On Sept. 26, 2022, a series of explosions rocked the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Denmark. Danish and Swedish authorities quickly determined that the damage done to the pipelines was not caused by earthquakes or other seismic activity, but by “blasts.” The pipelines were a crucial part of Europe’s energy infrastructure, delivering billions of cubic meters of gas from Russia. Over 500,000 tons of methane, a greenhouse gas 80x more damaging for the climate than carbon dioxide, were released from the explosions in the largest ever recorded single methane leak in human history.
The question of how the Nord Stream leaks occurred—and who is responsible—went unanswered for months. The US and NATO have both described the events as acts of sabotage, and the Russian government has pointed the finger at the US. In Feb., veteran journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winner Seymour Hersh dropped a bombshell report detailing how President Joe Biden ordered the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines. The White House swiftly denounced Hersh’s report as “utterly false,” and ridicule soon followed in the corporate media. Seymour Hersh joins The Chris Hedges Report to explain his report, and why corporate media and the US government are so intent on dismissing him.
Production: Adam Coley, David Hebden, Cameron Granadino
Post-Production: Cameron Granadino
Chris Hedges: On Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, a series of underwater explosions blew huge holes into the Nord Stream I and II, two pairs of pipelines constructed to carry Russian natural gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea. These four pipelines, steel reinforced concrete cables built to withstand the direct impact of the anchor of an aircraft carrier, were destroyed in a clandestine act of sabotage, according to an investigation by Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Seymour Hersh.
The pair of Nord Stream I pipelines carried Russian gas to Germany until Moscow cut off supplies at the end of August 2022. The pair of Nord Stream II pipelines, which would’ve doubled the amount of gas that would be available to Germany and Western Europe, were never operational, as Germany suspended its certification process shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. White House spokesperson Adrian Watson called Hersh’s report, “false and complete fiction.” CIA spokesperson, Tammy Thorpe, said, “This claim is completely and utterly false.”
Denials by US officials of covert operations, of course, are routine. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, for example, denied any US involvement in the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba, assuring the American people that the invasion was not “staged from American soil.” When Seymour Hersh in 2004 published the first stories about the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, a Pentagon spokesperson called his reporting “a tapestry of nonsense”, adding that Hersh was a guy who “threw a lot of crap against the wall and expects someone to peel off what’s real.”
Despite the denials, the United States has long expressed hostility to the pipelines. It worked to prevent the completion of the pipelines and imposed illegal sanctions on enterprises engaged in its construction. President Biden on Feb. 7, 2022, prior to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia stated, “If Russia invades, there will be no longer a Nord Stream II. We will bring an end to it.”
During a Senate hearing, Victoria Nuland, undersecretary of state for political affairs, was asked by Senator Ted Cruz whether his legislation aimed at sanctioning the Nord Stream II gas pipeline, which was voted down in January of 2022, could have stopped the war. “Like you, I am, and I think the administration is very gratified to know that Nord Stream II is now, as you like to say, a hunk of metal at the bottom of the sea,” Nuland said.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken described the destruction of the pipelines as a “tremendous opportunity, which would enable EU countries to become less dependent on Russian energy.” The New York Times reported in December that Russia had begun expensive repairs on the pipelines, raising questions about Washington’s claim that Russia had bombed its own infrastructure. These explosions are not insignificant acts. They are acts of war. They expose not only the collapse of the rule of law, but the lack of oversight by Congress.
I covered the mining of Nicaragua’s Harbors in 1983 by the Reagan administration as a reporter in Central America. The mining was designed to cripple the economy in Nicaragua and boost the fortunes of the US-backed contra rebels seeking to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. The mining backfired. It sparked outrage around the globe and saw Congress cut off funding for the contras a year later. The International Court of Justice in 1986 ruled against the United States over its mining of the harbors.
Hersh’s revelations should have led to a similar condemnation by Congress and an internal investigation into illegal activities by the CIA and the Pentagon. It should have prompted news organizations to dig deeper into a scandal, a flagrant violation of the UN Charter and international treaties. It should have prompted a national debate about the war in Ukraine and the steady escalation of our involvement, one that could lead to a direct confrontation with Russia and possibly nuclear war.
Joining me to discuss his latest investigative piece is Seymour Hersh, one of our most important and fearless investigative reporters who, among many groundbreaking stories, exposed the US Army’s 1969 Mỹ Lai Massacre and coverup, the Watergate scandal, the secret bombing of Cambodia, the torture by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib of Iraqi prisoners, and the false narrative told by the US government about the events surrounding the killing of Osama bin Laden.
So Sy, let’s talk about why the US destroyed the pipelines, and in your story you write that they began preparing the destruction of the pipelines two months before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And then if you can also explain why they saw the pipelines as a threat.
Seymour Hersh: Well, you’re getting to the core of it, and actually if you wonder why people on the inside might have talked to me about this, it’s because of their disillusionment with what the Obama administration did. The initial plan was the initial idea of a covert team, the set-up to look at the… The initial team was set up only to give options, and that was before Christmas of 2021. We were three months away, or two and a half months away from the invasion. But the Russian, Putin, et cetera, was already moving forces into Belarus. So something was on, and the idea was Jake Sullivan convened a group of the usual: CIA, NSA State Department, Treasury Department, joint chiefs of staff, a small group meeting at a very secret place they have in the executive office building. And I did mention specifics there because I wanted people to know that I knew specifics, because I knew there would be resistance to the story I was writing, which I didn’t learn about till after the bombing took place last September.
At that time, it was just a question of the word of art. The language was very specific. They were told to discuss kinetic or… The way it was actually put was we want reversible and irreversible options. That was the literal, the artful language used and the reversible options would be more sanctions, et cetera, et cetera. And ask Cuba about sanctions. They’ve been sanctioned since ’61. Yeah. And the sanctions as they didn’t work out in Russia too, the current one. And the irreversible would be something kinetic. So within a couple of weeks it was clear the people who advocated for us won the game and they were thinking of military options, and they had all sorts of crazy options. We had learned in the Vietnam War, we mined Haiphong Harbor by dropping mines from a bomb with timers on them from airplanes. It’s amazing, the state of art of mine warfare has grown up enormously.
And so the option was to blow up the pipeline. That’s the one option you can give. And they told the White House, I would guess, I don’t know specifics, but certainly by mid-January they were saying, okay, it’s possible, because people there knew of the capability. We had a very superior school down in the panhandle of Florida, somewhere near something called Panama City. There was a big Navy school for divers, and navy divers, not SEALS. They were navy trained divers. And they had been skilled in the art of blowing up an oil rig. We might not like the good and the bad, they could also clear harbors. But they were experts, and we knew we had the experts. A good bomb could mine anything, even a pipeline. But how to do it wasn’t clear.
But they told the White House in January they had made a connection with Norway. The Norwegian Navy goes back to the Vietnam War with us, really. I’ve written about that, as you probably know. They go back to the provocation that led to the Gulf of Tonkin resolution that led to this whole horrible war. There’s an analogy. I’m writing about it because we’re in an analogous situation with Lydon Johnson having the right by lying and doing something deceitful, pretending that North Vietnam had attacked that American destroyer, which it had not, and put us into a war that, as we like to say, killed between two and three Vietnamese, as if between one million or two million isn’t such a big deal. Anyway, whatever racist intonation you want to give it, it’s there.
And in this case, they came up with an option. It was all a terribly secret program that they were doing, they were working with the Norwegians, that’s never been made public. And until actually, as I mentioned, I wrote about it in another [subsequent] piece and the extent to which Norway was in our pocket on this stuff. And so –
Chris Hedges: Let me ask why –
Seymour Hersh: Let me just finish the thought. The issue is, initially it was just going to be a threat, that Putin and the hostility from Putin had been growing with America. Americans respond to presidents yipping and yapping about a bad guy, and Putin was a dead letter man in America right now. Right now you can’t talk about him in any rational way. But the question was, once they told the White House that both the president and the undersecretary for political affairs… Whatever her name is.
Chris Hedges: Victoria Nuland.
Seymour Hersh: Victoria Nuland, whose husband is one of the original –
Chris Hedges: Robert Kagan.
Seymour Hersh: Yeah, Kagan, who’s one of the guys that thought the solution to Al-Qaeda bombing us in the 9/11 was radical hating Saddam. Anyway, whatever. The worst mistake probably made in modern history, even worse, probably, in the long-term, maybe worse than Vietnam because of the consequences that we still are looking at.
Anyway, the only point was that their idea was to construct a mechanism to put Putin back down. We’re going to destroy the second pipeline. The first pipeline, there are two. The first one which went into business in 9/11 [sic] supplying Europe with gas, cheap gas, a lot of it, was cut back, was stopped by Putin himself in 2021 or ’20 just because of the language we were using.
The second one was stopped by us. It was the new pipeline, Nord Stream II. It had been finished in 2020 or ’21 and had been sanctioned by Germany. So we had a pipeline that could have been opened by the Germans but had been sanctioned. And so Biden gives the order to bomb it, and it’s destroyed on September the 26th, months after the… And these guys had, I don’t know whether they had just backed off when he, I don’t know whether they had to go back and put everything online, but they thought it was a dead letter issue. So he does it, and on his command – That’s what people in the CI do, they respond to the crown and not to the Constitution, something I mentioned in the first story – And with a sense of doom, and he blew it up.
And so I’ve done a lot of thinking, a lot of reporting on what was going on in late September that would’ve changed the equation. By blowing up the German pipeline, he was saying there’s no natural gas or oil in West Europe. And there’s been a constant worry going back to the Kennedy days about Russia and their great reservoir of national gas and oil, weaponizing gas to maintain good relationships with Germany. We never liked that. We never liked the fact that Germany and Western Europe were so dependent on Russian fuel.
That always bothered us, particularly Cheney. Cheney worried about it. Condoleezza Rice spoke often about it in the Bush Cheney years, Biden, when he was vice president, chaired a committee that continued – This is not a new idea, trying to remove the… It’s not a new idea to remove this link that would give the Russians some power inside Europe. That was always a nagging issue for us in the Cold War, the world of containment and this whole facade of containment that we think has worked but has not. Anyway, that’s another story.
And so what happened is, and the best I can get, and the people I talk to, obviously I’m longer tooth here in Washington and so I know a lot of people, and in the whole intelligence picture I’m seeing, particularly by late September, is so different than what’s been written in The Times, The Washington Times and The Washington Post. It’s like it’s another world. They’re so dependent on the paper, on briefings from, I guess from the Biden people. I don’t know where they’re getting the stuff they publish.
But by late September, there had been a wonderful alleged victory when the Russians retreated and the Ukrainians ran across dozens of miles of territory. But I will tell you that by late September, at the best, it was going to be a very dark stalemate with no victory possible and Zelenskyy not willing to negotiate. He had backed off and he was in his own little world of total corruption, the corruption of Ukraine. I mean, it’s so bad that the worry we’ve had in the community is that he was in trouble with the generals because he was taking too much of the swag, his cut was too big. I’m serious. So I’m in that level of information that is really good, and I know it’s real, and meanwhile the papers are talking about whatever they’re talking about, but sometimes there’s a hint of darkness.
So in September, I think I will give you what I believe is the rationale for what he did, which is he wanted to prevent Germany, which has always, right now, there was, in case you care, there were two large marches in Berlin last weekend. One, the police said 15,000 or 13,000, And the newspaper people and the people running the protest said it was much closer than 50,000. Tremendous amount against the war, not about the pipeline, against giving more to this war because of the danger it posed. They did a march on Saturday, and Sunday they went to the largest American base near Berlin, Manheim, and surrounded it, and also protested. And apparently in some embassy, I don’t remember whether it was ours or not, they had a destroyed Russian tank on display, and they took down with the display and they put flowers and peace signs on it over that weekend. Not a word in the Western press, not a word in The New York Times. It was a big story in the media in Europe, and certainly even London had good stories on it. Not a word here. It’s like there’s some sort of nimbus, a dark cloud over us.
Anyway, so I think the best guess you have – And I would guess 90% this is good – Is that Biden [inaudible] frightened, that if he saw long war coming, Germany, which was the reluctant to re-arm after World War II, after all, they spent a decade murdering, raping, and killing in Western Europe, among other places, and they’re allies now, they’re all in NATO. So I think what he did is he told NATO and he told Western Europe and he told Germany, we no longer have your back. We’ve always had your back. We no longer have it. You can’t count on us anymore, because this president thinks his war in Ukraine is more important than giving you, the German government, the ability, not this winter, but next winter is going to be a tough one, the ability to keep the factories going and people warm.
Now, right now in Germany, the price of electricity is still rational, and the government is subsidizing up to 20%, in some places more, so people that, particularly in larger cities and the corporations, but the largest corporation and the chemical company in the world just cut back production. It’s been talking to China about moving some facilities there because they can’t predict. They don’t have a predictor. The gas that Russia was pumping in Nord Stream I was cheap and plentiful, and so much that the German corporations that handled the gas were selling it downstream and making a profit, which Russia did care not.
The pipeline Nord Stream I, which was such a boon to the European economy, was owned 51% by Gazprom, oligarchs who kicked back a great deal of money to Russia. To give you some idea how much money that was being produced for Russia and for gas being one, one year, $45 billion was funneled into the Russian economy by Gazprom. 49% of it, the company, was owned by – We’re talking about stockholders – Was owned by four European countries that sold the cheap gas downstream.
So it was a big operation, and they lost Nord Stream I, Nord Stream II was going to pick it back up. So that Biden did this, what some people call an act of war – At least the people involved think it was an act of war, who did the planning for it – Because he no longer trusted West Europe to support him and his venture in Ukraine, which I think the only thing he can think is that presidents in wars always are popular. A war is sustained presidents.
We’ve seen that historically that they go… Bill Clinton came into office with one, don’t tell, don’t… With the attitude allowing gays in the military, there was tremendous resistance and the first couple of months were just a disaster. He probably should have fired some of the members of the joint chief who were openly critical of him. But he didn’t do that. He waffled. But in May, I think it was, he authorized the bombing of Baghdad. The first time the Americans have ever bombed a major capital in the Middle East. And killed eight people, which I remember one official told me only eight. And I said to him, what if one of them was your… His son played on a ball team with mine. That’s how I knew Sandy Berger. Sandy was deputy national security [adviser].
I came in there to do a story about what they did, and he said, what are you worrying about? They’re only eight. And I said, one of them was your son that played third base with my kid, my kid’s baseball team. And he said, get out of this office. Literally. No Republican ever did that to me, even in the Bush, even with Clinton, in the days of Watergate, nobody. There’s always a manner of politeness. He said, get out of my office, somebody I’d known for 20 years.
And so Clinton does the bombing, and the next day was a Saturday, and on Sunday I’m watching, he goes to church, and he’s followed by cameras going to church. It was his best day in the White House. He’d actually bombed and killed people, and that was his best day. And I remember that stuck in my mind forever. So that’s where we’re at with this presidency we have right now, the best day, he thinks it’s going to come when he wins in whatever his fantasy is about Ukraine. It is terrifying.
Chris Hedges: But he’s losing the war. They’re losing the war, the Russians.
Seymour Hersh: Well, I don’t know if… I think if you watch The Times and Post like I do, I think they’re beginning to back off, but they still run nothing. I love the stories about Russians raping and brutality. Is there an army that doesn’t rape and brutalize? Are you kidding? What happens when a Russian soldier is captured by the Ukrainians? They’re given blankets and hot coffee?
Chris Hedges: Well, or those, the Ukrainians argue, are collaborators. What happens to them?
Seymour Hersh: Well, you’re talking about that famous story about that first village.
Chris Hedges: Yeah.
Seymour Hersh: Bucha. And where the reporters were taken by… They never mentioned that they were taken by representatives of the Ukrainian government to this village. Yes. My understanding – I haven’t written this because I follow the war, but I haven’t been writing about it – During the COVID days, I’ve been doing a big project on containment going back to China in ’54. It’s fascinating how dumb we are and have been all along with our anti-communist stuff. But anyway, I’m back in Vietnam too a lot. But their armbands, they were just hell. They put armbands around certain people. And there was a lot of reporting in the European press, not here, that many of the people who were executed so badly had been accused of being Russian supporters or collaborators by the Ukrainians.
So they were killed, and not necessarily by the retreating Russian troops. But I assure you there are abuses by troops everywhere. I mean, rapists, that’s one of the virtues of being a soldier in every war. Don’t think we’re any better than anybody else. We know we’re not. I mean, Mỹ Lai told me [sic] that I went light on the sex stuff at Mỹ Lai. When I wrote my stories, I didn’t want every South Vietnamese soldier to wake up after reading what really happened and getting his revolver and going hunting down that American soldier. I was worried about that. The war was still on. Soldiers do awful things.
Chris Hedges: Yeah, yeah, I know. And both sides lie like they breathe. I want to ask about the Navy’s Diving and Salvage Center, which you mentioned, because, as you said, it’s not part of America’s special operations command. But it was selected for a reason, not solely because of its expertise, but because, as you write in your story, it allowed the administration not to brief Congress.
Seymour Hersh: Well, when you’re working with the CIA and the NSA on secret operations, there is a law. The CIA in particular has to do a finding that has to be presented to Congress. Basically it’s to a clerk on a subcommittee of appropriations that only has four members on it. I mean, it’s still a very contained operation, but it has to be briefed. And you also have to brief the Gang of Eight, which is what they call the House and Senate leaders of both parties and the House and Senate members of the Intelligence Committee. And there hasn’t been any collaboration or any good feelings between the two of them since Trump got in. I mean, are you kidding? And would you think about if you’re Biden and you want to run a down and dirty program, do you want to brief Speaker McCarthy about it? I don’t think so.
But whatever the case is, once the reason they pick the divers who are skilled, it’s a school. You pick people that have been trained by them. By the way, the whole trick of an operation like this is very few. You only needed two divers, but you had to pick good ones who not necessarily were at the school, but they’ve been trained by the school and have been in the field doing good and bad, as I wrote. Anyway, once you don’t go to the Navy Seals because they’re in the special operations command, and that requires a finding. So look, this is all just word games, because I wrote a lot for The New Yorker after, when Bush and Cheney were in running ops, they never briefed anything to the Congress. They just said, screw this law, who cares?
But under Biden, it was very convenient to say, once Biden spoke out about the operation and once you only had people there who were from the Navy doing the diving, not SEALS. And once you actually had, even if somebody you actually had, you hadn’t told the joint chiefs much about this because they have to respect certain laws, you can decide it’s no longer a covert operation, it’s now a classified operation. And under rulings they have, the CIA can bring in an army unit, a military unit into an operation that’s classified without briefing Congress. That’s just all games and words. But that is so, that’s what they did. In a way, Biden’s shooting off his mouth, Biden in February, after they gave him a briefing, went public and was asked about if he was trying to stop Russia. We can stop Nord Stream II. We know we can, and we will when we can, that kind of language was used. By the way, not one reporter has asked the White House about that since those early expressions, not one reporter. They just don’t do it.
And it was interesting to me that four days – I didn’t know anything about this then, I was just following it – Four days after the Sept. 26 bombing, which I do think was aimed at keeping Europe away from being tied to Russia because of this long-standing worry about the Russian “weaponization” is the word we used. Four days later, Jake Sullivan, who had convened the initial meeting, had a news conference. He was asked, not right away, I was amazed, not till 11 minutes – I looked at the tape – Was he asked about the bombing under the sea, and he said, yes. He said… I don’t know what they’re feeding the press corps today, but the question was asked in such a way, do you think Russians did it? What?
As somebody said to me about the story I wrote, a friend of mine that’s much smarter than I am. Given that Nuland and Biden had both, in January and February, talked about the possibility of doing it, once they learned it was possible from the secret world, which was really upsetting to the guys in the secret world doing it. Once they said that, anyway, you’d think somebody would ask that question. But instead the first question asked was, do you think the Russians did it? And Sullivan, who had convened the meeting knowing exactly what happened, his answer was, I love this. He said, well, it’s like that, because they’re immediately accusing us and denying. So that seems to be the way the Russians operate. But I will tell you, the Danes and the Swedes are doing an investigation and I said, let’s wait and see until it happens.
So a month later, the Danes and Swedes, Oct. 16, I think, I didn’t even mention this in the article. It’s too stupid to be believed. They announced that they just studied the event for weeks and weeks, and they concluded there was indeed an underwater explosion [Chris laughs]. That was their study. And so here’s the question I’ve asked. Here’s the question that the next time there’s a news conference I asked, please, please, some reporter ask this question: Well, Mr. President, you’re the president and you have the right, absolute right to demand, it’s called, there’s a two, the word of Hartford that skips my mind. He can make a request, he can ask the head of intelligence, the Office of National Intelligence has an intelligence. They’re the top dogs. It’s called The Head of National Intelligence runs all the community, and he can ask them, he can compel him to do a study of what happened and who did the bombing.
And the CIA has an office called the Directorate of Intelligence along with Operations and Science & Technology, which produces a lot of good stuff. There are a lot of bright guys working there. You can ask them to do a study. And if the CIA, when it has people in the field like they did in Norway as a team, it used to be called the C team. It’s all very secret. I’m sure they change everything every week. But there is a team there that does the monitoring. If we have a team abroad, they monitor local phone calls, everything, to make sure nobody’s figured out there’s something ongoing on a very high intense operation, make a study. He’s never asked anybody to do anything. Why don’t you ask if he’s at… Just ask. And the answer will be, of course they haven’t, because they know the answer. This is such a dumb lie they’re into, and they’re going to just lie the rest of the way, because why not?
Chris Hedges: Let’s talk about the reaction. Let’s talk about the reaction, and in particular the reaction of news organizations. As you, when you and I worked at The Times, if somebody, Washington Post, broke a major story, we had to dig to find out whether we could match it. If we couldn’t match it, we had to acknowledge that The Post ran it. The Times hated doing that. But this reaction is frightening. I’m sure you find… I find it frightening, but I’ll let you take it from there. I mean, I find it kind of staggering.
Seymour Hersh: Well, the problem with… You’re right. In the early days… I’ll tell you something else we did when I was at The Times, everybody screws up a story. I screwed up a story about a certain ambassador during the Chile crisis, and he was a friend of the paper and Abe Rosenthal. The editor had visited him. He was the ambassador. Ed Corey was the ambassador to Ethiopia at the time. And he had been in Chile, and he had been involved in, there were two aspects to the Chilean operation we did to get at Allende. I mean, the idea that Allende’s death was a suicide is not possible for me to believe. We were after Allende, but there were two levels. There was a propaganda level that the ambassador ran, ranting about him and calling him out. And then there was this secret level of actually paying people to kill people that he was not cut in because he wasn’t trusted by the station because he was a motor mouth, Ed Corey.
And so as a reporter, when I wrote the story, the first story about Chile and the CIA involvement, and Kissinger was angry and all that stuff. He was involved. And there was a Senate committee led by Frank Church who later read, investigated another story I did, the church committee, after domestic spying, and he started, his committee put out a report, and I, like 50 other reporters, I was following the story, wrote a piece for The New York Times about the Senate Committee said this and that about this Chile stuff. And Corey, I mentioned, they had mentioned Corey as being involved in the actual more aggressively than just propaganda. And he, of course, went nuts about it. And even though I had done the same thing others did, he focused on me, and he was right. I later learned that he was cut out.
I later learned that he was cut out of anything involved with the killing stuff because they didn’t trust the ambassador, which happens. And so I was then working on a book on Kissinger, and it was ’81. I’d been out of the paper for a couple years, and I told Abe, well, you know what? We screwed this guy over on page one, even though I wrote the report, six other, eight other people did, but still I wrote it, and New York Times was The New York Times, and so we did a front page correction. I wrote a 3,000 word [story], not only correcting that he wasn’t in it, but describing why he wasn’t in it as a way to write another story about what really happened. And we put it on page one and the response of the peers was pretty much ignoring this exceptional thing, that I wrote a 3,000 word story saying I screwed up stuff, but there was a reason for it, which was made better.
Time magazine, they did a ridiculing piece, the 3,000 word oops, right? They’d run the same story I did earlier, a couple years earlier on the Senate committee. And so Abe Rosenthal said to me, I’ll never forget it, he said, I’m never going to show.. He used a vulgar word for rear end. He said, I’m never going to show my ass to those guys again. Screw them all. I’m done. No more corrections, if this is the way they behave. I spent a month doing it. I’m sure I got paid minimal money. It wasn’t about money. I wasn’t on the staff.
I saw that. You’re right. Even still then The Times covered things that they didn’t report that was of note, but I would say that’s disappeared totally, long before I wrote stuff. I mean, when I was doing stuff for The New Yorker after 9/11, I was doing a lot of stories because I have access all with unnamed sources, but of course The New Yorker knows the sources and the people – By the way, I’m working with New Yorker checkers right now, and an editor who was my editor on The London Review of Books, and I wrote a bunch of stuff for them – And so they stopped chasing stories back then in, I thought, after 9/11. I had a wonderful friend of mine that was on the paper call me and said, well, we all were called in on Sunday about this story, and we called everybody, we can’t match it, so we’re going to forget it.
I said, what? He said, I know, it’s crazy, but they’re not going to do it. So it’s just an old… Values change, and it changed then. Right now what they’re doing is they’re putting America in jeopardy. I mean, that’s a serious charge to make. The Times has a special obligation, its stature, and it still has the staff. The print circulation is way down, as you probably know, down to 330,000, it was 1.7 million. But they’re doing great. They have an online reading. I still get the paper. I’m old-fashioned. My wife’s been reading it online since it started because it’s easier for her. I still get the print, and I like to feel it, and I like to read it that way. But it’s got an obligation to.
The one fight I had with Rosenthal when I worked there that was never resolved wasn’t about the paper’s instinctive anti-communism. It was about the fact that they weren’t an American newspaper. None of this American exceptionalism. They’re an international newspaper and they shouldn’t cover things from the American point of view as they do. That was a big fight I had. Just an intellectual fight, that you’re making a mistake. You’re bigger than that. You got to start covering the story from a world point of view. And they didn’t. He thought I was nuts.
Chris Hedges: Well, I’m just going to stop there for a minute, but I mean, Abe Rosenthal, a very problematic figure. I mean, those were the glory days. It’s so diminished in terms of its integrity, its ethics, and the quality of its journalism, whether Jeff Gerth, of course, is a great piece. We did an interview with Jeff on the Russia-Trump saga, two years, four years of slogging what was salacious gossip as news, the Caliphate podcast, all that kind of stuff.
I want to thank the Real News Network and its production team: Cameron Granadino, Adam Coley, David Hebden, and Kayla Rivara. You can find me at chrishedges.substack.com. That was Sy Hersh, who you can also find at Substack.