Greenwald leaves Guardian for new venture backed by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar (updated)

Journalist Glenn Greenwald in Rio de Janeiro, July 2013. Sergio Moraes / Reuters

Blogger and journalist Glenn Greenwald, who along with Laura Poitras broke the story of Edward Snowden's NSA leaks, announced today that he is departing the Guardian newspaper to join a "new news venture backed by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar," reports Paul Farhi at The Washington Post.

The new, as-yet-unnamed news site has also sought to hire Laura Poitras, the documentary filmmaker who was instrumental in linking former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to Greenwald and Barton Gellman of The Washington Post, and national security reporter Jeremy Scahill of the Nation magazine, said a person familiar with the venture.

The new venture (we don't yet know the name) is funded by Omidyar Network, a “philanthropic investment firm” controlled by Omidyar and wife Pamela, which previously backed local investigative news website Hono­lulu Civil Beat, and now-closed Backfence.

Greenwald spoke to Buzzfeed today about his departure from the Guardian, but gave no details about the new venture.

UPDATE: A rep for Omidyar says, "The new venture will be backed by Pierre Omidyar, personally, not Omidyar Network. Additionally, Honolulu Civil Beat is not funded by Omidyar Network, it is a separate entity. Here is a blog post by Pierre on the topic today." (Disclosure: I serve with Greenwald and Poitras on the board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.)

Notable Replies

  1. Oh God I hate this part, this is where the thug with no nationality springs from the shadows and throttles him. Then, in his own blood, he writes the enigmatic letter C.

  2. I've been somewhat surprised lately that I've been seeing more criticism of Greenwald from the radical left: claims that he's stringing out the process of publishing Snowden's documents for the sake of his own publicity; complaints that he makes too many concessions to the legitimacy of the state security apparatus. My first gut response is that such criticisms are wildly ultra-left, since Greenwald is putting himself at considerable risk by confronting powerful institutions for the sake of democratic principles. However, I have often found myself frustrated and puzzled by some journalists and social critics, who produce devastating critiques of mind-blowing systematic injustice that you would expect to bring into question the legitimacy of the fundamental structures , and yet when it gets to the question of what to do about it, seem to start mumbling about writing letters to your member of Congress and maybe signing a petition.

    So, this story seems like it might be a clue to what Greenwald's strategy really is, as he seems to be switching from one patron, The Guardian, to another, Pierre Omidyar.

    However, I don't recall ever having heard of Pierre Omidyar before, and the Wikipedia biography of Omidyar doesn't tell me much. He's fabulously rich, he made his money from eBay, he's French-Iranian, and he's a philanthropist ... but I have no idea what this guy believes in.

  3. Yes, it boggles me that anyone concerns themselves about "left/right/libertarian/pastafarian" BS on an issue as fundamental as this.

  4. Well, for instance, A Heat Vampire in Search of a Movie Deal, which was tweeted with approval by Asher Wolf. Shortly after reading that, I was reading some comments section on a news story in which several people made similar points in brief. I haven't been able to find those comments to cite an example, so maybe it was just a coincidence and I'm reading too much into it. That is, I'm used to seeing right wing criticism of Greenwald, and I was surprised that I thought I was suddenly seeing a trend towards more left wing criticism of Greenwald, but that may have been wrong about that.

    The definition of "ultra-left" I'm using refers to a strategic judgment -- in this case, is this the right time to emphasize criticism of Greenwald, or is it more important to emphasize supporting Greenwald, and just criticize Greenwald parenthetically?

    I'm leaning towards the latter, especially after plowing through the Guardian's comments section and finding almost all the criticism of Greenwald coming from the right, along the usual lines of, "There's no dangerous state surveillance apparatus, and besides, I support it."

  5. They're both libertarians

    Um, that's going to be news to Glenn Greenwald. Here he is speaking for himself:

    Frequently told lies (FTLs):

    Sharing some views with libertarians does not make one a libertarian. I honestly think most "lifer" libertarians have some form of autism spectrum disorder (undiagnosed or otherwise). Yet, I still manage to share some views with some of them.

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