The idea was, it’s going to be a journalism-led media outlet, where editors are there to help you when you need it, to kick the tires on stories, to make sure that things are factually sound. But they’re not the bosses. They’re not the people you have to overcome who decide whether you can be heard or not. And I had written into my contract, just like I did at The Guardian and Salon, that except in very rare cases where there is very complex original reporting, like in the Snowden story and the Brazil reporting we did last year, that I would just publish directly to the internet with no editorial intervention. That was the model we were building, that I thought I was building. I never thought it had anything to do with ideological dogma, and certainly never fealty to any political party. I was a vehement Obama critic at the time, and before that was a vehement critic of George Bush and Dick Cheney. We called ourselves adversarial, because we were going to be adversarial to political power, not subservient to it.
I felt as though we had gotten off course for a few years now by becoming more and more linked with the Democratic Party. Particularly in the age of Trump, where we had become not so much a journalistic outlet but more an activist outlet, designed not to report the truth no matter who it aggrandizes or angers but serving the interests of the Democratic Party. And more so, undermining the interest of Donald Trump, which ultimately became the same thing. It all culminated in them essentially telling me that I couldn’t publish my own story…at a news outlet that was built on my name….It was a huge irony. And being stifled in saying what I wanted to say, obviously, was something I could never accept, and my readers wouldn’t want me to. So I left.
I started writing about politics because I thought the media was so dormant and complacent about these radical assaults on civil liberties under Bush and Cheney taking place during the war on terror. And then under Obama, they went to sleep even further. They got hypnotized into thinking that he was a noble and benevolent leader. I’ll give you just one example, which is press freedom. Under Obama, as I’m sure you know, the Espionage Act of 1917—one of the most pernicious laws we have on our books; it was enacted under Woodrow Wilson, and it was designed to criminalize dissent from U.S. participation in World War I— was invoked against whistleblowers and sources, like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning and a dozen others, more under Obama than every other prior president combined. It ended up being three times more prosecutions under the Espionage Act for our sources as journalists than all previous presidents, including Nixon or Eisenhower or whoever you want to pick. And the press said almost nothing.
Trump gets in, and The Washington Post changes its motto to “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” essentially saying press freedom is under assault. [White House reporter] Jim Acosta writes a bestseller with some pompous, self-glorifying title, like Danger: Reporting in the Era of Trump. What the fuck ever happened to Jim Acosta that constitutes an assault on press freedom? The worst thing Trump ever did to any of them was to say mean things about them in tweets. Those aren’t assaults on press freedom. I was threatened by the Obama administration with prison when I was doing the Snowden reporting. I was criminally indicted by the [Jair] Bolsonaro government at the beginning of  for the reporting I did in Brazil. Those are attacks on press freedom. Saying Jim Acosta is an idiot, and tweeting something insulting about Wolf Blitzer, isn’t. So you go through those metrics. George Bush and Dick Cheney started new wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama started new wars in Libya and Yemen. What new wars did Donald Trump start? He escalated bombing campaigns, which he inherited, in a pretty grotesque way. But he didn’t start any new wars.
When you look at things like the destruction of Iraq or the implementation of a torture regime—what has Donald Trump done that even remotely compares in terms of moral evil to any of that? Nothing. And yet we’re supposed to treat George Bush and Barack Obama like morally upstanding statesmen and Donald Trump like the literal reincarnation of Hitler.