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‘Useful Idiots’: The Return of Glenn Greenwald

In the latest socially distanced episode of our Useful Idiots podcast, hosts Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper are joined by friend-of-the-podcast Glenn Greenwald.

Matt and Katie cover Neera Tanden’s contentious confirmation hearing to become the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Our hosts break down the exhaustive GOP questioning of Tanden, in which lawmakers notably cited troves of her old, shit-talking tweets, many of which were aimed at Sen. Bernie Sanders and his supporters. This included a debate around the phrase “ignorant slut.”

“You just had a President who spent his entire life mean-tweeting people, and now you’re upset about Neera Tanden, who is maybe the only person on Twitter who could compete with Trump’s social media obnoxiousness? But she’s not even in Trump’s league,” says Matt of the GOP outrage.

Matt also ponders if he might be related to Thomas Friedman, given the online resurfacing of a 2010 Rolling Stone piece by Matt in which he likens Wall Street to hyenas, and Friedman’s recent hyena and co. “Lion King” analogy regarding GameStop buyers and hedge fund short sellers.

“That was a pretty Friedman-esque passage, I’ve gotta say,” says Matt of his decade-old writing.

“No it wasn’t, because there was logic to it,” says Katie.

“No, not too much,” responds Matt. “It’s possible Tom and I are half brothers.”

Independent journalist Glenn Greenwald returns to the show to pour over recent events in the world of journalism.

First is a mishap involving New York Times writer Taylor Lorenz‘s examination of Clubhouse, and how that informs Greenwald’s belief that there’s been a shift away from investigative reporting towards “gotcha-ism.”

“That was tattletale journalism. Either focusing on people who don’t have real power at the expense of those who do. Or as in this case, trying to harm them through the most trivial, infantile, adolescent transgressions rather than doing the real dangerous and important and intrepid work to expose serious wrongdoing by them,” says Greenwald.

Greenwald and our hosts also discuss how to distinguish the difference between endorsement and necessary coverage of events.

“It’s not just that it’s restricting what opinions you can express, it’s restricting what you’re allowed to even tell the public about what’s going on,” says Greenwald.

They also lampoon Andrea Mitchell’s recent attempted dunking on Senator Ted Cruz’s literary knowledge after he likened the impeachment process to a quote from Shakespeare/Faulkner.

“The reason why she did that is because, embedded in the sense of liberal superiority, is this idea that conservatives are imbeciles,” says Greenwald. “Conservatives know this.”

What do you think?

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