Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald resigns from the website with scathing essay claiming editors ‘violated his editorial freedom’ by ‘censoring’ an article he wrote criticizing Joe Biden

  • Glenn Greenwald announced his resignation in a scathing essay on Thursday
  • The veteran journalist blasted a culture of ‘repression, censorship and ideological homogeneity’ at The Intercept and in the mainstream media at large 
  • He said the ‘final, precipitating cause’ of his departure was his editors’ refusal to publish an article he wrote unless he removed criticisms of Joe Biden  
  • ‘I could not sleep at night knowing that I allowed any institution to censor what I want to say and believe — least of all a media outlet I co-founded,’ he wrote
  • Greenwald did not specifically name the editors he claimed censored him in the essay, but later published emails that identified one of them as Peter Maass
  • The Intercept’s Editor-in-Chief Betsy Reed responded to his essay by calling his claims ‘preposterous’ and accusing him of ‘throwing a tantrum’

Glenn Greenwald has resigned from The Intercept, which he co-founded, after he claims editors censored an article he wrote that was critical of Joe Biden. 

The veteran reporter announced his resignation in a scathing essay published to Substack on Thursday, in which he blasted a culture of ‘repression, censorship and ideological homogeneity’ at the website and in the mainstream media at large. 

Describing the ‘final, precipitating cause’ of his departure, Greenwald wrote: ‘The Intercept’s editors, in violation of my contractual right of editorial freedom, censored an article I wrote this week, refusing to publish it unless I remove all sections critical of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, the candidate vehemently supported by all New-York-based Intercept editors involved in this effort at suppression.’

‘The censored article, based on recently revealed emails and witness testimony, raised critical questions about Biden’s conduct,’ he continued, adding that he will publish the article in full on his Substack soon. 

The Intercept’s Editor-in-Chief Betsy Reed – whom Greenwald briefly praised in his post – responded by calling his claims ‘preposterous’ and accusing him of ‘throwing a tantrum’.  

Glenn Greenwald (pictured) resigned from The Intercept, which he co-founded, on Thursday after he claims editors censored an article he wrote that was critical of Joe Biden

The Intercept’s Editor-in-Chief Betsy Reed (pictured) responded to Greenwald’s essay by calling his claims ‘preposterous’ and accusing him of ‘throwing a tantrum’

Greenwald did not specifically name the editors he claimed censored him in the essay, but later published emails that identified one of them as Senior Editor Peter Maass. 

In an email dated October 27, Maass wrote: Glenn, I have carefully read your draft and there is some I agree with and some I disagree with but am comfortable publishing. 

‘However, there is some material at the core of this draft that I think is very flawed. Overall I think this piece can work best if it is significantly narrowed down to what you first discussed with Betsy — media criticism about liberal journalists not asking Biden the questions he should be asked more forcefully, and why they are failing to do that.

‘Betsy agrees with me that the draft’s core problem is the connection it often asserts or assumes between the Hunter Biden emails and corruption by Joe Biden.’

‘There are many places in which the explicit or implied position is a) the emails expose corruption by Joe Biden and b) news organizations are suppressing their reporting on it. Those positions strike me as foundations to this draft, and they also strike me as inaccurate, and that inaccuracy undercuts narrower points that are sound.’

The email continues for several more paragraphs as Maass suggests eliminating some sections of the article that rely heavily on vague or unverified information.  

In his essay, Greenwald accused the editors of demanding that he refrain from publishing the article with any other outlet, even though he has a ‘contractual right’ to do so. 

In an effort to keep the article alive, Greenwald said he proposed having the editors write their own pieces critiquing his perspective on what the Biden evidence showed and ‘letting readers decide who is right, the way any confident and healthy media outlet would’. 

‘But modern media outlets do not air dissent; they quash it,’ he wrote. ‘So censorship of my article, rather than engagement with it, was the path these Biden-supporting editors chose.’

The incident was so jarring to Greenwald that he decided to go out on his own and continue his career independently via Substack, despite his trepidations about losing a guaranteed paycheck.  

‘I could not sleep at night knowing that I allowed any institution to censor what I want to say and believe — least of all a media outlet I co-founded with the explicit goal of ensuring this never happens to other journalists, let alone to me, let alone because I have written an article critical of a powerful Democratic politician vehemently supported by the editors in the imminent national election,’ he wrote. 

Greenwald announced his resignation in a scathing essay published to Substack on Thursday, in which he blasted a culture of ‘repression, censorship and ideological homogeneity’ at the website and in the mainstream media at large

Greenwald did not specifically name the editors he claimed censored him in the essay, but later published emails that identified one of them as Senior Editor Peter Maass (pictured)

Greenwald, who lives in Brazil with his husband David Miranda, founded The Intercept in 2013 with fellow journalists Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill with funding from First Look Media. 

He is perhaps best known for having helped expose the NSA’s phone-tracking surveillance program that same year after whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked classified documents to him and two other journalists. That reporting won a Pulitzer Prize for The Guardian in 2014.  

In his Substack post, Greenwald included a copy of the resignation letter he wrote to First Look Media President Michael Bloom. 

While he railed against the unnamed editors who allegedly censored him, Greenwald did have kind words for a few of his colleagues, including Reed, The Intercept’s editor-in-chief.  

‘Betsy Reed is an exceptionally smart editor and a very good human being with whom I developed a close and valuable friendship,’ he wrote. ‘I’m not leaving out of vengeance or personal conflict but out of conviction and cause.’ 

Reed responded to Greenwald’s post in a statement to Washington Post reporter Erik Wemple hours after it went live.

‘Glenn Greenwald’s decision to resign from The Intercept stems from a fundamental disagreement over the role of editors in the production of journalism and the nature of censorship,’ Reed said. 

‘Glenn demands the absolute right to determine what he will publish. He believes that anyone who disagrees with him is corrupt, and anyone who presumes to edit his words is a censor. 

‘Thus the preposterous charge that The Intercept’s editors and reporters, with the lone noble exception of Glenn Greenwald, have betrayed our mission to engage in fearless investigative journalism because we have been seduced by the lure of a Joe Biden presidency. A brief glance at the stories The Intercept has published on Joe Biden will suffice to refute those claims.’

‘The narrative he presents about his departure is teeming with distortions and inaccuracies – all of them designed to make him appear a victim, rather than a grown person throwing a tantrum. It would take too long to point them all out here, but we intend to correct the record in time.’  

Greenwald, who lives in Brazil with his husband David Miranda, founded The Intercept in 2013 with fellow journalists Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill with funding from First Look Media

Over the past four years or so, Greenwald has emerged as one of the more conservative voices in media, frequently quarreling online with other journalists who have criticized his regular presence on Fox News and his perceived dismissal of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.  

Intercept Editor-in-Chief Betsy Reed’s full response to Greenwald post 

‘Glenn Greenwald’s decision to resign from The Intercept stems from a fundamental disagreement over the role of editors in the production of journalism and the nature of censorship. 

‘Glenn demands the absolute right to determine what he will publish. He believes that anyone who disagrees with him is corrupt, and anyone who presumes to edit his words is a censor. 

‘Thus the preposterous charge that The Intercept’s editors and reporters, with the lone noble exception of Glenn Greenwald, have betrayed our mission to engage in fearless investigative journalism because we have been seduced by the lure of a Joe Biden presidency. A brief glance at the stories The Intercept has published on Joe Biden will suffice to refute those claims.

‘The narrative he presents about his departure is teeming with distortions and inaccuracies – all of them designed to make him appear a victim, rather than a grown person throwing a tantrum. It would take too long to point them all out here, but we intend to correct the record in time. 

‘For now, it is important to make clear that our goal in editing his work was to ensure that it would be accurate and fair. While he accuses us of bias, it was he who was attempting to recycle a political campaign’s – the Trump campaign’s – dubious claims and launder them as journalism. 

‘We have the greatest respect for the journalist Glenn Greenwald used to be, and we remain proud of much of the work we did with him over the past six years. It is Glenn who has strayed from his original journalistic roots, not The Intercept. 

‘The defining feature of The Intercept’s work in recent years has been the investigative journalism that came out of painstaking work by our staffers in Washington DC, New York, and across the rest of the country. It is the staff of The Intercept that has been carrying out our investigative mission – a mission that has involved a collaborative editing process. 

‘We have no doubts that Glenn will go on to launch a new media venture where he will face no collaboration with editors – such is the era of Substack and Patreon. In that context, it makes good business sense for Glenn to position himself as the last true guardian of investigative journalism and to smear his longtime colleagues as partisan hacks. We get it. But facts are facts and The Intercept record of fearless, rigorous, independent journalism speaks for itself.’ 

 

In his essay on Thursday, Greenwald described how he has watched ‘editorial freedom’ disappear from the media industry, even at the outlet he founded with the explicit goal of maintaining it.  

‘The pathologies, illiberalism, and repressive mentality that led to the bizarre spectacle of my being censored by my own media outlet are ones that are by no means unique to The Intercept,’ he wrote. 

‘These are the viruses that have contaminated virtually every mainstream center-left political organization, academic institution, and newsroom. 

‘I began writing about politics fifteen years ago with the goal of combatting media propaganda and repression, and — regardless of the risks involved — simply cannot accept any situation, no matter how secure or lucrative, that forces me to submit my journalism and right of free expression to its suffocating constraints and dogmatic dictates. 

‘All this time, as things worsened, I reasoned that as long as The Intercept remained a place where my own right of journalistic independence was not being infringed, I could live with all of its other flaws.

‘But now, not even that minimal but foundational right is being honored for my own journalism, suppressed by an increasingly authoritarian, fear-driven, repressive editorial team in New York bent on imposing their own ideological and partisan preferences on all writers while ensuring that nothing is published at The Intercept that contradicts their own narrow, homogenous ideological and partisan views: exactly what The Intercept, more than any other goal, was created to prevent.’

In addition to the Biden article censorship, Greenwald also mentioned a few other incidents at The Intercept that contributed to his decision to leave – including the controversy over whistleblower Reality Winner. 

Winner, a former US intelligence specialist and Air Force linguist, was convicted of violating the Espionage Act in 2018 after she was revealed to have leaked classified documents about 2016 election interference to the The Intercept. 

US authorities identified Winner as the leaker after the lead reporter on the story sent a copy of the document to the NSA for verification, which showed that it had been printed out and led investigators directly to the source. 

In his essay, Greenwald placed the blame for the debacle on The Intercept’s editors, saying that in their rush to publish the story they pressured the lead reporter to the extent that they made a mistake that cost Winner her freedom.   

He charged that the editors rushed ‘because they was eager to prove to mainstream media outlets and prominent liberals that The Intercept was willing to get on board the Russiagate train’.

‘They wanted to counter-act the perception, created by my articles expressing skepticism about the central claims of that scandal, that The Intercept had stepped out of line on a story of high importance to US liberalism and even the left,’ he continued. 

‘That craving — to secure the approval of the very mainstream media outlets we set out to counteract — was the root cause for the speed and recklessness with which that document from Winner was handled.

‘But The Intercept, to this very day, has refused to provide any public accounting of what happened in the Reality Winner story: to explain who the editors were who made mistakes and why any of it happened.’ 

Over the past four years or so, Greenwald has emerged as one of the more conservative voices in media, frequently quarreling online with other journalists who have criticized his regular presence on Fox News

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