Gregory asked a peculiar question!

TUESDAY, JUNE 25, 2013

Then he attempted a dodge: David Gregory asked a strange question on Sunday’s Meet the Press.

He was speaking with Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden’s man at the Guardian. This is what Gregory asked:
GREGORY (6/23/13): A final question before you go, but I'd like you to hang around. I just want to get Pete Williams in here as well.

To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn't you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?
That was a very strange question. In our view, Snowden is looking less savvy with each passing day. We haven’t followed this issue closely, but we wouldn’t be shocked if someone suggested that Greenwald has overstated some matters at times.

But in what way has Greenwald “aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements?” Gregory made no attempt to say, even as he suggested that Greenwald may have committed a crime.

Gregory’s question was very strange—and Greenwald scolded him for it. In his subsequent response, Gregory dug the hole a bit deeper, then attempted a dodge:
GREENWALD (continuing directly): I think it's pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies.

The assumption in your question, David, is completely without evidence—the idea that I've “aided and abetted” him in any way.
The scandal that arose in Washington before our stories began was about the fact that the Obama administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism by going through the e-mails and phone records of AP reporters, accusing a Fox News journalist of the theory that you just embraced -- being a co-conspirator in felonies for working with sources.

If you want to embrace that theory, it means that every investigative journalist in the United States who works with their sources, who receives classified information is a criminal, and it's precisely those theories and precisely that climate that has become so menacing in the United States. It's why The New Yorker's Jane Mayer said investigative reporting has come to a "standstill,” her word, as a result of the theories that you just referenced.

GREGORY: Well, the question of who is a journalist may be up to a debate with regard to what you are doing. And of course, anybody who is watching this understands I was asking a question. That question has been raised by lawmakers as well. I'm not embracing anything, but, obviously, I take your point.
Gregory’s response was puzzling. In the most obvious sense, Greenwald plainly is a journalist. In raising “the question of who is a journalist” without explaining his point of concern, Gregory dug the hole deeper.

Then, he attempted a dodge: “And of course, anybody who is watching this understands I was asking a question...I was not embracing anything.”

Please. We were watching Meet the Press, and we did not understand that.

Plainly, Gregory suggested that Greenwald may have “aided and abetted” Snowden in some unspecified manner, in a way which might even be criminal. He then suggested that Greenwald’s (unspecified) conduct raises the question of whether he’s even a journalist.

It’s true, as Gregory also said, that some “lawmakers” have raised these suggestions. But if that was the basis for Gregory’s question, his question would have gone something like this:
GREGORY REWRITTEN: Some lawmakers have suggested that you yourself may have engaged in criminal conduct—that you may have “aided and abetted” Snowden, even in his current movements. What is your reply to these accusations?
Gregory voiced the suggestions in his own voice. He offered no basis for his suggestions.

He asked a very peculiar question. Then he attempted a dodge.

40 comments:

  1. Gregory isn't a journalist. He's an entertainer. Far be it from me to question his dancing credentials, much less suggest he should be prosecuted.

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  2. Try Sorkin of the New York Times and Reid of MSNBC for the same shameful attempt to destroy freedom of the press.

    Glenn Greenwald is a national treasure, a reporter and analyst who is helpful save our civil liberties.

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    1. "In our view, Snowden is looking less savvy with each passing day. We haven’t followed this issue closely, but we wouldn’t be shocked if someone suggested that Greenwald has overstated some matters at times."

      An ignorant and malicious comment. Shame on Somerby, shame, shame.

      Leo

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    2. Greenwald's assertion that Obama is criminalizing journalism IS over the top, IMHO. Also, one can agree or disagree with Somerby's assessment of Snowden's savviness (or lack thereof), but is it really a malicious comment?

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    3. A sickening displayJune 26, 2013 at 5:14 PM

      Anon 3:37 PM, before you decide that Greenwald's assertion that Obama is criminalizing journalism is "over the top", why don't you scroll down and read my response to @Paul, at 10:13 PM June 25, where I quote verbatim from a Greenwald blog post meticulously laying out his evidence and argument.

      As for Somerby's assessment of Snowden's savviness not being malicious: For almost anyone other than Somerby the comment would have fallen short of malicious, because it would have been made casually, in keeping with the typical person's practice of nonchalantly offering rational judgments without bothering to supply the reasons. Thus there'd be no basis for inferring malice.

      But we know that Somerby doesn't do that. What keeps people from describing even Somerby's harshest verdicts as malicious is the fact that he offers abundant evidence and an ample logical basis for them. It's the fact that both of those are conspicuously absent from his comments about Snowden and Greenwald that makes a reader feel he is witnessing Somerby display genuine malice.

      To be very precise: when a compulsively rational arguer like Somerby renders a negative judgment without presenting any rational argument at all, one has a right to presume he HAS no rational argument to present. Instead, we are entitled to infer that we are seeing a purely emotional judgment. And what emotion is it? Since the judgment is negative, the emotion must be malice.

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  3. GREGORY (6/23/13): A final question before you go, but I'd like you to hang around. I just want to get Pete Williams in here as well.

    To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn't you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?

    [An attempt by Gregory to destroy freedom of the press and so to destroy American democracy. Sorkin of the Times and Reid of MSNBC followed dutifully along.]

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  4. Gregory's question of "who is a journalist" smacked eerily of those times when certain establishment scribblers, such as that dearly departed (or barely missed) dean of the Washington Press Corps David Broder, would ask that question when someone not having a desk next to his, like Henry Kissinger or Rosanne Barr, would have the termerity to author an Op-Ed.

    One must be accredited appropriately to be counted among the proud, the few true journalistes. I hate it when that type speaks of the First Amendment as if it were the personal property of one profession/craft/vocation. It reminds me too much of those guys who believe constitutional rights are only for citizens, as if we Americans were members of some buyers club with benefits.

    However, Gregory brought up a question that deserves to be explored every once in a while: Why is it not a citizen's/journalist's job to keep the government's secrets? I thought at the time he worded it terribly, but cringe-worthy utterances are heard on these shows every week. Too bad Greenwald couldn't restrain his combative bent long enough to take Gregory at his meaning and offer the public a useful chautauqua on the adversary role of the press. That would have served all better than the internecine snapping at a network haircut America had to endure red-facedly.

    Gregory asked a useful question stupidly. Happens all the time on Sunday mornings.

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    1. It reminds me too much of those guys who believe constitutional rights are only for citizens, as if we Americans were members of some buyers club with benefits.

      Hear, hear!

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    2. Gregory wasn't inexpertly asking the question "Why is it not a citizen's/journalist's job to keep the government's secrets?"

      He was expertly demonstrating that he knows in his bones that it is a real journalist's job to perform that exact service for government.

      He's a scum hack.

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  5. "Gregory isn't a journalist. He's an entertainer."

    Then why isn't he the least bit entertaining? Can't corporations afford someone who isn't a dusty idiot to repeat their slogans?

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  6. louie daguerreotypeJune 25, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    "Too bad Greenwald couldn't restrain his combative bent long enough to take Gregory at his meaning and offer the public a useful Chautauqua on the adversary role of the press."

    That certainly doesn't square with my take on Greenwald's response.

    In fact, Greenwald pointed out that Obama's zero tolerance for whistleblowers along with questions like Gregory's has a chilling effect on investigative journalism in the U.S., much to the country's detriment.

    It was also clear that if anyone in the interview was demonstrating a combative bent, it was Gregory, along with those tiny, shrill voices inside his head.

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    1. Agreed completely, Glenn Greenwald was superb as usual. What a journalist.

      LTR

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    2. LTR: what a dick.

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  7. A sickening displayJune 25, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    Somerby's obsession is rooting out the bogus stories the press tells, especially the disparaging characterizations, unsupported by fact, it uses to subtly undermine its enemies. His diatribe triggered by the NY Times account of the Paula Deen affair is typical.

    So how then does Somerby dare opine, without the citation of a wisp of evidence or the hint of an illustration, that "We haven’t followed this issue closely, but we wouldn’t be shocked if someone suggested that Greenwald has overstated some matters at times."

    And what a cowardly, pathetically indirect responsibility-avoiding way Somerby has of expressing his unsupported criticism: "we wouldn't be shocked if someone suggested"??!!

    And if he hasn't followed the issue closely, why is he so willing to criticize? Normally Somerby has many paragraphs of quotes from the targets of his attacks that demonstrate his reasons for assailing them. But not a word from Greenwald to justify his comment.

    But is it really so hard to figure out what's going on in the bitter, bitter heart of Somerby? Isn't it blindingly obvious that his faulting of Greenwald stems not from Greenwald's failings at all? Rather, it's from Somerby's correct perception that Greenwald, in his growing eminence and influence, is everything that Somerby is not, and never will be.

    It's undoubtedly irked Somerby for years, watching Greenwald flourish and himself sink into virtual oblivion, but NOW, with Greenwald, not Somerby, becoming genuinely world-famous these past couple of weeks as a powerful, relentless critic of the mainstream media's servility to government and the Establishment, Somerby's envy grew too sharp to be denied expression. It's a sorry spectacle.

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    1. In other words, you "wouldn't be shocked" if Somerby is jealous of Greenwald.

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    2. Maybe Somerby's waiting for Pincus to give an "all clear" signal on Greenwald...

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    3. Good complaint. Somerby needs to think on this matter, hard.

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    4. Why would Somberly questions Greenwald? Why, just look what Greenwald wrote:

      "The scandal that arose in Washington before our stories began was about the fact that the Obama administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism by going through the e-mails and phone records of AP reporters, accusing a Fox News journalist of the theory that you just embraced -- being a co-conspirator in felonies for working with sources."

      Tha't a big statement, and strikes me as absurd hyperbole more than journalism. I have seen no evidence of Obama actually looking at journalists' records with the intent to intimidate.

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    5. ASD I think you are misinterpreting Somerby's meaning there. Bob was merely saying that he is no Greenwald expert, but he assumes that there exists the possibility that there has been an occasion or two where it's possible GG may have not made 100% perfect arguments about something [Like all humans on the face of the planet]. It's Bob's way of saying he is not a regular GG reader and does not take his words as divine providence. There's nothing wrong with that, and nothing demeaning or insulting towards GG in that.

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    6. Agreed! I've never gotten the impression that Somerby in any way has a "bitter, bitter" heart! In fact the reverse seems to be closer to the truth - he seems imbued with a character that is tough and unrelenting, but (perhaps ironically?) deeply sweet.

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    7. "Isn't it blindingly obvious that his faulting of Greenwald stems not from Greenwald's failings at all? Rather, it's from Somerby's correct perception that Greenwald, in his growing eminence and influence, is everything that Somerby is not, and never will be."

      It's far from blindingly obvious. Greenwald and Somerby strike me as similarly skilled and dogged in exposing hypocrisies and inconsistencies on the part of the powerful and their partisans. Which is why Somerby's un-Somerbylike digs at Greenwald seem so strange.

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    8. A sickening displayJune 26, 2013 at 1:22 AM

      Yes, Anon 12:58, Greenwald and Somerby are "similarly skilled and dogged, etc." but they're not similarly eminent and influential. Don't you see how the similarity of the former but not the latter would just kill Somerby? He says to himself, "I'm just as good as, if not better than Greenwald, and he's now a world-renowned champion of freedom and I'm an unknown blogger! I can't stand it! I cannot stand it!!! It makes me want to....." Consult Edvard Munch for a portrait of Somerby 2013.

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    9. Bob Somerby, the criticism of Glenn Greenwald which you choose to join in has been bizarre, ignorant and malicious.

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    10. *shrug*

      I read both comments as an attempt to pre-emptively hand-wave away claims that Somerby was in the bag for Snowden/Greenwald. Sort of a "yeah, maybe Snowden isn't the most savvy guy ever, and yeah, it's possible Greenwald overstated matters, but.."

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  8. Interesting thing about Gregory.

    He's a kid from the Valley. Went to public schools, Birmingham High, then on to Sonoma State. He's not from an exceptionally elite background.

    He's even mentioned here in an old LAT article:

    http://articles.latimes.com/1988-01-18/local/me-24390_1_high-school-administrators

    But-- he must now think he is elite, because someone has scrubbed all that personal background detail from his Wikipedia site. Oh, how they change.

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  9. A sickening displayJune 25, 2013 at 10:13 PM

    @Paul, I'm trusting that you made your comment in good faith, and you genuinely believe Greenwald was engaging in “absurd hyperbole more than journalism”. So I say in response: please take a little time to acquaint yourself with the facts that Greenwald was relying on when he made his statement—if you do, you'll see Greenwald's assessment exactly matches the evidence.

    In fact, why don't we let Mr. Greenwald himself present the evidence for his assertion that “The scandal that arose in Washington before our stories began was about the fact that the Obama administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism.....accusing a Fox News journalist on the theory that you [David Gregory of Meet the Press] just embraced -- being a co-conspirator in felonies for working with sources.”

    In one of several columns he wrote about that case, Greenwald says the following on May 20, 2013, speaking of Fox Washington correspondent James Rosen: “The focus of the [Washington] Post's report yesterday is that the DOJ's surveillance of Rosen, the reporter, extended far beyond even what they did to AP reporters. The FBI tracked Rosen's movements in and out of the State Department, traced the timing of his calls, and - most amazingly - obtained a search warrant to read two days worth of his emails, as well as all of his emails with Kim. In this case, said the Post, "investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material." It added that "court documents in the Kim case reveal how deeply investigators explored the private communications of a working journalist".”


    But @Paul, the truly crucial part, the part that breaks new, frightening ground, is the following (continuing directly from Greenwald's column of May 20):
    “But what makes this revelation particularly disturbing is that the DOJ, in order to get this search warrant, insisted that not only Kim, but also Rosen - the journalist - committed serious crimes. The DOJ specifically argued that by encouraging his source to disclose classified information - something investigative journalists do every day - Rosen himself broke the law. Describing an affidavit from FBI agent Reginald Reyes filed by the DOJ, the Post reports [emphasis added]:
    "Reyes wrote that there was evidence Rosen had broken the law, 'at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator'. That fact distinguishes his case from the probe of the AP, in which the news organization is not the likely target. Using italics for emphasis, Reyes explained how Rosen allegedly used a 'covert communications plan' and quoted from an e-mail exchange between Rosen and Kim that seems to describe a secret system for passing along information. . . . However, it remains an open question whether it's ever illegal, given the First Amendment's protection of press freedom, for a reporter to solicit information. No reporter, including Rosen, has been prosecuted for doing so."”

    @Paul, do you now recognize that indisputable evidence supports Greenwald's statement, ““The scandal that arose in Washington before our stories began was about the fact that the Obama administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism.....accusing a Fox News journalist on the theory that you [David Gregory of Meet the Press] just embraced -- being a co-conspirator in felonies for working with sources.”

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  10. A sickening displayJune 25, 2013 at 10:29 PM

    @Craig--if you look at the Somerby comment at issue in context you'll see that it's deeply irrelevant to the rest of the post. If you excise it, it doesn't in any way alter the import of the later remarks. In fact, did you notice that he elects to first slightly demean Snowden, without adducing any support for his insult, as "looking less savvy with each passing day" before he offers his evidence-free suggestion that Greenwald is an exaggerator. Somerby's two negative assessments in rapid succession, each without any evidentiary support--which is unprecedented for Somerby, who normally goes on at interminable length to corroborate his assertions--have a more malign motive, in my opinion, than you are willing to accept.

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    1. Snowden does look pretty unsavvy. He ought to have had a well considered plan in place to save his own skin, but he didn't. He ought to have been on a beach in Ecuador before anyone even knew he was the source, and worked out the asylum issues later. He comes across, at this point, as naive, although I will grant that pretty much anyone would have been overwhelmed by the enormity of what he had to do. Still, Snowden is supposed to have been a semi-spook. He should have known what he'd be up against.

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    2. A sickening displayJune 25, 2013 at 11:34 PM

      @til, while your surmises are very understandable, may I suggest you read Snowden's own explanation for his seemingly less-than-ideal escape plan? According to him, or those who spoke to him, any of the apparently superior alternatives would probably have triggered an alarm with the NSA--even "semi-spooks" are under constant surveillance--and may well have gotten him detained before he left US soil.

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    3. I agree with Craig. You seem to ready to pounce upon what Somerby wrote in order to confirm a negative opinion that you have for him. As to Snowden, check this entry by Charles Pierce: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/snowden-took-job-to-get-evidence-of-surveillance-062413. That does not seem to be very savvy to me.

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    4. I did consider that, and it's easy enough to get around. He goes on a cruise to the Caribbean (a common, innocuous thing), gets off in Ecuador, and never gets back on. He doesn't even need to get off in Ecuador; a neighboring country would do fine, then slip across the border, release the documents, and he'd be in much better shape than he's in now. He also would have avoided having to sully himself by dealing with the Chinese and Russians (I'd be very surprised at this point if they don't have copies of every document he pilfered), which would have put him in a stronger PR position. I'd say this is all hindsight, except it's what I was thinking as soon as he revealed himself and said he was in Hong Kong. At the time, I thought he must know something I don't; pretty plainly, he didn't. I just couldn't see how any government not knee-jerk inclined to oppose the U.S. would risk offending the U.S. It's high risk, no reward stuff. I figured Venezuela or Ecuador from the start, and I'm nobody's idea of a spook.

      I don't mean to beat up on him, because what he did took guts and a strong set of principles, but guts + principles don't necessarily equal savviness. Actually, I suppose in today's world, quite the opposite.

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    5. A sickening displayJune 26, 2013 at 1:11 AM

      @Horace Feathers, I just read the brief Charles Pierce comment, and my response is this:

      First of all, Pierce decided to withhold from his readers this simple fact: Snowden already was appalled by his discovery of the unsuspected-by-him extent of NSA surveillance and inclined to go public with the information in 2008, but naively believed Obama when he made his now infamous assurances about overturning the assorted assaults upon civil liberties by George W. Bush, etc., and so Snowden elected to wait. Therefore, the words Pierce puts into the mouth of the future prosecutor--"So you were not a contractor shocked by what he'd learned and seeking to reveal it to a nation kept in the dark by its leaders, but a deliberate, premeditated saboteur, Mr. Snowden? No further questions, your honor."--were completely inappropos. He WAS precisely a contractor shocked by what he'd learned—back in 2008 and earlier.

      Here's the conundrum people seem to be having trouble unraveling: what if you're very savvy, but are even more honest than you are savvy? Think about this, Horace Feathers: what if Snowden followed the “savvy” course you and Pierce want him to? That would mean he would have had to lie in response to many questions put to him by an interested public, or else mimic the Bush/Obama administrations and place a veil of secrecy over everything—reject the very transparency that is the guiding principle of everything he's doing.

      @til, you raise reasonable points, and I don't know enough of the details regarding Snowden's decision-making process to say exactly why he didn't do what you suggest. But my experience in life powerfully indicates that when an intelligent and well-informed person (and I've listened to, and read the words of, Snowden to the point that I feel I can definitely conclude he is an intelligent and well-informed person) spends months deliberating about a literally life or death decision, it's highly unlikely he would have simply failed to consider the obvious. And even you would agree, given the sheltering of Assange by Ecuador, it would have been absolutely obvious that that country presented an option worth considering. So, I believe Snowden must have had very good reasons for not immediately doing what you suggest. Perhaps he recognized that Assange was just a recipient of secrets, while he was a discloser of them, and therefore might not be offered a refuge as readily by Ecuador as Assange was. Perhaps he knew that Ecuador, if they did grant him asylum, wouldn't be acting because of its democratic traditions (does it really have any?) but to tweak the USA, and therefore it would be very possible that in five years a new regime would want to curry favor with the US by extraditing him. Who can say?—but I certainly wouldn't be at all inclined to assert that Snowden was lacking in savvy based on the little information we both possess, til.


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  11. Snowden is "looking less savvy"? In what relevant areas is he required to be savvy and how has he fallen short? Does his failure to be sufficiently savvy undermine his credibility regarding his controversial disclosures?

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  12. Snowden does not have to be a thing and his private motives are contests in speculation. He only had to do what he did which was to remind Americans that they are being illegally spied on without regard for their privacy, regardless of the claims of government and private sector liars. Espionage was not Snowden's intent; it was to warn Americans..

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    1. That's what I thought at first, but new requirements have been imposed on him before we can believe what he's told us (revelations "everybody already knew about" according to his critics). Among those are that he must earn a high school diploma and produce neighbors who will say they thought he seemed friendly.

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  13. Courtesy of Charles Pierce:

    I like to believe that the larger question raised by the whole Snowden episode is to allow the American people to decide precisely how secret their government should be. That's why I bristled when the Dancin' Master [Gregory] implied that Glenn Greenwald might not be a "journalist." I think he is, but opinions can vary and he might not be. But what he is practicing certainly is journalism.

    I've always believed that, in this free society, one of the primary jobs of the craft is to deny a self-governing people the alibi of "We didn't know." The job is not to leave them that excuse, anyway. You could have known. You should have known. If we do our jobs correctly, it's your fault if you didn't know, not the government's. I believe that is what is happening in this case.

    The American people have to decide precisely how secret their government should be. Edward Snowden -- and Glenn Greenwald -- are doing nothing if they are not providing a self-governing people with the information needed to make that determination. They are eliminating "We didn't know" as an alibi, and that's what journalism is supposed to do.

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  14. "He was speaking to Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden's man at the Guardian."

    What a dismissive, patronizing foof.

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