When former Trump aide and Teaneck resident Jason Greenblatt left the White House in 2019, he worked toward creating connections between businesses in Israel and the Gulf region—as it were, an “Abraham Venture.” Or at least that’s what he named his company, nearly an entire year before the signing of the Abraham Accords. Amid his busy life of building peace in the Middle East, Greenblatt began designing a space where people who disagree on certain key issues could still come together and discuss perspectives respectfully.
Greenblatt’s idea for this platform manifested itself in the creation of “The Diplomat,” a podcast launched a few months ago with Newsweek. The first three episodes, published simultaneously in August 2021, each included big names: former United States Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and former Senator Joe Lieberman. Since then, Greenblatt has recorded and released one episode a week, ranging in topics from politics to business and media.
“The world I inhabited during [my] three years at the White House was complicated, inspiring, challenging and moving,” Greenblatt wrote in a Newsweek piece for the podcast launch. “Each leader, diplomat and politician had their own priorities; each was colored by their own interpretation of the historical, economic, sociological and political issues involved. Essential to any form of progress we made was understanding the many elements that contributed to the making of each point of view and to trying to create a bridge between the sides, if possible.”
And that’s what “The Diplomat,” aims to do: create a bridge between the sides, and the different perspectives that exist. “I felt we were missing the type of discourse that could lead to progress and could lead to people developing relationships,” Greenblatt explained.
Each episode of the podcast is conceptualized by Greenblatt, usually generated by conversations he has during the week, “although sometimes Newsweek makes suggestions for guests,” he noted. Even with some controversial topics and guests, including his most recent episode, which covers the Wall Street Journal investigation on Facebook, Greenblatt has experienced cordial and engaging conversations without any inflammatory remarks or anger.
“I ask tough questions, but they’re not ‘gotcha’ questions,” Greenblatt said. “They’re questions to really try to get a thoughtful answer. I try to provoke people into thinking more deeply about the issues, and [realize] that not everything is black and white all the time. We don’t have the answers to everything.”
Greenblatt explained that he’s had a relatively easy time recruiting guests to speak with him on hot topics. “I think people respect the idea of having a space to discuss these things,” he shared. “I’m not approaching them to back them into a corner, but to really hear their ideas, and I ask tough questions in a respectful way.”
Once Greenblatt confirms a topic for the week’s episode, he records his interviews at home, with a Newsweek producer on the line to assist. “It’s almost like being in the studio,” he remarked. Newsweek’s production team manages the editing, and once it’s been reviewed by Greenblatt, the podcast goes out to Newsweek’s audience as well as Greenblatt’s personal network.
But, as Greenblatt explained, he hopes that “The Diplomat” reaches as wide an audience as possible—including teens and young adults.
“Maybe my 10-year-old is too young, but my 15-year-old is absolutely a target audience,” Greenblatt said. “Many of these topics are what teens are talking about. They’re talking about Instagram and Facebook. They’re talking about Nikki Haley and Trump. They’re really talking about everything. These teens are so much more sophisticated than ever before.”
Greenblatt went on to explain that anyone who is struggling to keep up with the extremes in media perspectives should give his podcast a listen. “People hear so much in the media that’s very conclusory, in a way that I think doesn’t reflect reality. I want the widest audience possible to benefit from the topics I choose.”
With many more intriguing episodes to come, Greenblatt hopes everyone will give “The Diplomat” a listen. Stream the podcast on Spotify or visit https://art19.com/shows/the-diplomat to hear the latest.
By Channa Fischer