Politics & Media
Apr 22, 2016, 11:09AM

Glenn Greenwald's Hypocrisy Is Overwhelming

He criticizes journalists quick to bury Shaun King, but is guilty of similar offense.

Greenwald.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

New York Daily News criminal justice writer Shaun King was back in the hot seat on Tuesday when his column quoted large chunks of a Daily Beast exposé article by Kate Briquelet, with no attribution or citation, on the death of a mentally-incapacitated man in an Oklahoma jail. Twitter lit up immediately, and at first glance it appeared King was in serious trouble.

I looked into it before re-tweeting anything that might incriminate King. It seemed unlikely that King would try to get away with something so blatant, especially since the controversies he's been embroiled in have put his work under the microscope. I doubt career suicide is on his agenda.

It didn't take too long to figure out that the culprit was King's editor—CNN Money reported it was Jotham Sederstrom—who the New York tabloid promptly fired for removing King's credits to The Daily Beast from his column. Inexplicably, several Daily Beast writers, including senior editor Justin Smith, who know how the editing process works, went on Twitter to call out one of their journalistic brethren as a plagiarist. King's unequivocal Twitter reply: "By in large [sic], if you think I plagiarized anything you can kiss my ass."

The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald wrote a good piece on the Internet mob mentality, citing the fact that a few accusatory tweets multiplied geometrically as they got re-tweeted, even by other journalists. Greenwald rightly called the Daily Beast people out for not even bothering to call King to get his side of the story. They didn't even call his editors. The Daily Beast's Executive Editor, Noah Shachtman, who accused King in several tweets, wouldn’t tell The Intercept if The Daily Beast had contacted anyone at the Daily News, and even refused to divulge Justin Miller's email address so they could ask him if he had. That's hardly the way for a publication counting on public trust in its integrity to behave. In fact, it makes them look irresponsible, especially in light of the fact that King posted time-stamped emails he'd sent his editors containing full attribution and citations.

Greenwald allowed that many of the journalists involved were "good reporters and know better," while making the astute observation that there's something about Twitter that compromises people's judgment. After all, none of finger-pointers would’ve made such tawdry accusations in their own publications. Greenwald quoted online mob member and Vocativ deputy editor Erin Gloria Ryan's sarcastic, now deleted, tweet: "I guess journalism school *IS* important." If it's so important, why were so many journalism school grads blithely violating the most basic ethical tenets of the trade?

Greenwald’s analysis of this latest example of how otherwise respectable people use Twitter to destroy others is accurate, yet he neglects to mention that prominent author and New Atheist Sam Harris accused him of acting in the very same manner several years back when he re-tweeted a meme with a quote taken out of context from Harris' book and added this comment: "Harris defenders this isn't a rational thinker, this is a genocidal fascist maniac."

Harris makes a good case in supporting his assertion that Greenwald knew very well at that time that he's not really a genocidal fascist maniac—good enough to demonstrate that Greenwald intentionally defamed him. Greenwald, however, never acknowledged this, slithering out of the accusation by claiming his re-tweet should not be considered an endorsement. While this defense is valid in some situations, it doesn't apply here. Not when you're using incendiary language against an individual you don't like. Greenwald did exactly what he's now accusing others of doing. He certainly didn't call Harris to get his side of things. In his Intercept article he asks, "Why should journalistic standards disappear just because reporters are voicing accusations on Twitter rather than in a stand-alone article? The accusations are just as damaging, if not more so, given how easily they can spread and how impervious they are to corrections."

How can you write that when your re-tweet calling a fellow writer a genocidal fascist has now been seen by millions who’ve no idea you don't actually believe this? Greenwald finishes his column by calling online platforms "potent weapons" with the potential to produce "reckless, destructive outcomes" which require "great care," but he's guilty of ignoring all his own advice.

—Follow Chris Beck on Twitter: @SubBeck

  • Except that Greenwald's retweet of Harris' words wasn't defamatory despite what poor Sam Harris has been claiming. First the quote is accurate. It's in no way attributing to Harris anything he hasn't actually said or deforming what he said. Secondly, even with the full context in which his words were initially written, they actually retain the exact same meaning. I've read Harris' book and re-read this chapter many times after I saw him claim that he was being misrepresented. Even if the whole chapter had been provided along with the quote, Harris does actually say that it may be legitimate to kill people for their beliefs. And he even insist on it by rationalizing that some beliefs may be prone to leading to murderous actions. There's no hypocrisy here. Greenwald rightfully criticizes bad media and the example you gave in no way qualifies as anything he was criticizing. That Harris accuses him of slander doesn't mean that what he did actually is slander. That's just a routine tactic by Harris.

    Responses to this comment
  • Sure thing. Speculating on a hypothetical makes him a genocidal facist maniac. If that's the case, wonder why GG used the defense that he was only RTing it and not necessarily endorsing it.

    Responses to this comment
  • Probably because he didn't want to get into actually debating the position itself at that moment. He retweeted the opinion of a thinker he respects on a subject of interest. He may or may not agree with the opinion itself. Retweeting it doesn't make it his. Yet what he retweeted wasn't factually erroneous. Had he retweeted some weird paraphrase tailormade to make Harris look bad then you'd have a case. What he retweeted was an actual quote.

    Responses to this comment
  • Yes, it's "factual" that Sam Harris is a genocidal, fascist maniac.

    Responses to this comment
  • BTW, the "thinker" he respects is @dan_verg, whose Twitter account is currently suspended. Nice try.

    Responses to this comment
  • I guess having your twitter account suspended is now some sort of proof that everything that's been said on this twitter account is trash or that the person to whom the twitter account belongs can't make good statements. Who said it was factual that Harris is a genocidal maniac. The quote was factual. Greenwald retweeted someone's opinion based on this actual quote. Whether he agrees with the opinion or not is irrelevant. The point is that he did not retweet erroneous facts he retweeted an accurate citation along with someone's opinion on this citation. If you can't see the difference between that and making public accusations of plagiarism without taking the time to do the most basic verifications about what's going on, your ability to understand and analyze real life situations must be a bit weak.

    Responses to this comment
  • Having analyzed this real life situation that requires wasting my time with a regressive leftist, I've decided to move on, but I think that's a pretty strong decision.

    Responses to this comment
  • out of valid arguments? just label your opponent with a typical buzzword typical to Harris' rhetoric and then move on. It is often said that Harris has, ironically enough, cult-like followers. What better example than someone who writes a piece just to take a shot at one of his most prominent critics and defend him, and then labels his own critics with the exact same words he routinely uses. And you call me a regressive leftist when I have actually not even made any affirmation or defended any position that would actually warrant being called a regressive leftist even in using its definition loosely. But I guess that's it now. Whoever either criticizes Harris or disagrees with him has to be a regressive leftist. Of course you know literally nothing of my actual political affiliation or leanings, but hey, I disgree with your completely unoriginal defense of Sam Harris, therefore I must be a regressive leftist. Don't worry though. I'm sure you can find someone to pat you on the back at samharris.org

    Responses to this comment
  • This was very deep. Do keep me abreast of that very important "thinker" of yours, @dan_verg, especially if Twitter rescinds its suspension of him.

    Responses to this comment
  • lol.. sticking to that twitter ban argument right? Who cares that what you think of whoever held that account is completely irrelevant? Just stick to it. That makes me wonder.. what the hell is splicetoday.com, and how the hell did I end up here anyway? What kind of website publishes someone as inept as you on such a frequent basis..

  • You're right, Splice is not for you. You need to stick to publications that have one unified message so you'll feel safer. Probably the Intercept would be more suitable for your tastes. There is no dissent allowed there. And maybe even that important "thinker" you deeply respect, @dan_verg has a blog now that his thoughts were so powerful Twitter had to kick him out.

    Responses to this comment
  • AHCC-Math, pay no mind to the closed, simple mind of Beck. Some other writers on this site can actually think and write coherent and factually interesting pieces. Hell, the Rooster makes a lot more sense than intellectually lazy Beck

  • yeah.. I've been wondering if at some point, he was going to make any sort of point. Apparently not. All he does is repeatedly hint at that suspended twitter account as if that did anything to support whatever he's saying. Just doing that proves to me that he's a mental midget.

    Responses to this comment

Register or Login to leave a comment