On October 29, 2020, Pulitzer-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald abruptly announced his departure from The Intercept, the new website he helped found in 2014 in the wake of the Snowden revelations. Greenwald's frustration stemmed from a piece he submitted to The Intercept's editors earlier in the week relating to the alleged Hunter Biden emails, texts, and photos released by the New York Post.
To hear Greenwald tell it, he was "censored" by the rest of the staff at The Intercept, who are all surreptitiously plotting for Biden's electoral victory. To hear The Intercept tell it, his departure:
… stems from a fundamental disagreement over the role of editors in the production of journalism and the nature of censorship. Glenn demands the absolute right to determine what he will publish. He believes that anyone who disagrees with him is corrupt, and anyone who presumes to edit his words is a censor.
The Intercept's version of events is largely confirmed through a series of emails shared by Greenwald. In a single email, editor Peter Maas pushed back on a few parts of Greenwald's sprawing 6,000+ word essay, offering suggestions — as editors are wont to do — for ways to improve and clarify its meandering and self-contradiction. Greenwald interpreted this lone email as "censorship" on behalf of the Democratic Party, and quit his job, for which he was being compensated between $350,000 and $520,000 annually for writing a weekly column.
Greenwald later posted the draft of the article that he sent to Peter Maas. And regardless of one's personal political position, or feelings about Joe Biden, or Hunter Biden, or Ukraine, or the New York Post, Maas's notes are pretty much spot on: Greenwald's article is meandering and unclear and contradicts itself numerous times, particularly on the topic of Joe Biden. Greenwald does do his lawyerly due diligence in admitting that there are no actual accusations, let alone verifications of accusations, of any actual impropriety on Biden's part; and then, after offering this clarifications, immediately launches into lengthy yarns about his general ire towards the Democratic Party and the Establishment Elite.
In other words, Glenn presents valid arguments with his central criticisms about the embarrassing pseudo-censorship of the alleged Hunter Biden content on social media, and the failures of the centrist media's perhaps over-corrective attempts to not over-hype an 11th hour email nothingburger (in this case, almost certainly propaganda, though not necessarily untrue) as happened in the 2016 election. It's the other 4,500+ words that are baseless, repetitive, and occasionally incoherent on which Maas was (rightly) offering edits in his capacity as an editor.
Luckily, journalist Marcy Wheeler has annotated Glenn's entire essay in a Twitter thread, pointing out just a handful of the many, many, many inherent and egregious errors that riddle that 6,000+ word tome:
Here are some highlights:
And so on. If you're interested in reading Greenwald's article at all, it is absolutely in your interest to read it via Wheeler's annotations.
It's all an unfortunate turn of events, as Greenwald has obviously done some truly important work in the past. And there certainly is value in having a vitriolic contrarian like him to even push back against progressive assumptions; certainly, Greenwald has made many very valid and important critiques of the centrist media and center-left political machine. As the note from The Intercept scathingly put it: "We have the greatest respect for the journalist Glenn Greenwald used to be."
Image: David dos Dantos / Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0)