Chris Hedges

Christopher Lynn Hedges (born September 18, 1956) is an American journalist, Presbyterian minister, and visiting Princeton University lecturer. His books include War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction; Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2009); Death of the Liberal Class (2010); Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt (2012), written with cartoonist Joe Sacco, which was a New York Times best-seller; Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt (2015); and his most recent America: The Farewell Tour (2018).

Chris Hedges
Hedges, c. 2007
Christopher Lynn Hedges

(1956-09-18) September 18, 1956
CitizenshipUnited States
EducationColgate University (B.A., English Literature)
Harvard Divinity School (M.Div)
OccupationJournalist, writer, activist, clergyman

Hedges is a columnist for the progressive news and commentary website Truthdig.[1][2] He hosts the program On Contact for the RT (formerly Russia Today) television network.[3] Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, West Asia, Africa, the Middle East, 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,[4] where he was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years (1990–2005).

In 2001, Hedges contributed to The New York Times staff entry that received the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for the paper's coverage of global terrorism. He also received the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism in 2002.[5] He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, the University of Toronto and Princeton University, where he is a visiting lecturer in African American studies.[4][6][7][8]

Hedges has taught college credit courses for several years in New Jersey prisons. He teaches a course through Princeton University in which the class is composed of half prisoners and half Princeton undergraduates.[5] He has described himself as a socialist[9][10] and more specifically as a Christian anarchist,[11][12] identifying with Catholic activist Dorothy Day in particular.[13]

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.[14][15] He grew up in rural Schoharie County, New York, southwest of Albany. He graduated in 1975 from the Loomis Chaffee School, a private boarding school in Windsor, Connecticut.[16][17] He founded an underground newspaper at the school that was banned by the administration and resulted in his being put on probation.[18]

Hedges received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Colgate University in 1979. He received a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School (where he studied under James Luther Adams) in 1983.[19] He speaks English, Arabic, French, and Spanish, and studied Latin and Classical Greek at Harvard.[5]

The New York Times

Hedges worked for 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 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.

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 U.S.-funded Iraqi National Congress.[20] The program promoted stories to major media outlets in order to orchestrate U.S. intervention in Iraq in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Most significant of his reports in this period 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 whom 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 Jack Fairweather in 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.[23] When Condoleezza Rice, then President George W. Bush's national security adviser, was asked about the report 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, according to Fairweather in the same article, conservative magazines including The Weekly Standard and National Review continued to use this article to justify the invasion of Iraq.[23]

It later was revealed that the story which Hedges reported was "an elaborate scam". The defector whom Hedges quoted, who had identified himself as Lt. General Jamal al-Ghurairy, was a former sergeant. The real Ghurairy had never left Iraq. Hedges said that he had taken on reporting this account 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 considered to be unreliable. Hedges said he had done the piece 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 U.S. embassy in Turkey for further confirmation of the man's identity.[23]

Hedges wrote two more articles that year that were informed by Chalabi-coached defectors. 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]

The New York Times, his employer, 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 worked for a decade teaching in prisons in New Jersey, and he 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 March 2008, Hedges published a book titled I Don't Believe in Atheists, in which he expresses his belief that new atheism presents a danger that is similar to religious extremism.[32]

In his December 29, 2008, column for Truthdig, Hedges stated that "[t]he 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 "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?".[33]

In a March 2009 column, Hedges warned that human over-population and mass species extinction are serious problems, and that any measures to save the ecosystem will be futile unless we cut population growth, and noted that, "As long as the Earth is viewed as the personal property of the human race, a belief embraced by everyone from born-again Christians to Marxists to free-market economists, we are destined to soon inhabit a biological wasteland."[34]

On December 8, 2009, Hedges identified as a "radical Keynesian" during his lecture at The New School, entitled "Empire of Illusion".[35]

On December 16, 2010, Hedges was arrested outside the White House along with Daniel Ellsberg and more than 100 activists who were protesting the war in Afghanistan.[36][37]

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; co-host Kevin O'Leary criticized him, saying that he sounded "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.[38] CBC's ombudsman found O'Leary's heated remarks to be a violation of the public broadcaster's journalistic standards.[39]

On November 3, 2011, Hedges was arrested with others in New York as part of the Occupy Wall Street demonstration, during which the activists staged a "people's hearing"[40] on the activities of the investment bank Goldman Sachs and blocked the entrance to their corporate headquarters.[41][42] Hedges has appeared on the syndicated Democracy Now! television program; on Breaking the Set on RT (formerly known as Russia Today), and on CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight.[43][44][45]

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.[46] On April 7, 2013, Hedges delivered the keynote address at the Green Party of New Jersey state convention.[47][48]

In June 2013, Hedges and numerous celebrities appeared in a video showing support for Chelsea Manning.[49][50]

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.[51] Hedges and Klein also participated in the 'Flood Wall Street' protests that occurred shortly thereafter.[52]

On November 11, 2014, Hedges published an article explaining 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".[53]

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.[54]

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 said 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."[55]

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.[56]

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".[57] Hedges argues that logical result of neoliberalism is neofascism.[58] At a March 2017 speech delivered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Hedges insisted that resistance to the Trump Administration must be broadly socialist and anti-capitalist in nature:

This resistance must also be accompanied by an alternative vision of a socialist, anti-capitalist society. Because the enemy in the end is not Trump or Bannon—it is corporate power. And if we do not stop corporate power, we will never dismantle fascism's seduction of the white working class and unemployed."[59]

NDAA lawsuit

In 2012, after the Obama Administration signed the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, Hedges sued members of the U.S. government, asserting 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.[60] The Obama administration appealed the decision and it was overturned. Hedges petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case,[61] but the Supreme Court denied certiorari in April 2014.[62][63]

Ordination and ministerial installation

On October 5, 2014, Hedges was ordained a minister within the Presbyterian Church. He was installed as Associate Pastor and Minister of Social Witness and Prison Ministry at the Second Presbyterian Church Elizabeth in Elizabeth, New Jersey.[64] He noted having been rejected for ordination 30 years earlier, saying 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'".[65]

Personal life

Chris Hedges is married to the Canadian actress Eunice Wong.[66] The couple have two children. Hedges also has two children from a previous marriage. He currently lives in Princeton, New Jersey.[67]

In addition to his native English, Hedges also speaks Spanish and Arabic.[68]


  • 2002: War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (ISBN 1586480499)
  • 2003: What Every Person Should Know About War (ISBN 1417721049)
  • 2005: Losing Moses on the Freeway: The 10 Commandments in America (ISBN 0743255135)
  • 2007: American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (ISBN 0743284437)
  • 2008: I Don't Believe in Atheists (ISBN 141656795X)
  • 2008: Collateral Damage: America's War Against Iraqi Civilians, with Laila Al-Arian (ISBN 1568583737)
  • 2009: When Atheism Becomes Religion: America's New Fundamentalists, (ISBN 9781416570783), a retitled edition of I Don't Believe in Atheists
  • 2009: Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (ISBN 9781568584379)
  • 2010: Death of the Liberal Class (ISBN 9781568586441)
  • 2010: The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress (ISBN 9781568586403)
  • 2012: Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, with Joe Sacco (ISBN 9781568586434)
  • 2015: Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt (ISBN 1568589662)
  • 2016: Unspeakable (ISBN 1510712739)
  • 2018: America, The Farewell Tour (ISBN 978-1501152672)

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. Ryan, Danielle (January 10, 2017). "RT America Was Not 'Pro-Trump'". The Nation. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  4. "Simon & Schuster, "Authors: Chris Hedges"". Simon & Schuster. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  5. "Chris Hedges, Columnist". Truthdig. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
  6. "Visiting Journalism Professors Roster 1964–2015". Archived from the original on May 31, 2016. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
  7. "Anshutz Distinguished Fellowship in American Studies". Archived from the original on April 25, 2016. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  8. "In Conversation with Brian Steward: Pulitzer-Prize Winning Journalist Christopher Hedges". Retrieved April 28, 2016.
  9. Hedges, Chris (December 29, 2008). "Why I Am a Socialist". Truthdig.
  10. Hedges, Chris (August 21, 2018). America: The Farewell Tour. Simon & Schuster. p. 303. ISBN 978-0-73527-596-6.
  11. Chris Hedges Interviewed at NYSEC Youtube Assessed 12/15/2016
  12. Chris Hedges on What it Takes to be a Rebel in Modern Times Youtube Assessed 12/15/2016
  13. Occupy Tactics – Violence and Legitimacy in the Occupy Movement and Beyond Youtube Assessed 12/15/2016
  14. 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 in FamilySearch
  16. Chris Hedges; Howard A. Doughty (2008). "I Don't Believe in Atheists".
  17. "Notable Alumni Humanitarianism and Public Service". May 15, 2013.
  18. Johnny Mason. "Writer Shares War Stories". Hartford Courant. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  19. "Interview: Chris Hedges". PBS. January 31, 2003. Archived from the original on March 10, 2013.
  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 November 22, 2013. 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 November 17, 2013.
  23. Fairweather, Jack (March–April 2006). "Heroes in Error". Mother Jones. Retrieved November 17, 2013. 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. Hedges, Chris; A Father's Gift, Dallas Morning News, 17 June 2006, accessed December 21, 2010
  28. "The Nation Institute". Archived from the original on June 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2013.
  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. Archived from the original on December 4, 2014. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  32. Hedges, Chris (2008). I Don't Believe in Atheists. Free Press.
  33. Chris Hedges: 'The Left Has Been Destroyed'. Truthdig, July 22, 2013.
  34. Hedges, Chris (March 9, 2009). "We Are Breeding Ourselves to Extinction". Truthdig. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  35. Hedges, Chris (December 16, 2009). "Chris Hedges' Empire of Illusion | The New School". YouTube. The New School. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  36. "'Hope Is Action': Hedges and Ellsberg Arrested at White House Protest". Truthdig. December 17, 2010. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  37. "Exclusive: US empire could collapse at any time, Pulitzer winner tells Raw Story". The Raw Story. December 17, 2010. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  38. 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.
  39. Cassandra Szklarski (October 14, 2011). "Kevin O'Leary 'Nutbar' Remark Violated Journalistic Standards: CBC Ombudsman]". The Huffington Post Canada. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  40. Chris Hedges Arrested in Front of Goldman Sachs. Truthdig. November 3, 2011.
  41. 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 November 4, 2011.
  42. RTAmerica on YouTube
  43. Shows featuring Chris Hedges. Democracy Now! Retrieved January 30, 2014.
  44. "Socialist in Seattle: Kshama Sawant's revolution, the indigenous fight against Keystone XL". RT. Retrieved February 7, 2014.
  45. "Strombo, Chris Hedges, CBC Television". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2010. Retrieved November 8, 2010.
  46. Hedges, Chris. "Why I'm Voting Green". Truthdig. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  47. "Green Party to livestream Chris Hedges keynote at NJ GP annual meeting, Sun. 4/9". Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  48. Chris Hedges Strategy for Radical Change at Green Party of New Jersey Convention on YouTube
  49. "Celeb video: 'I am Bradley Manning' – Patrick Gavin". Politico. June 20, 2013. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
  50. I am Bradley Manning (full HD) on YouTube
  51. "It's Time to Act on the Climate Crisis". The Real News, September 21, 2014
  52. John Light; Joshua Holland (September 23, 2014). "After People's Climate March, Thousands Re-Kindle Occupy Wall Street". Moyers & Company. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  53. "Saving the Planet, One Meal at a Time". Truthdig. November 10, 2014.
  54. Hedges, Chris. "ISIS-The New Israel". TruthDig.
  55. Chris Hedges (May 31, 2015). Karl Marx Was Right. Truthdig. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  56. "Rosario Dawson Among 100 Democracy Spring Protesters Arrested at U.S. Capitol". DCMediaGroup. April 15, 2016.
  57. Chris Hedges: The Surrender of the Liberal Left to Neoliberalism Gave Us Proto-fascism. The Real News. November 10, 2016.
  58. Hedges, Chris (November 26, 2018). "Neoliberalism's Dark Path to Fascism". Truthdig. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  59. Chris Hedges: The Enemy Is Not Donald Trump or Steve Bannon—It Is Corporate Power (Video) Truthdig. March 15, 2017
  60. Kuipers, Dean (May 18, 2012). "Federal judge blocks National Defense Authorization Act provision". Los Angeles Times.
  61. David Seaman (September 13, 2012). "Obama Has Already Appealed The Indefinite Detention Ruling". Business Insider.
  62. Denniston, Lyle (April 28, 2014). "Detention challenge denied". SCOTUSblog. Retrieved April 29, 2014.
  63. "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.
  64. "Leadership of the Second Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, NJ". Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  65. "Ordained to Write". Truthdig. October 13, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2014.
  66. "Eunice Wong: Biography". Retrieved May 14, 2016.
  67. "Americans Who Tell the "Chris Hedges Biography"". Robert Shetterly. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  68. Chris Hedges on Impeachment, Plus Matt's Take on Whistleblowers (video at 62:05 mins). In: Useful Idiots, Rolling Sone (Youtube channel), 10 October 2019
External video
Stop Fascism: Chris Hedges in Portland, Oregon. A KBOO Benefit. on YouTube
On Contact: Noam Chomsky – Part I on YouTube
Organizing resistance to Internet censorship on YouTube
Chris Hedges talking about his book America: The Farewell Tour on MSNBC on YouTube
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