The National Press Club

11/12/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/12/2019 22:33

Silver Owls Hoot on Friday with acclaimed investigative reporter Seymour Hersh as special guest

Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who first wrote about the 1968 My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the 2004 physical and sexual abuse of prisoners at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, plans to discuss the current state of American journalism at the Silver Owls Fall Hoot this Friday, Nov. 15, at 6 p.m. in the National Press Club ballroom.

The Fall Hoot is open to all Club members and their guests. The cost of the three-course sit-down dinner is $35, preceded by a cash bar.

Reservations for the Hoot can be made online or by calling 202-662-7501.

A four-member musical ensemble named Inky and the Pressmen is scheduled to provide entertainment during the reception. It will be the second appearance at the Club for the musical group.

Hersh, now 82 and a veteran of several journalistic organizations, also will talk about his lengthy and legendary career as the nation's best known investigative journalist.

Besides the Pulitzer Hersh won in 1970 for his expose of the horrific killing of hundreds of Vietnamese civilians by American soldiers at My Lai, he has won five George Polk awards for national reporting as well as numerous other citations.

He is also the author of 11 books, including two dealing with My Lai. His latest book Reporter: A Memoir, published last year, is an autobiography detailing his life from growing up in Chicago as the son of Polish and Lithuanian immigrants who owned a dry cleaning shop in a poorer section of the city to one of the world's best known investigative journalists.

Hersh graduated from the University of Chicago in 1958 and tried law school. He didn't like law -- too much memorization he says -- and went to work for the Chicago News Bureau. He later worked for United Press International in South Dakota and then as a Pentagon correspondent for The Associated Press.

It was there that Hersh began to have grave doubts about the accuracy and legitimacy of Pentagon briefings about the success of the Vietnam war. He took a short time off from journalism to work as press secretary for Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy's 1968 presidential campaign. But a disagreement over campaign issues led to his resignation.

It was as a freelance reporter in 1969 that Hersh first received a tip about the 1968 killing of civilians by American soldiers in My Lai, a remote Vietnamese village. There are reports that more than 400 Vietnamese men, women and children, were murdered that day. In an extraordinary bit of detective work, Hersh was able to track down Lt. William Calley, the man the army officially charged with the killing of the civilians. Hersh's story of the massacre was sold by Dispatch News Service, a small publishing firm, and became front page news in scores of newspapers across the country.

In later years, working for the The New York Times and The New Yorker magazine. Hersh broke many other stories. His investigative work during the Nixon Watergate scandal led to a book about Henry Kissinger's transgressions that won the National Book Critics Circle Award. In addition to the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, Hersh disclosed numerous other government misdeeds, including illegal domestic wiretapping by the CIA.

Hersh also challenged the Obama Administrations official account of the 2011 capture and killing of Osama bin Laden. Hersh charges that contrary to governmental claims, the raid was successfully carried out with the assistance of the Pakistani government.

The frequent attacks on the press by President Donald Trump are of great concern to Hersh: 'The attack on the press is straight out of national socialism,' he said in a 2017 interview with The Intercept, an online news publication. 'You have to go back to the 1930's. The first thing you do is destroy the media.'

Hersh, never afraid to say what is on his mind, is also skeptical of many of today's world leaders. 'It's not just America,' he said earlier this year on the Chauncey DeVega podcast. 'The whole world has turned sort of muddy. By and large the world is increasingly run by ignoramuses, wackos, and psychotics. This was long before Donald Trump. But we've got more crazy people running the world now than ever.'

Silver Owls are those who have been Club members for 25 years or longer. Golden Owls are those who have been members 50 years or more. Platinum Owls have roosted at the Club for 60 years or longer.