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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > Aug-18 > The Hersh reality

The Hersh reality

The strange story of how the legendary investigative journalist Seymour Hersh came to echo Assad’s propaganda
Hersh in the Dispatch offices, Washington DC, in 1970

Seymour Hersh’s first big scoop—before the revelations about an American massacre in the Vietnamese village of My Lai started his great award-winning streak—was about the US government’s secret programme to develop chemical and biological weapons. Deducing that the people most likely to talk to him were retired, he read back issues of army newspapers, searching for short stories about retirement parties that would often mention where the general in question was retiring to.

“I got a list of names and addresses, made some calls, and took off, full of my customary enthusiasm”, Hersh recounts in his new memoir, Reporter. He spent two months on the road, visiting retirees and piecing together an incredible story. What he uncovered was undeniable. There were documents, there was evidence and there were people on the record.

Hersh worked for the Associated Press and he duly filed 15,000 words split into five parts, hoping to make a splash. An editor put it in a drawer. Eventually, just over 1,000 words was run, complete with a re-written introduction that claimed the Soviet programme was just as bad. Undeterred, Hersh found another outlet and over time, despite the denials from the Pentagon, it became accepted that he’d been right.

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In Prospect’s August issue: Zoe Williams argues that the first thing we need to do if we are to remain in the EU is to tackle the reasons why so many wanted out—namely pay and conditions at home and the impact of unfettered capitalism. Prospect’s Alex Dean and Tom Clark interviewed former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg who says the liberal centre should keep the faith—there is another way to work closely with Europe, but the immigration question is central to finding that solution. Meanwhile, a group of writers including Wolfgang Münchau, Shashank Joshi and Owen Hatherley explain some of the pitfalls, prizes and things you hadn’t thought about when it comes to the UK’s relationship with the EU. Elsewhere in the issue: Former UK diplomat Tom Fletcher profiles the out-going UN human rights chief who is causing a stir by saying the things nobody else would dare. Steve Bloomfield asks what happened to Seymour Hersh—how did the legendary journalist come to echo the thoughts and ideas of Bashar al-Assad; and Phil Ball examines the crisis of male infertility asking: where has all the sperm gone?