It has now been one week since Seymour Hersh published an in-depth report claiming that the Biden administration deliberately blew up the Nord Stream II gas pipeline without Germany’s consent or even knowledge – an operation which began planning long before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Based on interviews with national security insiders, Hersh – the journalist who broke the stories of the My Lai Massacre, the CIA spying program and the Abu Ghraib torture scandal – claims that in June, U.S. Navy divers traveled to the Baltic Sea and attached C4 explosive charges to the pipeline. By September, President Biden himself ordered its destruction. According to Hersh, all understood the stakes and the gravity of what they were doing, acknowledging that, if caught, it would be seen as a flagrant “act of war” against their allies.
Despite this, corporate media have overwhelmingly ignored the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter’s bombshell. A MintPress News study analyzed the 20 most influential publications in the United States, according to analytics company Similar Web, and found only four mentions of the report between them.
The entirety of the corporate media’s attention given to the story consisted of:
The 20 outlets studied are, in alphabetical order:
ABC News; Bloomberg News; Business Insider; BuzzFeed; CBS News; CNBC; CNN; Forbes; Fox News; The Huffington Post; MSNBC; NBC News; The New York Post; The New York Times; NPR; People Magazine; Politico; USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
Searches for “Seymour Hersh” and “Nord Stream” were carried out on the websites of each outlet, and were then checked against precise Google searches and results from the Dow Jones Factiva news database.
This lack of interest cannot be explained due to the report’s irrelevance. If the Biden administration really did work closely with the Norwegian government to blow up Nord Stream II, causing billions of dollars worth of immediate damage and plunging an entire region of the world into a freezing winter without sufficient energy, it ranks as one of the worst terrorist attacks in history; a flagrant act of aggression against a supposed ally.
Therefore, if Biden did indeed order this attack, it is barely possible to think of a more consequential piece of news. Indeed, according to Hersh, all those involved – from Biden, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan – understood that what they were doing was “an act of war.”
The Nord Stream attack was also one of the world’s worst ecological disasters, constituting the largest single leak of methane in history – a gas 80 times worse for the planet than carbon dioxide at accelerating climate change.
“The media system has, predictably, tried to marginalize the report,” Bryce Greene, a writer and media critic who has closely followed the press’ lack of interest in scrutinizing the Nord Stream story, told MintPress, adding,
They don’t want to deal with the repercussions. It also reflects poorly on the profession…Even Jeffery Sachs in his Bloomberg interview said that journalists he knew personally understood that evidence, but also understood that the media system they worked in wouldn’t respond kindly to any suggestion of US complicity, so they kept quiet.”
Greene explained that bothersome facts about the war have consistently been swept under the rug, noting that,
This is indicative of the entire Ukraine War coverage. From hiding the history of NATO expansion, to calling Ukrainian Nazis Russian propaganda, to CBS even retracting a story about Ukrainian corruption. The fact that US media figures want to be seen as ‘on the good team’ or ‘on the right side of history’ means that they’re unwilling to confront reality as it exists.”
This complete radio silence from most of the country’s most influential news organizations is all the more remarkable, considering Hersh’s revelations have been all over newswire services. Reuters, for example, has published 14 separate reports on the topic since Thursday. Every large media outlet in America (and many medium-sized and even small ones) subscribes to Reuters, republishing content from their newswires.
One of the main tasks of a newsroom editor is to follow the newswire and follow up on Reuters’ content. This means that editors around the country have been bombarded with this story every day since it broke, and virtually every single one of them has passed on it – 14 consecutive times. Thus, even when repeatedly presented with free content to monetize, almost every newsroom in the U.S. decided against it. Independent, reader-supported media, however, have covered the story much more closely.
This is not to say that Reuters has been supportive of Hersh’s assertions. Its first article on the subject, for example, was entitled “White House says blog post on Nord Stream explosion ‘is utterly false’”, thereby allowing the Biden administration to set the agenda and downplay Hersh’s investigation as a mere blog post – something those in alternative media were quick to highlight. Hersh self-published his report on online platform Substack – a fact that either undermines his findings or the credibility of the corporate media apparatus, depending on one’s perspective.
“The most incredible thing about the backlash against Hersh’s article on the U.S. blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines is the fact that it’s clear no establishment media outlet has any intention of carrying out the basic journalism needed to confirm or refute what he’s reported,” wrote journalist and MintPress contributor Jonathan Cook.
Other journalists, particularly those connected to the Western intelligence services, were scathing of the report. “The only people Hersh impresses any more [sic] are the sort of people who carry water for Putin and Assad, or the terminally dumb,” quipped Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins. Christo Grozev, another Bellingcat writer, labeled Hersh “senile”, “corrupt” and an “obsessive liar” whose “irresponsible single-anonymous-source reporting by a name with legacy authority is among the worst damage to journalism anyone ever caused.”
Fact-checking website Snopes also sprung into action, calling Hersh’s claim a “conspiracy” that rested on a single “omnipotent anonymous source.”
In an interview with the Radio War Nerd podcast, Hersh fired back, claiming
The New York Times and the Washington Post have just ignored me. What they think I should do is use [the source’s] name, get him put in jail, stuff like that, which would end my career. I’ve been doing this for 50 years. My Lai started in 1969, and I will tell you something…I will protect people.”
He also noted that he actually cultivated multiple corroborative sources for the story.
Thank God we got Snopes on the case.
Notice that they had absolutely nothing to say when random people were saying Russia blew their own pipeline.
Now when there’s a credible accusation of US complicity, they have to intervene to protect the discourse from “conspiracy” pic.twitter.com/3urDxdspnj
— Bryce Greene (@TheGreeneBJ) February 12, 2023
A story like no other
According to Hersh’s source, last June, under the cover of an international NATO exercise happening in the area, U.S. Navy divers based in Panama City, Florida, planted remotely-triggered C4 explosives on a section of the pipeline. Three months later, the order was given to blow it up. Navy divers were assisted by the Norwegian military, who found the perfect location; calm and shallow water just off the coast of Bornholm Island, Denmark….