Support Russia Insider - Go Ad-Free!

Greenwald and Carlson: Russia-Gate Shows Severe Failings of US Journalism

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

From Tuesday evening's show. At 0.54 they get in to how it is possible that a large part, a majority actually, of the American journalism community is going along with what is demonstrably a hoax. (Full transcript below)

Greenwald explains a lot of it. He attributes it to a 'warped incentive scheme', where journalists are rewarded with views, praise, social media followers, invitations to go on TV, etc, for running with something that is then debunked a few days later - with no consequences for the perpetrators, a phenomenon Rush Limbaugh for 20 years now has been calling 'drive-by journalism.'

He says most journalists no longer do original reporting rather 'sit on Twitter and talk to each other'. He complains about 'severe group think'. He says journalists are 'willingly and eagerly letting themselves be manipulated' by US intelligence agencies, that they publish recklessly, and get 'huge career and reputation benefit' with no downside.

All true - he could have added that another huge culprit is that the editors and owners of much of the media are demanding this narrative, and that most journalists are very biased themselves and write what they want to believe, and are hired and promoted by those same editors for that very reason.

It is all yet more evidence that Russia-gate is failing miserably as a strategy when this sort of thing is discussed on a top news show by two of the most reputable journalists in the country from opposite sides of the political spectrum.

Worth a listen.

Full transcript:

TUCKER CARLSON: So, Glenn, just to get to the facts of this story, it is conclusively shown that the story about the 21 voting systems being hacked is untrue, correct?

GLENN GREENWALD: It's false in two ways, one is that several of the states included in the list, such as Wisconsin, California, and Texas, said that the websites that the Homeland Security Department cited had nothing to do with voting systems, they are entirely unrelated. 

And it's false in a second way, which is a lot of the stories, in fact, most of them said that Russia tried to hack into the voting systems when in fact even Homeland Security, it can only show that what they did was scan those computer systems, which is basically casing something to say for vulnerabilities and made no attempts to actually hack into them.

So, it was false on various levels. 

CARLSON: So, you and I don't agree on a lot of issues but I think we share the same concern about this story, and that is that American journalists are being manipulated for whatever reason by the intelligence community in the United States.

I'm wondering why after years of having this happen to American journalists, they are allowing this to happen again. 

GREENWALD: Well, that's the thing I would refrain that a little bit. I don't actually think so much that journalists are the victims in the sense of that formulation that they're being manipulated.

I think at best what you can say for them is they are willingly and eagerly being manipulated. 


Because what you see is over and over they publish really inflammatory stories that turn out to be totally false and what happens in those cases? Nothing!

They get enormous benefits when they publish recklessly. They get applause on social media from their peers, they get zillions of re-tweets, huge amounts of traffic, they end up on TV.

They get applauded across the spectrum because people are so giddy and eager to hear more about this Russia and Trump story. 

And when their stories get completely debunked, it just kind of, everybody agrees to ignore it and everyone moves on and they pay no price.

At the same time, they are feeling and pleasing their sources by publishing these sources that their sources want them to publish.

And so, there is huge amounts of career benefits and reputational benefits and very little cost when they publish stories that end up being debunked because the narrative they are serving is a popular one, at least within their peer circles. 

CARLSON: Gosh! That is so dishonest. I mean, I think all of us and journalism have gotten things wrong, I certainly have. If you feel bad about it, I mean, you really do and there's a consequence.

Do you really think there's that level of dishonesty in the American press? 

GREENWALD: I think what it is more than dishonesty is a really warped incentive scheme bolstered by this very severe groupthink that social media is fostering in ways that we don't yet fully understand. 


GREENWALD: Most journalists these days are in Congressional Committees or at zoning board meetings or using -- they're sitting on Twitter talking to one another.

This produces this extreme groupthink where these orthodoxies arise in deviating from them or questioning them or challenging, believe me, results in all kinds of recrimination and scorn.

And embracing them produces this sort of in group mentality where you are rewarded, and I think a lot of it is about that kind of behavior. 

CARLSON: That is really deep. I mean, you live in a foreign country, I'm not on social media, so maybe we have a little bit of distance from this, where do you think the story is going? What's the next incarnation of it? 

GREENWALD: Well, the odd part about it, and about the impatience that journalists have in trying to just jump to the finish line is that there are numerous investigations underway in the city, including by credible investigators, including Senator Burr and Warner and the Senate Intelligence Committee, which most people seem to trust and certainly Robert Mueller who is armed with subpoena power, and everyone is really eager to lavish with praise. 

So, we are going to find out presumably one way or the other soon enough.

I guess that one thing that is so odd to me Tucker, is that, this has been going on now for a year, this accusation that the Trump administration or the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to hack the DNC and John Podesta's email.

We know that there are huge numbers of people inside the government who are willing to leak, even at the expense of committing crimes in order to undermine Trump and yet, there has been no leaks so far showing any evidence of that kind of collusion leading one to wonder why that is. 

So, I hope that everybody is willing to wait until the actual investigation reveals finally the real answers. But it doesn't seem that will be the case. 

CARLSON: Bravery is when you disagree in public with your peers. And by that definition, you are a very brave man. Glenn Greenwald, thanks for joining us tonight. I appreciate it.

Support Russia Insider - Go Ad-Free!

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Anyone is free to republish, copy, and redistribute the text in this content (but not the images or videos) in any medium or format, with the right to remix, transform, and build upon it, even commercially, as long as they provide a backlink and credit to Russia Insider. It is not necessary to notify Russia Insider. Licensed Creative Commons

Our commenting rules: You can say pretty much anything except the F word. If you are abusive, obscene, or a paid troll, we will ban you. Full statement from the Editor, Charles Bausman.