My final post on Joe Biden pre-election is taking longer than expected.
I plan to post it tomorrow, all being well.
The post below involves the left-wing Media and recent Biden news stories.
Glenn Greenwald is an excellent investigative journalist.
Last week, he resigned from The Intercept, a media outlet he co-founded in 2014.
Both Greenwald and another investigative journalist, Matt Taibbi, who is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone, explain why.
Tucker Carlson interviewed Greenwald on Thursday, October 29, 2020:
Greenwald told Tucker that The Intercept was founded to avoid the usual journalistic censorship that occurs in mainstream media.
Yet, his editors told him that they could not publish an article of his about Joe and Hunter Biden’s business dealings because they doubted the veracity of the information.
Greenwald noted that, over the past few years, there has been a close alliance among US intelligence agencies, the Democrats, the media and Silicon Valley.
He pointed out that intelligence agencies were supposed to lie to foreign enemies, not the American people. Yet, they have been seen time and time again twisting the truth to Americans.
I’ll have more on Greenwald’s censored article below.
Matt Taibbi wrote a fascinating article explaining the circumstances behind Greenwald’s resignation, excerpted below, emphases mine — except where noted otherwise:
He begins with this:
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald quit his job this morning. In a bizarre, ironic, and disturbing commentary on trends in modern media, the celebrated reporter was forced to resign after writing a story criticizing both the Biden campaign and intelligence community — only to have it spiked by the editors of The Intercept, the news outlet he co-founded six years ago with the aim of preventing pretty much this exact situation.
“The irony,” Greenwald says, “is that a media outlet I co-founded, and which was built on my name and my accomplishments, with the purpose of guaranteeing editorial independence, is now censoring me in the most egregious way — about the leading presidential candidate, a week before the election.”
It was clear from the beginning that his editor was in the tank for the Democrats and for Joe Biden:
In a nutshell, the fatal sequence of events went as follows:
Greenwald, after commenting pointedly about the reaction by press and Democratic Party officials to the New York Post story, reached out to Intercept editor Betsy Reed to float the idea of writing on the subject.
The first hint of trouble came when Reed suggested that yes, it might be a story, if proven correct, but “even if it did represent something untoward about Biden,” that would “represent a tiny fraction of the sleaze and lies Trump and his cronies are oozing in every day.”
When Greenwald retorted that deciding not to report on one politician’s scandals because those of another politician are deemed worse is a “corrupt calculus” for reporters, Reed expressed concern. Based on this, on his comments on Twitter, and other factors, she worried that “we are headed for a conflict over the editing of this piece.”
Greenwald insisted he wasn’t planning an overwhelming amount of coverage but wanted to do a single article, reviewing the available facts and perhaps asking the Biden campaign to comment on the veracity of the Post story. Reed agreed that he should write a draft, then they could “see where we are.”
‘See where we are’ does not bode well coming from an editor:
An aside: when reporters and editors interact, they speak between the lines. If an editor only ever suggests or assigns stories from a certain angle, you’re being told they don’t particularly want the other angle. If your editor has lots of hypothetical concerns at the start, he or she probably won’t be upset if you choose a different topic. Finally, when an editor lays out “suggestions” about things that might “help” a piece “be even stronger,” it’s a signal both parties understand about what elements have to be put in before the editor will send the thing through.
Reed assigned Greenwald an editor for his article — and more:
Peter Maass would edit, but Reed also noted that there was a lot of “in-house knowledge” they could all “tap into.”
By “in-house knowledge,” she meant the work of Robert Mackey and Jim Risen, two Intercept reporters with whom Greenwald clashed in the past. Risen had already loudly denounced the Post story not only as conspiracy theory, but foreign disinformation. Essentially, Reed was telling Greenwald his piece would be quasi-edited by people with whom he’d had major public disagreements about Russia-related issues going back years …
“The only reason people are getting interested in and ready to scrutinize what I write is because everyone is afraid of being accused of having published something harmful to Biden,” Greenwald told them. “That’s the reality.”
Taibbi posted a screenshot of an exchange between Reed and Greenwald with that quote.
US intelligence agencies and the media have deemed what has been uncovered to date with regard to the Bidens is Russian disinformation and is unverifiable.
Peter Maass and Greenwald locked horns:
Maass suggested Greenwald cut the piece and stick to a narrower essay about whether or not the press was directly asking Biden enough questions. Another irony: Greenwald was trying to criticize the rush to describe the Post story as disinformation, and Maass was essentially asking that he address the “disinformation issue,” even though the material’s veracity had not been denied, and the editors themselves didn’t seem to believe the laptop material was fake. Reed at one point wrote to Greenwald, “I agree with you that [the emails] appear to be mostly or entirely genuine, though authentication has been difficult in part because of the Biden camp’s refusal to address questions about authenticity.”
Greenwald, by then furious, noted that neither Maass nor Reed had identified a factual inaccuracy in the article, but rather disagreed with its conclusions and his assessments of the facts — his “positions,” rather than his information.
Greenwald resigned. The Intercept reacted negatively:
The Intercept quickly put out an icy statement describing him as a “grown person throwing a tantrum,” adding that Greenwald was laboring under the assumption that “anyone who presumes to edit him is a censor.”
They piled more blame on him:
“It is Glenn who has strayed from his original journalistic roots, not the Intercept.” Mourning the reporter he “used to be,” the Intercept editors defined the value that Glenn supposedly lost sight of as “an investigative mission… that involved a collaborative process.” In other words, absolute editorial freedom — but by group consent.
They also made him out to be a Trump apologist, which he is not:
They then pulled out the go-to rhetorical device of media hall monitors in the Trump era, accusing him of being a secret Trump partisan, trying to “recycle… the Trump campaign’s… dubious claims, and launder them as journalism.”
I don’t think he supports either Trump or Biden, even though he leans left-of-centre. His main focus is truthful, investigative journalism.
Taibbi tells us how The Intercept was founded:
On February 10th, 2014, Greenwald, documentarian Laura Poitras, and fellow reporter Jeremy Scahill announced the creation of an aggressive new investigative outlet, backed by the deep pockets of eBay founder and billionaire Pierre Omidyar.
It was big news in the media world. Greenwald and Poitras had been working on one of the great scoops in recent times, helping former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden come forward about a secret, illegal mass surveillance program conducted by the U.S. government. After bringing the story to light, Snowden was forced into exile, and Greenwald in particular became the subject of denunciations by colleagues and politicians alike, with some prominent officials openly calling for his prosecution and jailing.
The Intercept was designed specifically to be a place where journalists would be protected from such intimidation and editorial interference.
At that time, The Intercept‘s editorial policy was as follows (emphasis in the original):
The editorial independence of our journalists will be guaranteed… Our journalists will be not only permitted, but encouraged, to pursue stories without regard to whom they might alienate.
Greenwald co-founded the Intercept with this exact scenario in mind, building a structure where “little private talks” with bosses would never happen, and there couldn’t be high-profile dismissals for ideological reasons.
What he didn’t guess at was that even in an atmosphere where managerial interference is near zero, a collective of independent journalists can themselves become censors and enforcers of official orthodoxies. In some cases, free journalists will become more aggressive propagandists and suppressors of speech than the officials from whom they supposedly need to be protected. This Lord of the Flies effect is what happened with The Intercept.
Taibbi documents how Russia, which Obama viewed as insignificant, suddenly became America’s greatest enemy again in 2016:
After 2016, however, these officials presented themselves as norms-defending heroes protecting America against the twin “existential” threats of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Russia, just a few years ago described by Rachel Maddow as a harmless “gnat on the butt of an elephant,” was now reinvented as an all-powerful foe mounting an influence campaign of unprecedented reach, with everyone from Trump to the Green Party to blogs like Truthdig and Naked Capitalism, to congresswoman and war veteran Tulsi Gabbard, to Bernie Sanders, all potentially doing the bidding of a Cold War foe bent on “sowing discord” on our shores.
This propagandistic effort revolved around making the Democratic Party into a collective hero:
A key part of this propaganda campaign was the continual insistence that any criticism of the Democratic Party was, in essence, aid and comfort to our Red Enemy. Would-be progressive journalists horrified by Donald Trump accepted this logic with enthusiasm. Over the course of four years they abandoned their traditional mistrust of the security state to transform themselves into a squad of little Pavik Morozovs, anxious to stamp out traitors to the cause and keep the news business clean of “Russian” misinformation that might help Donald Trump get re-elected.
Bizarre, yet, as we know, it’s true.
Greenwald noted that the Democrats became friendly with their arch-enemies among the neo-cons, people they had previously despised. Officials from the intelligence services were also invited to participate in television interviews:
As press enthusiasm for the Trump-Russia story widened, progressives began to invite old enemies back into the fold. People like “Axis of Evil” speechwriter David Frum and Weekly Standard editor and key Iraq War proponent Bill Kristol became regular guests on CNN and MSNBC, while ex-spooks like Brennan, Clapper, Hayden, and a long list of others were given TV contributor deals, now serving as the press instead of facing criticism from it.
“The prevailing power center is Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and the Democratic Party,” Greenwald says. “In the Trump era, they managed to convince everyone to view anyone who opposes Trump as allies.”
Greenwald received a lot of nasty pushback for pointing that out. His aforementioned editor Betsy Reed helped to contribute:
When the New Yorker wrote an astonishingly vicious profile of Greenwald, describing his refusal to accept theories of Russian subversion as a pathology inspired by a difficult childhood and confusion over his sexuality, his nominal boss and co-worker, Reed, was happy to chime in about things Greenwald does that are “not helpful to the left.”
Taibbi cites several more examples, all of which must have been hurtful to Greenwald personally as well as professionally.
Taibbi ends with this:
When the likes of Brennan, Clapper, and Hayden wrote a joint letter decrying the recent Post story as a seeming Russian mischief, they were very careful in what they said. They used the term “information operation” instead of “misinformation,” and prominently included the line, “We do not have evidence of Russian involvement.”
However, in the recent Intercept story quoting that letter, describing the Post story has having “the classic earmarks of Russian misinformation,” the line about not having evidence was left out.
“The CIA letter was more honest than The Intercept,” is how Greenwald puts it.
A few years ago, reporters had the intelligence community on the defensive. Now, reporters are ratting each other out on their behalf, with the aim of creating an absolute political monoculture. Having pushed out one of journalism’s most accomplished members, they’ve nearly succeeded.
Glenn Greenwald has a page on Substack, as does Taibbi.
On Thursday, October 29, he published ‘My Resignation From The Intercept’, excerpted below.
Greenwald said that The Intercept would not allow him to publish his Biden article via any publication:
The censored article, based on recently revealed emails and witness testimony, raised critical questions about Biden’s conduct. Not content to simply prevent publication of this article at the media outlet I co-founded, these Intercept editors also demanded that I refrain from exercising a separate contractual right to publish this article with any other publication …
So censorship of my article, rather than engagement with it, was the path these Biden-supporting editors chose.
The censored article will be published on this page shortly (it is now published here, and the emails with Intercept editors showing the censorship are here). My letter of intent to resign, which I sent this morning to First Look Media’s President Michael Bloom, is published below.
As of now, I will be publishing my journalism here on Substack, where numerous other journalists, including my good friend, the great intrepid reporter Matt Taibbi, have come in order to practice journalism free of the increasingly repressive climate that is engulfing national mainstream media outlets across the country.
He said that leaving The Intercept was not a decision he took lightly:
Like anyone with young children, a family and numerous obligations, I do this with some trepidation, but also with the conviction that there is no other choice. I could not sleep at night knowing that I allowed any institution to censor what I want to say and believe — least of all a media outlet I co-founded with the explicit goal of ensuring this never happens to other journalists, let alone to me, let alone because I have written an article critical of a powerful Democratic politician vehemently supported by the editors in the imminent national election.
Years ago, he moved from practising law to becoming a journalist:
From the time I began writing about politics in 2005, journalistic freedom and editorial independence have been sacrosanct to me. Fifteen years ago, I created a blog on the free Blogspot software when I was still working as a lawyer: not with any hopes or plans of starting a new career as a journalist, but just as a citizen concerned about what I was seeing with the War on Terror and civil liberties, and wanting to express what I believed needed to be heard. It was a labor of love, based in an ethos of cause and conviction, dependent upon a guarantee of complete editorial freedom.
It thrived because the readership I built knew that, even when they disagreed with particular views I was expressing, I was a free and independent voice, unwedded to any faction, controlled by nobody, endeavoring to be as honest as possible about what I was seeing, and always curious about the wisdom of seeing things differently. The title I chose for that blog, “Unclaimed Territory,” reflected that spirit of liberation from captivity to any fixed political or intellectual dogma or institutional constraints.
When Salon offered me a job as a columnist in 2007, and then again when the Guardian did the same in 2012, I accepted their offers on the condition that I would have the right, except in narrowly defined situations (such as articles that could create legal liability for the news outlet), to publish my articles and columns directly to the internet without censorship, advanced editorial interference, or any other intervention permitted or approval needed. Both outlets revamped their publication system to accommodate this condition, and over the many years I worked with them, they always honored those commitments.
When I left the Guardian at the height of the Snowden reporting in 2013 in order to create a new media outlet, I did not do so, needless to say, in order to impose upon myself more constraints and restrictions on my journalistic independence. The exact opposite was true: the intended core innovation of The Intercept, above all else, was to create a new media outlets where all talented, responsible journalists would enjoy the same right of editorial freedom I had always insisted upon for myself.
He has much more on his time at The Intercept and the stories he and his fellow journalists broke.
These are his plans for the immediate future:
I hope to exploit the freedom this new platform offers not only to continue to publish the independent and hard-hitting investigative journalism and candid analysis and opinion writing that my readers have come to expect, but also to develop a podcast, and continue the YouTube program, “System Update,” I launched earlier this year in partnership with The Intercept.
To do that, to make this viable, I will need your support: people who are able to subscribe and sign up for the newsletter attached to this platform will enable my work to thrive and still be heard, perhaps even more so than before. I began my journalism career by depending on my readers’ willingness to support independent journalism which they believe is necessary to sustain. It is somewhat daunting at this point in my life, but also very exciting, to return to that model where one answers only to the public a journalist should be serving.
His article on Joe Biden is ‘Article on Joe and Hunter Biden Censored by The Intercept’. ‘The Real Scandal: U.S. Media Uses Falsehoods to Defend Joe Biden from Hunter’s Emails’ follows an introductory paragraph on his resignation.
Excerpts follow. I won’t go in to all the Biden material, as I posted enough times on it over the past several days.
It is interesting to look at the media’s reaction and the Biden campaign’s reaction in light of that:
Publication by the New York Post two weeks ago of emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop, relating to Vice President Joe Biden’s work in Ukraine, and subsequent articles from other outlets concerning the Biden family’s pursuit of business opportunities in China, provoked extraordinary efforts by a de facto union of media outlets, Silicon Valley giants and the intelligence community to suppress these stories.
One outcome is that the Biden campaign concluded, rationally, that there is no need for the front-running presidential candidate to address even the most basic and relevant questions raised by these materials. Rather than condemn Biden for ignoring these questions — the natural instinct of a healthy press when it comes to a presidential election — journalists have instead led the way in concocting excuses to justify his silence.
He discusses what information has been made public and by whom, including journalists and pundits, then states:
All of these new materials, the authenticity of which has never been disputed by Hunter Biden or the Biden campaign, raise important questions about whether the former Vice President and current front-running presidential candidate was aware of efforts by his son to peddle influence with the Vice President for profit, and also whether the Vice President ever took actions in his official capacity with the intention, at least in part, of benefitting his son’s business associates. But in the two weeks since the Post published its initial story, a union of the nation’s most powerful entities, including its news media, have taken extraordinary steps to obscure and bury these questions rather than try to provide answers to them.
He details the censorship by Facebook and Twitter:
After that initial censorship burst from Silicon Valley, whose workforce and oligarchs have donated almost entirely to the Biden campaign, it was the nation’s media outlets and former CIA and other intelligence officials who took the lead in constructing reasons why the story should be dismissed, or at least treated with scorn. As usual for the Trump era, the theme that took center stage to accomplish this goal was an unsubstantiated claim about the Kremlin responsibility for the story.
Numerous news outlets, including the Intercept, quickly cited a public letter signed by former CIA officials and other agents of the security state claiming that the documents have the “classic trademarks” of a “Russian disinformation” plot. But, as media outlets and even intelligence agencies are now slowly admitting, no evidence has ever been presented to corroborate this assertion.
As is customary for Greenwald, he details various Big Media articles and broadcasts about the story.
The media’s denunciation of this story made it easier for Team Biden to maintain silence:
The Biden campaign clearly believes it has no need to answer any of these questions by virtue of a panoply of media excuses offered on its behalf that collapse upon the most minimal scrutiny …
He goes into much more detail. Anyone who wonders about the veracity of the material on Joe and Hunter Biden should definitely read his article.
The publicly known facts, augmented by the recent emails, texts and on-the-record accounts, suggest serious sleaze by Joe Biden’s son Hunter in trying to peddle his influence with the Vice President for profit. But they also raise real questions about whether Joe Biden knew about and even himself engaged in a form of legalized corruption. Specifically, … newly revealed information suggest Biden was using his power to benefit his son’s business Ukrainian associates, and allowing his name to be traded on while Vice President for his son and brother to pursue business opportunities in China. These are questions which a minimally healthy press would want answered, not buried — regardless of how many similar or worse scandals the Trump family has.
He concludes that the media’s ignoring this story is as bad, if not worse, than the allegations against the Bidens:
But the real scandal that has been proven is not the former Vice President’s misconduct but that of his supporters and allies in the U.S. media. As Taibbi’s headline put it: “With the Hunter Biden Exposé, Suppression is a Bigger Scandal Than the Actual Story.”
He then goes into various media narratives and top stories from the 2016 presidential campaign before concluding:
The U.S. media often laments that people have lost faith in its pronouncements, that they are increasingly viewed as untrustworthy and that many people view Fake News sites are more reliable than established news outlets. They are good at complaining about this, but very bad at asking whether any of their own conduct is responsible for it.
A media outlet that renounces its core function — pursuing answers to relevant questions about powerful people — is one that deserves to lose the public’s faith and confidence. And that is exactly what the U.S. media, with some exceptions, attempted to do with this story: they took the lead not in investigating these documents but in concocting excuses for why they should be ignored.
As my colleague Lee Fang put it on Sunday: “The partisan double standards in the media are mind boggling this year, and much of the supposedly left independent media is just as cowardly and conformist as the mainstream corporate media. Everyone is reading the room and acting out of fear.” Discussing his story from Sunday, Taibbi summed up the most important point this way: “The whole point is that the press loses its way when it cares more about who benefits from information than whether it’s true.”
Glenn Greenwald is far from alone:
Other journalists are coming forward with their stories and experiences. I look forward to covering those in due course.