A LIFE IN NEWS

July 20, 2019 at 4:45 am

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. 

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>>> 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.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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