(Photo: Slain journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley.)
Throughout his career as a journalist and blogger, and especially during the past year, The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald has positioned himself as a defender of journalists. At its core, this is a noble pursuit. The press is the only industry specifically named in the Bill of Rights, making its protection of vital interest to American democracy.
Greenwald, however, has been attempting to expand the definition of "journalist" into questionable areas. Hackers like Barrett Brown should be protected as journalists. Greenwald's partner, David Miranda, was vocally defended by Greenwald as being a journalist simply by acting as a courier of stolen NSA and GCHQ documents. For most of 2013, he refused to re-enter the U.S. for fear of being arrested for "doing his journalism," even though other national security reporters like Barton Gellman continued to cover the Snowden documents while living inside the U.S.
So, in the wake of the ISIS beheading of two American journalists, you'd think Greenwald might not only devote some of his visibility to mourn their losses at the hands of a relentlessly brutal enemy, but might also condemn the ISIS terrorists who tortured and murdered James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Considering how he directly covers the unjust punishing and prosecution of journalists, along with matters related to the Middle East, you'd think he'd be all over this one. Yet as of this writing, nothing. Well, not necessarily nothing nothing. Greenwald has indeed been tweeting about ISIS, but mostly downplaying the threat while snarking at Vice President Biden's "gates of hell" remarks, and mocking western efforts to target and pursue the terrorist group.
And the only thing he's written outside of Twitter regarding the Foley murder was a post on The Intercept in which he attacked Twitter for suspending users who posted photos and videos of the beheading.
Look, no one should expect Greenwald to suddenly endorse military action against ISIS. But to build so much of his career around defending journalists, only to virtually ignore the beheadings of two American journalists seems, at the very least, wildly inconsistent. But to additionally mock the U.S.'s response less than 24 hours after the latest beheading further exposes what Greenwald is really all about: snarking and trolling. His defense of journalists ends at the borders of the U.S. and the U.K., while incongruously tip-toeing around atrocities committed against journalists by enemies of America and England.
Worse, he clearly thinks it's hilarious to toss around jokes and memes in the context of two beheaded journalists. Set aside whatever you might think of Greenwald, and this alone is crass and unforgivable.