Useful Idiots: Glenn Greenwald on Reality Winner Controversy and Asking Trump to Pardon Snowden
In this week’s quarantine episode of our Useful Idiots podcast, hosts Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper are joined by Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, who has yet again found himself in the middle of some media controversies.
For Democrats suck, Katie breaks down the recent viral Joe Biden clip, in which Biden plays “Despacito” from his phone at a rally during Hispanic Heritage Month. “That’s what we call Hispandering,” says Katie, who translates the sensual lyrics of the song into English for our listeners.
Katie also gets fired up about a recent proposition on MSNBC that Biden’s association with Bernie may be hurting him with Cuban-American voters in Florida. “I’m just so tired of people using the Cuban-American demographic as interchangeable with Latino,” says Katie. “[Bernie] did really well with Latinos.”
“If [Democrats are] going to turn around and blame Sanders if-and-when they have a problem in Florida coming up in November, that’s going to be really rich, because they were the ones who made a huge deal of this last year,” says Matt.
Matt and Katie also return to their theme of neighborly conflict, citing an article from The Mirror about an angry letter that was sent to a homeowner who’d recently painted their garage. “God, I love human beings,” Matt quips.
Glenn Greenwald once again joins our hosts from Brazil to discuss debates about him and his colleagues in the media.
Greenwald rebuts Ben Smith’s recent New York Times piece on The Intercept publishing the Reality Winner leak. “It wasn’t like The Intercept was free from mistakes, there were mistakes made, and they acknowledged those mistakes. The parent company paid for the source’s, Reality Winner’s, legal defense,” says Greenwald. “I just don’t know what this New York Times article added other than to try and just take shots at people incoherently.”
Greenwald also charges that in many stories that he’s appeared in, the journalists writing them have passed off hypotheses as facts, when Greenwald says many of those things are categorically untrue. “I would be present for events, or conversations, or things that people did, and then I would read in a major news outlet in a very authoritative tone, describing something that I knew first-hand was completely false,” says Greenwald. “You’re listening to the most trusted and influential media outlets saying things that you know personally didn’t happen, are totally false, over and over and over again… There’s nothing like being at the center of a story to make you realize just what a disinformation machine it is.”
Our hosts and Greenwald discuss questions surrounding the Assange hearing, which Greenwald describes as the one true assault on free press that has been pursued during Trump’s tenure.
And finally, Greenwald explains his motivation for, once again, recently appearing on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News, in which he made an appeal to Trump to pardon both Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. “I also know that going on Fox, the shows that Trump watches… is a really effective way of speaking directly to the one person who holds the power of the pardon, and that’s the president,” says Greenwald. “I think it’s my ethical duty to do what I can to end injustices in the world, such as the injustice of Edward Snowden being trapped in one country for having exposed things that Americans have the right to know, and the injustice of Julian Assange being prosecuted and and extradited to the United States on espionage charges for revealing war crimes about the United States. So when someone offers me the opportunity to end an injustice, and make the world more just, I’m going to do that. And it’s not even a close debate for me. I care a lot more about outcomes, about actually having my beliefs manifest as change in the world, than I care about preening and posturing for the approval of LARPing online liberals.”
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