Since unfortunately much of the NSA surveillance coverage is focusing on personalities of the leaker & one of the journalists who broke the story rather than the utter absurdity of a system that functionally assumes everyone is a suspect, deflections like a recent panel on Fox News about whether “activist journalism!” can be trusted abound. Let’s dispense with that bit of nonsense right now:
People have opinions. Everyone that remotely pays attention to the world does. Total objectivity is impossible, & what the implied alternative to opinionated journalism shows itself to be in practice is mere stenography & maintenance of an insider-friendly worldview. The “View From Nowhere” is not even-handed, & does not come from nowhere, it comes from incumbency & the valuing of status over actually doing anything for the flow of information.
You want to know what the alternative to journalists like Glenn Greenwald is? Imagine David Gregory, quoting the Washington Post quoting an Anonymous Administration Source, forever.
But I digress. The “activist journalism!” thing touched someone else too, & they had a reaction to it that has me in a confused state where I could either laugh until I cry or vomit: witness Lee Stranahan, writer for Breitbart…
Discussing the aforementioned panel, what troubles Lee is their alleged avoidance of The True Nature of Glenn Greenwald: a mud-throwing (um…dude? Remember who your site is named after?) America-hater who Hates America. He alleges that Greenwald & Ed Snowden planned the entire leak together from even before Snowden got the job at Booz Allen Hamilton, screaming about a “timeline” that I have seen nothing to substantiate, quoting Alan Dershowitz saying Greenwald is a felon as if it coming from Dershowitz endows the accusation with magical powers or something. Then comes a self-referential wink to the Breitbart model of “journalism” as good example of activist journalism by way of placing Greenwald out of bounds for his own principles:
There’s nothing wrong with Greenwald having a viewpoint, nor is there anything wrong with combining journalism and activism if you’re upfront about it.
The problem with Greenwald isn’t that he’s an activist; the issue is his close working relationship with Snowden. The question of whether Greenwald crossed the line from journalist into co-conspirator is an important one, especially given the reality of Greenwald’s resume.
Greenwald’s background isn’t a mystery. He’s very open about his views, his agenda as a left-wing antiwar activist is crystal clear, and his methods are well known. He’s been an ardent supporter of WikiLeaks, Julian Asange, Anonymous affiliated writer Barrett Brown and Bradley Manning. He hated the policies of President George W. Bush and he hates Obama to the extent he’s followed in Bush’s footsteps.
Nothing wrong with activism & journalism if you’re up front about it! But *this* journalist who is and has been up front about it for years Cannot Be Trusted. So activist journalism is OK only if you are not left-wing, got it…
BTW: doesn’t Lee’s remark about Obama in Bush’s footsteps 1) smash the entire Breitbartian narrative of Obama as ultra-leftist & 2) reveal Glenn Greenwald to be consistent?
From here he turns to camera two in order to address “conservatives”, criticizing the ones that called heads instead of tails & express skepticism about the NSA’s actions & throwing in an “AYYYYYYYERRRRRRS!!” for good measure. Lee says that Glenn wants to increase every single non-military part of the state, which would surprise his audience no doubt, since far as I can recall — and I have been reading Greenwald since he was on BlogSpot, so that’s pretty far — he writes about issues outside of the civil liberty/surveillance/foreign policy spheres about as often as El-P writes about cuddly puppies and rainbows. Even if this ridiculous caricature were true, what bearing does it have on the issue he helped air out beyond it meaning he’d hold contradictory views (which is a curious charge for a conservative to toss around)?
The digging goes even deeper. Bold emphasis mine:
For Greenwald, the attack on the NSA is a merely a tactical battle for his real target: the United States military and America in general. He doesn’t care about the dangerous effects of crippling the NSA in the fight against terrorism, because he doesn’t believe the war on terror is real.
Here’s a Greenwald column from March of this year entitled “The racism that fuels the ‘war on terror’“–and the title sums up Greenwald’s position concisely: he’s opposed to the war on terror. He doesn’t even believe it’s a real thing, so he puts it in scare quotes. Greenwald believes it is fueled by racism.
The “War on Terror” earned its quotes the moment it was realized the logical impossibility of declaring war on a tactic. The fallout from it though is all too real, as has been shown by Glenn & other Lackers of Real Merkinness. When you’re bombing several countries that are not declared war zones, claiming any men in the area are combatants, and double tapping rescue efforts in a way that Tony Soprano would be proud of, well, excuse us for not taking the It Is All For Our Security claim very seriously. The continuation of the war has multiple crossing reasons, and when a key practice of it treats people in certain areas of the globe as less than human, sure race could pop up as one.
Quoting a reply Glenn gave in a Q&A session, Lee goes all A-HA!:
There it is. Greenwald wants the end of U.S. military dominance. He’s good with the collapse of the “hegemonic states,” like the United States of America. He is anti-military and anti-United States; a leftist radical of the most extreme kind, for whom “suffering and instability” are something to muse about while cheering on the end of Western civilization as we know it from the comfort of his compound in Brazil.
Sleight of hand. Glenn acknowledges that empire doesn’t tend to dismantle itself, while expressing hope for a new day afterwards, and it’s called “the End of Western Civilization”. See, for our unfortunate Breitbartian here, “Western Civilization” — as opposed to, y’know, just civilization period — is defined by hegemony. Defined by empire. Defined by war. This depends on ones definition of “definition” though: many of the lines drawn on our globes indeed were drawn in blood, and the residual effects of it still ripple. This is Definition as Drawing. What Lee suggests is that it is Definition as Skeleton, if not as destiny, or possibly both: that minus empire It All Goes To Hell. Well, frankly, I’ve been seeing a lot of fire lately…
Oh yeah, as for the “compound in Brazil” swipe: Glenn spends time in Brazil because U.S. law* blocks his partner from being able to legally join him in the U.S. Because his partner is a dude. Because Glenn Greenwald is gay. Lee’s odd takeaway from that bog-standard fact is a wormhole I’d rather not crawl into, and I’m sick of the implied Decadence of the Radicals narrative that keeps coming up in regards to this. Though I will say it’s quite the cosmic joke that DOMA falls right around the time Greenwald has more reason to avoid the states.
For the gist of his tripe being a warning to his fellow right-wingers that they are being had by a Lefty America-hater, the interchangeability between it and the Obot strain of derp is rather telling. Seriously, swap the He Hates America/”Leftist!”/Western Civilization stuff with He Just Hates Obama/”White privilege! (no, Tim Wise, you do not speak for me)”/Government Is Us and you could imagine Joy Reid saying the same damn thing.
* – Is this still the case?