Glenn Greenwald

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By FLAVIO AGUIAR*

Comment on the controversy involving the journalist and the website The Intercept

Glenn Greenwald helped Donald Trump try to get re-elected: this finding is unavoidable. Perhaps it is one of the only certainties one can have within this imbroglio involving the journalist, the website The Intercept, the president and the candidate to replace him. For the rest, we can debate many things, go round and round about the case, the critics of the journalist's attitude (among which I include myself), who invoke the nefarious opportunity of his article against Joe Biden and the media mainstream who supports him, and those in favor of him, who invoke the principle that the truth must come out, no matter who it hurts.

The truth, however, is that, beyond that unavoidable conclusion described above, there is more fog and confusion than clarity, more unanswered questions than answers that clarify the questions.

Let's start with The Intercept. It is an entirely virtual vehicle, created from the fund managed by an organization called First look media, with an initial endowment of 250 million dollars, made by the American billionaire Pierre Omidyar, born in Paris of Iranian parents. Omidyar owns the virtual network eBay, presents itself as a sponsor of the independent media, and is one of the regular financiers of the Democratic Party. Since its inception, the First look media is the subject of controversy over competence in managing the fund under its custody. What are the controversies? It is not possible to know very well; it is only known that they exist, and that they provoked adhesions and departures within the group.

The founders of The Intercept were Jeremy Scahill, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, and Glenn and Laura were Edward Snowden's interviewers in Hong Kong before he was forced to take refuge in Russia, the country where he was in transit to Ecuador, when the US government revoked his passport. Later, journalist Betsy Reed joined the steering group, as well as other professionals. Apparently, but little is known for sure, tensions between Glennwald and some members of the board, in particular with Betsy, had already been intensifying for some time, now exploding with Glenn's removal, his accusations of having been censored, something that the management team of The Intercept denies.

Why Greenwald chose to write his piece on the allegations against Joe Biden, and what he sees as the complicity of most of the media mainstream of the USA with the Democratic candidate, right now, on the eve of what has been described as the most important election in the country's recent history? It's a good question, still without a good answer.

The disputed article requests a series of accusations against Joe Biden and his son Hunter, involving favors and interventions in business of a company called Burisma in Ukraine, and possible business in China.

The accusations involving Ukraine are particularly serious, as they would imply a game of influence over the government of that country and even the Ukrainian prosecutor's office, which would investigate them. The accusations date from 2017, having as guarantor the testimony of a businessman named Tony Bobulinsky, who also refers to the alleged businesses in China, a testimony that lacks the presentation of documented and full evidence. In addition, clues left on a computer belonging to Biden's son corroborate the accusations. He left the device for repair at a shop in Delaware. The owner of the store, realizing that the owner did not claim the device, violated its contents, delivering what he found to the FBI, and also to Trump's campaign adviser, the former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani. Although the case is nebulous, it can be understood that the store owner approached the FBI. But why Giuliani? No answer other than that Giuliani had already been sent by Trump to Ukraine to investigate the allegations against Biden's son on his own. What is the connection between the store owner and Giuliani, and the Republican Party? Also unanswered.

Is the case of China important? It must be, but it's not clear why, other than the fact that "China" is a key word in the Trump campaign. There is also an important finding: the person who actually does business in China is Trump, who pays a hefty tax in that country, while paying meager money in the United States.

Biden chose as a strategy not to respond to the accusations. Right or wrong? No reply. Silence gives consent? Who answers accusations animates the enemy's fire? New unanswered questions. What is certain is that from this candidate's silence, Greenwald concludes that the media that supports him has also decided to ignore them. The accusations came solely from the media that supports Trump, the Fox News, and the newspaper New York Post, a sensationalist tabloid belonging to the group of infamous Australian media entrepreneur, Rupert Murdoch, known for his reactionary and pro-Trump positions, and repercussions within the same circle. As a result, their credibility was called into question. Bottom line: to thrive, accusations needed to find support in some other media. Did you find it? They found: Greenwald's article, on the eve of the election. The article found immediate resonance in the Fox News.

The connecting link was the program of a journalist named Tucker Carlson, a talkshow called "Tucker Carlson Tonight”, recognized Trumpist and one of the propagators of the accusations against Biden, accusations reworked by Greenwald in his article. Immediately after the crisis in The Intercept, Tucker called Greenwald to interview him, introducing him as a journalist “left wing” – which, of course, throws the stamp of denunciations out of the circle Fox News/New York Post and the like.

The animosity between journalists of the size of Greenwald and the establishment of the Democratic Party, aggravated since the Snowden case, which Hillary Clinton characterized as an outlaw. Greenwald cites another journalist of the same stature, Matt Taibbi, editor of newsletter Substacks, which accepted the article rejected by the The Intercept. Taibbi took up Trump's defense when he was accused in the media of pushing the envelope on Ukraine – through, among other means, Rudy Giuliani – to get some substantiation of the accusations against Biden and his son.

In short, the whole case raises many questions and doubts and few answers. In his article, Greenwald even goes through the case of accusations involving a – alleged? possible? likely? – Russian action on US elections. And everything flows into his analysis of the complicity of much of the media with Biden's candidacy.

After all, Greenwald's own conclusion is emphatic: "But the real scandal that has been proven is not the misconduct of the former vice president [Biden], but that of his supporters in the US media." If this is the conclusion, then why launch a battering ram article against Joe Biden on the eve of the election? Why take refuge in Fox News? Why not release an article denouncing all media mainstream from the USA? will be the Fox News a well of virtues in a swamp of fallacious vanities?

Finally, I present another inescapable conclusion: this step, which I consider objectionable, of having helped Trump, the worst American president, mobilizer of right-wing militias, in a re-election endangered, will neither erase nor detract from Glenn's extraordinary past trajectory. Greenwald in building a serious and independent journalism. Will it damage your credibility in the future? Hopefully not, but for now this is another unanswered question.

* Flavio Aguiar is a journalist, writer and retired professor of Brazilian literature at USP. Author, among other books, of Chronicles of the World Upside Down (Boitempo).

 

 

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