The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Laura Poitras Fired From The Intercept

She has an open letter on her firing from the Intercept. I believe her. Poitras is a legend, and put her ass on the line repeatedly. She is perfectly correct that the Intercept was built on her and Greenwald, because of their coverage of Snowden. This is undeniable.

It is also undeniable that the Intercept completely screwed over Reality Winner, asking the government to confirm the validity of the documents she leaked to the Intercept. It then let Greenwald (who was not involved) take the blame for years.

I suggest reading the whole letter.

Here’s one takeaway, from both Glenn and Poitras: you can’t hire other people to be in charge of your creations.

This is the same mistake that university faculties made: hiring administrators to run the universities, till the administrators wound up in control and turned faculty into employees, and, increasingly, badly treated ones.

The Intercept was built on Greenwald, Poitras and Snowden.

Once they were no longer needed, they were gotten rid of, because they have, even if you disagree with them (and I disagree with Greenwald on some important things, like Citizen’s United), integrity.

Easily replaced journalists who know their position in the pecking order are so much easier to deal with.

Greenwald and Poitras remain legends, and the CEO of First Look will be forgotten long before they are. His rewards, as with all who sell their souls, must come from the fruits of his betrayals.

Unless Poitras is straight up lying, the people who should have been fired aren’t her and Greenwald, but the Intercept’s Editor-in-Chief Betsy Reed and First Look Media’s CEO Michael Bloom.

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The Conditions Now Exist For A Long Term Right Wing Insurgency In America


You Can Always Get Half the Population To Hate The Other Half


  1. nihil obstet

    I think the reason is not just people put in charge make the job easy for themselves, though we should never underestimate that as an incentive. I wonder how the surveillance state communicated to the editors that truthful reporting was not in their interests.

  2. Mark Level

    This kind of thing happens frequently. Actual “lefty” ideas and incitement are NOT welcome in the Social Media-Industrial context.

    Robert Scheer’s TruthDig was a good lefty blog like the late Robert Parry’s Consortium News, which still exists. But TruthDig got shut down by ” CEO and publisher, Zuade Kaufman” (Wikipedia) who tried to censor or control content and faced a work stoppage by the staff. Like that flaming “progressive” Neera Tanden when the peons dared to act like union folks with rights at ThinkProgress, management shut it down (TruthDig on a “hiatus” from which it will never return) & dismissed everyone.

    Similarly, “Splinter” was a great quick-view lefty site that made $$$ for its big Wall Street Funder, linked to a bunch of related websites (including the Onion, Gizmodo, Deadspin Sports, etc.) It was shut down by said asshole (sorry, too lazy to google the name) months before the 2020 primaries began, I think most recognize, ‘coz you couldn’t have a financially successful politics website that had writers who were actually supportive of the Sanders Movement (however weak that movement may have subsequently been shown to be).

    This is the USA. Sites like Breitbart will be well funded despite endless hate speech and calls for violence. Garbage like “The Federalist” can’t make money (which is supposed to be the raison d’etre of American business) & is read by a few thousand losers living in their moms’ basements or garages, yet will never go out of business.

    It’s probably behind a Patreon paywall, but Blumenthal and Norton’s recent “Moderate Rebels” podcast had good coverage in an interview with Jared Bell of when Greenwald went up on a debate against the CIA-affiliated James Risen, also a writer for the Intercept, & how Bell saw the writing on the wall of the Intercept’s coming purge and crash. I rarely read the Intercept anymore– it’s now about on the level with Slate, the Daily Beast or the other comfortable lib pablum.

  3. Ché Pasa

    Poitras yes.

    Greenwald… pffft.

  4. S Brennan

    Ian, this is crowd control, the Trump=Hitler crowd were fascist wannabes, now they are the full blown article, they rule, dissenting voices are to be snuffed. And uhmm, that was Hitler’s first action after achieving his elevation by those then in power.

    Ian, you helped birth this Rosemary Baby, you need to own it enough to call for it’s postpartum abortion.

  5. Chiron

    @Mark Level

    It’s pretty much this, the function of “leftism” is to carry water for mainstream Liberals while the Neocon/alt-Right media gets more radical which passing day, the Anglo-American Left do not have any real power and things will be kept that way.

  6. Thomas Golladay

    @ S Brennan

    Our job is to primary out the Establishment Republicans and Federalist Judges. Impeach and remove those we can’t in 22.

    Big Tech shot itself in the head and is dying.

    AOC will be redistricted out of her seat and good riddance to her. A duplicitous boot licker like herself is not needed. Bernie and the rest of the Squad are also bootlickers.

    There will be no left revolution against the Establishment. The end of the Establishment will come from the Right armed with traditional liberal ideals and conservative values that build community from the ground up via networking.

    The new Conservative Age has come. Join it or become part of the bootlickers who get nothing and accomplish nothing.

  7. Willy

    Sorry Thomas, but your record for prediction is worse than that of Trump’s Dream Team.

    And they went 0-60. Now Giuliani probably wont get paid and Steve Bannon is said to be back with Trump, after his We Build the Wall grift. Unless you’re into watching incompetent psychopaths play with Nazis and steal your money, I’d advise another course.

    First Look Media was funded by that eBay founder, wasn’t it? What kind of power does he wield over that place?

  8. Ché Pasa

    Why did Laura wait so long to reveal the news of her (apparent) dismissal?

    Almost everything connected with The Intercept is rarely what it seems or is first made public. This goes back to the beginning of the enterprise. Pierre and the Founders were never particularly up front or transparent about their efforts. And what’s emerged is nothing at all like what was initially promised or projected.

    Remember that for almost a year after the Announcement of Founding First Look, Glenn, Jeremy, Laura, and Matt all essentially went dark, publishing nothing, having little or nothing to say, and this was quite a stunning development given their prolific prior output (well, except for Laura, whose output was/is relatively infrequent but always high quality.)

    The Snowden story and revelations, for all the drama, resulted in no perceptible beneficial change in surveillance practice and policy, which is strange, isn’t it? You would think all this knowledge of surveillance would result in… well, less surveillance, right? But it hasn’t. Instead, there’s more. Much more. And more to come. Much, much more.

    Of course, I wish Laura well. I’m sure she’ll do well. Is Jeremy the only one of the Founders left at the Intercept? Or did he leave too?

  9. Plague Species

    She grew up privileged in the lap of luxury. She can hardly be called “left.” I’m guessing this is why she and Glenn had/have a penchant for coddling the “right” disguised as wandering, disillusioned “leftists.”

    People growing up in a wealthy, privileged environment can never be truly “left.” They didn’t live the experience of being without where every day you face the strong possibility you will be living in a cardboard box on the street. Her being considered a “leftist” is like suburban, privileged wealthy whites listening to rap as though they grok it. They could never grok it. Never.

  10. Astrid

    I lost interest in the project as soon as I heard who was funding it. There are no kindly billionaires willing to give the real left or even honest progressives a voice, because what made them a billionaire in the first place is a pathology.

    It’s perhaps less bad for those who inherited or got lucky by partnering with the “right” people, but even then living in that bubble and having that much power over lives of others is corrupting. If I was so lucky as to win a big jackpot one day (darn unlikely as I bought less than 10 lottery tickets in my entire adult life), I would think about seeing up a blind trust that I have zero control over, to permit some relatively disinterested journalism to continue (though control is still a problem, as we see with the Guardian and others that once did more honorable work).

    BigTech starved the funding for honest journalism on behalf of the citizenry, then bought them back with their pocket change as pets and mouthpieces. Corporate Journalism should be read the same way one reads Pravda or People’s Daily. Not always wrong, often instructive, but always biased.

  11. Plague Species

    Too funny. Big Tech was just fine before Facebook and Twitter decided to pull the plug on you all. Never forget. Trump supporters support Trump. Trump supports the stock market. The stock market is Wall Street. Wall Street are the corporations owned by the wealthy elite and that includes Big Tech. So, despite their disingenuous protestations about Big Tech, they wholeheartedly support Big Tech because, afterall, they’re proud capitalists versus the socialist commies they vehemently decry even though none exist, socialist commies that is, except on paper.

  12. Lefty

    The whole thing was obviously a limited hangout. Snowden isn’t who he purports to be either. Once intelligence, always intelligence. Perhaps there are exceptions, or were at one time. John Stockwell and Phil Agee come to mind. We never really know for sure, and that’s the point. Add in that much of what the CIA is doing is subverted by Israel and its partisans for their own selfish interests, and you have one hell of a quagmire.

  13. Velveteen 100

    Ian suggests one takeaway don’t hire administrators to manage your creation- like university faculties should not have hired administrators to manage and i would add organizers and advocates have faced the same dilemma -those who want to do the work- whether journalism, research and teaching, working with clients or organizing-so don’t go into administration or hire new administrators. then the new administrators come in, eliminate the mission driven workers and then change the mission. this saw the destruction of the battered womens movement-administrators beholden to funders not founders, not staff, not participants.

  14. ttu

    Thanks for posting this. Agree with your initial point in the sense that it seems there was never any clear delineation of authority between the “names” and the institutions themselves (First Look, the Intercept). When we’re presented with public statements at the snash-up, it is unlikely that the parties will admit to error. When I look at this sequence of events, I don’t think politics; I think structural failure. Take the archive issue: not a direct editorial ideological issue but really an authority question. Who controls it? Both narratives can be correct about how it came to be closed. If that’s so then there was an inherently unstable relationship between “ownership” and “use” of the NSA materials. I do not excuse the institutional errors-my opinion FWIW is that the reporter should have been dismissed forthwith-but these contretemps seem to arise from a failure to make clear who has authority over what. And while I also am inclined to believe what she writes, if it is true that she denied access to the NSA materials because she did not like their arrangements it can also look a bit like a temper tantrum. Conversely, if she was not actually in charge of First Look then the executive decision to dismiss her may be a mistake, but it is certainly within their authority to do so. If the “name” insists on a right to overrule the people who are actually responsible (in charge) that is an untenable state of affairs. Moral: an inherently unstable situation is…unstable. Someone could have thought this through a little better years ago. As to the Intercept’s content, that’s for a different post, I think.

  15. Hugh

    A lot of us said the moment we heard about Greenwald hooking up with Omidyar that it was a sellout. We got hit with a lot of BS about new media, alternate media, how this was all going to be the future, etc. But when we asked about the plan, the organization of this new media we got crickets. All they did was sign up a few names known in the blogosphere, supposedly to do their thing. Zero organization. They left. The Snowden files were quietly smothered. In fact, some said that was the whole object of the Intercept, to buy Glenn off and keep the files away from the public. Well, last year the move was on to deactivate the archive the files were in, and with it gone, who needed Greenwald, or Poitras? And now both are gone. Color me shocked, shocked.

    Can we just all admit how screwy this whole enterprise was? I know the internet is supposed to have made us all one small village. But it really hasn’t. And the idea that a new US media revolution was going to come out of one guy retired to Brazil and another even less connected to the enterprise in Germany, neither having any interest in organizing anything, funded by a libertarian billionaire is just nuts.

    When Greenwald resigned, I said I went back through a couple years of his output at the Intercept. You would think that Trump would have been a tailor-made target for him to skewer, but instead you would have been hard put to even know Trump was President. What surprised me was just how limited and provincial Greenwald had become. He had already made himself largely irrelevant long before he left. Or what Poitras did from the start. Their complaining now about what a blindman could see then just goes to their sense of self-importance and entitlement.

  16. NR

    I will once again point out that Glenn Greenwald said absolutely nothing about Trump pardoning Evan Liberty and the rest of the Blackwater war criminals. If Bush or Obama had done the same thing, it would have been all Greenwald talked about for months. His silence about Trump doing it was absolutely deafening.

  17. anon

    The comments about Poitras and Greenwald of the WP article are disgusting and ignorant.

    I have seen similar comments to NYT articles on Poitras and Greenwald. This type of group think is the rot progressive must have to contend with within the confines of the Democratic Party and the leftists that have been brainwashed by corporatist Democrats. These were the same people both working for the NYT and WP and in their comments section attacking Bernie Sanders and the “Bernie Bros.” myth. It’s hard to imagine the USA ever overcoming the two party system if most of its citizens are either on the side of corporatists or have joined fringe conspiracy movements like QAnon. It says a lot about the American education system, even at elite institutions.

  18. S Brennan

    I will once again point out that “NR” said absolutely nothing about Obama pardoning criminals far more frequently* than any chief executive in the past 70 years.

    I will once again point out that “NR” said absolutely nothing about Obama starting three separate wars of aggression (deemed the the paramount war crime at Nuremberg) as well as a massive build-up of troops in AF-PAK ~18,000 to ~135,000 (to no avail save military contractors).

    Apparently, “NR” is all about punishing Sgt. Shultz for following orders, but at the same time giving a complete pass to Obama (and Hillary/Biden) for the unimaginably horrible crimes against humanity [circa 2009-2016]. And to be clear, Obama and Bush 2nd aren’t just palls they are genuine war criminals. And uh..”NR” remind me again, how many enlisted men were prosecuted** at Nuremberg?

    So “NR”, why is it more important to your “sense of justice” to excuse fully the perpetrators of war of aggression while at the same time calling for the harshest of punishments for those participants at the lowest end of society?

    “NR” is a living, walking, talking, cathedral to hypocrisy…so enamored with his gothic intricacies of twisted medieval logic, he is unaware that not everyone seeks to bypass FDR’s reformation and return to the dark age of the late 19th and early 20th century, to the wilsonian form of precursory fascism that presciently led the world to it’s darkest hour.

    “Donald Trump has used his clemency power less often than any president in modern history, according to data from the U.S. Department of Justice. Trump’s sparse use of pardons, commutations and other forms of official leniency stands in sharp contrast to his predecessor, Barack Obama, who used the clemency power more frequently than any chief executive since Harry Truman.”

    Wikipedia said “Tribunal was given the task of trying 24 of the most important political and military leaders of the Third Reich. Primarily treated here is the first trial, conducted by the International Military Tribunal….trials of lesser war criminals were conducted…the Doctors’ trial and the Judges’ Trial.” Leaders, Doctors, Judges…no enlisted men mentioned.

  19. NR

    S Brennan dragging his personal vendettas into the comments to every post here is tiresome.

    Regardless, the fact remains that Trump pardoned war criminals and Glenn Greenwald said nothing about it.

  20. Jack

    Trump orders shift in US military command for Middle East, Israel:

    Key takeaway, found in the third-to-last paragraph:

    Pro-Israel groups have long pushed for the country’s move to Centcom to motivate cooperation between Middle Eastern countries against Iran.

    The “key takeaways” are usually found somewhere in the bottom third or quarter of the article, often in one of the last few paragraphs. It’s a much larger piece of the equation that the writer either doesn’t know about or – more probable – does know, but intentionally chooses to mislead the reader by subtly including it, almost as an afterthought.

    Often, one or two sentences will be completely at odds with not only the headline – which was obviously created simply to attract eyeballs – but also with the entire substance of the article. Neat trick, employed regularly.

  21. The Number Six

    Trump (Chabad-Lubavitch) just moved Israel to Centcom, something the Israel Lobby has wanted for years.

  22. Jack

    Trump (Chabad-Lubavitch) just moved Israel to Centcom, something the Israel Lobby has wanted for years.

  23. S Brennan

    “S Brennan dragging his personal vendettas into the comments is tiresome.” – NR

    NR uses ad hominem in the form of innuendo to deflect from the substance of what I said. And notice he doesn’t specify what “personal vendettas”? Setting that 2nd rate bullshit aside and back to my actual criticism.

    It’s wrong for any writer here, to sell the idea that a common soldier is morally inferior to the leader who has repeatedly marched a nation into a “war of aggression” 3 times, a leader who has the death of million of civilians on his [&her] hands…not just NR’s pathetic attempt.

    The trial Nuremberg made clear that the fountainhead of all evil that springs from war is a direct result of wars of aggression. Bush 2nd and Obama had clearly defined wars of aggression, with Bush 2nd, by scope and by size outdoing Obama, but Obama by serial repetition outdoing Bush. Both men are vile but, so too any commenter who would condemn the crime of the one but not the crime[s] of the other.

    It’s possible that NR may be so deludes as to view such a moral observation as purely the work of “personal vendetta” not likely but, possible. And since he is a neoD propagandist, many here would support such obfuscation because of their loyalty to party over justice, over truth, over any moral argument. Such displays of vacuous fealty are the reason the neoD party must now run campaigns solely on ad hominem, resorting on rigged voting machines, ballots returned on the date sent out, repeatedly posting negative returns for a candidate, districts reporting Stalinistic poll numbers +95% turnout, with 95% for one candidate…when not too long ago, FDRists, both [R&D] candidates, used to win largely on policy and execution.

    Finally, “personal vendetta” ? My ass NR, you’re far too banal to earn such a distinction.

  24. KT Chong

    Like Ghouliani and his 9/11 moment, Glenn Greenwald had his one big hit with Snowden. Otherwise, he has behaved like is a petty little butthurt bitch.

  25. somecomputerguy

    Look who the university administrators are, and you will see a piece of a more common elite pattern.

    University administrators are themselves academics. Once you get your PhD., no one sensible wants to teach or do research for a nanosecond longer than it takes to get tenure. You want to get into administration because the money is better, and hard as it is to believe, the job is even cushier and even more-over paid and over-privileged than being a tenured academic.

    The problem with getting tenure of course, is that tenure for all intents and purposes no longer exists. Last I looked it up, no more than 25% of academic jobs are even tenurable, and that was many years ago.

    All that tenured teaching work is being done by graduate students and adjuncts teaching 18 credits at three different institutions for $300 a credit.

    The reason tenure no longer exists isn’t because some BA or MBA administrator is wrecking the place. It is because PhD academics decided to annihilate tenured positions and put the money into their own paychecks instead.

    They destroyed their own profession to enrich themselves. Sound familiar?

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