Meet the billionaire Glenn Greenwald has been protecting all these years

Ever since the Glenn Greenwald Self-Cancellation Affair exploded on the scene a few days ago, people have been asking me: “Hey, man! What’s your beef with Greenwald? He does good work!”

Sure, he’s done good work recently. He does troll the Russiagaters good, I’ll give him that. And his reporting on Jair Bolsonaro and the right-wing “Operation Car Wash” conspiracy against former Brazilian president Lula has been impressive. But there’s something he’s done all throughout that time that eclipses it all — especially coming from a sanctimonious guy like Glenn.

I first started paying close attention to Glenn’s work when he came out of nowhere to attack reporting Mark Ames and I had been doing and I found out — and was surprised — that he was running interference for a Koch-funded union-busting operation. That’s a long story and involves smear campaigns and Glenn’s libertarian, pro-oligarch politics — politics that he wore much more openly back in the day. Maybe I’ll get into that some other time.

My main problem with Glenn is that he co-founded and ran The Intercept, a journalism-washing outfit set up to protect the reputation of one of the most rapacious and ambitious oligarchs to come out of Silicon Valley: Pierre Omidyar, a guy who’s made it his mission to bind the entire world in surveillance and debt. (See: Mark Ames’ “All the billionaire's men.”)

The Intercept was set up with a quarter billion of Pierre’s loot and it paid ridiculous amounts of money to progressive journalists. People got six figures — hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. You don’t see that kind of money in journalism these days. And the top tier talent didn’t even have to work that hard. Sometimes, like Jeremy Schaill, they barely had to work at all.

With the journalism industry in total collapse, it was every progressive journalist’s dream to get hired by The Intercept. Soon enough, Pierre outfit started snapping up people like Matt Taibbi, Lee Fang, and Ken Silverstein with promises of launching big journalistic initiatives with what seemed like unlimited funding.

Pierre’s surprising generousness — combined with the fact that he seemed to be on the Good Side, on the side of Edward Snowden and his NSA leaks — brought the man a huge amount of goodwill. It also bought him the best protection money can buy: silence and a total lack of scrutiny from American top investigative journalists.

And that protection magic still has not worn off.

Even now, while Silicon Valley’s leadership — from Zuck to Bezos — have been getting knocked about and criticized from every angle, Pierre has been able to skate by with no critical attention thrown his way, despite his involvement in funding far-right regime change ops, global surveillance projects, and the trail of impoverished bodies he’s left behind in the wake of his various colonial investment initiatives.

In short: The Intercept has been a monumental success for Pierre. It has effectively shielded him from scrutiny. And Glenn — and the cache of Snowden docs that he brought over with him — was instrumental to that success.

So whatever good work he might be doing, Glenn’s talk about journalistic ethics and integrity don’t mean much to me. He had no problem spending six years running cover for a rapacious tech oligarch. He kept his mouth shut like a good servant, and got paid millions for it.

Yet now, after being asked by his radicalized liberal colleagues to edit a screed about the Biden family’s obvious corruption, Glenn found his moral compass? He had no problem staying quiet and protecting his billionaire sponsor, but this…this was something Glenn simply could not abide! Them are real principles there!

“Thanks for your service, Glenn!”

Who is Pierre Omidyar?

He looks a bit like Goofy, founded eBay, and has multiple getaway locations…

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—Yasha Levine