So you're a mainstream media organization and you're about to book Glenn Greenwald on your show or feature him in an interview segment. And why not? He just broke a story that everyone is falling all over himself to agree is one of the most significant news items of the last several years; it only makes sense that you and your organization would want to be granted an audience with the world's new Hero Journalist, the man whose fearlessness and tenacity supposedly puts you and your kind to shame and reminds us all how important the Fourth Estate can be as a check against rampant governmental corruption and the authorities' ongoing violation of our precious civil liberties.
While Greenwald may be unfamiliar to many average Americans and most established news organizations consider him little more than a footnote in the modern press -- an intelligent but stridently utopian-minded provocateur operating right at the event horizon where journalism plunges off into unapologetic advocacy -- we here at The Daily Banter have had a long and fruitful relationship with him. Most who write about or argue politics on the internet know Greenwald and few have a neutral opinion of him, but we really do think we're special here at Banter -- that we're experts in the study of "Glennology" -- because of the sheer volume of copy we've managed to glean from his very existence upon this planet, to say nothing of his ongoing contributions to political shtick.
So, with that in mind, we'd like to offer our services to the various mainstream news organizations who are now lining up to kiss Glenn's ring in the wake of his stories in The Guardian on the NSA's apparent data-mining of American citizens through telephone and tech companies and his interview with the man behind the leak, 29-year-old Edward Snowden. Talking to Glenn Greenwald, particularly if you're an "establishment" news outlet, isn't the same as talking to any regular doof off the street; you've got to be prepared and be on guard at all times for reasons that will become clear presently. The best advice we can give you right off the bat is that when dealing with Greenwald, it's important to keep in mind the words of Tangina Barrons to the hapless Freeling family as it prepared to confront the ghost that was terrorizing it in the 1982 film Poltergiest: Clear your mind -- it knows what scares you.
1. Glenn Greenwald Is Always Smarter/Better Than You This morning on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Greenwald got into a minor tiff with show co-host Mika Brzezinski when she dared to question the conclusions he drew in his reporting, namely that what the NSA has been doing for years is very likely illegal. Brzezinski asked whether there's been any judicial oversight of the data-mining program, which would, ostensibly, make it not necessarily a good idea but also not illegal. Greenwald, of course, wasn't having any of that, particularly considering where the questioning of his claims was coming from: a highly-paid, highly-placed puppet of the government and stenographer of its propaganda. He immediately accused Brzezinski of reading "White House talking points" which were false. Because that's how Greenwald operates: If you work for a major media organization and you don't see things Glenn's way, which you very likely won't because you're at least somewhat tethered to a desire to report objectively, your unquestioning fealty to authority instantly renders your opinion worthless. Glenn Greenwald, you see, is journalistic integrity's last man standing and is therefore always within his right to condescendingly lecture you. This is especially true when we get to point number two...
2. Glenn Greenwald Is Always Right Over the weekend, not more than a couple of days after the initial report from Greenwald broke, Bob Cesca picked apart the findings of both Greenwald and The Washington Post, revealing the ways in which their respective stories, while not without substance, were nowhere near the bombshells they were being touted as. The Washington Post almost immediately began adjusting its story and making "clarifications," essentially covering its ass in the wake of shoddy and misleading reporting, but Greenwald stood firm. Why? Because he's incapable of admitting to mistakes or seeing nuance, even when pointed out by intelligent and well-meaning sources. Greenwald's version of reality is reality and his viewpoint remains intransigent even when facts come to light that thoroughly contradict his claims. Not only that, but Greenwald has smugly deemed for all of journalism -- and really the American citizenry in general -- what its priorities should be, which trespasses truly rise to the level of high crimes and which can be overlooked in the name of serving the greater good, as determined by Glenn Greenwald. And as with Mika Brzezinski -- and many, many others -- if you dare to confront Greenwald or to question his credibility or his motives, get ready for his signature response...
3. Glenn Greenwald Is Almost Certainly Going To Call You Names at Some Point Being a good journalist is a little like being a scientist: You should constantly be testing your theory and findings for signs of confirmation bias or an agenda that's getting the better of your commitment to the truth. In other words, you should be trying to prove yourself wrong as often as you're trying to prove yourself right. Greenwald, for all his insufferably sanctimonious journalistic posturing, is driven by an unwavering agenda and determined to obsessively propagate a singular narrative -- that President Obama is bad. Over the past few years, first at Salon and now at The Guardian, he's regularly drawn from a grab bag of dirty tricks and offenses to journalistic integrity both in his columns and in the defense of his opinions. They include innuendo, personal smears, outright lies, unsupported claims, and statements rife with unacknowledged hypocrisy. Just two months ago, in an expansive and exhaustively detailed piece, The Daily Kos picked apart a series of Greenwald stories and the conclusion it came to -- what it dubbed "The Final Word on Glenn Greenwald" -- was anything but ambiguous:
"He mixes high-concept political commentary with the lowest forms of tabloid propaganda in service to a religiously anti-Obama narrative, cavalierly dispenses with even the barest semblance of truth, honesty, and intelligent thought when it suits him, applies double standards and doublespeak when convenient, and is rewarded for it with major online media syndication. In other words, he is far more a part of the problem than any likely role the remainder of his content could play in solutions. There will always be a market for lazy, exploitive, tabloid demagoguery that conceals and distracts far more than it illuminates or focuses, but there will also always be people who see it for what it is and call it out. That doesn't mean Greenwald's articles should never be used as a conduit to other information, but in light of his routine and unrepentant excesses as an allegedly professional commentator, there is no justification for ever using him as a direct or sufficient source. However, whatever the problems with his own commentary and interpretations, he may be considered indirectly useful as a link aggregator toward more credible sources than himself."
Greenwald consistently and almost exclusively writes about four or five subjects. They're his pet issues and they illustrate his belief that they're not only above reproach but, again, that they're more important than any other issues that may expose hypocrisy on Greenwald's part. Disagree and you'll be relentlessly attacked by Greenwald, who will either call you names or simply question your credibility on the matter. If you don't think Bradley Manning is a saint and a hero and that the potential for him to have put lives in danger by exposing classified national security material to the public isn't as important as everyone knowing America's dirty secrets -- or if you believe drone technology is an imperfect but necessary deterrent to future attacks on the U.S. -- you're a sociopath. If you take a stand against drone warfare that's really nothing more than a giant helping of self-serving stagecraft, then it won't matter if the rest of your political beliefs and pursuits are deplorable, you're worth lauding. If you see nuance in President Obama's positions on various controversial subjects and don't consider his administration to be the equivalent of Bush's indelibly corrupt reign and legacy, you're a "cultist." Again, he's never wrong. And not only are you wrong if you disagree with him -- you're an idiot.
We're of course not saying that Glenn Greenwald isn't worth talking to about his NSA story. In fact, we're not even saying that Greenwald's NSA story isn't a story (although it's certainly not the story Glenn wants the world to believe it is). What we hope to do by creating this little Greenwald primer is educate the unfamiliar -- in Greenwald's eyes, the ignorant -- so that any media organization that puts itself in the unenviable position of daring to speak to Glenn in a way that isn't 100% affirming of his journalistic prowess and doesn't stroke his leviathan ego to completion knows what it's getting itself into. We have no doubt that, since this is the internet, some will accuse us here at The Daily Banter of engaging in ad hominem attacks against Greenwald. Here's the thing about that, though: What some would call ad hominem, we can easily defend as simply asking that, when you're dealing with Glenn Greenwald, you consider the source. Greenwald's report may not be completely riddled with inaccuracies, but he's not reporting in a vacuum; his "bombshell" is the culmination of an obsessive dislike for the Obama administration -- and any report that influenced by agenda always needs to be eyed with suspicion and gone over with a fine-toothed comb.
Glenn Greenwald has been looking to take down Obama and feed his own depthless narcissism for years now. He just managed to accomplish one of these goals in spades: If you're a mainstream media outlet thinking of giving him airtime or copy space, you're naturally increasing his visibility. Just be warned about what you're up against. It damn sure isn't the intellectual and journalistic honesty and relentless quest for the truth Greenwald would have you believe.