Evening anchor for NBC News Brian Williams traveled to Moscow this week, it was revealed on Thursday, in order to conduct a joint interview with exiled NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald—two of the key individuals behind nearly a year's worth of shocking revelations about the U.S. government's global surveillance operations conducted by the National Security Agency.
In what will be Snowden's first televised interview with a major American news channel, NBC describes how "Williams' in-person conversation with Snowden was conducted over the course of several hours and was shrouded in secrecy" due to Snowden's sensitive situation in Russia, where he continues to live under temporary asylum.
Though Greenwald has had a mixed relationship with personnel at NBC—partnering with the outlet on a handful of NSA stories but also publicly criticizing David Gregory, host of 'Meet The Press,' for his poor coverage of the Snowden story—it appears as though NBC made the necessary moves to secure the exclusive interview.
And even as many progressive, independent, and foreign news outlets have covered the Snowden revelations closely for more than a year, for the millions of Americans who get their news mostly through the evening news from the major broadcast stations, this will likely be the first time they'll hear Snowden respond directly to questions about why he did what he did and the implications he sees regarding the mass surveillance system under which U.S. citizens now live.
The hour-long interview will air as a primetime special next Wednesday, May 28 at 10 p.m. Eastern/9 p.m. Central.
Riffing on some of the intrigue surrounding the interview, The Washington Post reports:
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The interview is sure to produce some memorable exchanges, but the way that NBC News pulled off the coup is noteworthy as well. NBC News has a “collaboration agreement” with the outfit that these days publishes Greenwald’s work — First Look Media, the venture funded by billionaire and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Greenwald is a staffer at the Intercept, First Look’s digital magazine on national security matters.
So did the Greenwald “collaboration agreement” snare the Snowden interview for NBC News? For starters, Snowden is a strong-willed sort unlikely to take interview orders from anyone, though his relationship with Greenwald is airtight (he’s in a just-published selfie with Greenwald & Co. in Russia). According to the network source, NBC News approached Snowden via several avenues, one of them being through Greenwald. Though Greenwald didn’t negotiate the terms of the agreement, the NBC News source concedes that Greenwald is among a small number of people who can assist in making contact with Snowden, who is living in Moscow.
In a post that appeared on social media sites earlier on Thursday, photos of Greenwald and Snowden posing with journalist Laura Poitras and Greenwald's husband David Miranda showed them all together in Russia:
— The Intercept (@the_intercept) May 22, 2014