Generally speaking, I respect Salon’s Glenn Greenwald – he’s a serious journalist and commentator, and has done a great deal of work to expose some of the awful things the US government gets up to. However, I’m starting to find his writing irritating beyond belief. Greenwald’s relentless attacks on government and the establishment Left are so monotone that his criticisms just seem boring rather than relevant. Greenwald adopts a holier than thou approach to his writing and takes a strict, constructionist view of politics. Greenwald is a former constitutional lawyer, so it’s certainly understandable, but if you’re looking for nuance and an understanding of the real world, Greenwald is not your man. Take for example, his recent attack on Raw Story for publishing a blog that posted a silly and baseless rumor about Scott Walker having a love child. It was an embarrassing episode for Raw Story, but Greenwald took it upon himself to smear the entire publication – not because it published something silly, but because it dares to publish writers who support the President. The sarcasm and smugness literally oozes from every sentence in Greenwald’s piece. Just check out the intro:
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.
I understand the need for journalists to hold both sides of the political spectrum accountable, but Greenwald’s belief that anyone who focuses on the good things government do, or the positive aspects of Obama’s Presidency is automatically a sell out and a hack, is just plain wrong.
I take the view that much of what the US government does is illegal both constitutionally and according to international law. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, rendition, wire tapping, torture, the list goes on. I agree with Greenwald that these are serious issues and should be covered by the media – they usually aren’t, and Greenwald should definitely get credit for drawing attention to them. But the government also does good things, and some writers like to draw attention to those things too, particularly when faced with the nihilistic Republican Party bent on dismantling what is left of government. That doesn’t make you a hack – it means you live in the real world where people, politicians and government are both good and bad. Greenwald is lucky – he doesn’t have any actual responsibilities, he doesn’t have to make any decisions, or compromise to get things done – he gets to lecture everyone else and never, ever be wrong.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.