A LIFE IN NEWS

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh tackles a presidential administration often at war with the press and a life on the front lines of the fourth estate.

Aired on August 2, 2018 & July 17, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> FAKE NEWS, REAL NEWS.

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTERS SEYMOUR HERSH HERALDS FROM THE GOLDEN AGE OF NEWS.

HE'S PUBLISHED -- HIS EXPOSE OF THE MASSACRE OF AMERICAN TROOPS DURING THE VIETNAM WAR WON HIM A PULITZER PRIZE.

HE WROTE FOR THE 'NEW YORK TIMES' AND THE NEW YORKER PUBLISHING SCOOPS ON WATERGATE, THE KILLING OF OSAMA BIN LADEN.

HIS EXPERIENCES IN JOURNALISM ARE DOCUMENTED IN HIS NEW BOOK ENTITLED 'REPORTER.'

I'M PLEASED AND HONORED TO WELCOME HIM TO THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

OH, OF COURSE.

SO THE GOLDEN AGE OF JOURNALISM.

THAT, ALONE, ESPECIALLY I FEEL LIKE IN OUR CURRENT USE CYCLE, I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO GET INTO WHAT MADE THAT PARTICULAR TIME PERIOD THE GOLDEN AGE.

THERE WAS MONEY.

I HAVE TO SAY.

THE NEWSPAPERS ARE FLUSH.

'THE NEW YORK TIMES,' WHEN I WAS WORKING ON THIS BOOK, I HAD TO GO BACK AND READ THINGS AND I HAPPENED TO GO TAKE A LOOK AT THE SUNDAY EDITION OF THE A 'NEW YORK TIMES' IN 1974, 574 PAGES.

574, THIS THICK.

THAT'S THE WAY IT WAS.

YEAH.

AND WHEN I JOINED 'THE NEW YORK TIMES' IN 1972, THE PUBLISHER HAD A RULE WE COULDN'T -- THEY DECIDED YOU COULDN'T HAVE MORE THAN 1.5% TO 2% OF PROFITS.

THE REST WOULD GO INTO THE PAPER.

I WAS AN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER.

I WOULD SAY I'M GOING TO GO THIS AND THAT.

NOBODY EVER SAID BOO ABOUT MONEY.

THEY SAID IF THE STORIES DIDN'T WORK OUT, THEY DIDN'T WORK OUT.

THE OTHER WAY THAT'S REALLY NOW, WHY IT WAS THE GOLDEN AGE, WE DIDN'T HAVE CABLE TV.

AND SO WE DIDN'T HAVE THIS JAZZED UP 24-HOUR NEWS CYCLE WHERE -- AND SOMETHING GETS REPORTED, AND IT'S IMMEDIATELY PUT ON AIR.

YOU DON'T HAVE TIME, REALLY, TO INVESTIGATE IT, YOU KNOW, IT'S PUT ON.

IT'S NOT NECESSARILY REPRESENTED AS THE TRUTH, BUT IT'S REPRESENTED AS BREAKING NEWS.

IT'S JUST SPEEDED UP.

IN MY DAY, IF I HAD A STORY GOING, IF I HAD WRITTEN SOMETHING AND I WAS CHASING A STORY, STAYING WITH THE STORY FOR A COUPLE WEEKS, WRITING DAILY, I HAD ALL DAY TO WRITE A STORY, UNTIL 7:30, THE DEADLINE.

I DIDN'T HAVE TO FILE FOR THE INTERNET, DIDN'T HAVE TO DO A TV SPOT, AS MOST OF THE PAPERS NOW, THEY HAVE THEIR OWN IN-HOUSE --

YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO TWEET.

I DIDN'T HAVE TO TWEET.

BUT THE OTHER THING WAS, THE TIMES WAS ONE, WE HAD THE NETWORKS, THE TIMES WAS A GOOD EXAMPLE, BUT THERE ARE OTHER PAPERS LIKE THAT IN AMERICA, THE CHICAGO PAPERS WERE GOOD.

WE HAD A LOT OF GREAT NEWSPAPERS THAT WERE TAKEN AS THE ULTIMATE TRUTH.

FOR EXAMPLE, NOW WHAT YOU HAVE IS YOU'VE GOT THE WORLD -- YOOER EITHER FOR OR AGAINST TRUMP.

THERE'S NO MIDDLE GROUND.

'THE NEW YORK TIMES,' FOR EXAMPLE, IS QUITE WHO IS TILL TO TRUMP.

THE PEOPLE WHO LIKE TRUMP, DON'T PAY ATTENTION.

IN MY DAY, EVEN PEOPLE THAT SUPPORTED THE WAR LISTENED TO THE 'NEW YORK TIMES.'

SO I THINK THE READING -- THERE'S NO -- THERE'S NO REAL -- YOU TALKED ABOUT FAKE NEWS, GOOD NEWS.

THERE'S NO INDEPENDENT PAPER THAT YOU LOOK AT AND SAY, OKAY, THIS IS TRUE.

AND BELIEVE ME, I RESPECT 'THE NEW YORK TIMES,' IT'S A GREAT NEWSPAPER AND THEY DO A LOT OF GOOD WORK, SOLD A LOT OF MONEY IN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING.

THERE'S NO QUESTION THAT BEING HOSTILE TO TRUMP IS CATNIP FOR GETTING RATINGS, GETTING MORE AND MORE PEOPLE TO SIGN UP FOR THE INTERNET AND CERTAINLY FOR TELEVISION.

GOING ON -- PUSHING THE ENVELOPE ON TRUMP.

AND NOT THAT YOU SHOULDN'T, IT'S JUST YOU SHOULD BE CRITICAL.

MY WORRY IS, WHAT I SAY IS, MY ATTITUDE IS THAT DON'T GET INTO A TWEET WAR WITH THIS GUY.

HE'S A MASTER.

YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BEAT HIM.

THE LAST TWO OR THREE MONTHS HE'S GONE UP EIGHT POINTS.

THERE'S A LOT OF PEOPLE IN AMERICA THAT LIKE SOMEBODY THAT SAYS I'M GOING TO TELL YOU THE WAY IT IS.

AND THEY DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE FACT THAT THE GUY CAN'T KEEP HIS WORDS STRAIGHT.

THAT DOESN'T INTEREST THEM.

AND SO HOW DO YOU GET TO THOSE PEOPLE?

MY ATTITUDE IS GO DO REPORTING.

WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE WAR THREE OR FOUR MONTHS AGO.

IT STARTED THAT LONG AGO.

THE WAR IN YEMEN, NOBODY -- WE GET SOME REPORTING, BUT THERE'S A BAD NEW PHASE GOING ON NOW, THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN.

I WENT TO A JOURNALISM CONVENTION THE OTHER DAY, AND I TALKED TO A LOT OF KIDS, AND BY THE WAY, TELEVISION AND NEWSPAPERS AND RADIO, THEY STILL ATTRACT PEOPLE.

PEOPLE WANT TO WORK HERE.

OH, NO, THEY CERTAINLY DO.

AND I'VE DEFINITELY, EVEN IN MY OWN EXPERIENCE, SPOKEN WITH YOUNG PEOPLE WHO ARE STILL INTERESTED IN PRINT JOURNALISM.

WE'VE SEEN A RESURGENCE WITH PUBLIC RADIO, ET CETERA.

I DID WANT TO GET YOUR OPINION ON TALKING ABOUT LOCAL JOURNALISM.

A LOT OF SMALLER PAPERS AND SMALLER MARKETS ARE GONE.

YOU'VE GOT A REALLY -- IT'S FUNNY.

IT'S THE FIRST TIME I'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT THIS BOOK FOR A LITTLE WHILE, AND IT'S THE FIRST TIME ANYBODY'S MENTIONED THAT.

IT'S A GREAT POINT.

LOCAL REPORTING'S DISAPPEARING BECAUSE THE PAPERS DON'T HAVE IT.

SOME OF THE BIGGER PAPERS ARE SWALLOWING OTHER PAPERS AND THEY PUBLISH THE SAME NEWS, BASICALLY, OFTEN IN RURAL AREAS.

THE MAJOR CITIES HAVE SOME REPORTING, OF COURSE, BUT WHEN YOU GET PAST THE BIG CITIES YOU'RE IN REAL TROUBLE.

YOU KNOW, IT'S A SERIOUS ISSUE.

WHAT MADE YOU RAISE IT?

WHY DID YOU ASK ME THAT QUESTION?

BEFORE I CAME TO THIS STATION, I WORKED FOR SEVERAL SMALL MARKETS.

THE POINT IS YOU KNOW.

YES, I DO KNOW.

I'M VERY, VERY MUCH AWARE.

BUT ANOTHER THING I ALSO WANTED TO GET AT WAS THAT EVEN THOUGH YOU STILL HAVE -- LIKE THE 'TIMES' ISN'T ANYWHERE NEAR AS THICK OR AS MANY PAGES AS YOU WERE MENTIONING.

BUT YOU DO HAVE A LOT MORE ONLINE WRITING HAPPENING.

AND I'M WONDERING IF YOU ARE SEEING A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE KIND OF JOURNALISM THAT WENT INTO THE PRINT PAPERS WHEN THEY WERE ACTUAL, PHYSICAL PAPERS AND THE ONLINE ARTICLES SO MANY OF US ARE READING, CLICKING ON, ET CETERA.

IT'S A HUGE CHANGE.

THIS IS ONE OF THE REAL POSITIVE THINGS.

I REMEMBER THAT THERE WAS A LOT OF WORRY 20 YEARS AGO THAT JOHNNY DOESN'T READ AND WRITE ANYMORE.

WE'RE NOT READING AND WRITING, AND THEN COMES E-MAIL.

AND NOW YOUR KIDS ARE JUST WRITING, AND -- IT'S REALLY AMAZING.

EVERYBODY'S WRITING NOW, E-MAILS.

WE'RE ALL GETTING ENGAGED.

THE WHOLE WORLD IS.

ALL I CAN SAY, YOU SAID IT, THE ONLINE STUFF IS REALLY FASCINATING.

THERE'S ALL SORTS OF NEW THINGS.

WE'VE GOT VICE NEWS.

YOU'VE GOT BUZZ FEED.

YOU'VE GOT ALL THESE -- THERE'S ABOUT FIVE OR -- I NAMED A BUNCH THAT HAVE REALLY DONE SPECTACULARLY WELL AND ARE FILLING A MARKET THAT THE LOCAL PAPERS ARE LEFT.

SO YOU HAVE A MUCH MORE -- WE'RE MUCH MORE -- IF WE WANT TO, WE'VE GOT THE WORLD HERE.

I MEAN, I CAN PULL DOWN, IF IT'S IN ENGLISH, I CAN PULL DOWN STUFF FROM AFRICA.

I DO HAVE A BUNCH OF PLACES FROM SOUTHEAST ASIA, FROM EUROPE.

I CAN PULL DOWN ARTICLES, BOOM.

AND THERE'S NO EXCUSE FOR SOME REPORTER GOING ON AN INTERVIEW AND NOT REALLY KNOWING EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT SOMEBODY.

IT'S JUST GOOGLE.

IT'S THE MOST AMAZING STUFF IN THE WORLD.

SEYMOUR HERSH, I WANT TO THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR WRITING THIS BOOK AND FOR REMINDING US -- AT LEAST FOR WHY PEOPLE LIKE ME EVEN GOT INTO THIS BUSINESS.

THAT'S GREAT TO HEAR, THANK YOU.

Funders

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