July 11, 2018
2 Jun 2018 – At the beginning of Seymour Hersh’s new memoir, “Reporter,” he tells a story from his first job in journalism, at the City News Bureau of Chicago.
City News stationed a reporter at Chicago’s police headquarters 24 hours a day to cover whatever incidents were radioed in. Hersh, then in his early 20s, was responsible for the late shift. One night, he writes, this happened:
Two cops called in to report that a robbery suspect had been shot trying to avoid arrest. The cops who had done the shooting were driving in to make a report. … I raced down to the basement parking lot in the hope of getting some firsthand quotes before calling in the story. The driver – white, beefy, and very Irish, like far too many Chicago cops then – obviously did not see me as he parked the car. As he climbed out, a fellow cop, who clearly had heard the same radio report I had, shouted something like, “So the guy tried to run on you?” The driver said, “Naw, I told the nigger to beat it and then I plugged him.”
What happened then? Did Hersh, who would go on to uncover the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and become one of the greatest investigative journalists in U.S. history, sprint to his publication and demand that it run this explosive scoop?
No. Hersh spoke to his editor, who told him to do nothing, since it would be his word against the police. He didn’t try to interview the responsible cop or his partner, or dig much further. Instead, he gave up on it and soon headed off to do his required service in the Army, “full of despair at my weakness and the weakness of a profession that dealt so easily with compromise and self-censorship.”
“I’ve spent most of my career writing stories that challenge the official narrative,” he writes in the last paragraph, “and have been rewarded mightily and suffered only slightly for it.” – Seymour M. Hersh in his book “Reporter”.
If Hersh were a superhero, this would be his origin story. Two hundred and seventy-four pages after the Chicago anecdote, he describes his coverage of a massive slaughter of Iraqi troops and civilians by the U.S. in 1991 after a ceasefire had ended the Persian Gulf War. America’s indifference to this massacre was, Hersh writes, “a reminder of the Vietnam War’s MGR, for Mere Gook Rule: If it’s a murdered or raped gook, there is no crime.” It was also, he adds, a reminder of something else: “I had learned a domestic version of that rule decades earlier” in Chicago.
“Reporter” demonstrates that Hersh has derived three simple lessons from that rule:
- The powerful prey mercilessly upon the powerless, up to and including mass murder.
- The powerful lie constantly about their predations.
- The natural instinct of the media is to let the powerful get away with it.
Read the rest of the article at transcend.org
Photo: Courtesy of Knopf