More evidence that Glenn Greenwald is not a serious journalist


As we reported yesterday, on June 27th Glenn Greenwald addressed, via Skype, the annual U.S. ‘Socialism Conference’, a speech which was characteristically loaded with sophomoric platitudes, contemptuous diatribes directed at the U.S. government, and smears of his critics.

While you can view the entire video yourself to glimpse Greenwald’s triumphalism over his partnership with Edward Snowden, the following quote from his talk is especially worth exploring as it reveals much about his highly skewed understanding of what it means to be a journalist.

At roughly the 15 minute mark, Greenwald makes the following claim:

David Halberstam defined the measurement of good journalism as how much you anger the people in power that you’re covering…while most establishment journalists measure it by how much you please the people in power that you’re covering. And, for me, if you are pleasing the people in power with the things that you’re disclosing you may be very good at your job, but your job is not journalism.

Is that really the job of professional journalists? Should reporters at the Guardian and other news sites measure their effectiveness by the degree to which they “anger the people in power”? 

I’m sure most people working in the profession could easily refute such a facile and appallingly juvenile understanding of what it means to be a journalist, but a good answer to Greenwald’s hackneyed cliché was recently provided by a commenter beneath the line at a blog friendly to Greenwald. Here’s what the commenter wrote:

Glenn Greenwald is really full of himself these days. Good journalism is not measured by “how angry you make the people your covering.” That is a conceit that only Greenwald could come up with.

Good journalism is measured by how deeply, accurately, and objectively one covers a story or event. In doing so, a good journalist may indeed anger those he is covering. But not necessarily so. If Greenwald thinks that good journalism is only that which angers those being covered, he has a very narrow, pinched view of what constitutes journalism.

If Glenn Greenwald wants to be a political activist that is of course his right. However, those who read and fancy his commentaries at ‘Comment is Free’ must at least disabuse themselves from the increasingly absurd notion that what he’s engaged in at the Guardian even remotely resembles professional journalism.

26 comments on “More evidence that Glenn Greenwald is not a serious journalist

  1. “contemptuous diatribes directed at the U.S. government, ”

    At present the US govt seems hilariously inept having been caught spying on her allies and those she is about to do a gigantic business deal with. A little contempt is surely to be expected.

    I don’t wish to overpraise Greenwald as he lacks humour and takes himself too seriously but again I find myself siding with him. Angering the mobsters that have been running our countries’ continuous war mongering and their further enriching of stupendously rich people at the expense of the poor?

    I really don’t see the problem.

    • May I refer you to Adam’s last paragraph. No problem if GG wants to be a political activist. No problem if SOME journalism upsets the ruling elite. But BIG problem if a “journalist” sees the latter as his main job. That’s not a journalist’s job. That’s a satirist’s job or an opinion hack.

      I wonder (by the way) if GG would believe that to be his job in the unlikely event that the US of A became a Marxist state? Would he still see it as his role to “anger the people in power”? If so, I don’t think he’d live very long!

      • “if GG would believe that to be his job in the unlikely event that the US of A became a Marxist state? ”

        As we speak the Americans are losing young firefighters by the dozen whilst tens of thousands of fit young soldiers guard Germany, one of the least attacked countries in the world. A Marxist leadership could well invite army volunteers to go home and save their country from real attack .

        • “…tens of thousands of fit young soldiers guard Germany”…..oh dear Rosco. Tell us more about the world you live in.

        • “A Marxist leadership could well invite army volunteers to go home and save their country from real attack .”

          You must be young.

    • I like that
      “Angering the mobsters that have been running our countries’ continuous war mongering and their further enriching of stupendously rich people at the expense of the poor?”
      bearing in mind the Royals. Following this trait´the queen must be something like the overlord of mobsters which I would never have suspected till you came along. :-)

  2. ‘And, for me, if you are pleasing the people in power with the things that you’re disclosing you may be very good at your job, but your job is not journalism.’

    This actually gives an insight into the perverted mind of Greenwald. For him, journalism is all about the people in power. And he is not ‘in power’. Like medicine is all about sex and lawyers is all about money. (Ooooops! Oh dear. That may be true.)

    But journalism is about presenting various aspects of a subject to readers/listeners. No direct link to do with ‘the powers that be’. It’s all in his (sad little) mind.

    • “journalism is about presenting various aspects of a subject to readers/listeners.”

      They say if journalists had been as mushy in the 60s as they are now the US would still be bombing the jungles. I don’t know what happened to US journalism it seems to have been neutered successfully. Maybe that is why Greenwald seems such a breath of fresh air, he is one of a mere handful who seem to give a damn..

      ” the perverted mind ”

      On a site dedicated to the accuracy of the Guardian it seems ironic that wild sneering is not more harshly judged . The USSR used to do exactly the same only on a giant scale. How many thousands were locked up as psychotic ?

      • We already know that you are in desperate love with Greenwald, but why do you publish your private problems here?

        • “you are in desperate love with Greenwald”

          No I think he can be humourless and I prefer the style of William Blum the other US writer that’s not some right wing joke.

          ” why do you publish your private problems here? ”

          Have you visited CIF recently ? It hopeless. I actually cannot follow it. Posts seem to be stacked in a way that I am unable to decipher. Its more relaxed here less moderation and drifting off topic is not punished.

          • I see the real troubles concerning your relationship with Greenwald, both of you are lying creeps, like to boast and are imposters, one of you two is too much. :-)

            • “both of you .. like to boast ”

              We can all see why Greenwald might like to boast as he gets a larger and larger audience and seems to survive any encounter with panache unlike those who are whacked out enough to think they can debate him.

              But I know of no such incidents ..he maybe is a little forceful .

  3. Should reporters at the Guardian and other news sites measure their effectiveness by the degree to which they “anger the people in power”?

    So how does CifWatch measure its effectiveness ?? By the degree to which they please the people at the Guardian … ?

  4. Pretty much proof that his journalism doesn’t primarily involve reporting facts.

  5. ‘David Halberstam defined the measurement of good journalism as how much you anger the people in power that you’re covering’.

    Russian journalists who have pissed off the siloviki at home have been assassinated for their pains.

    Iranian journalists who have done the same have been tortured in the Evin prison.

    Chinese journalists know full well how foolish it can be to depart from the party line.

  6. Give me a break here. Why do people have to be so mean and critical? I for one like Greenwald/Journalist with Guardian. And I’ve spread the word about the book deal on Snowden. He rocks. This is the best right way to do it. I feel its safer for Snowden and Russia situation. This way its done professionally and with honesty and integrity. This is a very unique story and must be done by the right person.and neither Snowden or Greenwald are dummies. And I happen to like greenwalds covering of the Snowden story. He deserves it. Other journalists and news reporters and tabloids are just envious because its not them writing. Go find another story and leave Greenwald alone. Its basic jelousy.ive told everyone to read his reporting on Snowden with the guardian news.

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