The Return Of Knee. Jerk Response.

Here we go again

Another Apostate In The Church Of Glenn:

Veteran investigative reporter Carl Bernstein publicly criticized The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald on Monday over a statement he made about the National Security Agency secrets that could leak “if anything should happen” to former security contractor Edward Snowden.

“That statement by that reporter is out of line,” Bernstein, who would not refer to Greenwald by his name, said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.


According to Reuters, Greenwald had told an Argentinian paper over the weekend that “Snowden has enough information to cause more damage to the U.S. government in a minute alone than anyone else has ever had in the history of the United States.”

“The U.S. government should be on its knees every day begging that nothing happen to Snowden, because if something does happen to him, all the information will be revealed and it could be its worst nightmare,” Greenwald reportedly said. (Greenwald has called Reuters’ report “wildly distorted.”)

On Morning Joe, Bernstein called Greenwald’s statement “awful” and “aggressive.”

“With all my regard for The Guardian, which is considerable…  that’s an awful statement, and the tone in which he made it,” the former Washington Post reporter said. “It’s one thing to say that Mr. Snowden possesses some information that could be harmful, and that could be part of the calculation that everybody makes here. It’s another to make that kind of an aggressive, non-reportorial statement [that] a reporter has no business making.”


Greenwald returned fire on Bernstein in his email to POLITICO early on Monday.

“I realize Carl Bernstein hasn’t done any actual reporting for a couple decades now, but he should nonetheless take the time to read what he’s opining on,” he wrote. “The Reuters article he’s referencing is a complete distortion of what I actually said in that interview. The point I made is the opposite one: that Snowden has been as responsible as a whistleblower can be in ensuring that only information the public should know is revealed, but not gratuitously harmful information.”

There are two things at play here:

First, Snowden’s threat isn’t new, having been made back in June:

Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who Snowden first contacted in February, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday that Snowden “has taken extreme precautions to make sure many different people around the world have these archives to insure the stories will inevitably be published.” Greenwald added that the people in possession of these files “cannot access them yet because they are highly encrypted and they do not have the passwords.” But, Greenwald said, “if anything happens at all to Edward Snowden, he told me he has arranged for them to get access to the full archives.”

Having made that threat, Snowden, with Greenwald’s help, effectively weaponized himself against the US government by inviting any third party actors, whether the government of a country hostile to the United States or a lone wolf who thinks it would be fun to pop a cap in Snowden’s ass just to see what happens next, to kill him. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that a better plan would have been for Snowden to convey this promise/threat/dramatic posturing to the US government privately instead of getting a target tramp stamp tattooed on his back and then showing it to the world. But then what do I know: I’m not taking showers in a Russian airport sink and living on Cinnabons. And when Greenwald, in the service of trying to prove to the world that Snowden isn’t a colossal dick, points out that Snowden could have done a lot more damage (and still could) if he weren’t such a swell guy, it’s like a double-dog dare. Who knows: maybe Glenn wants it to happen because it will open up a floodgate of the civil liberties stories that are his bread and butter.

Which brings us to Carl Bernstein:

“I realize Carl Bernstein hasn’t done any actual reporting for a couple decades now, but he should nonetheless take the time to read what he’s opining on…

I realize that there are some people (his late wife, Nora Ephron, comes to mind) who think that Bernstein is a jerk, and that there are those who think he’s a little too Washington insidery, (although, compared to his former partner, he looks like I.F.Stone) but, come on, Greenwald can’t take a little criticism without getting pissy and lashing out? Is it really that hard? If Greenwald is going to act like Snowden’s crisis management team it’s pretty obvious that he needs a bit more work on his messaging or, better yet, he needs his own crisis management team so that he can get back to his advocacy journalism because he’s really losing the thread on this story and it’s not too late to save it.

On the other hand, should Snowden defender Daniel Ellsberg have the cheek to even intimate that he doesn’t  support every jot and tittle of what Greenwald and Snowden are doing, and Greenwald responds with “Well, Ellsburg hasn’t done any real whistleblowing in decades…”, then we’ll know that they have gone over the hill, round the bend, and deep into the woods of Crazy Narcissistland…

(By the way, I’ll be out all day and into the evening, so behave yourselves in comments. Not that you will…)

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Yeah. Like I would tell you....