Whatever he thinks of the Mueller report and the Russia investigation, why on earth would Very Serious Journalist Glenn Greenwald team up with white nationalist hero, liar and gay basher Tucker Carlson to attack other, far more legitimate journalists and Democrats? We may have an answer.
Greenwald has been railing against the Trump/Russia story since before the 2016 election and in ways that have endeared him to Fox’s prime time Trump triumvirate: Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Carlson. The latter has repeatedly hosted Greenwald for some friendly chats demonizing the left, the mainstream media and the Russia investigation. Carlson also helped promote the dog rescue/homeless employment operation run by Greenwald and his husband and called it “the lord’s work.” (See, Carlson doesn't hate all gays!)
Last night, Greenwald appeared in studio to help Carlson fight the war on the Russia investigation (and the left and the media) with flat-out falsehoods: For example, Greenwald told Carlson last night, “what Mueller found was that the entire conspiracy theory was a hoax, that there's no evidence to establish that it's true.” Greenwald got a delighted laugh from Carlson by going on to accuse the media of making "tons of money exploiting people like con artists, and now it's kind of like the leader of an apocalyptic Doomsday cult, who keeps promising the world is going to end on a certain date and then the day comes and the world still goes."
Greenwald’s interpretation is either sloppy, ignorant or dishonest or some combination thereof. He should know that Mueller did not say there was “no evidence” of conspiracy, he said the investigation “did not establish” a conspiracy. That is not the same as “no evidence” and Greenwald should know better. In fact, Mueller explicitly said so in his report:
Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.
A statement that the investigation did not establish particular facts does not mean there was no evidence of those facts. (Vol I, pages 1-2, my emphases added)
In reality, Mueller found a lot of alarming behavior between Trump and the Russians. As Vox pointed out, there is plenty of evidence that the Trump campaign actively worked with the Russian government to improve its chances of winning that did not amount to a crime: “The report is littered with evidence Trump and his staff were open to Russian interference in the election. Mueller explicitly concludes that ‘the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian effort.’”
How on earth did Greenwald miss all that? Greenwald may be deeply annoying, self-righteous, and sanctimonious but he is not stupid or ignorant.
But putting that aside, why would any self-respecting journalist, which is what Greenwald considers himself (and he won a Pulitzer Prize to show for it) go on Fox News to air such beliefs with such inflammatory, Fox-friendly rhetoric? It may well be that Greenwald comes to his opinions honestly (although self-servingly, as I’ll explain in a bit). But surely he must know that Fox, the network of the debunked Seth Rich smears, birtherism and Benghazi bends its “analysis” to fit its politics. Even Carlson has to know that Fox would be shouting “Lock her up!” 24/7 if Hillary Clinton’s name replaced Trump's in the Mueller report.
Yet Greenwald sounded more interested in pleasing Fox News viewers or the Fan in Chief last night than in providing facts:
GREENWALD: I think the reason that you're seeing so much intense rage toward Bill Barr is because they know what he's now going to do, which is what journalists should be doing, and at least some of us are which is asking the question, which is now for me the central question in American politics -- how is it that our discourse has been drowned out for almost three years by a conspiracy theory or really a set of conspiracy theories as inflammatory and as dangerous as you can possibly get? That turned out to be totally untrue.
I’ve been very critical of Donna Brazile for not challenging Fox’s agenda but at least she counters the spin to some degree during her appearances. If Greenwald has any concerns about Carlson spreading blatant white nationalism, misinformation or misogyny, he didn’t think it worth mentioning.
An excellent Alternet post suggests an explanation for Greenwald’s head-scratching behavior:
There are two more plausible explanations [rather than a desire to support Trump], both of which may be true. He knows he was a part of Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election, spreading hacked emails from the Russian sock puppet Guccifer 2.0. He’s been in a defensive crouch ever since, which also stems from his ideological alliance with WikiLeaks. And second, he hates the Democratic Party so much that he’s been warped into playing a role in the right-wing media’s defense and promotion of Trump.
Is Greenwald too naïve to realize he is providing a helping hand to Fox’s propaganda (and thus Trump’s PR messaging) with every such appearance? Or does he just not care? Oh, and by the way? Trump just boasted about a lengthy phone chat with Vladimir Putin. It lasted more than an hour and covered the “Russian hoax.” Think the country’s most unpopular man to sit in the Oval Office won’t be looking for more help from his Election BFF?
Whatever Greenwald’s justification or rationalization for this behavior, he really should reconsider.
Watch Greenwald act as a Fox News pawn below, from the May 2, 2019 Tucker Carlson Tonight.
(Transcript excerpts via Fox News)
Did they not know what was at stake? Do they not know how this all works? Great. Now we have Trump as president, and all three branches controlled by the R’s with the Dems narrowly regaining the House in 2018 . And, more importantly, people like Kavanaugh being appointed to the Supreme Court with potentially more far-right SCOTUS appointments to follow. They stifle debate on college campuses. They dox people with whom they disagree. They are as ideologically possessed, narrow-minded, irrational and off-the-rails as anyone wearing a red MAGA cap. Given the tragic consequences of a Trump presidency, you clearly hold your nose and vote for Clinton. You play the hand that is dealt. At its core you vote “D to block” as a patriotic duty to do whatever you can to keep a radicalized and off-the-rails right out of power. You do this by voting for anyone who has a chance to beat them. Every time, straight down the line. It’s Tic Tack Toe at this point at the federal, state, and local levels. Simple game theory.
Greenwald is one of the far-left thought leaders who in the end does more harm than good. My dislike of Greenwald was heightened by his feud with Sam Harris, who he broad strokes as anti-Muslim at every opportunity. I am very familiar with Harris’s stance, certainly more so than his uninformed critics who behave like an angry mob based on the frankly, idiotic, criticisms of the likes of Greenwald. Harris is not “anti-Muslim”. His stance is accurate and on-point albeit somewhat nuanced, and nuance seems to elude the likes of Greenwald and most of the far-left. Harris’s views are tightly aligned – in lock step, with most Muslim reformers, many of whom he has had on his podcast.
I do not regard Greenwald as a “serious journalist”. I regard Greenwald as an ideologically possessed hack who is often seriously flawed in his reasoning as is illustrated on his Fox “News” appearance. Perhaps this will cause a few get woke regarding Greenwald.
Greenwald’s take is that the 2016 election was ruined by the Dems picking Hillary Clinton rather than Bernie Sanders, who he and other Bernie supporters think would have won in a landslide. So they agree with the Right Wing propaganda about how somehow the primaries were “rigged” for Clinton and tell themselves that one positive poll for Sanders around that time is proof that he was guaranteed to win. Greenwald has a real anger for Clinton, as well as for the Dems in general. The anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, which Greenwald blames for his transfer from the US to Brazil, was signed into law by Bill Clinton. It’s not hard to see why Greenwald does not see either major political party as anything he would support, and particularly why he hates the Clintons.
This does not mean that Greenwald likes Trump, or that The Intercept is a support site for the Pence White House. The Intercept is actually fairly effective at exposing the vicious mendacity of the Pence team, and at challenging the open bigotry of these people. But again, Greenwald’s take on how Trump got into office is not about whether there was Russian interference but more about how the Dems picked a terrible candidate and couldn’t get their voters to show up. Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill take some open pleasure in mocking the notion of Russian interference – mostly as a way of tsk-tsking mainstream Dems who were hoping that an impeachment of Trump and Pence was in the offing.
We must also remember that Greenwald, Scahill and pretty much the entire Left media, including not only The Intercept but also Democracy Now! And Pacifica Radio, see Julian Assange as a crusading hero journalist. They’ve been delighted with the ways that Assange has exposed and embarrassed the US military and various politicians. As far as they’re concerned, Assange has done the whole world a service. (And there is some validity to that point of view – Assange has indeed exposed some truly horrifying behavior by the US, particularly in terms of deliberate killing of civilians in Iraq and elsewhere.) But they of course also ignore how Assange would indiscriminately dump massive amounts of private emails and private personal information in his exposes, which could be guaranteed to cause real harm to the people caught up in his wide nets.
Greenwald was most particularly happy to see the dump of the Podesta emails, as his take on them was that they exposed the DNC actually “rigging” the 2016 primaries against Sanders. (As opposed to what they actually show – that the DNC simply didn’t take Sanders seriously, for clear and appropriate reasons.) In taking that position, Greenwald aligned himself with the Right Wing narrative about 2016 – about how Clinton was a terrible, weak candidate who couldn’t even come out ahead of Sanders and somehow needed a massive corrupt “rigging” to let her win when she should have lost. Which therefore made Greenwald a great interview for angry Fox News pundits who wanted to use a sympathetic Left voice as a “gotcha!” card. (“See?!! Even the Lefties admit it!”)
The issue here isn’t Greenwald is breaking with conventional liberal opinion. I can deal with that. It’s that he’s taking an extreme pro-Trump stance previously reserved for right-wing partisan sycophants.