Logrolling In Our Time

Glenn Greenwald:

Last year, after I wrote critically about a well-known journalist who frequently appears on the TV and is considered "liberal," he emailed me (after first asking me to agree that our conversation would be private) to warn that I should be more "careful" about attacking "allies" if I wanted to expand my platforms and get on television. That's how the culture works. Those are the weapons which politicians -- and journalists -- use to try to punish those who criticize them and reward those who refrain from doing that. But for people who are indifferent to those "rewards" and affirmatively want to be without them, establishment journalists can't control or otherwise deter them from shining a negative light on what they do. It's natural that they're angry about that and bitterly resent those who do it, but that's just the nature of accountability.

Glenn swims in the ocean where he must be paid for his writing so of course he can't be perfect on this - but more so than any other paid writer I know, Glenn writes what he thinks without concern for logrolling. For that alone, he is to be treasured. Of course, his meticulous research is another part of his work that is invaluable. I disagree with Glenn a fair amount on issues and have criticized him when I think he is wrong. Unlike Joe Klein, Glenn addresses the substance of the criticism, whether he thinks it is correct or incorrect. He does not hold a grudge against those who render substantive criticism of his views. We need more Glenn Greenwalds. We need less Joe Kleins. I fear we got more Kleins than Greenwalds in the progressive blogs the past few years.

Speaking for me only

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    Ezra Klein (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by lilburro on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 08:54:38 AM EST
    organized Journolist, huh?  Interesting.  BYOB (build your own beltway)

    Yes he did (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 08:56:23 AM EST
    well that pretty (5.00 / 4) (#8)
    by lilburro on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:12:11 AM EST
    much disqualifies Ezra as a media critic doesn't it.

    And as far as logrolling goes, in the past two weeks the guy that wrote this has given good links to Joe Klein here and here.

    This is one of the reasons I appreciate your writing.  The same type of mindset is constantly f*cking up the facts and muddying the waters (Joe Klein, Andrew Sullivan) so uncritically linking to them and supporting them the few moments they are right only offers them cover they don't deserve.  You do not do that....and I think that's the only approach to take.


    Well (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:18:07 AM EST
    Ezra does not do much criticizing these days, except of progressives.

    He may've (none / 0) (#38)
    by lilburro on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 11:26:13 AM EST
    Yeah well (none / 0) (#40)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 11:53:53 AM EST
    That's Ezra now.

    I hope people know who he is by now. I have done my best to make sure they do.


    I would like to add to this. (5.00 / 5) (#13)
    by Faust on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:37:01 AM EST
    The main reason I visit this blog is because of BTDs interesting and, in my view, unusual (or maybe just rare) take on things.

    While I am no expert on the liberal blogospher (I only have so much time in my day) BTD offers a critique of the progressive blogosphere itself that I think is invaluable for keeping ones head clear, or if nothing else looking at things from a different angle.

    I suppose some think this is wasting time and doesn't go after the "real bad guys" enough, but I think ignoring the way that institutional power and contact with the system buys people off their principles (to the degree they had them to begin with) is the only way to understand how bad guys get made in the first place.


    You don't always have to be in (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 08:58:38 AM EST
    "the club" to make it in the real world!  Preforming the job you love in that fashion will require courage though. Something that some people have and some people don't.  In my naive mind though, I always thought that Time Mag would go out of its way to hire the courageous.  Joke's on me

    I think that sort (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:01:59 AM EST
    of depends on the club.  if we are talking about tv I think you do have to sort of be in the club.  Joke Lines threat to Glenn was real enough.  on the rare occasion when someone sneaks through the safeguards and gets a few words of truth out on the airways you can usually depend on that being the last time they will be given the chance.

    I feel confident that it was not (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:03:15 AM EST
    Joke Line who made that threat to Glenn.

    I have a suspicion who it was, but no knowledge.


    Ten to one it was Sully. n/t (none / 0) (#21)
    by oldpro on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:56:09 AM EST
    I think someone different (none / 0) (#24)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 10:03:28 AM EST
    First initial J, second initial a.

    Ahh, yes. Jack Ass. n/t (none / 0) (#29)
    by oldpro on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 10:48:42 AM EST
    And Also to Glenn's Credit (5.00 / 4) (#4)
    by The Maven on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:00:34 AM EST
    Not only is Greenwald willing to give a platform and engage with those whom he takes to task, he appears more interested than anyone else in a similar position in seeking out his targets ahead of time to give them an opportunity to defend their positions (or in updated posts/podcasts, when the response comes after the original publication).

    Glenn is frequently criticized for seeming to make strident, one-sided attacks, but, as far as I'm aware, he always does a good job in detailing his steps in attempting to communicate with the subjects of his pieces -- something that is fundamental in allowing us, the readers, to make an appropriate evaluation of the points Greenwald is making.  Sadly, though, it's not how the Village wants to operate, and thus Greenwald becomes something of a pariah for it.  That alone is enough to make one weep for the sorry state of political "journalism" in our country today.

    "village pariah" (5.00 / 8) (#9)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:12:16 AM EST
    if thats not a journalistic badge of honor in this day and age I dont know what is.

    Indeed (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:17:30 AM EST
    Very true (none / 0) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:02:27 AM EST
    Was the Journolist group the reason why (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:19:39 AM EST
    left blogs ignored a known war criminal like Stanely McChrystal being named the new General fighting the War on Terror?  I have a lot of questions now.

    Well, It Certainly (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by The Maven on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:40:29 AM EST
    raises a whole lot of questions about the motivations and the subject matters covered by the listserve's members.  Few things strike me as more subersively sinister than the possibility that the members of a large group, supposedly reporting independently, are having regular discussions about the topics the cover (or, more to your point, the ones they choose to ignore).  This strikes me as the epitome of what's wrong with citizenship in the Village.

    I am less troubled than you (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:44:15 AM EST
    But I never joined Townhouse and the like because well, I found the e-mail chains boring.

    On the question of logrolling, I will always remember how pissed digby got at me in 2004 when I criticized her about something.

    You know, nobody likes to get criticized but if you are willing to dish it out, you have to be able to take it.

    Gawd knows no one ever had any compunction ripping at me. And that's the way it should be.


    If that's the way it should be, then (5.00 / 6) (#22)
    by Radiowalla on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:56:15 AM EST
    let me rip at you for this:

    " We need more Glenn Greenwalds. We need less Joe Kleins."

    It should be "fewer" Joe Kleins.

    The Grammar Police


    Thanks (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 10:02:53 AM EST
    Or (5.00 / 6) (#26)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 10:08:23 AM EST
    one could say "We need more Glenn Greenwalds, but less Joe Klein," using Klein without the plural.  Because Gawd knows, the very idea of Joe Klein in plural is the stuff of nightmares.

    I am the grammar police, but am also a grammar police customer.


    ROFL! (none / 0) (#32)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 11:03:57 AM EST
    Very funny!  Thanks for two good laughs in one post.

    Would I be the syntax police (none / 0) (#35)
    by Cream City on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 11:05:46 AM EST
    if I preferred parallel structure -- both either plural or singular?

    I Guess I Was Less Than Clear (none / 0) (#37)
    by The Maven on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 11:15:27 AM EST
    It's not the existence of such groups, which have obviously existed for probably as long as the practice of journalism itself, which trouble me -- indeed, I have even participated in similar groups on occasion, and like you, found there to be very few worthwhile nuggets.  Rather, to paraphrase from the Sherman Act, the threat of utilizing the group as a conspiracy in restraint of information is where it undermines the theoretical purpose of the Fourth Estate.  When the group is more interested in protecting its own interests and collaborating with the established powers (government, business, etc.) than in acting as a ray of disinfecting sunlight, our citizenry is dimished for the dearth of knowledge.

    The idea that raising uncomfortable truths and challenging the rules of the clique becomes potential cause for excommunication from the group is what I find disturbing.  This can be read as an indictment of some community-structured political blogs (which are essentially listservs writ large) and is why I have fled several sites out of frustration in that regard.  Groupthink is inherently undemocratic and should be opposed for its own sake -- devil's advocate, anyone?

    My apologies for wandering off-topic.


    It always has been so (5.00 / 3) (#18)
    by Cream City on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:48:43 AM EST
    but it's just different technology now.

    Such discussions always go on in newsrooms around spittoons (I saw them in newsrooms into the '80s) and press clubs -- a national network of press clubs' memberships, btw -- and it used to go on in newsroom bars, until the profession started to attract a less alcoholic or less sociable and more geeky sort.

    Studies of this boyz-on-the-bus phenom go back well more than a century.  And they were boyz, and all boyz, until all too recently . . . and still is so in too many way.  So at least it can be said for the new technology that it may be allowing into the club a few more girlz with gender-neutral sign-ons -- but only in some cases, some listservs, of course.  The club members know each other well across the country, so there is not anonymity on the most powerful online clubs.


    Powerful...sad (none / 0) (#28)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 10:30:15 AM EST
    Now that the truth is in the open and I understand what often stirs the surface of this ocean...not so powerful for me.  Joe Klein won't be pulling my chain because he feels the need for a catfight in powerful list land.  Sad little man, why doesn't he have the job to match?  Who is he anymore?  A confessed liar and manipulator :)  How does that square with journalist?

    Oh, my. Media history (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Cream City on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 11:01:12 AM EST
    is not something you want to read, you idealist.  The good old days never were. :-)

    Speaking of geeks in groups (5.00 / 3) (#20)
    by Cream City on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:52:42 AM EST
    I just got an email invitation to sign on to be facebooked and twittered by Russ Feingold.  I do believe that I shall decline.  I already get emails, and it isn't as if I need to see the same message three different ways.

    I also do not want to encourage the use of Congressional staffs to tweet and fb when they could be using that time to, oh, I dunno, draft bills.


    Hear! Hear! (none / 0) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:44:41 AM EST
    Uh, but I ought to add (none / 0) (#27)
    by Cream City on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 10:10:48 AM EST
    that no matter that it always has been so, it is not common for the club to be called on it as Greenwald does -- and does so well.  So I'm having some fun sending his critique to some boyz and girls on the club bus whom I know.  They will gather a subcommittee of the club to meet in the newsroom or the lunchroom and sputter a bit about it . . . maybe.  

    But nothing will change.  The club mentality is basic to human behavior.  And as for this club, it begins in high school or even sooner with, literally, journalism clubs that put out school papers, school radio or teevee shows, etc.  The clubbiness accelerates in college on campus papers, radio and teevee stations, etc.

    By the time they graduate and get "real" media jobs, the clubs and connections are well-established -- and so is the defense mechanism about it.  You ought to see the alumni newsletters and the reunions. :-)


    I've never been able to (none / 0) (#30)
    by oldpro on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 10:59:31 AM EST
    stomach the reunions but I still read the newsletter, when I can stand it.

    Snort. Yeh, I used to have to do (none / 0) (#34)
    by Cream City on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 11:04:43 AM EST
    the reunions, got away from them for a while, then had to do one -- a big one, all alumni ever from one of the major j-schools -- again . . . and the best thing about it was the chocolate fountain with the fruit to dip.  That is, until it was descended upon by some of the big-name alumni from D.C. media whose portraits lined the hallowed halls as some sort of incentive for us to want to be like them.

    I moved to the crackers and cheese for a better class of people.


    See front page of today's (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by oculus on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 11:42:25 AM EST
    Int. Herald Tribune for the General's opinion the is a winnable war.

    Time to own it (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 12:28:09 PM EST
    If we escalate he owns it and I've never seen a release such as this that was fought down by the President.  Stuff like this doesn't come out unless it's already a done deal for the most part.  All Presidents like to put commanders names on decisions like these though because wars are uncertain things.  If Obama becomes more committed to Afghanistan though than the health of our country.....that's pretty low.

    Now the shoe seems to be on the other foot. (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by mmc9431 on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:46:22 AM EST
    Too many "progressive journalists" are suffering from short term memory loss. It wasn't long ago when the blogs were on fire over the media's lack of journalistic integrity. The media was chastised for rubber stamping everything the Bush administration did.

    Carrying the water for the president should be the job of his press secretary. If that's what they're interested in doing then they should apply for the job.

    Great column by Greenwald (5.00 / 5) (#19)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:50:05 AM EST
    Everybody should read the whole thing.  He's got the whole situation nailed, IMHO.

    I think what makes Klein particularly crazy is that Glenn never responds to his hysteria in kind, but always soberly, fairly and factually.

    Yes, Glenn (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Fabian on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 10:06:49 AM EST
    has never, in my experienced, played the aggrieved victim.  Klein, OTOH, is a professional at that role.  It's a strategy that works when the person you claim attacked you is fond of fiery rhetoric and ad hominem attacks.  Plain premises that are substantiated by cold hard facts are difficult to portray as savage, bloody attacks.

    Imagine being the know-it-all, (none / 0) (#33)
    by oldpro on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 11:04:18 AM EST
    know everybody Joe Klein who didn't know who Izzy's granddaughter is!

    Wonder who'll be invited back next year...and who will show!


    Going by the "acolyte" crack (none / 0) (#42)
    by Fabian on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 01:24:47 PM EST
    I think it might be more likely that Klein would know who Izzy's grandson is, providing one exists.

    It would have been as easy for (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by Anne on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 11:10:00 AM EST
     Greenwald to sell out when he went from being an independent blogger to writing for Salon, as it has been for many others who used to have some independence and are now card-carrying members of the Village; that Glenn is managing to maintain standards and objectivity says a lot about his character and commitment to truth.  No, he's not perfect, but he is head-and-shoulders above a lot of people these days.

    There are just very few real journalists anymore, people whose reporting can be trusted, is sourced with other than the all-too-ubiquitous "anonymous sources," and reflects analysis more than it does stenography.

    Far too many pundits and reporters and writers have become almost diva-like in their attitude, acting insulted and taking great umbrage for daring to be questioned or criticized; aside from being very unattractive, it contributes nothing to the public discourse, and perpetuates the perception that there is something so inherently special about people with access to the powerful that we should simply be grateful for whatever informational crumbs get tossed our way.

    I'm so over it it's not funny.