Friday, July 19, 2013

Near the Top of the Greenwaldian's Long List of Grievances

is their contention that the Beltway media and secretly-White-House-bankrolled progressive bloggers (Yay!) are colluding with the gummint to distract people from the real NSA story about surveillance and transparency by harping on things like personalities and motives.

Which sounds reasonable.

Now I'm not sure how much of what they see as a coordinated campaign of media distraction is genuine collusion as opposed to laziness and a hardwired reflex for shiny, personality-driven stories. Also, probably because I am an omnivorous news consumer, I haven't noticed any dearth of coverage of the substance of the Mr. Snowden's leaks in my own in-basket.  Also by preceding every leak with a "Transformers V: You!Will!Not!Fucking!Believe!Your!Eyes!"-level of hype  and then revealing stuff that is certainly consequential but often not exactly a "Bombshell That Will Stop Time And Freeze Your Soul!" while slowing paying each new leak out over a longer and longer period, you leave a lot of media slack time open for the ADHD children who run much of the news to talk about strippers and porn.

But as I said, it is a reasonable point.

Which like so many other reasonable points, the Outrage Caucus has frozen in carbonite and reduced to another rigid, binary test of ideological purity.  To even mention anything other the substance of Mr. Snowden's leaks is to reveal oneself indisputably as a fraud and hypocrite in the pocket of the Kenyan Usurper.  To push back at all on any element of the story or to wish-wish-wish that the principal reporter would keep his stampeding ego and petty grudges in check is to stand convicted as a kill-crazed fascist.

This is why we can't have nice things.

And so in order to insure that Very Tight Focus is kept on the substance of the important and consequential NSA leaks and not on distracting side issues like personalities, subjective hypotheticals and acrimonious speculations about the motives of other people, Mr. Glenn Greenwald -- the principal reporter and curator of this very important and consequential NSA surveillance story -- has once again taken matters into his own hands by giving yet another interview to yet another major magazine...

...with is practically groaning under the weight of personalities, subjective hypotheticals and acrimonious speculations about the motives of other people.

When asked about Hendrick Hertzberg comments in The New Yorker:
There’s an important distinction between people who are extremely privileged and who believe in and obey pieties and orthodoxies — people like Hertzberg, who aren’t dissenting from anything and who are basically defenders and supporters of political power, the royal court. The real measure of how free a society is isn’t how its good, obedient servants are treated; it’s how dissidents are treated...So yeah, good little New Yorker writers who love Obama . . . you know, he’s right. For him it is abstract and conjectural. But for people who are engaged in actual critical thinking...
Got that?

To disagree with Mr. Greenwald on any particular and to any degree means that you must be "extremely privileged",  a "good, obedient servant" of the "pieties and orthodoxies", a defender and supporter of "the royal court", a "good little" Obama-lover who is obviously incapable of engaging in "actual critical thinking".  But what elevates this from an everyday, run-of-the-mill Greenwaldian tantrum to the level of grand, comic opera is that just a little further down in the same article, Mr. Greenwald goes out of his way to assure us of the purity of his and Mr. Snowden's motives, because all they really want is a "democratic debate":
If you talk to Snowden, what he’ll say is, “Look, I’m not trying to destroy the surveillance state.” If he were, he could’ve done so many things: he could have sold the documents for millions of dollars to China or Iran; he could have passed them on covertly; he could have dumped them all on the Internet. What he’s trying to do is enable a democratic debate...
And I'm sure it's gonna be one helluva "debate"... just as soon as everyone who disagrees with Mr. Greenwald to the slightest degree is slandered and ejected from the room!

But I digress. 

We were talking about how very, very important it is to keep distracting side issues like personalities, subjective hypotheticals and acrimonious speculations about the motives of other people.  So let's get back to talking about what horrid bastards the Obama Administration are --
What the Obama Administration was going to do was pretty predictable. We knew they were going to accuse him of being a traitor, to depict him as fleeing to China, as having endangered the people to terrorists. They do the same thing in every single case.  
-- and the awfulness of those awful hordes of unnamed, unspecified "Democrats and progressives" -- 
But interestingly the most vicious and vehement attacks on my reporting have come from Democrats. Democrats and progressives are the ones who were my loudest cheerleaders when I was writing this stuff about the Bush Administration, and they’ve become the primary source of hostility and contempt now that I’m writing the same exact stuff about Obama.
-- because to repeat for the cognitively impaired, in Greenworld, although we are repeatedly told that the motive for all of this is -- 
So from the start, the question was, “How can the public’s attention be captured in a way that will engage a real debate?”
-- the non-brain-dead reader will have noticed by now that even the slightest, actual, debate style-pushback against anything that flows from the keyboard of Mr. Greenwald is instantly shredded and dismissed by the Outrage Caucus as a "vicious and vehement" attack by the obedient slaves of imperial power.

But again I digress.

So rather than dwelling on that, let us instead move on to another round of Mr. Greenwald's non-NSA-leak-related acrimonious speculations about the depraved motives of unnamed, unspecified "people" who have shocked and saddened him: 
I remember I would go around in 2007 and 2008 giving speeches about the Bush Administration, and people would sometimes say to me, “Don’t you realize that once Democrats get into office they’re going to do these same things, and all your allies who are now cheering for you are going to support those policies?” And I would say, “I don’t believe that’s true” — like their dignity would not allow them to spend eight years shrieking about the horrors of these policies, only to turn around and support them because a Democrat was doing it. I turned out to be totally wrong.
Then a little story about Mr. Greenwald's gumption:
I definitely knew it was going to take a lot of resolve, right? Because the government relies on this climate of fear. They want you to be scared. But this is what I’ve been working for ever since I started writing about politics and doing journalism. So I was pretty resolved that I wasn’t going to let fear impede what I did. I had to commit to doing it in a really aggressive and adversarial way.
Followed by a little story about Edward Snowden's heroism:
But the thing that really focused me was seeing how courageous Snowden was. I mean, here’s this twenty-nine-year-old kid who has made a conscious choice to subject himself to a substantial risk of being in prison for the rest of his life, and yet he never evinced even a molecule of remorse or regret or fear. He was completely convinced and tranquil about the rightness of his choice.
Followed by another hype of that-which-is-yet-to-come:
And I really believe that the most significant revelations are yet to come. I don’t want to keep previewing that — we’re going to take our time vetting it and reporting it and figuring it all out — but the stuff that has shocked me the most is the stuff we haven’t even written about. 
To be clear, I find none of this objectionable on its face.  But I take huge exception to it when it's coming out of the mouth of someone who is, at the same time, trying to silence anyone who disagrees with him to the slightest degree by insisting that anything which distracts people from the real NSA story about surveillance and transparency by harping on things like personalities and motives is monstrously evil. 


Yastreblyansky said...

1. You know who's privileged? Somebody who lives in Brazil working as a reporter for a very distinguished English newspaper with one single source that has already told him everything he's got. Nice work if you have logorrhea.

2. Greenwald is reponsible, because of carelessness and naiveté, for the dreadful situation Snowden is in.

3. Snowden did express fear once--not of prison, but of prison if he couldn't have his computer, which he hadn't realized. He's pretty brave, but callow.

marindenver said...

HELLOOOOO? hello, hello, hello
ANYBODY HERE??? here, here, here

Wow, no bats at all in this belfry for once. Did you block them all Drifty or are they just giving up?

Anonymous said...

They are penning their carefully crafted, point-for-point rebuttals of Driftglass' observations, marindenver.

You can't rush brilliance; give them time.

-- Nonny Mouse

W. Hackwhacker said...

Thanks for continuing to point out the farcical nature of Mr. Greenwald's complaints. I love you, man!

Anonymous said...

....wait for it.

n1ck said...


There, the trolls can continue lighting candles and saying their prayers for Saint Glenneth Greenwald, rather than wasting their time here.

marindenver said...

Heh, I'm suspecting that there's a lot of whining trolls safely trapped in a moderation dungeon deep, deep below the surface.

I sincerely hope so because these guys contributed nothing to the discussion but drive-by insults.

" I mean, here’s this twenty-nine-year-old kid who has made a conscious choice to subject himself to a substantial risk of being in prison for the rest of his life, and yet he never evinced even a molecule of remorse or regret or fear. He was completely convinced and tranquil about the rightness of his choice."

Everything I've read about Snowden and his "choices" just convinces me that he is an extremely naive young man who blundered onto this path without ever thinking through the consequences of his actions and nothing that Greenwald has written makes me think that he (Greenwald) was unaware of this but didn't care. Possibly Greenwald does care a lot about this issue (and he's not the only one) but I am extremely uncomfortable with his crossover between personal ambition, using this young man and wanting to get the truth out to the public.

Compound F said...

ugh. Now, I know that you have screwed this pooch twelve ways from Tuesday, including spooning it from behind, i.e., giving "friendly" advice to both Greenwald and Snowden, and concede that there is no cure for this fixated manner of horndoggery. Bone it and own it until you are stooped upon a cane, Old Man. It's your sad and trifling legacy in consequential times.

Demian said...

I agree with Yastreblyansky's cogent observations, except the carelessness and naïveté. I see Greenwald instead revealing himself as a Svengali sort of journalist. One wonders if GG ran want ads somewhere until Snowden came along.

Also, maybe the real NSA story is what a swing-and-a-miss the FISA court is. This was not in GG's original draft so far as I can tell.

Fritz Strand said...

Greenwald, as much as I appreciate lots of stuff he has done, is beginning to remind me of a left wing Orrin Hatch. Every time lately I hear Greenwald he is following the pattern of attack Hatch has been using forever - Fact then ad hominem, fact, ad hominem, fact, ad hominem.

Greenwald as a journalist needs to learn when to keep his powder dry.

Anonymous said...

Compound F,

As I expected, you've said nothing about DG's rather specific criticisms. Just more personal slurs.

-- Nonny Mouse

Compound F said...


DG provided his own criticism:

To be clear, I find none of this objectionable on its face. But I take huge exception to it when...

Except that despite the apparent validity of Greenwald's position and those who agree with Greenwald, DG takes HUGE EXCEPTION TO IT WHEN...

DG is talking about bad manners when someone else is complaining about endemic surveillance, rendition, kangaroo courts, and so on. I do hope you understand the nature of DG's own admission; and also understand that his own admission vitiates any need for me to waste my time on point-by-point refutations! I take the logical short-cut: DG's nose is bent, because Greenwald was mean; or perhaps because Greenwald stepped on DG's "Both sides do it is BULLSHIT!" thesis. Whichever one elicits DG's nasal detour, I could care less, because they are both, relatively speaking, totally freaking irrelevant to above-mentioned themes relentlessly harped-on by "Saint Glenneth the Pure," as DG's most fervent dittoheads prefer to derogate. If you cannot understand DG's complaints against Greenwald as a *relatively* insignificant compared to the trespasses of the modern surveillance state, then my niggling with DG will not deliver you to understanding. At all.

kfreed said...

It's entirely possible to read your blog post without actually reading quotes from Greenwald:)

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

and also understand that his own admission vitiates any need for me to waste my time on point-by-point refutations!

Well, that's very convenient for you, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Compound F,

More of the same from you.

You cannot - will not - separate criticism of the man and his methods from criticism of the issues he champions. How unsurprising.

Let me be clear--I understand your niggling with DG perfectly. You think his objections are unimportant and his priorities screwed. I disagree. They are important to DG and he is commenting on his own blog.

Glenn Greenwald has broke a story of great importance about an issue that is one of the two biggest problems of our time. Glenn Greenwald has *not* become Pope of a new religion. Glenn is a human being, not a saint. He has political biases, grudges, and shortcomings that all predate his current advocacy. The importance of his crusade does not render all commentary on Glenn's foibles somehow cardinal sins, regardless of how much you writhe around trying to make is so.

This is all more of the same from you, Compound. Fundamentally you are pissed off and belligerent because someone dares to care about more issues than the one you find most important.

-- Nonny Mouse

Compound F said...

Non, their issues are not in the same league; the issues are different by orders of magnitude. Thus to my mind, DG spends and inordinate amount of time and talent essentially roiling and distracting from indisputable facts that one would think concern bedrock issues of modern liberalism.

Anonymous said...

Compound F,

You are mistaken that he is *distracting* from anything. This is really the root of my problem with you, Compound. Any adult looking at Glenn or DG should be able to parse what they are both saying and separate what they disagree with from what they don't. Similarly, one can also separate opinion from fact, if one is inclined to be rational rather than emotional.

There is not a finite supply of "give a fuck" and Driftglass' blog is not a mass media outlet.

I've tried to tip my hand to you (and Mahakal) a couple of times. I may not in fact agree with everything Driftglass says. I may even think he is a bit fixated on Glenn' foibles. But even if Driftglass is 100% motivated by a giant bug up his ass, it does not mean that his observations about Glenn's media style are incorrect. Conversely, even if DG is correct about Glenn, it does not invalidate the substance of Glenn's reporting.

Moreover, I think you are mistaken about what the magnitude of Glenn's issues entitles you to. You may feel that DG should turn the other cheek and accept whatever abuse Glenn pitches leftward but you cannot *demand* that he do so. You certainly cannot throw a fit and descend into ad hominem (ratfucker, dogfucker, paid whore, deranged, etc.) simply because he disappoints you. At least you can't do those things and then claim the moral high ground, contrary to what you may think.

Yeah, I know. You're going to handwave away my critique *and* Driftglass' narrative about Glenn, yet again. He is obsessed with "niceties", which seems mind-boggling and self-contradictory coming from a man with his written history, and all of our objections are just small potatoes anyway, you're going to say.

The problem is, many of us do not regard the remaining differences between the two major political parties to be unimportant, nor do we concede that caring about domestic politics is foolish. Nor should you, as the party with the better response to the misery people are enduring every day will probably end up with the political power to address the issues you care about most-the ones that affect the long term health of society.

-- Nonny Mouse

Anonymous said...

Let me put it another, less long-winded way, Compound.

The indisputable facts you are talking about *are* bedrock issues of modern liberalism. But so are a whole bunch of "other" things, to one degree or another.

The indisputable facts that our liberal camp is caught up on are pretty simple: one of two parties is going to win, both are degrees of terrible on the issues that command all of you attention, only one of them is terrible on the "other" issues that we also care about.

There is no realistic decision but to make lemon-aid; and that's why DG won't surrender the fight when he thinks Glenn is pushing all the blame onto the left. Sorry.

-- Nonny Mouse

blader said...

The fact that Greenwald is holding back info while penning a book about Snowdengate says everything you need to know about him and his motivations.

He's a "journalist" the same way Woodward has been a "journalist" the last few decades.