“Is Seymour Hersh becoming…respectable?”

“Thirty-five years after breaking the news of the My Lai massacre, the tenacious, hot-tempered reporter is winning praise for his disclosures about U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners. He’s on his tube touging his findings with Bob Schieffer, George Stephanopoulos, Wolf Blitzer, Bill O’Reilly. He’s just won a National Magazine Award. ’If there’s a journalistic equivalent to Viagra, he’s on it,’ gushes Newsweek.”

So writes Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz in today’s Style section.

Hersh is “becoming…respectable” because the Abu Ghraib scandal has been able to do something that Richard Clarke’s testimony before the 9/11 commission wasn’t able to do: force George Bush to apologize (to foreign leaders on Arab-language TV) and move the president’s polling numbers into very dangerous territory.

Before becoming respectable, Hersh had won a Pulitzer Prize, worked for the New Yorker and the New York Times and regularly played tennis with bold-faced names at St. Albans, but all that pales when compared to what Abu Ghraib hath wrought.

“Hersh, 67, is of the story-is-more-important-than-me school and declined to be interviewed,” Kurtz continues.

As a gossip reporter, I had several encounters with Mr. Hersh that left me thinking that, in Mr. Hersh’s opinion, nothing is more important than Mr. Hersh. While at the Washington Times, I wrote several items on Hersh’s nastiness when somebody dared to ask him — him! — a question.

I was once, several years later, sitting next to an extremely well-known New York journalist who was interviewing Mr. Hersh — or attempting to do so. I could tell Mr. Hersh was being both nasty and pompous, and I asked the well-known journalist, whose name I’m sure you know, gentle reader, if Hersh had pretended not to know his name. You guess the answer.

While the press breaks its collective arm patting itself on the back, would somebody please note that much of the material was found in a report prepared by the U.S. military itself?