After journalist Seymour Hersh published a lengthy expose raising questions about the official White House account of the raid to kill Osama bin Laden, members of the Obama administration spent most of Monday casting doubt on the accuracy of the account – and the author.
Early Monday morning, the White House dispatched national security spokesman Ned Price to immediately dismiss Hersh’s credibility.
“There are too many inaccuracies and baseless assertions in this piece to fact check each one,” he said in a statement to reporters, adding that “the notion that the operation that killed Usama Bin Ladin was anything but a unilateral U.S. mission is patently false.”
At the press briefing, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that Hersh’s report was “riddled with inaccuracies and outright falsehoods” but did not address the details of the story.
During the press briefing, Earnest praised CNN’s Peter Bergen for discrediting Hersh’s story, directly quoting him for saying, “What’s true in the story isn’t new, and what’s new in the story isn’t true.”
“I thought that was a pretty good way of describing why no one here is particularly concerned about it,” Earnest concluded.
A Vox column by Max Fischer ridicules Hersh’s report and his sources, accusing him of going “off the rails” by “alleging vast and shadowy conspiracies” and other sources were quick to point out that the New Yorker, an esteemed magazine, had passed on Hersh’s story, because it failed to make a convincing case. The article was published in the London Review of Books.
In response, Hersh has defended his reporting and his sources while accusing the Obama administration of trying to attack him personally.
“It’s really an attack-the-messenger,” Hersh told Business Insider, adding that, “the White House doesn’t like adverse stories that are contrary to what they want the public to believe.”
For defenders of President Obama, Hersh’s report is particularly annoying because it questions the first account of the operation revealed to the world by the commander-in-chief. That forced administration officials to launch a hasty effort to back up the details released by the president.
“The White House is a political institution,” Hersh said to Business Insider. “Of course they want to manipulate the press. That’s just normal.”