Hi everyone! Apologies for the late start; we're going to jump right in.
"Let me talk to you a little bit about what's going on in the Middle East."
The official American policy, one that Canada fully subscribes to, is that we've been working with Qatar to train a secular opposition to Bashar al Assad.
Hersh notes that only three countries voted against having a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East: U.S., United Kingdom and Canada. This hasn't been widely reported in the West, he says.
On reporting on national security issues: the intelligence community in North America is full of good people/possible sources, but fear of repercussion/not getting ahead keeps people from speaking out.
"I don't understand my country. We destroyed Iraq, but one word never mentioned in discussions about this is moral obligations."
We behave re: Saudi Arabia in a way that treats it as mystical; as if it's not real.
Description of happening on the Western front: that U.S. has been working with German intelligence in keeping tabs on Bashar al Assad, and that U.S. is working with Russia in collecting intelligence on ISIS leadership.
"Putin is probably the smartest guy operating right now, in terms of honesty," he says, re: Russia and Ukraine.
The only people who are going to point out hypocrisy and stupidity are us; no one's going to do it from the inside.
People who advocate for non-violence lose. It's hard to stop people who want to use force.
"ISIS is doing something very interesting with the way it communicates. They're using social media, they have a great web page." This sets them apart from other opposition groups.
"I don't mean to be gloomy. But I am gloomy."
On being a reporter "I can't imagine any better way to spend your life." If you really rock the boat anywhere, you'll get in trouble. Says the three major organizations he left during his career were happy to see him go.
Journalism programs in the U.S. have expanded, and as such their student newspapers have expanded, and in some cases have supplanted local coverage from other outlets in those cities.
Responding to Q from audience: I don't know what's going to happen to Keystone. I don't know what's going to happen to the oil industry. I don't think it's coming back.
Hersh just described Harper as a "neo-con force."
"I'm not going to get into talking about some of the Canadian papers that I used to love but don't anymore." But nothing's the same as it used to be anywhere.
Q: What are your favourite news sources for foreign policy?
Hersh: I certain people. Gaith at the London Review and the Guardian. I read the New York Times. I look at the Wall Street Journalism, despite its horrible editorial page.
Hersh: Haaretz, Der Spiegel.
Hersh: The Times of India is sometimes very interesting on the west. It's a great newspaper.
Hersh: The Globe and Mail is a formidable newspaper. It still makes money, it looks like.
Hersh: I do look at some social media. I'll look at BuzzFeed or HuffPost.
Q: One of the most biting criticisms of your recent story on the killing of Osama Bin Laden was that your sources were too thin. How would you respond to that?
Hersh: The same sources I used for this story are ones that informed stories for outlets all over the country. Anonymous sources exist everywhere, and it's one of the easiest ways to try to discredit a story.
Hersh: Let's get past that. Everyone who published this piece not only knows the sources, they've talked to them.
Q: We're supposed to engage the public in the political process. But we've also got a tumultuous media environment, fewer readers. How do we engage people with these issues?
Hersh: If I knew I'd put it in a bottle and sell it. But: there are ways. Think social media. Look at what startups are doing now. But the "Johnny doesn't read" story has always been a chronic problem.
Hersh: You've got the same problem we do with television news. It's disappearing as a medium right now. Serious nightly news.
Hersh: I don't think government intervention is the answer.
Hersh: U.S. doesn't have news documentaries the way it used to.
What passes for investigative journalism is a story about a dispute. It's not a story about who's right or wrong—that's too expensive—it's a story about an argument.
Q: How has the machine that tries to discredit reporting changed over time?
Hersh: It was actually worse before. I wrote a story in 1974 for the New York Times about the CIA spying on American citizens. The Washington Post launched a campaign against me to prove I was wrong.
Hersh: I was right and they were wrong. You just say, "Boo hoo." What are you gonna do?
On how the official Bin Laden kill story went unquestioned for so long: "The daily newspaper's position is 'feed me, feed me, feed me.'"
"If we lost 70% of the editors we have today, papers would be better off."
"I don't know about editors. Who gets to be an editor? Who *wants* to be an editor? If you're a good reporter, shouldn't you want to be doing that?"
It's going through an enormous change, our business, but it's going to be OK. Underneath it all, people still want information.
And that wraps up this panel. Thanks for tuning in!