NYT, Greenwald Go Mano a Mano—in NYT

Exchange with Bill Keller focuses on objectivity, sideswipes David Brooks
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2013 1:23 PM CDT
NYT, Greenwald Go Mano a Mano—in NYT
Journalist Glenn Greenwald talks during a panel following the screening of the "Dirty Wars" documentary at the Rio Film Festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sept. 28, 2013.   (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

Glenn Greenwald thinks the New York Times is a "nationalistic" source that has printed "quite toxic smears of government critics without any accountability," and you could learn that by reading today's New York Times. Columnist Bill Keller had a very lengthy back-and-forth with Greenwald about the nature of journalism, centering largely around whether reporters should strive to be impartial, or wear their biases on their sleeves.

  • Keller believes in the former, saying it can produce "more substantial and more credible" reporting. "I believe that in most cases it gets you closer to the truth, because it imposes a discipline of testing all assumptions."
  • Greenwald, in contrast, believes it "drains journalism of its passion, vibrancy, vitality, and soul," and that it's less honest, given that all journalists have biases anyway. "A journalist who is petrified of appearing to express any opinions will often steer clear of declarative sentences about what is true, opting instead for a cowardly and unhelpful 'here’s-what-both-sides-say-and-I-won’t-resolve-the-conflicts' formulation."
Greenwald also bashes the Times for a number of specific sins:
  • "It isn’t WikiLeaks that prints incredibly incendiary accusations about American whistleblowers without a shred of evidence. And it wasn’t WikiLeaks that allowed the American people to re-elect George Bush while knowing, but concealing, that he was eavesdropping on them." He also complains about the Times' refusal to use the word "torture" when referring to CIA interrogations, and one reporter's undisclosed support for the Iraq War.
  • Keller's reply: "There’s very little you’ve said about the Times in this exchange that hasn’t been said before in the pages of the Times, albeit in less loaded language."
Gawker was particularly tickled by an exchange about David Brooks. Greenwald bashed Brooks as an "East Coast rendition" of a conservative. Keller took this as a contempt for moderates. "My contempt for David Brooks is grounded in his years of extreme war cheerleading and veneration of an elite political class," Greenwald replied. "I don't see anything moderate about him." Click for the full exchange. (More Glenn Greenwald stories.)

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