Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who first published the leaks of National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden, blasted the American media on Monday and said a recent Reuters story on Snowden was a "fabrication." Speaking in a radio interview, Greenwald also accused MSNBC talk show hosts of bias and said they were "desperate to distract attention away from [the NSA] disclosures."
Greenwald made the heated statements during a conversation with me on SiriusXM. He said a recent Reuters article -- which quotes him as saying that it would be the U.S. government's "worst nightmare" if certain details Snowden possesses are leaked -- is "extremely inaccurate." The story was based on an interview Greenwald offered to the Spanish-language Argentine daily La Nacion.
The Reuters story was followed by an an Associated Press story on Monday, which quotes Greenwald in La Nacion saying Snowden holds NSA "blueprints." Greenwald also addressed the AP story on the radio show, and said the media reports imply that both he and Snowden are making reckless threats and attempting to blackmail the U.S. government.
Greenwald insisted the various quotes were taken out of context to mean the "opposite" of what he intended to stress in the La Nacion interview -- he meant to underscore how Snowden has been and will continue to be responsible with all the information in his possession, Greenwald said.
"I knew when I began reporting the [NSA] story, that the technique that the U.S. government uses -- and its media allies use -- against anybody who discloses what they're doing in the dark is to distract attention away from the contents of the revelations," Greenwald said. "[But] this weekend was probably the most extreme and obvious distortion, really a fabrication on the part of Reuters, that I’ve seen yet."
Reuters did not respond to a request for a comment.
Greenwald also took aim at MSNBC on the radio show. He quoted one of the network's former producers, Jeff Cohen, who recently charged that the network and several of its talk show hosts are protecting the Obama administration in coverage of the NSA story. Cohen is the founder of the media watchdog group FAIR.
"If you’re a loyalist of the Obama administration, as most of MSNBC is," Greenwald said, "you are desperate to distract attention away from these disclosures."
In particular, Greenwald criticized MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, who penned an open letter to Snowden:
“We could be talking about whether accessing and monitoring citizen information and communications is constitutional, or whether we should continue to allow a secret court to authorize secret warrants using secret legal opinions. But we’re not. We’re talking about you! And flight paths between Moscow and Venezuela, and how much of a jerk Glenn Greenwald is.”
Noting that Harris-Perry is free to talk about whatever she wants on her show, Greenwald accused the host of being part of a media outlet dedicated to defending the Obama agenda.
Greenwald said that while he received a positive reception from MSNBC when he was reporting on civil liberties abuses during the Bush administration, "the fact that I’ve spent the last three years reporting about the civil liberties abuses of the Obama administration changes the universe for partisan hacks who are on MSNBC, whose role is to defend the president and the White House.”
During the show, Greenwald also called a recent New York Daily News story reporting on his prior business involvement with a gay porn company "homophobia." The report was meant to "smear" his image, Greenwald charged.
“Adult video and pornography standing alone isn’t enough of a smear to even be worth doing,” Greenwald said. “It absolutely was the fact that it was gay adult video that made it --in the eyes of the New York Daily News and whoever fed it to them -- something that they thought was worth effectively trying to attack me with. And I think there was unquestionably an element of homophobia, to be talking about the specific titles, highlighting the homoerotic aspects of it.”
As for Greenwald's plans for the future, the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) last month may mean he'll return to live in the U.S. with his partner. Greenwald has lived in Rio de Janeiro with his Brazilian partner for the past several years because DOMA prevented them, as a bi-national couple, from living together in the country.
‘It’s certainly something that we’re discussing,” he said. “Living in the United States is something we’ve both wanted to have the option to have. And it’s definitely something we’d like to do at some point.”
Listen to the full interview below:
Gay Voices Editor-At-Large Michelangelo Signorile is the host of the "The Michelangelo Signorile Show" on SiriusXM Progress 127.