Interview: Glenn Greenwald, on "Securing Democracy," Twitter, and the Media Business

"I tend to have a pretty polarizing effect on the discourse," says the author, in a free-ranging talk about Bolsonaro's Brazil, his time at The Intercept, and critics who accuse him of being pro-Trump

“That’s what journalism is, you have to inform the public. If you’re not informing the public because they’re not paying attention to what you’re saying, really what you’re doing is kind of inconsequential.”

That’s Glenn Greenwald, summing up his thoughts on the media, in an interview we did in conjunction with his new book about the Brazil archive, Securing Democracy. You can read my review of that book here, along with part one of this interview. The discussion below has been edited for length:

MT: When did you start writing Securing Democracy?

Greenwald: What happened: I was under a contract actually to write a different book, since like 2016, that I just had really not wanted to write apparently, because I haven’t. And so my editor said, “Well, it’s clear you’re not very passionate about this book that you’ve now taken five years to start. Why don’t you tell the Brazil story? Which I’m sure you want to do the way you told the Snowden story.” So, it was really her idea. That was the impediment, I wanted to write about it, but I wasn’t sure I could, given that I was already under contract to write a separate book, and when she gave me the go ahead — I very much knew this was a story that needed to be told.

MT: Does the story you tell about Brazil in “Securing Democracy” have an analog in American politics?

Greenwald: I think that it really revealed the underbelly of this new “lawfare” tactic. Maybe it’s not so new, but it’s more prevalent, it has this modern form, where instead of doing overt coups, you give the cover of concocting corruption scandals against democratically elected leaders you dislike.

I actually think one example that is similar, though not identical, was what the CIA did in manufacturing the Russiagate scandal against Trump. But obviously what was done to Lula and the Workers Party is the classic case. I feel like a lot of that has reverberations.

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