So, journalism is activist.... who knew? I always thought the stories just kinda wrote themselves. And of course, every reporter in America has a duty to squelch his/her inner, inborn allegiance to one of the two right wings of the American uniparty, and fairly present the two equal sides of every argument. And Greenwald does not fall into this category, and Keller is out to find out why, why, why.
If you don't have time to read the whole thing, here's a brief synopsis:
Keller: So, you're an activist journo, who came into our exalted territory by way of lawyering and blogging. Ecccchhhhh!!!!! And now you're hypocritically going to work for a billionaire foreigner who started an internet marketplace (EBay) for the lower classes. Ewwwwww.
Greenwald: Establishment journalism can be toxic, suffocating, neutering, boring, and conceited. Journalists are human beings with points of view. Get over it. All journalism is activist. The only things that count are accuracy and reliability.
Keller: We're more serious than you. We have editors in suits. We often respect our government. And ditto for national security (whatever that means.) So Nonny nonny boo boo.
Greenwald: Unquestioning fealty to authority is a clear and present danger. We should not value American lives more than non-American lives, and not mistake national security (whatever that is) with a government's desire for secrecy.
Keller: Stop pretending that nationalism and patriotism are dirty words! Stop it, stop it, stop it! And Julian Assange is a callously indifferent indiscriminate dumper and I can prove it! And by the way, how does it feel to sell out and become a star, a brand, for a foreign upstart?
Greenwald: WikiLeaks didn't dump all that false info on Saddam's WMDs. Or help elect Bush by withholding the story on his illegal wiretaps. Our new venture will operate on the premise that the purpose of journalism is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted and treat the powerful not with reverence, but with skepticism. By the way, your own reporter, James Risen, is being threatened with prison over his refusal to name names. By the way, our new venture will include both liberals and conservatives, but not in the vein of David Brooks.
Keller: Leave my David alone!! He is a compassionate plute in a suit. Your scorn for fraudulent moderation is quite telling.... and extreme. Now I'll let you have the last word, because I am a standup guy and unlike some people around here, reasonable and reasoned. Good luck in your venture selling out to a foreign billionaire who caters to the underclass.
Greenwald: Brooks, like the paper that hired him, is a tool for the military industrial complex and the plutocracy controlling it and enriched by it. ("And with some noble exceptions, The Times, by design or otherwise, has long served the interests of the same set of elite and powerful factions. Its reporting is no less 'activist,' subjective or opinion-driven than the new media voices it sometimes condescendingly scorns.") This so called email debate was so much semantic gymnastics and weasel-wording on your part. But thanks anyway for wishing me luck.
My (somewhat ironic) comment:
I have to compliment Bill Keller for printing verbatim his exchange with Glenn Greenwald, when he very easily could have turned his column into another establishment smear job on a non-traditional journalist. (see the Julian Assange story by Keller from a few years ago, in which Assange's skipping and socks and personality quirks trumped his whistleblowing and leaks in the public interest.)
The conversational framing of this column is an indication that the Times is taking to heart some of the recent criticism about its proclivity to act as a mouthpiece for the government, too often giving unwarranted anonymity and protection to elected officials, the better to spread their propaganda.
Much of the credit for this seeming turnabout is also due to the Times's outstanding public editor, Margaret Sullivan. She has been at the forefront of criticizing everything from the paper's coverage of drone strikes, to the NSA revelations, and yes -- even David Brooks, when in a recent column he referred to mixed-race families as "mutts." (he said it was OK, because biracial people sometimes refer to themselves as mutts.)
Brooks had also attempted to pettily marginalize Edward Snowden as a misfit with girlfriend issues as soon as Glenn Greenwald broke the first NSA story. If anything, Glenn's criticism of him is way too mild. Brooks is a menace in centrist clothing, and a disgrace to journalism.For further reading, here's a piece on Greenwald's de facto exile and the distinct possibility of his arrest should he ever venture back to the mainland of the Homeland. Were it not for Edward Snowden and Greenwald's reporting, Angela Merkel, the most powerful woman in the world, would never have learned that the United Stasians are listening in to her conversations. The international reputation of Barack Obama has been left dangling like a severed land line.