Ok, so yesterday my intention for this post was to go into a little bit more on why I think the Guardian is so particularly unsuited to the near-monopoly on info Snowden apparently gave it and to touch upon what an alternative situation might look like. However, my first post has been so ANNOYINGLY misunderstood, mischaracterized and poorly argued against I have no choice but to defer that to a Part 3 (lucky Tarzie fans!) and deal with all the shit people are talking right now in comments and on Twitter.
Fans of Greenwald will be pleased to know that the man himself weighed in today on Twitter and I doubt the really dumb, besotted ones (of which there are A LOT) will be as disappointed as I am by the overwhelming bad faith, though I kind of like the dig at NSFWCorp by way of a dig at me. It’s flattering that he knows where to put the knife. A sample reproduced below:
I still love Greenwald, but I have to say I love him less than I did before Snowden laid a Golden Egg in his lap. He’s becoming stonewall-y, arrogant, and really rather dishonest in ways I don’t recall from the days when he talked about things that interested elites, filmmakers and book publishers far less than mass spying does
Since Greenwald’s intent today was simply to make me feel like a divisive, ungrateful shit for not seeing blazing sphincter-sun emanating from him and colleagues there isn’t much there that a super-savvy
troll person like me should bother with. However, I would like to address the claim that my beef is with Snowden and not with the Guardian since there is quite a lot embedded in that that seems to resonate with a lot of the people. So here:
- I don’t believe that the terms of how the Guardian manages its scoops ARE dictated by Snowden.
- Even if the terms are dictated by Snowden, I am not obliged to find them meritorious, so to the extent that he is dictating how the Guardian behaves, yes, my beef is with him. So what.
- The Guardian has been objectionable in ways that I am quite sure Snowden has nothing to do with so while I may have a beef with Snowden, I have a beef with the Guardian (and Greenwald) also.
On the matter of how Snowden has influenced the Guardian’s coverage, we only have Greenwald’s word, and sadly, I take that a lot less seriously than I used to. He invokes Snowden’s authority every time anyone criticizes him for withholding information or slides — when he doesn’t stonewall altogether — and then turns around and contradicts himself when the need arises. If he and his colleagues are just jumping through Snowden’s hoops, what are we to make of these remarks to O Globo following David Miranda’s Heathrow shakedown (h/t Arthur Silber):
“I am going to publish many more documents now. I am going to publish a lot about England, too, I have a lot of documents about the espionage system in England. Now my focus is going to be that as well.”
Yeah, I realize he’s angry and everything, so what about these statements he made a while back to Huffpost:
Snowden hasn’t been doling out documents one by one…He gave a few to the Post, and then a bunch to us — weeks ago — and left it to us to decide what should and shouldn’t be published and in what order.
Is this a reporter who is jumping through whistleblower hoops? Clearly not, so it’s really disingenuous when confronted with complaints about one’s reporting to say otherwise, that is, to lay one’s shortcomings on someone who is incommunicado instead of simply dealing with the complaint head on.
Second, I appreciate Snowden’s whistleblowing and courage and all, but that in no way obliges me to see his view on whistleblower ethics and strategy as in any way authoritative, even in the unlikely event that Greenwald and the Guardian are conveying them in any way but self-servingly. It is really quite dishonest of Greenwald to say I am too cowardly to criticize Snowden since he is well aware that in my first post about Snowden I critiqued the self-flattering comparison he made of himself to Manning, a comparison that Greenwald alludes to — offensively — every time he goes on about the non-efficacy of dumping.
Yes, as the whistleblower, Snowden has a lot of leverage to place conditions on his media partners, but that doesn’t give his conditions theoretical weight with respect to media elites monopolizing information that rightfully belongs to the public.
Finally, the Guardian has been fucking up again and again and Rusbridger’s suppression of the hard-drive smashing story is only the straw that broke the camel’s back. I will get to the matter in detail in part three but the short version is this: they wait too long between stories, a lot of the reporting is half-baked, they withhold and redact too much; and finally, they are on far too amicable terms with the NSA and GCHQ.
Now with respect to a lot of the other crap I got for my piece, I am simply going to try to state my point of view as concisely as I can since so much of what came at me seemed unrelated to anything I think or said:
Alan Rusbridger is a dick for having shielded the Cameron government from a global free speech scandal for two months before finally addressing it with a meandering, weird and trivializing blog post instead of the front page of his newspaper.
Alan Rusbridger is also a dick for dispatching David Miranda into the jaws of British anti-terrorism after smashing the Guardian’s computers on government orders under the supervision of GCHQ goons.
Monopolies on information are objectionable on principle and also tactically problematic. Any monopoly that media elites want to hold on critical information should be warranted by some greater good. I don’t see that greater good in the case of the Guardian.