David Gregory Shames Himself with Questioning of Glenn Greenwald

FILED TO: Media and Entertainment

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“To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?”

– David Gregory speaking to Glenn Greenwald on the NSA leaks scandal. 

The Edward Snowden/NSA scandal has created a giant rift between political commentators and journalists in America. Sadly, it means the lines have been drawn and you are now either with Snowden or against him, and nowhere in between.  The contentious exchange between corporate journalist extraordinaire David Gregory and professional agitator Glenn Greenwald exemplified this deepening chasm, and illustrated why journalism in America is generally screwed.

Let’s be clear about this – Gregory’s questioning of Greenwald was shameful beyond belief. Whatever you might think of Greenwald, to assert that he might be complicit in a crime because he published National Security Agency leaks in a newspaper that someone else passed on to him is very, very troubling. Greenwald asked Gregory: “The scandal that arose in Washington before our stories began was about the fact that the Obama administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism by going through the e-mails and phone records of AP reporters, accusing a Fox News journalist of the theory that you just embraced, being a co-conspirator in felonies, for working with sources.” He went on: “If you want to embrace that theory, it means that every investigative journalist in the United States who works with their sources, who receives classified information, is a criminal.”

It’s an airtight argument, and as Andrew Sullivan writes: “Glenn’s role in this was at first passive. Snowden contacted him, not the other way round. He then did what any non-co-opted journalist would do – and examined the data independently, with other independent journalists and published the truth.”

Gregory defended himself, saying that “The question of who’s a journalist may be up to a debate with regards to what you’re doing,” adding, that “of course anybody who’s watching this understands I was asking a question, that question has been raised by lawmakers, as well. I’m not embracing anything.”


Gregory has the right to ask Greenwald whatever he wants, but his choice of questions reveals pretty much everything you need to know about him. Sullivan notes that when questioning Gen. Petraeus about the US government’s use of torture, Gregory refused to use the word torture:

That [the use of ‘torture’] would be awkward because Gregory is a social friend of Liz Cheney (Gregory’s wife worked with Cheney’s husbandat the law firm Latham & Watkins). Who wants to call their social friend a war criminal? Notice also this classic Washington discussion by Gregory on torture. It’s entirely about process. There is no substantive position on something even as profound as war crimes.

Fast forward to Glenn Greenwald, and Gregory has no problem insinuating he should be charged with crime against the state.

Journalists are supposed to stand up to power and break stories. It is their job to hold elites to account and reveal uncomfortable information in the interest of the public. Greenwald, as flawed as he is, at least tries to do that, while Gregory is happy to repeat talking points disseminated by the White House.

Gregory has been a journalist for over 20 years, and a major public figure for at least 10 of them. Gregory has never been involved in taking down a powerful figure or putting his career at risk to reveal information to the public. Just take a look at Gregory’s Wikipedia page. His career is one long tribute to corporate and political power – a perfect resume in the eyes of Washington’s elite. He covers presidential elections, gets exclusives with prominent politicians, is married to a federal prosecutor and sends his children to the same school as the Obamas. Gregory is so popular with the establishment that George W. Bush threw a birthday party for him during the 2000 election campaign. Apparently completely oblivious to the concept of actual journalism, Gregory even had the temerity to defend the media after the debacle of the Iraq war, telling Chris Matthews that:

I think the questions were asked. I think we pushed. I think we prodded. I think we challenged the president. I think not only those of us in the White House press corps did that, but others in the rest of the landscape of the media did that. If there wasn’t a debate in this country, then maybe the American people should think about, why not? Where was Congress? Where was the House? Where was the Senate?

Senator Ted Kennedy gave a major speech opposing the war in Iraq in 2002, and according to Media Matters, Gregory didn’t think it was worth covering.

So much for fostering public debate.

There are some very serious holes in Greenwald’s reporting on the NSA leaks, and there’s a strong case to be made that he has been far from objective. But Gregory’s questioning of him is so far removed from the notion of serious journalism that he makes Greenwald look like the second coming of Seymour Hersh.

As irritating and biased as Greenwald is, his journalism is infinitely more responsible than David Gregory’s, a ‘reporter’ who sees no problem cavorting with some of the worst criminals in US political history.



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  • DaeguDave

    Oh my god…I only check this website for the ubiquitous headline affirming that “Glenn Greenwald’s NSA story is about to implode” and instead find a story almost PRAISING Greenwald. Has the Obama Praise Chorus come to it’s senses?

    • Benthedailybanter

      DaeguDave, the article was mostly about David Gregory, not Glenn Greenwald. My personal take on all of this pretty much echoes Bob Cesca’s; Greenwald botched the reporting and refused to acknowledge mistakes. He did however, bring attention to a serious topic, and it deserves a great deal of scrutiny regardless of whether Greenwald hyped it up. Also, the notion that a newspaper publishing leaks given to them by a third party should be punished is highly dangerous and contradicts basic freedom of expression rights. Not agreeing with everything Glenn Greenwald says doesn’t make you part of the ‘Obama Praise Chorus’. It just makes you objective, which Greenwald isn’t.

      • srmark

        I’d say a great majority of your readers and those posting are part of the ‘Obama Praise Chorus.’

        • Benthedailybanter

          And what is your point?

  • Schneibster

    Journalists are supposed to stand up to power and break stories. It is
    their job to hold elites to account and reveal uncomfortable information
    in the interest of the public. Greenwald, as flawed as he is, at least tries to do that, while Gregory is happy to repeat talking points disseminated by the White House.

    To me this is the core argument of the post. Well thought.

    • Benthedailybanter

      Thanks! I’ll take a Greenwald story over A Gregory story any day of the week.

  • dsmith

    Gregory was a cheerleader for the invasion of Iraq, a war that cost us over 5000 American lives. Gregory has never once said he was wrong to push the Bush lies, because Gregory is the Bill Kristol of NBC. For his loyalty to the neocon war machine he was given the plum job at MTP.

    In light of the scam pulled on this nation during that period Gregory now acts shocked that Greenwald would not take NSA’s talking points as truth.

    Contact NBC and let them know this man is not worthy of his position.


    • Schneibster

      Greenwald is no font of rightness. He’s just as polluted as any of them. What’s irritating is he claims he’s not.

      There’s no need to bring other subjects up about Gregory; it’s bad enough he doesn’t see why Greenwald should be allowed to publish, even if it’s bullshit.

  • Schneibster

    Greenwald lied, and was self-aggrandizing instead of bringing the news, but the free press is more important than that.

    Gregory is a fool.

  • Lady Willpower

    David Gregory is a pathetic excuse for a journalist. Rude, unprofessional, self-aggrandizing, and thoroughly terrible at his job.

    Only problem is, I could have just described Greenwald with the same language.

  • thehoopoe

    In the latest SCMP release Snowden implicates GG in a conspiracy to get the information saying that he took the Booz job with the sole intent of stealing files. If Greenwald knew about this before hand the he was absolutely part of a conspiracy. I don’t see how the US can avoid charging him, or at least questioning him.

    • blackdaug

      This is going to be where it gets interesting. When Snowden figures out that he is going to be the one bearing the brunt of all of this…and GG is not. Things could get ugly….really fast.

      • thehoopoe

        I bet Greenwald assumed his source was savvy enough not to implicate him. He was wrong about that.

        • blackdaug

          I bet both of them taped their conversations and kept copies of all their correspondence. We will soon be treated to dueling releases about who encouraged who to do what….

          • dbtheonly

            That or mutual claims of 5th Amendment rights.

  • Guest
    • Rollo Tamasi

      Insightful post.

  • dbtheonly


    Please catch JM Ashby’s recent. IF Snowden took the job with the intent of leaking classified material to Greenwald; and Greenwald encouraged same; then you’ve got a possible case for conspiracy.

  • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

    I agree that Gregory is a hypocrite of the highest order. I agree that no journalist should be accused of a crime because they publish info given to them by a source that’s relevant to the abuse the journalist is trying to uncover. But there’s a couple places where GG may have overstepped a line though….it appears that he might have known about Snowden and what he intended to do before he did it. In other words, GG may have known that Snowden intended to commit a felony in his job at the NSA. Isn’t there a difference between getting information from a source after they’ve committed a felony versus encouraging and enabling that person to take said felonious action? Is it okay for a journalist to cultivate a source ahead of time in the express hopes that they will steal highly classified information? I’m not a journalist or an attorney so correct me if I am wrong here.

    Furthermore, it’s absolutely wrong of GG to help a source publish highly classified info on our spy programs against other countries. The issue that GG and Snowden were supposedly up in arms about was domestic spying, but now Snowden is releasing all kinds of unrelated intelligence through GG and directly to other governments. I completely understand GG’s concern and desire to publish anything about domestic spying abuses but the other stuff? What’s the journalistic principle behind that?

    • blackdaug

      GG and Greggers both know that the issue that will eventually emerge regarding this will be: Did the classified information that was published from the source expose any illegality, or waste fraud or abuse on the part of the U.S. government (NSA) or its subsidiary contractors (Booze)?
      If it did, then both the source and the reporter will be held protected under the exception in the Whistle blowers statute.
      Were Snoden’s actions in releasing classified information legal by exception as a Whistle blower (legal) or illegal as a “leaker” and by extension, Greenwald’s actions in publishing that information..
      If no illegal actions, or those exposing any waste fraud or abuse were exposed by the release of the classified information (and by all accounts, including now GG’s himself, that is the case)
      then the source violated the law, by releasing the information, and the reporter violated the law by publishing it.
      For Snowden, that horse has already left the barn, none of the classified information he has released has exposed any illegality, and in fact, the information he gathered while at Booze exposed nothing but our espionage activities with foreign countries.
      For GG, the question really only lies with the NSA material….and he knows he is on the wrong side of the law there. It did not expose any illegal activity, and he should not have published it and expected to be protected from prosecution.
      Greggers may be a worthless hack and shill of the first order.. but this question is going to be coming up very soon from a lot more places than “Meet the McCain”.

    • DHaradaStone

      IrishGrrrl: I am an attorney and a former journalist, and the questions you raise are spot on. There is a big difference between a journalist publishing classified documents received from a source and conspiring with that source, or encouraging him, to steal classified documents in the first place. We don’t know that GG did that, but his statement that he has been working with Snowden since February and Snowden’s admission that he took the Booz Hamilton job in March with the express intent of accessing and stealing these documents raises serious questions.

      • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

        Thanks! I knew I couldn’t be totally off base……

      • LawMom3

        This criminal defense attorney agrees. What Greenwald has admitted to sounds very much like he crossed a line and opened himself to potential prosecution. He’s at least raised a legitimate issue which goes beyond the leeway we grant to journalists who are merely onto a story and reporting facts. This is a guy who was told ahead of time about Snowden’s intentions. He may or may not have aided him materially in pulling it off, but it’s he who caused the question to be raised by his own statements.


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