The Quarantine Tapes

The Quarantine Tapes 128: Suzanne Nossel

Episode Summary

“The complete erosion of trust and truth in our country where no one knows what to believe...what will it take to restore faith in fact-based discourse? Because that has been substantially undermined.”

Episode Notes

On episode 128 of The Quarantine Tapes, Paul Holdengräber is joined by Suzanne Nossel. Suzanne is the Chief Executive Officer of PEN America, an organization that advocates for the right to free expression. Suzanne recently published Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All, a book that examines the current threats to free speech and provides guidance for how to promote and defend free expression in our lives.

Paul and Suzanne discuss how PEN has adapted their work to a virtual environment. They dig into the greatest threats to free speech at the moment, including the current US administration and the decline of local journalism. Suzanne offers a sharp and critical look at the risks posed by the control and censorship on social media platforms, legislation curbing the right to protests, and the erosion of trust in credible, fact-based journalism.


Suzanne Nossel is Chief Executive Officer at PEN America. Prior to joining PEN America, she served as the Chief Operating Officer of Human Rights Watch and as Executive Director of Amnesty International USA. She has served in the Obama Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, leading US engagement in the UN and multilateral institutions on human right issues, and in the Clinton Administration as Deputy to the US Ambassador for UN Management and Reform. Nossel coined the term “Smart Power,” which was the title of a 2004 article she published in Foreign Affairs Magazine and later became the theme of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tenure in office. She is a featured columnist for Foreign Policy magazine and has published op-eds in The New York Times, Washington Post, and LA Times, as well as scholarly articles in Foreign Affairs, Dissent, and Democracy, among others. Nossel serves on the Board of Directors of the Tides Foundation. She is a former senior fellow at the Century Foundation, the Center for American Progress, and the Council on Foreign Relations. Nossel is a magna cum laude graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Law School.