The Intercept, busy denouncing critics of Trump, now says media hasn’t done enough to denounce Trump


Glenn Greenwald writes:

As Donald Trump’s campaign predictably moves from toxic rhetoric targeting the most marginalized minorities to threats and use of violence, there is a growing sense that American institutions have been too lax about resisting it. Political scientist Brendan Nyhan on Sunday posted a widely cited Twitter essay voicing this concern, arguing that “Trump’s rise represents a failure in American parties, media, and civic institutions — and they’re continuing to fail right now.” He added, “Someone could capture a major party [nomination] who endorses violence [and] few seem alarmed.”

Actually, many people are alarmed, but it is difficult to know that by observing media coverage, where little journalistic alarm over Trump is expressed.

Really? Everywhere I look there has been no shortage of voices of alarm — everywhere other than, perhaps, The Intercept.

Greenwald and his colleagues have too often seemed more concerned about the hypocrisy of Trump’s critics than about Trump.

On March 4, for instance, Greenwald wrote:

in many cases, probably most, the flamboyant denunciations of Trump by establishment figures make no sense except as self-aggrandizing pretense, because those condemning him have long tolerated if not outright advocated very similar ideas, albeit with less rhetorical candor.

The same day, The Intercept’s Jon Schwarz wrote:

Over 90 “members of the Republican national security community” have now signed an open letter to express their united opposition to a Donald Trump presidency. The letter makes many reasonable criticisms of Trump for his “military adventurism,” “embrace of the expansive use of torture,” and “admiration for foreign dictators such as Vladimir Putin.”

But some of Trump’s critics have no standing here, given that they’ve publicly supported or even directly participated in the same kinds of things for which they are now criticizing him.

At the end of February, The Intercept’s Zaid Jilani saw “Trump moving the GOP to a more dovish direction” — the context of that dubious prediction being the fact that Trump’s success “is setting off alarm bells among neoconservatives who are worried he will not pursue the same bellicose foreign policy that has dominated Republican thinking for decades.”

One gets the sense that at The Intercept, a resurgence of the neocons strikes louder alarm bells than Trump’s rising power.

But today Greenwald writes:

Imagine calling yourself a journalist, and then — as you watch an authoritarian politician get closer to power by threatening and unleashing violence and stoking the ugliest impulses — denouncing not that politician, but, rather, other journalists who warn of the dangers.

Except that seems to be pretty much what Greenwald himself and his colleagues have been doing.

Sounding the alarm about Trump has been the mainstay of the mainstream media for months — even though that alarm has often been diluted by the false expectation that Trump would cause his own campaign to implode.

The problem for those whose own overriding preoccupation is criticism of the establishment/government/media has been a reluctance to echo a mainstream critique of Trump and thereby risk appearing to be in alignment with the forces one rigidly opposes.

Those who pound too hard on the anti-establishment drum are opening up a real danger in November.

If, as seems likely, it comes down to a choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, a significant number of Bernie Sanders’ current supporters may decide not to vote for the establishment candidate, Clinton, and some may even opt for Trump, not because they agree with him but because they see intrinsic value in shaking up the system.

If, for the sake of his readers, Glenn Greenwald wants to unequivocally register the degree to which he is indeed alarmed by Trump, maybe he can say right away that in a Clinton vs. Trump general election, in spite of the mountain of misgivings he has about Clinton, he will nevertheless vote for her. But maybe he won’t.

(And just in case anyone is wondering: In my state’s primary, I just voted for Bernie Sanders. If the general election turns out to be Clinton vs. Trump, I’ll vote for Clinton.)

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4 thoughts on “The Intercept, busy denouncing critics of Trump, now says media hasn’t done enough to denounce Trump

  1. sam

    Dear Mr WoodWard,

    I followed your blog on a daily basis a while ago, but I have been quite disappointed with your constant critique regarding The Intercept. You mainly focus on Mr Greenwald, and your critique is aimed at their opinion posts most of the time. I don’t understand why you never mention any of their really good reporting pieces. They have been doing some strong reporting on many issues, but we never see any of those stories on your blog.

    I can understand your critics regarding some of their work (when their staff engage in opinion pieces), but I can’t understand how is it fair to link pieces from mainstream outlets such as NYT/Post/FT and such, which are clearly doing the Obama administration’s work regarding many themes. Considering the reach of these outlets, compared to the tiny audience of the Intercept, you should clearly focus on their work instead of The Intercept (or at least widen your critique). There is no fairness in your constant focus on The Intercept, it really looks like you have a personal history with some of the Intercept’s staff more than anything else.

    It is a shame because I quite enjoyed your blog, but I can’t really understand why so much anger and why only directed at one outlet (which again, is nothing compared to the shameful propaganda that has been documented in others big influential outlets).

    That being said, I highly respect your dedication to scrutinizing the daily news.

    Best regards

  2. Paul Woodward Post author

    Dear Sam,

    Just over a year ago you left a similar comment in which you said: “I can’t understand why or what earned Mr Greenwald such a generous allocation of your time, dedicated only to criticizing his work?”

    Since then I have written six posts which referred to Greenwald along with about 160 posts that made no reference to him. During the same period I posted over 4,000 article excerpts.

    To talk about my “constant critique regarding The Intercept” seems like a bit of an exaggeration.

    My selection of pieces from mainstream outlets such as the New York Times is extremely selective. Nevertheless, if we did not have access to these sources there would be a gaping void in news coverage that could not be replaced by any other sources.

    An artificial dichotomy has been erected differentiating so-called alternative media from mainstream media which ends up caricaturing ordinary journalists as government stooges while lionizing independent “truth tellers.” The truth tellers are much more dependent on the “stenographers” than they will generally admit.

    If you want to argue with the substance of any of the criticisms I’ve made, feel free to do so. But to take issue with the mere fact that I’ve criticized Greenwald/The Intercept, seems to be to offer them more defense than they deserve, need or I dare say would even want.

  3. sam

    One of my main reason for posting this comment was the fact that we never see any of their reporting on your website, even though they’ve done excellent reporting on many issues that receive essentially no attention (drones, the DuPont case, their excellent articles about Yemen, their latest reporting about Erik Prince, etc…).

    On that point, I can’t understand why, really. Just a bit disappointed. We need that kind of reporting when big outlets really does not inform (and sometimes willfully misinform them) their readers on certain sensible matters 🙁

  4. Paul Woodward Post author

    Sam – it seems like the problem here is that you don’t visit my site regularly enough – not that I don’t link to The Intercept often enough. Otherwise you would be aware of the number of times I’ve linked to their reports:

    So much for the picture you’ve painted of me as an unremitting critic of their work.

    No, I don’t belong to the Greenwald/Intercept fan club, but I would hope that one of the reasons people become regular readers here is because they recognize that I’m independent and I make my own editorial judgments about what to highlight and what to ignore.

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