By Ben Cohen: Part of me feels bad for doing this - I don't dislike Glenn Greenwald, and I'd rather focus on the positive work he does, but part of The Daily Banter's mission is to have an ongoing conversation with our readers and it looks like the topic isn't going away just yet. In response to my last post on Greenwald's pious lecturing, a couple of readers took me to task for failing to provide examples of Greenwald's distasteful writing. Wrote Mark Smith in the comments section:
Maybe you could provide some quotes that demonstrate your claim that GG is setting himself up as a sole arbiter of the truth. I read this hoping I might learn something about another point of view, and there's not much there to work with.
I did actually, in my previous blog post (linked in the article). But here it is again - Glenn Greenwald lambasting Raw Story for not measuring up to his standards on ethical journalism:
Raw Story is a moderately well-read political outlet that touts itself as “a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media.” It recently began publishing a blog devoted exclusively to venerating the President and sliming his critics: because that’s so edgy, brave and rare; after all, the meek “MSM” would never dare glorify the nation’s most powerful political official and the party in power, so we really need a brave, dissident anti-MSM site like Raw Story to provide that.
Maybe Greenwald was having a bad day and was feeling particularly vindictive, but this type of sarcasm leveled at a site that is generally speaking very good, just isn't necessary. Greenwald's major problem with Raw Story is that it focuses on the misdeeds of the GOP rather than Obama and the Democrats, and Greenwald for some reason finds it personally offensive.
Take for example, this headline from his blog last week:
Whether you agree with Obama's drone policy in Pakistan or not (and I don't), it's probably accurate to say that Obama isn't sitting in his office figuring out ways to attack rescuers and kill mourners. US foreign policy is, and almost always has been particularly nasty, but this is largely a function of its institutions that codify things like torture, drone attacks, rendition etc, not the President coming up with ways of hurting women and small children, as Greenwald would have everyone think. Headlines like this simply turn people off and stop then listening. If Greenwald had written "Obama's Drone Policy Responsible for Killing Mourners", I bet that many more readers would dig into his interesting and well substantiated article (and it is definitely worth reading). Instead, he hyperventilates and turns off thousands of readers who really do need to understand what is happening in Pakistan.
Another far more serious example of Greenwald's irresponsible and self defeating screeching was a horrifically offensive tweet he sent out comparing a Jewish Obama supporter to Nazi film propagandist Leni Riefenstahl. Greenwald later tweeted to 'rescind' his 'invocation of Leni Reifenstahl' after an outcry (notice his high handed choice of words - he could have just said sorry), but the pattern is a familiar one.
Another reader, Martin Danz chimed in with a list of Greenwald's relentless assaults on liberals who don't agree with him:
You can start with his relentless months-long blacklisting of Justice Elena Kagan when Greenwald was tirelessly making her and the president over as an Obot-usurping apologist for Obama's planned illegal takeover of the U.S. Constitution, of course.
When president Obama, who had campaigned all along and was elected to get us out of Iraq-- quietly got us out of Iraq-- Greenwald didn't hesitate to pass on the memory of all that death and criminality of Bush Republican war crimes and treason to Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden in a laughable miscarriage of justice.
Greenwald doesn't really fight fair, as much as he scratches and claws, often wildly.
What's worse, he essentially blew off what is arguably the challenge of our lifetimes with all the corporate money now pouring in to overrun American democracy, and when the president stood up in front of the country and declared the Citizen's United decision an act of war on democracy-- getting the silent "you-lie!" Joe Wilson treatment from a visibly retarded Samuel Alito-- Greenwald shrugged and dismissed the decision and reaction as an acceptable norm. I think the new meme in that circle of jerks is that Obama taking money from Hollywood is no better than Republicans taking money from oil corporations. Go figure. I actually think Ben Cohen is being too kind.
I don't necessarily completely disagree with Greenwald on the actual issues (although I think he was way off the mark with Citizens United), but I do disagree with the tone and the obsessiveness - both of which make his writing tiring and increasingly niche. It should be remembered that Greenwald supported George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan in the first place - an issue he almost never talks about anymore. Why? Because Greenwald's opinions don't actually mean anything in the real world. He can shout and scream all he wants and there will rarely be significant consequence other than more people visiting his blog or turning off the TV. Had Greenwald been in an actual position of power when he wanted to bomb two defenseless countries, he would be as criminally culpable as the people he now attacks on a daily basis. But he wasn't, and that's a luxury he'll never fully understand.