Hersh has a long history of unveiling government and military scandal. He first gained notoriety in 1969 at the height of the Vietnam War for exposing the My Lai Massacre cover-up by the American government. He received a tip from a writer at the alternative news weekly The Village Voice that an Army lieutenant was facing a court-martial for murdering Vietnamese civilians. In fact, hundreds of civilians were assaulted and killed by U.S. soldiers who had come upon their village at breakfast time in March of 1968. When Hersh uncovered the event, it drew global condemnation and a sharp decline in American support for the war. The public began to demand full withdrawal of troops. Hersh was awarded the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for the story.
Hersh also reported on the Watergate scandal alongside Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, which led to a follow-up book about Henry Kissinger in the Nixon administration (it won Hersh the National Book Critics Circle Award). Likewise, Hersh was one of the Iraq War’s most outspoken critics during the Bush era. In 2004, he wrote at length about American troops’ abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib site near Baghdad.