Yesterday, Chez Pazienza and I ran a satirical piece on Glenn Greenwald, asking for readers to come up with porn titles specific to the topics the Guardian columnist writes about (the NSA, Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, Drones etc etc). The piece was a joke and wasn’t meant to distract people from Greenwald’s journalistic endeavors.
I received quite a few emails/facebook comments from people who were not amused by the piece, saying we were attacking a journalist who was doing very serious and important work. By making fun of Greenwald we were smearing him and therefore diminishing his contribution to the NSA/Drones/Bradley Manning scandals.
I actually read Greenwald regularly and agree with around 80% of what he writes. He does do some pretty serious lifting when it comes to monitoring the ever expanding security state, and overall I’m glad he’s doing it as opposed to not doing it. I think Greenwald has made some very basic and stupid errors in the reporting of the NSA leaks, but he has nevertheless drawn attention to a very important topic that deserves to be debated.
Regardless of all the work he does, Greenwald is still a pompous asshole. I’ve heard from multiple sources that he’s a giant pain to deal with, isn’t pleasant in person, and as we know, engages in petty personal vendettas (for example, he has blocked the entire staff at The Daily Banter from following him on Twitter). To boot, Greenwald focuses on a couple of topics and demands everyone else acknowledges them to be the most important topics known to mankind. He has appointed himself chief savior and protector of civil liberties in America, and commands an army of dedicated followers who hang on his every word. It’s insanely annoying talking to his acolytes who repeat his talking points, particularly as they seem to adopt a complete ‘no sense of humor’ Greenwald persona when talking about drones, the NSA and Bradley Manning. I don’t like drones, I think the NSA is violating civil liberties, and I think there’s a very strong case that Bradly Manning has been badly mistreated by the US government. I just don’t want to hear about it EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY.
Anyway, my point is as follows; just because you are a ‘very serious person’ doesn’t mean you are above satire. Greenwald takes himself incredibly seriously, a very good indicator of extreme narcissism and a highly exaggerated sense of self. They may be positive attributes when it comes to creating a public persona, but they are not particularly positive when it comes to being a good human being.
I’m almost 100% positive that Greenwald would view our porn title competition as some sort of coordinated, Orwellian attack on his character and unimpeachable journalism. Greenwald can never laugh at himself because that would detract from the seriousness of what he does, and he can never accept being wrong because that would undermine his carefully crafted perception of himself.
And that’s why someone has to do it for him.
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.