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October 30, 2006

Sy Hersh interview

Matthew Hays of the Montreal Mirror interviewed investigative journalist Sy Hersh, excerpt follows:

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.

HT: Pacific Views.

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Comments

It's said that doctors make the worst patients and on the same principle, journalists make the worst interview subjects.

Give 'em hell, Seymour! He's right, you know. The interviewee is not there to validate the opinions of the interviewer.

I love Hersh. Trust no one under seventy!

>The interviewee is not there to validate the opinions of the interviewer.

That's true, although, while I found it apt comment with that question, I found him a little quick to repeat it here:

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 wilful 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.

Living in Montreal and having read alot of Matthew Hays, I say- sic him, Sy, sic him.

Sy Hersh is the curmudgeon I aspire to be.

Wow--the Mirror. I'm feeling nostalgic...

These individual put-downs are funny, but I prefer the more general rants. Joss Whedon's speech to Equality Now about all the interviewers who ask him why he writes strong female characters is golden.

Yes, but what is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUCYsUl8n-0&mode=related&search=>the real reason Joss Whedon writes strong female characters?

Sy Hersh seems more awesome every time I read something he says.

Sy Hersh is kind of an asshole, but he's my kind of an asshole.

Rick, I don't think Sy Hersh is objecting primarily to the interviewer's bias. I think he's pissed of that Matthew Hays is giving such a bad interview. The interview is bad because it doesn't elicit information from the interviewee. The interviewer just keeps making unconnected assertions instead of getting answers from Hersh.

That's weird, posted in reply to Rick's 12:45, but my comment appears before his.

Give 'em hell, Seymour! He's right, you know. The interviewee is not there to validate the opinions of the interviewer.

Amen. This interview makes me respect Hersh even more. A lesser person would have just gone along with the interviewer; Hersh is smart enough to challenge opinions even when he agrees with them.

I found the "you are so tendentious" accusations tiresome. Bias is an easy accusation to toss around, and it becomes meaningless when it's tossed around so lightly. Asking questions about Bush's failures is "tendentious"? I suppose it's hard to judge the merit of these accusations without seeing the entire interview, but the interview as it stands doesn't look good.

Of course, the interviewer didn't need to leave words like "fucking" in his report.

The interview is bad because it doesn't elicit information from the interviewee. The interviewer just keeps making unconnected assertions instead of getting answers from Hersh.

Ah... if that's what he was getting at, I'd have to agree, then, and although Sy Hersh's response doesn't precisely address that, he probably didn't want to say "you're a bad interviewer, really."


The Montreal Mirror is a small English-language indie weekly in a predominently French-speaking city. Small potatoes for a colossus like Sy Hersh to feast on. To their credit, Matt Hays and his editor didn't snip out the unflattering comments, but left them in as a revealing glimpse into Sy Hersh's uncompromising professionalism.

The blow-dried hacks in the MSM could use a smackdown like that far more.

Why does so much of the American public seem almost wilfully afraid of ideas? Everything is reduced to personalities. "I love Sey." "I hate Sey" "Sy is awesome." "Sy is my hero." It's an Easy Reader world view.

Meanwhile Hays' question goes unanswered.

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