Glenn Greenwald’s resignation last week from The Intercept might’ve passed without much fuss, but the media couldn’t help themselves. Greenwald, a contrarian libertarian, courts this kind of attention, but at least he acts like the court jester he is. He’s accused of being narcissistic, self-obsessed, crypto-neo-fill-in-the-blank, and bent on fame at any cost. To see people like Chris Hayes, Naomi Klein, and David Frum gather to dissolve into pond scum together last Thursday was really something else, especially when Frum, an architect of the Iraq War, tweeted, “Wanted: smart, non-polemical assessment of emergence of Tucker Carlson, Joe Rogan, Glenn Greenwald, Donald Trump Jr., Matt Taibbi, the Federalist group of writers etc. as a coherent and cohesive faction in American politics. They share more than just the same dislikes.” He added: “I don't think it's a coincidence that this group includes no women.” Forget the New York Post, this son of a bitch shouldn’t be allowed to tweet.
Nauseating as Greenwald’s supplication of Tucker Carlson’s soft white supremacy was recently, the media sickos dancing on his “grave” deserve more scrutiny and criticism. Greenwald accepting Carlson’s assertion that a less ethnically homogenous country was preferable to current trends—this is disgusting on its face. Don’t forget that Greenwald and Laura Poitras could’ve released Edward Snowden’s entire cache to the public instead of a few PDF’s—instead, those documents went into the vault of Pierre Omidyar, owner of The Intercept and connected to the CIA (allegedly). I’ve also seen Greenwald accused of being a CIA asset, but who isn’t these days? For now, let’s treat him as he is in the public arena: the heel, broadcasting live from his compound in Brazil with his family and their dozens of dogs.
It’s obvious to me that people in establishment media who mock Greenwald’s “self-sabotage” and others like Matt Taibbi, Joe Rogan, Aimee Therese and What’s Left?, and Anna Khachiyan and Dasha Nekrasova of Red Scare are jealous and terrified by platforms like Patreon, YouTube, and Substack. The true “lackeys and flunkys” as Christian Bailey put it, of the world, like Chris Hayes, worked very hard all their lives going to the right schools and volunteering at the right places and doing the work to get to where they are now, and what’s this? Some meathead with a mouth is bringing on Alex Jones and Kanye West and Bernie Sanders? And YouTube—and now Spotify—is paying him millions of dollars? On his own terms? He’s been integrated into the system? Our system? He must be stopped!
These people hate Greenwald, Taibbi and Rogan and others that stick out because they’re all frustrated celebrities and fame whores. There aren’t many reporters or journalists or media personalities that make a point of not voting and remaining non-partisan in their personal lives as a way of maintaining some measure of objectivity in their work. That’s been out the window since All the President’s Men, and the behavior has only sunk from the summit of Dan Rather’s petulant refusal to broadcast after the Pope was interrupted by a tennis match in 1987, leaving over a hundred CBS affiliates with six minutes of dead air in the middle of the day. Rather got his first rush of tragic excitement when JFK was assassinated, and to hear him savor every minute of airtime on archived CBS broadcasts of that day, in contrast to the stentorian and stoic delivery of the other anchors is, again, dizzying.
People shouldn’t go into journalism with celebrity and television in mind. With one day to go until the election, one that will likely stretch out for weeks or months amid widespread protests and violence, I see these same broadcasters and writers gloat over an “all but certain” victory by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and I come to the conclusion that at some point after November 8, 2016, they were voluntarily lobotomized, and that they’ll retain their goldfish memories long after January 20, 2021.
The election could go countless ways at this point, but the tenor of the media and its poor victims, its willing recipients, its addicts, can only go one of two ways: if Trump wins, the current pitch and pace will continue and accelerate and devolve. I can’t imagine what the cultural psyche will look or sound like in 2024 if Trump wins again. The country will be like one big burned out speed freak, three hits away from the spin that finally blows the brain and implodes the heart. A Biden win, on the other hand, will lead to some “temporary relief” for traumatized liberals and downwardly mobile professionals whose lives haven’t changed materially under Trump but who can’t stand to have such a vulgar idiot in charge of the country that represents them. It’s all aesthetics with these people—they may cry about the children in cages, run by Trump and built by Obama, but they’ve not had relatives kidnapped or insurance premiums hiked past what any other Republican would’ve done. It’s the facade of Trump that’s repulsive and makes people act like histrionic children.
But I don’t think the addiction to outrage and to score-settling will end or ebb much under a Biden administration. Despite what people say, I don’t think most will be able to go back to “just not paying attention”—the habits, hard to break, are here to stay. And what will there be to get excited or outraged about under Biden? Well, probably Donald Trump. If COVID-19 didn’t take him out, a predicted election loss certainly won’t either. He’ll go to do what he was supposed to do in 2016: start his own network, hook up with OANN, or groom one of his Hapsburgian sons to lose a Congressional race or something. As long as Trump’s alive, he’ll be the focal point of outrage for a certain segment of Americans. They may not be many, and they may not outnumber the quiet pockets that vote for Biden or Trump without thinking much about it or suffering any angst. But they’re the loudest, and they aren’t leaving Twitter or Facebook anytime soon.
—Follow Nicky Smith on Twitter: @nickyotissmith