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Responding to Glenn Greenwald

John on July 19, 2006 at 10:48 am

[Welcome Wizbang readers. The update Kevin cited is way down at the bottom.]

Glenn Greenwald has a post up over at Crooks and Liars with the unwieldy title: Using bad words vs. treason accusations and public calls for hanging: The distinction that eludes journalists. His basic premise, the same as a post he put up on his own site, is that the conservative blogoshpere is getting a pass from the MSM on its outrageous behavior.

He gives examples of unflattering MSM stories about liberal bloggers. He suggests that there is a theme running through all these stories:

[T]his theme of the crass, profane liberal blogosphere is prevalent in the national media generally, an obsession which has intensified greatly in the past couple of months and now even includes mainstream news coverage of such petty matters as flame wars among Kos sub-diarists.

The link takes you to a MyDD post which also appeared on the front page at Daily Kos. What’s interesting is that this MyDD spin piece from last week sounds exactly like Glenn Greenwald today. They’re essentially selling the same line, i.e. the media is obsessed with liberal blogs.

The MyDD post decries FoxNews for writing about a D-Kos diarist who says she feels embarrassed for being part of Kos’ site. The diarist in question is Maryscott O’Connor, the same person featured in the front page news story that Greenwald is complaining about today on Crooks and Liars. The MyDD post tries to make the whole thing into a joke, i.e. this is such a minor issue why is it worthy of coverage. Well, let me explain it for you. What Maryscott O’Connor was going on about in her diary (which I’ve read in it’s endless entirety) was the revelation that Kos himself was using a private e-mail group to ask other liberal bloggers to squash an unflattering story. Her embarrasment was thus the first sign of a D-Kos crack up in the wake of that revelation. It was all the more relevant because the story itself was about Kos’ attempts to keep things quiet. The question many people were asking was, “Did it work?” Would anyone on the left write about the issue? Maryscott O’Connor was an example of it not working and on Kos’ own site, no less! To many of us, that was newsworthy.

Back to the Crooks and Liars piece. Greenwald now goes on to make his case that the conservative blogoshpere is hate-filled and out of control. One of the examples he cites is one by Michelle Malkin titled How About a Nice Big Glass of… (shut the hell up). In the wake of the NY Times SWIFT story, Malkin asked her readers to send in photoshops responding to the Times. osama1.jpgAs it happens, my own photoshop is one of the ones she used. Glenn describes this (and the others Malkin posted) as “hate mongering propaganda photographs.” Well, he’s right that they are propaganda photographs since most of the ones she published are based on WWII era propaganda posters such as “Loose Lips Might Sink Ships.” However, calling them “hate mongering” is a bit much. Hate mongering is more like making a TV commercial that directly associates President Bush with Hitler (Didn’t somebody do that?).

I don’t think those images represent hate-mongering, but I’ll admit my own contribution represents some genuine frustration. It’s clear that the publisher and editor of the NY Times believe they have found their true calling in life, i.e. protecting our civil liberties against the nefarious impulses of the Bush administration. To Glenn and others that may sound like just what the doctor ordered. To many of us however, their willingness to blow the cover of successful counter-terrorist programs seem quite ill advised and possibly just plain stupid.

After the Times earlier story about NSA wire-tapping, I wrote about reports that groups of Middle-Eastern men had bought up scores of untraceable cell phones at WalMart stores across the country. These events weren’t rumors, they really happened. Michelle Malkin posted the incident reports on her site. Was it a coincidence that these purchases occured just a few days after the Times wire-tapping scoop? I don’t think so.

So, the photoshop contest Glenn refers to represents real concern that the Times might be making things easier for the enemy. There were polls taken about this issue and the results were that 60% of those asked felt the Times scoop might aid terrorist. In other words, they’d also like to offer the Times a big glass of “Shut the hell up.” Sixty percent is a marority, not an extreme fringe, Glenn. On this issue, you are in the minority (doesn’t mean you’re wrong, but it does mean you can’t cast this as some sort of extreme behavior).

Glenn is also outraged over Instapundit’s link to a site that displays satellite photos of Bill Keller’s home. I understand how Greenwald could be bothered by this. If someone put my house on their site, I’d be unnerved by that. However, there are a couple of things that need to be considered about this.

First, right around the time Instapundit linked to the site with satellite photos of Keller’s home, the NY Times had just published a story including photos of the homes of VP Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld. This act of invasion of personal privacy was noted by Michelle Malkin and others. One of the photo captions included with the story went so far as to point out where the security camera was hidden.

Second, the background for all of this is the SWIFT story. For all the hand-wringing about Presidential power grabs (see Andrew Sullivan recently), Keller has essentially initiated his own power grab. In essence he has announced that the Times is a fourth branch of government chartered by the Constitution itself and given veto power over (in the SWIFT case) at least two other brances. As I wrote in this post nearly three weeks ago:

If the press is the fourth estate of the federal government, one able to veto the supplications of the other branches of government (as actually happened in this case) then they need to be treated like other American instituions. In a democracy, responsibility means accountability to the voters.

The congress won’t and in my judgment shouldn’t prosecute the two Times. As I’ve said, Keller and Baquet are right about free speech. But just because the government can’t or won’t doesn’t mean the people shouldn’t. American citizens who feel the twin Times have put their own interests ahead of the nation’s — which seems to be most of us in this latest case — should let them know using the only ballot available: cancel subscriptions and contact advertisers until both editors are reprimanded, demoted or fired impeached.

Bill. Dean. Welcome to government service.

The bottom line is that Keller has made himself too important NOT to be a public figure. When (arguably) the most powerful man in the media feels free to ignore the Presidnet of the United States and spurn his wishes with regard to National Security issues, he’s earned a bit of scrutiny. Not rage, not deathwishes, not threats — that stuff is out of line on any side of the aisle — but definitely scrutiny. In fact, it’s exactly the same sort of scrutiny Glenn Greenwald thinks the media should be lavishing on the conservative blogoshpere. Fair enough, Glenn, but it has to go both ways. It’s a bit hypocritical of you to decry the conservative blogosphere for doing to the press, essentially, the same thing you wish the press was doing to the conservative blogosphere.

And I can’t pass up the opportunity to recommend Michelle Malkin’s book Unhinged. If you think the left is just using a few choice words and, really, what’s the big deal…think again. You don’t know what “hate-mongering” is until you’ve read a sample of Michelle’s e-mail. Her book has an entire chapter on this. Compare that chapter to her photoshop contest and then tell me again where the hate is in the blogoshpere.

Update 7/20: Don’t miss this scoop from Ace of Spades HQ. It appears Mr. Greenwald has been defending himself around the web using aliases. I wasn’t worthy of one of Mr. Greenwald’s “special defenders”, however I checked the logs and discovered that Mr. Greenwald did come by. He arrived 9 minutes after I published this post, looked at my “About” page, then went back to the post itself and exited. The referrer was Technorati “Glenn Greenwald blogs” a real time list of every blog mentioning Glenn. Apparently, he keeps a pretty close eye on anyone who might be using his name in vain.

Since I already know Glenn enjoys my photoshop work:
ggalias.jpg

Update 7/21 2AM: While it still appears likely that the various aliases belong to one person, that person is apparently not Glenn but someone he lives with in Brazil. It’s still somewhat odd behaviour, but it doesn’t reflect on Glenn or his credibility in this case.

Also, I just want to state for the record that my photoshop was not intended as any kind of comment on Glenn’s sexual orientation. I had no idea he was gay (or lived in Brazil, etc) until I read it on his blog today. In any case, my intent was only to point out the absurdidty of someone using aliases to defend himself someone close to him(?) Capisci?

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