The Independent‘s Middle
East correspondent Robert Fisk has written a corker of a column
containing an interview with fellow journalist Seymour Hersh – the man
who broke the Mai Lai story in Vietnam in the 1960s and more recently
the atrocities at Abu Ghraib Prison in Baghdad.

Fisk and Hersh take the opportunity to have a stab at current journalism. Fisk alleges there has been a:

…”collapse” of the media in the United States, a total
disintegration of the Ed Murrow/Howard K Smith/Daniel Elsworth/Carl
Bernstein and Bob Woodward school of journalism. The greying,
bespectacled, obscenity-swearing Hersh is about all we have left to
frighten the most powerful man in the world [George Bush] (save for the
jibes of Maureen Dowd in the New York Times).

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So it’s
good to know he’s still doing some fighting – and his target list
includes other journalists: “I know some serious Generals,” he says. “I
can’t urge them to go public. They’d be attacked by Fox TV; and the New York Times and the Washington Post would wring their hands. It’s a mechanism. You don’t get rewarded in the newsroom for being a malcontent.”

Journalists
on the mainstream papers are largely middle class college graduates –
not reporters who came up the hard way like Hersh’s street reporting in
Chicago in his early days. They have largely no connection to the
immigrants’ society. “They don’t know what it’s like to be on social
welfare. Their families weren’t in Vietnam and their families are not
in Iraq,” says Hersh.

The BBC, too, has “fallen off the way”.

The
whole thing is more than worth a read. It is part lament and part
prophecy from two seasoned and battered truth-tellers. Chilling and sad
stuff. (You need to subscribe to The Independent to get Fisk’s columns, or locally to New Matilda, which publishes him under syndication.)

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief
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