MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If you haven't heard about the shellacking Glenn Greenwald gave David Gregory on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, June 23, here's a little background.
Gregory represents the pablum punditry with a status quo bias. His weekly panel of DC insiders passes for serious discussion of public policy without ever piercing the veil of what's behind the curtain in the capital. The program is on a station formerly owned by General Electric and is now the property of Comcast.
So on Sunday, June 23, Gregory was discussing the Edward Snowden NSA leaks and popped this starling question to Greenwald (who was a split-screen guest via satellite transmission on the program): "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?"
Greenwald, who has remained a stalwart oasis of constitutional principle during a period of two different presidents defiling the founding document with a vengeance, is a Guardian UK columnist who used to write a daily column for Salon.
That he is an advocate of the Constitution there is no doubt. That he is a journalist having written for years now for widely known journalistic publications cannot be contested.
So this is what Greenwald had to say in response to Gregory's impertinent, smug "this one can only get me more prominent guests from the White House" question. Greenwald responded that it is "pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies."
Later, Greenwald tweeted (in response to Gregory's defense of his question): "Who needs the government to try to criminalize journalism when you have David Gregory to do it?"
In fact the Washington Post reinforced the same line of questioning Greenwald's journalistic credentials – and thus implying he might be subject to criminal prosecution – in an article that appeared inexplcably in the Post's "Style" section (say what?) on Sunday. It is entitled, "On NSA disclosures, has Glenn Greenwald become something other than a reporter?"
It includes a prolonged version of the David Gregory insinuation, with copy such as:
Glenn Greenwald isn’t your typical journalist. Actually, he’s not your typical anything. A lawyer, columnist, reporter and constitutional liberties advocate, Greenwald blurs a number of lines in an age in which anyone can report the news.
But has Greenwald — one of two reporters who broke the story of the National Security Agency’s classified Internet surveillance program — become something other than a journalist in the activist role he has taken in the wake of the NSA disclosures?
Uh, do we see a pattern here of trying to criminalize Greenwald's credentials as a journalist? Wouldn't this be consistent with the White House and Department of Justice investigations and intimidation of journalists who write articles or air stories that reveal information that embarrasses the administration?
Of course, every administration leaks like a sieve, but that's okay to tell reporters classified information if it puts an administration in a good light, or diminishes its detractors. In a few favored newspapers, and on a few friendly television news programs, administrations regardless of party regularly disclose information if it is in their interest. Naturally, no prosecutions ensue.
Recently, if you caught it as a blink of an eye in a news cycle, it was reported with somewhat of ironic humor that former CIA Chief Leon Panetta leaked classified information to the makers of "Zero Dark Thirty." It was all one big chuckle, right, the former head of the CIA "accidentally" disclosing classified information to the makers of a film that put the Obama administrations war on terror in a heroic light?
An accident, come on now.
Greenwald represents the integrity of journalists before the corporate-state became the arbitrator of what is legal and what is illegal journalism.
Greenwald, in the tradition of Seymour Hersh, Jane Meyer, and so many others, is doing what credible political and investigative journalists used to do, hold the government and other institutions accountable, reporting to achieve transparency.
Now, we have the journalistic lackies like David Gregory and the Washington Post implying – as an echo chamber for the Obama adminstration – that pursuing such professional responsibilities may be a crime.
Yes, it may be, but that would be in a totalitarian state, wouldn't it?
Democracies encourage and respect journalism as a vital check and balance on unaccountable power.
(Photo: Gage Skidmore)