Sunday, 24 March 2013

Greenwald challenges Guardian over Chomsky smears

In an honourable article, Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald has challenged another key Guardian piece over its smearing of Noam Chomsky.

In denouncing the 'interview'-based report by Aida Edemariam, Greenwald has, effectively, rebuked the Guardian itself over such crude and shallow output.

Greenwald states:
"One very common tactic for enforcing political orthodoxies is to malign the character, "style" and even mental health of those who challenge them.
He goes on:
"This method is applied with particular aggression to those who engage in any meaningful dissent against the society's most powerful factions and their institutions.
And, as Greenwald reminds us:
"Nobody has been subjected to these vapid discrediting techniques more than Noam Chomsky."
Greenwald summarises Edemariam's charges against Chomsky:
"Chomsky is a sarcastic, angry, soporific, scowling, sneering self-hating Jew, devoid of hope and speaking from hell, whose alpha-male brutality drives him to win at all costs, and who imposes on the world disappointingly crude and simplistic arguments to the point where he is so inconsequential that one wonders whether he has ever changed even a single thing in his 60 years of political work."
And, while acknowledging Edemariam's more complimentary references to Chomsky's life and work, Greenwald concludes that:
"the entire piece is infused with these standard personality caricatures that offer the reader an easy means of mocking, deriding and scorning Chomsky without having to confront a single fact he presents."
Edemariam is, of course, still only one other Guardian writer, so Greenwald's criticisms, one might argue, doesn't mean the Guardian itself is culpable in smearing Chomsky. Yet, it's notable that Edemariam seems sufficiently confident of editorial approval to be writing such pieces, particularly after the Guardian's last disgraceful savaging of Chomsky in the paper's infamous Emma Brockes article.

In this regard, the Guardian does have some core responsibility for Edemariam's piece, giving Greenwald's denunciation of it more serious weight.

With the same presumed approval, Edemariam has authored other such character-assaulting pieces, perhaps most notably on the Liberal Democrat MP David Ward after his alleged 'anti-semitic' comments on Palestine-Israel and Jews.

Admirably, following Edemariam's article, Chomsky himself defended Ward, completely rejecting such charges.

The cultivation of Greenwald's own particular autonomy at the Guardian, meanwhile, is now quite fascinating to observe. Again, some might argue that, just like Edemariam's 'freedom to comment', so do we have Greenwald's 'freedom to disagree' - all serving to enhance the Guardian's proclaimed  'openness'.

Yet, this has to be seen in the context of Greenwald as a 'prize catch' for the Guardian, with its specific eye on generating a US online readership, a corporate-driven strategy which involved the Guardian agreeing to give Greenwald complete editorial control over his own output at the paper. It also serves to shore-up the Guardian's claim to being a seriously 'radical-reforming' organ.

In practice, the Guardian has a news reportage dominated by dutiful lobby correspondents like Michael White and Ewen MacAskill, an editorial output infused with Alan Rusbridger's Oxbridge sensibilities and a comments section crowded with liberal favourites like Jonathan Freedland, Polly Toynbee, Simon Tisdall, Rory Carroll, Marina Hyde and Aida Edemariam, all running character pieces praising or excusing 'our' elite while attacking and smearing people like Assange and Chavez - a treatment which, as Greenwald suggests, is "applied with particular aggression to those who engage in any meaningful dissent".

Notable as they are, the only two regular counter figures at the Guardian, Greenwald and Seumas Milne, still plough limited, if encouraging, furrows against that dominant, power-serving output.

Which makes Greenwald's noble defence of Chomsky against such standard Guardian abuse all the more welcome.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great article thanks, I agree totally with its content. Also, a good insight into the Graun´s motives for such hit pieces. I wonder how long GG will be with this paper?