Chris Hedges

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Chris Hedges
Chris hedges blur.jpg
BornSeptember 18, 1956
St. Johnsbury, Vermont, U.S.
EducationColgate University (B.A., English Literature)
Harvard Divinity School (M.Div)
OccupationClergyman, Journalist, Writer, Activist
Spouse(s)Eunice Wong
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Chris Hedges
Chris hedges blur.jpg
BornSeptember 18, 1956
St. Johnsbury, Vermont, U.S.
EducationColgate University (B.A., English Literature)
Harvard Divinity School (M.Div)
OccupationClergyman, Journalist, Writer, Activist
Spouse(s)Eunice Wong

Christopher Lynn "Chris" Hedges (born September 18, 1956) is an American Presbyterian minister, journalist (specializing in American politics and society), activist and humanitarian. Hedges is also known as the best-selling author of several books including War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002)—a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for NonfictionEmpire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2009), Death of the Liberal Class (2010) and his most recent New York Times best seller, written with the cartoonist Joe Sacco, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt (2012).

Hedges is currently a columnist for the progressive news and commentary website Truthdig,[1][2] a senior fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City,[3] and a contributing author for OpEdNews.[4] He spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than fifty countries, and has worked for the Christian Science Monitor, NPR, the Dallas Morning News, and the New York Times,[5] where he was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years (1990–2005).

In 2002, Hedges was part of a group of eight reporters at the New York Times awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the paper's coverage of global terrorism. He also received the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism in 2002.[6] He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University[5] and the University of Toronto. He currently teaches prisoners at a maximum-security prison in New Jersey.[6] He writes a weekly column on Mondays for Truthdig and authored what the New York Times described as "a call to arms" for the first issue of the Occupied Wall Street Journal, a newspaper associated with the Occupy Wall Street protests in Zuccotti Park, New York City. He is a political activist[7][8] who has described himself as a socialist[9] and as an anarchist.[10]


Personal life[edit]

Christopher Lynn Hedges was born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, the son of a Presbyterian minister, the Rev. Thomas Hedges.[11] He grew up in rural Schoharie County, New York, and graduated from the Loomis Chaffee School, a private boarding school in Windsor, Connecticut, in 1975.[12][13] He founded an underground newspaper at the school that was banned by the administration and led to him being put on probation. [14]

He attended Colgate University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. He later earned a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, where he studied under James Luther Adams.[15] He was awarded an honorary doctorate in May 2009 from the Unitarian Universalist seminary, Starr King School for the Ministry, in Berkeley, California.[16] He speaks Arabic, French, and Spanish, and studied Latin and Ancient Greek at Harvard.[17]

Chris Hedges is married to the Canadian actress Eunice Wong; they have two children. Hedges also has two children from a previous marriage.[16]

New York Times[edit]

Hedges spent 15 years as a foreign correspondent for the New York Times. He was based in the Middle East for five years, serving for four of those years as the Middle East bureau chief. He then covered the war in the former Yugoslavia as the Balkan bureau chief based in Sarajevo. He later covered Al Qaeda in Europe and the Middle East from Paris. He was part of a team of reporters that won the 2002 Pulitzer prize for their coverage of global terrorism.

Three of Hedges' most cited articles[citation needed] were based upon the stories of Iraqi defectors who had been furnished to Hedges by the Information Collection Program of the US-funded Iraqi National Congress.[18] The program promoted stories to major media outlets in order to orchestrate US intervention in Iraq in the aftermath of 9/11. Most significant was a November 8, 2001 front page story about two former Iraqi military commanders who claimed to have trained foreign mujahedeen how to hijack planes without using guns.[19] Hedges quoted a man he believed to be an Iraqi general as saying, “These Islamic radicals… came from a variety of countries, including Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria, Egypt and Morocco. We were training these people to attack installations important to the United States. ” The two defectors also asserted there was a secret compound in Salman Pak facility where a German scientist was producing biological weapons.[20]

According to Mother Jones, “The impact of the article... was immediate: Op-eds ran in major papers, and the story was taken to a wider audience through cable-TV talk shows. When Condoleezza Rice, then George W. Bush’s national security adviser, was asked about the story at a press briefing, she said, ‘I think it surprises no one that Saddam Hussein is engaged in all kinds of activities that are destabilizing.’” As late as 2006, conservative magazines like The Weekly Standard and National Review continued to use the story to justify the invasion of Iraq.[21]

It later surfaced that the story was “an elaborate scam.” The defector Hedges quoted, who identified himself as Lt. General Jamal al-Ghurairy, was actually a former sergeant, and the real Ghurairy had never left Iraq. Hedges said that he had taken the story at the request of Lowell Bergman of Frontline, who wanted the defectors for his show but could not go to Beirut for the interview. The trip had been organized by Ahmed Chalabi, who Hedges himself considered to be unreliable. Hedges said he had done the story as a favor to Bergman, explaining, “There has to be a level of trust between reporters. We cover each other’s sources when it’s a good story because otherwise everyone would get hold of it.” For further confirmation of the man’s identity, Hedges had relied on the US embassy in Turkey.[21]

Hedges would write two more stories informed by Chalabi-coached defectors that year. The second one, claiming that Iraq still held 80 Kuwaitis captured in the 1991 Gulf War in a secret underground prison, was also found to be baseless.[22]

Political views and activism[edit]

Hedges is a critic of Israel's policies towards Palestinians, and was also an early critic of the Iraq War. In May 2003, Hedges delivered a commencement address at Rockford College in Rockford, Illinois, saying: "We are embarking on an occupation that, if history is any guide, will be as damaging to our souls as it will be to our prestige and power and security."[23]

His newspaper, the New York Times, criticized his statements and issued him a formal reprimand for "public remarks that could undermine public trust in the paper's impartiality."[24] Shortly after the incident, Hedges left the New York Times to become a senior fellow at The Nation Institute, and a columnist at Truthdig, in addition to writing books and teaching inmates at a New Jersey correctional institution.[24][25]

In the 2008 United States presidential campaign, Hedges was a speech writer for candidate Ralph Nader.[26]

In his December 29, 2008, column for Truthdig, Hedges stated that "the inability to articulate a viable socialism has been our gravest mistake. It will ensure, if this does not soon change, a ruthless totalitarian capitalism."[9] He elaborated upon this in a 2013 interview with The Real News, claiming that "the left has been destroyed, especially the radical left, quite consciously in the whole name of anti-communism," and that "we have allowed ourselves to embrace an ideology which, at its core, states that all governance is about maximizing corporate profit at the expense of the citizenry. For what do we have structures of government, for what do we have institutions of state, if not to hold up all the citizenry, and especially the most vulnerable?”[27]

Hedges appeared as a guest on an October 2011 episode of the CBC News Network's Lang and O'Leary Exchange to discuss his support for the Occupy Wall Street protests and was criticized by co-host Kevin O'Leary for sounding "like a left-wing nutbar." Hedges said "it will be the last time [he appears on the show]" and compared the CBC to Fox News.[28] CBC's ombudsman found O'Leary's heated remarks to be a violation of the public broadcaster's journalistic standards.[29]

On November 3, 2011, Hedges was arrested with others in New York as part of the Occupy Wall Street demonstration, during which Hedges and others staged a "people's hearing"[30] on the investment bank Goldman Sachs and then blocked the entrance to their corporate headquarters.[31][32] Hedges has appeared on the syndicated Democracy Now! television program, Breaking the Set on RT, and George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight.[33][34][35]

In October 2012, Hedges publicly supported Jill Stein, the candidate of the Green Party of the United States, in the 2012 United States presidential election.[36] On April 7, 2013, Hedges delivered the keynote address at the Green Party of New Jersey state convention.[37][38]

In June 2013, Hedges and numerous celebrities appeared in a video showing support for Chelsea Manning.[39][40]

On September 20, 2014, a day before the People's Climate March, Hedges joined Bernie Sanders, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben and Kshama Sawant on a panel moderated by WNYC's Brian Lehrer to discuss the issue of climate change.[41] Hedges and Klein also participated in the 'Flood Wall Street' protests that occurred shortly thereafter.[42]

NDAA lawsuit[edit]

Main article: Hedges v. Obama

In 2012, after the Obama Administration signed the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, Hedges sued members of the U.S. government claiming that section 1021 of the law unconstitutionally allowed presidential authority for indefinite detention without habeas corpus. He was later joined in the suit, Hedges v. Obama, by activists including Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg. In May 2012, Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the Southern District of New York ruled that the counter-terrorism provision of the NDAA is unconstitutional.[43] The Obama administration appealed the decision and it was overturned. Hedges has petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case.[44]

The Supreme Court rejected this challenge in April 2014.[45][46]

Allegation of plagiarism[edit]

In 2003, Tom Palaima accused Hedges of plagiarizing Hemingway in the Austin-American Statesman[47] Palaima complained in the article that Hedges had corrected a passage in his first edition of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning that was close to Hemingway and should have cited the paraphrase in all subsequent editions. Hedges' publisher at the time, PublicAffairs, said it did not believe the passage needed to be cited to Hemingway. The New Republic made the charge that Palaima's accusation of plagiarism resulted in a rewording of the passage, but after posting the article online the magazine put up a correction box that read: "In the original version of this article, The New Republic indicated that PublicAffairs changed the text of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning only after having been alerted by Thomas [Palaima] to the presence of plagiarism. In fact, the wording had been changed months earlier, and an edition with the present language existed at the time of Palaima's email to PublicAffairs." [48]

In June 2014, Christopher Ketcham, writing for The New Republic, accused Hedges of plagiarism.[49][50][51] Ketcham claims Hedges plagiarized many writers over his career, including Matt Katz, Naomi Klein, Neil Postman, Ernest Hemingway, along with Ketcham's wife: Petra Bartosiewicz.[49][52] Hedges, his editors at Truthdig, and his publisher Nation Books denied the claims made by Ketcham. The Nation Institute Executive Director, Taya Kitman, is quoted in The New Republic saying that when she became aware of the accusations by Ketcham, both The Nation Institute and Nation Books "conducted a review of Hedges's writing in his capacity as a Nation Books author and as an investigative fund reporter." Kitman wrote that this investigation did not find any instances of plagiarism. "Chris has been one of our most valuable and tireless public intellectuals," she said in her e-mailed statement. [53] In a response first published by The Real News on June 16, 2014, Hedges noted that Ketcham based his allegations on an unpublished manuscript he admitted he had never seen and passages that were footnoted or sourced. He accused Ketcham and The New Republic (TNR) of malicious intent and character assassination.[54] On the following day (June 17), The New Republic republished Hedges' response along with Ketcham's (and TNR's) response to the counter-allegations made by Hedges.[55]

The Washington Free Beacon reported that the New York Times "did not have reason to believe Hedges plagiarized in his work for the paper" and had no plans to investigate Hedges for plagiarism. According to a quoted unnamed source, Harper's allegedly had refused to publish some of Hedges' work after plagiarism was found.[56] The American Prospect and Salon declined to publish Ketcham's article, and The Nation Institute and Truthdig issued statements dismissing Ketcham's allegations.[49][54][57]

Ordination and ministerial installation[edit]

On October 5, 2014, Chris Hedges was ordained a minister within the Presbyterian Church and installed as Associate Pastor at the Second Presbyterian Church Elizabeth in Elizabeth New Jersey,[58] after having been rejected for ordination by a Presbyterian ordination committee thirty years prior. At that time, the committee deemed Hedges' declared call to journalism to be an invalid call.[59]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Truthdig: About Us
  2. ^ Reuters
  3. ^ author bios, Chris Hedges
  4. ^ "Chris Hedges author's page". OpEdNews. Retrieved May 19, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Simon & Schuster, "Authors: Chris Hedges"
  6. ^ a b Chris Hedges, Columnist. Truthdig
  7. ^
  8. ^ Truthdig
  9. ^ a b Hedges, Chris (December 29, 2008). "Why I Am a Socialist". Truthdig. 
  10. ^ Chris Hedges Interviewed at NYSEC Youtube Assessed 10/16/2014
  11. ^ Ellen Gilbert (February 2, 2013). "CHRIS HEDGES The News Is Not Good". 
  12. ^ Chris Hedges, Howard A. Doughty (2008). "I Don't Believe in Atheists". 
  13. ^ "Notable Alumni Humanitarianism and Public Service". May 15, 2013. 
  14. ^ Johnny Mason (February 21, 2003). "Writer Shares War Stories". 
  15. ^ "INTERVIEW: Chris Hedges". January 31, 2003. 
  16. ^ a b Americans Who Tell the "Chris Hedges Biography"
  17. ^ "Chris Hedges, Columnist". Bios. Truthdig. Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  18. ^ Jonathan S. Landay and Tish Wells, "Global Misinformation Campaign was Used to Build Case for War" Knight-Ridder, Tuesday, March 16, 2004
  19. ^ McCollam, Douglas (July 12, 2004). "Ahmed Chalabi's List of Suckers: Judith Miller is only one of the many reporters from almost every blue-blooded news outfit in America who were played by the Iraqi exile.". Alternet. Retrieved 2013-11-22. "Chris Hedges of the New York Times wrote a page-one piece headlined DEFECTORS CITE IRAQI TRAINING FOR TERRORISM." 
  20. ^ Hedges, Chris (November 8, 2001). "Defectors Cite Iraqi Training for Terrorism". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  21. ^ a b Fairweather, Jack (March 2006). "Heroes in Error". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2013-11-17. "How a fake general, a pliant media, and a master manipulator helped lead the United States into war." 
  22. ^ Iraqi Exile Group Fed False Information to News Media - Global Misinformation Campaign was Used to Build Case for War Jonathan S. Landay and Tish Wells, Knight-Ridder, March 16, 2004
  23. ^ Footage of the speech on YouTube; Rockford College, May 2003
  24. ^ a b Hedges, Chris; A Father's Gift, the Dallas Morning News, June 17, 2006, accessed Dec 21, 2010
  25. ^ The Nation Institute
  26. ^ David Barsamian, "An Interview with Chris Hedges" The Progressive, August 2011
  27. ^ Chris Hedges: ‘The Left Has Been Destroyed’. Truthdig, 22 July 2013.
  28. ^ James Crugnale (12 October 2011). Journalist Chris Hedges Argues With CBC’s Kevin O’Leary: ‘This Sounds Like Fox News And I Don’t Go On Fox News!’ Mediaite. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  29. ^ Kevin O'Leary 'Nutbar' Remark Violated Journalistic Standards: CBC Ombudsman. The Huffington Post, 14 October 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  30. ^ Chris Hedges Arrested in Front of Goldman Sachs. Truthdig. 3 November 2011.
  31. ^ Rich Schapiro & Helen Kennedy (November 3, 2011). “More than a dozen Occupy Wall Street protesters arrested outside Goldman Sachs, Reporter/Actvist Chris Hedges among those charged.” New York Daily News. Retrieved on: 2011-11-04.
  32. ^ RTAmerica on YouTube
  33. ^ Shows featuring Chris Hedges. Democracy Now! Retrieved 30 January 2014.
  34. ^ Socialist in Seattle: Kshama Sawant’s revolution, the indigenous fight against Keystone XL. Breaking the Set on RT. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  35. ^ "Strombo, Chris Hedges, CBC Television". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  36. ^ Hedges, Chris. "Why I’m Voting Green". Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  37. ^ "Green Party to livestream Chris Hedges keynote at NJ GP annual meeting, Sun. 4/9". Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  38. ^ Chris Hedges Strategy for Radical Change at Green Party of New Jersey Convention on YouTube
  39. ^ "Celeb video: ‘I am Bradley Manning’ - Patrick Gavin". Politico.Com. 2013-06-20. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  40. ^ I am Bradley Manning (full HD) on YouTube
  41. ^ It's Time to Act on the Climate Crisis. The Real News, September 21, 2014
  42. ^ After People’s Climate March, Thousands Re-Kindle Occupy Wall Street. Moyers & Company, September 23, 2014.
  43. ^ Kuipers, Dean (May 18, 2012). "Federal judge blocks National Defense Authorization Act provision". Los Angeles Times. 
  44. ^ David Seaman (September 13, 2012). "Obama Has Already Appealed The Indefinite Detention Ruling". 
  45. ^ Denniston, Lyle (28 April 2014). "Detention challenge denied". SCOTUSblog. Retrieved 29 April 2014. 
  46. ^ "Order List: 572 U. S. 13-758 HEDGES, CHRISTOPHER, ET AL. V. OBAMA, PRES. OF U.S., ET AL. - Certiorari Denied". United States Supreme Court. United States Supreme Court. 29 April 2014. p. 7. Retrieved 29 April 2014. 
  47. ^ Tom Palaima (2003-09-28). "Some plagiarism serious enough to diminish our faith". Austin-American Statesman. 
  48. ^ Christopher Ketcham (June 12, 2014). "The Troubling Case of Chris Hedges". 
  49. ^ a b c Christopher Ketcham (2014-06-12). "The Troubling Case of Chris Hedges". 
  50. ^ Sam Kirkland (2014-06-12). "New Republic Reports Plagiarism Against Chris Hedge". 
  51. ^ The Scrapbook (2014-06-12). "New Republic Reports Plagiarism Against Chris Hedge". 
  52. ^ "NY Times Won't Investigate Hedges". 2014-06-12. 
  53. ^ Christopher Ketcham (June 12, 2014). "The Troubling Case of Chris Hedges". 
  54. ^ a b Response by Hedges to Allegations by Ketcham in TNR: The Real News, 16 June 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  55. ^ "Chris Hedges Defends Himself Against Accusations of Plagiarism—and Christopher Ketcham Responds". New Republic. 2014-06-17. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  56. ^ Alana Goodman (2014-06-12). "NY Times Won’t Investigate Hedges’ Work Amid Plagiarism Charge". 
  57. ^ Christopher Cousins (15 June 2014). Award-winning journalist accused of plagiarism scheduled to speak at peace event in Portland. Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
  58. ^ ""Ordination Services for Chris Hedges" at the Second Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, NJ". YouTube. October 10, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2014. 
  59. ^ "Ordained to Write". Truthdig. October 13, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2014. 

External links[edit]