A Look Behind the Green Curtain on Media Bias

Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time attempting to discern signal from noise in the media. It is hard. Pursuing the truth is exhausting. I think a first healthy step is becoming aware of the way the influence methods work and the rationales behind them. As such, I have three articles by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Glenn Greenwald for your consideration. Allow me to provide some context as Glenn Greenwald is new to me as well and seems to have a controversial and contentious history. Here is his bio on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glenn_Greenwald.

In short, he is a Constitutional Law attorney by trade. He wrote for Salon and the Guardian. He was critical of the Bush-Cheney administration regarding invasions of privacy and consolidation of power. Glenn was the publishing journalist of the Edward Snowden archives. In 2014, he won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the NSA. Glenn is gay and lives with his husband in Brazil. Suffice it to say that Glenn’s worldview and mine differ.

Glenn founded The Intercept in 2014 under the umbrella of First Look Media. First Look Media was started by Ebay Founder Pierre Omidyar. Their goal was to work as independent journalists subjecting their writing to public review and counterpoint. As a founder, Glenn retained executive editorial authority on all of his work. He could not be censored or edited unless it would bring legal consequences on The Intercept. Additionally, in his own words, he retained the right to publish outside of The Intercept if the article did not fit their mission.

A few days ago, Glenn resigned from The Intercept. The senior editors attempted to slow roll, soft censor or delay his article covering the Hunter Biden – Joe Biden- Ukraine Scandal citing that it did not meet the editorial requirements of The Intercept. Additionally, they advised that he should not publish the article anywhere else. Per Greenwald, this has never happened to him before. Now, it is happening one week before election day concerning an article about the candidate allegedly preferred by The Intercept’s leadership. Greenwald invited them to publish a counterpoint article and systematically disagree with his writing. They did not accept.

Greenwald has resigned and published the original article, an essay surrounding the circumstances of his resignation and finally his email exchange with the publication’s leadership (names disclosed). I have linked them below.

https://greenwald.substack.com/p/article-on-joe-and-hunter-biden-censored

https://greenwald.substack.com/p/my-resignation-from-the-intercept

https://greenwald.substack.com/p/emails-with-intercept-editors-showing

As a warning, these are long. Greenwald is a talented, professional and thorough writer.

A few takeaways to consider.

  1. Greenwald has published both the article and his entire discourse with Editorial leadership for public review and rebuttal.
  2. The Intercept published a response https://theintercept.com/2020/10/29/glenn-greenwald-resigns-the-intercept/ which essentially writes him off as a formerly talented but messianic egomaniac throwing a tantrum. They do not factually address any of his concerns. They discuss the importance of the role of the editors and his failure to subject himself to their authority. They attempt to smear him as partisan. They do say they will right the record in time.
  3. Betsy Reed, Editor in Chief of The Intercept since 2015, is a Harvard graduate and previous editor of the weekly periodical “The Nation.” All Sides Media ranks it’s bias as far left, and it endorsed Bernie Sanders for president in 2016. Ms. Hill edited a book about Sarah Palin called Going Rouge: Sarah Palin, An American Nightmare. Essentially, this is a collection of partisan essays with diatribes and accusations against Sara Palin and her quest for Vice President.
  4. Lets assume that both are cold political operators pushing their own agendas and hiding their true motives. How do you determine who is telling the truth? Solomon offered to divide the baby so that each of the two women got half. The mother of the child forfeit her rights to the child so that it would live. Solomon judged that this woman was telling the truth because she was willing to bear the great loss of not raising the child in favor of the survival of the thing she held dear. Using that model, one of these actors has chosen to endure great loss (resigning from the agency he founded/loss of reputation/political blowback) in order to preserve the thing he holds dear: unfettered journalistic reporting subject to public review and rebuttal. From my perspective, it would have been easier to “go along and get along” or resign quietly without a fuss. In short, it seems that Greenwald had significant skin in the game and will suffer for his actions.
  5. Greenwald is no stranger to controversy, and it is possible that he is the manipulative one here. Given his history of reporting on Bush-Cheney and Snowden, it is unlikely that he’s motivated by a conservative ideology or has been bought off by the Trump campaign. As a homosexual, he claims that he moved to Brazil in response to the Defense of Marriage Act’s opposition to homosexual marriages. This does not appear to be someone who has a proclivity to defend the Trump administration out of ideological bias.
  6. Maybe he just likes to fight and muckrake? Maybe so, fighters like to fight. Honest fighters also are willing to get knocked out if someone can do it to them. No one has taken Greenwald’s challenge or put him in his place professionally.
  7. If Greenwald’s story is true, in part or in total, this is cause for all of us to severely scrutinize who we are getting our information from. If the founder of an independent journalism outlet can have his work censored or delayed by his own organization, then we need to be very critical about what information we choose to consume. My assumption is that if it can happen there, then it can happen anywhere.

This is not an endorsement of Mr. Greenwald or his views, but I do believe that his tale is cautionary about the cooks and ingredients that go into the media buffet we consume so voraciously.  These things feed our worldview. In order to cultivate a healthy, well informed worldview, regardless of individual political preference, we have to ensure that our consumption is more nutrient and less waste.

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