Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges

Hedges, c. 2007
Born Christopher Lynn Hedges
(1956-09-18) September 18, 1956
St. Johnsbury, Vermont, U.S.
Nationality American
Education Colgate University (B.A., English Literature)
Harvard Divinity School (M.Div)
Occupation Journalist, Writer, Activist, Clergyman
Spouse(s) Eunice Wong

Christopher Lynn Hedges (born September 18, 1956) is an American journalist, activist, author, and Presbyterian minister. 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), The New York Times best seller, written with cartoonist Joe Sacco, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt (2012), and his most recent Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt (2015).

Hedges is a columnist for the progressive news and commentary website Truthdig,[1][2] and a contributing author for OpEdNews.[3] He is also a host for the television programs On Contact on RT[4] and Days of Revolt on TeleSUR[5] and The Real News.[6] Hedges 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, Dallas Morning News, and The New York Times,[7] 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.[8] He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University,[7][9][10] and the University of Toronto.[11] As of 2013, he teaches prisoners at a maximum-security prison in New Jersey.[8] He has described himself as a socialist.[12]


Early life

Christopher Lynn Hedges was born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, the son of Thelma Louise (née Prince) and the Rev. Thomas Havard Hedges, a Presbyterian minister.[13][14] 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.[15][16] He founded an underground newspaper at the school that was banned by the administration and led to him being put on probation.[17]

He attended Colgate University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature. He later graduated as a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, where he studied under James Luther Adams.[18] He was awarded an honorary doctorate in May 2009 from the Unitarian Universalist seminary, Starr King School for the Ministry, in Berkeley, California.[19] He speaks English, Arabic, French, and Spanish, and studied Latin and Classical Greek at Harvard.[8]

The New York Times

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' articles 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.[20] The program promoted stories to major media outlets in order to orchestrate US intervention in Iraq in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. 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.[21] Hedges quoted a man he believed to be an Iraqi general: "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.[22]

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 including The Weekly Standard and National Review continued to use the story to justify the invasion of Iraq.[23]

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, whom 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." Hedges had relied on the US embassy in Turkey for further confirmation of the man's identity.[23]

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.[24]

Political views and activism

Hedges was 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."[25] His speech was received with boos and his microphone was shut off three minutes after he began speaking.[26]

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".[27] 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.[27][28] Hedges has spent a decade teaching in prisons in New Jersey and has become a fierce critic of mass incarceration in the United States.[29][30]

In the 2008 United States presidential campaign, Hedges was a speech writer for candidate Ralph Nader.[31]

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."[12] 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 "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?"[32]

On December 8, 2009, Hedges described himself as a "radical Keynesian" during his lecture at The New School, entitled "Empire of Illusion".[33]

On December 16, 2010, Hedges was arrested outside the White House along with Daniel Ellsberg and over a hundred activists who were protesting the War in Afghanistan.[34][35]

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.[36] CBC's ombudsman found O'Leary's heated remarks to be a violation of the public broadcaster's journalistic standards.[37]

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"[38] on the investment bank Goldman Sachs and then blocked the entrance to their corporate headquarters.[39][40] Hedges has appeared on the syndicated Democracy Now! television program, Breaking the Set on RT (formerly known as Russia Today), and George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight.[41][42][43]

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.[44] On April 7, 2013, Hedges delivered the keynote address at the Green Party of New Jersey state convention.[45][46]

In June 2013, Hedges and numerous celebrities appeared in a video showing support for Chelsea Manning.[47][48]

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.[49] Hedges and Klein also participated in the 'Flood Wall Street' protests that occurred shortly thereafter.[50]

On November 11, 2014, Hedges published an article to explain why he and his family have become vegan. He explained that this is "the most important and direct change we can immediately make to save the planet and its species".[51]

In a December 15, 2014 article, Hedges compared the actions of ISIS today to the way Israel's founding fathers acted in the late 1940s.[52]

Hedges contended at the Left Forum in 2015 that with the "denouement of capitalism and the disintegration of globalism," Karl Marx has been "vindicated as capitalism’s most prescient and important critic." He elaborated that Marx "foresaw that capitalism had built within it the seeds of its own destruction. He knew that reigning ideologies—think neoliberalism—were created to serve the interests of the elites and in particular the economic elites."[53]

On April 15, 2016, Hedges was arrested, along with 100 other protesters, during a sit-in outside the U.S. Capitol during Democracy Spring to protest the capture of the political system by corporations.[54]

Commenting on the 2016 election during an interview on The Real News, Hedges asserted that the modern American Left's embrace of neoliberalism resulted in a dysfunctional democracy and has given rise to a Trump presidency, which he characterizes as "proto-fascist."[55]

NDAA lawsuit

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.[56] The Obama administration appealed the decision and it was overturned. Hedges petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case.,[57] but the Supreme Court rejected this challenge in April 2014.[58][59]

Allegations of plagiarism

In 2003, Tom Palaima accused Hedges of plagiarizing Ernest Hemingway in the Austin-American Statesman.[60] 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 e-mail to PublicAffairs. However, there was still no attribution to Hemingway in the new version, despite the obvious similarities in ideas and formulation".[61]

In June 2014, The New Republic published an article by Christopher Ketcham accusing Hedges of plagiarism.[61][62][63] 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.[61][64] Hedges, his editors at Truthdig, and his publisher Nation Books denied the claims made by Ketcham. The Nation Institute's 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.[61] 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.[65] 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.[66]

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. The American Prospect and Salon declined to publish Ketcham's article, and The Nation Institute and Truthdig issued statements dismissing Ketcham's allegations.[61][65][67]

Ordination and ministerial installation

On October 5, 2014, Hedges was ordained a minister within the Presbyterian Church and installed as Associate Pastor and Minister of Social Witness and Prison Ministry at the Second Presbyterian Church Elizabeth in Elizabeth New Jersey.[68] Of his rejection for ordination thirty years earlier, he wrote that "going to El Salvador as a reporter was not something the Presbyterian Church at the time recognized as a valid ministry, and a committee rejected my 'call.'"[69]

Personal life

Chris Hedges is married to the Canadian actress Eunice Wong.[70] The couple have two children. Hedges also has two children from a previous marriage. He currently lives in Princeton, New Jersey.[19]


See also


  1. Truthdig: About Us
  2. "Reuters Ex-LA Times Writer Mark Heisler Vents Again About Tribune". Reuters. August 19, 2011. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  3. "Chris Hedges author's page". OpEdNews. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
  4. ‘On Contact’: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges joins RT America RT. 2 June 2016
  5. Days of Revolt. TeleSUR
  6. "Days of Revolt with Chris Hedges". The Real News.
  7. 1 2 "Simon & Schuster, "Authors: Chris Hedges"". Simon & Schuster. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  8. 1 2 3 "Chris Hedges, Columnist". Truthdig. Retrieved 2013-09-28.
  9. "Visiting Journalism Professors Roster 1964-2015". Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  10. "Anshutz Distinguished Fellowship in American Studies". Archived from the original on April 25, 2016. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  11. "In Conversation with Brian Steward: Pulitzer-Prize Winning Journalist Christopher Hedges". Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  12. 1 2 Hedges, Chris (December 29, 2008). "Why I Am a Socialist". Truthdig.
  13. Ellen Gilbert (February 2, 2013). "Chris Hedges The News Is Not Good". Princeton Magazine. Archived from the original on April 23, 2014.
  15. Chris Hedges; Howard A. Doughty (2008). "I Don't Believe in Atheists".
  16. "Notable Alumni Humanitarianism and Public Service". May 15, 2013.
  17. Johnny Mason. "Writer Shares War Stories". Hartford Courant. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  18. "Interview: Chris Hedges". PBS. January 31, 2003. Archived from the original on March 10, 2013.
  19. 1 2 "Americans Who Tell the "Chris Hedges Biography"". Robert Shetterly. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  20. Jonathan S. Landay and Tish Wells, "Global Misinformation Campaign was Used to Build Case for War" Knight-Ridder, March 16, 2004 Archived November 17, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  21. 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".
  22. Hedges, Chris (November 8, 2001). "Defectors Cite Iraqi Training for Terrorism". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  23. 1 2 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.
  24. Jonathan S. Landay; Tish Wells (March 16, 2004). "Iraqi Exile Group Fed False Information to News Media - Global Misinformation Campaign was Used to Build Case for War". Knight-Ridder. Archived from the original on November 17, 2013. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  25. Footage of the speech on YouTube; Rockford College, May 2003
  26. "New York Times Reporter, Chris Hedges was Booed off the Stage and had his Microphone Cut Twice as he Delivered a Graduation Speech on War and Empire at Rockford College in Illinois". Democracy Now!. May 21, 2014. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  27. 1 2 Hedges, Chris; A Father's Gift, the Dallas Morning News, June 17, 2006, accessed December 21, 2010
  28. The Nation Institute
  29. Marshall "Eddie" Conway; Chris Hedges (January 4, 2015). "How Prisons Rip Off and Exploit the Incarcerated (1/2)". The Real News. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  30. Chris Hedges (December 29, 2014). The Prison State of America. Truthdig. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
  31. David Barsamian (August 2011). "An Interview with Chris Hedges". The Progressive. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  32. Chris Hedges: 'The Left Has Been Destroyed'. Truthdig, July 22, 2013.
  33. Hedges, Chris (December 16, 2009). "Chris Hedges' Empire of Illusion | The New School". YouTube. The New School. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  34. "'Hope Is Action': Hedges and Ellsberg Arrested at White House Protest". Truthdig. 2010-12-17. Retrieved 2014-11-24.
  35. "Exclusive: US empire could collapse at any time, Pulitzer winner tells Raw Story". The Raw Story. December 17, 2010. Retrieved 2014-11-24.
  36. James Crugnale (October 12, 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 January 24, 2014.
  37. Cassandra Szklarski (October 14, 2011). "Kevin O'Leary 'Nutbar' Remark Violated Journalistic Standards: CBC Ombudsman].". The Huffington Post Canada. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  38. Chris Hedges Arrested in Front of Goldman Sachs. Truthdig. November 3, 2011.
  39. Rich Schapiro; Helen Kennedy (November 3, 2011). "More than a dozen Occupy Wall Street protesters arrested outside Goldman Sachs, Reporter/Activist Chris Hedges among those charged]". Daily News. New York. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
  40. RTAmerica on YouTube
  41. Shows featuring Chris Hedges. Democracy Now! Retrieved January 30, 2014.
  42. "Socialist in Seattle: Kshama Sawant's revolution, the indigenous fight against Keystone XL". RT. Retrieved February 7, 2014.
  43. "Strombo, Chris Hedges, CBC Television". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-08.
  44. Hedges, Chris. "Why I'm Voting Green". Truthdig. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  45. "Green Party to livestream Chris Hedges keynote at NJ GP annual meeting, Sun. 4/9". Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  46. Chris Hedges Strategy for Radical Change at Green Party of New Jersey Convention on YouTube
  47. "Celeb video: 'I am Bradley Manning' - Patrick Gavin". Politico. 2013-06-20. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  48. I am Bradley Manning (full HD) on YouTube
  49. It's Time to Act on the Climate Crisis. The Real News, September 21, 2014
  50. John Light; Joshua Holland (September 23, 2014). "After People's Climate March, Thousands Re-Kindle Occupy Wall Street". Moyers & Company. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  51. "Saving the Planet, One Meal at a Time". Truthdig. November 10, 2014.
  52. Hedges, Chris. "ISIS-The New Israel". TruthDig.
  53. Chris Hedges (May 31, 2015). Karl Marx Was Right. Truthdig. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  54. "Rosario Dawson Among 100 Democracy Spring Protesters Arrested at U.S. Capitol". DCMediaGroup. April 15, 2016.
  55. Chris Hedges: The Surrender of the Liberal Left to Neoliberalism Gave Us Proto-fascism. The Real News. November 10, 2016.
  56. Kuipers, Dean (May 18, 2012). "Federal judge blocks National Defense Authorization Act provision". Los Angeles Times.
  57. David Seaman (September 13, 2012). "Obama Has Already Appealed The Indefinite Detention Ruling". Business Insider.
  58. Denniston, Lyle (April 28, 2014). "Detention challenge denied". SCOTUSblog. Retrieved April 29, 2014.
  59. "Order List: 572 U. S. 13-758 Hedges, Christopher, et Al. V. Obama, Pres. Of U.S., et Al. - Certiorari Denied" (PDF). United States Supreme Court. April 29, 2014. p. 7. Retrieved April 29, 2014.
  60. Palaima, Tom (September 28, 2003). "Some plagiarism serious enough to diminish our faith". Austin-American Statesman. Archived from the original on July 25, 2008.
  61. 1 2 3 4 5 Ketcham, Christopher (June 12, 2014). "The Troubling Case of Chris Hedges". The New Republic. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  62. Sam Kirkland (June 12, 2014). "New Republic Reports Plagiarism Against Chris Hedge".
  63. The Scrapbook (June 23, 2014). "War Is a Force That Makes Us Plagiarize". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  64. Alana Goodman (June 12, 2014). "NY Times Won't Investigate Hedges' Work Amid Plagiarism Charge". The Washington Free Beacon. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  65. 1 2 "Response by Hedges to Allegations by Ketcham in TNR". The Real News. June 16, 2014. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
  66. "Chris Hedges Defends Himself Against Accusations of Plagiarism—and Christopher Ketcham Responds". The New Republic. June 17, 2014. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
  67. Cousins, Christopher (June 15, 2014). "Award-winning journalist accused of plagiarism scheduled to speak at peace event in Portland". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
  68. "Leadership of the Second Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, NJ". Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  69. "Ordained to Write". Truthdig. October 13, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2014.
  70. "Eunice Wong: Biography". Retrieved May 14, 2016.
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