Podcast Review: Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill

Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill is not your parents liberal journalism.

The Intercept_ was founded in 2014 by First Look Media. A non-profit company funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and “…built on the belief that freedom of expression and of the press, and fiercely independent perspectives, are vital to a healthy democracy and a vibrant culture”.

Its current editors are Betsy Reed, Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill. While The Intercept_ initially published the documents released by Edward Snowden it has gone on to publish stories involving the U.S. military’s assassination program and how the Navy SEAL Team Six had committed potential war crimes, including mutilating corpses and attempted beheadings.

So, The Intercept_ hits a lot harder than NPR. In fact, they describe themselves as “adversarial journalism”.

In keeping with the adversarial motif, they launched their first podcast, Intercepted, on January 25, 2017 titled “The Clock Strikes Thirteen and Donald Trump is President”.

The podcast is hosted by The Intercept_ editor and award-winning investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill. Scahill’s path to journalism is nontraditional by today’s standards. Dropping out of college, he became heavily involved with the Catholic Worker movement. During this time he began to study journalism as trade rather than an arm of academia.

Eventually, Scahill found his way to Democracy Now! where he earned a 1998 George Polk Award, with colleague Amy Goodman, for their radio documentary “Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria’s Oil Dictatorship”.

Scahill has covered the Middle Easy and the War on Terror extensively which has led to regular appearances on shows like The Rachel Maddow Show, The Daily Show, The Bill Maher Show, etc.

Scahill’s first book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army (2007 Alternet best book of the year), sparked a Congressional inquiry and an internal Department of Homeland Security investigation.

2013’s Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield, about President Obama’s continuation of President Bush’s doctrine that “the world is a battlefield”. A doctrine that relied on missiles and drone strikes to carry the bulk of the covert operations and targeted killings of suspected terrorists. The book was made into an Academy Award Nominated film for Best Documentary in 2014.

I think what I’m trying to point out here is that Jeremy Scahill has some credibility and seemed a natural host for Intercepted.

Now to call Intercepted a progressive podcast would be misleading. It’s very progressive. (I’d use the word uber, but I can’t find the damn umlaut). If you think about the content of Intercepted, a good point of reference might be that if you’ve never heard of or read Jacobin Magazine, you may feel a little lost listening to Intercepted.

I think it’s safe to say that no matter how far left you consider yourself, you may occasionally find yourself scratching your head and thinking “Come on now.”

Which is not to say that’s a bad thing in this day and age, it is most certainly not. But you should be prepared to hear things you may not agree with.

True to the mission of First Look Media, Intercepted continues their trend of “adversarial journalism”.

For example, recently the show has spent some time on the crisis in Venezuela. And while they do talk of the hardship, they focus less on Maduro and regime change and spent a fair amount of time on how this is a textbook play from the American government. A play they have pulled time and time again around the world. America strangles the countries through embargo’s, economic sanctions hoping it leads to public revolt and ultimately revolution.

Then America sweeps in and places a puppet in power who opens all the countries resources to international bidding. Then international, and to be clear “international” simply means American multi-national, companies come in and bleed the countries dry for a few decades and then leave. It’s a textbook play that we’ve done for decades around the globe but most recently in Chile, El Salvador, Honduras, etc.

You want to know why all those people are lining up on the Mexican border to come into America? Just tell Uncle Sam to look in the mirror.

But I digress . . .

While it deviates from time to time Intercepted has a pretty straight forward format. The show usually begins with a tongue in cheek audio mashup. Recently, they mixed audio clips from Beto O’Rourke and audio clips from Napoleon Dynamite. Oh yes, it was quite funny.

The first segment is usually a monologue by Scahill about the topic of the show. Well researched, thought out and articulated his preamble is delivered in a steady and even tone. He can get a little animated, depending on the topic. However, curse words are surprisingly kept to a minimum here and throughout the show.

The second segment is either an interview with one person or a couple of people. If it’s one person Scahill gives them room to talk. If it’s more than one he does a good job of balancing the dialog so no one person monopolizes the conversation. I’ve never heard a heated exchange on this podcast. Recent guests have included Chris Hedges, Naomi Klein and Matt Tiabbi. If you recognize those names, then you get a rough idea of the types of guests the show attracts.

These first two segments usually clock a little over half the show but it’s almost always worth it.

The next segments are up for grabs. It could be more interviews to reinforce the subject of the show or it could the reading a poem or a reading of a monologue. Recently, the last segment was an interview with Washington D.C. punk band Priests. It doesn’t always work but it is always interesting.

Here’s what you need to know about Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill, it’s “adversarial journalism”. And maybe NPR is as liberal as you want to get and that’s cool. But if you want to dig a little deeper without too much effort and find out what’s really going on out there, this is an easily accessible place to find out. I haven’t always agreed with everything, but I’ve learned a few things.

The show clocks in anywhere from 50/60 minutes up.

You can get Intercepted wherever you get podcasts or you can listen online here.

A couple of things to note.

  1. The Intercept_ is non-profit, so they rely on donations. I have no affiliation with them, but please consider donating. They’re doing good work, whether you agree with them 100% or not (and I don’t agree 100% and I donated).
  2. I think we can all agree that Julian Assange is, on his very best day, a polarizing figure. However, his arrest has journalism and journalists standing at the edge of a precipice we can not afford to have them go over. It makes ALL media and journalism all the more important, even the ones I, or you, abhor. So, I won’t shill any more but simply ask that you consider exactly how important journalism, and yes, free speech is to you. And if it is important to you, that you support it and fight for it.

Further Reading & Viewing: