The Guardian and Glenn Greenwald Are Lying to Us. Does Anyone Care?
I’ve avoided writing about the ongoing Snowden shenanigans because Bob Cesca at The Daily Banter and Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs have been all over it like brown on rice, and frankly, I can’t be bothered. I’ve tussled with Greenwald in the past, and if there’s one thing I know, it’s that his place as The Most Important Security State Journalist™ is quickly being cemented by a media that dutifully reports the latest Greenwald outrage unquestioningly. And besides, he’s got legions of minions waiting to pounce on you and say abhorrent things should you dare speak out against their hero, as Joshua Foust points out in his latest post about Greenwald’s penchant for bullying.
The Snowden story has amplified this dynamic. Not only does the story have a life of its own, untethered by such mundane concerns as facts and honesty, many Snowdenites are becoming more and more illogical and — dare I say it — Fox Newsian in their willingness to ignore fact in favor of a packaged narrative. When confronted with the many misstatements, lies by omission, and half-truths being offered by The Guardian and Greenwald, some Snowdenites simply wave off such concerns with comments like “yeah, well the government lies more” or “who cares, it’s the story that’s important.”
Never mind that we can’t have a discussion about The Story™ if the basic facts of the story are not laid out so we can agree on what it is that we are discussing. And never mind that the news organization tasked with informing the public of the basic facts of the story seems to be making it up as they go along, quietly editing articles, changing headlines, and burying corrections of prior misstatements at the bottom of subsequent articles.
For anyone following this saga, it is apparent that, when it comes to this story, lines have been drawn in the sand. There’s no room for nuance or a reframing of the discussion. You’re either an “emo-prog” or an “Obot” (or an Obamalover — yeah, suck on that for a moment), and never the twain shall meet. And given that I live for nuance, and my home is in the gray area, far away from black and white, I have lost my interest in trying to have a reasonable discussion about anything reported by Greenwald, whether it be Wikileaks, Julian Assange, the NSA, or Snowden.
To put it bluntly, the Online Cult of Greenwald and Greenwald himself make me want to walk outside and set on fire the very first thing that I see, be it a small child, or a Toyota Prius. As such, I chose the path of least resistance. My approach to Greenwald as of late has been “Fuck it,” “Nope,” “Don’t care,” followed by another “Fuck it.” Sure, I’ll fire off some tweets about him, but I haven’t bothered writing a post about the man in quite some time — until now.
Why now? Because The Guardian has abdicated its duty as a news organization. No longer are they reporting facts and seeking the truth. They are pushing a narrative — Greenwald’s narrative — and cherry-picking facts to suit that narrative. And, if those facts turn out to be hogwash 24 hours later (per Bob Cesca’s 24 hour rule™), who cares? The outrage has already taken off and there’s no reeling it back in.
If you are unfamiliar with L’Affaire Snowden, you may be wondering what it is that I’m yammering about, so let me sum it up for you. Actually, no — I’ll let you sum it up for you. Frame your own narrative, dear reader, so that you’ll be less inclined to get angry, start fuming that I’m an Obamabot, and close your browser in disgust, before getting to the crux of this post, which is that The Guardian is seriously lying about important shit, you guys.
So here we go — let’s do this thing mad-libs style:
A guy named Snowden [stole/acquired/leaked] thousands of documents that exposed a bunch of [new/old/maybe-new-maybe-not] information about the NSA [overreaching in its surveillance/tapping your phone/living in your basement and probably banging your wife.] Snowden then defected to Russia because [at least he won't get thrown in a hole for 30 years/he supports Putin murdering journalists in the face/he likes Russia's LGBT policies.]
Over the weekend, outrage burst forth from the Twitters like — like — something that bursts forth outrageously from something else. Words like “despotic” and “Mafia” were bandied about by the usual hysterics. It seems, you see, that [British authorities/British authorities under explicit orders from Obama/America's sockpuppet] detained Glenn Greenwald’s husband, David Miranda. At the time, Miranda was traveling from Berlin — where he was [vacationing and sight-seeing/meeting with Laura Poitras (Greenwald's partner in L'Affair Snowden)/minding his own business doing nothing of significance and certainly not involved in anything Snowden-related] – to Brazil, where he lives with Greenwald.
That’s the basic gist.
On Sunday, while The Great Outrage was in full swing, The Guardian published an article which claimed that Greenwald’s husband had been detained and denied a lawyer:
“This is a profound attack on press freedoms and the news gathering process,” Greenwald said. “To detain my partner for a full nine hours while denying him a lawyer, and then seize large amounts of his possessions, is clearly intended to send a message of intimidation to those of us who have been reporting on the NSA and GCHQ. The actions of the UK pose a serious threat to journalists everywhere.
The next day, The Guardian changed its tune:
[David Miranda] was offered a lawyer and a cup of water, but he refused both because he did not trust the authorities.
And yesterday, The Guardian‘s tune changed a third time:
He was compelled to provide passwords for the devices. His lawyers said he only had a lawyer for the last hour of his detention and was not allowed a pen to write down the officers questions or a translator even though English was not his first language.
And this isn’t the first time that initial reporting from The Guardian has turned out to be misleading if not outright false.
On the first day of the Miranda fiasco, Greenwald protested that David Miranda was his spouse and “not even a journalist,” hours before the New York Times‘s Charlie Savage wrote that Miranda was carrying Snowden documents and that The Guardian had paid for Miranda’s trip. (The Guardian subsequently quietly inserted a line into its original article confirming that they had paid for Miranda’s trip.)
On the following day, Greenwald and his side-bro David Sirota seethed that “journalism isn’t terrorism,” praying that everyone would be too stupid to remember that the previous fucking day, they were crying about how awful it was that Greenwald’s innocent totally-not-acting-as-a-document-mule-or-a-journalist spouse was detained for the mere crime of being married to a journalist.
Or how about this: Earlier this month, The Guardian published that civil rights icon John Lewis praised Snowden as an MLK-like hero before it turned out that, whoops!, no he didn’t.
Or this: Earlier this week, Alan Rusbridger, The Guardian‘s editor-in-chief, claimed that British agents forced The Guardian to destroy computers (plural) in order to stop The Guardian from reporting on Snowden documents, when it turns out that, whoops, The Guardian voluntarily destroyed one computer, a MacBook Pro. No wait — a MacBook Pro with some random PC pieces somehow grafted to it.
The above examples only scratch the surface of the misstatements and outright lies published by The Guardian during the course of this story. (Read Paul Canning’s article, “The Left Must Challenge Greenwald” for more.) These are not mere mistakes. This is a pattern.
So the question becomes this:
What the hell is going on at The Guardian? Why are they doing this? Why are they being allowed to do this with virtually no pushback from anyone but a handful of bloggers and journalists? Is this what it’s come to? The Guardian and Greenwald’s desire for page clicks and revenue trumps their journalistic integrity? Their commitment to relaying facts to the public has been swamped by a need to drop bombshells that, within hours, turn out to be mere turds dropping into a puddle?
And what is going on with the mainstream media which reports the cavalcade of bullshit flowing from The Guardian and Greenwald without once noting that they are lying about key facts?
Here’s the bottom line: This is a complicated story made all the more complicated by the fact that The Guardian and Glenn Greenwald have been intentionally misleading their readers for weeks about the facts, thus making it virtually impossible to have a real discussion about just what the fuck it is the NSA is doing and how we can reform or curb it. This is journalistic malfeasance, pure and simple.
But I’m just an Obot, so of course I would say that.
Imani Gandy (ABL)
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