Glenn Greenwald’s Self Hack: “I could go on and on”

As you’ve no doubt learned, Glenn Greenwald left The Intercept in a huff after editors wouldn’t let him publish an article repeating the last illogical rant he made about “censorship” of a non-story about Joe Biden (I unpacked the earlier piece here, and did an interminable thread on the interminable piece he wanted to publish as part of this thread).

Glenn has released a selection of the emails, not all with accompanying metadata, that led up to his departure (I had to sign an NDA when I worked at The Intercept and I’m wondering if he had to or whether all NDAs — including those about the now defunct Snowden archive — are invalid now). I consider this a self-hack, because they actually show Glenn conceding the point his editor, Peter Maass made, and then labeling it censorship.

The thread starts with a story memo (with no timestamp, though it may have been a Doc) laying out ways for Glenn to make his column better. It starts by affirming the value of a column criticizing “liberal” journalists for not asking tougher questions. Glenn even emphasizes this by bolding it.

Glenn, I have carefully read your draft and there is some I agree with and some I disagree with but am comfortable publishing. However, there is some material at the core of this draft that I think is very flawed. Overall I think this piece can work best if it is significantly narrowed down to what you first discussed with Betsy — media criticism about liberal journalists not asking Biden the questions he should be asked more forcefully, and why they are failing to do that.

That is, from the very start Maass committed to his willingness to post a column questioning why Biden hasn’t had to answer more questions about this topic. He committed to call out other journalists who won’t be more confrontational with Joe Biden.

What Maass disagreed with are the many places where Glenn, absent any evidence, makes insinuations about Biden corruption.

There are many places in which the explicit or implied position is a) the emails expose corruption by Joe Biden and b) news organizations are suppressing their reporting on it. Those positions strike me as foundations to this draft, and they also strike me as inaccurate, and that inaccuracy undercuts narrower points that are sound.

This is the story that Glenn wants to tell. Not that the “liberal” media is going easy on Biden, but that emails that have shown no evidence of corruption somehow reflect corruption.

There’s a lot nutty in Glenn’s response, but the most important is this passage, where he claims to address concerns raised by Maass.

3) For almost every personal opinion you express about Biden that you claim I omitted, I actually already included it explicitly in the draft. Just a few examples:

  • YOU: “But it’s very significant that the Journal found no corroborating evidence either of Joe Biden’s involvement in any such deals, or those deals being consummated. These are major issues that I feel undermine the draft’s thesis and are downplayed in the draft.”
  • MY DRAFT: “Thus far, no proof has been offered by Bubolinski that Biden ever consummated his participation in any of those discussed deals. The Wall Street Journal says that it found no corporate records reflecting that a deal was finalized and that “text messages and emails related to the venture that were provided to the Journal by Mr. Bobulinski, mainly from the spring and summer of 2017, don’t show either Hunter Biden or James Biden discussing a role for Joe Biden in the venture.”
  • YOU: “You can certainly note that Shokin’s successor let Burisma off the hook, but that’s not evidence he was installed by Biden in order to achieve that end.”
  • MY DRAFT: “It is true that no evidence, including these new emails, constitute proof that Biden’s motive in demanding Shokhin’s termination was to benefit Burisma.”
  • YOU: “A connected problem is that your draft asserts there is a massive suppression attempt by the entire major media to not report out these accusations, but then doesn’t explore how major news organizations have done significant stories, and those stories, such as the Journal’s, have not found anything of significance. The Times has also reported on the China deal and found the claims wanting.”
  • MY DRAFT: “The Wall Street Journal says that it found no corporate records reflecting that a deal was finalized and that “text messages and emails related to the venture that were provided to the Journal by Mr. Bobulinski, mainly from the spring and summer of 2017, don’t show either Hunter Biden or James Biden discussing a role for Joe Biden in the venture.”…The New York Times on Sunday reached a similar conclusion: while no documents prove that such a deal was consummated, “records produced by Mr. Bobulinski show that in 2017, Hunter Biden and James Biden were involved in negotiations about a joint venture with a Chinese energy and finance company called CEFC China Energy.”

I could go on and on. [my emphasis]

Note that, first of all, Glenn paints Maass’ observations about logical problems in Glenn’s piece as “personal opinion.”

In each case, Glenn is misrepresenting what Maass said. The first quotation, in context, is Maass’ first example of the ways in which Glenn’s assertions about Biden are not backed by the evidence. Maass introduces the few published emails, and then notes that the WSJ didn’t find anything nefarious in them.

There are many places in which the explicit or implied position is a) the emails expose corruption by Joe Biden and b) news organizations are suppressing their reporting on it. Those positions strike me as foundations to this draft, and they also strike me as inaccurate, and that inaccuracy undercuts narrower points that are sound.

There are a couple of published emails and texts in which Hunter Biden or his business partners suggest or hint that Joe Biden might be aware of, or involved in, their dealings with China.


But it’s very significant that the Journal found no corroborating evidence either of Joe Biden’s involvement in any such deals, or those deals being consummated. These are major issues that I feel undermine the draft’s thesis and are downplayed in the draft.

The second quotation comes from a paragraph that quotes Glenn’s response!!!! but lays out generally that years of reporting have shown there’s no evidence for Glenn’s insinuations.

In addition, I feel there are substantive problems with the way you present the material on Ukraine. As your draft notes at one point, “It is true that no evidence, including these new emails, constitute proof that Biden’s motive in demanding Shokin’s termination was to benefit Burisma.” However, there are many places in the piece where you say that the material raises serious questions about Biden’s motives, yet you never present any evidence that supports such questions. You can certainly note that Shokin’s successor let Burisma off the hook, but that’s not evidence he was installed by Biden in order to achieve that end (indeed, it appears from the quote Taibbi cites that Biden initially had no idea who Shokin’s proposed successor was). Despite years of reporting by a lot of journalists, American as well as Ukrainian, as well as an exhaustive GOP-led U.S. Senate investigation, no evidence has surfaced of Biden acting corruptly with respect to the replacement of Shokin. (Taibbi’s findings are equivocal, I believe.) The reasonable conclusion, by now, would be that it most likely didn’t happen.

The third quotation notes that once you take into account actual reporting, Glenn’s preferred thesis “starts to wobble.”

A connected problem is that your draft asserts there is a massive suppression attempt by the entire major media to not report out these accusations, but then doesn’t explore how major news organizations have done significant stories, and those stories, such as the Journal’s, have not found anything of significance. The Times has also reported on the China deal and found the claims wanting. There are other pieces I can point to. You should give full notice to those –but once you do, the draft’s overall thesis on suppression starts to wobble. Please note that I nonetheless believe you still have a valid albeit narrower argument about the failure of many journalists to confront the Biden family directly and aggressively with relevant questions about the materials and the legalized corruption of Hunter Biden that they document.

That is, all three of these quotes that Glenn responds to are quotes pointing out that his thesis — that there must be something in these emails that the reporting on the emails have thus far not found that if only “liberal” journalists asked harder questions they could find — is basically bullshit. There’s no evidence of wrong-doing.

And Glenn points that out!!! “I could go on and on,” Glenn asserts, seemingly promising there are endless examples of Glenn admitting there’s no evidence for the claims he is making.

There may well be. But that seems to concede Maass’ argument: that the thesis Glenn wanted to publish — corrupt Joe Biden — isn’t backed by any evidence, even if “corrupt liberal journalists not asking hard questions of Joe Biden” might be.

Immediately after laying out how he conceded over and over that there’s no evidence to support the insinuations he’s making against Biden, he includes this paragraph.

What’s happening here is obvious: you know that you can’t explicitly say you don’t want to publish the article because it raises questions about the candidate you and all other TI Editors want very much to win the election in 5 days. So you have to cast your censorship as an accusation — an outrageous and inaccurate one — that my article contains factually false claims, all as a pretext for alleging that my article violates The Intercept’s lofty editorial standards and that it’s being rejected on journalistic grounds rather than nakedly political grounds.

But your memo doesn’t identify a single factual inaccuracy, let alone multiple ones. And that’s why you don’t and can’t identify any such false claims. And that, in turn, is why your email repeatedly says that what makes the draft false is that it omits facts which — as I just demonstrated — the draft explicitly includes. [my emphasis]

“What’s happening here is obvious” Glenn asserts (after a long passage in which he lays out proof that he’s aware there’s no evidence to back his insinuations about Biden). He claims that it is obvious that “you don’t want to publish the article because it raises questions about [Biden],” then suggests Maass (and presumably Betsy Reed, as well) “can’t explicitly say” that, that their attempts to improve Glenn’s argument about what he sees as the failures of “liberal” journalists to ask questions and their refusal to let him post a screed that, over and over, admits he has no evidence to back his insinuations are really all an attempt to protect Joe Biden.

As he does with Biden himself, he does with his editors: they have pointedly not said they’re doing what they’re doing because they want to protect Biden, and in fact Maass said he was trying to improve Glenn’s argument that journalists, generally, are protecting Joe Biden. But Glenn says it’s “obvious” that’s what’s really going on, even though the evidence says something else.

And he does it after laying out three admissions that there’s no evidence to back his insinuations about Biden, and promising he “could go on and on” providing more examples where he admits he has no evidence to back the claims he’d like to make.

I have asked Maass and Reed for the full email chain (there appear to be earlier emails in this exchange, and Glenn did not include the metadata for communications on October 28). And while I didn’t ask Maass and Reed for this, it bears noting that Glenn has made repeated claims about his contract with The Intercept. If Glenn wants to make these claims, he should be asked by everyone demanding tough questions to prove that his contract says what he claims it does.

Update: Here’s The Intercept’s statement, which is quite good.

Update: I initially spelled Maass’ last name incorrectly here. My apologies to him. Yet more proof everyone can benefit from a good editor.

Update: I keep butchering Maass’ last name. I think it is correct now.

115 replies
  1. Nelson says:

    Glenn seems so … frantic … about getting his story out. He seems seriously concerned about the possibility of a Biden administration. Since Glenn makes so many things personal, and about him, I have to wonder: Is it personal?

    Even Fox News is more or less comfortable with a Democratic landslide. They’re more comfortable playing opposition to “liberals” than being tasked with defending the Trump administration.

    You’d think Glenn would be happy leading a resistance to a Biden administration. He could write piece after piece about Joe’s aggressive foreign policy, whether it was aggressive or not. Instead, he’s displaying real anxiety about a Democratic win. What’s up?

  2. klynn says:

    I have not trusted Glenn for a long time. His whole meltdown seems like a need to keep on task on messaging. His writing seems assignment-like and lacking critical, evidence-based thinking. Plus his tone appears like an audition.

    The “I founded it, I can write what I want without accountability,” attitude is lacking in journalistic ethics – ethics he claimed early in his career to champion.

  3. jaango says:

    Marcy, your too damn kind to Greenwald as well as many others and who are perceived as ‘credentialed’ journalists. Thus, our ever-expanding platforms for for today’s reality of pundits, ,sages and gurus, is on its way out the door. And given that our ‘progressive’ reality that is being brought forth with the ‘new’ demographics via the Census, just means a couple modes of ‘communication’s in the political arena, will concretize itself, in a few short years.

    For example, many years ago when I started writing as part and parcel of my mindset for financial compensation, today’s Three Stereotypes are continuing and have for the past 40 years. And as such, the first stereotype is the Indigenous view for “He’s just another white person.” The second stereotype is the Chicano and which is “El gringo quere componer todo con su ‘I’m sorry!'” And of course, the third stereotype touted by Anglos and is “I don’t care…I’ll be dead… and so, ‘What’s your point?”

    Consequently, our nation’s “agenda” of progressives, meaning Chicanos and Native Americans, will be calling for the next month’s election, the establishment of the President’s weekly Saturday Morning Bloggers Conference. Seminally and over a 13 weekly regimentation, each cabinet secretary and assorted staff, would deliver a comprehensive package of political/governmental details on the president’s ‘agenda’. Further, the assembled 100 or so, Blogger Principals/organizations would have ample opportunity to conduct their ‘inquisition’ of our government-paid ‘authorities’ while premised on both Truth-Telling and Decency Personified.

    And need more be said?

  4. BobCon says:

    I think it was Dave Weigel who remarked that the striking thing about the Anti-Anti-Trump crowd’s embrace of Ukraine stuff is that it has sucked away most of the oxygen that could have been used for a better lefty attack on Biden as corrupt.

    Biden has been arguably the top guy carrying water for Delaware’s corporate interests over the years, including the credit industry and the absolutely awful shell corporations based in his state. These are issues that are vastly easier for voters to understand than anything related to Ukraine, and could have been especially damaging during the primaries.

    Trump has his own massive problems on these issues, but the GOP has never shied away from double standards.

    But it appears that Greenwald etc. made a commitment to be part of the GOP’s 2019-20 scheme to anchor left and pivot right, as Bannon put it in 2016 regarding Clinton’s fake issues. I am going to guess they signed up before they even had any idea what it involved, and now they have sawed off the branch they were sitting on.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yeah, it was a really good point. Biden IS too close to the banks.

      But we’re talking Hunter Biden instead.

      • bmaz says:

        Yeah, Biden’s work on the 2005 Bankruptcy Act is almost as destructive as his work on the 94 Crime Bill. It has hurt a lot of people and bucked up a lot of corporate interests. In some fairness, I guess, Delaware is so corporate friendly because of state level legislative actions, not Biden personally.

        That is just who Delaware is as a state, and calling them “corporate friendly” is a gross understatement. Biden did not have to embrace it nearly so warmly, but that was his constituency as a Senator for Delaware. Anyone who thinks Biden is friendly to banking, money, insurance and corporations should take a trip into the Delaware state Chancery Court sometime. They make Biden look like Liz Warren, it is completely bonkers.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Much like a host of British protectorates, Delaware’s purpose is to hide money from the tax man and to enable those who own businesses to incorporate and run them with as little liability and administrative burden as possible. Add in a beach and horse farms, and you have Delaware’s bread and butter. But that doesn’t adequately define Joe Biden.

          As Dan Froomkin said yesterday, the questions we have for Biden are plentiful – and the pressure progressives exert on him should be relentless – but they can wait a few days. There’s nothing in his past – and we already know a lot about it – that compares with the clear and present danger of a continued Donald Trump presidency.

          That’s a political judgment as well as a journalistic one. American journalism has wrestled with the two since its inception. (How often has the NYT or another paper sat on a story, let alone questions?) It’s also a question of citizenship. Journalists, their editors, and owners are citizens, too.

          We face an existential threat. We can’t stop bailing out the lifeboat to argue about why we’re in it, not when the dark night and ice cold sea are already littered with corpses.

          • Norskeflamthrower says:

            “It’s also a question of citizenship.” That’s the long and the short of it. well said.

        • BobCon says:

          I know an attorney who works in DE and my understanding he and his office do endless work creating and dissolving corporations and handling necessary compliance.

          I think the influence the shady corporations have in DE is less about the fees they pay to the state and more about the legal community that has grown up to support them in the state. The firms like the ones this guy works for make sure that they can get the ear of their elected reps.

          • bmaz says:

            That is perfectly consistent with my experience there. Only two trips, and on the same case, but had to be jumped in and associated with a local. Their practice sounds exactly like you describe by your friend. It is really quite eye opening. And, as said before, totally bonkers.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            The corporate formation and management business is a major employer. But the legislature’s battle to be the most corporate friendly state in America – competing with Wyoming and Nevada – yields large contributions from corporate lobbyists. Banks love it for similar reasons. That it’s roughly midway between Wall Street and DC is also useful.

            But Biden is more than a corporate lobbyist. It’s up to progressives to help him be a lot more – throughout his tenure. The criticism that he is too establishment is legit, but it’s also part of his popularity as a safe pair of hands, contra Trump. But that criticism needs to take wider aim, and include the Schumers and Pelosis, their followers and successors, and their patrons.

            I keep going back to Noam Chomsky: Progressives rarely vote for someone. They vote against the worst available choice and work like hell to push their person as far left as possible.

        • Desider says:

          In another universe the absurdity re: the hoopla over Hillary’s 5(?) speeches to Goldman Sachs vs Biden’s career of serving banks and insurance would be a study in irony. But for now let’s not bicker over who killed who – there’s an election in 4 days, and i don’t care if Biden’s Jabba the Hut in disguise – he’s still a ton better than Trump. Who btw Glenn often doesn’t get asked those tough question you test about – instead he plays the refs or runs back to his GOP:friendly station to feed him softballs. But you knew that.

          • bmaz says:

            Absolutely agreed about Biden. In fact, he might make a very decent President. The bar is pretty low now though. And, sigh, yes I understand the Glenn stuff too.

            • Norskeflamthrower says:

              Yep. remember another political hack who made it to the White House and saved capitalism starting in 1933!

        • Ed Walker says:

          What bmaz said. I saw the impact of the 2005 Amendments immediately, but the horrifying problems that came with the Great Crash were made even more terrible by that law.

      • BobCon says:

        Right, it’s weird that GG wants to hurt Biden by doing a triple bank shot involving his son instead of jumping on a more obvious line of attack. When challenged over some really dubious material, instead of embracing the more well-founded things reported on by The Intercept that they have presented to counter what he says, he fights even harder for whatever derailed train of logic he is backing on Hunter.

        • timbo says:

          Weird… unless it turns out GG’s possible pay-masters benefit from not looking closely at the malignant influence of banks and corporations in the US…

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        This is a Thing, though, with congressional Dems, though, especially in the Senate. The federal system creates incentives for specific industries to hold sway in specific states and that affects even the most liberal members.

        Delaware’s a corporate sinkhole and one of the world’s worst tax havens. Obama was big on ethanol in Illinois. Klobuchar and Smith (and Franken!) are/were way too beholden to the medical device industry because Medtronic is based in Minnesota. The Connecticut delegation isn’t great on health insurance profiteers. Schumer isn’t great on Wall Street. Murray and Cantwell like Amazon and Microsoft. Sanders isn’t great on guns, but that’s more because Vermont is white and rural and likes guns though not in a New Hampshire way.

        (In the House: Anna Eshoo and Zoe Lofgren aren’t inclined to make life harder for Big Tech; if Hollywood wants to add another 30 years to copyright terms, it’s going to lean on Adam Schiff and Ted Lieu.)

        So there are always cracks in the Dem caucus, and it’s not just because Joe Manchin eats coal for breakfast.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      sucked away most of the oxygen that could have been used for a better lefty attack on Biden as corrupt.

      Among the many ironies here, that “better attack” from the left against Biden is what Greenwald, Taibbi, Mate, Murray, and Yves Smith say they want.

  5. Norskeflamthrower says:

    Why are we spending any of our precious time on this earth with Glenn Greenwald and his painfully pathetic exhibit of intellectual self destruction?

    • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

      This is a golden age for watching grown-ass men throw tantrums and pick up their toys and stomp away, and the reason is the same as always: It’s entertaining!

    • Savage Librarian says:

      I have never found GG to be interesting or entertaining. So, at least I get to skip all that angst. I’m sure there will be a few details associated with him that will capture our attention. But good riddance to him. Soon we can say he is SO LAST DECADE.

  6. L. Eslinger says:

    Glenn Greenwald’s concern about the claimed bias of other writers suggests that he is motivated by his own bias, not simply a desire to accurately report factual information.

    Perhaps he should identify himself as a media critic or editorialist, rather than a journalist.

  7. Mary says:

    For his future investors, don’t forget he is a grifter from way back. The particulars of his involvement with his Accountability Now PAC resembles Steve Bannon’s fraud with We Build the Wall where they lied to contributors that they weren’t taking any of the money and then they took the money and tried to disguise it behind a shell corporation or two.

    [Hi Mary, welcome to Emptywheel. Would you please be so kind as to add something onto your handle? “Mary___” or something? One of our longest time friends, not just in comments, but as a front page contributor too, went by “Mary”. She is now deceased, but still precious to us. And we want your comments to stand on their own and not be confused with hers. Thank you in advance.]

  8. Wm. Boyce says:

    I think it’s important to note that Mr. Greenwald has done some good work in the past, most notably the Snowden revelations. But, like Julian Assange, there appear to be personal and political axes to be ground in his focus on Mr. Biden’s alleged corruption.

    The whole political landscape has shifted to the internet, where scores of right-wing blogs stand ready to pick up any hint of a story tarring Democrats or others who oppose what’s going on in our government. Because the internet helps make many people stupid, a lot of lies have been believed and shifted the course of history, such as “Hillary’s emails” in 2016.

    • BobCon says:

      He’s helped increase the amount of attention focused on Bolsonaro over the past few years, who is a true monster. One of the mysteries of his thinking is how he can be so dismissive of Trump critics when Trump and Bolsonaro have such a close relationship. I think he works it out in his head that focus on Trump somehow prevents opposition to Bolsonaro among the US left, although I may be mixing him up with claims by others that the US left is somehow supporting Uighur repression by focusing on Trump.

    • timbo says:

      Lol. So… you don’t find it much suspicious that someone wants to run the State Department from a server in their basement? One can imagine your credulity at all the good works that Pompeo has been doing at State… where he is more likely than not using several unchecked basements, digging them much deeper than the Clintons ever did…

  9. GKJames says:

    Reminds one of the amateurish nature of DOJ’s efforts before Judge Sullivan.

    Greenwald transforms Maass’s “no corroborating evidence either of Joe Biden’s involvement in any such deals, or those deals being consummated” into a very different — and transparently manipulative — “[t]hus far, no proof … that Biden ever CONSUMMATED HIS PARTICIPATION in any of those discussed deals” (my emphasis). He assumes Biden’s “involvement” even after the lack of evidence has been pointed out to him.

    Greenwald’s assertion that there is “no evidence … [to] constitute proof that Biden’s motive in demanding Shokhin’s termination was to benefit Burisma” baldly misleads by ignoring wide reporting in 2019 of (i) the reason for Shokhin’s removal, his failure to combat corruption in Ukraine; and (ii) the consensus among persons in the US, the EU, and Ukraine that that was the reason. There is no evidence to be uncovered, much as Greenwald insinuates to the contrary.

    As with Example 1, Greenwald insists that his weaseley reference to the absence of “corporate records reflecting that a deal was finalized … and … [to the fact that] text message and emails … don’t show either Hunter Biden or James Biden discussing a role for Joe Biden in the venture” as meaning the same thing as (per Maass) “no corroborating evidence … of … Biden’s involvement”. Smear by suggestion.

    These are examples of someone who has lost the plot or is spinning a new one. Neither relates to credible journalism.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Yes, GG’s language is highly manipulative here, and falls just short of the, “Do you still beat your wife” variety. That his editor wanted to make it less so is part of what drove GG up a wall. That’s not journalism, it’s a John Solomon level of propaganda.

  10. PeterS says:

    We can’t prove it isn’t true, so it’s worth reporting as possibly true: this is QAnonism not journalism.

  11. MB says:

    “What’s happening here is obvious: you know that you can’t explicitly say you don’t want to publish the article because it raises questions about the candidate you and all other TI Editors want very much to win the election in 5 days. ”

    Which begs the question: who is the candidate that GG wants very much to win the election in 5 [now 4] days? Hard to believe it would be this year’s unknown Green and Libertarian candidates…

    Bolton said he wouldn’t vote for Biden, nor obviously Trump, suggesting he cast a “protest” vote via write-in. Et tu, GG?

  12. Njrun says:

    During the financial crisis, when GG was writing for Salon, he did a column about the crisis that prompted me to write him a friendly note advising him of some things he had gotten wrong. As far as I knew he seemed liberal and the general thrust of his piece was OK, but I covered real estate securitization for a living and wanted to help him understand whatever.

    I thought of it as a note one professional to another. He wrote an insanely nasty response accusing me of bad faith, refusing to even consider whatever I said. I could never take anything he wrote seriously after that, he’s genuinely disturbed.

      • Njrun says:

        He is now, but the experience i had wasn’t about ideology, it was a total inability to consider anything he did as less than perfect. People who publish for a living (like me) normally develop a thick skin and get used to criticism and editing, it’s part of the deal. But his response was almost psychotic.

        • Gman says:

          Amen — if Greenwald comes off as a prima dona still riding his fame from the Snowden story that came to him and say in his lap. Even that wasn’t some grueling investigative work. What journalist would demand the right to avoid being editorial critique? One that has lost his way.

          • bmaz says:

            Hi there. Let me introduce you to Mr. Charles P. Pierce, who knows a thing or two about journalism and journalists:

            “I rise only to mention that there are superstars in this biz — and you know who you are, you big babies — who have “no edit” clauses in their contracts. If you don’t want to be edited, get a better agent.”

            I think I will stick with Charlie, but thanks for your take.

            • Sandwichman says:

              Best comment on that thread:
              “I would assume Glenn–A LAWYER, SIR–thinks he’s too good a negotiator to need an agent.”

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                Perhaps he’s too good a lawyer to be a fool and represent himself.

                GG’s faults may be many. Right now, they seem to include credulousness, bad journalism, and a severe and brittle narcissism.

                But he doesn’t have to have come by them by being a grifter or traitor. There are simpler explanations.

    • P J Evans says:

      Massive ego, then. He can’t be wrong, in his own mind, so everyone else must be.

      (I did QC before I retired. I apologized to people when I got it wrong.)

    • Skilly says:

      Interesting, “…I covered real estate securitization for a living …” I was not aware that was possible. Can I get a job covering student loan securitization for a living? How is the pay?

      • Njrun says:

        I don’t know why that is surprising, it’s an industry and every industry has media covering it. There are a lot of specialty financial publications, so if you are qualified you no doubt could find a job.

        Before that I was in newspapers, my paper closed in 1995, and I’m genuinely grateful I wound up in real estate. I’ve enjoyed it immensely, and I find the topic interesting, and I love the people, as flawed as some may be.

      • holdingsteady says:

        Thanks, Skilly, you’ve motivated me to pick up my David Dayen book, Chain of Title again… ‘real estate securitization’ indeed. What a debacle, I hope anyone who covers it describes the disaster it lead to, and the need to regulate that industry.

    • GJT says:

      I actually had a very similar with Taibbi during the financial crisis, since at the time, I was a Money Market Reporting Analyst. I actually wanted to work with the OWS types back then, because I was shocked that people were following the wrong paths, when the right ones still led to the end result of going after Wall St. for their actual misdeeds.

      Remember, there is a long list of grifters that have come out of the woodwork who at one point grifted off the left. I consider Greenwald a more accomplished Tim Pool or Candace Owens, who realized the grift on the “Trump supporter need to be validated by “folks on the LW”” gravy train is more lucrative than what they can run on the left.

    • graham firchlis says:

      Used to write for and present to overwhelmingly academic audiences. Those who think the politics of public office are vicious, be advised that academia is far more so. Everyone it seems has a sharp knife in hand, and the least flaw brings a flurry of slashes and stabs.

      Staying on a defensible track absolutely requires embracing criticism, and honing your thinking in response. A well constructed thesis clearly recognizes and rejects unwarrented criticism, while incorporating valid critique so as to stregthen and clarify one’s position.

      Most importantly, when your position is just flat wrong it is criticism that can inform an early retraction and redirection, instead of banging on a broken drum until you become a laughingstock. Professor Pons and “cold fusion” leaps to mind.

      Learned far more over the years from my critics than from those in agreement. It is precisely Greenwald’s defiance of criticism that drives him down rabbit holes. Waste of a first-rate mind.

  13. noromo says:

    “Here’s The Intercept’s statement, which is quite good.” That’s quite an understatement.

    “We have the greatest respect for the journalist Glenn Greenwald used to be….” Ouch.

  14. Manuel Gonzalez says:

    Renewing membership now that The Intercept’s leadership separated from founding member Glenn. Concerned now about the editor’s USA centric stated focus “The defining feature of The Intercept’s work in recent years has been the investigative journalism that came out of painstaking work by our staffers in Washington, D.C., New York, and across the rest of the country.”
    Many investigative issues remain in need of the work of investigative journalists such as the ones said project supported in Brazil. How about “reconnecting” with the amazing journalist that they failed to retain during their earlier formative phase and, that is based currently in Ireland?

    • bmaz says:

      Well, keep in mind that Glenn drove the Brazil work. We shall see how well the Intercept Brazil is maintained after this. But I know several reporters and editors at TI, and Marcy knows most of those and several more. There are some very good people there. It is worth reading and supporting if you are so inclined. So is Emptywheel!

  15. GJT says:

    The only thing I can honestly say is it amuses me to no end Glenn, and his ridiculous chorus of fools like Taibbi, actually thought that those emails made him look good. I don’t know who “Betsy” is, as I’m not up on Intercept inside baseball, but she has far more restraint in her workplace than I would have if anyone wasted my time with such petulant BS.

    Still ironic, the day before all this, Glenn publicly Tweeted out how fair the Intercept editing process was to him, this entire episode was to rake in RW cash.

  16. Oxcart says:

    Could “censored” mean something else, something specific? “Adoptions” meant “sanctions” to the people who understood that script.

  17. Dan_S says:

    I think GG is an iceberg. Much is unknown about his involvement with Edward Snowden and what happened behind the scenes, potentially involving the latter’s eventual rescue by Russia. Those unknowns may explain his hatred for Obama/Biden and the IC, as well as his stridency in amplifying contrarian doubts about Russian attribution for 2016 and Trumpworld’s involvement therein.

    Or he’s just a narcissistic blowhard curating the identity of a gritty, underdog truth-teller to generate a profitable monopoly on trust. That could explain his omnidirectional attacks on all media outlets, now including his own.

    • Norskeflamthrower says:

      Whatever happened behind the scenes, the result is that he is now a completely corrupt and compromised narcissistic blowhard.

    • Malaclypse says:

      His hatred for Obama came before the Snowden archive. He cut his teeth on his intense criticism of Obama sanctioned targeted drone strike against US citizen Anwar Al-Awaki and his 16 yr. old son in Sept 2011.

      • bmaz says:

        “Hatred”?? The “intense criticism” of the Awlaki drone executions was entirely appropriate. You have been here exactly three times since last May (your only three times), always under a different, and shifting, identifier.

        We here were as hard on Obama and the illegality, in addition to the immorality, of the Awlaki drone executions here at Emptywheel . Are you going to shit on us too, or just bogusly cite that as basis for your umbrage at Greenwald? Get a grip.

        • Malaclypse says:

          I used the term “hatred” since the original comment used that term. I should have put quotes around it to denote it as such.
          In full agreement with you regarding the illegality and immorality. And thought that Greenwald’s writing and stance against it was spot on and totally warranted.
          Didn’t realize that EW was around during those days and glad to see that you were just as critical. Gladly, EW has stayed the course. Wish I could say the same for GG.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        All of which was earned and just criticism, “targeted drone strike” being an Orwellian euphemism for extrajudicial killing, or, with less restraint, murder. This site objected to it as well.

        • Malaclypse says:

          I used the term “targeted drone strike” because I thought that was the bare minimum to which anyone could agree. I considered using extrajudicial killing, but was concerned that may be proved wrong. All of my knowledge about that event came from only one source, Greenwald. And while he definitely made the case that it was a extrajudicial killing, (at least in my mind), I was concerned that maybe I didn’t know the full story and would end up being schooled. And given how he has gone off the rails, I am now concerned about anything that I learned from him in the past.
          Wasn’t trying to be euphemistic, just come to a term that no one could disagree with. And made sure to include in my comment that this happened to a US citizen. To not note that, I think, would be truly Orwellian.

          • Rayne says:

            This site published more than 400 posts about Awlaki and his murder/assassination/execution/extrajudicial killing/whatever-term-you’re-comfortable-with

            This site has also published nearly 900 posts about drones, though not all are about Awlaki.

            Just because these topics have been covered elsewhere doesn’t mean there aren’t other places to obtain a more holistic picture of the abuses drones afford governments.

            • bmaz says:

              I think it was quite clearly extrajudicial execution. Somewhere in that milieu of posts, I also called it quite arguably straight up murder under 18 USC §1119, as to Abdulrahman Awlaki.

              • Rayne says:

                No quibble with *your* terminology since you’ll ultimately refer to 18 USC 1119.

                I was responding to the commenter who is still feeling about for more concision for their own use.

                • bmaz says:

                  It was obviously extrajudicial, as there was no court or substantive due process, and it was a targeted execution. So that, painfully, fits perfectly.

                  The murder part is probably tougher, though I have always thought it fit just fine under 1119. The government relied on a ginned OLC opinion by David Baron and Marty Lederman, because they realized how outrageous what they were doing was. I like Marty quite a bit, but never going to forgive him for that steaming pile of bogus rationale.

            • Malaclypse says:

              Thanks for the link to the posts about Awlaki. I’ll definitely read further as I need to get away from a single source on that.
              And I’m in agreement with all of the terms that you used to describe it.

  18. Malaclypse says:

    If Trump wins the election Tuesday night and Biden becomes non-relevant, how much time and effort do you think anyone will spend on these Hunter emails?? That story will disappear overnight because the only reason it’s currently relevant is to influence the election.

    Glenn may still show up on Fox News, but everyone (himself included) will have quickly moved on to some other topic, as this one will no longer move the needle (and it barely does now anyway).

    • bmaz says:

      You are full of it, the Biden thing, while completely bogus, is about far more than Greenwald. Why are you here right now? What is your grinding axe?

      • Malaclypse says:

        bmaz, i’ve been reading here for a couple of years now. Decided to start posting a few comments back starting back in May and have obviously pissed you off, with no intention to do so.
        I have no axe to grind.
        You won! I’ll go back to reading in silence.
        If I have a question that might help me to understand better, I’ll not post it.
        If I have a comment that I think might have some relevance to anyone on this site, I’ll not post it.
        TBH, posting comments on this site is very intimidating for me (and probably others).
        There are obviously people on this site that are extremely knowledgeable. I am not one of them. I’m just trying to become more informed.
        There are also people on this site that have been on the site for a very long time and have a good understanding of the other commenters. I am not one of those as well. I’m just trying to become more engaged.

        • bmaz says:

          No, you did not piss me off. I am highly dubious of anybody I don’t recognize talking up the Biden computer/emails thing. It is manufactured and absurd garbage. On second reading, I think I misread you, and I apologize. You get to know the others here, and, yes, there is a core group of forever people, by engaging them. Please continue to do so. We also answer questions when we have time. There is a whole lot to filter right about now, so time is not always plentiful.

          I would suggest that the corollary, and maybe more important, question as to what happens if Trump wins is what happens if Biden wins and Trump and Barr gin up a special prosecutor to go after the Bidens. That is not my speculation, it is the direct statement as to what will happen by Trump’s impeachment attorney, Robert Ray, on live television.

          • Malaclypse says:

            Thanks bmaz. Appreciate you taking the time to reread, reply, and the apology.
            I had not thought of the corollary, but would not doubt it at all. There is no level to which Trump will not stoop.

  19. gnokgnoh says:

    David Neiwert’s last post on his blog in May 2019 is still up. It’s mostly about Greenwald’s early legal career, and it has receipts. It’s not conclusive in my view, because who we are shifts over time, but it is an excellent, long read. Orcinus article.

    • Tracy Lynn says:

      I especially liked this “…Fascists use people like Greenwald to leave a trail of wreckage…” I used to read Glenn’s posts on Salon, way back when he seemed a little more thoughtful, although not exactly my cup of tea. Now I don’t recognize anything he writes as being from that same person from way back.

    • Philip Munger says:

      I sometimes imagine it would be nice if David were writing here instead of at DK. But they need all the help they can get. Just started reading his latest book.

      This is a definitive comment thread. Thanks, everyone!

    • John Paul Jones says:

      Excellent article. I liked this bit – “No, this is a question of judgment: If you’re so short-sighted that you can’t see how your ethical choices wind up enabling harmful behavior, then exactly how astute is your judgment in any event?” – which puts it in a nutshell. Sean Willentz did a very good article a number of years back in the New Republic, making some similar points.

      • Norskeflamthrower says:

        I have long been wondering when someone is gunna turn over the rocks that covered the path to the Clinton administration granting tax exemption to Scientology. The dots connecting American fascism go a long way back, beyond the 30’s and the America Firsters.

  20. PF says:

    I am a returning to the site after abandoning it back in 2016, so bear with me, or disregard. I am also a Trump hater from before most of you ever heard of him, after growing up in NY/NJ, and will never vote for a Republican or Democrat again. I have no dog in this one. Nonetheless, allegedly “no one knows” where the Hunter Biden emails came from, although they have been verified as genuine by at least two email senders and the Senate Committee (I know, not credible), as well as the shop owner with signed receipts, and everyone at the Intercept seems to privately agree the emails are likely genuine, at least according to the Empty Wheel. Greenwald’s only crime was not supporting Biden, and now you smear him like a spurned prom date. So forget about Greenwald for a second.

    What about the content of the discussion? Do you feel pretty good about Biden after the emails and then Tony Bobulinski’s interview and documents, which are extremely damning and also ring true from what we know of Biden’s record? What about the Hunter Biden-Russia-China stuff involving Gazprom, and Hunter Biden’s role on behalf of people who you allege helped create President Trump? I won’t even go into the crackhead sex photos and many, many allegations of child molestation from Beau Biden’s widow, and email discussions with the Big Guy brushing off his son’s pedophilia. But isn’t any of this disturbing? Is this Biden s___ show somehow less terrible than the Orange Crush. even ignoring the dementia? This is one horrific state of affairs, with no clear non-villains.

    But Democratic Party hacks are pulling out all the stops not only to build a fairy tale narrative out of this s___ show election, but also to treat every day readers and viewers as idiots. The point of Greenwald’s fury was the collusion between Twitter, Facebook, and Google, Inc. to prevent people from even knowing about the laptop, and the Intercept’s support for that collusion. You seem to agree that the laptop emails more than likely are authentic, and of course the Big Guy denies everything, so can’t that be reported and analyzed? Why the need to keep information away from people in the Most Important Election in History. As if.

    Finally, it is very hard to swallow moralizing from this site, from a proud FBI informant. Do you remember who J. Edgar was? Cointelpro? The MLK, RFK, JFK, Malcolm murders? You want to get in bed with that gang of racist psychopaths? Go ahead and attack Greenwald, but try not to expose yourself too much more as a tool of shadowy interests. Bad faith weighs down on you eventually.

    • bmaz says:

      Lol, you parachuted back in after four years to leave this simpering tripe? And you want to lecture others about “moralizing”? Screw you. Also, you do not know your ass from a hole in the ground. You will not be back again.

    • Rayne says:

      LOL What a lot of time you invested writing this bullshit.

      You don’t have to “swallow moralizing from this site,” where the only “shadowy interests” we serve are a democratic and open society. Just leave.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Bless your heart. You made the right choice by walking away in 2016. Don’t second guess yourself now, it would be hard to swallow. As for calling EW a “proud FBI informant,” and I say this with all due respect, go Cheney yourself.

  21. yenwoda says:

    Greenwald refers in the 3rd paragraph to:

    “numerous other emails and texts purportedly written to and from Hunter reflecting his efforts to induce his father to take actions as Vice President beneficial to the Ukrainian energy company Burisma”

    That seems like the basis of the public interest argument but doesn’t match to any of the emails I’ve seen. Totally possible I’ve missed some though. Are there really multiple (or any) that support that description? The closest I can think of are: possible J. Biden meeting in DC; vague reference to Hunter’s “influence”; the “my guy” email that specifically disavows any ability/attempt to sway what J. Biden will say or do while in Ukraine. But those are still wayyy far off from Glenn’s claim.

  22. Idland says:

    Once very credible reportage of the Borg. This blowup somewhat of a mystery. Enough is known about Omidyar’s neoliberal motivations. I am sure he has been providing Glenn with private security after threats from Brazilian leadership. Is he prepared to relocate? What are his deeper motivations?

  23. Dmbeaster says:

    Greenwald had a few moments. But he started out representing white supremacists, and trashing their victims as if that’s just being a lawyer. He has ended up spending his time on the Tucker Carlson White Power Hour, a kindred spirit. He has no credibility or legitimacy left. Good riddance.

  24. Atalanta Fugiens says:

    If you’re the FSB, it is very low effort/high yield to monitor most of the name brand NatSec reporters in the US. It seemed evident during the Snowden thing that few of them really had, prior to that sophisticated opsec. Seems plausible the FSB knew Glenn had a big fish on the line when the Snowden stuff started up.

    But maybe this is just the weed talking.

  25. Eureka says:


    Poitras Poitras Poitras.

    Laura Poitras.

    This is all I have to say when these GG topics come up, and someone(s) mentions the good he’s done (focusing on the peak takeaway of his career). I could also start yelling:

    Wheeler. Marcy Wheeler.

    Noted National Security Expert Marcy Wheeler (who is a NatSec expert regardless of whether Politico says so — that’s a separate, if quite related, topic prompted by a comment elsewhere).

    And could go on with other talented women who’ve scaffolded this guy over the years — until they, or others, didn’t, or contractually ‘couldn’t’. This phenomenon — a real talk version of what some might sink under a banner of ‘Peter Principle’ — deserves an appropriate new name for 2021 onward.

    This is my read from the public square. Like SL above, I was never enamored of him, and so don’t see his recent behavior as a ‘turn’ so much as a more explicit show and tell. Same with Assange — these men are not very different from each other, or from Trump, for that matter — in that narcissists* are incapable of any true social, public interest: there’s always an instrumentality of self-interest, which grows and becomes more exploitable with “fame” and other such conditions. While that doesn’t wholesale negate any social benefit of their various works (or mean that they don’t believe, or ‘believe’, that prosociality is their guiding light), most of us would probably be among the last to have taken interest in the crux of these men’s malleabilities. Headlining on Tucker gets his rocks off — great! Many much mutualism.

    *’assholes’ allows breadth and parsimony at once: it’s the better word choice.

    • Melkor says:

      He definitely has always had a narcissistic streak and been incredibly rigid in his thinking. But that’s what made him fearless to the point of putting his own life at risk. We are seeing the downside of those traits now however

  26. Melkor says:

    His reaction seems so disproportionate to the circumstances that I have to wonder if this was planned. Did he want to make a hard break with The Intercept and use this to make a dramatic exit? For some time now, Glenn has been veering closer to the “anti-woke Left”. Being charitable, I think the way many weaponized identity to protect Obama’s shitty foreign policy and neo liberal economic policies blew his brains.

    I also think the Left has taken a much–needed movement away from white control and this is the pushback. It’s not just him. The same thing is happening with Matt Taibbi, someone else whose work I used to follow. But its much easier being on the Left when you can focus all ire on elites. Not so much so when the villain becomes white supremacy.

    • Norskeflamthrower says:

      “I also think the Left has taken a much-needed movement away from white control and this is the pushback.” Yeppers.

  27. spinbackwards says:

    When I started following the Hunter thing, first by Matt and then Glenn, what stuck out to me was how badly both of them missed it section 230 of the CDA (communications decency act). They missed it by a mile.

    They were both making a big deal out of Facebook and Twitter doing what they have every right to, and what 230 was written for. In their minds Facebook and Twitter were media companies, which they are not. They wanted their readers to believe that Facebook and Twitter had obligations to their users, which they don’t.

    I’m an expert on 230. Because I was there. I started in tech in the late 80’s. I wrote some of the first apps that were the proving ground for today’s Internet. Myself, along with other entrepreneurs back then fought for 230. Because it was vital to a free and open Internet.

    Here’s what I wrote on Glenn’s latest post:
    I’m in for the $50 subscription, based entirely on Glenn’s support of animal rights and what he does for doggies.

    Everyone here seems concerned about journalism and that’s great. As such, I hope you’ll consider what other respected journalists have to say, including Marcy Wheeler.

    Glenn and Marcy aren’t going to be hugging it out anytime soon. No, I’m not a plant – but I eat Whole Plant Based Food.

    As Marcy so well points out, Glenn is totally wrong about section 230. He missed it by a mile. So because he missed it so badly on 230, one has to ask, what else did he get wrong?

    I’m an expert on the CDA – Communications Decency Act. I became an expert because I started in tech in the late 80’s. I wrote some of the first apps that were the proving ground for today’s Internet. I was in Silicon Valley in the early 90’s. I fought, along with other entrepreneurs, for section 230. Because it was vital to a free and open Internet.

    You all owe it yourselves, to ask Glenn the tough questions. Post ’em here I guess. You owe it to yourselves to read what Marcy wrote, in particular what she wrote on 230.

    I’m not going to argue with anyone here about 230. Been there, done that. Didn’t get a t-shirt. The best explanation is here:

    I’m no fan of Facebook or Twitter. I’m a strong advocate for a decentralized approach. My partner and I wrote what was then the first private network. My favorite expression for social media is that it’s a social disease.

    But in this case, Facebook and Twitter are right. I’ll defend their 230 protection with all my might.

    Facebook and Twitter do not have any responsibility to you, me, or anyone. Whatever they did with the NY Post piece they had every right to, under their Terms of Service. It’s their business and you give up all rights at logon. They are not, media companies. If anyone tries to change that, all hell will break loose.

    It’s happening. The regulators want to get involved and change what is a perfect law:

    If you don’t want to listen to me, fine. But find the people who were there in the early days. Talk to them. Ask them about 230. Read what Marcy wrote about it, read the other link I provided.

    I’m all for Glenn doing his thing. My familia and I are grateful.

    But I’m gonna “sleep with one eye open”, as Dolly sings:

    So far in that post, I’m not getting flamed.

    But in other posts on Matt and Glenn’s site, I was.

    I thought people there cared about journalism. I was wrong. I was attacked, a few of them were down right nasty “f you, you deranged Democrat…” and so on. I don’t think any of them read Marcy’s piece. The one or two that did read the EFF link or seemed to have at least Googled 230, wouldn’t read the law to be anything other than their views, which are Facebook and Twitter are media companies, need to be broken up, etc. So they were essentially advocating for big government. But wait. I thought this crowd was about no government?

    They all claim to be there for journalism, but they won’t consider any other views from a respected journalist such as Marcy. They ignore the law (law and order crowd?), only Matt and Glenn are right. Mind blowing.

    I threw in the towel.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I’ve thrown in the towel on Yves Smith’s N*kedc*pit*lism, too. Her Econned seems a generation ago. She and the vast majority of her commentators are in the bag for GG. Her site is now a key part of the GG-Taibbi-Mate-Murray-Smith bubble.

      For them, Taibbi is a treasure who walks on water. Allegations about his craziness, crudeness, and mistreatment of women during his Russia period – and about his recent journalism generally – are a sham. (Then again – and this is hilarious for a Harvard BS quant – she thinks Trump’s finances were thoroughly investigated by the Feds, who came up with zilch.) Aaron Mate is nearly as wondrous, while Craig Murray is a useful also ran. But the great and glorious treasure, and once and future king is St. Glenn of Greenwald.

      Marcy Wheeler, OTOH, according to Yves, traffics in “insinuation” – unlike Greenwald – and offers no proof for her views. The latter criticism is willfully blind and LOL funny, given Marcy’s frequent analyses of original documents. But it illustrates how tribal and faith-driven some of these affiliations are. I’ll stick with Emptywheel any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

  28. josh says:

    Hi, I’m not a regular here, I just came because I’ve been following the brouhaha. I just wanted to raise an issue which I haven’t seen anyone anywhere address regarding the alleged Biden scandal. A key claim keeping the story afloat is that an e-mail from H. Biden associate James Gilliar to Tony Bobulinski mentions an equity split in their proposed business venture with “10 [%] held by H for the big guy?”. Bobulinski, who seems to have a grudge against Hunter, claims “the big guy” was Joe Biden. But a much more natural reading of the email is that the big guy is Sanan Phutrakul, in charge of Operations for Sinohawk, the company they were all trying to make a venture of. Sanan is one of six people referenced earlier in the e-mail as receiving a remuneration package, and one of the same six listed as a “Key Individual” in the running of the company, as found here: .

    The equity split lists five initials which correspond to the five other people, H. Biden, Jim Biden, Tony Bobulinski, James Gilliard and Rob Walker. Seems like it would make perfect sense if S. Phutrakul is “the big guy” who is the sixth part of the equity split. I bring this up because I haven’t seen anyone even mention it and I don’t know how to find out if it’s obviously wrong or clearly correct. Shouldn’t journalists like Taibbi and Greenwald be out tracking down stuff like this?

  29. x174 says:

    great catch: “As he does with Biden himself, he does with his editors.” in his insistence to push futilely the brain dead narrative, it’s inescapably clear that glenn greenwald is no journalist–concern troll for the trumpanzees?

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