Thursday, June 27, 2013

Comical Plutocrat Blows Smoke At Greenwald

When it comes to the latest conspiracy theories, I usually back away out of pure rational instinct. But the smear campaign currently in full swing against Glenn Greenwald simply reeks of a conspiracy between the government and the corporate press.

The smears against Edward Snowden started predictably and immediately. But the campaign against the messenger of the messenger took awhile, mainly because Snowden is off the radar at the moment and Glenn Greenwald's public profile has been rising by the day. David Gregory got the ball rolling last Sunday, and landed in the gutter. (see this excellent Frank Rich smackdown.) Today, New York Daily News reporter Dareh Gregorian pitched a 90 mph spitball aimed straight at Greenwald's head. But rather than beaning Greenwald, he missed the mark by a mile. He has not yet learned the first lesson of the journalistic smear: always use subtle language and weasel words to make your nasty points. Judging from the outraged reader comments on the News site, Gregorian's ham-handed salvo has boomeranged big-time and come back to hit him in his own smirking face.

I won't bother to repeat what Gregorian wrote, which Greenwald has already discounted in a much calmer manner than I ever could, simply expressing bemusement that the Daily News and the New York Times both seemed to have mysteriously come up with his tax records at exactly the same time.

All you have to do is Google Dareh Gregorian and the dots start connecting all by themselves. He is the son of Vartan Gregorian, one of New York City's leading plutocrats. Daddy is president of the Carnegie Corporation, coming from a long line of previous stints in the academic-industrial complex.  He has served in, or been honored by, every recent presidential administration, beginning with George H.W. Bush. Since President Obama appointed Vartan to the White House Commission on Fellowships, did he also commission Junior to be just the fellow to smear Greenwald? Inquiring conspiracist minds want to know.

How Junior ended up on the staff of a New York City tabloid instead of on the august pages of the New York Times would be anybody's guess, until you actually read his drivel. And judging from a snarky piece in the New York Observer about his 2003 engagement (to the daughter of a New York Times socialite columnist) the younger Gregorian gives a whole new depth to elite shallowness:

 “I’m attracted to talented people, and she’s incredibly talented-crackerjack and on the ball,” Mr. Gregorian said. “Very enthusiastic, very dogged. She had a natural ability that came out very quickly.” And her big brown eyes didn’t hurt, either. “I spent a lot of time watching what he did, because he was really good,” Ms. Haberman said.
She told her father about the strapping coworker, and he praised Gregorian senior, whom he’d met on the Manhattan dinner-party circuit throughout the years (Ms. Haberman had never heard of him). Then, one night, it occurred to her that when it came to her feelings for her comely co-worker-well, as her Dad might’ve put it, she’d buried the lead. “I was just seized with the wind to call him,” she said. “I told him that I adored him.” Fortunately, young Mr. Gregorian reciprocated her feelings. “I knew I wanted to marry her even before we started going out,” he said.
They’re planning the wedding, at an as-yet-to-be-determined downtown location, from their east midtown one-bedroom, where his comic-book collection- Captain America is his favorite-takes up half the closet. When Ms. Haberman left the Post last fall, she brought with her a Wonder Woman desk figurine that Mr. Gregorian had given her. “It’s funny now, because she’ll come home and say: ‘This thing happened today! But I can’t tell you about it till tomorrow,’” he said. “We have a little Hepburn-Tracy thing going on.”
Indeed, they’re both still puffin’ away on cancer sticks as if it were the 1940′s. “The Mayor has given me repeated crap about it,” Ms. Haberman said with a sigh. “I smoke Marlboro Ultra Lights; he smokes Camel Ultra Lights. It’s so cute. We’ll die together.”
You really can't make this stuff up. A middle-aged hack with a comic book collection and a stinky smoking habit is handpicked by the Powers That Be to take a pile of thin dirt on a columnist who broke an embarrassing story about them and hurl it into the wind. You can almost smell the desperation. It reeks like a pack of unfiltered Camels.

When I last checked, there was still no New York Times story on how the dastardly Mr. Greenwald once reneged on a student loan and still owes the IRS money. Gregorian, of course, never needed to take out a student loan in his life. And scion of the American Aristocracy that he is, he enjoys tax breaks the rest of us can only dream about.

This is just the latest indication that L'Affaire Snowden is, to the top .001%, simply an icky manifestation of the Class War of the proles against them, rather than the epic outing of the neo-fascist corporate spy state that is keeping them all in power.


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't fret so much, Karen. Most of the "negative" stories aren't shocking for most Americans.

1) Porn? It's America's version of Italian opera. I don't know any American males under 55 who don't consume porn in significant quantity.

2) Suing your landlord? Amid today's ass-raping rents, that makes GG a HERO!

3) Hassled by the co-op board because Fido was a teensy bit large? Prego, we have all had to deal with such neighbors.

4) Owes the IRS money? Hey, what honest person DOESN'T?

Basically, all this "news" just makes him more relatable.

He's our I.F. Stone, just unimaginably tougher.

Zee said...

This story is more than a year old, but speaking of owing money to the IRS, some 36 Obama aides once owed Uncle Sugar some $883 grand in back taxes, while federal employees owed about $3.4B to the IRS.

So, as you say, Anonymous, GG is in good company.

Denis Neville said...

“Look at the orators in our republics; as long as they are poor, both state and people can only praise their uprightness; but once they are fattened on the public funds, they conceive a hatred for justice, plan intrigues against the people and attack the democracy.” – Aristophanes, Plutus

The governing invisible elite and their “Ministry of Truth” are very busy formulating all sorts of false storylines and smears to convince the gullible public that the Snowden and Greenwald are unsavory characters who pose a threat to their lives. Throw lots of mud at them. Divert attention away from their message.

Most Americans passively accept what is fed to them. They are comfortably numb. They prefer willful ignorance to critical thinking. While it is true that there are more citizens pissed at what is going on, the vast majority are more than willing to let the Ministry of Truth form their opinions for them through relentless propaganda. As Bernays said, “If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without them knowing it.”

“Most men and women will grow up to love their servitude and will never dream of revolution.” – Huxley’s Brave New World

“The average citizen is the world’s most efficient censor. His own mind is the greatest barrier between him and the facts. His own ‘logic proof compartments,’ his own absolutism are the obstacles which prevent him from seeing in terms of experience and thought rather than in terms of group reaction.” – Bernays, Crystallizing Public Opinion

Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, made copious use of Bernays’ book “Propaganda.”

“This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.

“To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it—please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must someday lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.” - Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free – The Germans, 1933-45

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” – Edward Bernays, Propaganda, 1928

Zee said...

"“Look at the orators in our republics; as long as they are poor, both state and people can only praise their uprightness; but once they are fattened on the public funds, they conceive a hatred for justice, plan intrigues against the people and attack the democracy.” – Aristophanes, Plutus

So, in other words, human nature has changed but little since the Golden Age Of Greece.

"Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely." --Lord Acton

James F Traynor said...

My wife thinks Victoria's Secret ads are pornigraphic, while I say they're an unsuccessful attempt at the erotic; the ladies' expressions are a little fatuous. Glenn Greenwald's sexual predilections are his business.

I really admired his handling of the Meet the Press incident. As for the NYDN thing. Well hell, that's just plain embarrassing. Glenn Greenwald and Karen Garcia- two of my favorite people.

As for Aristophanes, I did think he gave Socrates something of a bad rap. So Socrates liked the parties
the oligarchs threw, but he also liked to hang out in the Athenian red light district. Kind of like Greenwald's hanging out in the intellectual red light district of Twitter.

Jay - Ottawa said...


From the last two comments (yours) on Karen’s previous post:

"Some may find this [Greenwald's] approach self-righteous and unrealistic. Others, solipsistic and rigid. I think it is all those things, but those things are the entire point of journalism."


"One may disagree with his notion of "truth”, one may disagree with his tactics, but one cannot dispute the value of it over process and tabloid."


"Self-righteous?" "Unrealistic." "Solipsistic?" "Rigid?" "His notion of 'truth?'" "His tactics."

You still talking about Glenn Greenwald?

I don't think Greenwald and his writing are remotely described by any of the qualities you just pinned on him. What you say boils down to faint praise, as in an oh-so-subtle attack against him and his work.

And here on this later post by Karen you're promptly first to recite in well-ordered detail the tabloid's supposed muck on Greenwald.–– and to chuckle it all away dismissively, of course, but item by item, nevertheless. How sophisticated, how thorough.

What are you up to?

Anonymous said...

You apparently missed that I clearly stated that the comment I added to the last post was from a Gawker reader, and I thought it was high praise - both measured, thoughtful, and wide-ranging in its assessment. Go back and read it, maybe you'll get it on second read.

Separately, there's nothing "mucky" about what The Daily News reported. GG did nothing illegal, nor does he dispute their facts. I merely pointed out that:
1) Porn is both legal and ubiquitous, so why be offended that he was involved as an investor? For all we know, you're watching porn as we speak. SO WHAT? I don't care.
2) He's a lawyer, and he sued someone. So????
3) So he owes the IRS money. For God's sake, Jay, in this economy a lot of ordinary people owe the IRS money, it doesn't make them bad people. About a quarter of my colleagues have the IRS putting liens on their earnings. SO WHAT?

GG is who he is. I'm proud to call him a fellow American no matter where he lives right now, what he owes the IRS, or what kind of porn he invests in. And, as with Spitzer, I don't expect the boldest lawyers (or any other profession) to be perfect choir boys.

Do you live in a monastery? Good God, Jay, none of what was reported about GG was untrue or even bad.

Anonymous said...

Aristophanes made fun of everyone, but consult your I.F. Stone, it was a little more complicated than Socrates earning a bad rap. A couple of add'l recent books that also shed light (more light than I.F. Stone!) are Bettany Hughes weighty "The Hemlock Cup" and the quick-and-dirty "The Death of Socrates" - both by woman scholars and both delish.

I'll admit being amazed that the kind of people who find the VS catalogue either "pornographic" or "fatuous" somehow manage to read through enough of it to form an opinion as to the purity of its content. Hmmmm... Right or left, the Puritan nature of America lives!

Anonymous said...

addendum to comment to Jay:
when I wrote that I didn't care "what kind of porn he invests in" I was thinking "gay or straight - so what?" Although it seemed obvious to me, I should have further qualified it as "porn made between/among consenting adults".

Pearl said...

James F Traynor said...

Thanks, Pearl.

Anonymous, should you choose to sign the letter, you can check the anonymous box.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

Thanks, Denis, for that succinct batch of quotes from Edward Bernays, Aldous Huxley, Milton Mayer, plus your own comments interspersed. I plan to provide printed copies of them to several relatives with substantial need of increased political consciousness. Unfortunately, it probably won't make much difference to most, but I keep trying anyway. One of my nieces has shown some signs of political awakening, but still has quite a long way to go. As for the average American, he/she ranks somewhere between a head of cabbage and a nematode.

And I've been meaning to read some Bernays myself, hopefully I can find the time later this summer. (Right now I've got a pile of books, scientific and not, with higher priority).

Pearl said...

"Do you live in a monastery? Good God, Jay, none of what was reported about GG was untrue or even bad."

Anonymous: I find this sentence troubling for a number of reasons which should be obvious. I am also troubled about a lot of the double speak coming from you. I don't mind other opinions but they should have clarity, reason and respect for others on our comment page. I don't feel that from you nor any kind of clarity and focus regarding your opinions regardless of their source of origin.

Reread Karen's columns and learn how to operate the scalpel effectively.

Denis Neville said...

@ Anonymous

For Izzy Stone, as for Aristophanes, the figure of fun and the dangerous subversive are one and the same.

Jay - Ottawa said...

@ Anonymous

In your comments at the end of the previous post the slurs made against Glenn Greenwald, like “self-righteous,” “unrealistic,” “solipsistic,” “rigid,” etc., are found in paragraphs that lack quotation marks. YOU forgot the quotation marks; I didn’t not see them. And now you fault me for careless reading and not knowing where Gawker left off and your very own Anonymous self began?

No matter. Those missing quotation marks around many paragraphs of your comment would not have made that much difference in my evaluation of what you and that other unnamed writer from Gawker were up to.

The screed you so approvingly placed before us from Gawker is in no way in praise of Greenwald. It is craftily designed to sink Greenwald ever so slowly in the eyes of others on one count or another, nailed down by frequent repetition, which you carry on in this subsequent post.

In a following comment, above, you repeat the same stuff as the Gawker writer. Another ploy is to give praise, then offer some readers a reason to take it away: "... I'm proud to call him a fellow American no matter where he lives right now." Oh yeah, he's one of those ex-pats in Brazil. Hmm.

You reiterate yet again the same points broached by the tabloid and recycled in the comment from Gawker. But you're sophisticated and generous; you understand. What’s a little investment in porn? What’s a little corner-cutting with the IRS? Heh, heh.

You keep assuring us, as if that's necessary, that Greenwald is not a sleaze, despite these several peccadilloes we keep reviewing. We aren’t “purists,” are we? –– shades of Obama’s dismissal of “purists.”

Oh, and thank you for the low-slung aside addressed to me: “For all we know, you're watching porn as we speak.”

Whether it’s Gawker speaking or yourself, you are both in agreement. It was you, Anonymous, who introduced the long Gawker passage in question as “one of the most admirable defenses of Greenwald … I've read.” Give. Me. A. Break.

That Gawker quote you praised yesterday and your rehash today (of obscure, dated, nuanced and private issues) are brush marks of the same smear against Greenwald.

Pearl said...

This will help us survive a flame thrower in our midst.

Kat said...

Good grief! Why the suspicion? I think it is possible to support someone, to be a fan, and still have some criticisms.

Zee said...


Well said!

Though I think that Jay has reason to be irritated by what he refers to as Anonymous' "low slung aside."

Please, everyone, please calm down.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Kat. (And Zee.)

But Zee, suggesting it is highly possible that any male in Europe or North America is engaged at any time of the day in watching porn is NOT a "low slung aside." Rather, it is statistically relevant to dismissing the criticism of Greenwald by the NYDN.

Can we at least concede that point?

or failing that, may we at least concede that Jay's generation has a far different take on sexual mores than does my younger generation? We don't have to like porn to acknowledge its ubiquity in our culture, and its irrelevance in the larger NSA story.

Further, Jay ignored my use of closed quotes at the beginning and end of the Gawker post.

What's more telling is the larger success of that comment, which apparently eluded him.
That the commenter cleverly (even Pericles-ianly!) acknowledged the criticisms of GG before making (very cogently) the argument that GG's strengths and contributions over-rode those flaws worked. It was also incredibly effective within a comment board that is still "in flux" with regard to GG.

As for Pearl's disappointment that I don't fit her doctrinaire need for consistency, so be it. I've not noticed that said doctrinaire positions make her arguments more effective to anyone but the already converted. Sigh. Look, It's nice that there's a place on the Internet where like-minded people can find agreement, but sometimes it dulls their ability to take in new ideas, or even to acknowledge that their own sexual mores, once considered radical, are somewhat ossified.

I iterate (not reiterate, Jay) that there is nothing scabrous about what was reported about GG. And I would add that by getting one's panties in a knot over his porn dealings or tax liens not only disrespects GG's own response (i.e., it's not a big deal!) but does exactly what Karen complains about - takes the focus off of the real story, the NSA.

WHICH IS TO SAY: that while Karen and Jay were busy being offended by trite gossip in the NYDN, there were new reports of CIA involvement in the NYPD.

That's the real story. Pethaps best to follow up on that, Karen? Rather than picking apart some socialite reporter's irrelevant personal life because he dared tell us that GG is not unlike a whole lot of other private citizens, with their foibles and lawsuits and porn and tax liens. It is only a big deal if jay keeps insisting it is.

Pearl said...

" Look, It's nice that there's a place on the Internet where like-minded
people can find agreement, but sometimes it dulls their ability to take in
new ideas, or even to acknowledge that their own sexual mores, once
considered radical, are somewhat ossified."

This statement, in addition to others about shortcomings in our comments is
enough for me to publicly request Karen to refuse any further comments from
the anonymous Anonymous. We don't need any more space taken up with his or
her (I believe it is a her) obsessive diatribes which sow discord (not
legitimate differences) and are insulting to those of us who work hard to bring up information that is of help to others in formulating our thinking and political action if needed.

I also have serious questions about the real purpose of Anonymous' comments to Sardonicky. !?

Karen Garcia said...

As most of you know, I reserve at my own discretion the right to remove comments from this site. I haven't done so lately, because it hasn't been necessary. The last time I had to was because someone was advocating armed violence. I draw the line at that, plus at personal attacks. Usually I will just shut down a thread when it seems to be getting too fraught.

As far as Anonymous is concerned, she has the right to withhold her identity, as do we all. That being said, she has come and gone at this site under various monikers since its inception. Her m.o. is as follows: she starts off very inclusively, with much admirable erudition to offer, then gradually pivots into subtle flame-thrower mode with the seeming purpose to foment discord and hijack the thread. Then she disappears. Then she comes back in a new persona. It's the Internet!!!

Now, I will address Anon's concerns directly. First of all, the story about the CIA involvement with NYPD is nothing new. I wrote about it more than a year ago when John Brennan publicly praised the Muslim surveillance program. Most recently I referenced this angle in a NYT comment on the police dept overreach. I have been writing about the surveillance state for a long time, way before Edward Snowden blew the whistle.

Secondly, I don't post here every single day on every single issue. This is a one-woman operation.... although, I do encourage outside submissions. I devote about an equal amount of time to Times comments, where let's face it, there is a wider audience. Additionally, I don't want this to be just another news aggregation site, which are a dime a dozen these days. Thus, the less frequent posting than on other venues. I like to take time just to think, do research, and try to be original when I can.

Finally, regarding my current post about "idle gossip", I thought it worthwhile to point out the hypocrisy of the mudslinging crowd by slinging a little mud myself -- just to illustrate how the mainstream press is not usually subject to personal attack. What's good for the goose, etc. Plus I hate being serious all the time. It's not good for mental health.

Finally -- as I have stated before, if more than one "Anonymous" starts posting, I'll cut them off as a courtesy to the people using original handles, who are trying to hold a discussion. Please use initials or a made-up name, just to avoid unnecessary confusion. Thanks.

Denis Neville said...

There was a recent study showing that internet readers are influenced as much by the tone of online comments as by articles alone.

An article with invented comments was shown to two groups of readers. The first group read civil, constructive comments about the article, while the second group read fake uncivil, flame-war, flame-bait comments.

Readers' interpretations of the article differed significantly depending only on the tone of the manipulated comments. The second groups’ opinions were polarized, leading them to misunderstand the original article.

Commenting is a privilege, not a right. We have to earn it. We owe Karen a big “Thank You!” for allowing us to comment here.

Jay - Ottawa said...

In case someone missed the top comment following Roger Cohen's NYT essay of this morning:

Karen Garcia New Paltz, NY

Thank you for an excellent column, a refreshing gust of fresh air that blows away the usual noxious "blame the messenger" smoke currently stinking up the discourse.

Edward Snowden is a hero, not only for revealing an epidemic of abuse by our own government, but for forcing the architects and enablers of the abuse right out of their protective closets. Politicians and corporate media hacks alike have revealed themselves as the self-serving corrupt tools of the oligarchy. Republicans and Democrats alike have been hoisting their well-maintained selves on the "Bring Me the Head of Edward Snowden!" bandwagon. By calling him a traitor, they name us as the enemy. No longer can they pretend that they exist to serve and protect what they so quaintly call "the middle class." They all took a loyalty oath to the Surveillance State.

Snowden could be diagnosed with every malady in the psychiatric DSM, and he'd still be a hero to me. The only law he broke was that of giving aid and comfort the citizenry. He ranks right up there with Thoreau, King, and Ellsberg. The Powers That Be know this, and they are shaking in their shoes. Good.

Elizabeth Adams said...

Just a little local news:

I was at this protest as a legal observer and not wanting in any way to get arrested.

Beale AFB is right in my back yard, and 3-4 drones can sometimes be seen flying over the base at night.

(I mistakenly posted this in the previous comments section)

Will said...

Here's the youtube video of Glenn Greenwald's appearance (via Skype) at the Socialism 2013 conference in Chicago last night. Please watch & then share this any way you can with everyone everywhere on planet Earth. Thank you. :)

Denis Neville said...

@ Will – Thanks for the link

Consciences of America…

David Halberstam kept on his desk a quote that Albert Camus had written during France's war in Algeria: “I should like to be able to love my country and love justice."

“Good leaks,” whispers by government officials in MSM ears.

“No one becomes a reporter to make friends, but neither is it pleasant in a situation like the war in Vietnam to find yourself completely at odds with the views of the highest officials of your country. The pessimism of the Saigon press corps was of the most reluctant kind: many of us came to love Vietnam, we saw our friends dying all around us, and we would have liked nothing better than to believe the war was going well and that it would eventually be won. But it was impossible for us to believe those things without denying the evidence of our own senses. And so we had no alternative but to report the truth.” - David Halberstam

Ambivalence about whistleblowers?

Climate of fear…

Shake the foundations of the corrupt invisible government!

James F Traynor said...

Yes, Will's youtube reference was well worth the time and this has been a very enlightening string. Karen's comment within it ditto.

Anonymous mentioned the Hemlock Cup by Bettany Hughes. I've read it twice and it really puts you into the gritty precincts of ancient Athens. And I think she has really nailed the illusive Socrates: Question everything, even democracy, but do no harm. Sorrowfully, it killed him n the end

Kat said...

Maybe I'm just super dense, but this "provocation" is totally going over my head ( besides the aside to James which I didn't catch).
This reminds me of the time I was involved in a putatively non partisan group which was a little too go blue! for my taste. They had a speaker and sign up forms to get on their mailing list. After the meeting an email was sent out speaking of enemies in their midst because the sign up list had gone missing. My thought: "perhaps someone misplaced it?" As it turned out the speaker had accidentally taken it.
And how was anyone able to discern the gender of Anonymous?