Reporter Glenn Greenwald took time yesterday to reflect on the whirlwind of events and news that have transpired since he first reported NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations for The Guardian newspaper. Speaking via Skype last night to a Chicago audience attending the Socialism 2013 conference, Greenwald recalled that writer David Halberstam once said his proudest moment as a journalist was when, as a young reporter, military officials asked the New York Times to remove him from his position covering the Vietnam War. Halberstam had apparently angered the generals with his habit of challenging the lies they were telling about the war at their press conferences. In a long and illustrious career, this was Halberstam’s proudest moment.
Contrast that attitude, says Greenwald, with that of Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times from 2003 until 2011, who in a 2009 BBC interview acknowledged he had taken orders from the Obama Administration to conceal certain Wikileaks revelations. In return, Keller boasted, the Obama Administration had continuously praised the newspaper for its “responsible” reporting.
Is that what “good journalism” is supposed to be, asks Greenwald, pleasing the people in power you are covering? Or, is it instead being willing to make them angry, to tell a story that deserves to be told, as Halberstam once did. Of course, there’s a reason Greenwald brought all this up, beyond the personal slanders now being drudged up against him by his fellow “journalists.” He’s making people in power angry. Earlier this week the U.S. Army announced it had blocked access to The Guardian’s website at U.S. military installations.
Greenwald and his editors must be doing something right.