Intercept: An Essential New Site by Greenwald, Scahill, and Company

Greenwald and Scahill, Watchdogs with Teeth

Greenwald and Scahill, Journalistic Watchdogs with Teeth

In an age when many journalists are corporate-owned or are reduced by various pressures into stenographers for the powerful, it’s encouraging to hear of new journalistic ventures that promise to be critical of those in power. Glenn Greenwald, who’s established a reputation for outspoken journalism at Salon.com and The Guardian, and Jeremy Scahill, an investigative reporter and bestselling author of Blackwater as well as Dirty Wars, have established a new online magazine known as The Intercept. (It’s available at https://firstlook.org/theintercept/.)

Greenwald and Scahill, together with other skilled contributors such as the documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, promise to do more than a little bit of rug lifting on the surveillance state in which we live. They are to be commended for true watchdog journalism.

Greenwald and Poitras, of course, are associated with Edward Snowden, whose revelations of NSA spying activities have infuriated much of the world (including close American allies such as Germany).  Current and former members of the U.S. government have called for the imprisonment, even the execution, of Snowden as a traitor to America.

But who is the real traitor: the one who seeks to tell the American people what is being done in their name, or the ones who seek to deny the same knowledge to their fellow Americans?

Surely what we need in America is more accountability, not less.  Consider this story from yesterday’s New York Times. Congress (i.e. the elected representatives of the American people) is unable to exercise oversight of the CIA’s drone program. Why? Ostensibly because the program is too secret to be entrusted to Congress.

The Obama Administration and the CIA (and the NSA) are telling the American people to trust but not to verify. Recall the words of Ronald Reagan here: When it comes to authority, without verification, there can be no trust.

A government that operates in secret with virtually no oversight by the people is better suited to a dictatorship than a democracy.

In these authoritarian times, we need journalistic watchdogs, not lapdogs. The Intercept promises to have real bite–good news indeed for a democracy in peril.

Update (2/21): Matt Taibbi, the distinguished investigative journalist from Rolling Stone, is also joining The Intercept team. Taibbi’s decision to join Scahill, Greenwald, et al. is a MAJOR move by Intercept to put together a full fledged alternative news team of seasoned, investigative journalists. These are some of today’s top reporters on major financial crimes and abuses, war crimes, and governmental abuses of power. We applaud their dedication to critical journalism and a free press — the true servant and preserver of democracy.

7 thoughts on “Intercept: An Essential New Site by Greenwald, Scahill, and Company

  1. I, too, look forward to some fine investigative journalism by the team at First Look Media. I would especially like to know if Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire founder of PayPal (and First Look Media bankroller) has ceased blacklisting Wikileaks at the behest of the U.S. government. The free world needs Julian Assange and his pioneering news organization every bit as much as it needs the new First Look Media, especially since Wikileaks has put so much of its own limited resources into aiding and encouraging Edward Snowden, without whose documentary revelations the current “debate” about the U.S. Surveillance State might not have gotten as far as it has. So, a good up-front look at its own self in the mirror would go a long way towards establishing First Look Media’s journalistic integrity and credibility.

    • Michael.. Some concerns have been expressed about Omidyar’s backing of this venture relative to the Snowden leaks. Sybil Edmond s the FBI whistle blower in her blog BFP, has raised the question of whether Omidyar really wants Greenwald to hide Omidyar’s cooperation of PayPal with the NSA by holding back Snowden leaks on that issue. She has really got her knickers twisted on this issue and has become very petty and homophobic insulting to Greenwald. In my eyes it has diminished a brave woman’s work to the point where I feel she is jealous of the attention Greenwald is getting. I don’t know if this is a real issue in Omidyar’s financing the venture but so far there seems to be little push back by Greenwald .

      • Thanks for the mention of the BFP internet venue. I’ve bookmarked it and read some of the commentary that it provides. I can’t say that I’ve read enough to reach any firm conclusions, but of course Mr Greenwald and Ms Poitras and every other journalist who has access to the Snowden documents will have to demonstrate their good judgement based upon the work they produce. In everything that he has done to date that I know of, Mr Greenwald has insisted on editorial independence, and so I have no reason to suspect that he will allow Pierre Omidyar or anyone else to tell him what he can or cannot write. He or one of his colleagues may very well write about PayPal and other corporate entities as their new venture with First Look Media evolves. We will just have to wait and see. Mr Greenwald has upon many occasions said that he welcomes criticism and often benefits from it, so I hope he will address these criticisms at some future date.

        Most importantly, though, I think we all need to remember that Edward Snowden chose Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras and not the other way around. If other journalists had established the same reputations for tenacity and integrity, then perhaps Edward Snowden would have chosen them. But he didn’t, and so Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill, and the rest of their team will enjoy the inside track on reporting the Snowden Documents. The competition — or the alliance for truth and transparency — will just have to work harder developing their own sources exposing venality, malfeasance, and corruption throughout the global corporate-military-surveillance state.

        Thanks again for the mention of the BFP site. I’ll try to follow their work as the Snowden revelations continue and — hopefully — expand. And by the way, Glenn Greenwald has worked openly with others to help circumvent the blacklisting of Wikileaks so that supporters of that valuable resource could continue to support it despite the efforts of U.S. government and attached corporate entities — including PayPal — to economically cut off such support.

  2. The First Look Media team also continue to partner with other journalistic outlets in the dissemination of documentary evidence provided by Edward Snowden. In yet another example of this effective practice, Laura Poitras has partnered with James Risen of the New York Times to report on NSA espionage (in league with its “five eyes” partners) against foreign economic interests and the U.S. lawyers who may represent them. See: Spying by N.S.A. Ally Entangled U.S. Law Firm

  3. Of course, any discussion of “journalism” ought to come accompanied by some words to the effect that in the United States — i.e., The Land That Forgot Time — we know it as:

    Boobie Infotainment
    (from Fernando Po, U.S.A., America’s post-literate retreat to Plato’s Cave)

    Some chose to place a saintly crown
    Upon her dead blonde head,
    While others felt relieved at last:
    “She’s better off,” they said.
    A woman born of others’ needs:
    An unreal life she led.

    The tabloids built an image up
    To vend to those who dreamed
    Of two deadbeat aristocrats
    Unreasonably teamed:
    A fable for frustrated lives
    Vicariously beamed

    Into those households where the proles
    Preferred their rubbish crass
    Along with propaganda “news,”
    Leaked from and to an ass,
    Delivered by celebrities
    With tits or balls of brass.

    Thus Marilyn, Diana, or
    Maid Monica will do —
    Along with Michael Jackson and
    Dead Elvis Presley, too —
    Distracting ‘Murcans from the bad
    And ugly larger view.

    Just so did Bush and Blair concoct
    Some “coalition” fun.
    They’d have a go at poor Saddam
    And set him on the run:
    The mad dog and his Englishman
    Out in the noonday sun.

    This illustrates a lesson that
    Some liars never learn:
    Do not believe the lie yourself
    Or else you’ll surely burn
    And find your ashes dumped into
    A small ceramic urn.

    As Hayakawa wrote, we have
    This thing, the Empty Eye:
    A Technicolor campfire on
    Which Boobies now rely
    To dull the pain with images
    That pass too swiftly by.

    The Eye emitted “content” both
    Innocuous and bland
    And pushed it past the limits of
    What Boobie brains could stand,
    Inducing thought rejection all
    Across the Boobies’ land.

    The pictures came and went too fast
    To process on the fly,
    So Boobies felt upset but they
    Could find no reason why.
    The only thing they knew is that
    They felt compelled to buy.

    With nervous systems stunned and jazzed
    They couldn’t bring to mind
    Some cartoons from the past that told
    Of just this Boobie kind:
    A salesman of the bait-and-switch
    Who robbed a sailor blind.

    He’d beg a meal from Popeye then
    This Wimpy guy would say:
    “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for
    A hamburger today.”
    Which meant, of course, that he had no
    Intention to repay.

    King George the bumbling Boobie, too,
    Worked things the selfsame way.
    He waged a war on nothing down
    But promised that some day
    Some other one would come along
    And all the costs defray.

    “When Tuesday comes, I won’t be here,”
    He snickered as he spent.
    “I’ll eat my burger now and get
    Those lenders to relent
    Till I can high-tail out of town
    And stiff them for the rent.”

    The Infotainment tabloids, though,
    Saw no need to retort.
    They liked the dead-blonde pictures that
    They showed around for sport.
    Convinced that only “good news” lies
    Deserved a full “report.”

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2006, 2009

  4. Pingback: The Snowden Saga Begins: Glenn Greenwald’s New Book | The Contrary Perspective

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