Donald Trump

Glenn Greenwald on Wikileaks, Russian Hacking, and Distrusting Legacy Media and U.S. Intel (Reason Podcast)

The co-founder of The Intercept doesn't like Donald Trump but thinks the new president may just wake liberals up to reining in the government.


Senate testimony from James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, about Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election hasn't convinced Glenn Greenwald to believe that high-ranking officials in the Putin regime successfully "hacked" the American way of life.

The co-founder (with Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras) of the investigative website The Intercept has no love for Putin, but he points out that the U.S. intelligence community has a checkered history at best of getting things right and telling the truth. In the newest Reason podcast, he notes that two of the most recent bombshell stories about Russian "hacks"—one about how Russians flooded the internet with "fake news" to tip the election to Donald Trump and one about Russians supposedly taking over Vermont's electrical grid—have already been thoroughly walked back and discredited.

A staunch opponent of the growth and abuse of presidential power, Greenwald is arguably the most consistent critic of government abuses of civil liberties, regardless of which party holds power. He's also a champion of whistleblowers such as Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, whose work he was central to making known to the broader public. In 2014, Reason gave Greenwald the Lanny Friedlander Prize, which is given to "an individual or group who has created a publication, medium, or distribution platform that vastly expands human freedom by increasing our ability to express ourselves, engage in debate, and generate new ways of understanding the power of 'Free Minds and Free Markets.'"

Though he identifies with the progressive left on many issues, his criticism of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama along with conservatives and Republicans has earned him enemies on all points of the spectrum. In this conversation with Nick Gillespie, he talks about how the concept of "fake news" obscures far more than it clarifies, explains what he doesn't like about Wikileaks' strategy for unredacted data dumps, and discusses how Obama swelled presidential power during his eight years in office. Greenwald, who spoke with Reason from his home in Brazil, also talked about the problems inherent in the government dictating more and more aspects of the economy and the health care industry, typically in the service of crony capitalism. No fan of Donald Trump and fearful of the power the billionaire president will inherit from his predecessor, Greenwald is nonetheless optimistic that a growing coalition of libertarians, liberals, and conservatives will begin to check the imbalance of power in Washington.

Produced by Ian Keyser.

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