Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald resigns from the Intercept in protest against censorship

By Andre Damon
4 November 2020

Glenn Greenwald, the most prominent collaborator of whistleblower Edward Snowden and a world-renowned critic of the US media and intelligence agencies, has resigned from the Intercept, the publication he founded in 2013, in protest against its attempts to stifle his reporting critical of the Democratic Party.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald attends a press conference before the start of a protest in his support in July 2018 [Credit: AP Photo/Ricardo Borges]

According to Greenwald, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, the Intercept “in violation of my contractual right of editorial freedom, censored an article I wrote this week, refusing to publish it unless I remove all sections critical of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, the candidate vehemently supported by all New York-based Intercept editors involved in this effort at suppression.”

He continued:

The censored article, based on recently revealed emails and witness testimony, raised critical questions about Biden’s conduct. Not content to simply prevent publication of this article at the media outlet I co-founded, these Intercept editors also demanded that I refrain from exercising a separate contractual right to publish this article with any other publication.

The Intercept refused to publish an article by Greenwald that discussed the contents of the hard drive allegedly dropped off at a computer repair store in Delaware and abandoned by Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son.

The files document Hunter Biden’s business affairs, which often reference his father, directly or indirectly. The files also include compromising personal photos and video of Hunter Biden. The files’ authenticity has not been denied by the Biden campaign.

Commenting on the resignation, journalist Matt Taibbi wrote: “The key fact of the Greenwald episode: the Intercept uncritically took dictation from John Brennan, Jim Clapper, and Michael Hayden, and killed a piece by their Pulitzer-winning founder because it was critical of the probable next president.”

Greenwald co-founded the Intercept in 2013 to help disseminate information suppressed by the mainstream press. But, according to Greenwald’s account, the newspaper has since shifted its position to become part of the political establishment in the orbit of the Democratic Party.

Greenwald wrote in his resignation letter:

When I left the Guardian at the height of the Snowden reporting in 2013 in order to create a new media outlet, I did not do so, needless to say, in order to impose upon myself more constraints and restrictions on my journalistic independence. The exact opposite was true: the intended core innovation of the Intercept, above all else, was to create a new media outlet where all talented, responsible journalists would enjoy the same right of editorial freedom I had always insisted upon for myself. As I told former New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller in a 2013 exchange we had in The New York Times about my critiques of mainstream journalism and the idea behind the Intercept: “editors should be there to empower and enable strong, highly factual, aggressive adversarial journalism, not to serve as roadblocks to neuter or suppress the journalism.”

He added a scathing indictment of his former employer:

The current iteration of the Intercept is completely unrecognizable when compared to that original vision. Rather than offering a venue for airing dissent, marginalized voices and unheard perspectives, it is rapidly becoming just another media outlet with mandated ideological and partisan loyalties, a rigid and narrow range of permitted viewpoints (ranging from establishment liberalism to soft leftism, but always anchored in ultimate support for the Democratic Party), a deep fear of offending hegemonic cultural liberalism and center-left Twitter luminaries, and an overarching need to secure the approval and admiration of the very mainstream media outlets we created the Intercept to oppose, critique and subvert.

Indeed, the Intercept in recent years served as a clearinghouse for the Democrats’ false claims that Russia “meddled” in the 2016 presidential election, which was used to claim that WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange entered into a conspiracy with the Russian government. In 2018, The Intercept smeared Assange, claiming he spoke “in a sexist manner” and expressed, according to the headline of an article, a “preference for GOP over Clinton.”

Greenwald says he intends to continue publishing on Substack, used by reporter Matt Taibbi and other publishers.

The response by Intercept Editor-in-Chief Betsy Reed was duplicitous and vindictive, claiming the veteran journalist was “a grown person throwing a tantrum.”

She wrote:

Glenn demands the absolute right to determine what he will publish. He believes that anyone who disagrees with him is corrupt, and anyone who presumes to edit his words is a censor. Thus, the preposterous charge that the Intercept ’s editors and reporters, with the lone, noble exception of Glenn Greenwald, have betrayed our mission to engage in fearless investigative journalism.

By failing to contradict Greenwald’s statement that the Intercept was contractually obligated not to censor his articles, the Intercept is implicitly admitting that it is true.

Greenwald is one of the most respected journalists in the world. His reporting has become a target of Brazil’s autocratic President Jair Bolsonaro. In January, Brazil’s attorney general brought criminal conspiracy charges against Greenwald for exposing government wrongdoings.

Greenwald’s 2013 articles, based on documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, won a Pulitzer Prize. He played a key role in initiating Snowden’s exposures of wholesale and unconstitutional spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) on the US and world public. The NSA whistleblower has been charged under the Espionage Act, potentially facing the death penalty, for exposing the government’s criminal acts. He has been living in forced exile in Russia for over six years.

While Trump has repeatedly sought to use Hunter Biden’s business dealings to his own political advantage, the Democrats have claimed that any critical evaluation of the issue is impermissible, claiming that the story is “Russian propaganda.”

“We know that this whole smear on Joe Biden comes from the Kremlin,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff. “That’s been clear for well over a year now that they’ve been pushing this false narrative about this vice president and his son.”

Last month, Twitter and Facebook blocked the distribution of a New York Post story reporting on the contents of the laptop. Users attempting to tweet the link were served a notice that said, “We can’t complete this request because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful.”

Anyone who attempted to view or retweet already existing shares of the link were given a warning that said, “link may be unsafe.”

 

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