Glenn Greenwald’s Dishonest Attack on Paul Krugman


A few days ago Paul Krugman wrote a not-very-exciting post at his blog “The Conscience of a Liberal.” The point of the post was that right wingers have not been as successful in their efforts to hype fake scandals during the Obama administration as they were in the Clinton years. Krugman writes:

When Barack Obama was elected, I was sure that it would be the Clinton years all over — that he would be subjected to an endless series of claims of “scandal”, creating the sense of a tainted administration even though all the alleged scandals would turn out to be either trivial or nonexistent. Remember, after all those years of front-page headlines and $70 million in public funds, the Whitewater investigation came up dry.

In fact, however, none of that happened during Obama’s first term. But would the second term be different? For a little while it looked as if the old scandal machinery was finally springing back to life, with Benghazi, the IRS, and more. You could almost hear the sigh of contentment from a certain part of the press corps.

Krugman’s post had nothing to do with the NSA leaks, Edward Snowden, or Glenn Greenwald; but he made the mistake of just barely mentioning the NSA story.

But now it has all evaporated. Benghazi never made sense; it turns out that the IRS was targeting conservative as well as liberal groups. And as Chait says in the linked article, the NSA stuff is a policy dispute, not the kind of scandal the right wing wants.

And today, Greenwald chose to sic his permanently outraged shock troops fans on Krugman based on a deliberately obtuse reading of Krugman’s referencing Chait’s characterization of the NSA issue as a “policy dispute.” Here’s Greenwald’s take on it.

Defending the Obama administration, Paul Krugman pronounced that “the NSA stuff is a policy dispute, not the kind of scandal the right wing wants.” Really? In what conceivable sense is this not a serious scandal? If you, as an American citizen, let alone a journalist, don’t find it deeply objectionable when top national security officials systematically mislead your representatives in Congress about how the government is spying on you, and repeatedly lie publicly about resulting political controversies over that spying, what is objectionable? If having the NSA engage in secret, indiscriminate domestic spying that warps if not outright violates legal limits isn’t a “scandal”, then what is?

Of course it was really Jonathan Chait who made the distinction between “scandals” and “policy disputes.” Here’s what Chait wrote about it:

Obama’s prosecution of leaks, or use of the National Security Agency — is not a scandal at all. It’s a policy controversy. One can argue that Obama’s policy stance is wrong, or dangerous, or a threat to democracy. But when the president is carrying out duly passed laws and acting at every stage with judicial approval, then the issue is the laws themselves, not misconduct.

And of course it’s really Chait with whom Greenwald is enraged; because Chait had the temerity to write a somewhat humorous column in which he noted the similarities between Greenwald and Ralph Nader–one of which is that each of these men was apparently born without a sense of humor.

But instead of attacking Chait, Greenwald picks a fight with Krugman, who really doesn’t need that right now since he’s grieving the lost of his father. It’s probably a low blow for me to bring that up, but I can’t believe Greenwald didn’t know it, since he apparently reads Greenwald’s blog.

Greenwald has been running around to any media outlet who will have him announcing that he’s got an upcoming “bombshell” scoop that “will shock the world.” I wish he’d just get busy and publish it instead of spending so much time hyping his stories and lecturing everyone about how to interpret Edward Snowden’s behavior.

I think today I’ve finally had enough of St. Glenn to last me the rest of my life.

98 Comments on “Glenn Greenwald’s Dishonest Attack on Paul Krugman”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Here one of the Greenwald shock troops:

  2. bostonboomer says:

    It’s OK to Make Fun of Very Serious People

    Regardless of all the work he does, Greenwald is still a pompous asshole. I’ve heard from multiple sources that he’s a giant pain to deal with, isn’t pleasant in person, and as we know, engages in petty personal vendettas (for example, he has blocked the entire staff at The Daily Banter from following him on Twitter). To boot, Greenwald focuses on a couple of topics and demands everyone else acknowledges them to be the most important topics known to mankind. He has appointed himself chief savior and protector of civil liberties in America, and commands an army of dedicated followers who hang on his every word. It’s insanely annoying talking to his acolytes who repeat his talking points, particularly as they seem to adopt a complete ‘no sense of humor’ Greenwald persona when talking about drones, the NSA and Bradley Manning. I don’t like drones, I think the NSA is violating civil liberties, and I think there’s a very strong case that Bradly Manning has been badly mistreated by the US government. I just don’t want to hear about it EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY.

    Anyway, my point is as follows; just because you are a ‘very serious person’ doesn’t mean you are above satire. Greenwald takes himself incredibly seriously, a very good indicator of extreme narcissism and a highly exaggerated sense of self. They may be positive attributes when it comes to creating a public persona, but they are not particularly positive when it comes to being a good human being.

    • RalphB says:


    • mablue2 says:

      Regardless of all the work he does, Greenwald is still a pompous asshole.

      You just summed up my thoughts on Glenn Greenwald. Even when she is doing great work, she can’t help but be a sanctimonius prick.
      Jon Chait’s post on the parallels between Ralph Nader and GG was spot on.

      • bostonboomer says:

        That wasn’t me, it was Ben Cohen. But I agree too.

        You made my day by showing up, MA Blue!

        • mablue2 says:

          I actually always check in a couple of times per day, but I’m either to lazy to post a comment, or due to time difference I’m around when other skydancers are sleeping.

  3. RalphB says:

    BB. On the Bolivian plane issue, it’s phony all the way. They just make this stuff up as they go along.

    Atlantic: The Tale of the Re-Routed Bolivian President’s Plane Is Falling Apart

  4. bostonboomer says:

    A little bit of the gossip from the new book by Mark Leibovich “This Town,” to be published on July 16. I can’t wait!

    Here’s a sampling of how they came out: In “This Town,” we’re told that Chris Matthews and Matt Lauer have both joked that David Gregory would rub out a few colleagues to advance his career. That Bill and Hillary Clinton are convinced Tim Russert disliked them, and that they’re not wrong. That Luke Russert won’t shake Arianna Huffington’s hand. That Richard Holbrooke once reprimanded an aide to Axelrod while they were side by side at White House urinal. That Harry Reid has “observed privately to colleagues” that John Kerry has no friends. That Bay Buchanan suffered the ultimate spin room indignity last year following the GOP’s South Carolina primary debate, when the only reporter interested in hearing her stump for Romney was a member of the Icelandic press. That West Wing types suspected Valerie Jarrett had “earpiece envy” after Axelrod got Secret Service protection, and so arranged the same for herself. And that when a national-security official suggested that President Obama shouldn’t skip the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner on the weekend of the Osama Bin Laden raid because the press might get suspicious, Hillary Clinton looked up and issued her verdict: “[Expletive] the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.”

  5. mjames says:

    I have kept my mouth shut for a long time, thinking you might stop with the intense animus towards Snowden and Greenwald. But you don’t seem to be able to. If you want the conversation to focus on the NSA and illegal and unconstitutional spying on all of us, as you claim elsewhere, then why don’t you do that yourself? The depth and breadth of these spying programs is horrific.

    Here’s a bit of what you wrote yesterday: “The only way I can explain it is based on what I’ve seen on twitter. The people who are defending him are the same types who forced Obama down our throats in 2008. Many of them are pals of Greenwald. We desperately need an organized left in this country. Many of these people don’t understand politics. They are ignorant of political theory and frankly, the reality of the way the world works.”

    For the record, I find your comments not only wrong, but downright insulting. I did not vote for Obama in 2008. Nor in 2012. You did. Own it. Your “lesser of two evils” argument falls apart in the wake of these revelations. Either you didn’t realize who he really was (all CIA all the time), which makes you the foolish one. Or, as you claim, this is old news, so you actually cast your vote knowingly for a spy-in-chief (something I find hard to believe). No one “forced” Obama down my throat. I said no thanks. So I am one of many who did not vote for Obama yet support what Snowden and Greenwald have done.

    You call people like me “ignorant of political theory” and then say we need to organize together. I guess by “organize” you mean follow your dictates. But, IMO, your “organized left” is anything but “left.” It’s authoritarian and dismissive of those with other much-further-left views, especially those of us who question authority. You can say you weren’t referring to me, but you sure paint with a broad brush. If I took offense, and I did, then perhaps you should tone down your attacks a bit.

    Finally, you mention “the reality of the way the world works.” Do you yourself know the reality of the way the world works? Are you actually claiming, as you did yesterday, that you don’t know what the outcome of Manning’s trial will be? (What? He’s going to be found not guilty – or serve only a few years?) Or that Snowden could get a fair trial here? That’s reality?

    Let me state the obvious: Snowden does not have to be MLK incarnate for him to have performed a valuable service. He does not have to stay in this country to have performed a valuable service. He does not have to be a Harvard graduate to have performed a valuable service. He does not have to conform to your rules for proper whistleblowing to have performed a valuable service.

    Once again, I repeat: the messengers here are not important. The message is: the government, our government, is collecting data on all of us all the time in violation of our constitutional rights. All the rest is misdirection and propaganda.

    Why you choose to focus, incessantly it seems, on the personalities involved escapes my understanding. Those who are attacking Greenwald and Snowden are the former and current Obama apologists. Defending Obama’s unconstitutional programs. Are you one of them? Sure seems so to me. Unless you are merely trying to justify your vote after the ever-so-damning facts are in.

    • bostonboomer says:


      I haven’t seen you on Twitter. Have we interacted there? You’re certainly free to be insulted. And you’re free to hate my writing. Be my guest. I haven’t been focusing solely on personalities, but as I’ve explained previously, I am a psychologist who is fascinated by personality. That’s just part of who I am. For you that is “beyond understanding.” Well, I can’t control that.

      My criticisms of Snowden have been based on his revelations about foreign spying. Are you opposed to the U.S. spying on China, Russia? If so, why? Why will none of the Snowden-defenders address that question?

      Of course I own my vote for Obama in 2012 and I don’t regret it. I guess I should be insulted that you think I don’t and haven’t owned it, but your bullying attitude somehow keeps that emotion from arising in me.

      You wrote:

      “Once again, I repeat: the messengers here are not important. The message is: the government, our government, is collecting data on all of us all the time in violation of our constitutional rights. All the rest is misdirection and propaganda.”

      I disagree that the messengers aren’t important. You don’t get to tell me how to interpret events or that I must “tone down” my “attacks.” This post is about Glenn Greenwald attacking Paul Krugman for no rational reason. Maybe Greenwald should “tone down” his “attacks.” But you only have problems with me. Fine.

      You have your opinion and I have mine. No one is forcing you to come here and beat up on me. But if it makes you happy, go ahead.

      • bostonboomer says:

        And BTW, I consider myself pretty damn far left, but I’m not a robot. I’m a free-thinker and have been all my life. I’m not going to be ruled and ordered around by anyone anywhere on the political spectrum. I’m not afraid to be honest about how I see things. As soon as Snowden went to China and Russia, he showed he hasn’t thought any of this through. If he had he wouldn’t have gone to two of the most repressive countries for journalists and protesters and handed them secret documents.

        And if you think Greenwald is a leftist, you’re dreaming. And if Greenwald wants the focus to be on domestic spying, why doesn’t he write about it instead of info from 2005 about the U.S. spying on European countries? Some scoop.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Here’s why Snowden and Greenwald’s apolitical stance has and will continue to fail.

        Seumas Milne at The Guardian: Egypt, Brazil, Turkey: without politics, protest is at the mercy of the elites

        We won’t get horrible policies changed by just screaming in outrage.

    • RalphB says:

      mjames, You write like a self-rightous fool. Try yelling at someone who gives a damn what you think.

    • I voted for Jill Stein, not Obama. I don’t like Obama or the spy state or Snowden or Greenwald.

      (I guess I’m a Maneater.)

      Support Snowden and Greenwald all you want on the strength of their actions and arguments. Don’t go after BB or your comments will be trashed.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thanks, Mona. And I respect your decision to vote for Jill Stein. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. That would be no fun at all.

        • as far and the snowden & Greenwald you can love em or hate them or maybe somewhere in-between but the focus should not be on the but the NSA and what it is doing or should not be doing.

          • RalphB says:

            Most of us can walk and chew gum at the same time. I’m still waiting for something to come out that wasn’t outed by USA Today in 2005/2006 or should have been common knowledge due to earlier information coming out.

            my suggestion read this story about Valerie Plame: and her views on this . she knows more about the Intelligence communities better than most of us ever will. then make your own mind up .

          • Eh. I think Valerie makes good comments. I don’t agree with her on Greenwald–he’s made himself the story in a lot of ways with his larger-than-blog Glenzilla personality, but the questions she raises about the struggle between security and privacy are on point. That doesn’t mean BB can’t criticize Glenn. I don’t quite agree with Chait that its only a policy disagreement but I don’t think the right wing has any leg to stand on either, which is actually what Valerie is saying too, her own axe to grind and all.

            I’m really sick of Cheney, Obama, Greenwald, Snowden, the whole lot of them.

            Hillary 2016.

          • I think what makes this different is the most of the public listens to the corporate MSM and did know or care . snowden forced the issue into public debate

          • bostonboomer says:

            It’s really insulting that you assume I haven’t already read Plame’s comments and/or that I haven’t thought carefully about my opinions, Boogieman. Also that you get to tell me what I *should* focus on.

            Frankly, it sounds a lot like mansplaining. Keep it up, and you’ll really get me riled.

          • RalphB says:

            Plame has her own axe to grind. She can fight her own battles and leave me out of it.

          • RalphB says:

            And USA Today is MSM but most people didn’t care because the story wasn’t hyped by a bunch of paranoids worshipping a narcissistic journalist with his own agenda.

        • its seems who ever running the show in DC weather it bush or Obama or who’s ever pulling their strings they seem to use the same strategy to the focus off them and put on on someone else . Bush made the story about Plame & her husband when it should have been on Bush & Chaney , this time the GOV it making the story about snowden . when they story should be on the NSA . I think there are a lot of smart & critical thinkers on the blog . I remember what happened in 08. I went though it with some of you .

          • BB mansplaining ?? that’s a new one & what ax dose Plame have to grind ? & BB I never meant to be insulting just suggest keep & open mind .

          • bostonboomer says:


            I’m through replying to your comments unless you respond to mine.


            Any further mansplaining lectures and you’re going into moderation.


            For fucking Christ’s sake, here we go again. Now boogieman telling me I don’t have “an open mind.” Fuck you, Boogieman. I’m through.

          • What?! I don’t understand how this is equivalent. Valerie and her husband didn’t run off to Hong Kong in the middle of America’s creditor (and dubious country in terms of their ethics on spying, security, and humab rights) and set off a geopolitical mess.

          • mona the Bush 2 used the MSM to defect to story off Him & hid admin. just as the NSA is . is. its not what snowden did or the BS the Bush put out there on Plame her husband . that’s the distinction between the two

          • Cheney co. deliberately leaked Plame’s identity. Snowden ran to Hong Kong and to Glenzilla and leaked his own mess.

            I don’t think criticizing Glenn or Snowden gives Obama any free pass. Everybody has known big brother is on our back since before Obama took office and none of our politicians or our fourth estate, most especially not Glenn, is interested in restoring any of the public’s trust in any of our public or private institutions. Nobody is even having a conversation on security vs privacy, it’s just over the top rhetoric either for Snowden/Glenn or against Obama. Obama is going to leave office unscathed. Glenn is gonna keep on capitalizing on civil liberties as his journalistic beat, good intentions or bad. Cheney is gonna keep sticking his rotten two cents in like he gives crap about our privacy, please. Snowden’s life now is life of an icon, either positive or negative however you see it. None of this is going to drive public resistance to the security state or the crap job our leaders do in restoring the public trust. This isn’t a binary-take either one side or the other-issue.

        • BB I never said you don’t have an open mind .

          • Yeah but you directed the blog to keep an open mind like we’d collectively closed it off, and you said it on BB’s post boogieman.

            Between the Men’s Rights activists invading feminist spaces all over offline and online…. and this conflation of Snowden with Plame… and the rehashing of voting between options that were none of our first choices in 2012…seriously Sky Dancers, like the Internet meme goes– ain’t nobody got time for ‘dat.

            Lets focus on what really matters.

            Hint: Starts with Hillary. Ends with 2016. 😉 (just trying to lighten up the mood.)

          • Mona I never directed this blog to do anything. it seems that your reading way to much into my comments than are there. I can assure that I any of the things that you seem to be saying I said or did but did not I would have made it crystal clear or if thats how I felt . plz don’t twist my comments into something there not .

          • Boogie, really? Come on, I don’t have short term memory loss.

          • bostonboomer says:

            Really Boogieman? Here’s the quote:

            “BB I never meant to be insulting just suggest keep & open mind .”

          • BB that’s not directed anything . I can assure that if was going to make a comment which I didn’t that said I was or wanted to direct this Blog to do anything I would used those exact words.

      • Seriously says:

        I voted for Stein also, and I completely agree. When it comes to “doing-it-yourself,” everybody can get their own blog and put the focus on whatever they want. Sure, writing substantive posts is a lot harder than unleashing a string of unnecessary invective, but. Greenwald and Snowden aren’t saints who are above criticism.

        • bostonboomer says:

          Wow, my day is truly made! MA Blue, PD Grey, and Seriously showed up and commented. I can’t even describe how happy I am to see you guys.

      • Fannie says:

        Wait, there is no comparison to Valerie Plame…………she DIDN”T expose anything, not a damn thing. Notice how the cowboys play this fucked up game.

  6. Fannie says:

    yup, take that jam spy pie and serve it up somewhere else.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    This is so sad. Mark Udall’s brother has been missing for days, and today his body was found.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    This is mansplaining: Jeremy Scahill on Twitter lecturing Mona Eltahawy about being out of touch with the Egyptian people.

    • RalphB says:

      Another Brogressive in action.

      • bostonboomer says:

        He’s making fun of her because she supported getting rid of Morsi instead of waiting for an election. She had to come back here for a court case, so she missed the coup. I think Scahill’s head has swollen up a few sizes too big.

        The gang rapes have started in the streets in Egypt again. No matter who is in charge women won’t be getting equality.

        • RalphB says:

          These dudes all seem to think they’re superman after they’ve been on TV a few times. 😉

          Egyptian women may be better off if a more secular government comes about this time. At least I hope so.

  9. Good post, Bb. I don’t agree with chait’s assessment that this is purely policy, but the right wing couldn’t care less about our privacy either.

    My own two–The faux indignation on the righg is so rife with theatrics, it really does nothing to provoke a serious discussion. In fact, Cheney inserting his frozen cryo-fixed heart into the conversation is the biggest distraction of all away from any earnest discussion of security vs privacy. If he really cared, he’d keep his mouth shut and let people who have any remote credibility on the issue do the talking for him.

  10. RalphB says:

  11. bostonboomer says:

    Look at this WSJ article on the NSA from 2008 and tell me Snowden/Greenwald are giving us a lot of new info.

    NSA’s Domestic Spying Grows As Agency Sweeps Up Data
    Terror Fight Blurs Line Over Domain; Tracking Email

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Five years ago, Congress killed an experimental Pentagon antiterrorism program meant to vacuum up electronic data about people in the U.S. to search for suspicious patterns. Opponents called it too broad an intrusion on Americans’ privacy, even after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

    But the data-sifting effort didn’t disappear. The National Security Agency, once confined to foreign surveillance, has been building essentially the same system.

    The central role the NSA has come to occupy in domestic intelligence gathering has never been publicly disclosed. But an inquiry reveals that its efforts have evolved to reach more broadly into data about people’s communications, travel and finances in the U.S. than the domestic surveillance programs brought to light since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

    Congress now is hotly debating domestic spying powers under the main law governing U.S. surveillance aimed at foreign threats. An expansion of those powers expired last month and awaits renewal, which could be voted on in the House of Representatives this week. The biggest point of contention over the law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, is whether telecommunications and other companies should be made immune from liability for assisting government surveillance.

    Largely missing from the public discussion is the role of the highly secretive NSA in analyzing that data, collected through little-known arrangements that can blur the lines between domestic and foreign intelligence gathering. Supporters say the NSA is serving as a key bulwark against foreign terrorists and that it would be reckless to constrain the agency’s mission. The NSA says it is scrupulously following all applicable laws and that it keeps Congress fully informed of its activities.

    According to current and former intelligence officials, the spy agency now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic emails and Internet searches as well as bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel and telephone records. The NSA receives this so-called “transactional” data from other agencies or private companies, and its sophisticated software programs analyze the various transactions for suspicious patterns. Then they spit out leads to be explored by counterterrorism programs across the U.S. government, such as the NSA’s own Terrorist Surveillance Program, formed to intercept phone calls and emails between the U.S. and overseas without a judge’s approval when a link to al Qaeda is suspected.

    Much, much more at the link.

    • RalphB says:

      Nada, The main difference is these older articles are correct while the new stories are quite fluffy at best.

    • janicen says:

      Excellent link. It has been going on since long before the Obama administration and it has been very successful in thwarting terrorist attacks. There’s the rub, finding the fine line between invasion of privacy and national security.