A Heat Vampire in Search of a Movie Deal

One benefit of monopolizing state secrets is that if someone criticizes you because they believe you are acting in a way that is inimical to the interests of all the billions of people those state secrets affect, it is very easy for you and others to reduce their concerns down to some animus they have toward you that owes to everything BUT the disproportionate impact of all the shitty, dishonest and reckless things you do: Your detractors are clearly envious or attention-seeking trolls or, even better, government agents, out to sabotage the deft undermining of the surveillance state via your deceptively counterintuitive strategy of not disclosing secrets about it.

You could never do this in an environment where you had opted to matter just a little less, by distributing your secrets to other journalists, for instance. You make yourself the story and then complain when people focus on you. Very handy how that works, especially when you factor in the personality cult of belligerent dimwits your monopoly ships with.

Well fuck this bullshit, I say. I make no apologies for my continuing interest in Glenn Greenwald but I will explain it, because I think even some people who don’t particularly admire him at this point still don’t get why he matters, as if it’s not enough that he has made himself the toll booth through which all seekers of Snowden knowledge must pass.

As I wrote on this blog, long before the truly awe-inspiring courage and self-sacrifice of Glenn Greenwald made me hate myself:

my main interest as a blogger is in the self-subjugation of Americans to control by a predatory oligarchy, a capitulation which has practically no peer in the developed world. Within that realm, I am most interested in the intellectual policing and obstructionism at the margins by public liberals and lefts.

I am interested in the people guarding the margins of our politics because I think they’re vile and toxic and because they are practically immune to criticism from the cowardly likes of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting and from most other members of what can only with immense charity be called ‘the left.’  For reasons I make plain throughout this blog, I do not regard these people as part of any  ‘us’ to which I belong, so spare me the bullshit about internecine conflict and ‘in-fighting’ and fuck you especially if you particularly dislike the ‘bullying,’, ‘uncivil’, ‘personalized’ tone I take toward people with vastly more influence, access and money than I have.

Long-time readers know that before I embarked on robustly disliking Greenwald for no reason but my own personal feelings of inadequacy, I robustly disliked Ari Melber for being a SOPA lobbyist;  Chris Hayes for being a dishonest, partisan shill in unabashed-man-of-the-left drag; Amy Goodman for erasing Obama-sponsored violence from one more idiotic ‘Make [Him] Do It’ essay;  and MSNBC host Karen Finney for moonlighting in bankster makeovers. During some of those discussions, I have used the term ‘heat vampire’ as a metaphor for a kind of public figure that stakes a position on the left-most edges of permissible opinion so as to neutralize harder, more authentic lefts in the same zone. As I wrote here, they are distinguished by

a clear eyed, even radical, assessment of all that’s wrong in the world coexisting with acquiescence in oligarch-approved methods for putting things right, no matter how often and resoundingly these methods fail.  So constituted, heat vampire liberals act as role models for the rest of us, reconciling things that aren’t logically reconcilable,  successfully wrestling themselves into compliance with status quo fundamentals while bemoaning the particulars.

Which brings us back round to Greenwald, who by virtue of having, in just four months, remade the following as credibly left tactics for contending with a massive surveillance apparatus, is some kind of Terminator 2 of heat vampirism, the likes of which I have never seen before:

  • Intellectual property monopoly
  • The concealment of vastly more state secrets than are disclosed
  • The safeguarding of ‘national security’
  • Control by US/UK media elites of state secrets affecting everyone in the world
  • An overwhelming focus on policy change in the US
  • A campaign against unmediated leaking that began with the disparagement of Chelsea Manning
  • Authoritarian beatdowns of criticism from the left

As the midwife of what seems like some collective Hitchens moment for a large segment of the English-speaking left, he is, I think, the self-regulating propaganda system’s most remarkable ‘left’ achievement to date. I am still gobsmacked. That’s why I can’t shut up about it. Also, he pretty much writes my blog posts for me lately.

Now to the above list of credible left tactics, we must add, ‘the securing of lucrative movie and/or television deals’, even if such securing is to a certain extent the happy result of the rest, particularly where the rest increase Greenwald’s mainstream credibility and the monetary value of his secrets.

For more than a week, Hollywood has been exploring what could be one of the most difficult nonfiction projects it has ever tried: a proposed film based on the journalist Glenn Greenwald’s planned book about Edward J. Snowden…

As of late Friday, it was not clear that any studio had secured a deal. But 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures Entertainment and the cable television powerhouse HBO were among potential buyers that had considered the project…

Mr. Greenwald’s planned book, which is based on his close contact with Mr. Snowden and promises fresh revelations about government and corporate intelligence-gathering, is set for publication next March

I really liked this bit, further on:

At Sony, Barbara Broccoli, a producer known for her involvement with James Bond films, has been involved with the proposed project…

My working title for the film is Drip Another Day, and may I say I am really looking forward to the Twitter action sequences where Glenn fends off obots and shadowy glamarchists.

Now I can just hear the army of Glenn’s preening sycophants extolling all the surveillance state-undermining virtues of his impending movie contract, and, most importantly, his great entitlement to it, just as they did when I raised the issue of his book before. But the issue was never the money, morons. It’s the hoarding of secrets to leverage the deals.

But wait, there’s more to sell than just state secrets. Check this out, also from the Times piece:

Mr. Greenwald is selling the rights to his book and may include his own life rights. But his journalistic collaborator, Laura Poitras, and Mr. Snowden have not put their own life rights for sale. . .

That’s right, Glenn, sell it all, including your life, before the bubble bursts.

UPDATE 3

Wow, Glenn sure knows how to make a leak portfolio work. He’s made another deal

UPDATE 2

The wonderful Arthur Silber has weighed in on Glenn and The Leak Keepers:

It thus appears that what is alarming, and even heinous, when committed by the State mysteriously becomes imbued with profound nobility of spirit and boundless courage when committed by self-selected individuals. The modes of behavior in both cases are identical…(much more)

UPDATE 1

Reader Steven Bloom wrote an excellent comment about how right-wing all the discourse from GG and his sycophants has been. Steven looks at the means by which Greenwald and his followers shape and stifle debate, noting how much of it borrows from the same ‘statist capitalist classist playbook’ right-wingers use. It’s as good as anything you will find on this blog. Read it.

Related

A Harbinger of Journalism Saved

Viva The New Journalism

Edward Snowden’s Incredible Mutating Document Trove

My Reply to Glenn Greenwald’s Comments on ‘Take Your Drip and Stick It’

Fuck The Guardian: Take Your Drip and Stick It

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57 Responses to A Heat Vampire in Search of a Movie Deal

  1. MickStep says:

    I was reading through medialens exchange with Greenwald the other day where I saw Glenn trying to argue that because of his efforts to avoid paying as much Brazilian income tax were actually an effort to maintain his journalistic independence from the Guardian:

    The fact that your shell limited company Dos Santos Management (the company name is in his pgp key)for which you are the only employee has a contract with the Guardian, and from that company you take a wage and expenses, does not equate to journalistic independence, trying to argue that you are not technically a Guardian employee is ludicrous and irrelevant.

    • Tarzie says:

      I don’t blame the Guardian for Greenwald’s self-serving conduct so I don’t find this that important, except inasmuch as it demonstrates him stretching the truth, something he does habitually, even when it doesn’t seem necessary.

      • MickStep says:

        It was intended as an example of him shooting down a line of questioning with irrelevant bullshit and getting away with it completely.

        It’s a symptom of the fawning reverence to him, Greenwald exceptionalism. From people who should know better.

      • Tarzie says:

        Gotcha. Yeah, it’s crazy what he gets away with. Media Lens should be ashamed of themselves, the way they’ve capitulated.

  2. Steven Bloom says:

    one of the things that gets me most is how right-wing all the discourse from GG and his sycophants has been. not just on ip etc. but everything. never mind the dishonesty of the whole “people are just jealous” thing, who the fuck decided that “envy” is something to be derided and sneered at on the left? what’s wrong with looking at inequality and vast disparities of wealth and power and feeling pissed off that you don’t have what someone else has? isn’t noticing the unfairness of privilege a prerequisite for attacking it systematically? (you know, like socialists are supposed to do). isn’t sneering at poor people something republicans do? every other trope trotted out has also come from exactly the same statist capitalist classist playbook.

    “you can’t disagree with Snowden (or my interpretation of what he said) cos he risked his life” exactly the same argument used to justify sycophancy to the military or support for undercover CIA goons (“it’s easy for you to throw stones from a position of safety but our soldiers are out there risking their lives and you should respect that”)

    “Glenn works so hard on this. its a really tough job and he’s constantly under attack” substitute Obama for Glenn in that sentence

    or any CEO in “Of course Glenn deserves lots of money. do you think he should work for free?”

    “people who disagree with me have emotional issues, they’re narcissists, they have warped personalities that make them court failure, they just want to tear people down because they can’t handle being on the winning side…” indulging in such poisonous bullshit is completely unjustifiable for anyone who claims to be left-wing or give even two-fifths of a fuck about oppression or freedom. imputing mental issues to left-wing critics has always been a prerogative of the powerful. since mental illness and mental health are largely social constructs, those closer to what’s considered “normal” get to impute all sorts of deviant impulses to people who disagree with them. after all Glenn wears a suit and works for a newspaper, the people complaining are just shut-in tech nerds and anarchists with funny hair, the dominant narrative works in his favour.

    and now we have people who not that long ago would wax lyrical about how twitter or blogs were going to sweep away the fuddy-duddy old media paradigm, and make the establishment press obsolete now running inference for a douchbag establishment newspaper and it’s right-wing shit of a boss and we’re constantly told that only proper journalists writing for proper newspapers have the savvy to be trusted with this by people who used to preach distrust of the media.

    watching the utter weirdness of so-called lefties coalescing around a charismatic leader expounding right-wing opinions dressed up as radicalism i get the idea this is what the start of Trotskyism must have looked like.

    • Tarzie says:

      Word!!!

      That’s why I’m calling it a collective Hitchens moment. It’s a flight from the left.

    • Sandra says:

      Oh shit, fanfuckingtastic!!

    • Tarzie says:

      Steve –

      You on Twitter? Have a blog?

      • Jay says:

        He ought to.

      • Steven Bloom says:

        no blog i’m afraid, although i was planning to get one as they seem to be quite “in” at the moment. i’m on twitter, but i only ever really used it to ask Matt Bors what on earth his cartoons were supposed to mean.

    • This is a great comment.

    • Trish says:

      You nailed it.

    • d.mantis says:

      This comment plus the post itself is golden. This is the most devastating critique of the backlash to any kind of GG criticism.

    • AmishRakeFight says:

      “…how right-wing all the discourse from GG and his sycophants has been.” – This really helped with my perspective. Ever since Glenn and his fans started trotting out those dodgy defenses that you discuss further in your comment, there was something about them that gave me a familiar uneasy feeling. I wasn’t really able to identify it, but I think you nailed it right there and with your examples: their right-winged nature. Thanks for your thought-provoking comment.
      And Tarzie, I agree with d.mantis that this post is a stellar rebuttal to all the bullshit that has been slung your way lately.
      Lastly, after reading this I just can’t escape this thought:
      Chelsea Manning rots in a prison cell and Julian Assange is essentially held captive in the Ecuadorean Embassy, while Edward Snowden, (admittedly still at substantial risk) a free man with asylum, and Glenn Greenwald, enjoying government-provided security in his gated community, just might end up as the subjects of a Hollywood blockbuster, on top of the sack of money made from the book and the sale of Glenn’s life rights (*cringe*).
      The stench to bullshit is suffocating.

      • Steven Bloom says:

        a lot of the time when people use arguments that are reactionary and vile but also totally dishonest it’s hard to notice the bigger picture. you get so caught up pointing out that they’re lying that the weird creepy way they framed the debate goes right by you.

        “your opinion is irrelevant because you’re mentally ill.” “but i’m not mentally ill you lying prick…hang on a second, what’s wrong with being mentally ill and how do my personal circumstances objectively affect the question I asked you?”

        vide “you’re a hipster” “you hate america” “you just don’t like success” you get so bogged down in arguing particulars that you forget there’s nothing wrong with any of these things.

        of course this is exactly the trap GG’s fans have fallen into: they’re arguing entirely withing the confines of a debate framed by the Right. some second rate government sponsored hack says “he’s endangering America’s National Security and damaging our overseas intelligence network!” and in reply they smugly reel off all the craven ways he’s pandered to power then high-five each other and crow about how they shot some douchebag down, when what they should have said is “yes he is, that’s a good thing.”

        I shouldn’t be surprised by all this i guess. shutting down debate and making people feel shit for being poor and unsuccessful is what right-wing rhetoric is made for so its the natural choice in these situations. I mean, GG couldn’t exactly quote Chomsky to back up his fucktarded reasoning, so he has to fall back on whatever’s available

      • Tarzie says:

        I just came from Guardian comments where Glenn’s pet pit bull Mona Holland is doing everything you described.

        I tried to avoid most of Glenn’s smears when I replied to his comments here. I took some of them up just to show the bad faith.

        I get where you’re coming from on the smears, and find it useful as a critique of left hypocrisy. However, if you argue ‘jealous? mentally ill? so what?’ too strongly, you are almost conceding that something is going on besides principled objections. That doesn’t change the objections, but it also just allows the taint of coming from somewhere other than principles to stick. I am not jealous of Glenn and I have most of the qualities that enable functioning in this terrible world, including most of the bad ones. I want very much to like Glenn again. I dislike him right now for the way he is serving power and for no other reason. I honestly get absolutely no pleasure from feeling like this about him. This whole leak thing has been a huge letdown. I write to get it off my chest and as a sanity check with others. You never suggested anything else, of course, but just feel the need to say that. Also off-topic, it gets really exhausting arguing with a majoritarian mob. It’s really a fool’s errand. No wonder no one argues with the establishment left from the left. It’s HORRIBLE.

      • Steven Bloom says:

        it’s not supposed to be a “So what?” but more of an “And another thing…” people certainly shouldn’t concede anything, but i think it’s important to nail them on the wider issues too or they’ll just drag the entire discourse to the right. like every time someone makes one of these shitty attacks people need to point out what a load of dishonest rubbish it is by quoting chapter and verse but they also should bring up the fact that the arguments are being framed in the most awful bigoted way possible. perhaps the best way to do it is a tag team. person A says “you’re a lying shit” and person B says “and why do you hate mad people?” thus shielding person A from any possible taint.

        I know what its like to criticise smug lefties from the left and it can be fucking soul-destroying. it’s only ever happened to me in real life rather than the internet, but its pretty much the same. people attacking you in pathetic nasty overly-personal ways while simultaneously playing the victim and trying to make you feel guilty for spoiling their heroic victory narrative i’m glad you seem to be over the worst of it and are finally being vindicated

      • Tarzie says:

        You’re right. And I really loved your critique. I hadn’t honestly seen how much wrong there was there about class and mental health etc until you spoke. Your comments have been really well-received by the way, not just here. I think you helped a lot of vague misgivings people had congeal in the way that AmishRakeFight expressed.

  3. Paley Chayd says:

    It makes sense that Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting won’t go after Greenwald since he wrote this endorsement of Norman Solomon’s bid for Congress: “The long-time anti-war activist, co-founder of the great media criticism group FAIR…is about as close to a perfect Congressional candidate as it gets.”

  4. nigh says:

    a narcissist is somehow the post-postmodern witch? – glad freud and lacan are dead and zizek is busy with his pervert guide to scratching the surface

  5. Trish says:

    Once again you show Glenn as a jerk and total tool. i hope he enjoys his 30 pieces of silver

  6. thurnandtaxis says:

    Three Months of the ConDoer (iconic final shot of Guardian offices)

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  8. anon says:

    having the flu and
    with nothing else to do

    I read a book about John Dos Passos and according to
    the book once radical-communist
    John ended up in the Hollywood Hills living off investments
    and reading the
    Wall Street Journal

    this seems to happen all too often.

    what hardly ever happens is
    a man going from being a young conservative to becoming an
    old wild-ass radical

    however:
    young conservatives always seem to become old
    conservatives.
    it’s a kind of lifelong mental vapor-lock.

    but when a young radical ends up an
    old radical
    the critics
    and the conservatives
    treat him as if he escaped from a mental
    institution.

    such is our politics and you can have it
    all.

    keep it.

    sail it up your
    ass.

    • Tarzie says:

      sail it up your ass.

      I beg your pardon!

      You had me there until the finish. But I pretty much concur. I think this NSA leak spectacle is so emblematic of everything wrong with our politics — iconically horrible — that I still feel compelled to write about it. But it’s a long angry eulogy, really. The public left is officially an elaborate, self-regulating fraud from top to bottom aided and abetted by rubes that like it that way. There is not much more to say on it. I think there is more to politics than bigwigs like Dos Passos and Greenwald, though. The interesting stuff is all outside the margins and is no doubt a much better thing to spend time on, if one is going to bother at all.

  9. anon says:

    It was not addressed to you personally, but the more generic “you”.

  10. Romancing the Loan says:

    It’s not just a movie deal. Buzzfeed’s reporting today that Glenn is getting to be the figurehead of his very own media company. It’s hard not to imagine he sold out to someone powerful.

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  14. Hooker Jay says:

    Tarzie: “I just came from Guardian comments where Glenn’s pet pit bull Mona Holland is doing everything you described.”

    Speaking of which (pardon my thread necromancy a week too late), I just came from that same thread and noticed …

    @MonaHol 15 October 2013 5:22am. Get cifFix for Chrome.
    And I agree — Silber, as well as ohtarzie, lack the guts to aim their sights at Ed Snowden, even tho the internal logic of their arguments makes that necessary.

    … has been Jeff Gannon’ed clean off the motherfucker, as well as my reply. My panel shows the actual reply, but not the thread itself. Yet I still maintain what I said in my reply: Snowden is a complete and total shithead who has no choice anymore than to “be happy and pleased with Greenwald” et. al because he didn’t have the foresight to have a dead-man switch. And – for all intents and purposes – never believed he needed one; the shithead stated from the very start he didn’t intend to harm the State whatsoever. No criminal indictments, no resignations. Just “transparency” and “debate”. Looking over that thread one more time, and Greenwald’s “Jeff Toobin” moments he displayed right in here in your backyard, Tarzie, I must confess that the propeller on my tinhat is spinning – specifically over the Miranda clusterfuck that’s looking more and more like a planned set-up. Greenwald should’ve known better, and yet Miranda’s hard drives oh so conveniently had tens of thousands of documents on them for MI5 / GCHQ to be there at the right place and the right time to intercept and are probably in Langley or Utah right now – conveniently getting chewed on so that the NSA can get a head start on drafting their canned responses to more Greenwald & Friends “bombshells” at his new digs come 1st Quarter, 2014.

    Silber makes a damn good point that’s been bugging me for a while: Why did Snowden become a house-hold name if the shithead “didn’t want to become the story” so damned badly?!? I understand that this is the digital age and its gonna be increasingly difficult for leakers/whistleblowers (and journalists) to keep the identity of their sources secret – especially with the NSA spying on everyone and everything. But if there’s one thing anonymous leakers and government whistleblowers should know is to never – under no circumstances – ever do the State’s grunt work. Let ’em spin and navel gaze for 30 years like Mark Felt did …

    • Tarzie says:

      I wish people would take off their tinfoil hats, and just deal with what’s on the surface which is quite bad enough. Not because they’re necessarily wrong — I mean we’re dealing with spy agencies after all — but because we won’t ever know the origin story here. What matters is that, however it came to pass, this is an indoctrination event more than it’s a whistleblowing event. Everything bad about it is right on the surface. I wish people would stop obsessing over ‘Why did Snowden…?’ and ‘What about Miranda…?’. These are all things we can’t know and at this stage, they’re largely beside the point. The System has a tendency to turn everything to its advantage, so it doesn’t matter how this particular charade kicked off. What matters is that, at this point, it’s a charade. It poses no threat to the Intelligence Community whatsoever.

      On another note, the extent to which Glenn and his besotted troll Mona shamelessly lie is off the charts. The very first post I did on the leaks took Snowden to task for smearing Manning and I have mentioned him in several posts since. These are despicable people. Complete frauds.

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