Glenn Greenwald. How do I count the ways that I loathe thee…

There was a time, many years ago, when I thought the world of Greenwald. He wrote a blog, Unclaimed Territory, which I read daily. At that time, he was, I thought, one of the most insightful voices on the political left. But the red flags were already beginning to fly. I wondered why he insisted on exhaustively engaging with every critic and troll on his blog, sometimes beyond all rationality. Did he believe he was always right? Did he believe he had to have the last word in every discussion?

He moved to Salon and then The Guardian, and in the process began to be more and more critical of the American Left. Nothing wrong with that: the liberal/progressive movement, with all of its ungainly splendor and noble intent, has its share of flaws, some of them quite deep. But to my mind, any criticism of the left, by a leftist, should come from a place of respect and fellowship. You want the movement to which you have allied yourself to learn and grow and improve. You don’t want it to go up in smoke.

Greenwald’s critiques became increasingly hateful and sneering. There was no fellow feeling there. Judging from his writing, he thought all but a handful of the most extreme American progressives were beneath contempt. There were signs of that to come in his original Blogspot columns and his first few books, but his contempt and apparent hatred of the American Left became more and more apparent as time went on.

He, along with journalist Jeremy Scahill and documentarian Laura Poitras, co-founded The Intercept, which launched in February 2014, with financing from eBay magnate Pierre Omidyar. It wasn’t long before Greenwald, who was a vocal supporter of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, led The Intercept to begin collaborating with the Russian intelligence agents who were behind the 2016 “Guccifer 2.0” hoax. Working in tandem with WikiLeaks, the publication reprinted a number of the Clinton/DNC emails hacked by Russian intelligence agents, along with blistering criticism of the Clinton campaign by Greenwald and other Intercept writers. Greenwald hated Hillary Clinton even more deeply than he hated Democrats in general, and he was more than eager to collude with the Russians to help destroy the Clinton presidential bid. As Ars Technica reported in October 2016:

The Intercept was both aware that the e-mails were from Guccifer 2.0, that Guccifer 2.0 has been attributed to Russian intelligence services, and that there is significant public evidence supporting this attribution.

Later, The Intercept reduced Greenwald’s role to essentially that of an op-ed columnist, removing him from any control over news articles it published and subjecting his “news” stories to editorial control, something he didn’t appreciate. In return, Greenwald heightened his attacks on American Democrats, joined by some of The Intercept‘s personnel. Greenwald and his cohorts, including Washington bureau chief Ryan Grim, supported the 2020 Sanders primary campaign, mostly by vociferously attacking Sanders’s Democratic opponents. Grim and Greenwald tried and failed to use the false accusations of sexual harassment leveled at Joe Biden by former Biden staffer Tara Reade to wreck the Biden candidacy.

You’ll notice a theme here. In 2016, Greenwald and The Intercept did its level best to wound the Clinton campaign — which benefited Donald Trump. In 2020, Greenwald and The Intercept tried to wound the Biden campaign — which would have benefited Trump.

Greenwald has gone so far left that he has “horseshoed” himself around to becoming a far-right Trump supporter. That was a bridge too far for the powers that be at The Intercept.

Yesterday Greenwald announced his immediate resignation from The Intercept, saying that the publication had become “repressive” and “censored” his work:

The final, precipitating cause is that The Intercept’s editors, in violation of my contractual right of editorial freedom, censored an article I wrote this week, refusing to publish it unless I remove all sections critical of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, the candidate vehemently supported by all New-York-based Intercept editors involved in this effort at suppression.

Tellingly, he illustrated his Substack blog post with an unflattering picture of Biden.

Greenwald, of course, painted himself as a noble warrior for Truth, sacrificing a lucrative career in paid journalism to become a self-published gadfly on Substack. He could do no less, he wrote.

Editor-in-chief Betsy Reed told the Washington Post in an email that Greenwald was lying. He was never asked to censor anything he wrote. She said:

[I]t is absolutely not true that Glenn Greenwald was asked to remove all sections critical of Joe Biden from his article. He was asked to support his claims and innuendo about corrupt actions by Joe Biden with evidence.

In other words, Greenwald was smearing Biden with unfounded slanders — gee, the very same slanders being hawked on Fox News, where Greenwald routinely appears, usually on Tucker Carlson’s outhouse of a show as a “critic from the left” — that he refused to substantiate.

The Post reminded its readers that in 2016, Greenwald savaged the Obama administration and Clinton campaign for daring to assert that the Russians hacked the Clinton email servers. or indeed, engaged in any actions whatsoever to hurt Clinton and bolster Trump. He has continued to slam what he mockingly termed “Russiagate” as a conspiracy theory, to the point where he regularly attacked the 2019-2020 impeachment of Trump as an unfounded holdover of the 2016 Russia allegations.

Reed wrote that she was unsurprised that Greenwald was moving to Substack to:

launch a new media venture where he will face no collaboration with editors — such is the era of Substack and Patreon. …In that context, it makes good business sense for Glenn to position himself as the last true guardian of investigative journalism and to smear his longtime colleagues and friends as partisan hacks. We get it. But facts are facts and The Intercept record of fearless, rigorous, independent journalism speaks for itself.

Reed wrote that Greenwald didn’t leave The Intercept because of his commitment to fair and impartial journalism. Instead, she wrote:

Greenwald’s decision to resign from The Intercept stems from a fundamental disagreement over the role of editors in the production of journalism and the nature of censorship. Glenn demands the absolute right to determine what he will publish. He believes that anyone who disagrees with him is corrupt, and anyone who presumes to edit his words is a censor. Thus the preposterous charge that The Intercept’s editors and reporters, with the lone noble exception of Glenn Greenwald, have betrayed our mission to engage in fearless investigative journalism because we have been seduced by the lure of a Joe Biden presidency. A brief glance at the stories The Intercept has published on Joe Biden will suffice to refute those claims. …The narrative he presents about his departure is teeming with distortions and inaccuracies — all of them designed to make him appear a victim, rather than a grown person throwing a tantrum. It would take too long to point them all out here, but we intend to correct the record in time. For now, it is important to make clear that our goal in editing his work was to ensure that it would be accurate and fair. While he accuses us of political bias, it was he who was attempting to recycle a political campaign’s — the Trump campaign’s — dubious claims and launder them as journalism.

Greenwald’s former Intercept colleague Mara Hvistendahl thoughtfully provided Greenwald with a handy guide to actual examples of journalistic censorship:

In short, Greenwald is now a full-blown, unrepentant Trump supporter, and is behaving exactly the same as whiny-ass crybabies like Carlson, Hannity, Mark Levin, and the like. Treat him as such.

And there’s John Amato, who used to be Greenwald’s publisher at Crooks and Liars. He gets the last word on this one:

For a man who cries about being censored and repressed by the media, he blocked me on Twitter for one time tweeting out a negative thought about him just a few weeks ago. Coward. Hypocrite. I imagine it won’t be long before he becomes a Fox News contributor or regular if his Brazilian schedule allows for it. I’m sure Glenn will live in the Trump cult world now and probably thrive in it. Good riddance.

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25 Comments on "Greenwald Leaves Intercept, Blames Publication for Not Supporting His Turn Towards Trump Worship"

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Steve787
Guest

Damn, right on Max. GREAT article. Waldo is the current political horseshoe posterchild. When one hates the good enough to join the bad. Of course one of the base requirements of Trump culthood is grievance about media instance on factual reporting. He has now officially checked that one off.

David J Zimny
Guest

This is tragic — I used to look to Greenwald for some of the best commentary online, but I became suspicious when he started attacking everyone who believed that Russia had tried to subvert the 2016 election. Now he’s gone the way of Robert Kaus, another once-solid commentator who drank the Kool-Aid. So long, Glenn…

Bareshark
Guest

For what it’s worth, I’m sorry. It’s never a fun thing to find out how people you admired never truly deserved such in the end. Maybe they took a wrong turn along the way. Maybe they were never what you thought they were. End results are the same either way.

Bareshark
Guest
Andrew Vachss likened another metaphor in lieu of the “horseshoe”: a Mobius strip. He went a little further and said that at this intersection of far right and far left was child abuse. QAnon seems to be providing proof of that in recent months. As to Greenwald, well, I share your loathing, Max for all the reasons you listed. The main difference is I never trusted him. Something always seemed off and now I know why. His actions suggest an objective of nothing less than the destruction of the United States for sins of empire, real or imagined, he cannot… Read more »
p j evans
Member

I hope the door slams on his rear end as he leaves. When you start believing you don’t need an editor – that’s when you need one most.

Bareshark
Guest

Correct, P J. It happens to talented fiction writers all the time. In the field of comics, I’ve been watching that degenerative process happen to Alan Moore and Frank Miller. They ran out of people to keep them honest and their work suffered.

Cynthia Feaster
Guest

Thank you for this article. I am glad that I now know that Glen Greenwald is a racist enemy snake. I first learned about his “pioneering liberal journalism” on Democracy Now. Amy Goodman had him on regularly when he wrote for The Intercept. Now I wonder about HER. She suppored the smear campaign against Mr Biden too, and in 2016 the russian asset American traitor- Jill Stein.

rory darjiit
Member

As a progressive, I love the description of the movement as one of “ungainly splendor and noble intent.” It’s a really nice turn of phrase and really adept writing.

rory darjiit
Member
But here’s a question. There are a number of examples of “Greenwaldism” (LOL). These editorial writer who go all-in on Bernie, but seem meaner and a little off message from Bernie, then they ultimately defect to Trump. HA Goodman was an example that infected HP before they booted him. What the heck is with those guys? There is no way they have any political values whatsoever. Are they like sycophants trying to latch on to move,Mets in their infancy in order to build a following they ride to fame and fortune? If so, why flip so extremely…and burn your whole… Read more »
Bareshark
Guest
My best answer to your question, Rory, is that we misunderstood what they were about in the first place. As Tolkien noted in both Lord Of The Rings and private correspondence, no one starts off as evil. They just come to it by degrees. My personal spin on that, highly influenced by Jung and my own life, is that it happens when your own insecurities, ego and lust for whatever you truly crave gets the better of you. Bit by bit, like any junkie, such flaws, when they’re never dealt with, gradually override any public good or loyalty you may… Read more »
Bareshark
Guest

Such a shame that splendor and intent only get you so far, isn’t it, Rory? Let Greenwald stand as a warning to anyone under the delusion that we cannot possibly become as bad as any Trumpist.

anastasjoy
Member
This is hilarious. I know once upon a time Greenwald was considered something of a hot shot journalism but that isn’t within my memory. I know him only as a holier-than-thou purity progressive slagging Democrats right and left over at the piece of trash we called The BernieCept. The Russian interference denial was so transparent: it was all based on manipulating Bernie Bros into hating Hillary and not voting for her so of course it had to be denied by the people who were the target. The Nation did the same thing and they are dead to me, even though… Read more »