Glenn Greenwald on what he's learned



Ultimately the reason privacy is so vital is it’s the realm in which we can do all the things that are valuable as human beings. It’s the place that uniquely enables us to explore limits, to test boundaries, to engage in novel and creative ways of thinking and being. Only if we feel free of the kind of judgmental eyes of others are we able to try different things out, to experiment, to evolve, to free ourselves of mores that are imposed on us or conventional orthodoxies about how we’re supposed to behave and think. And that, ultimately, is what is most valuable about being human: to be able to create new ways of thinking and being.
Surveillance breeds conformity.


…through fear. The only way to survive a surveillance state is to watch what you say and to whom you say it.


Up to a point after which one needs even more surveillance to prevent acting out by people doing things like peeing in elevators…


“I think the real Obama reveres institutional authority. He believes that it might need to be a little more efficient, but he has zero interest in undermining the powerful, permanent factions that have run Washington.”

Well, if they could be undermined, they wouldn’t be particularly powerful or permanent.

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Even if we’re not doing anything wrong, there are certain things we want to do that we don’t think can withstand the scrutinizing eye of other people.

Like writing a novel.

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If you work for MSNBC or for CNN or whatever, you’re basically nothing more than an employee of a large corporation, and in order to thrive in large corporations, the attitude you need is somebody who gives power what it wants rather than looking to subvert it or to be antiauthoritarian.

Give it to them, Glenn!

What’s so cool and reassuring is that Saint Glenn, Savior to All and Journalism In Particular, has always been on the case of those fake journalists who kowtow to the powerful.

Here he is giving Chris Hayes (The Nation‘s Editor-at-Large and MSNBC’s weekend host) a taste of his Greenwaldian medicine:

In the book, Hayes described how American elite culture is so insulated that it “produce[s] cognitive capture,” meaning that even those who enter it with hostility to its orthodoxies end up shaped by — succumbing to — its warped belief system and corrupt practices. Given that Hayes pronounces this “cognitive capture” to be “an inevitable outcome of sustained immersion” in that world, I asked him what steps he is personally taking to inoculate himself against being infected now that he’s a highly rewarded TV personality and employee of one of the world’s largest media corporations.” ([Greenwald interviews Chris Hayes][1]) [1]:

No word yet from Glenn on whether or not his assessment of what happens to journalism in a corporate setting/culture is going to apply to his own heroic person once the Pierre Omidyar new business venture he’s going to head launches. Will the “inevitable cognitive capture” Hayes describes going to apply to Greenwald now that he’s become an Omydiar’s employee?

Fret not kids, Glenn has an answer to that one, as illustrated by his detailed, not-at-all obfuscating exchange with Amy Goodman, during one of her famed adversarial interviews. Would you believe that Hero-of-the-People Glenn has already questioned Friend-of-the-People Pierre Omidyar on his being owner of PayPal and eBay and how that worked out during that whole Wikileaks blockade kerfuffle:

Glenn Greenwald: In the very first conversation or second conversation I had with Pierre, I asked him about that exact issue. And what he told me was that, at the time—and this is absolutely true—he was not the CEO of eBay, he was not involved in its management or PayPal, and that he actually disagreed with that decision.” ([Greenwald responds to Goodman][1])

What journalistic mettle, Glenn! Thanks for totally reassuring us and not pulling any wool over our unworthy eyes, Glenn.
I guess that old fart Chomsky and equally farty friend Herman were in over their heads when they wrote that rag, Manufacturing Consent.

You’re so great, Glenn.

And do keep the locks on those Snowden files for us. We’re so unworthy of your genius, self-sacrifice and heroism.

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Because he’s not a saint, it nullifies every bit of information he has brought forth? Do you work for CNN and your feelings are hurt? And what’s with the “sknowden” reference?


The “sknowden” typo is fixed, thank you.

Never suggested that all he said should be nullified. Not once. Just extremely concerned that people are giving him a pass on his association with Pierre O… It has huge implications.
In other words, I’n not drinking the kook-aid anymore. The constant promotion for himself and, by extension and directly, for his news organisation is making me a little sick.

And no, I don’t work for CNN.
What’s interesting is that your intervention suggests that for you only a corporate journalist would come up with the responses I posted. Do you think a concerned citizen could come up with it?

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I, too, am concerned about his new association. But frankly, I’ll take what was the good and the bad of it, going back in time, considering the importance of what was released. I’m not saying it gives him a pass to infinity and beyond. As to my feelings about your post, it seemed saturated with bitterness beyond that of a concerned citizen, but maybe I misinterpreted it. Regardless of the self-promotion, he did indeed make sacrifices to release the information. Ones that CNN and other corporate entities wouldn’t have, so in spite of his humungous ego, he does have a point.


I’m always taken aback by these types of attacks on the personality and motives of “Saint Glenn”. I suppose that anyone who ascends to larger notoriety through writing and speaking should be denigrated for such an unbecoming ambition to have a larger audience.

Is it impossible to accept that what he says and writes may be sincere? Is it so easy to discard the message because one takes a personal dislike to the messenger, for whatever reason?

I obviously applaud him for his willingness to take on what I consider to be crucial issues, especially issues which are so likely to bring down the full weight of the power structure against him. He may not be a “Saint”, but he is closer to it than many of his fiercest critics. He, and Snowden, are certainly heroic as far as I am concerned, whatever their personal foibles may be.


Quoting Greenwald’s words and pointing to some of this troubling behavior is not a personality or motives attack. It’s more like … evidence. He did say those things and is not being forthright regarding his business association with a man who has never done anything to support freedom of expression and the right of the people to express dissenting views – no matter what that man might have written on the HuffPost.

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Wouldn’t you say that funding a new journalistic enterprise by hiring many of the most outspoken critics of governmental secrecy, and the current most vocal defenders against attacks on investigative journalism and whistle blowing, would be considered to be supporting freedom of expression and dissenting views? It seems to me to be $250 million dollars worth of “evidence” that he has some interest in the ideas of the people he has hired, regardless of how he made his fortune.

It would have been nice if The New York Times or CNN had offered a chance for true investigative journalism to take place, but the declining journalistic standards of the larger media institutions and their already demonstrated willingness to be shills for the establishment, would seem to indicate that they are disinterested in hiring the rabble rousers like Scahill and Poitras and Greenwald.

You might take a look at the personal and bitter language that you used to describe your issue. If it is not driven by a personal dislike, you have a funny way of showing dispassion.

An interesting debate here about Greenwald. I see nofare’s point in calling out Greenwald about his business dealings, but in the context of Pierre Omidyar, maybe it’s possible the whole wikileaks kerfuffle (great word, btw) was what Mr. Omidyar needed to get the lead out and create the Greenwall of Journalism.

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