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Hoisted from Archives from September 2005: The Coming Dollar Crisis?

Time Magazine Crashed-and-Burned-and-Smoking Watch (Joe Klein Edition)

John Cole writes:

You Have to Be Kidding Me: Joe Klein on why Glenn Greenwald is not a serious person:

For the past several years, Greenwald has conducted a persistent, malicious campaign to distort who I am and where I stand. He is a mean-spirited, graceless bully. During that time, I have never seen him write a positive sentence about the US military, which has transformed itself dramatically for the better since Rumsfeld’s departure (indeed, he ridiculed me when I reported that the situation in Anbar Province was turning around in 2007). I have never seen him acknowledge that the work of the clandestine service—performed disgracefully by the CIA during the early Bush years—is an absolute necessity in a world where terrorists have the capability to attack us at any time, in almost any place. Nor have I seen [him] acknowledge that such a threat exists, nor make a single positive suggestion about how to confront that threat in ways that might conform to his views. Therefore, I have seen no evidence that he cares one whit about the national security of the United States. It is not hyperbole, it is a fact.

You have to love the sheer beauty of that baby, don’t you? Read it a second time. Klein is condemning Greenwald for what he HASN’T said. How awesome is that? I mean, if you get to condemn people for things they haven’t said, you can just make up any old shit and then smear someone. Why, I bet Greenwald has not recently stated that he loves the Humane Society. In Jokeline’s world, that is clear evidence that Glenn cares not a whit about animals.... [T]he real reason Klein hates Greenwald is because Greenwald pointed out that he had no idea what he was talking about regarding FISA. For someone completely serious about national security (as we are to assume Klein is from that pompous snippet from an email), Klein sure didn’t know what the hell he was talking about nor did he bother to concern himself with the details.

Joe Klein writes:

Joe Klein: Twice in the past month, my private communications have been splashed about the internet. That such a thing would happen is unfortunate, and dishonorable.... I ignored the first case, in which a rather pathetic woman acolyte of Greenwald's published a hyperbolic account of a conversation I had with her at a beach picnic on Cape Cod...

And Aimai responds:

No, Seriously, Dude, Acolyte?: Its fun to wake up and find that yourself accused of joining a cult--the cult of people who like incredibly detailed, footnoted, analytic, legal arguments about abstruse and painful political crimes? The cult of people who follow links?... I ended my other essay by observing that Klein thinks readers don't really read, and readers don't really remember.... Klein stalked off in a huff to soothe his ego. I went home to surf the internet and make sure of my facts before I blogged the interaction. I checked his blog--yes, he'd really exposed a private citizen to what he hoped would be internet harassment. I checked the Wiki--surprisingly restrained and well linked, no particular anti Klein slant.[1]... And, of course, I read backwards through Glenn's well cited and well linked oeuvre of Klein evisceration.... [T]hat was the real heart of my little sand box fight with Klein--that the internet and the google and the readership today make the argument from journalistic authority a very hard hill to climb these days. It wasn't about Greenwald.... It didn't come about because of anything but Klein's own work. I didn't confront Klein because I'm somebody. I'm nobody special. I confronted him because I'm something important--I'm a reader....

That, it seems, was the unkindest cut of all. Because Klein writes, after a fashion, but he doesn't read much. Certainly, he doesn't read like a reader--lots of sources, lots of texts, across genres, and with curiosity.... Time was a journalist wanted to be read, and remembered for what he'd written.... You have to take your work seriously--do your research, form your opinions, and stick to them because they are good or as good as they could be under the circumstances.[2] But Klein doesn't want to do that....

So he turns the attack onto Greenwald and, for make weight on myself, poor lowly acolyte that I am—not because we aren't honestly reading him and wrestling with his work but precisely because we are.

[1] And that, of course, led to the now infamous mewl of rage “You don't read me! You read Wikipedia, and that's leftist.”

[2] Klein's complaint to me that he got things factually wrong on the FISA legislation because “he'd been lied to, by a Democratic Staffer” reflects prezackly this unseriousness about his work. He didn't read the legislation, or he didn't understand what he read, or he chose his unnamed experts inexpertly. None of these professional errors in judgment excuse what he wrote. In fact, I think you'd have to argue that the entire accusation that it was I who read only Wikipedia was merely a form of projection.