Glenn Greenwald: ‘Journalism Is Not a Crime and It Is Not Terrorism’

The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald made a comment on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 Tuesday that out of context might make conservatives who believe the media is corrupt chuckle.

“Journalism is not a crime and it is not terrorism” (video follows with transcript and commentary):

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Glenn, was he carrying classified material with him?

GLENN GREENWALD, THE GUARDIAN: Well, I'm not going to talk about what he was carrying because that's our work product as journalists. Remember, both Laura and I are working with the Guardian as journalists. What I would say is every single newsroom in the United States, every single major news organization in the world has classified information. Reporting on what governments do in secret is what journalism is about. So if you want to support the idea that states can just go and confiscate from journalists classified information, you should be demanding that your government can go physically into newsrooms and seize whatever classified information is there.

All of the best reporting over the last 40 years involves journalists having classified information. The Pentagon papers, the Bush torture sites, CIA black sites, the illegal warrantless eaves dropping program. That’s what investigative journalism is, and if you want to start criminalizing that, it means that you’re asking as a citizen to be kept ignorant and to allow people in power to conceal what they’re doing behind a wall of secrecy and to have no accountability or transparency. Journalism is not a crime and it is not terrorism.


Given the proper context here – Greenwald’s partner was detained at Heathrow airport this weekend with all of his possessions taken from him under Britain’s Terrorism Act – these comments are quite understandable.

But from the context of how the media behave in this nation today – deceptively editing videos to alter the meaning of what their political opponents say, intentionally omitting facts and ignoring stories that go counter to their agenda, and just flat out lying! – one could almost make the case that they are behaving in a criminal fashion.

As I’ve said for many years, there are no industries or professions in this country that would tolerate what happens in the press virtually every day.

As such, a journalist claiming that journalism isn’t a crime given what we’ve been witnessing in recent years is deliciously ironic when you think about.

As for the terrorist connection, one could also make the case that the way the media destroy the lives of their political opponents – think of how they attacked every single Republican presidential candidate last year including Mitt Romney’s wife Ann! – there is also a whiff of terrorism.

Or am I taking this semantic exercise too far?

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.