Seymour Hersh Has Record of False Claims, Bad Journalism

Yated Ne'eman - January 22, 1999 - D.D. Levitin

Seymour Hersh, author of a harsh attack on Jonathan Pollard in the New Yorker, has a long record of making unsubstantiated allegations and using sources that have later been exposed as unreliable, according to a study prepared by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and distributed to every member of congress and leaders of Jewish organizations.

In fact, Hersh's main "new" allegation against Pollard, that U.S. secrets that Pollard gave to Israel were then given by Israel to the Soviet Union, is not a new allegation at all, but is simply a recycled smear that Hersh first used in 1991. The source for the allegation Ari Ben-Menashe, was exposed as a fraud.

The AIPAC newsletter "Near East Report" (Jan. 6, 1992) describing Hersh's 1991 book "The Samson Option" noted that one Ari Ben-Menashe "was the source for Hersh's wild accusations that Israel gave secrets to the Soviets that were stolen by Jonathan Pollard."

Ben-Menashe has been described by the Jerusalem Post (March 6, 1992) as a "notorious chronic liar." Newsweek - which is hardly sympathetic to Israel - wrote about Ben-Menashe: "Much of what Ben-Menashe says does not seem to check out." (Nov. 4, 1991) Newsweek checked Secret Service logs to see if then Vice-President George Bush could have been in Paris on October 19, 1980, the day Ben-Menashe claims he saw Bush secretly meet with Iranian officials to arrange a delay of the release of U.S. hostages in Iran; Newsweek found that on October 19, the logs show that Bush gave a speech before the Zionist Organization of America at the Capital Hilton [in Washington D.C. ]"

Steven Emerson the award-winning investigative journalist has described Ben-Menashe as an "abject liar." Emerson has also pointed out that over the years, Hersh has made numerous demonstrably false claims, including that "he was a commander of the Israeli raid to free hijacked airline passengers at Entebbe in 1976, that he planted a homing device in the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak just before the Israeli attack in 1981... and that he had declined an offer to become head of the Mossad." (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 27 1991)

In November 1990, "ABC News gave Ben-Menashe a lie detector test concerning his allegations about Israel, and the Iran-Contra affair, according to Christopher Isham, and ABC producer, Ben- Menashe failed it." (Newsweek Nov. 11, 1991)


  • "The Samson Option" contains, "many inaccuracies...( there is) a single paragraph in which Hersh misspells the name of the subject, gets the wrong date for the events he describes and misquotes the person he is writing about" (Near East Report, Jan. 6, 1992; Forward Dec. 13, 1991) The Jerusalem Report (Nov. 7, 1991) called the Samson Option "unreliable" and a "sham."

  • Just before the Samson Option was published, the London Sunday Times sent its top investigative reporter, Peter Hounam meet with Hersh and Ben-Menashe. In their conversation, Ben-Menashe "was caught in a lie" about a major aspect of his claims. Hounam said to Hersh, "Look this guy is hoaxing you. You've got to do something about it." Hounam later commented, "It's a mystery to me that they went ahead and published that book, knowing that so much of the material is wrong." (New Republic, March 16, 1992)

  • Another one of Hersh's source's [for The Samson Option] ...was a con man named Joe Flynn who admitted deceiving Hersh in exchange for money. After Flynn was exposed, Hersh said he regretted not checking his facts more carefully. 'Certainly being the victim of a hoax is not pleasant', noted the Washington Times (Nov. 21, 1991) 'especially for a such a fancy Pulitzer-Prize-winning investigative journalist as Mr. Hersh.' (Near East Report, Jan. 6, 1992)

  • Regarding Hersh's book "The Price of Power: Kisssinger in the Nixon White House" Martin Peretz editor-in-chief of "The New Republic", has written that "there is hardly anything [in the book] that shouldn't be suspect (The New Republic Sept. 12, 1983)

  • Former Attorney General John Mitchell, a major source for Hersh's book "The Price of Power", said that "almost every episode or statement on Kissinger ascribed to him by Hersh [was] "a distortion, an exaggeration, a misinterpretation, or an expletive-deleted lie" (National Review June 24, 1983)


  • Hersh's Israel-bashing is so egregious "it gives yellow journalism a bad name." (Jerusalem Post March 6, 1992)

  • "Hersh has apparently been fixated on bashing Israel since at least 1982, when he spoke at Hiram College" and "compared Israeli attitudes toward Palestinians to American views toward the Vietnamese and the Nazis' policy toward Jews." (Near East Report, January 6, 1992)

  • "Hersh has in general adopted the anti-Israel, world-view complete with dark whispers about the Israel lobby in Washington... [Hersh goes so far as to imply that] Kissinger was himself a part of the Jewish lobby - an idea that has not previously occurred to anyone involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict." (Commentary September 1983)


  • Hersh "apologized to former National Security Council aid Howard Teich for mistakenly saying he knew profits from Iran arms sales went to the Contras." (U.S. News and World Report March 9, 1987)


  • Concerning Hersh's interviewing techniques, Martin Peretz editor-in-chief of "The New Republic", has written that while Hersh claims to conduct many interviews for his research, it is difficult "to figure out what is an authentic interview and what is not. Hersh is known for the fast and threatening, even browbeating, phone call." (The New Republic Sept. 12, 1983)

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