Glenn Greenwald
Politics • Writing • Culture
The Same Establishment Playbook is Used to Malign the Character of Leakers and Distract Attention From the Substance of the Revelations
System Update Episode #70 dives into the media's treatment of the Discord leaker
April 14, 2023
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Daniel Ellsberg speaks to the press outside the Federal Building in Los Angeles, April 28, 1973. Credit: Wally Fong / Associated Press.

On a virtually daily basis, one can find authorized leaks in The New York Times, The Washington Post, on CNN and NBC News: meaning stories dressed up as leaks from anonymous sources that are, in fact, nothing more than messaging assertions that the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security and the Pentagon have instructed these subservient media corporations to disseminate. When that happens, the leaker is never found or punished: even when the leaks are designated as the most serious crimes under the U.S. criminal code, such as when The Washington Post's long-time CIA spokesman David Ignatius in early 2017 published the contents of the intercepted phone calls between Trump's incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Most of Russiagate was constructed based on authorized leaks, a generous way of describing official propaganda from the U.S. Security State laundered in the American corporate press.

But when it comes to unauthorized leaks -- which result in the disclosure of secret evidence showing that the U.S. Security State lied, acted corruptly, or broke laws -- that is when the full weight of establishment power comes crashing down on the head of the leaker. They are found and arrested. Their character is destroyed. And now -- in a new and genuinely shocking escalation -- it is the largest media corporations themselves, such as the Times and the Post, that actually do the FBI's work by hunting down the leaker, exposing him, and ensuring his arrest. 

This playback is always used in such cases and is easily recognized. The point is to shift attention from the substance of the embarrassing and incriminating disclosures onto the personal traits of the person who exposed them, so as to make the public forget about what they learned and come to see the leaker as so unlikeable that they want nothing to do with the disclosures themselves. Thus:

When Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers – showing the US Government was lying to the American public that it believed it could win the war in Vietnam – FBI and CIA agents broke into the office of his psychoanalyst to try to expose his psychosexual secrets to discredit him and distract from the substance of the disclosures.

When Chelsea Manning leaked massive evidence of hidden US war crimes to WikiLeaks, long-time anti-LGBT bigot Joy Ann Reid of MSNBC and others said the overarching motive was mental illness over gender identity.

When it became clear that Julian Assange had created a powerful and formidible instrument for holding the U.S. Security State accountable and exposing their lies and crimes -- WikiLeaks -- corporate outlets began puking up a deluge of personal attacks against him, ones designed to make people conclude he is so repellent that the disclosures he enabled should be ignored because he was just too personally distasteful. The then-editor-in-chief of The New York Times Bill Keller even stooped to demeaning his personal hygiene, publishing this 2011 paragraph that he said he received from one of his reporters:

“He was alert but disheveled, like a bag lady walking in off the street, wearing a dingy, light-colored sport coat and cargo pants, dirty white shirt, beat-up sneakers and filthy white socks that collapsed around his ankles. He smelled as if he hadn’t bathed in days.”

When Edward Snowden furnished to myself and Laura Poitras the previously secret evidence that Obama national security official James Clapper lied to the public when denying that the NSA spied en masse on millions of Americans --  reporting that ended up winning every major journalism prize in the West and that caused an appellate court to rule that Obama's NSA had acted both unconstituitonally and illegally in infringing the privacy rights of millions of Americans -- CNN, NYT. NBC and The New Yorkier's Jeffrey Toobin labeled him a "narcissist" for believing he knew better than everyone else, and numerous outlets dug through his old blog comments to prove he had bad politics as a teenager.

Now, when doing the FBI's work by outing Jack Teixeira, both the Washington Post and CNN are emphasizing transgressive comments he made about race and anti-Semitism in a teenagers' gaming room to distract attention from the lies these docs reveal about, among other things, Biden's role in Ukraine.

On last night's episode of SYSTEM UPDATE, we examined the media's conduct this week with regard to the leaker, and the way in which they proudly did the FBI's job of hunting him down, exposing him and ensuring his arrest. On Monday night, we examined the key revelations from those documents and the strange circumstances surrounding that leak. The key leaked documents we examined can be read at the link below.

A full transcript for last night's episode will be posted later today on Locals (we post transcripts for each night's show on this platform exclusively for our Locals subscribers); the transcript for Monday night's show is below. And you can watch the full SYSTEM UPDATE episode on the video player below.

To support the independent journalism we are doing here and with our live nightly SYSTEM UPDATE program on Rumble, please join our Locals community; that gives you full access to our live interactive after-show on Tuesday and Thursday night, all of our written journalism, and full transcripts for each night's show:

 

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Listen to this Article: Reflecting New U.S. Control of TikTok's Censorship, Our Report Criticizing Zelensky Was Deleted

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UPDATE: Alan Dershowitz vs. Glenn Greenwald at The Soho Forum
15 hours ago

I’m impressed with how well informed and how IFORMING some of the audience here is! Someone offered a list of reports from Al Jesera that includes a report on the current use of the floating aid port and how it’s being received from the perspective of Gaza and the international community. It’s really important to know about! Thanks to who did this!

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As the Daily Wire Publicly Negotiated a Debate with Candace Owens, it Secretly Sought -- and Obtained -- a Gag Order Against Her
Due to a prior restraint order against Owens, the much-anticipated Israel debate with Ben Shapiro appears to be off.

On April 5, Candace Owens publicly invited her former Daily Wire colleague Ben Shapiro to a debate about "Israel and the current definition of antisemitism." It was Owens' criticisms of U.S. financing of Israel, and her criticisms of Israel's war in Gaza, that caused her departure from the Daily Wire two weeks earlier.

Both Shapiro and Daily Wire CEO Jeremy Boreing responded by saying they would like to arrange the debate requested by Owens. That night, Shapiro appeared to accept her offer, writing on X: "Sure, Candace. I texted you on February 29th offering this very thing." The Daily Wire co-founder added: "Let's do it on my show this Monday at 5pm at our studios in Nashville; 90 minutes, live-streamed."

After Owens objected to the format and timing, she and Boreing exchanged several tweets in which they appeared to be negotiating, and then agreeing to, the terms and format for the debate. Owens had suggested the debate be moderated by Joe Rogan or Lex Fridman. Shaprio said he wanted no moderator. They ultimately agreed to the terms, with Boreing offering a series of conditions, including a no-moderator debate, and with Owens publicly accepting

Two weeks later, many readers of both Shapiro and Owens noticed, and complained, that the debate had not yet happened. On April 24, Owens addressed those inquiries by explaining that the Daily Wire had yet to propose dates, while reiterating her strong desire to ensure the debate happened.

But the debate was never going to happen. That is because the Daily Wire -- in secret and unbeknownst to its readers -- sought a gag order to be placed on Owens after she had called for a debate. They did this under the cover of secrecy, before a private arbitrator, at exactly the same time that they were claiming in public that they wanted this debate and were even negotiating the terms with her. To this date, the Daily Wire has not informed its readers, seeking to understand why the much-anticipated debate had not yet happened, that they had sought and obtained a gag order against Owens.

When seeking a gag order to be imposed on Owens, the Daily Wire accused her of violating the non-disparagement clause of her agreement with the company. To substantiate this accusation, the company specifically cited Owens' initial tweet requesting a debate with Shapiro as proof of this disparagement, along with concerns she voiced that Shapiro appeared to be violating the confidentiality agreement between them by publicly maligning Owens's views to explain her departure from the company. While the company claimed before the arbitrator that it did not object in principle to a "healthy debate," it urged the imposition of a gag order on Owens by claiming that the way she requested the debate constituted disparagement of Shapiro and the site.

To justify the gag order it wanted, the company also cited various criticisms of the Daily Wire and Shapiro on X that Owens had "liked." This proceeding took place as part of an exchange of legal threats between the parties after the public agreement to debate about Israel was solidified. Those threats arose from the fact that various Daily Wire executives and hosts, in both public and private, were castigating Owens as an anti-Semite. On March 22, Daily Wire host Andrew Klaven published a one-hour video that hurled multiple accusations, including anti-Semitism, at Owens. The Daily Wire cited Owens' response to that video -- her defense of herself from those multiple accusations -- as further proof that she needed to be gagged.

The initial tweet from Owens not only requested a debate, but also included a video from the popular comedian Andrew Schulz, who had mocked the Daily Wire for firing Owens over disagreements regarding Israel, and specifically mocked Shapiro for his willingness to debate only undergraduate students. The tweet underneath Owens's original debate request included a summary of Schulz's mockery of Shapiro which stated: Schulz now "realizes Ben Shapiro is only good at debating college liberals & can’t win debates against serious competition." 

After the prior restraint hearing sought by the Daily Wire and Shapiro, the arbitrator sided with them and against Owens. The arbitrator agreed with the Daily Wire that Owens' call to debate Shapiro, and her follow-up negotiations of the debate, constituted "disparagement" of the company and Shapiro. The company argued that any further attempt by Owens to debate, as well her suggesting that the debate would expose the Daily Wire's real "priorities," constituted criticisms of the site and of Shapiro, criticisms that the arbitrator concluded Owens was barred from expressing under her contract with the company.

The arbitrator thus imposed a gag order of prior restraint on Owens. Among other things, the order banned Owens from saying or doing anything in the future which could tarnish or harm the reputation of the Daily Wire and/or Ben Shapiro. Given that the Daily Wire had argued, and the arbitrator agreed, that Owens' offers to debate Shapiro about Israel and anti-semitism were themselves "disparaging," the Daily Wire has ensured that the debate with Owens that they publicly claimed to want could not, in fact, take place. Any such debate would be in conflict with the gag order they obtained on Owens from expressing any criticisms of the site or of Shapiro.

When asked for comment to be included this story, Owens replied: I "wish I could comment on this but I can’t." She added: "can neither confirm nor deny."

Boreing said: "your story is inaccurate to the point of being false," though he did not specify a single inaccuracy, nor did he deny that the Daily Wire had sought and obtained a gag order on Owens at the same time they were publicly posturing as wanting a debate with her. The confirmation we obtained of all these facts is indisputable. Boreing added: "I’m sure you can appreciate how fraught a high profile break-up like this is. For that reason, we are trying to resolve our issues with Candace privately."

It certainly seems true that the Daily Wire is attempting to achieve all of this "privately." Nonetheless, Ben Shapiro has constructed his very lucrative media brand and persona based on his supposed superiority in debating, a reputation cultivated largely as a result of numerous appearances at undergraduate schools around the country where he intrepidly engages with students who are often in their teens or early twenties. Both Shapiro and the Daily Wire have also predicated their collective media brand on an eagerness to engage in free and open debate with anyone, and to vehemently oppose any efforts to silence people, especially those in media, from expressing their political views.

It was the imperatives of this media branding that presumably led the Daily Wire and Shapiro to publicly agree to a debate with Owens over Israel and anti-semitism in the first place. Indeed, when it became apparent early after the start of Israel's war in Gaza that Owens had major differences with Shapiro, Boering responded to calls from Israel supporters for Owens to be fired by proclaiming in November: 

[E]ven if we could, we would not fire Candace because of another thing we have in common - a desire not to regulate the speech of our hosts, even when we disagree with them. Candace is paid to give her opinion, not mine or Ben’s. Unless those opinions run afoul of the law or she violates the terms of her contract in some way, her job is secure and she is welcome at Daily Wire.

But a mere four months later, Owens, despite being of one of the company's most popular hosts, was out. The company had concluded that her increasingly vocal criticisms of Israel, opposition to U.S. financing of it, and her views on anti-semitism were incompatible with the Daily Wire's policies.

All of those issues would likely have been the subject of the public debate that Owens sought, and that the Daily Wire claimed to want. Instead, the Daily Wire has succeeded in obtaining a gag order that, on its face, prevents Owens, in advance, from questioning or criticizing both the Daily Wire or Shapiro in any way.

 

 

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THE WEEKLY UPDATE: MAY 13-17
Weekly Newsletter

We are pleased to send you a summary of the key stories we covered last week on SYSTEM UPDATE. 

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SYSTEM UPDATE RECAP: May 13-17
Weekly Recap

Welcome to the SYSTEM UPDATE recap: your weekend digest featuring everything we’ve covered throughout the previous week. 

 

Prefer to listen to your daily news analysis? Reminder that FULL episodes of SYSTEM UPDATE are available anywhere you listen to podcasts🎙️


MONDAY, MAY 13 - EPISODE 269

Jen Psaki's Lies Expose the Fraud of "Disinformation"; Israelis Endanger Americans and Block Humanitarian Aid

Full transcript available for paid supporters: HERE

 

WATCH THE EPISODE

Intro (7:26)

Queen of Disinformation (14:11)

Israelis Block Gaza Aid (47:32)

Outro (1:12:12)

 

TUESDAY, MAY 14 - EPISODE 270

House Prioritizes Israel Over Funding U.S. Government; Seinfeld Commencement Debacle Fuels Antisemitism Panic; PLUS: China and Hungary's Close Ties Explained

Full transcript available for paid supporters: HERE

 

WATCH THE EPISODE

Intro (10:29)

House Prioritized Israel Over U.S. (16:19)

Media Meltdown (48:28)

Hungary and China Strengthen Ties (57:50)

Outro (1:17:07)

 

Supporters-Only After Show for Tuesday, May 14

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WEDNESDAY, MAY 15 - EPISODE 271

INTERVIEW: Professor Jeffrey Sachs on Ukraine's Failures, Israel's War in Gaza, China, and More

Full transcript available for paid supporters: HERE

 

WATCH THE EPISODE

Intro (6:31)

Interview with Professor Jeffrey Sachs [13:12 - 1:10:23]

  • Ukraine (13:12 - 48:33)
  • Israel (48:34 - 58:40)
  • Columbia Student Protests (58:45 - 1:03:23)
  • China (1:03:24 - 1:10:23)

Outro (1:10:24)

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