Lloyd Grove writes: [S]ince last fall the pugnacious Greenwald — constantly making television appearance by satellite from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he lives with his domestic partner, David Miranda — has seemed to be the camera-ready face of First Look Media. [Editorial strategist Eric] Bates, however, said that’s all wrong.
“I think the way the news of the founding of it got leaked led to that misperception, because every time you saw the initial headlines for months, it was a ‘Glenn Greenwald-led organization funded by Pierre Omidyar,’ as if Pierre was simply writing the checks,” Bates told me. “And I think we’ve done a better job of making it clear that’s just not the case… Our ambitions and aspirations are much broader.” Indeed, Bates described the $250 million being spent by the press-shy Omidyar — whose personal fortune is estimated at $9 billion — as an “initial” investment.
But the question is: how much top-flight talent can they recruit if Greenwald remains the organization’s apparent front man?
Greenwald and Scahill, especially, have positioned themselves as fearless warriors against “modern establishment journalism” as practiced by mainstream media outlets such as The New York Times and NBC News (on which Greenwald engaged in a memorable brawl over Snowden with Meet The Press host David Gregory).
At last summer’s 2013 Socialism Conference in Chicago, Scahill spoke of “lapdog stenographers posing as journalists,” prompting cheers from the audience, and Greenwald inveighed against “the corruption of American journalism,” “actors who play the role of journalists on TV,” and even former Times executive editor Bill Keller, who “defines good journalism by how much you please the people in power you’re covering.”
That would have come as news to Keller. who in a December 2005 showdown at the Oval Office defied President Bush and his demand that the Times not publish an exposé of the NSA’s warrantless electronic eavesdropping program targeting people inside the United States. The story — by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau — earned Keller the Bush White House sobriquet of “traitor” and was a worthy predecessor to Greenwald’s NSA/Snowden scoops last June in The Guardian, for which Greenwald and Poitras are on the short list for a prestigious George Polk Award.
Some mainstream journalists who would otherwise be logical recruits to work on national security issues with Greenwald & Co. — such as the Times’s Risen, who didn’t respond to my voicemail message, or The New Yorker’s Amy Davison and The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman, who declined to comment for this story — haven’t signed on with First Look, at least not so far. Perhaps they’re loath to identify themselves with a worldview that leaves so little room for nuance. [Continue reading…]
Let’s suspend the question about the definition of “top-flight talent.” What will be much more significant is whether Greenwald’s presence has the effect of producing a lack of editorial diversity.
In its mission statement, The Intercept says: “The editorial independence of our journalists will be guaranteed.” Take it as given that this means independence from the usual suspects — big government, the national security state, and the corporate media — but how much independence will these journalists have from each other?
There don’t need to be any editorial litmus tests applied in the hiring process to still end up with the same result: group think, or a tendency moving in that direction, that is simply the effect of like attracting like.