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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Seymour Hersh vs. a stupid reporter.

Sometimes an interview is worth reading even though the person conducting the interview is a jerk. As a case in point, take this Montreal Mirror interview of journalist Seymour Hersh, conducted by alleged journalist Matthew Hays. Despite Hersh's obvious exasperation with the Hays' poorly thought out and leading questions, he nonetheless manages to say quite a lot.

M: Why does so much of the American public often seem wilfully ignorant? Much of the populace seems intent on not knowing what is going on in terms of political and foreign affairs.

SH: This is the strangest interview I've ever had.

M: Why?

SH: Because you're so fucking opinionated. I don't disagree with you, but we're just rolling through your thoughts on things. It is sort of silly. No, it's not silly, but we're just rolling from whatever obsession you have to the next. You're pretty obsessional.

M: Isn't that a fair question?

SH: The ignorance may not be willful. The problem with this is, in order to answer your questions, I have to buy into what it is you're saying. I have no fucking way of knowing whether they're ignorant. I mean, Americans are pretty fucking ignorant. What we don't know is pretty huge. You could never accuse Americans of learning from history or learning from past mistakes. You're talking about a country that went to war in Vietnam with the theory that we had to bomb North Vietnam in order to keep the hordes of Red China from coming, right? Not knowing that Vietnam and China had fought wars for 2,000 years and would fight one four years after the war was over, in '79. What we don't know is just breathtaking in my country. To call this ignorance willful as opposed to general ignorance, I don't know. On any issue, Americans can display an incredible lack of information. I doubt if there's a society which has paid less attention to the facts than any else.

M: There have been many comparisons made between the Vietnam War and the current Iraq War. Though there was resistance to this, Bush recently acknowledged some parallels in an interview. As someone who has covered both conflicts extensively, were you surprised that so many of the same mistakes appeared to be made in Iraq so soon after Vietnam?

SH: Are you suggesting that a) we learn from our mistakes? Or b) that willful ignorance goes from one generation to the other? (laughs) I'm just answering your questions. You are pretty tendentious. It's okay, it's better than dumb questions. It's not dumb, but just don't be a lawyer, because the judge will just say, "Rephrase. You're leading the client." But that's okay, you're entitled to an opinion. I have the same view you do, the problem is that I do believe in being vaguely empirical.

Do make sure to read the whole thing; it's more fun than a barrel of Republicans.

Via Cursor.

| | Posted by Magpie at 12:01 AM | Get permalink




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