Glenn Greenwald, the Bane of Their Resistance
A leftist journalist’s bruising crusade against establishment Democrats—and their Russia obsession.
By Ian Parker
Greenwald, a former lawyer who, in 2013, was one of the reporters for a Pulitzer Prize-winning series in the Guardian on Edward Snowden’s disclosures about the National Security Agency, is a longtime critic, from the left, of centrist and liberal policymakers and pundits. During the past two years, he has further exiled himself from the mainstream American left by responding with skepticism and disdain to reports of Russian government interference in the 2016 Presidential election. On Twitter, where he has nearly a million followers, and at the Intercept, the news Web site that he co-founded five years ago, and as a frequent guest on “Democracy Now!,” the daily progressive radio and TV broadcast, Greenwald has argued that the available evidence concerning Russian activity has indicated nothing especially untoward; he has declared that those who claim otherwise are in denial about the ineptitude of the Democrats and of Hillary Clinton, and are sometimes prone to McCarthyite hysteria. These arguments, underpinned by a distaste for banal political opinions and a profound distrust of American institutions—including the C.I.A., the F.B.I., and Rachel Maddow—have put an end to his appearances on MSNBC, where he considers himself now banned, but they have given him a place on Tucker Carlson’s show, on Fox News, and in Tennys Sandgren’s Twitter feed. Greenwald is also a tennis fan—and a regular, sweary player. He recently began working on a documentary about his adolescent fascination with Martina Navratilova.
...Greenwald has experienced his own share of criticism, but is not known for showing kindness to critics. Michael Hayden, the former director of the C.I.A. and the N.S.A., has written that debating him was like looking “the devil in the eye.” Leading American progressives—speaking off the record, and apologizing for what they describe as cowardice—call Greenwald a bully and a troll. One told me that “he makes everything war.” The spouse of one of Greenwald’s friends visualizes him as the angry emoji. On Twitter, he has little use for agree-to-disagree courtesies, or humor: he presses on. More than one tweet has started with “No, you idiot.” He’ll tweet “Go fuck yourself” to a user with twenty or so followers. A few years ago, Greenwald had a Twitter disagreement with Imani Gandy, a legal journalist, who tweets as @AngryBlackLady; another Twitter user, in support of Greenwald, proposed to Gandy that “Obama could rape a nun live on NBC and you’d say we weren’t seeing what we were seeing.” Greenwald replied, “No—she’d say it was justified & noble—that he only did it to teach us about the evils of rape.”
...In the buildup to the 2016 election, Greenwald detected a conflict between actors defiantly contemptuous of American norms—the Republican Presidential nominee, WikiLeaks, Vladimir Putin—and the establishment forces that he hates, including the U.S. intelligence services, “warmonger” neoconservatives like William Kristol, and big-money Democrats. That August, in an Intercept article that used the word “smear” a dozen times, and ended with an image of Senator Joseph McCarthy, Greenwald argued that “those who question, criticize or are perceived to impede Hillary Clinton’s smooth, entitled path to the White House are vilified as stooges, sympathizers and/or agents of Russia: Trump, WikiLeaks, Sanders, The Intercept, Jill Stein.” He wrote that both Trump and Stein, the Green Party’s Presidential candidate, were being “vilified for advocating ways to reduce U.S./Russian tensions.” (Even though this article included Trump on the list of those being “smeared,” Greenwald told me that he had only ever invoked McCarthyism in reference to “Democrats who accused me and others like me of being Kremlin agents.”) After the election, he scorned those “screaming ‘Putin,’ over and over.” Later, on an Intercept podcast, he said that Democrats had embraced, without evidence, various “conspiracy theories” about collusion; American liberals were caught up in an “insane, insidious, xenophobic, jingoistic kind of craziness.”
In the period since then—these months of Guccifer 2.0 and Natalia Veselnitskaya and Carter Page—Greenwald has continued to portray the Trump-Russia story as, essentially, one of rotten American élites and unruly insurgents. Although he has acknowledged the failings (not to mention the indictments) of some people in the insurgent category, he has focussed his editorial energy on documenting the past infractions and continuing misjudgments of people—in the intelligence agencies, the Department of Justice, Congress, and the media—who have provided apparent evidence of Russian interference and Trump-campaign collusion. Greenwald has questioned their reliability, and has disputed their evidence, to a degree that has frustrated even some colleagues at the Intercept. On Twitter, Greenwald recently described the self-identified “resistance” to Trump as “the first #Resistance in history that venerates security state agencies.” He has denounced the congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, who has sought to investigate Trump-Russia in the face of Republican obstruction, as “one of the most hawkish, pro-militarism, pro-spying members of the Democratic Party.” He has tweeted, “I don’t regard the F.B.I. as an upholder of the rule of law. I regard it as a subverter of it.” Greenwald told me, “Robert Mueller was the fucking F.B.I. chief who rounded up Muslims for George Bush after 9/11, and now, if you go to hacker conferences, there are people who wear his image, like he’s Che Guevara, on their shirt.” Maddow and other liberals may show respect to the former C.I.A. director John Brennan when he accuses Trump of colluding with Russia, but Greenwald’s view is that Brennan, who sanctioned extraordinary rendition, should be shunned.
These critiques have changed Greenwald’s place in American political life. “My reach has actually expanded,” he told me. “A lot of Democrats have unfollowed me and a lot of conservatives or independent people have replaced them, which has made my readership more diverse, and more trans-ideological, in a way that’s actually increased my influence.” His audience now ranges from leftist opponents of Hillary Clinton, such as Susan Sarandon and Max Blumenthal, to right-wing figures such as Sebastian Gorka and Donald Trump, Jr.
To liberals grateful for institutional counterweights to the Trump Administration’s crookedness, cruelty, and mendacity, Greenwald has been discouraging: U.S. institutions have long been broken, he maintains, and can offer only illusory comfort. To protest the flouting of American norms is to disregard America’s perdition—from drone strikes and unwarranted surveillance to the Democratic Party’s indebtedness to Wall Street and Silicon Valley. Shortly before Trump’s Inauguration, Greenwald wrote an article for the Intercept titled “The Deep State Goes to War with President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer.” The Drudge Report promoted the article, and it went viral. This had the effect of offering the phrase “deep state”—which, until then, had been a murmur among political scientists and fringe bloggers—as a gift to Trump defenders. Roger Stone referred to the article in an interview with Alex Jones, on Infowars; Greenwald spoke of “deep-state overlords” on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” According to data from the gdelt Project, the phrase “deep state” then took off—first on Fox, then on other networks, and then in the tweets of the President and his family.
Betsy Reed, the editor-in-chief of the Intercept, recently told me that “Glenn has a core of incredibly passionate and dedicated followers.” But, she added, she is wary of “a kind of pale imitation of Glenn—people who may be partly inspired by him, but don’t have the nuance or intelligence that he has.” She was referring to Russia skeptics of the left, on Twitter and elsewhere, “who are so convinced that they are being lied to all the time that anything that the intelligence community says can’t possibly be true.” Reed’s view is that, at this point, “it’s not helpful to the left and to all the candidates and causes we favor to continue to doubt the existence of some kind of relationship between Russia and the Trump campaign. We know some basic contours of it now, thanks to Mueller, but I think we may learn more. And we can’t refuse to see what’s in front of us.”
...Greenwald asked me, “What evidence has ever been presented for the central claim that Putin ordered the D.N.C. and John Podesta’s e-mail to be hacked, as opposed to the hacking being done by people of Russian nationality?” Did Greenwald dispute that Guccifer 2.0, the persona responsible for distributing hacked D.N.C. e-mails to WikiLeaks and other outlets, had come into focus as an agent of Russian military intelligence? (A month before the 2016 election, Greenwald co-wrote an article, about the Clinton campaign’s handling of the press, that was based on exclusive access to material supplied by Guccifer 2.0.) We were speaking shortly before the indictments, in July, of twelve Russian intelligence officers. I mentioned a recent article in the Daily Beast, “ ‘Lone DNC Hacker’ Guccifer 2.0 Slipped Up and Revealed He Was a Russian Intelligence Officer,” which had been co-authored by Spencer Ackerman, a former Guardian colleague of Greenwald’s who had worked on the early Snowden stories. “Each story you can dissect and pick apart, right?” Greenwald said. “They’re based on anonymous sources. They’re based on evidence that you can question.”
Ackerman told me that he liked and respected Greenwald, and that “people can be interested in what they’re interested in.” But, he said, “it’s conspicuous when they’re not interested in a massive story for which the simplest explanation is that there was a Russian intelligence operation to elect Donald Trump President.” He added, “Some people are interested in reporting this out. Some people—I would include myself—are interested in reporting this out without any contradiction of the impulse that led us to report the Snowden story. Some people are not.”
Greenwald and I talked about his definition of “evidence.” In the case of Russia, he seemed to use the word to mean “proof.” His evidentiary needs in this context could be contrasted with his swift, easy arrival at certainty in many other contexts. Greenwald assured me that Tennys Sandgren “didn’t have a racist bone in his body.” He had recently tweeted that Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, was not anti-Semitic, and that suggestions otherwise were “guilt-by-association trash.” It would be truer to say that Corbyn’s record provides some evidence of anti-Semitism, and that supporting him requires a response to that.
Shortly before we met, Greenwald tweeted a link to an article about the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, in the South of England, using Novichok, a nerve agent. It was “100% clear,” Greenwald wrote, that Boris Johnson, the British Foreign Secretary, was “lying” when he told a reporter that British scientists had confirmed that the agent had originated in Russia. To be precise, the scientists had merely identified the chemical, not its origin (though the Russians invented it). Johnson’s remarks were inexact, but he almost surely wasn’t being deceitful. To show one’s skepticism about an official narrative by proclaiming that one knows the narrative to be a lie could be defended as an act of anti-authoritarian pluck. But it doesn’t tell readers “what it is that happened.” Asked about this tweet, Greenwald said, with good grace, that a British friend had made the same point to him. Perhaps he had erred. Greenwald’s offline openness to rebuttal—in contrast to his online bloodlust and sarcasm—was always a nice surprise. But he hadn’t corrected his remarks, which were retweeted several hundred times.
More: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018 ... resistance
American Dream » Mon Jan 23, 2017 9:11 am wrote:Glenn Greenwald Sides with the Deep State on Trump and Russia
Posted on January 22, 2017
Donald J. Trump defeating Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College, if not the popular vote, presented a new challenge: How to continue shitting on liberals as the most problematic threat, post November 8, at a time when an unhinged billionaire is about to get the nuclear launch codes? Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept’s approach: Keep acting like the (U.S.) Deep State that couldn’t stop Trump’s win is — I’m no supporter, but — seeking to undermine the legitimacy of a democratically elected leader, as (don’t you know) it’s done many times before, abroad. In this telling, news of Russian intervention continues to be self-evidently #FakeNews pushed by a media elite with known ties to The Agency, and the take serves a dual function: validating the absurd nonsense pushed during the election by Greenwald and his quasi-left fellow travelers, from Rania Khalek to Michael Tracey, that Trump was, relative to Killary, the candidate of peace — the man who, say what you will, didn’t want to start World War III on behalf of Jabhat al-Nusra.
Continues at: https://pulsemedia.org/2017/01/22/glenn ... nd-russia/[/quote]