- The Washington Times - Monday, February 8, 2021

Glenn Greenwald says corporate journalism has been infested with “Stasi-like” reporters who crave control, “censorship, and the destruction of reputations for fun and power.”

The famous co-founder of The Intercept blasted CNN, NBC’s “tattletale millennials” and The New York Times for, ironically, fomenting pathology anathema to free speech.

At issue is a trend among journalists that involves scouring the Internet — including apps designed for private conversations — to catch influential people using culturally insensitive speech.

“A new and rapidly growing journalistic ‘beat’ has arisen over the last several years that can best be described as an unholy mix of junior high hall-monitor tattling and Stasi-like citizen surveillance,” the iconic investigative journalist wrote on his website over the weekend. “It is half adolescent and half malevolent. … Though its epicenter is the largest corporate media outlets, it is the very antithesis of journalism.”

Mr. Greenwald‘s piece spotlights New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz’s recent claim that tech investor Marc Andreessen said “retard” while using the audio app Clubhouse.

Participants noted that “retard” was not used by Mr. Andreessen and was only spoken within a context involving a legitimate news story; Redditors involved in the massive GameStop stock buy rallied behind the joke, “We can stay retarded longer than you can stay solvent.”

Ms. Lorenz promptly deleted her tweet and locked her account.

“To declare any discussion of that term off-limits — as Lorenz tried to do — is deeply anti-intellectual,” Mr. Greenwald continued. “To pretend that there is no difference in the use of that term by the Redditors and its discussion in Clubhouse on the one hand, and its malicious deployment as an insult to the cognitively disabled on the other, is dishonest in the extreme.”

“But this is now the prevailing ethos in corporate journalism. They have insufficient talent or skill, and even less desire, to take on real power centers: the military-industrial complex, the CIA and FBI, the clandestine security state, Wall Street, Silicon Valley monopolies, the corrupted and lying corporate media outlets they serve. So settling on this penny-ante, trivial bull—-t — tattling, hall monitoring, speech policing: all in the most anti-intellectual, adolescent and primitive ways — is all they have. It’s all they are.”

The piece concludes with Mr. Greenwald discussing recent attempts by his critics to frame him as a “misogynist,” for critiquing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat. He notes that while he is uniquely positioned to weather storms of character assassination, many others are not. 

“I can ignore these kinds of accusatory smears, or scorn and ridicule them and their practitioners — and I do — because they have no power over me,” he wrote. “But consider how many people in journalism or other professions whose positions are less secure are rightly terrorized by these lowlife tactics, intimidated into silence and conformity. They know if they express views these Stasi agents and their bosses dislike, their reputations can be instantly destroyed. So they remain silent or pliant out of necessity.

“That’s the purpose, the function, of these lowly accusatory tactics: to control, to coerce, to dominate, to repress. The people who engage in these character-assassinating, censorship-fostering games — especially those who call themselves ‘journalists’ — deserve nothing but intense scorn. And those who are free from their influence and power have a particular obligation to heap it on them. Aside from being what it deserves, that scorn is the only way to neutralize this tactic.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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