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Scheer Intelligence

Robert Scheer's Top 10 Interviews of 2017

Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer. (Benjamin Dunn / CC 2.0)

Almost every week this year, Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer spent an hour interviewing one or more extraordinary guests for his podcast “Scheer Intelligence.” Including such activist icons as Dolores Huerta and television legend Norman Lear, the guests offered insight across an expanse of topics.

Scheer’s most popular programs of the year generally had a common element: Almost all the interviewees were highly provocative, among them whistleblowers, former CIA analysts and even filmmakers who sparred with the veteran journalist over subjects like nuclear war, U.S.-Russia relations and science.

Below, check out 10 of the most popular and thought-provoking interviews of 2017.

10. A Former CIA Analyst Explains Why Denuclearization Is Crucial to Stabilizing U.S.-Russia Relations

Melvin Goodman, who resigned from the CIA in 1990 over corruption involving top officials in the agency, draws upon his four decades of work in American intelligence. Listen to the full interview below, or click on the link above to read a full transcript.

9. Daniel Ellsberg: Why There Aren’t More Whistleblowers

Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, delves into his reasons for becoming a whistleblower and explains why Richard Nixon didn’t use nuclear weapons in the Vietnam War. Listen to the full interview below, or click on the link above to read a full transcript.

8. Erwin Chemerinsky: What Students Don’t Get About Free Speech

Scheer tackles another crucial issue of 2017 with constitutional law expert Erwin Chemerinsky: freedom of speech on university campuses. Chemerinsky explains that the current generation of college students is misunderstanding free speech, especially when it comes to incendiary right-wing speakers like Milo Yiannopoulos. Listen to the full interview below, or click on the link above to read a full transcript.

7. The Insanity of a New Cold War: A Top Russian Scholar Sounds the Alarm

Russian-born professor Sergei Plekhanov, who teaches at York University in Toronto, explains why Western beliefs about Russia aren’t accurate. “I’ve never voted for Putin as a Russian, and I’m not a Putin supporter,” he says. “I’m an academic who’s trying to make sense of what’s happening in the world. And I’m appalled at the quality of reporting on Russia that dominates the media here in the West.” Listen to the full interview below.

6. Security Pro Peter Kornbluh: What Government Has Been Hiding

Another big story this year was the declassification of the “JFK Files.” Peter Kornbluh, an analyst with the National Security Archive and director of the archive’s Cuba and Chile documentation projects, explains what we can learn about the involvement of the CIA in the past with revolutionary leader Che Guevara, the Cuban missile crisis and the assassination of President Kennedy. Listen to the full interview below, or click on the link above to read a full transcript.

5. Interviews with Willie Nelson: Part One and Part Two

In a rare break from the provocative material of the other top interviews, Scheer sat down with acclaimed musician and activist Willie Nelson for a two-part interview. Nelson condemns aspects of President Trump’s administration, but the two also discuss Nelson’s childhood, his musical influences and his advocacy for marijuana. Listen to the full interviews below, or click on the links above to read full transcripts.

4. Former CIA Analyst Ray McGovern on the CIA’s History of Disseminating Faulty Intelligence

Ray McGovern spent 27 years with the CIA, beginning in President Kennedy’s era and ending in George H.W. Bush’s administration. After leaving the agency, McGovern co-created the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, an organization of former intelligence officers protesting the use of faulty intelligence to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Listen to the full interview below, or click on the link above to read a full transcript.

3. Interviews with filmmaker Oliver Stone: Part One and Part Two

Oliver Stone made headlines this year for his controversial television series “The Putin Interviews,” and during this two-part interview with Scheer he discusses his decision to focus on larger-than-life figures in his projects. The two also discuss U.S. military exploits, surveillance and transformation of the American economy in the wide-ranging interview. Listen to the full interviews below, or click on the links above to read full transcripts.

2. Is the GMO Scare a Marketing Scam? 

This interview with Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Scott Hamilton Kennedy generated hundreds of comments as Truthdig readers heatedly debated GMO science. Kennedy tells Scheer that he aims to cut through what he claims is the false science surrounding GMOs in his new film “Food Evolution,” which posits that fear of GMOs has been harnessed by companies to sell organic products. Listen to the full interview below, or click on the link above to read a full transcript.

1. Former Defense Secretary Warns Civilization Is at Risk

In a year filled with concern over potential nuclear war, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Scheer’s discussion with former Secretary of Defense William Perry resonated with so many readers. “We stand today, I believe, in greater danger of nuclear catastrophe than we faced during the Cold War,” Perry, who served in the Pentagon under Presidents Carter and Reagan before becoming President Clinton’s secretary of defense in 1994, tells Scheer. This interview was conducted on Aug. 9, 2017, the 72nd anniversary of the U.S. nuclear attack on Nagasaki. Listen to the full interview below, or click on the link above to read a full transcript.

Be sure to check out the entire year of “Scheer Intelligence,” complete with transcripts, here.

–Posted by Emma Niles

Robert Scheer
Editor in Chief
Robert Scheer, editor in chief of Truthdig, has built a reputation for strong social and political writing over his 30 years as a journalist. His columns appear in newspapers across the country, and his…
Robert Scheer

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