Profile of Seymour Hersh

Rachel Cooke in the Guardian.


The man who knows too much

After we finish breakfast, he takes me to the office. He is eager to put off the moment when he must get on with his Syria piece. The more time he wastes with me… well, the morning will soon be over. Inside he points out a few choice interior-design details — the Pulitzer (it nestles among dozens of other awards), the framed memo from Lawrence Eagleburger and Robert McCloskey to Henry Kissinger, their boss at the State Department, which is dated 24 September 1974, and reads: ‘We believe Seymour Hersh intends to publish further allegations on the CIA in Chile. He will not put an end to this campaign. You are his ultimate target.’ Then he roots around in a cairn of paper for a while — quite a long while — eventually producing a proof of one of his articles with Remnick’s editing marks on it. I’ve never seen anything so harsh in my life. Practically every other sentence has been ruthlessly disembowelled. ‘Yeah, pretty tough, huh?’ He also shows me one of his own memos to a contact. It makes reference to the current administration. ‘These guys are hard-wired and drinking the Kool-Aid,’ it says, deadpan. He laughs. He’s getting cheerier by the minute. Soon it will be time for lunch! Now he puts his feet on the desk, removes one training shoe and jauntily waves the sweaty sole of a white sock at me. A couple of calls come in. He is concise bordering on cryptic. Finally an old Times colleague arrives. ‘I knew this guy when he had hair!’ Hersh shouts as this fellow and I pass in a small area of floorspace not yet covered by books or papers. I’m leaving, but Hersh doesn’t get up and he doesn’t say goodbye. A breezy salute — and then his eyes fall ravenously on his pal.

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