Glenn Greenwald has been taking several mainstream media figures to task recently. Joe Klein of Time Magazine made the list after Klein bad-mouthed leftists, including Greenwald, at a "picnic." Apparently, Klein described Greenwald as "evil," a "crazy civil liberties absolutist" and "crazily anti-national security." Amai of NoMoreMisterNiceBlog, a picnic attendee, wrote about the incident. Greenwald then wrote a scathing critique of Klein that apparently quotes various emails that Klein posted to a listserve.
Remarkably, Klein has responded with a pretty bizarre essay. First, Klein describes the person he talked to at the picnic as a "pathetic woman acolyte of Greenwald's." Second, Klein condemns Greenwald for not praising the military or Bush's invasive surveillance activities.
We Need More Critical Analysis -- Not "Praise"
If Klein and other journalists had been more critical of United States militarism during the Bush administration, perhaps the country would not have started two unnecessary wars that the public has now come to regret. Even conservative George Will wants the military to give up on Afghanistan, and the public has long discarded the idea that invading Iraq was a good idea. If writers like Greenwald joined mainstream journalists and replaced criticism with praise, the public would lose an important resource.
Are Listserve Postings "Private"?
Klein also describes Greenwald as "thoroughly dishonorable" and "hypocritical" for publishing his "private" emails, while condemning Bush's surveillance activities. Posting analysis to a listserve, however, does not involve the same privacy interests as a telephone conservation. Furthermore, disclosure of "personal" commentary by a private citizen certainly does not have the same political or legal implications as the same action by the federal government.
Listserve readers can and often forward commentary to individuals beyond the list. By contrast, people do not expect the government to intercept their personal conversations. And while I am not sure whether I would quote such commentary, I am definitely certain that I would not call someone dishonorable for quoting statements from a listserve. If Klein is so outraged that Greenwald quoted his listserve comments, then governmental invasions of privacy should upset him even more, particularly in light of the fact that the Fourth Amendment binds state and federal governments -- not private citizens like Greenwald. Instead, Klein apparently believes that people who condemn invasions of privacy in the name of national security are extremists. This sounds a little like Rush Limbaugh suddenly favoring the right of privacy only after prosecutors started examining his medical records for signs of illegal prescription drug use.
Thought Question: Is Greenwald "dishonorable" or is Klein is so unhinged by Greenwald that he cannot control his public commentary (verbal and written) regarding Greenwald?
Disclosure: Although I am a huge fan of Greenwald, I am not an "acolyte" of anyone -- certainly not a "pathetic acolyte." I have even criticized Greenwald in a post or two.
UPDATE: Greenwald's other "pathetic acolytes" think Joe Klein's essay is rubbish. See, e.g., Putting the 'Oh No' in 'Oh No He Didn't'. See also -- the comments section to Klein's essay.
Greenwald thinks it's rubbish too: Beltway culture, checks on journalists and secrecy obligations.