We here at Washington Babylon initially planned on our series on Glenn Greenwald and Other Useful Idiots being a one-week affair. But, for better or for worse, it became a two-week affair and now is almost a three-week affair. All good things must come to an end and so today I’m going to bring this to a close, and not a moment too soon.
I’m tired of thinking about Greenwald, as well as the once formidable Taibbi and, lastly, sad sack Tracey. So I am just going to make a few points about Greenwald et al and include some links to the work of others about them.
Point 1: Greenwald et al are not on the left, or even remotely close to the left. They are fundamentally on the right, and in criticizing them I am hoping to push them — even further — into the right-wing ghetto and gutter where they belong.
If you believe Greenwald is on the left, you haven’t been paying attention. He and the other two clowns are not flat out rightists, but they are far closer to the right than the left. How many appearances with Tucker Carlson and on Newsmax will it take for people to catch on?
Incredibly, as noted by Manny Jalonschi, during this Newsmax appearance, Greenwald accused other reporters of having a “disregard” for Truth. This when appearing on Newsmax, which along with Fox News, his idiotic idea of fair and balanced coverage, and MSNBC, his bête noir, is one of the foremost purveyors of true Fake News. (Keep that straight; that means seriously fake news. Also, see how easy it is to have contempt for both major cable news outlets, and both major US political parties, without being a veritable shill for Donald Trump, Fox and the GOP, as Greenwald has become?)
Is Taibbi, aka fierce critic of Goldman Sachs before it became his private banker, on the left, or vaguely progressive. Jacob Silverman of The New Republic destroyed that idea in a single tweet earlier today.
Also, check out Taibbi’s most recent nauseating “collaboration.” (H/t again to Doug Henwood.)
My god, Taibbi is now so lame he makes you pine for the days of 2010, when Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert held their dismal “Rally to Restore Sanity.”
[Note: I’m not going to refer further to dick Tracey. If someone at this point thinks he’s on the left, or is “independent” or “contrarian,” they need to have their head examined.]
Point II: Greenwald has done great work, obviously, but he almost screwed up his two biggest, and legitimately fantastic, stories, about Edward Snowden and the Brazil leaks. More importantly, he’s not a reporter, he’s a lawyer at heart. He’s great at building a prosecutorial case because he uses only facts that support his brief, but any competent defense attorney can demolish it once given the chance.
Greenwald has a reputation as being a brilliant reporter because of the stories noted above. But he almost passed on the Snowden leaks because he was too lazy and the person who leaked him the Brazil material later expressed remorse because he said Greenwald had used only a fraction of the material he gave him. (Which is reminiscent of the Snowden leaks, which are now, thanks to Greenwald, the property of Pierre Omidyar, the tech oligarch and primary funder of The Intercept, and the man who made him incredibly rich. (More on that below.) Others in Brazil have said Greenwald selectively withheld information from the leaked material to protect his political allies. Sorry, that’s not journalism.
I had the misfortune of working at The Intercept during its early days, before it became a pretty good publication (especially on criminal justice, though in politics generally is is far too close to the Democratic Party). When I started working there Greenwald was already famous due to the Snowden leaks, but it was apparent that neither he nor anyone else at the publication, including mega-fraud Jeremy Scahill, had sources with the NSA, CIA or any US intelligence agency. In fact, when The Intercept was trying to publish its first big story, about illegal NSA surveillance of Arab Americans, I was asked to help at the last minute precisely because no one working on the story, including lead reporter Greenwald, had any decent sources.
The key point, again, is that Greenwald is not a good or bad reporter, he’s not a reporter at all. He’s a lawyer who starts “reporting” every story with his conclusion already reached. If he encounters evidence that undermines the conclusion, he ignores it. He’s right more often than he’s wrong, in my view, but even when he reaches a correct conclusion he got there dishonestly. As Mary McCarthy once famously said of Lillian Hellman, “every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the’.” The same is true of Greenwald.
Point III: Greenwald et al don’t give a rat’s ass about economic inequality, the central issue and cleavage of our current form of jungle capitalism. Why? Oh yeah, they are all rich now.
Greenwald rails against the tech oligarchy but got rich on tech oligarch money. Like tech, and all, oligarchs, he uses shell companies to obscure his wealth. Consider the 990 IRS nonprofit tax form below. Laura Poitras revealed her pay. Greenwald did not. However, it has emerged that he controls Enzuli Management LLC, so he got nearly half-a-million dollars in a single year from Omidyar, part of at least $2 million over five years.
Greenwald has another similarly named shell firm that he used to make pornographic films in Brazil. I don’t care about porn, unless the actors are trafficked or coerced, but Greenwald made very bad porn from the looks of things. Also, it has been reported in Brazil that he sent David Miranda, now his husband, to clubs in Rio de Janeiro with cash to lure gay men to perform bareback in his Hairy Studs series, which is pretty unethical.
There’s a lot more that can be said about Greenwald and the other Useful Idiots, but, as I said, I’m tired of thinking about them. If you haven’t read our full series, click on this link. I don’t think you’ll have any doubt after doing so about what side the Useful Idiots are on. For ease of operation, here’s the introduction by me, here’s a great story by Tony Belletier about the toxic ecosphere the Useful Idiots operate in, here’s another great story by Andrew Stewart about the Useful Idiots and Identity Politics, and here’s yet another great story by Steve Snyder about How Glenn Greenwald is Morphing Into Bull Connor Before Our Eyes.
In terms of other readings, I would recommend this site (second image below) for people who really want to dig deep into Greenwald’s life in Brazil. The Washington Post and The Daily Beast (first image below) have also — after we began publishing our series — run interesting stories on Greenwald. We’ll undoubtedly have more on Greenwald and the other Useful Idiots down the road, but that’s it for now.