Monday, July 01, 2013
Must not question Leftist journalists?
I have put up below a bigger excerpt of an article than I normally would because the argument it presents does depend on detail. The author, Paul McGeough, a senior journalist on a major Left-leaning paper, is defending Glenn Greenwald.
Greenwald is a Leftist journalist with whom I sometimes agree. He does defend the individual rather well on some occasions. He has become particularly prominent for his revelations about domestic spying by Uncle Sam. Conservative opinion is split over whether those revelations are a good thing or not.
Some people who disapprove of Greenwald have "dug dirt" on him -- published revelations about Greenwald's past that are a bit dubious. In my view Greenwald has replied to that "dirt" effectively, but McGeough wants to add to that defence.
But his argument is ludicrous. He portrays the oppression practiced by the Islamist regime in Turkey as being the same as the attacks on Greenwald. A few journalists questioning the past of another journalist is equivalent to riot suppression by an authoritarian government? McGeough is in fact attacking freedom of speech about other journalists. He is the one attempting to suppress speech, not Uncle Sam
What we have seen by way of press freedom in Turkey is what separates the unenlightened from the civilised. Sad to report, what we've seen by way of press freedom in the US this week is not so far removed - save perhaps for the manner of execution. In the States, shooting the messenger is more Wall Street-esque than it is Mafia-like.
First, Turkey. Proof that the Turkish media is cowed is obvious in a collective decision to virtually ignore anti-government protests raging for the past month — and the savagery of their dispersal by security forces. As Taksim Square erupted in the most fierce challenge to Erdogan in his 10 years in office, CNNTurk pressed on, fearlessly staying with its scheduled program — a penguin documentary.
Now, the US. The objective is the same, but the manner of delivery is, ah, somewhat finessed.
Take the treatment of The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald, the journalist behind sensational leaks on Washington's classified domestic and international phone and internet surveillance.
Greenwald figured they'd come after him. And then he got the email from the New York Daily News and a call from The New York Times — clearly, someone had been going through the trashcan of his life.
Never mind the enormity of the issues thrown up by the release of the most sensitive classified documents held by the National Security Agency or the drama of Washington's flailing efforts to have foreign governments detain the super leaker Edward Snowden and to return him to the US.
No, the New York papers just had to talk to him about a company in which Greenwald had sold out to his partners all of nine years ago. Among other things, it distributed adult videos. Get that down, now. Key words — "adult videos"; connotations — deviant, kinky, not one of us.
Then there was an unpaid tax liability from the winding up of Greenwald's legal practice, still the subject of negotiations between his lawyers and the IRS. Connotations — tax evasion; perhaps fraud. Oh, and more than a decade back Greenwald defaulted on a student loan — now covered by a payment plan agreement. Connotation — irresponsible, rides on coattails of law-abiding citizens.
Greenwald writes: "I'm 46 years old and, like most people, have lived a complicated and varied life. I didn't manage my life from the age of 18 onwards with the intention of being a Family Values US senator. My personal life, like pretty much everyone's, is complex and somewhat messy."
Proud and all as Americans are of the first amendment, at times like this it can be reduced to a decorative nuisance.
In Turkey, you see Erdogan and his bovver boys coming — they come through the front door. But when it comes to shooting the messenger in the US, they use the backdoor and a silencer … and they find a grubby colleague of the targeted journalist to pull the trigger. Saddest of all is how there's always a media volunteer to act as would-be character and career assassin.
In the end, McGeough is just another anti-American Leftist whiner but a lot of people read his stuff so it would seem to deserve a reply. And it is always amusing how consistently the Left believe in free speech for Leftists only.