Media reaction to Seymour Hersh’s bin Laden scoop has been disgraceful

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Just about every article I’ve read, has criticized the piece on purely journalistic grounds, especially the fact that he only names a single source for his information. Add that to the fact that constructing such a cover-up, when there’s really no need to do so, makes no sense. There’s little wonder as to why Hersh’s usual publishing outlet declined to put it into print.


navy seals killed osama under final order of the commander in chief, president obama, and there are many secrets surrounding the incident as would be the case, but osama is dead. the end.


It’s always useful to take a grain of salt with whatever the government says.

That said, I’m not exactly enthralled with the sources. And it’s been how long now? The details, real or not, will be forgotten soon enough.


I have no doubt that there are people trying to either corroborate or disprove what Sy Hersh put out there, but coming up with a thorough debunking or corroboration would take months if not years, so all you can report on is how his story matches up with what we already know, which is not particularly well. The story is based off a single anonymous source in the US and of course the Pakistanis involved are going to roll with it… just about any alternative story of how things went down in Abbottabad would make them look better than what the Obama administration put out.

So, given what is widely known, it doesn’t really fit. There’s not much else that can be said for now.


You sound like the kind of person who would stop watching Memento after the opening scene. “Who cares about the sequence of events leading to this moment when we’ve already established how it ends?”


It is disappointing, though not surprising, that corporate media servants aren’t pursuing the story itself, and are attacking Hersh and his methods instead. Maybe they’re partly jealous that they didn’t get the scoop instead, or that they’re basically not allowed to expose it if they do. They have an accepted narrative to uphold, servants that they are to promoting American exceptionalism, and all that horseshit. If Hersh’s story really does expose various sorts of high-level lying, then he’s doing exactly what a principled member of the fourth estate should be doing,


“Seymour Hersh has done a great service by breathing life into questions surrounding the official narrative of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden,”

And questioning Hersh’s thinly-sourced, implausible, sensationalistic rumor-mongering is right out. Good armchair revolutionaries know to implicitly trust the words of people who say what they want to hear, and to attack the integrity of those who question those words and those who speak them.


Why is this surprising to anyone? The Iraq war was not even reported on properly, or for that matter do any of us even think about the 911 hijackers properly, or Guantanamo until it was too late (or even now). I am glad you mention it’ BB, but the narrative makes money and God forbid you try to tell the truth.
I was a senior web person to a major news corporation from 2000-2005 and the only thing that surprises me is that we haven’t torn down the old news establishment yet. I saw things, and we’re not done with the double-speak yet, since Canada just passed c-51 it’s still getting worse and we’re closing in on 3/4 of a generation living without proper reporting. It shows. it really shows.


Here’s more sources.

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There are articles out there that do directly address his assertions* but the claim in and of itself is so patently absurd it and delivered by at best unreliable second hand sources (if they exist at all) and contradicted by so much evidence and accounts of so many people that the notion it is conspiracy is absurd as well as ultimately pointless.

So it’s then not surprising the focus is on the journalistic credibility of Hersh which is, at best, decidedly mixed and the specifics are something you need to be very wary about and almost never having used a named source etc. Also that he published this in the London Review of Books of all places does not bode well for it’s journalistic veracity as it suggests his more usual places to publish may well have rejected it.

*One article by the former deputy director of the CIA itself who was in the room with the president at the time and is particularly devastating refutation of the key points and I found the subheadline quite amusing - ‘Osama’s body was chopped up and dropped from a helicopter? That’s odd. I saw video of his burial at sea.’


I don’t think you know what a source is…


Quite ironic when compared to US media before and during the 2003 Iraq War. Where was all this critical thinking and “questioning” of those thinly veiled jingoist propaganda pieces before and after the war 2003?


some guy told me that 9/11 was an inside job and that Jews were behind it. Am I supposed to be incensed that the mainstream media didn’t run that headline nationwide? Sources and journalistic standards matter and it appears his piece didn’t pass muster. Not every crank’s pet theory needs to be vetted out to the ends of the earth. It’s up to Hersh to support his claims since he finds them so plausible. That’s how journalism works. Or at least, how it should work.


I, for one, am chagrined. The “Well-known person spouts crackpot idea” is such a staple of internet blog posts and articles that we tend to just digest it without question. The Columbia Journalism Review makes some really excellent points, and I think I’ll be following the story more closely.

The blog-o-sphere was full of such questioning, IIRC.


Not the same at all. You watch Memento for the mystery and drama. Most of only care that OBL is no longer a threat or even a source of inspiration for anyone anymore.

That may be, but check out this article in the NYT, and follow all the links.

I suppose that you could say I use heuristics: If a government official said it, it’s probably a lie. If Hersh said it, it’s probably true,


Thanks, Xeni. I have a hard time believing some of the things in the Hersh story, but I totally agree that the media response has been pathetic. It’s mostly ad hominems and quoting officials saying things like, there are too many inaccuracies to refute. Riiiight…

Here’s the thing. Hersh is getting cooky in his old age. Good god, just read the Slate interview, which is hilarious! But a good reader can factor this out, and consider the facts. We’ve had NBC News and AFP confirm that, as Hersh reported, there was a walk-in who gave up Bin Laden’s location (though NBC later walked back their story – do they even realize how this looks?). Carlotta Gall also lends support on that point. Given this, I don’t find it that hard to believe that the Abbottabad compound was in fact not a hiding place, but an ISI-run prison. Many of the other details in the piece I still question.

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Actually we all really, really should care about how the U.S. government went after Bin Laden.

For example, the C.I.A. apparently orchestrated a ruse in which they sent a vaccination team into the Bin Laden compound to gather information and DNA samples. As a result, people in that region of the world are not only more suspicious of the U.S. but of public efforts to fight horrible contagious diseases.

To take out one terrorist, the CIA set back the entire War on Polio. That’s a consequence that could have a body count of untold hundreds or thousands of innocent people.

Tactics matter. This “the ends justify the means, never look back” attitude is sickening.