Greenwald vs. Gregory

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Emily Bazelon writes in Slate:

Most egregiously, Greenwald recounts the moment in which David Gregory asked him, on Meet the Press, why he shouldn’t “be charged with a crime” for having “aided and abetted Snowden.” Gregory came off like the NSA’s handmaiden, and just as dispiritingly, no one on the panel, Greenwald points out, made a peep in objection. Greenwald ably rose to his own defense, and after the show, many journalists backed him up, but that clip remains an embarrassment.

The link goes to Erik Wemple’s criticism of Gregory, which argues that the notion that Greenwald should be prosecuted is completely absurd. Sometimes, though, doesn’t it make sense for a journalist to ask a question rooted in beliefs he does not share — and may even consider absurd — because he wants to know, and wants his audience to know, how the interview subject would answer it? Absurdly or not — I take no view on the question — people had been making the claim that Greenwald should be charged with a crime. Why not get his take on it? Gregory did not add any distancing language into his question (“What would you say to those people who argue . . .”?). But I don’t think such language is always or even usually necessary, and can think of some interviews I’ve done where it would have been time-wasting verbiage.