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Goldberg, Greenwald Spar Post-On Point on Israel, Iran

Looks like we touched off a war of sorts — yikes! Tensions are running high between two big blogosphere figures, following our segment Thursday, “Airstrikes, Israel, and Iran.”


Atlantic correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg spoke with host Tom Ashbrook about his controversial new article, “Israel is Getting Ready to Bomb Iran.”  As he fended off criticisms of his current reporting and his previous work, he singled out Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald for what he said was one particularly spurious line of attack. (Note: Greenwald has made appearances on On Point, too.)


Greenwald responded with a fiery blog post titled “Jeffrey Goldberg’s Fabrication on NPR,” and then posted their subsequent email exchange, apparently without Goldberg’s permission (which has become another point of dispute.) Goldberg eventually conceded the initial point (see below) and gave him an “I was wrong” — he claimed on air that Greenwald had retracted a certain point about the Israeli air raid on Iraq in 1981 — but the feud continues.

Anyway, here’s the internal cross-fire between them: 

Glenn to Jeff

Hello again – Several people emailed me about your discussion today on On Point, in which you stated I had issued a “retraction” of the criticism I made of your Atlantic piece, specifically the contradiction I maintain you wrote about the 1981 Israeli strike.

I don’t recall issuing any such retraction, and I’m pretty sure I’d recall it if I had done so. I’d like to write about this, so could you point me to my retraction? Thanks

-Glenn Greenwald


Jeff to Glenn

You’re right, I’m wrong. My apologies.

As I explained on my blog, I believe you are misreading one particular line in the Iran piece. The line, admittedly, isn’t clear enough, but I think most people understood me to mean that the Israelis consider the Osirak raid to have been particularly effective since Saddam ultimately never fulfilled his nuclear ambitions. I should have added an extra line to explain that more clearly.
It does seem outlandish to think, doesn’t it, that Jeffrey Goldberg, of all people, would believe that Saddam Hussein was defanged in 1981. I mean, I still think he’s a threat, and he’s dead. Or so they say, at least. xxoo, Jeff
And then there’s Jeff’s response on his own blog:

Glenn Greenwald, Meshuggeneh (UPDATED)

Aug 20 2010, 8:42 AM ET

Enough already. My dear friend Glenn Greenwald continues to allege, despite all evidence and logic to the contrary, that I believe that Israel’s Osirak attack ended Saddam’s desire for nuclear weapons in 1981. I can’t seem to convince him otherwise, so I’m going to stop trying. It is true that I said on NPR that I thought Greenwald retracted the claim; I was wrong, obviously. I was confusing him with someone else. I made a mistake. I wish Glenn Greenwald had the capacity to write the words “I made a mistake” in reference to his ridiculous claims about me.

Anyway, that’s it. I might revisit the Glenn Greenwald psychodrama one more time, just for fun. But he’s incapable of reason; incapable of fairness; incapable of understanding complexity. My friends in journalism who have been targets of his attacks warned me against trying to reason with him. They were right, and I was wrong, again.

UPDATE: I just noticed that Glenn Greenwald posted our private e-mail exchange, without asking me if that would be okay. Very nice.

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  • Tom

    Jeffrey Goldberg represents what is wrong with this country. He was one of the most prominent promotor of the Iraq war in the media, fabricating the supposed “link” between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda. His war drumbeating helped misleading Americans into the Iraq war, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries, countless loss of property. Yet he is still a highly sought after “expert” and “reporter” on the mainstream media; appearing twice yesterday on the public supported NPR.

    He was an IDF soldier, guarding an Israeli prison where there have been allegations of abuses against Palestinian prisoners. Shouldn’t this piece of information be relevant to your listeners as he was promoting right-wing Israeli war propaganda on NPR?

    Shame on NPR for providing this pathological liar a platform to promote right-wing Israeli war propaganda.

    I had been a life-long supporter of NPR. Not anymore.

  • grumpyoldguy

    Pathologcial liars always get on media outlets. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hamid Gul, Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Louis Farrakhan, Roger Clemens, Rod Blagojevich, possibly others.

    Assume for a second that Jeffrey Goldberg is a member of that distinguished company. Isn’t it useful to discover what he has to say on an insignificant program such as On Point, so we don’t have to go to Fox News or other commercial outlets to discover who’s influencing the sheeple, and how?

  • dave

    But NPR didn’t tell us that Golderg’s retraction claim was bogus. We had to learn that from Glenn Greenwald. Had it not been for him NPR would have just fine airing the B.S of this fraud and never skipping a beat.

  • Joe

    Anyone who has followed Glenn Greenwald for years knows he is a man of utmost integrity and a dependable, fact-based columnist. He has a massive body of written work on which he can be judged. He is a Constitutional lawyer. Unlike Jeffrey Goldberg he writes almost daily on important issues. Greenwald has it exactly right that Goldberg is a dangerous cheerleader for war, posing as a serious journalist. If you really want to get a sense of Goldberg, I highly recommend listening to the full interview Tom Ashbrook’s podcast. Goldberg’s tone and the substance of his remarks is arrogant, dismissive, condescending when Tom and guests ask questions. This is especially true toward the latter half of the interview. Some of the information Goldberg provides is useful, but there is not doubt that he is firmly in the pro-war camp. He should not be thought of as an objective reporter. It was no mistake that Goldberg falsely claimed that Glenn retracted his critical comments. This says a lot about Goldberg’s credibility as a reporter.

  • Kent Strock

    Thanks for addressing these issues on the up and up. I much prefer your show to the run of the NPR fair. Other NPR shows (TOTN) wouldn’t bother taking these points up. That said I hope that the lame NPR ombudsman takes up this issue and hope that others will let their feelings be known. I am not holding my breath. But again thanks for your show.

  • Kent Strock

    Tom, you walked into a minefield and I hope you learned something. I like your work but this blew up in everyone’s face. For a full take on the back and forth go to salon.com http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/08/20/goldberg/index.html

  • Tad

    WBUR’s & Tom Ashbrook’s On_Point is, I believe, the finest program on NPR (& APM & PRI). Its quality approaches that of the finest general-interest periodicals — and it presents a more balanced diversity of views than many of those same periodicals. Furthermore, I wouldn’t want to be required to identify many important public issues that haven’t been addressed, very well (within its time constraints), by this program. It provides the quality of the best weekly or monthly periodicals, not only 5 days/week but also with multiple contributors on almost all of the issues that it addresses. In short, it is Radio at its best. Thanks very much to all at On_Point.
    Best regards,
    - a Midwestern, urban, moderate Democrat

  • Caught Out


    You forgot to say “Obambi” in this post. Failure to repeat this hack right-wing moniker might lead people who don’t know you better to think you actually are a Democrat of some sort.

  • michael

    What Jeffrey Goldberg a lier, who would have thought it :?

    I proud that Onpoint had the courage to post Greenwald responsed to yet another of Goldberg lies.


  • michael

    Thought this might interest Onpoint and others

    UPDATE: Goldberg responds, playing the victim role. He falsely accused me on NPR of issuing a retraction and now he’s the wronged party, claiming he merely “confused me with someone else,” presumably “someone else” who issued a retraction last week (who?). Feel free to read his response and form your own judgment. He also complains that I “posted our private e-mail exchange, without asking [him] if that would be okay.” There was nothing “private” about our email exchange; my whole point in emailing him, as I made explicitly clear, was that I intended to write about this episode and wanted to include his response in what I wrote. The whole exchange was entirely on the record. It’s just amazing how devoted to the Cult of Secrecy so many self-proclaimed journalists are.

    UPDATE III: This Sunday’s roundtable on Meet the Press will be conservative Rick Lazio, conservative Paul Gigot of The Wall Street Journal, journalist Katty Kay of the BBC, and, for balance . . . the well-known liberal Jeffrey Goldberg. Ladies and Gentleman: your Liberal (and Supremely Accountability-Free) Media



    Jeffrey Goldberg, today: “I just noticed that Glenn Greenwald posted our private e-mail exchange, without asking me if that would be okay. Very nice.”

    Jeffrey Goldberg, June 25, 2010, threatening to publish emails from Journolist: “Nothing is really off-the-record. No conversation between more than two people is ever really off-the-record, and no e-mail is ever, ever off-the-record . . . . I’ve been leaked postings from JournoList before — wonderfully charming things written about me, as you might have guessed — and I haven’t had the opportunity to use them, but would be happy to if the need arose” (h/t Daniel 1976c).

    Apparently, for some people, the prevailing ethical standards depend on whose emails are being published and who is doing the publishing. If any type of email is on-the-record and usable, it’s one where someone writes and says: I plan on writing about X and would like your reaction.

  • Paul Dobbs

    It’s not so much about ethics as about awareness. Jeffrey Goldberg seems to have very small consciousness. It seems beyond him to put himself in another’s shoes. During the On Point interview he dismissed the caller Judy from Iowa, as having in his words “a world view” that is “perverse.” Her point that the US has a record of invading other nations, that it frequently resorts to war as a problem-solving strategy is undeniable. The list of invasions is long. No matter who is counting, the numbers of innocent children, women, and men killed and maimed are staggering.

    Perhaps (God forbid) bombing Iraq will turn out to be the better of two awful choices Goldberg mentions, and Goldberg is right to point our attention to that possibility, but in the context of pondering it, should we not, as journalists, as citizens, as a nation, take Judy’s suggestion, that is, face squarely our recent history of warmongering and consider what it means? Should we not take a moment to consider who we are becoming?

    Those widowed and orphaned by American military endeavor in recent decades would not consider Judy’s world view to be perverse. Nor would I. Nor should any journalist.

    What blocks Mr. Goldberg from seeing the world and life are larger than war games? or that neither he nor his version of America is the center of the universe? How has such a narrow-minded person has become an “important” journalist?

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