks to you then
you can get into turn over letters coming get him to tell you exactly what happened and get the back story, the inside story. you have the possibility of his world opening up to you. on the other hand, you run the risk of being accused of writing an authorized biography. i knew that seymour hersh would never admire anyone who wanted to write anything that was authorized. he post all over the place but never asked permission. and as a biographer i knew i could never win their respective hersh if at to ask permission. i knew i had to try to talk to him and see if i could possibly give in to talk. a couple of years ago walter isaacson road of very good, very big biography on the apple computer during steve jobs. he sat down with jobs for a number of long interviews. he was terribly attacked because
they said this is unauthorized book. how can you trust? what if you have to criticize the person you're writing about. does this water down the book? how was stuck between wanting to talk to hersh but assuming that this would be an authorized biography. i decided that i would have to call women lead in no what i intended to do. i talked eventually to hundreds of people in any ahead one cycle of the first person they would immediately call hersh. now wanted him to know about the book from the enough from somebody else. so if he know that when you call him you get a couple of minutes and then he says, you have enough. goodbye. he hangs up when you. venites plane what i wanted to do. i hope you remember me from my short time with you years before
i wrote him a registered letter. here is this registered letter that goes to him. d'agata copy with his signature on it saying that he received it i read him are registered letter. at that point, let me write the letter in the level call. i weighed about ten days, two weeks. he picks up the phone. i say, robert miraldi. abbott your leather he says tullius, i got the letter. it did not come to my office. at the of the post office. i was threatened for it. i then explained to him, i would like to write your biography. you have an incredible body of work. we'll show you done. like to do your back griffey. silence and then he says skyline not bucking did. okay. away we go.
the recovered quickly. the whole world knows you're not dead. and then he told me what you really thought about the possibility of someone writing his biography. he says, until those of which is the son of the white house, until we get rid of bush and cheney there is no way that i have time to sit down and talk about myself. his words, not going to last a bit myself and public. i hate when people ask me what i think. my opinion means nothing. it's my facula story, as troops. dozens of wanted to do my story. i have never cooperated. and discipline that going to do it. register of this big article in the new yorker. i spent the last week's doing interviews. i have to get back to work. and not going to sit down and talk to you for a long time.
he wished me luck. me if i did not know where it would lead. i was hoping he might decide it was time to sit down and talk. that time never came. and still waiting. we developed and is a relationship over time. first off, when i needed to get information, especially working on his early life, as are the years growing up, his early years of the associated press committee were to the associated press in chicago and new york for years, a legendary place in chicago and it was tough to find as much information as i needed for the zero years. he was useful, helpful. he would answer three of four questions in them would say, you've done enough. goodbye, and then he went. this went on for quite awhile, and then we began to e-mail overtime. e-mails, always very blunt.
i know that there is a huge fbi, cia, and then save file on seymour hersh. the whale oil is written right now until he is decem requested, i can't kid. only you can get this file. a : rhoden said, u.s. courier file. not interested. don't give wishes kelly says. his words. steady and. at 1. i was trying to track his parents, mother and father, an immigrant, came to america, and i was trying to track the family and trace them. i did not have his mother's maiden name. as said, i could not call him. your mother's name. and as says, okay. let me write to him. what is your mother's maiden name. his answer was, it's on the public record. you find it.
not going to get too far on that one. but he wrote his book on henry kissinger says here is a vicious, vicious attack. obviously a major american public figure. kisses her only once responded to the book. he said, is a pack of lies. the only time he commented, what the problems were, and i went to the new york public library archive there was a 20 page memo from kissinger detailing every single complaint or problem he had with the hersh work. the only time i ever saw a specific response. and this responded. so i wrote commercials added. you want to see it, comment on it? his answer was, yesterday's news. but don't give it.
did not get an answer. that is sort of the way that it went in our conversation. short, short, although responsive. sometimes he would direct things. talk to this person, that person nelson found at times that i knew more about his work 30 years ago that heated. not a surprise. chopin's attack, 72, 74 years old, but now was dredging up stuff from 30, 40 years ago. any more than he did. one point in time i heard it's a and he told the fascinating story. bnl's deeper red cells. the housekeeper was taking care of his house and his children. he comes to the house. the voice. the person tells the housekeeper
exactly where the three children were at that point and then tell sir exactly where size three children were at that moment. he had had a number of threats his family, but he was very secretive. he said there's been a public group of reporters that call them up. sorry. trying to get a little more detail on this. when the fbi investigated, every morning for six months after he got that call he would get up not knowing what what happened. i asked him. and never talk about security stuff. i never would discuss that. i have a case. you talked about it. you're kidding me? and talk about that? but i was finding stuff that he did not even quite remember. in 1968 he crossover to be a
public relations person for eugene mccarthy, a senator from minnesota -- minnesota decided to take on the sitting president of the united states who was increasingly unpopular over the vietnam war. he decided he would try to attack and unseat him many depressed secretary. he was out of work and became -- it did not go over very well. he quit. he wants to mccarthy to go into the black neighborhood. mccarthy said, no, it's not my style. one race related issues. adown the humbling to recreate this. he has been accused of three things. he used to many anonymous sources.
number three killer he is not reliable, no reliable because you worked for eugene mccarthy. we all know what the politics are. it turns of the university of minnesota which as the mccarthy papers, they went out and interviewed everyone he worked for eugene mccarthy. was it to our oral history interviews about what took place during that time. one wonderful and -- endo. he is needing money to mailing. he's in a hotel room. big money fat cat. and paul newman, the actor who was actually a supporter of the eugene macarthur. and he had the money. the fat cats as, i'm not giving you any more money. they start to yell and are about to start having a big fist fight
paul newman has to jump up and tackle one of them. a wonderful stuff. and so i go and tell them about this. he says, i said that? high given it to be like that? might gonna have a big no. when i was beginning to find was very often i knew some of that did not know or remember. so it went. the biggest chance we had was over access to his family. tulu sisters : twins, and he has a twin brother. as everyone says : if you really want to know a lot hirsch efta to his brother knew it never really given interviews. so my wife and i were scheduled to fly out to california. i was going to give a couple of
interviews on the hersh product to the project. and then you begin to intervene. his biggest crawl was you did -- who gives a damn about when i was like when i wore short pants in chicago? and beyond that he said, it's nothing about worked. and why should you talk to my brother? if i really want to understand and know what his motive is, it would be great to know about the childhood, great to know but the parents, great to know but the household one person it could do that for me was his brother, allen. he is a twin sister lives nearby in jersey. she wanted to talk to me, and so
i intervened in an interview never happened. i wrote a letter to his wife although it was quite clear that i would never be able to doctor. he told me early on, that in going to happen. but i was imagining the kind of things of like to ask her. so a very beautiful and devoted family man the three children. she decided to get a medical school, move his family to new york. the new york times, medical school in manhattan. wonderful to talk his wife. so kumble was it like in 1969 flow -- fed stick cut of her husband's private park.
it we get up at 5:00 in the morning to monday on the ball must 6:00, on a more. a powerful democrat in a state senator. he said, i yes, we talked for an hour. the in my pajamas. he would talk for an hour before leaving go work. this guy who starts and six in the morning. a 11:00 at night of the in the newsroom and the washington bureau. trying to convince people to talk to him. most did not like the sky. the other thing hour of like to ask him, kind of an interesting part of the time in new york. he comes in new york for three years, 78, 79, the tail end of
working for the new york times. he does too big projects, one is the western, the owner of the paramount and rangers and knicks he did a big investigation. the other is one that most people don't know about, did not know who he was. you should not look and feel corleone is the godfather. he was known as the godfather. a lot more to about mob lawyer, hollywood lawyer. big, powerful gun in a make things happen for is clients. and side begins to tackle. then, of course. let me just read one. >> segment of the buck.
hersh was in los angeles is simply picked up the phone and called portia. she took the call a want to see you, she said. let me ask you a question. he said that would never forget this is long as i live. what are you doing? if you're an expert in mass murder. you read about crime or people are dead in their bodies all over, wire you writing about me? he right about murder, but running in the ditches. wire you interested in the? back to the blood in the killing in the blood in the killing and caloric and all the you're right about, not about me. hersh remembered vividly murders and blood. never said a word that was threatening, but the whole context was murdered, merck, but calmer. of what have -- he was in new
york cooking hamburgers risk is a weapon in when i get a phone call. a person of the other end says, get out of your house. i can't trust your phone. even so the phone within calls the night. somebody at the new york times has leaked all of your phone records end of the bills you been submitted to the times. then everyone here talking to, every phone call again making. your endangered. the think a wife might have said ,. not going happen. finally i went to washington d.c., scheduled to interview bob woodward who was very cooperative and pleasant and
useful. he end of hersh have been friendly rivals for 40 years. they both jockey over who is the greatest investigative reporter in american history. both of them think that is him. that has been an interesting debate. welcome in washington as a commoner in belgium show up at his door. finally one day there he was. when not to have breakfast the other, spent a couple hours, very pleasant, would not talk about himself, the sticking to what i said, and to start going to sit down for any series of time and talk about myself. it's about what i've read about. and not the person you should be focusing on. others agree there was scholastic to his guns.
this 115 page book in the. all last conversation, one of the question to begin with, last conversations were about what he is up to today which comes up all the side. working the very big book. cheney, bush, and obama. and the intelligence policy. he was close to writing the book . he heads a expand the scope of the book the to no gun from not the bush of and the station, it's worse than we ever thought. it has now gone from just being about bush and now being about obama. i suspect soon there will be headlines. going across the country, his
latest expos say about the bush obama foreign-policy. what does he think about the revelations of leaking material by snowdon? secret sources of information. a great criticism we really don't know who's talking. you just know a lot of money and people. but he said, he broke the law. you will have to be prosecuted. i have to tell you, he has changed the nature of the discussion today which makes me really think of hersh. he changed the nature of discussion and america. the heat has been on snowden.
he wrote about the ca 1975, launched three congressional investigations. congress banned the use of assassination. end is where the more changes in american life. the course of the vietnam war. turning point the vietnam war. a major important figure for many years. what it is about hersh and his book that resonates, another portion of the facilities are relevant. one of the first people who warned us that these chemical weapons were incredibly potent weapons that they simply have
taken for granted. they also pointed out that americans may instead of simply saying you would respond with chemical and biological weapons of a sudden surge, we will use uses a weapon. america he got at that point in time to use a biological weapon. not too long ago in syria 2500 people were killed with the land gas attack. the issue of chemical weapons continues to be important one. what i think he said most of all or to me is most important resonates most today is the power of the press, the potential power of the press. he has been responsible for kicking off some of the greatest stories of american life. the story with us all that nixon
would have gone on to continue to be president. for some to get on to the story. zero stories that could have said we would not have been allowed to do, it to continue water investigation. he's like the marine. he takes the had the head. we all follow. he gave us the best unvarnished look at the bush administration after the her 9/11 attack. after his book on john kennedy hersh was considered to be washed up, and done, over. he had begun to work a little bit on the mideast. and then they 9/11 at tech happened. he was backing his car and of his driveway in d.c.
the get a call. yuli workman of the cia, bush a administration and the middle east. and he then gave us over four years the best lockable was sticking place in the middle east they could find anywhere all. hersh has been for many years with a journalist should be, constantly indignant, an independent source of information, some money gets below the surface, behind closed doors, tells us what things are really like. be -- is he really the greatest
american investigative reporter? but those people who believe, i think it is actually apples and oranges comparison. woodward tells us inside stories from the top. he gets access to the halls of power and tells us with the people of the top of thinking and doing it have done. and hersh says, that's fine and dandy and useful. the problem is, they don't tell us the truth. end from the point of view of hersh, when the people of the middle of the bomb because those the people the really tell us what happened. in some ways it is mr. insider versus mr. outsider. will we ever see the likes of a female hersh scoop artist again? i am optimistic. tremendous changes in journalism
we have lost hundreds and hundreds of journalists, circulation, advertising but you can see that there is this whole world of investigative journalism out there, just one of many. the question is from my point of view, will anyone ever do what seymour hersh has done indignant or angry is never a part of the
debate. too often it is done even on the pages. unabashed in describing what he thinks is the job of the reporter. if you follow his career in his book, i have been added for 40 years, west of consider myself a newspaperman. that's my soul. it is an important business. yet all the people of the top of the highest possible standards. those people who have the right to send the sons and daughters to die in the name of democracy. the same thing is so valuable in a personal and family lives, we don't want to live. you want trust in the relationship. it is this business that gives us the chance, it gives a suggestible the highs people to the higher standards, to put your finger in their eye. it is a great way to spend your
life. i have been chasing -- for 25 : 30 years, intensely for the last six years. it has been a great way for me to spend the last six years. this is a man who was a difficult person, an abrasive character and has many enemies. he probably has many flaws. but this is a man who has told us more about the realities in america than any american journalist will ever in american history. i was reading some comment this morning. i was reading comments from bruce springsteen that his 90th birthday at madison square garden, springsteen said -- he called him a living archive of american music and conscience, a testament to the
song and culture. and i thought about hersh. one of the substitute in that sense, a living archive, a testament to the power of the expos day and the ability of journalism some much history along. chasing hersh for me has been the greatest in the last years of my life commend and thank you for joining me here tonight to it here about this. [applause] >> open up the questions. all come to you with the microphone. [inaudible question] >> i just want to be clearer on this. and 52.
that is barely remember 58, 59. i'd you remember having how -- it was discussed and school during the trial. arrearages will kins, what -- was and it the times that told us the story? essentially was a freelance journalist. no 11 and that story. life magazine turned it them. no one warren the story. and he was able to syndicate this to a number of -- initially like 35 newspapers. and when these 35 newspapers published a freelance peace everyone suddenly gone board and it was not until 60 minutes brought one of the soldiers, put him on the air. and that appeared.
and when light magazine actually published a photograph of the massacre, the story really took off, but no one wanted the story no one has even been prosecuted. >> of foremost dollar, could it be possible that we never would have no. he probably would have applied to some lesser offense. that would have made him go off and never talk about it, and it would have been two years before some historian dug up the story. will we know what the war and the nature in the course of the war might have been very different. the story might have come out, but it might not have come out at that point and time. there are other journalists in new about atrocities. there was something about this man in his makeup that made him pursue the story when others would not. he went into danger zones.
very few people were happy. that it did not happen, he lied about it, or even if it happened, he should not have written it. and those tanks continue. >> i have been hearing -- this is more of a general question of the journalism business this -- these days. if you think that the threat against journalists is more substantial, legally, physically , executive secrets and legal process against whistle-blowers, you know, in some cases hypothetical actual physical pressures and threats from the government and higher-ups' against journalists. >> at think the threat to journalism today, the real issue and problem is that journalism
has so rapidly changed because of the internet. the real problem, certainly for the authority has been to find the time and money to do there work. many publications have simply cut back which is more problematic. the musher we're getting any less threats in terms of sources or legal aspects. lawsuits by them. but my sense is the real threat to journalism is to have the money and the resources. investigators realism and take months. in senseless. a breath of fresh air. tremendous possibility of a limited space. and so you know have
possibilities. the but the threat is less. although i do worry in some ways and my mind the threat to democracy is that if you don't have independent journalism, investigative reporting, the what we have? we need to correct this. it is nothing about the politics we need to corrected and the amount of money being spent in our political sphere which is immense. >> if i remember correctly, and tell me if i am wrong, in march of 2002 or 2003 the fours yellow cake uranium story it became a
scandal. why did it take so long? >> i'm not so sure i remember the specifics. ambassador wilson was accused and his wife. that did not remember the details, but i can help you with that one. >> you mentioned a letter from dr. kissinger, memo, i sortie page memo. he would not, his people would not. the validity to some of the things that he says. there were so many things he did not respond to. i was not particularly -- no one was particularly convinced.
what he was really trying to do. they had given tremendous kissinger. when his book came out it was on page number one. op-ed columns. he was trying to call out the new york times. he and rosenthal were close, personal friends. this was a memo trying to provide enough evidence to rosenthal. you there should look at the facts. you should stop writing about this book. one more funny anecdotes. i was not convinced. it did not find the facts convincing. one of the people in the kissinger but actually sued. and it went to trial at the federal court in chicago. and when the trial took place henry kissinger had testified, the second time he had ever testified publicly in a court room tell us something to do with his wife and some other
unrelated issue. and kissinger in the case that the defendant -- this wonderful vote -- >> hi. can you please tell us about it. i think seymour hersh said that it was fake berries to you have any information? >> she did not say that it was fake. he said it was overly dumdum by the obama administration, and they're is a lot that we don't know about exactly what happened and that came in the context of a speech that he was giving about obama.
i know that this will be a chapter of something like it. he actually kind of went back on the lower bed. he did not say that what happened there was fake. he simply said it was trumped up a bit more and plated to something beyond what he polybus he gets himself in trouble when he speaks publicly. very careful, cautious comment conservative. he puts his foot in his mouth : and garrison to a lot of trouble . he paid into thousand dollars. he stepped up a bit of the years . >> you mentioned that you work -- the current trend is away from investigative journalism.
i wonder -- are you familiar with the work of james o'keefe or someone a bit more entrepreneurial or maybe a young journalist in terms of -- that might be like seymour hersh out there? >> in the quest to find the question i get a lot is who is the heir apparent. lots and lots of people out there doing tremendous -- some people, all sorts of names being tossed around. young guys. as i said tamayo optimistic about journalism. i am optimistic that it will continue to be new ways of people as indignant and as angry as seymour hersh. whether anyone can persist and have that many scoops in stories as seymour hersh, that i am not certain of.
i am not to ruffle that there will be great investigative journalism. in his also in new world. the internet has given us all sorts of new possibilities. snowdon leaks his material and it gets out there. in 1975 he would have leaked that material to a journalist. of the leakage directly to publications that the news it. in some ways the nature of traditional journalism has been turned upside down. [inaudible question] >> hersh. [inaudible question] >> maybe i am misremembering. your articles in the new yorker, invading and make a really strong stand on the. a am wondering if you know
anything about -- >> you wrote a couple of times of the bush of ministration has very specific plans for an invasion. that never happened. he get it wrong. he got it wrong. what i say she. the articles kept coming out in the yorker. it was not possible for it to be an invasion. but he was really ready about the plans that were making or for a possible invasion. he never said they're going to invade. my senses -- someone best of my view -- one of the things he said was, there are people of there, forces, they need someone to go to to be able to give up the story. in a thick in some ways his the of the stories of people in the middle levels in the barber of
the fence so why house paris and anxious about the possibility and it's possible he prevented. [inaudible question] >> it is a good question. and i don't know the answer right now. about a month ago he wrote in article of in all places the london review of books. he wrote about the fact that when syria had a sarin gas attack that killed toward the 500 people, the obama administration immediately blamed syria. he said his sources are telling him that there was other evidence indicating that it was not the syrian government. there were other people in and around syria he could have been responsible but then decided to ignore that. and he turned that article them which was shocking.
hersh, so has his relationship ended, like every other he had had, but three-quarters of the editors of the world of a ridge you would be better off. that was certainly the case. it was a very interesting and paternal force in the very controlling force. that relationship still exists or not, i don't know. >> in the other questions? all right. >> thank you all for being here. if you bring your book a bond of love to sign it. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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