The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Friday, Feb. 23, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Pulitzer-Prize winner Seymour Hersh discusses foreign policy

Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, discusses Obama and Bush foreign policy. He has published eight books and exposed the My Lai massacre in 1969 and the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in 2004. His lecture was titled "A Report from Washington on the Obama/Bush Foreign Policy"

When Pulitzer Prize-winner Seymour Hersh takes the stage, there are no illusions of humility or moderation on the journalist’s part. The audience knows exactly where he stands.

“I don’t have a laugh line to go out on. This is a serious foreign policy talk, and I have a point of view,” he said. “I say this not as someone who’s anti-American or a lefty, but as someone who talks to people inside.”

Hersh, who won the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting after breaking the story of the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War, spoke to a packed audience in Gerrard Hall on Tuesday night about his opinions on current foreign policy and his extensive international reporting experience.

Hersh criticized President Barack Obama and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, arguing that the United States has no “national security implication” in those countries. Jumping from topic to topic without much cohesion, Hersh also discussed the future of Israel and Egypt.

Hersh has won five George Polk Awards, two National Magazine Awards and dozens of investigative journalism accolades.

“I write all these stories other reporters can’t get to — I’m just saying it like it is — because I have the sources I do,” Hersh said.

“The other reporters, they bitch and moan, but they know it. That’s why I get all these prizes all the time, because I know what I’m talking about.”

Hersh, who currently reports on U.S. foreign policy and national security for The New Yorker magazine, said the primary motivation for American foreign policy decisions in the Middle East over the past 50 years has been a desire for oil.

An audience member asked Hersh why Obama did not take a stronger stance during the protests in Egypt, and at first he replied, “How the hell do I know what he thinks?” before adding, “My guess is that he’s a coward.”

He went on to criticize the president for not taking a stronger stance against the Egyptian leaders.

“I can tell you right now, the kids in Cairo gave up on Obama,” he said.

Hersh answered questions from a mostly supportive audience, telling a man who asked about government attitudes toward journalist whistle-blowers, “Nobody likes someone who spoils the party.”

Despite his strong criticisms of military policy and the current news media, Hersh noted that he still finds things to admire about America.

“You can’t be a journalist and not be an optimist,” he said.

Contact the University Editor at

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

Special Print Edition
The Daily Tar Heel Victory Paper for February 5, 2024