‘The Pub’ #58: Glenn Greenwald wants NPR journalists ‘to speak like a normal human being’

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Greenwald (Photo: Jimmy Chalk)

Greenwald (Photo: Jimmy Chalk)

When NPR’s David Greene expressed disappointment in Morning Edition political commentator Cokie Roberts for her public denouncement of Donald Trump, Glenn Greenwald’s jaw dropped.

“Imagine calling yourself a journalist, and then — as you watch an authoritarian politician get closer to power by threatening and unleashing violence and stoking the ugliest impulses — denouncing not that politician, but rather other journalists who warn of the dangers,” he wrote on The Intercept, of which he is a founding editor.

Greenwald, who is most famous for helping to break the Edward Snowden leaks, is also a longtime critic of public media journalism, which he sees as chronically mealy-mouthed in the face of nefarious or duplicitous powers.

“I’d like NPR journalists to be freed, to be liberated to speak like a normal human being,” Greenwald told me on The Pub, arguing that NPR’s impartiality standards are needless at best and dangerous at worst.

This week on The Pub, Greenwald and I discuss that long-maintained criticism, his 2010 confrontation with NPR counterterrorism correspondent Dina Temple-Raston, how journalists use the word “torture,” and more.

Also this week: It turns out you have to credit Skype when you use it in a broadcast; NPR decides it won’t cross-promote its podcasts on-air; a young producer makes a rookie mistake and decides to make a podcast about the experience; and did the NewsHour unwittingly interview a white supremacist?

Please subscribe to The Pub in iTunes or your favorite podcast app, and leave us a rating and a comment! That will help boost our search results and allow people to find the show more easily.

We welcome your feedback on the show: You can reach me at adam@current.org or @aragusea on Twitter; my supervising producer at Current, Mike Janssen, is at mike@current.org; and you can contact Current generally at news@current.org or @currentpubmedia on Twitter.

If you’d like to offer a comment to be used in the program, please send on-mic tape (recorded in a studio, with a kit, a smartphone, anything) to adam@current.org either as an attachment or through Google Drive. Please keep it short!

Adam Ragusea hosts Current’s weekly podcast The Pub and is a journalist in residence and visiting assistant professor at Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.

  • Sean Tubbs

    Glad to know this exists. Subscribed!

  • Alvin

    I wish there was a way to download the podcast and listen later on my mp3 player, is there?

    • Hi Alvin — they’re downloadable from the SoundCloud pages. We forgot to enable that when we first uploaded them, but it’s fixed now. Hope that helps and thanks for listening.

    • Adam Ragusea

      Also, you can download the file in iTunes or wherever else you get podcasts.

  • Mark Pugnar

    You might be interested to know what one of the inventors of podcasting thinks of NPR’s policy not to promote podcasts on air:

    http://scripting.com/liveblog/users/davewiner/2016/03/18/1129.html

    I particularly agree with #8, there might be too many podcasts right now, and no real way to discover new, quality shows.

  • Mark Pugnar

    Also, Greenwald is basically right that the media should talk like real people, or at least let their individual personalities show a bit. Unfortunately, journalists are too full of themselves, to take suggestions from the public seriously.

    • Adam Ragusea

      No doubt many jounos are full of themselves. But part of the reason they so rarely take suggestions from the public is that the public gives them totally conflicting suggestions. While people like you want more personality, there are tons of people who write angry emails/comments saying they want exact opposite. It makes you feel like a little kid and mommy and daddy are emphatically telling you to do opposite things.

      • Mark Pugnar

        Point taken.

  • Ann VerWiebe

    Years ago, I remember the NPR reporter covering the Winnie Mandela trial as saying she, “Made a gesture indicating mental instability.” It seemed a little over the top for the “cuckoo” sign.