Seymour Hersh accepts ‘truth-telling’ award, but not for articles on Syria

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Hersh accepted his award at a “festive dinner” on Friday

American journalist Seymour Hersh — author of several error-strewn articles about chemical attacks in Syria — has accepted a controversial award for “truth-telling” even though the previously-announced presentation ceremony was cancelled.

Hersh received the award at a “festive dinner” on Friday after organisers re-drafted the citation to provide a different reason for giving it to him. The new wording played down his flawed reporting on Syria and instead celebrated him as someone whose yet-to-be-written work might deter Donald Trump from bombing North Korea.

Three weeks ago Hersh was named as this year’s winner of the Sam Adams Award “for integrity and truth-telling”. The original citation stated specifically that he was being honoured for an article published in June by the German news organisation Welt which has since been thoroughly debunked.

In the article, Hersh attempted to explain dozens of deaths from the nerve agent sarin by suggesting that Syrian forces using a conventional explosive bomb had accidentally hit a store of “fertilisers, disinfectants and other goods” causing “effects similar to those of sarin”. This was scientifically impossible and laboratory tests later confirmed that sarin had been used.

Hersh had been due to collect his award — a candle holder for “shining light into dark places” — at a ceremony on Friday during a “No War 2017” conference at the American University in Washington. However, the ceremony was removed from a later version of the conference programme and a note was inserted to say that Hersh would not be attending.

The original award citation was a follows:

The re-drafted citation switched its focus from Syria to North Korea, suggesting that Trump could hold back from bombing Pyongyang — for fear of what Hersh might write about it:

The Sam Adams Award was established by Ray McGovern, a former CIA officer turned activist who is also co-founder of VIPS (Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity).

Originally published at

Former Middle East editor of the Guardian. Website: Author of 'Arabs Without God'.

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