Thoughts And Ideas
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Thoughts And Ideas

Establishment Loyalists Spent Yesterday Circulating Blatant Lies About Glenn Greenwald

The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald is an outspoken advocate and defender of whistleblowers and leakers; anyone who knows anything about the man already knows this. It is a remarkably glaring symptom of the manic McCarthyist feeding frenzy that has gripped American society, therefore, when establishment loyalists feel comfortable publicly asserting that he thinks government leaks are unethical.

Greenwald has not been terribly popular with establishment Democrats since he collaborated with Edward Snowden to bring the reality of NSA surveillance to public consciousness in 2013, as those leaks made it clear that their beloved Obama was expanding the Orwellian domestic espionage policies of the Bush administration. Since his open skepticism of the Russiagate conspiracy theory following the November elections, that pro-establishment hostility has ratcheted up to astronomical heights, with Greenwald coming under fire on social media every single day as a “Putin puppet”, “Russian shill” or a “Kremlin agent”. These entirely baseless accusations come from all over the establishment spectrum, from rank-and-file Twitter users to politicians to journalists.

It is from this insane, gibbering McCarthyist cacophony that these drooling troglodytes lurched to screenshot a single tweet out of the context of its thread and pass it around with the intention of deceiving their followers into thinking it meant the exact opposite of what Greenwald was saying. Many high-profile accounts with tens of thousands of followers shared this screenshot and have left it up, despite being corrected by their own followers. Political commentator Marcus H. Johnson for example, who smeared both Jill Stein and Nina Turner in a single tweet yesterday, retweeted multiple posts featuring this bald-faced lie, and made a few of his own to boot.

In reality, of course, Greenwald was in no way, shape or form seen “being against leaks” or calling them “unethical”, which anyone who knows anything about him should realize instantly anyway. This is made abundantly clear even for those who aren’t familiar with Greenwald’s consistent non-partisan perspective on government transparency in the context of what he was saying:

As anyone whose cognitive comfort does not depend on Greenwald being a horrible Trump-loving hypocrite can see, he was pointing out the obnoxious double standard in the way America’s power establishment is fine with highly illegal leaks as long as they hurt Trump, but elsewhere they attack low-level leakers and impose cruel punishments upon them. It was plainly a defense of leakers like Chelsea Manning and Thomas Drake, yet Clintonians like Senior Editor of The Atlantic David Frum spent Tuesday spinning it as a condemnation of leaks that hurt Trump.

Even when told in plain English that he was dead wrong and spinning Greenwald’s words into something entirely opposite their meaning, Frum kept plugging away.

Naturally, Frum’s dough-brained followers broke out in an orgiastic frenzy of excitement and delight.

What made this more than just your garden-variety smear campaign, however, was that Greenwald fought back. Hard. Not just with his usual approach of dropping a truth bomb or two and getting back to work; he kept pushing this thing into the light, over and over and over.

All due respect to Greenwald, who I believe is without exaggeration the single greatest journalist working in the English language today, but he’s dead wrong that he should have “let it go”. He should not have. The fact-free McCarthyist feeding frenzy that has engulfed political discourse in America is what has emboldened these horrible creatures to start promulgating complete works of fiction about their critics and expect no pushback whatsoever. Indeed, they seemed genuinely shocked that they were meeting any resistance at all from the man they were slandering.

This is exactly the sort of thing we need right now, and this is why this particular encounter was so interesting to me. We’ve got to start pushing back on these assholes, and pushing back hard. They’ve gotten so confident in the intimidation factor their horrifying McCarthyist witch hunt carries, so comfortable with the gentle nature of peace-loving “ah well, sticks and stones” lefties, that they’re just starting to walk all over us now without any expectation of retaliation or consequences.

Look at the wonderful Matt Taibbi’s response to being asked by Buzzfeed if he was a Russian agent, as professional Joe McCarthy imitator Louise Mensch has confidently assured her followers he is:

“A little bummed,” Matt? Come on. We can’t do this anymore. This isn’t a call for us to be “bummed” and “freaked out”. This is a call for unadulterated rage. It’s not enough to tell our side of the story and let it roll off our backs; we’ve got to go on the attack. We’ve got to embarrass these vile people, publicly humiliate them, take legal action where possible, and make them regret ever having pushed the boundaries of human decency so far.

This is just plain dangerous. If we let the David Frums of the world push their oafish defamatory lies as truth without any pushback, we let those lies diminish the voices of people like Glenn Greenwald, and we let the David Frums of this world be the loudest voice in the room. We let the David Frums control the narrative. We let the plodding, lying, manipulative, partisan brains who value winning their little ego battles over being correct, who value diminishing others over being truthful, and we stand aside and let them control what’s true and what’s not in the mind of the public. We’re doing a great disservice to the world if we let those errors go uncorrected.

I do not want to live in a world where the sneaky self-serving lies of people like David Frum are the ones that dictate what is true and what isn’t. Those idiots have ruled for too long. It’s time for truth to hit back.

Still waiting for my retraction of your lying McCarthyist smear piece on me by the way, Rantt Editorial Board and Jossif Ezekilov.

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Caitlin Johnstone

Caitlin Johnstone

I write about the end of illusions.