Sunday, March 23, 2008


Glenn Greenwald: Liar Again

Building on the theme of Glenn Greenwald being a liar, my previous post puts me in mind of the hectoring nudge's conduct during the controversy he ginned up about Joe Klein's misunderstanding of FISA in a column for Time Magazine. Like all bloggers who bulldog the "mainstream media", Greenwald is a serial self-aggrandizer who seeks to gain readership at the expense of the journalists he imitates and on whose work he almost entirely relies. In this he is no different from frauds like Little Green Footballs' Charles Johnson and the Powerline clowns.

Greenwald browbeat Klein for getting key facts wrong about FISA in this piece. Unlike Greenwald, whose writings on foreign policy are thin gruel, I try not to produce endless skirls on topics I know nothing about, so I'll take the former Wachtell litigator at his word that Klein fucked up. (Both Klein and Time admitted as much.) Seeking, like water out of a desert gourd, to wring all he could out of his gotcha, and once again wishing to perform his fantasy of being a journalist, Greenwald then teamed up with Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake to browbeat Priscilla Painton, the editor at Time responsible for failing to vet Klein's erroneous column. Remember, this whole thing was about Glenn Greenwald protecting your interests as news consumers...

Here is how Hamsher described that endeavor:

I've spent all morning on the phone trying to figure out who the editor at Time Magazine was on Joe Klein's FISA column (the one Klein has now written about five times, fully admitting he never read the original bill). I finally confirmed that the editor was Priscilla Painton, and called her and identified myself. I asked her what the editing process was, and how a piece with so many errors made it into print.

"That assumes that there are errors," she said. And hung up on me.

Pretty perfunctory. You could guess Painton was being churlish or evasive, or you could guess she wasn't ready to go "on record" with an amateur journalist about facts she wasn't certain of, or you could guess she didn't much care for being waylaid on her private line by some blogger who had badged herself as an investigative journalist. Either way, the exchange doesn't communicate that much.

Greenwald was Hamsher's second in this, observing via video conference, and this is how he described it:

I spent the morning working with the tenacious and resourceful Jane Hamsher on finding out exactly which Time editors were responsible for the wildly inaccurate Joe Klein FISA article. Numerous people at Time vigorously insisted they had nothing to do with it. Finally, Jane was able to ascertain that the person responsible was Time Editor Priscilla Painton.

As Jane details here, she called Painton in an attempt to find out information about how these false claims made it into Klein's article, what Time was planning on doing to correct it and whether they would account for what happened. I happened to be conversing with Jane by video when she was finally able to speak by telephone to Painton and thus heard Jane's end of the discussion.

The call lasted roughly 10 seconds. Jane asked one or two questions in the most polite and professional manner possible -- whether Painton was Klein's Editor and how such errors made their way into the article. As Jane describes, after she asked Painton how such inaccuracies could make it into the Time article, Painton snapped: "That assumes that there are errors." She then slammed down the phone in Hamsher's face.

Compare the two accounts. Hamsher's is like a healthy limb: formed and utile, featuring necessary detail. Greenwald's is like a limb stricken by elephantiasis: deformed and lumbering, cauliflowered hideously with unnecessary detail. But this is not just an aesthetic issue; Greenwald's embellishments are dishonest. Hamsher describes a fruitless encounter with Joe Klein's editor at Time Magazine. Greenwald transmogrifies this into the "tenacious and resourceful Jane Hamsher", who, in sussing out the culprits responsible for Joe Klein's "wildly inaccurate" column, bushwhacks her way through "[vigorous]" denials, to be confronted "finally" by an establishment functionary who "[snaps]" at her and "[slams] down the phone in [her] face".

This would be bad enough if Greenwald had actually witnessed and simply embellished these details. But he didn't. In his incontinence as a writer, he reveals a detail he probably should have kept to himself:

I happened to be conversing with Jane by video when she was finally able to speak by telephone to Painton and thus heard Jane's end of the discussion.

So Greenwald only heard Jane's side of the conversation, but he knows Painton "snapped" at Hamsher and "slammed the phone down in [her] face", and all the rest of it.

Glenn Greenwald is a polyp on the colon of public debate that should be removed.

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