There is so much more about Glenn Greenwald that deserves discussion. After I posted yesterday, I received a lot of angry email and other messages from people who think Greenwald is a truth-teller and – this one makes me gag – a progressive. He’s not even a unicorn progressive since, despite their faults, unicorn progressives at least think they believe in something. Greenwald seems to have no principles, and he basically hates everything about everything government.
Politically speaking, Greenwald is no liberal. He’s a (capital-L) Libertarian who holds the cynical view that everything in the world is corrupt. Many professional lefties hold the same sort of views, to a point, but Greenwald’s tendency toward conspiracy is closer to the Alex Jones mold than anything else. For example, when he talked about Malcolm Nance, he didn’t stop at the single Jill Stein erroneous statement and leave it at that. He took on the whole MSNBC network as a pro-Democratic voice, and then treated that as if it’s a bad thing. Meanwhile, Greenwald has repeatedly appeared on Fox News, which was created by Roger Ailes as a media outlet for Republicans, where he usually supports Trump against the Mueller investigation.
In other words, his complaint is not that all cable news is biased and tainted, which would be a valid complaint. It’s one I have made for years. One reason I cut the cord was because I refuse to pay so much for channels I never watch, but another was, the news channels have become 24-hour op-ed sewers, with little to no actual news content. However, Greenwald only had this complaint against MSNBC, which he claims is “derided as MSDNC for a reason.” For the record, I have never heard it derided as such, except among Fox News acolytes, which should dispel the myth of Glenn Greenwald as a “progressive” once and for all. And if that doesn’t convince you, check out this attack on Malcolm Nance, from the same article I discussed yesterday. (Source)
Obviously, Nance is simply adhering to the post-World-War-II tactic of the U.S. military and intelligence community from which he emerged: for decades, they accuse any journalists they dislike, or dissidents of any kind, of being covert agents of Moscow.
You would think that any real journalists inside NBC News might be bothered enough by this classically McCarthyite tactic – accusing a journalist of being an agent of Russia without a shred of evidence – to denounce it, but you would be quite wrong. Just look at how identical the script is used by Nance to the actual words McCarthy spoke at one of his notorious hearings.
I’m not here the second day to beat this dead horse, but Nance isn’t referring to Greenwald as a “Russian agent” as an errant insult. I doubt seriously that Nance thinks of him as a journalist (I sure as shit don’t) and Glenn isn’t engaging enough to qualify as a “dissident.” Greenwald is a rabble rouser and a poser, and little more. That said, many of us are convinced of Greenwald’s affinity for the Russia who actively attacked us in 2016, as well as many of his actions over the last several years regarding Snowden, indicate a possible status as a Russian agent. Of course, his rhetoric regarding American institutions doesn’t help with this. Take this, from his column, which drips with Libertarian-style cynicism, not about the Russians, but about the United States. Not only that, but it’s inaccurate:
That’s because NBC News and MSNBC have essentially merged with the CIA and intelligence community and thus use their tactics. The network is filled with former Generals and CIA officials who are part of the community that pioneered these smear tactics of accusing journalists and critics they dislike of being traitors, spies and Kremlin loyalists. Indeed, Nance sometimes appears on MSNBC along with former CIA Director John Brennan, who MSNBC also hired as an “analyst.” This is who they are. … It’s also what the Democratic Party is: this is their go-to tactic. …
Anyone who criticizes the Democratic Party or its leaders is instantly accused of being a Kremlin agent despite the lack of any evidence. And the organization that leads that smear campaign is the one that calls itself a news outlet (and this is all independent of the fact that another one of its hosts recently lied about having her blog hacked and claimed she reported it to the FBI – a claim everyone in journalism knows is a lie – and not only was never sanctioned for it by was praised for doing that by MSNBC’s star host).
First of all, the claim that NBC News has essentially merged with “the CIA and intelligence community” cannot be supported with any actual evidence, which puts the lie to any claims that Greenwald is an actual “journalist.” A true journalist would never say something so obviously ridiculous. Perhaps ironically, that makes his above attack on Nance especially laughable. It is Malcolm Nance’s learned opinion that Glenn Greenwald is a Russian agent. That doesn’t mean he’s a spy; Greenwald very well may be a “useful idiot,” who has no idea he’s being used by Russia. Who knows? But said opinion is not without a base, unlike Greenwald’s insinuations.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a Glenn Greenwald column without a plea to accept what he says as gospel because, well, he said it. Here’s how he ends this column:
Needless to say, MSNBC is not the only cable outlet that acts as an arm of a political party and encourages its on-air personalities to lie and smear critics of that party. I have spent years documenting lies told by certain Fox News employees, and denounced the willingness of some of their hosts to do exactly that while on Fox News itself.
But you can’t be a credible critic of lies – whether told by other cable outlets or politicians – if you not only permit but clearly encourage and reward your own on-air personalities when they do the same. And in the case of MSNBC, they not only do this, but they practice one of the most historically destructive versions of it: fabricated allegations that their critics, including journalists, are treasonous agents of a foreign power.
By his very own metric, Glenn Greenwald “can’t be a credible critic of lies.” He cites one errant statement from two years ago to smear ONE analyst on MSNBC and using that as proof that MSNBC is acting as a Democratic Party mouthpiece. He doesn’t mention that Malcolm Nance is a lifelong Republican, who decided that his country was more important than his party after such an attack on democracy. Glenn does, however, try to absolve himself by telling us how hard he works to “document lies” told by “Fox News employees,” without mentioning that some Fox News hosts and “journalists” have a direct line to the White House right now.
At the same time he posted an attack on Malcolm Nance on MSNBC, he gave an incredibly friendly interview to RT (Russia Today) as a way to disabuse people of the “toxic attitude” they have about Russia. This is, of course, ridiculous, for two reasons. One, most regular people don’t really know who Glenn Greenwald is. Two, of those who do know who Glenn Greenwald is, most know he’s been defending Russia for two years, and it hasn’t made a difference. We know Russia interfered with the last election and we know they helped Donald Trump win based on their fear of Hillary Clinton. The evidence for this is overwhelming.
The RT interview was a series of softball questions designed to elicit pro-Russia responses, and they were not disappointed. If you’d like to read it, go here. Greenwald was ostensibly in the country to participate on a panel. They described him as “an expert panel on the phenomenon of fake news,” and they cited his work covering Snowden and his “exposés of US electronic surveillance programs based on documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden…” They failed to note that he “exposed” nothing we didn’t already know, and most of the documents Greenwald pimped out to the media were never actually analyzed by an expert. Instead, Glenn himself would interpret them for us, even though, unlike Malcolm Nance, he has zero experience in the intelligence community and has no background that would allow him to interpret them. At the time, I covered this nonsense at length. (Source)
Essentially, Greenwald (who wishes to be taken seriously as a journalist) simply found documents he wanted to use and insinuated their meaning, without any input from anyone who would know anything about them. If he made any attempts to contact people with the knowledge to interpret them, which a credible journalist would do, it wasn’t apparent. It was also not apparent that he was willing to assess their credibility or authenticity. It was never clear WHERE these documents came from. Sure, they came from the NSA servers, but no context other than that was ever provided. For example, if a document came from an active file folder, it contains a completely different context than if it came from someone “recycle bin.” Likewise, many of these documents looked very much like documents from vendors who were trying to secure a contract with the NSA; that would be good to know, too. For example, the fact that Greenwald and Snowden saw files describing a software program that COULD do something is different from the NSA actually buying that software and doing that thing.
It is with this same (lack of) concern for both facts and context that Greenwald is apparently attempting to assure us that Russia is all sweetness and light and would never infiltrate the US democracy and create chaos. Consider his response to the first softcall question:
RT: Glenn, you are now in Russia. Going to Russia is seen in the West as almost treason now, even worse than during the times of the Soviet Union. Why do you think that is?
G.G: There is an obsession in the United States with viewing Russia not just as an adversary, but as an actual enemy. It’s permeated by both political parties. There is actual talk a lot now about how what they regards as the interference in the 2016 election is similar to Pearl Harbor, when the Japanese attacked the United States during World War II, or Al Qaeda and 9/11. And there is the sense that Russia is now an enemy on par with Al Qaeda or the Japanese during WWII.
Russia is often talked about this way in the sense that any connection with or interaction with Russia is viewed as inherently suspicious or even worse. It is extremely dangerous and extremely toxic. It’s one of the reasons I decided to come here and this morning posted a picture of myself and Snowden. Because I think it is very important to combat that attitude.
First of all, you have to love the question. It makes assumptions about “the West” that are ridiculous. No one thinks people who go to Russia on vacation are “treasonous.” Also, no one thinks this is “worse than during the times of the Soviet Union,” which was a sworn enemy of the United States.
And of course, Glenn Greenwald follows their lead, as he has a tendency to so. Of course, he also makes it about himself, as always. He actually thinks taking a selfie with Edward Snowden, whom a majority of Americans think of as a traitor, will disabuse everyone of the idea that a country that is led by a dictator who has been trying to interfere with Western democracies for decades, will suddenly be seen as a democratic paradise by most Americans?
Then, “progressive” Glenn Greenwald then tells a Russian mouthpiece media outlet that Trump is essentially a “continuation” of the Bush and Obama Administrations. Yes, that’s right; using exactly zero facts, Greenwald actually pushes the nonsense that ALL US governments are equally corrupt. Seriously, read this complete bullshit:
RT: When it comes to core issues, is Trump’s America different from Obama’s America?
G.G: There are definitely differences between Obama and Trump and I could go through a lot of those differences. But most of the controversies that had been the greatest and most intense ones under Trump are really continuations of American political culture and not departures from it.
Even the immigration controversy. President Obama deported more people from the United States than any president in history. The agency that deports people is ICE, which was created under George W Bush and expanded under President Obama. Families were often separated, children were put into cages under President Obama. So you can go down the list and see many of the same policies that get so much attention under Trump that got very little under Obama.
Interestingly, where Russia is concerned, despite all the claims that Trump is a puppet of Russia, in many ways Obama was more cooperative with the Russian government than Trump was. Obama refused to send lethal arms to Ukraine whereas Trump did that. Obama refused to bomb forces of the Assad government – Trump has done that. Trump has expelled more Russian diplomats that Obama did.
So in the cases where they are different, they are often different in a way that is the exact opposite of the way it is described.
Apparently, Greenwald thinks simply deporting more people makes Obama the same Trump. Let’s look at the basics for a moment, starting with the “zero tolerance” controversy. Obama didn’t adopt “zero tolerance.”
Under Obama, people who applied for asylum got a hearing and the vast majority received asylum. They were held for screening, but they followed the guidance of the law. When unaccompanied minors crossed the border they were placed in foster care and attempts were made to find family in the US. Families were not separated under Obama. Ever. It simply did not happen.
Under Trump, people are being snagged by the thousands before they even come over the border and before they can request asylum. They are being detained without a hearing and they are appearing in court by the dozens at the same time. They are being forced to plead guilty to crimes that don’t actually exist. We also know they stole kids from their parents and they did nothing to keep track of them, so now they are under order to reunite kids and parents, they have no way to do so.
Therefore, Glenn Greenwald’s insinuation that Trump is essentially the same as Obama on immigration is based on complete ignorance. He apparently gets his talking points from professional lefties who pass on bullshit as if it’s true, as long as it’s anti-Democratic Party.
As for the rest of that nonsense, Trump expelled more diplomats, but he had to be shamed into it, after a chemical attack against journalists in the UK. Also, while Trump expelled them, he also allowed them to be replaced. In the wake of the election meddling, which Greenwald denies happened, Obama expelled 35 diplomats, but he also ordered the diplomatic staff permanently reduced and he imposed sanctions at the same time. And no one had to convince him to do so after several weeks.
However, this is how Greenwald ended the interview:
RT: Have the last two years of inquiries and reports convinced you that Trump colluded with Russia?
G.G: No, if anything, it’s convinced me that it’s more unlikely than ever. There are factions within the intelligence community of the United States, the NSA, the CIA, the FBI that hate Donald Trump and will do anything to destroy him, including leaking classified information against him. I believe that if there were evidence of collusion between Trump and the Russian government, when it comes to the hacking of the DNC or the John Podesta emails, we would have seen in by now. We have not seen it by now.
Even people, who hate Donald Trump in the CIA, have tried to warn the Democrats: don’t expect there to be evidence of it; we don’t have evidence of it. But it’s like a religious belief to other people in the United States. And of course as we know religion doesn’t require evidence.
I don’t say it didn’t happen, because it could have happened. All I say is until there is evidence of it I don’t think we should believe it happened. And so far there is no evidence.
You have to love this, right? Here’s a guy who wants to be considered a serious journalist, who makes the claim there is “no evidence” that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. Look, if he doesn’t believe the evidence proves collusion, I could possibly accept that. However, to claim there is no evidence is simply not factually accurate. to claim there is no evidence is simply not factually accurate. We have Tweets from Trump’s account during the campaign with specific details about the number of Hillary’s emails that only the Russians knew at the time. We have the emails his dimwit of an older son Tweeted to us all more than a year ago, in which he entertained the idea of accepting an offer from Russian intel agents to give them “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. We have most every detail regarding a meeting between Russian agents and Trump campaign officials in the Trump Tower, a floor below Trump’s residence. We have the fact that he praises Putin and denigrates our actual allies. We have the fact that every trade move he’s made so far benefits Russia more than the United States. There is plenty of evidence. Does it prove anything enough for a trial? No, but it is not accurate to claim there is “no evidence.”
Glenn Greenwald is lying when he claims there is no evidence and he is nothing short of insulting when he implies a number of factions within the intelligence and law enforcement communities who will do anything to take down Trump. And why is a so-called “progressive” defending Trump, in any case?
To those of you who think Glenn Greenwald is a journalist, please show evidence of this, because it’s really not apparent, as it stands. And if you still operate under the assumption that Greenwald is in any way “progressive,” put down the Kool-Aid. He’s not and never has been. Some of his early legal career was admirable, to be sure, but his writing career has been an embarrassment.
Also published on Medium.