I read this post over at Bob Cesca’s “Truly” Awesome Blog! Go! several days ago, which was about an exchange that happened in January between Paul Krugman and Glenn Beck, I mean Greenwald…sorry. So I decided to read it and follow the links. As usual, whenever I read a post by Glenn, I immediately start questioning his voracity because of his over-the-top rhetoric. I then follow his links and discover that he frequently lies, embellishes and mischaracterizes what the link says. It is maddening, this guy uses the exact same techniques as the wingnuts. I usually try to just stay away from his rantings, it’s just best that way…for my blood pressure.
The disagreement between Krugman and Greenwald was about a side issue, related but different from what I’m writing about. In this instance, Greenwald attacks, exaggerates and extrapolates nefarious motives to both the subject of the attack, Cass Sunstein and the Obama administration where he now works. It is about a paper that Sunstein co-wrote with Adrian Vermeule, a joint paper for Harvard University Law School and the University of Chicago Law School about how to counter false conspiracy theories. With the explosion of the internet, these conspiracy theories have multiplied exponentially in recent years. Greenwald’s mistake, as far as I’m concerned, was posting the link to the actual paper. If he is going to lie so much and mischaracterize, he should reconsider whether to put the link up or not. Here are two paragraphs that I will try to straighten out the truth in…the entire thing is loaded with it, but I was exhausted just doing those two paragraphs. From Greenwald’s hyperbolic post…(emphasis is Greenwald’s)
Cass Sunstein has long been one of Barack Obama’s closest confidants. Often mentioned as a likely Obama nominee to the Supreme Court, Sunstein is currently Obama’s head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs where, among other things, he is responsible for “overseeing policies relating to privacy, information quality, and statistical programs.” In 2008, while at Harvard Law School, Sunstein co-wrote a truly pernicious paper proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-“independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites — as well as other activist groups — which advocate views that Sunstein deems “false conspiracy theories” about the Government. This would be designed to increase citizens’ faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists. The paper’s abstract can be read, and the full paper downloaded, here.
Sunstein advocates that the Government’s stealth infiltration should be accomplished by sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups.” He also proposes that the Government make secret payments to so-called “independent” credible voices to bolster the Government’s messaging (on the ground that those who don’t believe government sources will be more inclined to listen to those who appear independent while secretly acting on behalf of the Government). This program would target those advocating false “conspiracy theories,” which they define to mean: “an attempt to explain an event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role.” Sunstein’s 2008 paper was flagged by this blogger, and then amplified in an excellent report by Raw Story‘s Daniel Tencer.
Where to begin, where to begin. He starts out by calling the paper “pernicious” (causing insidious harm or ruin; ruinous; injurious; hurtful), which would certainly help get the reader in the right mindset for what was to come, lots of hyperbole. Good one, Glenn. He then gives us “U.S. government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-“independent” advocates to cognitively infiltrate online groups and websites.” But if you actually read the paper, it’s not quite the way Glenn describes it. First he says “employ teams of covert agents”…ooooo, so sinister, huh. The paper proposed a few different ways that they could try to neutralize FALSE conspiracy theories by presenting facts to the people spreading the conspiracies. The paper discussed whether it was better for the government not to do anything at all or whether they should do it covertly or whether they should hire people who believed the truth about the matter to inject the truth into the discussion. In all cases, it was to present facts to the people perpetuating the conspiracy. This was a scholarly paper that was looking seriously at the phenomenon of false conspiracy theories, not a nefarious plan for his “confidant” to do harm or to “infiltrate” anything. Like I said, It centered mostly on presenting facts to these groups to try to neutralize the false conspiracies. Now maybe Glenn likes him some false conspiracies and sees it as a direct assault on him.
When Glenn says “views that Sunstein deems ‘false conspiracy theories'”, to me, that really shows Greenwald’s bias towards one of the authors, Cass Sunstein. Maybe Glenn just isn’t aware that when writing a paper and studying a topic, one usually does set up parameters for the study and define the problem, in which case Sunstein or Vermeule, the authors, would have to define what they are writing about. I guess Greenwald had to somehow support his “pernicious” claim at the front end of his propaganda piece and how better do that than to cast aspersions on the author and taint his readers with more distortions of an academic paper.
He also says “This would be designed to increase citizens’ faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists.” Now once again, this paper was about dispelling “false conspiracy theories” with facts, not anything about “increase citizens faith” in government…he just made that up completely. Having read the paper and searched within it for the words “faith” and “government”, I found nothing even close to that. He just completely made up the “increase citizens faith…”, completely. Why would that be, do you suppose? I’m not sure I can trust a single word that assholes writes anymore? And if by dispelling a false conspiracy theory, it “undermines” one of these conspiracists…well, I guess the truth hurts, doesn’t it. Maybe Glenn just identifies so much with these false conspiracists…BECAUSE HE IS ONE HIMSELF!!!!
He keeps on going with “secret payments” to “so-called independent credible voices”. In reading the paper, I didn’t see anything about “secret payments”, the people would be paid and if they were doing it covertly, then yes, to the people in the chat room it would be a “secret payment.” I don’t really think that IF the government did this, that it would be covert CIA agents doing the infiltrating, but even if it were the case, I guess all CIA agents receive “secret payments”…ooooooo, spy shit.
Oh, there’s more bullshit….”to bolster the Government’s messaging.” Ah, Glenn, this wasn’t a paper about bolstering any message of the government. It was about false conspiracy theories and how to introduce facts into the dialog about them. It isn’t some nefarious…oh wait, EVERYTHING is nefarious with Glenn Greenwald…paper about how to spread propaganda or “messaging.” Nowhere in the entire paper does it talk about messaging or bolstering a message, nowhere, nothing, nada. Greenwald just lies through his fucking pie-hole about that too. Why in the hell would Glenn Beck….Greenwald, I’m sorry I did it again, want to shift the discussion to “messaging” instead of what the paper was about, dispelling FALSE conspiracies. I guess if you live in Glenn Greenwald’s world, you are constantly looking over your shoulder for the next infiltration or secret payment or guilt by association or guilt by omission…so he can be righteously indignant.
He clearly has a profound hatred for Obama and that has clouded his thinking and caused him to lose his ability to think clearly. How else can you explain such a blatant smear job, loaded with lies, exaggerations, innuendo and snark on top of it. Like I said before (in a different way), he’s an idiot to provide links to the actual documents. If he continues as the propagandist that he has become, he might want to make people work a little harder to find the links that refute his long-winded, constantly Updated, revised and over-defended posts. Salon.com ought to fire his lying ass, if you ask me. I have a lot of respect for Joan Walsh but can’t quite comprehend why she keeps this asshole around.