I Love The Intercept, But…

Scott LemieuxThe Intercept, during an election campaign between a competent, moderate liberal and an unprecedentedly unfit and corrupt candidate who ideologically represents a cross between George Wallace and Calvin Coolidge, devoted a substantial amount of resources to analyzing hacked emails from the campaign of the former. And rather than admitting that they had been sent on a snipe hunt by an Australian libertarian who was plainly trying to throw the election to Wallace/Coolidge, they decided to hype up inane trivia (“Hillary Clinton’s campaign has a PUBLICIST!” “Candidates say snarky things about opposing candidates in private emails!”) as if they were revealing the Pentagon Papers. And, as Paul [Campos] says, they did this in the context of media coverage being dominated by the coverage of Clinton non-scandals that revealed no significant misconduct, drowning out coverage of the countless examples of Trump’s actual misconduct. I can’t blame Glenn [Greenwald] and his publication for wanting to be preemptively absolved of any responsibility, but it won’t fly. It is absolutely true that The Intercept — like mainstream publications — also published coverage critical of Trump. Both Sides Do It was perfectly good enough for Trump, and while that it helped Trump in itself doesn’t condemn the press coverage the fact that this effective false equivalence is utterly ludicrous certainly does.

–Scott Lemieux
On the Accept-No-Responsibility, Blame-Everyone-Else Posture

5 thoughts on “I Love The Intercept, But…

  1. Ethically this is a tough choice. There were a handful of things in the e-mails that actually qualified as news — as Naomi Klein pointed out, the transcripts where Clinton expressed huge affection for banking or disdain for environmental activists. Since these came out after the primaries were over, what should a journalist do? Sit on them until after the election? Somebody else will cover them.

    Maybe the way I would have done it is to put those transcripts in context. If you mention Clinton’s snarky remarks about activists, also mention that she has proposed investing in renewable energy, while Trump believes global warming is a hoax. Clinton has many friends in high finance; Trump is planning on slashing their tax rates and paying for it in cuts to social services. That journalistic approach strikes me as fair. And if I had any readers, I would have excoriated the pointlessness of Johnson & Stein’s campaigns. It was important to convince people to vote for the candidate they most wanted to win.

    All that said, I hardly think any blame for the election’s outcome falls on The Intercept. It’s not the friggin’ NY Times. If LGM wants someone to blame, there are much guiltier names. How Assange could have played footsie with Putin — who’s had journalists killed — is beyond me. But I never held the man in high regard. Some of the Wiki whistleblowers definitely, but not Assange.

  2. They don’t care to be honest. They assume that Clinton was evil and nothing anyone said or evidence they gave was going to change the mind of people like Glenn Greenwald. So now that the actual evil has taken over-it is Clinton’s fault for not being able to defeat Trump, the media, Putin, Assange, hackers, etc.

    They treated her like trash and I am glad she is out of it to be honest. I am tired of Clinton being the left and right’s punching bag.

    • Greenwald never said that Clinton is evil, ever. He was clear, constantly, that she is better than Trump. He did not, on any occasion, say that the two candidates are equivalent.

      I’m afraid that I need to point to the very recent historical record. Clinton’s defenders, speaking to her left-wing critics, did not ever give evidence. They called us stupid, bigoted, crazy, anti-feminist. That is what really happened. There was no attempt to engage with contrary opinions, just a constant stream of bigotry.

      No; Clinton was not mistreated by the majority of her left-wing critics in any serious way. These people did not resurrect right-wing talking points. They did not treat her unfairly; they did not hold her up to an unreasonable standard.

      I’m all for honest disagreement (and by the way disagreement is the beginning, not the end, of serious discussion). But the constant unfounded complaints against Clinton’s critics resembled the complaints of Trump’s defenders very closely. Scott Lemieux, before and after the campaign, treated all critics with absolute contempt – and I won’t read his blog anymore (because he is a bigot). Frankly, I cannot find even one instance in which Clinton supporters tried to honestly engage with criticisms.

      Is there any Clinton defender who is willing to discuss my issues without calling me an asshole, talking over me, or immediately questioning my motives for disliking Hillary Clinton? Maybe there’s someone like that out there. Where? The evidence is clear and univocal. Clinton defenders were serially and constantly unfair to her left-wing critics; her left-wing critics were largely fair and also quick to point out that Trump is far worse.

      This is the recent historical record; it is not a matter of ‘opinion’. I could be wrong of course, but calling me an asshole or a BernieBro or anti-feminist or misogynist – the response almost every time, maybe every time – is a confirming bit of evidence, not a disconfirming one.

      It is not Sanders supporters’ fault, not Wikileaks’ fault, not Greenwald’s fault, not my fault, that Clinton was unable to defeat an obviously crooked idiot and space cadet.

      At the risk of sounding condescending, let’s put forward a simple principle of rational criticism. If you are going to criticize someone for saying something, you only are being reasonable if they actually said what you are criticizing. If you are going to criticize someone for doing something, you only are being reasonable if they actually did that.

      • I think it’s a case of YMMV. The Clinton supporters I ran into tended to be very open to policy debates. But I don’t do the social media, which is where a lot of abuse was flung both ways. As for writer types, Ramona (on the sidebar) was very solid about supporting Clinton without personally attacking those who disagreed. Elizabeth was the same, as long as one granted her feminist outrage that we haven’t had a female US president yet. Which I think is perfectly justifiable outrage. There were many other writers, as you observe, who were much more hysterical — Krugman particularly.

        The main media “hit” wasn’t little-read think pieces like Greenwald’s, but rampant media coverage of the fake e-mail and Benghazi “scandals.” An unusually high proportion of voters only made their decisions in the last two weeks before Election Day, and twice as many went for Trump. Certainly the FBI shit had something to do with that. Also the Democrats’ recent history — they don’t fight as hard for liberalism as Republicans do for extreme plutocracy. Obama never should have appointed Comey in the first place.

        Clinton’s major flaw, to me, was being the “anointed” candidate. That never stirs up much excitement — ask Bob Dole. That might have made her staff a little too complacent. They spent almost entirely on TV ads, often in the wrong states, and didn’t schedule enough rallies (by most accounts, Clinton is at her best after these rallies, talking with voters one-on-one).

        However I’m not sure any Democrats would have beaten the space cadet. Each would have brought along strengths and weaknesses. Trump’s magic power is celebrity, and in our age, celebrities have no weaknesses. They are higher levels of humanity, until they stop becoming famous. (A minor downside to the major blow of this election is a Trump loss might have meant the end of his invincibility and paper business empire.) The notion that “success” confers worth is madness, and the world’s in thrall to it.

      • The reason that so many of us Clinton defenders are so quick to ignore the “honest” criticism is because very little of it was actually honest. There is a reason people assume you were discussing criticism in bad faith-and that is because almost none of it was in good faith. If people are used to being trolled-why on earth do you think they will know magically that you aren’t trolling them?

        Further-the Clinton campaign themselves admitted they screwed up. What they refuse to do though is accept that there were no external factors that caused a loss of 79K voters in three states. And they have data to back it up: Clinton campaigned extensively in PA and FL. Yet she lost those. So if she had campaigned in WI and MI-would it have made a difference? We don’t know and we can’t know. What we know is that there was something that hadn’t happened before: Russian theft and release of emails that used a hostile press to attack Clinton. We also know that there was a release by the FBI that had never happened before.

        Clinton (and her staff) expected to have to fight sexism, Republicans, Trump, and a hostile press. They did not expect to have to deal with the FBI and Russia the way that it turned out.

        As for Greenwald, he didn’t come out and say she was evil. No, what he did was use the pretty obvious dog whistles that you chose to believe were innocent words and the rest of us used to being gaslit saw for what it was. Which is why I don’t think any further discussion will be fruitful since you and I both disagree on this subject and neither will change their mind.

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