Green Room

Defining Glenn Greenwald

posted at 6:49 pm on August 19, 2013 by

Today, Ed provided some in-depth coverage of the UK detainment of Glenn Greenwald’s civil union partner, David Miranda. I have to take exception with something from Ed’s write-up, and it’s found right in the opening paragraph.

The UK can detain anyone crossing its borders for nine hours without charges under Schedule 7 of its Terrorism Act, using that time to determine whether a suspect constitutes a terrorist threat. They used almost every minute of that time to detain David Miranda, the civil-union partner of Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist reporting on the NSA scandal, and confiscated all of the computer equipment Miranda carried.

The particular bone I have to pick with Ed really has nothing to do with the detainment in question. It may have been valid and could yet produce nutritious fruit in the ongoing investigations or it might have been a fit of pique by the UK authorities. It’s too soon to tell, in my never very humble opinion. But today, I challenge one phrase which Ed innocently slipped into the introduction. Here it is again, just in case you missed it. (Emphasis mine.)

the civil-union partner of Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist reporting on the NSA scandal,

This is a complaint which may stick in the craw of a lot of folks who have long enjoyed the work of bloggers (read: Greenwald’s roots) and defended their place at the table along with everyone else wearing the cap of “journalists” in the modern era. (Though given the track record of many doing “reporting” for the mainstream media, I’m less sure how much we want to flaunt that particular title.) But even after shedding his blogging roots and moving to better quarters on the media campus at the Guardian, is Greenwald living up to the name of journalist in this affair?

I would argue that Greenwald has sacrificed any claim to that formerly noble title in the handling of this entire Snowden affair. This conclusion is reached primarily by his own words and actions. If Greenwald was actually engaged in the Commission of Acts of Journalism, it would be focused on serving the public good by releasing information of value and interest to the world while not endangering critical national security issues. I would argue that he has failed this test spectacularly on both counts.

First of all, if Journalist Greenwald had come across a trove of information which was of vital importance to the public interest, you’d think he would put it out there so everyone could get to work on it and begin righting any perceived wrongs, wouldn’t you? But he didn’t. It had to be released in dribs and drabs with “more to come” right from the beginning of this story arc on June 10th.

Greenwald also appeared to suggest that more disclosures are imminent. Greenwald wrote on Friday that more revelations were “coming shortly” and, later that day, broke a story on a tool wielded by the NSA to track surveillance data worldwide.

“Well, there are several programs that we’ve reported on so far and there’s a lot more coming,” Greenwald said on MSNBC.

And when the White House indicated that they would be pursuing Snowden, Greenwald immediately resorted to threats, indicated that if “anything happens” to him, he would open the floodgates. Really? If the information is worthy of coverage and important, why hold it hostage against something happening to Snowden?

And finally, as Ed reported, once his partner was detained – rightly or wrongly – his immediate response was that everyone was going to be sorry.

“I will be more aggressive in my reporting from now,” he told reporters in Portuguese at Rio de Janeiro’s airport, where he met his boyfriend, David Miranda, who had flown from London to Brazil.

Greenwald told reporters he has many more documents to report on, including ones about the UK. He said he thinks British authorities would come to regret their actions.

There we see the clearest admission yet from Greenwald that he’s been sitting on information to which he sees no impediment to releasing, but he might do it now because Miranda was detained. It’s “reporting” as a fit of pique rather than delivering what he believes should be in the public purview. From the beginning this has never been about reporting, informing the public or bettering the world. This has been about what it’s always about with this author. It’s about Glenn Greenwald. Glenn is in the business of promoting Glenn, and nothing else. Getting all of the vital information out to the public takes a back seat to, “if you think this is hot stuff, wait until you click back on my links and buy more of our papers next week!

As to the second part of the formula, there is at least some modest argument to be made that Greenwald has already released too many specifics about particular government programs which could have been addressed to friendly members of Congress or through other avenues, rendering them useless before we even had the chance to investigate. There are legendary stories of reporters in England who knew the precise date and location of the D-Day invasion, but patiently waited and sat on the information until the boys were on shore to prevent the Germans from catching wind of the plans. Greenwald has no such scruples. He has a rich teat with his friend Julian Assange and his Wikileaks bretheren to suckle on, and it feeds his ego. What he releases will be guided by either what will serve his quest for fame the best or what delivers revenge for the indignities he perceives as being visited on his partner.

Journalist? Perhaps this is what journalism has become today. But if so, we shouldn’t be flocking to that particular banner.

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Which is why I call Greenwald and his ilk presstitutes. Those shilling for Obama get the additional description of organs.

Steve Eggleston on August 19, 2013 at 7:06 PM

With that glib, snarktastic instant reaction out of the way, the question is whether “journalism” was ever a noble profession. With the possible exception of the mid-20th Century (and I stress possible, because the New York Times was an agent for Communism in that era), the answer is an emphatic no.

Going back to the turn of the 19th/20th Century, the big newspaper chains were hustling for the “big story”, so much that the Hearst newspapers were admonished by their owner, “You furnish the pictures, I’ll furnish the war.” Before that, many newspapers were official organs of one of the political parties.

Steve Eggleston on August 19, 2013 at 7:28 PM

Maybe Greenwald has more savvy and nous than your article suggests.

Firstly, Greenwald writes for the UK Guardian. That makes him a journalist in every description usually made by “qualifiers” who look down their nose at anyone they wish to delegitimise – such as you try to do in this article.

Secondly, Greenwald has released information from Snowden on a “drip by drip” basis. On the first release, the spy-industrial complex and the Administration went on a “seek and destroy” mission to blast away any credibility of Snowden and Greenwald – well we know how unsuccessful that was. The Administration, from Obama down to Clapper, has been shown to be blatantly lieing as to the breaches of the 4th Amendment of the Constitution. The “lapses and inadvertant errors” now discovered to 2,700 in ONE YEAR. Had Greenwald released everything immediately, it may have been successfully brushed aside by the administration, aided by the mainstream media and purported “journalists” such as you. Greenwald successfully weathered the abuse hurled at him in the initial furore of denial from the Administration and their cronies and because of that has more credibility than “the authorities”

Thirdly, the arrest of his partner by UK authorities nails in the perception of utter corruption in the governments on both sides of the pond, who have so abused their positions of power to intimidate, under the cloak of “security”, to have no vestige of credibilty left. They are in panic-mode as their edifice of respectability crumbles

Maybe you can’t handle the truth??!!

Jimbobby on August 19, 2013 at 7:29 PM

Journalism died in 2008. So, if any are still moving… they’re just Walkers.

faraway on August 19, 2013 at 7:49 PM

Jimbobby on August 19, 2013 at 7:29 PM

Well said.

Midas on August 19, 2013 at 8:04 PM

Glenn Greenwald has more in common with Lady Gaga than he does Edward R Murrow

bobnox on August 19, 2013 at 9:20 PM

Picture Eliot Spitzer with a Glenn Greenwald mask on chasing a hooker dressed as David Miranda around his desk trying to perform a forceful cavity search

bobnox on August 19, 2013 at 9:22 PM

Mr. Greenwald is involved in an all-out, gold plated, drama queen, fairy hissy fit. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Mason on August 19, 2013 at 10:19 PM

Maybe you can’t handle the truth??!!

Jimbobby on August 19, 2013 at 7:29 PM

You give Greenwald and yourself too much credit.

Good post Jazz.

Vince on August 19, 2013 at 11:39 PM

“if you think this is hot stuff, wait until you click back on my links and buy more of our papers next week!”

And that differs from CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, or Fox in what way exactly?

Do you seriously think they don’t have agenda’s, or bury stories, or report stories based on acquiring audiences?

Greenwald has already released too many specifics about particular government programs which could have been addressed to friendly members of Congress

So a good journalist clears it all with the government first and seeks their approval? Perhaps you mean JournoList, because that is what you are describing.

sharrukin on August 20, 2013 at 12:04 AM

Here is where the author goes wrong, he gives the government the authority and “right” to behave in a certain manner, excluding the fact those actions may be illegal, unconstitutional and harmful to the actual rights of the citizens.

THEN Jazz says the guys trying to expose it are the bad guys, thus they have no rights.

Truth is Greenwald is slowly releasing the information because if he dumped it out no low information citizen would be able to absorb it. If you notice at first the NSA security programs were given good marks in the polls, but have steadily declined over time as the people began to really absorb what the NSA and other units are doing.

Right now what Jazz Shaw is witnessing is Greenwald playing Lucy to the NSA’s Charlie Brown and the football. He gives the NSA and others the opportunity to come clean over an accusation. The NSA lies, by CHOOSING to lie. Then he releases information proving the lie.

Then he starts the process over again. What is so frustrating to people like me and others who had some involvement in the area is that the fact the bad guys KNOW already what our government is doing- often because our dumb**ed government leaks it (as in the conference call leak last week). The only people who don’t really understand the depth of the surveillance state are the people who are innocent but being surveilled. If giving them the knowledge of this is Greenwald’s goal, then he is doing it just right.

That said, just as the NSA and others are trying to prove they are not a threat to the rights of citizens, the Brits pull what they did with Greenwald’s GAY partner. Jeeezzzz…. They were “sending a message”? Of what? That they don’t want their illegal and unconstitutional acts exposed to the citizens.

Think about that before your criticize. Also remember your history. We’ve had the “leak, leak, leak” reporting before- Remember Watergate?

archer52 on August 20, 2013 at 9:04 AM

…Thirdly, the arrest of his partner by UK authorities nails in the perception of utter corruption in the governments on both sides of the pond ….Jimbobby on August 19, 2013 at 7:29 PM

Defining Glenn Greenwald

Defining personal life ?
-Hispanic “husband”?
— A turn-off – by otherwise concerned readers (ref:comments)
—What part of the story ‘gets thru’ to the average reader?

Defining professional life ?
-Snowden affair
–An NSA expose
–Story of Governmental over-reach
—Perhaps More hard hitting without the personal life exposure? (being some Hispanic dudes ‘wife’)

Followup QUESTION: Is it possible Greenwald’s “husband” was detained in order to highlight Greenwald’s personal life? And, thereby relegate any “reporting” that Greenwald does as “second rate” garble? . And adds to the stack of stories of tarnishes and exposes about the corruption and decadence of those that “report the news” ?
Making the “reporter/journalist” the story? 😡

Note: DEANS of Journalism Schools are you paying attention to the dynamics here of personal/professional lives vis-avi Journalism as a career?? 😉

BigSven on August 20, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Here is how I ended my post on the issue.

…My point is the NSA isn’t a bad idea, it is just pointed in the wrong direction. And it has become too big and too political, probably much to the disgust of the actual NSA analysts trying to catch bad guys.

But that is the nature of humans, we get abusive and arrogant. Only a few people out of the lot will question the direction the rest are going in. Greenwald is doing just that. I may not agree with Snowden’s methods, but his intent to reveal just how bad it is may allow us to decide, in the open, what we are willing to live with and not have it decided for us by those hiding in the shadows.

archer52 on August 20, 2013 at 9:33 AM

don’t forget Greenwalds “Sock Puppet” fame from 2006, in which he was pretending to be lots of different people online to bolster his views on his blog and elsewhere.

He has admitted his ‘partner’ was given info related to all this in the past and the GUARDIAN just PAID for Miranda’s trip to Berlin to meet with Poitras who has ties to Terrorist!

jp on August 20, 2013 at 9:57 AM

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