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Are Conservatives Over-Scrutinizing Glenn Greenwald?

John on July 21, 2006 at 3:27 pm

A couple days ago I charged Glenn with hypocrisy for demanding the MSM scrutinize conservative blogs, while simultaneously decrying the scrutiny those same blogs have put on the MSM. Given that, I think conservative blogs (and myself in particluar) need to think about the kind of scrutiny we dish out.

As of today, Hot Air has produced a definitive timeline of Glenn (and possibly someone else’s) blogging activity. There has been discussion of the source of his recent e-mails over at Wizbang prompted, in part, by a question I raised. The whole thing definitely starts to feel a bit surreal.

I recall something similar happend a few months ago. A blog called Is That Legal? questioned Michelle Malkin’s ability to post several long pieces while traveling cross country by air. The suggestion was made that someone other than Michelle (her husband, perhaps) was really the one doing the writing. Michelle responded quite forcefully. In a post title “My Work Ethic” she said in part:

I am amused to see that insanely obsessed, deranged people continue to have a problem with my work ethic, efficiency, and output (update: and yes, deranged professor, I pump out posts before getting on airplanes and, yes, mirablile dictu, before takeoff! And while resting in hotels! And I may even do it from a bathroom to send you completely over the edge!)

Thanks for the back-handed compliment. Now, I suggest you get. A. Life.

The link to the post in question is here, though you’ll note that the content has been removed. The author explains:

It has come to my attention that this post has been linked (as of 4/20/06) by by at least one blog that is now publishing information about Michelle Malkin… While my post neither revealed private information about her nor threatened her with harm, I wish to disassociate myself entirely from the dangerous and misguided response that some anonymous bloggers are purusing to Malkin’s provocative and harmful tactics. Threatening someone with harm is dangerous, illegal, and completely reprehensible.

Like Malkin, Greenwald is an outspoken blogger who regularly goes after the other side of the aisle for going too far. Like Malkin, Greenwald is also a bestselling author and regular TV guest. And like Malkin, when questioned Glenn responded by decrying his “obsessed” critics.

In other words, it would seem the two cases are pretty similar. So have I and other conservative bloggers crossed the line in the Greenwald case? Is it time for us to stop asking where he was? Where he is? Should we just get a life?

I see a difference in the two cases that I’d like to explain. In the Malkin case, the authors of the post insinuating she could not have posted so much information while travelling had, as I recall, nothing but a hunch. She posted a lot of words while travelling, that was the gist. They published their speculation that she was receiving help from an un-named co-blogger.

In the case of Glenn Greenwald, this scrutinizing of his travel plans started well after some peculiar facts came to light. A blogger named Shaun discovered that someone was defending Glenn in very similar terms under multiple names. Ace of Spades picked up on it and soon several more aliases were discovered, but all originating from the same IP in Brazil.

At that point, I and others speculated that Glenn was using the aliases himself to prop up his own credentials. Everyone involved seemed confused by the fact that the IP in question originated in South America. Later in the day, Glenn responded by denying responsibility for the comments. He also noted that he lived about half the year in Brazil and that any IP could be used by more than one person through a router setup. The implication was that his significant other (or someone) was using his IP to defend him, though he never really says it outright or explains why several different names were used.

Again, the difference is that the scrutiny of Glenn and his travel began with comments that do exist and not with mere speculation. As Glenn himself now seems to admit, they were left from his own house. Given that, I don’t think it was a wild or malicious leap to think Glenn was responsible. As it turns out, he may well not be. I’m prepared to believe his denial because I don’t think he’s a liar. But given the facts as they presented themselves, the initial idea that it was probably Glenn was a perfectly fair assumption to make.

I’m sure such differences will seem insignificant to Glenn’s defenders, but it is there. Malkin’s critics posted an unsubstantiated hunch based on little more than her prolific publication. Greenwald’s critics started with screenshots of multiple comments with similar language and the same IP, yet under multiple names. Questions followed.
Finally, there is also a difference in the responses. Michelle Malkin categorically denied the allegations even going so far as to present a timeline of her own activity:

[F]or the record, deranged creepy stalkers, let me spare you some of your obsessive energy: I was on Northwest Flight 623 this morning, where I blogged from seat 21-C before the stewardess admonished us to turn off all electronic devices before taking off at 8:50am. And no, I am not going to tell you when and where I’m flying tomorrow. What hotel I’m staying at. Or what I ordered from room service. Creeps.

Greenwald’s much longer and more rambling response included a clear denial that he was responsible, but left many critics scratching their heads. If he didn’t leave the aliased comments coming from his own house, who did? Glenn isn’t offering to clear that up at this point. Given that he has denied it was him, maybe we should leave it at that.

Glenn and I
On a personal note (in case Glenn comes across this at some point), I’d like to say that I feel a bit bad about the photoshop using his likeness. In my own defense, I sincerely did not appreciate being part of the small group whose photoshop responses to the NY Times were labelled “hate mongering” on Crooks and Liars the other day.

I stand by the image I created. I believe it and the other images that appeared on Malkin’s site, were perfectly acceptable political discourse, no different than a HERBLOCK cartoon (and a lot less offensive then a Ted Rall cartoon in my opinion).

Glenn certainly has the right to disagree, but it’s a bit much to open a discussion by labeling your opponent a hate-monger and then demand that he behave like a gentleman. A bit much, and yet I’m someone who believes in the principle of turning the other cheek. Perhaps I should have done so in this case. What I’m not prepared to do is pretend I wasn’t slapped at all.

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