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My Challenge to Glenn Greenwald


So on May 11, Scott wrote this post getting after Glenn Greenwald for his endorsement of an extremely insipid Matt Taibbi piece arguing that Romney was really a moderate. Glenn, as you might expect, came charging into the comment thread like a bull in a china shop. During the comments, I asked him a few questions about his economic policies. It’s a relatively widespread belief among the labor journalists that Greenwald is libertarian-friendly at the very least (more on this in a minute). He responded without a lot of specifics that he wasn’t a libertarian, called me a liar, demanded a public apology for even suggesting it, you know, exactly the tactics Glenn uses every day. Then last week in the comment section on some other post on another site that I don’t even really remember, I mentioned this again.

I guess someone asked him about it because, of out nowhere yesterday, I got an e-mail from Greenwald where he accused me of being “an absolute liar, a term I use advisedly, meaning “someone who makes claims that they know to be factually false.” He then goes on to restate the same things he said in the comment thread linked to above and concludes, “For you, having read all of that, to then claim I’m “basically a libertarian on economic issues” makes you nothing short of a liar.”

He continues:

To brand someone a “libertarian on economic issues” who – as you know – opposes enitlement cuts, advocates for a public option in health care, urges greater regulatory restraints on Wall Street, condemns banker-subservient government officials, favors a transfer of military spending to domestic spending, wants a system of public financing for elections, and favors EFCA and more protections for unions requires a staggering degree of wilful dishonesty.”

Well, I certainly don’t care if Greenwald thinks I’m dishonest. I’m not a person, like Glenn, with such thin skin that I’m going to erupt at such accusations. I mean, it’s the internet so it just doesn’t really matter.

But then I thought of a way that maybe I could turn this into something useful.

I really want to be wrong about Glenn’s economic libertarianism.

Never mind that Greenwald has long standing ties to the Koch-funded Cato Institute (he’s going to claim that he only wrote 2 articles for them but as Exiled points out that’s “utterly absurd”)

Never mind that Greenwald has been openly identified in the press as representing “the libertarian Cato Institute” when quoted in articles. See also here.

Never mind that Greenwald was a keynote speaker at a Cato Benefit Sponsors Event.

Never mind that Greenwald was Ron Paul-curious, a man who would be the most anti-union president since at least Grover Cleveland, if not in U.S. history.

Never mind that Greenwald has spoken to college libertarian groups where he suggested the possibility of a coalition between progressives and Paulites for a Gary Johnson presidential run.

Never mind that Greenwald defended the Citizens United decision. Excellent rebuttal to Glenn’s CU argument here. Also here.

Now I know that Glenn is going to resort to his usual personal nasty attacks in response to this. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it. We will all shrug, say “That crazy Greenwald is at it again!” and go on with our day.

But instead of that, I want to engage Glenn on the issue. Again, I want to be wrong. Now, one point Glenn makes well is that a lot of liberal bloggers gave Obama a free pass on his foreign policy and violations of human rights. I suppose that includes me, though I am not an expert on these issues. I don’t think any of it is intentional or partisan, but there’s the assumption that a Democrat is going to do something closer to the right thing. And that hasn’t always happened.

So I will confess that I am probably one of those people.

But as a labor blogger, I will also state that there’s a whole lot of big-time left-leaning bloggers who have never shown the slightest interest in labor and working-class issues. Or if they do have interest, it’s at a very wonky level without actually engaging working-class voices in their work or showing much understanding of working-class America.

And Greenwald is absolutely one of these people, despite his protestations in the e-mail above.

So here’s my challenge/offer to you, Glenn. If you want people to stop calling you a libertarian, how about you put your money where you mouth is? You may have worked with SEIU at one point on a campaign, but I don’t know that except for you saying it. I don’t read every one of your columns, but I don’t think I ever recall seeing one about labor, except to slam SEIU for trying to co-opt Occupy, which I don’t think is entirely accurate anyway.

Glenn, you have one of the biggest platforms of any progressive on the internet. And lord knows we unionists could use someone like you to direct anger and harsh words at the capitalists.

So why not use one of your columns for labor issues. Prove to the world that you care about these issues. If your Salon column is reserved for your standard material, publish it somewhere else. You are Glenn Greenwald after all.

For every labor article you publish at Salon or another important site, I will teach myself more about the issues you care most about and write 2 researched blog posts at LGM or a larger site about them. Admittedly, this may not be entirely fair since our forum is much smaller, but hopefully the 2 for 1 offer helps.

So to reiterate, I don’t really care one way or another whether you once worked with SEIU. However true that may be, you have been publicly identified as representing Cato several times, which is pretty damning in my eyes, not to mention your position on Citizens United. You can scream and call me a liar and do your normal schtick here.

Or you can prove me wrong–by taking the time to write about working-class people occasionally. Otherwise I have to go with the preponderance of evidence which suggests that you are libertarian-friendly and only marginally concerned with the plight of working-class Americans.

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