Hard-left anti-war reporter Seymour Hersh, who tried so hard in 2004 to get President Bush defeated with the Abu Ghraib scandal, and was given many media opportunities to make his case, had another great week in the media this week with his New Yorker article suggesting Bush wanted to drop bunker-busting nukes on Iranian nuclear sites. As usual, the article was larded with anonymous sources that no one can check or evaluate for political motives.
In interviews on network morning TV this week, no challenge to Hersh’s reporting genius emerged. Both hyped his Pulitzer (is that required before he accepts the invite?) On CBS Monday, MRC's Mike Rule found co-host Hannah Storm didn't challenge Hersh's methods or conclusions, just asking instead for wisdom from the oracle. Notice how many times she promotes him by saying "You say" and repeating his publicity points:
Hannah Storm: "Is the White House secretly planning to go to war with
Hannah Storm: "What would it take to trigger a strike against
Hannah Storm: "Military planners you say have little choice but to consider using tactical nuclear weapons. Why is that?"
Hannah Storm: "Is there a lot of debate over this nuclear option? Because you say that a couple of weeks ago the Joint Chiefs wanted to walk back that option and the White House said no."
Hannah Storm: "So if that's a formal recommendation, if that happens, as you say that it might, does that mean the President will have to take that option off the table?"
Hannah Storm: "You say that while the Bush Administration is publicly advocating diplomacy, that there are clandestine American forces in
Hannah Storm: "Do you think that the administration has given up on diplomacy? Are bilateral talks just out of the question?"
Hannah Storm: "Seymour Hersh, thanks for your time this morning we appreciate it."
On ABC Monday, MRC's Brian Boyd revealed that "Good Morning America" fill-in host Barbara Walters made Hannah Storm look hard-boiled:
Barbara Walters: "Well, now to the report that's creating a worldwide furor. According to an article in the latest issue of The New Yorker magazine, the Bush administration is planning a nuclear military attack on
"Well, Mr. Hersh, these are very strong accusations. At what stage is this possibility of bombing
Walters: "Weeks, months, years?"
Hersh: "It's up to the President. This President has decided that there's a red line that
Walters: "Let me be specific, Mr. Hersh, you're talking about nuclear bombs. Are you talking about bombs that as I understand it might be underground somehow? Are you talking about bombs that are being dropped from the air that destroy cities? What are we talking about?"
Hersh: "We're talking about a specific kind of a bomb known as a B61, a bunker-buster. It's dropped, it penetrates deep and it gets things as much as 75 feet below ground. It's designed for that. It's a specific weapon. The target they would use is not near a city. It's about 170-180 miles away from
"And as I wrote in the article, this is very serious stuff for some of the senior people in the military. They think this kind of planning is crazy and they want it out."
Walters: "You know all of your sources are anonymous but you quote a former defense official saying, 'A sustained bombing campaign in
Hersh: "Well, what I'm saying essentially in this article, this is really, the people I talked to, senior people in and out of the government, this is really not about the worry about whether they enrich a little bit of uranium. This is about this President and his Vice President wanting regime change. They want that government out of there."
Walters: "And is something that you think is likely to happen?"
Hersh: "I think what motivates the people that talked to me about it and to get the kind of controversy we have now, is a fear that, yes, it would happen. That this President seems to believe that it's his mission in life, his mantra if you will, he's messianic about it, that he's going to do and I quote somebody as saying this 'what no Democrat and no Republican would be willing to do.' He has the courage to do it. He has a mission in life."
Walters: "Would we send troops?"
Walters: "No. This is bombing and they're hoping then that the Iranian people rise up and get rid of the president?"
Hersh: "La La Land."
Walters: "The thinking is that Iran will just sit back and let this happen when they've been talking about, for example, destroying Israel?"
Hersh: "The thinking is that we will hit
Walters: "Wow, Mr. Hersh, this is very scary business, but we thank you for being on this morning and discussing it with us."
For a better idea of how a journalist could challenge Hersh's methods of anonymity, there's CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "Late Edition" last Sunday, who at least forced this exchange:
HERSH: Unless something specific is told to the White House that you've got to drop this dream of a nuclear option -- and that's exactly the issue I'm talking about -- people have said to me that they would resign.
BLITZER: Do you want to name names?
HERSH: Are you kidding?
BLITZER: I'm giving you the opportunity.
HERSH: No. You know why? Because this is a punitive government right now. This is a government that pretty much has its back against the wall, as you've been saying all morning, in Iraq.
And in the military -- you know, one thing about our military is they're very loyal to the president, but they're getting to the edge.
There's more on the Hersh's Bush-the-nuking-nut tour.
-- Hersh was on NPR Wednesday.
-- He was an anti-war natural for Chris Matthews, who wants Cindy Sheehan to run for Congress. did Chris Matthews:
-- Hersh was on hard-left
America is very, we're pretty much opaque on Iran. We haven't been there diplomatically in, you know, 25, 26 years, since the Shah’s days. Most people think the Ayatollah Khomeini, who’s the supreme leader, probably controls the nuclear option, although certainly the Revolutionary Guards, in which the Iranian president is a major player, have something to say…”