June 24, 2013

Edward Snowden (Glenn Greenwald/Laura Poitras/The Guardian)

Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald yesterday clashed with “Meet the Press” host David Gregory, who’d asked Greenwald the following question: “To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?”

The elbow that came right back at Gregory was sharpened by the contempt that Greenwald harbors toward the media types that live and work around here. “I think it’s pretty extraordinary,” Greenwald said to Gregory, “that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies.”

When asked by the Erik Wemple Blog for his thoughts on how the rest of the media has greeted his stuff, Greenwald responded:

Media reaction to our scoops has been mixed. Many journalists have taken them very seriously, been quite supportive of the reporting I’ve been doing, and have with particular vigor defended our free press rights to report this.

But it is true that the Guardian generally, and me in particular, are outsiders, not members of the Beltway establishment media clique. I’ve purposely made myself an outsider by very aggressively and harshly criticizing not just the culture itself but the most prominent members of it, including David Gregory and Andrew Ross Sorkin, who this morning suggested on CNBC that I be arrested.*

Some of what is driving this hostility from some media figures is personal bitterness. Some of it is resentment over my having been able to break these big stories not despite, but because of, my deliberate breaching of the conventions that rule their world.

But most of it is what I have long criticized them for most: they are far more servants to political power than adversarial watchdogs over it, and what provokes their rage most is not corruption on the part of those in power (they don’t care about that) but rather those who expose that corruption, especially when the ones bringing transparency are outside of, even hostile to, their incestuous media circles.

They’re just courtiers doing what courtiers have always done: defending the royal court and attacking anyone who challenges or dissents from it. That’s how they maintain their status and access within it. That’s what courtiers to power, by definition, do.

So yes, some establishment journalists have been hostile to our reporting, usually by ignoring the substance in favor of personalized attacks (is Snowden a narcissist? Am I engaged in “advocacy journalism”?). But truly: if I weren’t upsetting the David Gregorys and Andrew Ross Sorkins of the world, I’d be very alarmed, as it would be proof that I wasn’t engaging in meaningful adversarial journalism against their political and financial masters.

*When asked about this matter, Sorkin referred the Erik Wemple Blog to his Twitter feed:

 

And here is the transcript of what Sorkin actually said this morning on CNBC’s “Squawk Box”:

There is speculation [Snowden's] planning to fly to Havana en route to Ecuador. The government of Ecuador has confirmed it is considering an asylum application for Snowden. He faces American espionage charges now after he admitted to revealing classified documents. I got to say, this is — I feel like, A, we’ve screwed this up to even let him get to Russia. B, clearly the Chinese hate us to even let him out of the country. That says something. Russia hated us and we knew that beforehand but that’s sort of — and now, I don’t know. And my second piece of this…I would arrest him and now I’d almost arrest Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who seems to be out there, he wants to help him get to Ecuador.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.