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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wired Vs Greenwald

Rule number one: Never debate Greenwald.
Rule number two: If he makes you so mad your head is about to explode, don't debate Greenwald.

Unfortunately Wired editor in chief Evan Hanson is not willing to let Greenwald's claim that he is not a legitimate journalist pass so he opened his lap top and removed all doubt.

Hansen wrote in response to this post by Greenwald

At stake are the chat logs.

We have already published substantial excerpts from the logs, but critics continue to challenge us to reveal all, ostensibly to fact-check some statements that Lamo has made in the press summarizing portions of the logs from memory (his computer hard drive was confiscated, and he no longer has has a copy).

Our position has been and remains that the logs include sensitive personal information with no bearing on Wikileaks, and it would serve no purpose to publish them at this time.

That doesn’t mean we’ll never publish them, but before taking an irrevocable action that could harm an individual’s privacy, we have to weigh that person’s privacy interest against news value and relevance.

This is a standard journalistic balancing test — not one that we invented for Manning. Every experienced reporter of serious purpose recognizes this, and the principal is also embodied in the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics:

Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance…. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy. Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.

Even Greenwald believes this … sometimes. When The New York Times ran an entirely appropriate and well reported profile of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange — discussing his personality and his contentious leadership style — Greenwald railed against the newspaper, terming the reporters “Nixonian henchmen.”

Similarly, when Assange complained that journalists were violating his privacy by reporting the details of rape and molestation allegations against him in Sweden, Greenwald agreed, writing: “Simultaneously advocating government transparency and individual privacy isn’t hypocritical or inconsistent; it’s a key for basic liberty.”

With Manning, Greenwald adopts the polar opposite opinions. “Journalists should be about disclosing facts, not protecting anyone.” This dissonance in his views has only grown in the wake of reports that Manning might be offered a plea deal in exchange for testimony against Assange.

To be sure, there’s a legitimate argument to be made for publishing Manning’s chats. The key question (to us): At what point does everything Manning disclosed in confidence become fair game for reporting, no matter how unconnected to his leaking or the court-martial proceeding against him, and regardless of the harm he will suffer? That’s a debate we have had internally at Wired with every major development in the case.

It is not a question, however, that we’re inclined to put to popular referendum. And while we welcome the honest views of other journalists acting in good faith, we now doubt this describes Glenn Greenwald.

I comment.

Dear Evan Hansen

Your post is entirely based on a false claim of fact. You assert that Greenwald demands that you release the logs ignorning all privacy problems. This claim is false. He proposes releasing the logs, but also describes another option. I quote from Greenwald's post

" For the last six months, Poulsen has not only steadfastly refused to release any further excerpts, but worse, has *refused to answer questions about what those logs do and do not contain*."

and later "Whether Manning actually said these things to Lamo could be verified in one minute by "journalist" Kevin Poulsen. He could either say: (1) yes, the chats contain such statements by Manning, and here are the portions where he said these things, or (2) no, the chats contain no such statements by Manning,"

Note that in the quoted passage Greenwald does not ask for anything which is currently private to be revealed. He asks for Poulson to confirm or deny a claim publicly made by Lamos.

Since you are an editor, I assume that you are functionally literate. You must know that your accusations against Greenwald are false. I think that you clearly libeled him.

In any case, if Wired is to make any claim to be any sort of legitimate journalistic enterprise, it must confirm or deny public claims which are either proven or disproven by the evidence in your possession.

This is what Greenwald demanded in spite of your libelous lies about what he wrote.

Earlier in his post, Hansen wrote

Tellingly, Greenwald never misses a chance to mention Poulsen’s history as a hacker, events that transpired nearly two decades ago and have absolutely no bearing on the current case. This is nothing more than a despicable smear campaign based on the oldest misdirection in the book: Shoot the messenger.

My comment continues.

Also Poulson's criminal record is absolutely relevant to the case. The reason is that Poulson quotes the man who prosecuted his crimes as a source without acknowleging their previous interaction [I think I was confused here. Rasch's relevance is that he put Lamo in contact with Federal authorities. See below]. Again I quote from Greenwald

Yet at no point -- through today -- have Poulsen or Wired ever bothered to disclose that the person who "helped to turn over [Manning] to the FBI and Army intelligence" is (a) the same person who put Poulsen is prison for several years, (b) a regular contributor to Wired and (c) a long-time associate and source for Poulsen. Just on journalistic grounds, this nondisclosure is extraordinary.

Clearly Rasch is relevant to the story. The interaction of Rasch and Poulson is relevant to the story. Poulson's criminal record is relevant. You must know this as the man who prosecuted him is (or claims to be) a regular contributor to Wired. Due diligence required you to click the link provided by Greenwald to that public claim.

One falsehood might be forgiven. Given the two blatant lies in this brief post, I think the only honorable course of action for you is to resign from "Wired" and cease to claim to be a journalist.

Sincerely yours,

Robert Waldmann

1 comment:

Hans Suter said...

I'd like to sign this letter, too.