Omidyar’s First Look Introduces The Intercept

The Intercept, the first of First Look’s many intended specialty magazines debuted today. It mostly sucks, but not in such an interesting way that one need belabor the details. However, since this is the debut issue, I’m going to pass along a few quick thoughts, on my way to encouraging people to start ignoring First Look and all media like it completely:

1. Remember how in December, when people charged that Greenwald and Laura Poitras had effectively sold the leaks to Omidyar, Greenwald countered that the NSA story might well be finished before First Look even launched? Those who smelled bullshit at the time were, of course, correct. The Intercept’s mission, at least in the short term is to “provide a platform to report on the documents previously provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.”   (source: The Intercept).

2. Also largely unsurprising is the first big story published by The Intercept, “The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program“, authored by The Intercept’s editor Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill. The story is almost entirely free of genuine news, except for those who had no idea the NSA has historically provided signals intelligence for CIA assassinations, or who hadn’t read this Washington Post story filed in October by Barton Gellman, which detailed the NSA’s extensive role in the assassination of Hassan Ghul — an associate of Osama bin Laden.

If there is anything new here, it’s in the large extent to which the NSA is said to rely on cell phones for identifying and tracking targets for the CIA, which allegedly leads to increases in wrongly identified targets and civilian deaths. This differs somewhat from Gellman’s account, which described a more varied, conceivably more precise approach, using an “arsenal of cyber-espionage tools, secretly seizing control of laptops, siphoning audio files and other messages, and tracking radio transmissions.”  Despite the differences, if there is something revelatory in the Intercept’s story from a technical standpoint, I’m missing it. Tracking by cell phone has been discussed before, including by Snowden. In light of signature strikes, the apparent recklessness of these methods also seems unsurprising.

Gellman’s story was rightly criticized for being effectively a dickwaving exercise for the U.S. Intelligence apparatus, since it detailed simply how a Bad Guy was killed by the Good Guys with all their sexy technology and savvy. In keeping with their adversarial brand, Scahill and Greenwald mix the NatSec dickwaving with some handwringing over civilians, most of which is provided via quotes from former drone operator and ostensible whistleblower, Brandon Bryant. This passage gives a taste of the overall dickwavey/handwringy mix.

The former JSOC drone operator is adamant that the technology has been responsible for taking out terrorists and networks of people facilitating improvised explosive device attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But he also states that innocent people have “absolutely” been killed as a result of the NSA’s increasing reliance on the surveillance tactic.

Near the end of the lengthy piece, Bryant even wrings his hands over the assassination program as a whole, at least as it results in the extrajudicial executions of American citizens like Anwar Al Awlaki.  But overwhelmingly, both his emphasis and the emphasis of the piece are simply on the need to kill more precisely, by making greater use of informants and agents on the ground to supplement the NSA’s signal intelligence. Considering the degree to which civilian deaths are the inevitable consequence of using Hellfire missiles against human targets, the article’s emphasis on bad signal intelligence seems almost dishonestly over-broad.  Even if bad metadata accounts for the murder of Al Awlawki’s 16-year-old son — which we don’t know — it surely can’t account for the eight people killed by the same strike.

But Scahill and Greenwald have seemingly not inconvenienced their ex-assassin source with hard questions. As is now customary for everything the Leak Keepers do, underlying National Security assumptions and values — such as the right to kill Afghans resisting a long U.S. occupation — are helpfully passed along without examination or rebuttal. And, as ever, the Leak Keepers are presenting us with a problem created by the security apparatus, while strongly suggesting that the security apparatus can solve it.

While the story claims to be ‘bolstered’ by Snowden leaks, not one Snowden document is provided to supplement the story. Here’s an amusing screen cap of the site’s ‘Documents’ page as of this morning:

Screen shot 2014-02-10 at 5.23.51 AM

3. The site’s staff page is also interesting for what it lacks. Of twelve staff people, nine are men, and ten are non-Hispanic white. In keeping with First Look’s democratic spirit, staff are listed alphabetically, which helpfully puts all the women on staff near the bottom of the page. I trust that aspiring First Lookers troubled by this will keep it to themselves. None of this internecine warfare stuff! What are you, jealous???

4. The first issue also features a spread of large, slick photographs of Intelligence Community buildings from three different agencies “revealed for the first time.”  Some of my readers found this laughable, and the text that goes with it is certainly overwrought. But if the purpose is to provide a visual sense of how large and intractable the security apparatus is, the feature succeeds, I suppose, though it showed things pretty much as I imagined them. It’s encouraging at least to see Greenwald and Co attempting a bigger picture by including other agencies — if only by way of well, big pictures (h/t Kandy Kruschev)  — since the usual narrow focus on the NSA minimizes more than it elucidates.

In summary, there is literally nothing about the First Look/Intercept debut to warrant the level of hype, sycophancy and self-congratulation that has been swirling around this entire enterprise since it was first announced. No doubt the interwebs will be full of happy hyperventilating today over the first issue, courtesy of aspiring First Lookers whose self-unaware ass-kissing is becoming an increasingly unedifying joke.  The disparity between the hype and First Look’s dull, by-the-numbers first outing is the only reason why this first issue merits any attention at all, and even at that, very little.


New Twitter game: #LookAtMeGlenn.  Nice interplay here between disaffected snark, sucking up and the contestant’s usual deftness with logical fallacy. One to watch, certainly.


Things are looking up since I posted this.  I had complained that the crucial Documents page was blank for the launch, as per the screenshot immediately below. The second image shows the recent update. The third image is alleged to be the manager’s mockup for the requested update — suggestive perhaps of a rift between editorial and creative –but we cannot yet vouch for its authenticity.

Screen shot 2014-02-10 at 5.23.51 AM

Updated page:

Manager’s mockup:


No, Pierre Omidyar Doesn’t Want to Topple the Government

Greenwald Still Covering for Omidyar on PayPal

A Harbinger of Journalism Saved

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66 Responses to Omidyar’s First Look Introduces The Intercept

  1. “However, it’s encouraging to see Greenwald and Co looking at the bigger picture” by which you mean literally, just big photos of stuff.

  2. “The former JSOC drone operator is adamant that the technology has been responsible for taking out terrorists and networks of people facilitating improvised explosive device attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But he also states that innocent people have “absolutely” been killed as a result of the NSA’s increasing reliance on the surveillance tactic.”
    Horrifying to know that “innocent” people who haven’t “attack(ed)…U.S. forces in Afghanistan” were killed.

  3. Ché Pasa says:

    I agree, “The Intercept” has had a somewhat subdued début given all the months of hype. The launch stories are less than one might have expected, but the night time pictures of NatSec parking lots are rather pretty.

    What bothered me most about Jeremy’s lead article (if Greenwald contributed to it, it is undetectable) is that at no point did he question the murderous and bloodthirsty policies involved, only the tactics and the fact that those tactics sometimes lead to the “wrong people” being killed.

    So if they get better at those tactics — and only the “right people” are killed — everything’s good, eh?

    • dmantis says:

      That’s your problem right there…extending the implied logic to its obvious conclusion. Those that will become the Intercept’s audience do not do that.

      The surveillance debate has been the same. The tactic of sucking all internet traffic without oversight, due process, or probable cause into a mega-data storage and processing facility is flawed. We actually need to modify it so it only sucks the bad internet traffic without oversight, due process, and probable cause…y’know so we have “privacy” or something.

      The question of whether we should be doing it is not on the table.

      TL;DR = the questioning of tactic while ignoring policy is a feature, not a bug.

    • Sheryll says:

      I said the same thing below as your second paragraph. I’m glad to see more people having the same criticism. I wonder if it will rein Jeremy Scahill back in to what seems to some of us to be right.

  4. Mark Kackstetter says:

    Cut them some slack on the documents page, man.

    I’m sure they’ll post some just as soon as Pierre and his lawyers are done redacting them.

  5. haptic says:

    It’s a very expensively staffed wordpress blog.

  6. in•ter•cept (ĭnˌtər-sĕptˈ)
    v. To stop, deflect, or interrupt the progress or intended course of…

    Well yeah, of what?
    The conscience-driven outrage at Chelsea Manning’s revelations and her consequent draconian treatment?
    Defense caught that pass and ran with it.
    Why would something positioned where these guys claim it is name itself that?
    From the About page:

    Our long-term mission is to produce fearless, adversarial journalism across a wide range of issues. The editorial independence of our journalists will be guaranteed. They will be encouraged to pursue their passions, cultivate a unique voice, and publish stories without regard to whom they might anger or alienate. We believe the prime value of journalism is its power to impose transparency, and thus accountability, on the most powerful governmental and corporate bodies, and our journalists will be provided the full resources and support required to do this.

    Maybe cause it sounds quasi-military? Athletic?
    What is being intercepted here?

  7. So they come out of the gate with pictures of office buildings with some rather banal copy? If the intention was to “expand the visual vocabulary” then they failed because my visual lexicon remains as it was.

    Digital surveillance programs require concrete data centers; intelligence agencies are based in real buildings; surveillance systems ultimately consist of technologies, people, and the vast network of material resources that supports them.

    That’s edifying, not many people probably knew that. Were there people who thought that US intelligence agencies were housed in lairs built into dormant volcanoes? I tend not to think night time pictures of office buildings are going to scare anyone into heightened levels of awareness. I’m not sure about anyone else but I’m starting to doubt that these folks are savvy media savants playing a game of 11 dimensional chess.

    • Tarzie says:

      Ha ha. I was too kind.

      • Kindness is often a virtue, so I took a gander at the first substantive post on the NSA involvement in the drone program. That people being blown to bits in countries on which war hasn’t been declared lies at the end of a long chain of data transfers is a worthwhile topic. But, when you think about it, people have been raining death down from the sky since the invention of manned flight. A cell phone signal may be utilized now, whereas in the past a plot on a map or aerial photograph or the naked eye were used. The specific technology involved isn’t immaterial, but also isn’t the fundamental issue.

        But it’s the focus on technology that ostensibly makes the article “newsy”, and also long and rather bloodless. There are military acronyms and references to SIM cards and wifi…as well as to top secret documents that are teased but not shown as of yet. As news, as you note there isn’t anything close to revelatory that can be identified. As polemic… well it clearly isn’t. What’s the problem? Well, secrecy always…and also the inaccuracy of drone strikes. Is there a remedy? Apparently more spooks on the ground.

        With that in mind and with all the hand wringing it doesn’t look like much more than a piece of catharsis for liberals. An escape hatch for outage aimed at a fixable technical glitch.

        It’s certainly possible that I’m missing something and didn’t read it closely enough. I can’t say I’m sure how I’d improve things. But considering these are famous journalists with millions of dollars and thousands of government secrets to work with, I think it’s reasonable to expect more.

      • Tarzie says:

        No I don’t think you’re missing anything, although I might frame it in slightly different terms. I think Greenwald’s and Scahill’s specialty is just to throw off signifiers of dissidence via hot buttons — ‘drones’, ‘assassination’, ‘Abdulrahman’, etc — while sticking almost as closely to state doctrine as their ‘mainstream’ counterparts. This article doesn’t question the occupation of Afghanistan or the War on Terror. To the contrary, it simply makes a pitch for a change in methods, most likely signifying some jockeying going on in the Intelligence Community that Scahill is picking up by osmosis. But their fans hear the hot buttons and think they are reading some seriously probing, disruptive shit. If they’re at all doubtful, Amy Goodman and the Twitter Wurlitzer are available to get them pumped along with other FLM writers like Froomkin who just recycled it the next day. It’s shocking how flagrantly this story is being hyped as if it contains anything that Scahill hasn’t been talking about for at least two years.

        I don’t find the question of how it could be made better at all perplexing. It could attempt to tell us something new and it could begin with different assumptions than those of the government and the Intelligence Community. Reporting, sourcing and quoting would follow accordingly.

  8. Mallam says:

    Was waiting for your first thoughts, and you didn’t disappoint. Sharing.

    • Mallam says:

      Also, I passed by Andrew Sullivan’s today and noticed that despite his authoritarian and war-supporting ass, even he sees that Greenwald is being unreasonable in holding up the docs.

      My one reservation is that the site inherently leverages vital public information – the NSA docs – to help fund and launch a website. If your sole goal is to responsibly air the documents you have, then you simply release them (with rigorous redactions) as soon as possibe and let the web do its best. You don’t withhold them, threaten to embarrass governments with them, and then reveal them in stages, while launching a new website based on their news-worthiness. And if you do, you’re running the risk of appearing too much like the NSA itself. You’re withholding critical information from the public and releasing it in a way that benefits you financially. That’s not exactly entirely public interest journalism.

  9. Sheryll says:

    I couldn’t get onto The First Look this morning so I can’t critique the actual website.

    My first response to this article was ‘What are you, jealous?’ Your hyperbolic ‘dickwaving and handwringing’ among other tones seem to support that. But I had some questions myself when I saw Scahill (whom I consider a high-level, caring investigative journalist) and Greenwald (ditto) on Democracy Now today (2/10/14).

    When Jeremy Scahill said the important thing is that you might kill the wrong target — due to using a cell phone’s gps as if the phone was the same thing as the target — I wondered if he didn’t think it was OK to murder someone without due process if the drone operator had got the right target? Have even progressives let due process fade into oblivion as the Obama people have?

    Perhaps the Omidyar website is so far (first day) a little light. And Jeremy Scahill does tend to tell us things we ready know. But the cell phones as targets, you are right, is news, and just adds to the horrible facts of drone strikes killing civilians we’ve already known about and feel helpless to stop (because Obama and the military are on a closed-eared roll and because few people besides Code Pinks have forced them to.

    They (including Laura Poitras) are going to have to work hard at filling their website and making it count. But with Edward Snowden’s documents, they have a good base. And they are so adroit and care so much about (handwringable) truth and justice, I’m sure they will. And if the (jealous; I think every journalist is way jealous, don’t you?) journalists will give them a chance? These people are a valuable commodity.

    • Sheryll says:

      On looking over your article I see I overlooked your comment on how few women are involved in The Intercept. I have been barking at the heels of two npr programs for months on their either absolute ignoring or almost ignoring women — just as if the two guy hosts (one is Guy Raz) don’t know women exist. If even so-called progressives don’t quickly get some more brilliant and knowledgeable women on board, and listen to them, I predict that something deeply important will be lost or never begun. (Such as not noticing due process is missing in the rhetoric.) The women exist. The men have to exert themselves.

    • AmishRakeFight says:

      “They (including Laura Poitras) are going to have to work hard at filling their website and making it count. But with Edward Snowden’s documents, they have a good base. And they are so adroit and care so much about (handwringable) truth and justice, I’m sure they will. ”
      If you really believe that that this magazine, and First Look in general, are capable of making a tangible, positive impact on the issues you purport to care about, and if you really believe that Greenwald, Scahill, etc. care about truth and justice and are valuable, then I highly suggest you follow the “Related” links at the end of this post. You have some serious catching up to do on this whole topic. If, after you’ve dug a little deeper into Greenwald’s behavior since the very beginning of the Snowden spectacle, you don’t think your comments above warrant some revisions, then I suspect we have very different definitions of “making it count,” “caring so much,” “truth,” and “justice.”

      • Tarzie says:

        Hi Amish:

        Good to see you. Missed you around here.

      • AmishRakeFight says:

        I haven’t missed a post, and some of the comment sections from the last couple posts were just superb. Very stimulating and thought-provoking, as usual. One of my favorite things about your blog is the fact that I get introduced to lines of thought and arguments that would have never occurred to me otherwise, and I often find them quite convincing. In those cases I tend to just lurk and absorb information since I don’t have much to contribute. So that’s why I have been quiet lately.

    • Tarzie says:

      My first response to this article was ‘What are you, jealous?’ Your hyperbolic ‘dickwaving and handwringing’ among other tones seem to support that.

      I am truly mystified by the prevalence with which people presume jealousy when they encounter insufficient deference to some celebrity or other. Though I am certainly capable of envy, I don’t ever feel it toward people I don’t know and I doubt that too many people do. How could any of us possibly enjoy books, movies, music and all the other wonderful things created by people vastly more glamorous, talented and wealthy than we are? Wouldn’t crippling envy make it impossible? If I am envious of a shlub like Greenwald — who always seems miserable, by the way — imagine how people like Idris Elba make me feel.

      The other mystifying thing is how people who say shit like ‘Are you jealous’ think they are onto some secret that reveals the worthiness of whatever claims are being made. So let’s assume I really am jealous. Is it suddenly factually incorrect to call an article in which an ex assassin touts the virtues of murdering people while lamenting that people are murdered dickwavey and handwringy? No, I don’t believe it is. Does it make Scahill/Greenwald’s shitty rehash of mostly old news less of a shitty rehash? No on that too, I think.

      My first response to your first response is that you have a childish but far too common way of assessing commentary and that you, and lot of people, would be less easy marks for charlatans like Greenwald if you grew the fuck up.

  10. Steve says:

    I gave up on Greenwald and Co shortly after they served up their first helping of the Snowden Franchise. Going to watch more Italian movies …

  11. Pingback: Tuesday Reads: Shirley Temple, The “Hillary Papers,” And The Endless NSA Story | Sky Dancing

  12. anolen says:

    Great post. I’m asking myself: what do your Intercept observations say about Laura Poitras’ relation to Snowden? This NYT article bothers me.

  13. Randa Midavid says:

    Glenn, shouldn’t you time your revelation of fake self-criticism in the role of Tarzie so that it boosts your Omidyarian Prestige to maximal effect?

    This piece is a good start, though. Again, you praise yourself indirectly, pulling punches and soft-pedaling the serious inspection.

    Kudos on the sock puppet commenters as well. They’re saying you have some “smart analysis” when you’re just blowing more smoke up Miss Miranda’s skirt.

  14. Steve says:

    Took a look at The Intercept this morning, 14 Feb, to see if anything actually new was being pushed by our all-stars of the alternative news universe, and see that, rather than enlightening us with some really new revelations, we are treated to Clapper’s idiocy. Again. As if we didn’t know that the guy lies as easily as he breathes.

    As far as I’m concerned, Snowden’s revelations, while maybe providing some grist for the leftie scandal sheets, which seem to be resembling more and more something like a Hollywood gossip column, have less and less relevance. I mean, it’s not as if we didn’t know that spying is pretty much as old as what some might call “civilized” man.

    That any of our various “dick waving” James Bonds, sitting in their semi-darkened lairs, staring at computer screens all day, and then don’t recognize the real world that squints their eyes as they dutifully make their way back home, alone, in their cars, to the ghettos in suburbia, have any empathy at all with the rest of the world, is not the least unsurprising.

    As I read a few months ago, neighbors of all those security contractors don’t even talk to them any more. Maybe, just maybe, the entire apparatus will collapse on its own for the lack of a little love here and there. Maybe someone, somewhere will finally lean out the window and scream, “I’m made as hell … “ And probably be arrested for disturbing the peace …

    • Ché Pasa says:

      It appears, at least at a casual glance, that “The Intercept” launched in the dead of night on Monday, offered up a handful of recycled, unexceptional, irrelevant or atrocious articles, polemics and think pieces, and then… ceased.

      Despite the all-star cast of writers, experts, artists and thinkers (ok, well…), many of whom could and did grind out news and opinion pieces like sausages for other publications, they cannot seem to keep anything current at “The Intercept,” and even the brawling and madness in the comments seems to have ground down to a near halt.

      Did “The Intercept” just implode? They say there’s an active “Intercept” presence on Facebook and Twitter, but there’s been nothing new on the main site for days.

      Did Pierre pull the plug?

      • Tarzie says:

        Did Pierre pull the plug?

        I think that’s premature, but they do seem shockingly unable to be anything they’re purporting to be.

  15. Trish says:

    HI tarzie,

    Hope all is well in your neck of the woods. i finally checked out GG new site. WTF, I have to agree they have a slew of writers that can churn out stories and this is what they offer up for there launch week?

    Maybe there is nothing ‘explosive’ left to report in snowden docs? We know they spy on everyone, how many variations of that meme can they report on. I don’t know and gave up trying to figure out what is really going on.

    Your post and some of the comments here really made me laugh. Thank God, “The Intercept” cleared up my mistaken belief that NSA etc worked in caves, next to those used by OBL gang of terrorists.

  16. Steve says:

    Headline on CommonDreams: , gushing about this “important” new revelation, poor Assange reduced to circus barker status: “As The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher report, documents made available by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden show “for the first time how the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom targeted WikiLeaks and other activist groups with tactics ranging from covert surveillance to prosecution.”

    “Show for the first time …?” Yeah, ok, those poor fuckers in Portland couldn’t do any better than to let LePage be elected, so why should I pay any attention to their site? Good question. Been mulling it over.

    So Tarzie, where does Assange fit into your scale of good/bad truthsayers? Granted, he puts it all out there. The Snowden Franchise doesn’t.

    In the end, does it really make any difference? We know what’s going on, we can criticize it all we like, but are we going to be able to make a change?

    • Tarzie says:

      So Tarzie, where does Assange fit into your scale of good/bad truthsayers?

      As I keep saying, it’s not a scale of good/bad. Wikileaks operates under the same constraints as everyone else, though based on the extent to which people moving in and out of their orbit get persecuted, it’s obvious that corporate and state power find what they represent a good bit more threatening. At the moment, I dislike how they dance around Greenwald’s and Omidyar’s power, and I dislike controlling, opaque cabals on general principle. If I had leaks, I would deal with neither Wikileaks nor First Look.

      In the end, does it really make any difference? we can criticize it all we like, but are we going to be able to make a change?

      I am not aiming to make more change with this blog. If a handful of people are made more skeptical by it, or quit wasting time and energy on charlatans like Greenwald, that’s reason enough to have done it. I do think change is possible. I just don’t think the people I write about here will have much, if anything, to do with it.

  17. Steve says:

    Granted. If we had leaks … But do we really need them anymore? That’s why I continue to say that this whole leaks process/phenomenon is just another sleight of hand, another Hollywoodesque attempt to distract.

    On another subject, being an old fart, I didn’t understand that whole “pingback” business. I like certain Italian movies because they don’t follow the California script. What Shirley Temple has to do with it is beyond me. Or maybe I’m just not all that tuned into American cynicism. Or didn’t understand your comment.

    I just don’t think the people I write about here will have much, if anything, to do with it.


    • Tarzie says:

      Granted. If we had leaks … But do we really need them anymore? That’s why I continue to say that this whole leaks process/phenomenon is just another sleight of hand, another Hollywoodesque attempt to distract.

      I compared WL and FLM just as a hypothetical. I agree almost entirely with your statement, except your phrasing implies perhaps more premeditated distraction than my assessment does. There is an authentic aspect to many of these whistleblowing events, but as shaped by people with power, they are simply spectacles of resistance and capitulation, and power always wins in the end. Not really empowering stuff, but you’d never know it from Greenwald’s ‘Courage is contagious’ nonsense. I think ‘Other People’s Courage is Highly Profitable’ is more accurate, but that’s less catchy. The chattering left is a cult built around icons and handwringing. Consuming information is the means to salvation, whistleblowers and journalists are emerging as its respective saints and priests. As in church, the priests get the best deal. That’s why I’m an atheist.

      I didn’t understand your remark about Shirley Temple and pingbacks. I love classic Italian films also.

      • Steve says:

        “There is an authentic aspect to many of these whistleblowing events, but as shaped by people with power, they are simply spectacles of resistance and capitulation, and power always wins in the end.”
        Again, granted. And your ecclesiastic metaphor was delightful. I’m reading Arturo Perez-Reverte “La Peau du Tambour” (La piel del Tambor) as we speak, kind of. One of the nice things about living outside the US is that you run into stuff that you wouldn’t otherwise.
        At any rate …

  18. Il Grito Antonioni, man. With Steve Cochrane. It’s about oil. And peasant socialism. And the human soul.
    Me mother was in a movie with him, SC not MA.

  19. parink says:

    Time for another update.

    • Tarzie says:

      He’s gonna buy them all.

    • AmishRakeFight says:

      Let the uncritical, unquestioning explosion of fanboy excitement begin… The internet is going to be excruciating today.

      • Tarzie says:

        I haven’t been on, but I’m sure it’s revolting.

        Other oligarchs must be shaking their heads, thinking, ‘why didn’t we think of this before? Well, just be glad someone did.’

        It’s a sad affair.

      • AmishRakeFight says:

        Omidyar’s First Look seems poised to become little more than the Wal-Mart of left-ish journalists. Apparently that’s enough to make everyone shit their pants about the great change it will promise. One stop shopping!!
        Thinking as I type this, the Wal-Mart analogy might be quite appropriate: the promise of benefits, the current ignoring and later realization of negative impacts, the critics being silenced or driven out of the conversation, the consolidation of power. The only difference is that no one actually thinks that shopping at an actual Wal-Mart challenges power.
        A sad affair, indeed.

      • Tarzie says:


        One big difference, though: I’m sure Omidyar’s sales associates journalists are gonna be treated a lot better.

        It’s really weird to me how people applaud the consolidation of writers that are readily available elsewhere all under one billionaire. As if the consolidation makes them better. I mean, I think the idiots applauding this shit are seeing some kind of Rupert Murdoch-like attempt to control the narrative, and they see it as a good thing. They’re vicariously drunk on power and access. It’s so gross.

      • AmishRakeFight says:

        You’re certainly right about the difference you point out.
        As for the weirdness of people applauding the consolidation of journalists, I think you have a worthy theory. I think it’s probable that a good chunk of them indeed have no problem with billionaires controlling the narrative, as long as they agree with that narrative. My initial knee-jerk explanation was that a lot of them saw it as some sort of childish fantasy, like Batman, Spiderman, and Superman all teaming up. “ZOMG can you imagine teh awesomeness?!” At least that’s the reaction I had to Dan Froomkin’s idiotic tweet that’s been circulating around (and thankfully being mocked):

        .@mtaibbi and @ggreenwald are the two biggest ass-kickers in journalism today. How fun is this gonna be!?— Dan Froomkin (@froomkin) February 20, 2014

      • Tarzie says:

        There is a very strong Marvel Comics flavor to all of it. I am struck by the childishness again and again.

      • Ché Pasa says:

        Why not just call it “The Daily Planet”?

        All these Supermen and all.

  20. Hieroglyph says:

    Not Matt Taibbi! Now I’m officially depressed. Matt Taibbi has been writing a lot of smart, detailed analysis about bankers, and hasn’t been afraid to suggest some should go to jail. He’s very good, in my opinion, on an especially complex subject.

    “It’s obvious that we’re entering a new phase in the history of journalism,” Mr. Taibbi said. “This is clearly the future …”

    After reading that, I became even more depressed. We’ve already had the absurdity of Arianna feigning progressive politics, getting people to write for free, and then selling The Huff for [checks] $315 million US dollars to Big Media. (Full disclosure: I have an irrational dislike of Arianna, always did). And now we’ve got some billionaire buying up the better journalists, and this is the future. All I can say is that //The Intercept better be hard-hitting and excellent, and entirely free from Silcon billionaire interference. Curiously, I doubt it will be.

    It seems that we are expected to just assume that Omidyar is a good egg, and will be a benign owner, and that these journalists will be given free reign, etc. But why on earth would a thinking being just assume this? What I know about Omidyar: he’s a billionaire, who made his money in the tech sector. That’s about it. Why would I assume he’s a good owner? That’s plain daft. He may well be a basically decent man, and I don’t doubt he’s super-clever, but he’s a well-connected billionaire, and thus should be automatically distrusted by any journalist, surely?

    I’ll probably start reading //The Intercept, just to give it a fair go. Not especially hopeful though.

    • Tarzie says:

      Yes it’s terribly important to give it a fair go!!! One must have some corporate-backed media after all. As essential as Vitamin D!!!

      • Abby Gilmore says:

        Speaking of which my deficiency has been stabilized How does a sun soaked lizard fail to absorb any V D? The calcium in the water absorbs it first, Yo! When you live over a dry sea bed, you can’t get enough sun. Gotta take that to D3.

    • parink says:

      According to the announcement Taibbi will not be writing for “The Intercept”. He will be writing for a different “First Look Media” web magazine. He’s also supposed to be an “editor”, how much editorial control is anyone’s guess.

      • Tarzie says:

        Yeah, I know.

        First Look is going to be a suite of magazines headed up by journalists specializing on a particular beat. It wouldn’t make sense for Taibbi to working under Greenwald. They will effectively be peers. Taibbi’s beat is corruption.

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  23. Abby Gilmore says:

    I sure hope Snowpee didn’t give the wrong guy the right stuff.

    I just got my cyberself willfully shot down pulling what appears to have been an unconsciously premeditated self immoltion at the Interecept. A Wild Weasel.

    Seeing there were ZERO metrics exercising control over their comment system, I flew into secret squirrel mode and began jass messenging to establish the perimeters of freedom.. Basicly looking to get shot down. That it elicited a bunch of homicidal maniacs anxious for me to know they were joining Glenn’s Lite Brigade and volks like me would be exterminated. Yup, I pitched over 10% of their hay for them to kick off a good show, and they didn’t even thank me for all the monetized gold. Turns out those freedom loving hypocrites shot down a UFO that was only a friendly squirrel. NOW who’s a drone afraid of its own deflection?

    Roll off, Casper, These SAMS are itching for a fraternal dog fight.

    I prefer the mission remain the same. Outting the MAN at his own game. If the Intercept can’t get what it takes to the top of the google pop chart, the Intercept isn’t worthy of the Wild Weasel’s flight patch YGBSM.

    They can throw rock, the just don’t know how to roll.

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