Welcome to this weeks edition of The Daily Banter mailbag!! Today, Bob, Ben, Chez and Banter blogger Jessica Furst discuss the NSA eavesdropping story, a potential homicide hinging on Snowden and Sarah Palin's return to Fox News.
1. I have to know how you can spend so much time tearing down Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden and so little time expressing outrage over what they've uncovered. It's intellectually dishonest and proves that you're just another authoritarian arm of the mainstream press. Shame on you.
Chez: Because neither Greenwald nor Snowden have proven that they can be trusted and the claims they're making are massive ones. Greenwald has a history of innuendo, personal smears, hypocrisy, and outright lying in the advancement of a stridently anti-Obama and anti-left-right paradigm agenda, which means that I need his story to be airtight before I believe it because as he's selling it now it just too perfectly proves his entire worldview. I said it earlier this week but I'll repeat myself: Despite Greenwald's smug self-aggrandizing belief that he's journalistic integrity's last man standing, he's actually a terrible journalist. If he were a good journalist he'd be something like a scientist: constantly trying to prove himself wrong as often as he's trying to prove himself right to guard against confirmation bias or his agenda getting the better of his commitment to the truth. Yes, he and Snowden obviously exposed a program that's worthy of drawing controversy, but so far it doesn't live up to the exaggerations they've touted it with, and that could very well mean they're taking everyone for a ride. The story has already been walked back quite a bit, but Greenwald and I bet Snowden as well know full well that it doesn't matter; all that matters is that first GOTCHA that creates a million headlines. The facts can be sorted out later. Greenwald's been trying to drop a bomb into the middle of American politics and the Obama administration for years and he just did it -- that needs to be eyed with all kinds of suspicion. Also, Snowden gave away information on U.S. cyberwarfare to an enemy of the U.S. In my eyes that turns him from a conscientious objector into an out-and-out traitor. So fuck him.
Ben: Ben: I've taken a bit of a back seat on this issue as Bob has done the heavy lifting on the story, so my opinion probably doesn't carry as much weight. I'll say this though - the story is important and reveals some things about what the NSA is up to that we didn't know before. We covered the story in an unbiased way at first, linking to appropriate stories and expressing outrage at the initial findings (see mine and Bob's responses in the mailbag last week, and Kojo Koram's critical piece here). The thing is, Greenwald and Snowden's version of events isn't holding up to scrutiny and it severely damages their claims. I'm all up for slamming the government, but it needs to be done with accurate FACTS, not conjecture and innuendo. We're an "authoritarian arm of the mainstream press"? Seriously? There's nothing 'mainstream' about us whatsoever my friend. We're self run, and have a strict 'say what you want' policy when it comes to editorial.
Bob: At this point, Greenwald's credibility is rapidly shrinking, so there's very little in his reporting I can actually believe. Beyond that, were you this outraged the numerous other times this story has made news going all the way back to 2006? It's old news. The NSA gathers data from phone calls and emails. Did you know the Obama administration policed NSA abuses back in April of 2009? Did you know that PRISM was unclassified and generally known among anyone who follows NSA operations? I think you're outraged because Glenn Greenwald told you this is outrageous. And by the way, I've written extensively against government overreach in the war on terrorism, including multiple chapters in my 2008 book, not to mention posts about everything from the TSA and naked body scanners to warrantless wiretapping. Don't presume to know what I've written without actually being familiar with the thousands of posts I've published onnline since 2005.
Jessica: Being intellectually dishonest is way better than any other dishonesty. And you're the first American (John, I'm assuming you're American) to ever say 'shame on me,' to me. This feels like a momentous event. So thank you.
2. My boyfriend is pro-Snowden. I think he's a traitorous little prick. Do you have any advice on how best to keep us from from killing each other?
Ben: I'm wondering how long you two have been dating Trish? I went out with a Republican evangelical some years ago and spent much of the relationship arguing with her. In hindsight, it was completely pointless. She was a great girl who just happened to have diametrically opposed views to my own, and a lot of energy was spent on things we'd never agree on. If you like the guy, don't talk about it. If you don't like him that much, bring it up all the time and you'll probably end up splitting. It's as simple as that.
Bob: Just send him links to The Daily Banter, and don't say another word to him about it. We'll do the heavy lifting for you -- and we might just save your relationship.
Jessica: Trish, I've always thought of myself as capable of becoming a brilliant agony aunt and you have finally provided me with the opportunity. I'm forever grateful. My advice is as follows: If you hate Snowden so much and your boyfriend loves him, can you just not talk about it? Avoidance in relationships is one of the key points in its very survival (alongside rotating picking up dirty laundry, doing the dishes and not saying that your boyfriend has eaten a few too many burgers lately). I firmly believe if you can get through this, you can get through anything. If it's not too much to ask, I would like to be notified of when the wedding will be taking place.
Chez: I'd go out of my way to make him believe he was being watched by the NSA. Open up a new WiFi router and call it "PRISM," pick up the phone when he's on it and say nothing, etc. Either that or you could just do the world a favor and kill him in his sleep.
3.So Sarah Palin is coming back to Fox. That's all.
Chez: Yes. Yes it is.
Bob: Fox News focus groups clearly demanded more jutty-jawed, sibilant word salad.
Jessica: I only wish the UK had its own Sarah Palin. She talks weird, she says really weird things and she looks weird. We're stuck with a load of men all fighting over who can cut more money from our ever growing deficit. I want someone like Sarah, all gun-toting and crazy. And for Julianne Moore to play them in a movie. It would be brilliant.
Ben: They're clever cookies over at Fox. Palin is an idiot who can't string a meaningful sentence together, but she creates controversy. And controversy sells. Liberals will post clips of her saying idiotic things (including us), conservatives will defend her by getting into fights with liberals etc etc etc and voila - Fox's numbers go up. That's the game we're in, sadly.
In our mission to ridicule politicians, celebrities and anyone vaguely famous, we're going to be running a quote at the end of each mailbag where you, our readers, decide who you think said something ridiculous. This week's quote:
"I'm undaunted in my quest to amuse myself by constantly changing my hair."
Was it John Boehner, Madonna, Hillary Clinton or Cher?
Answers below! (we'll update at the end of the day!)
UPDATE: And the answer is.....here!