NEW YORK—Mort Zuckerman’s Daily News yesterday attempted a brutal hatchet job on Glenn Greenwald by first tarring him with porn and then feathering him with back taxes owed the IRS and a laundry list of other “sins” going all the way back to kindergarten. None of it will most likely stick, and all of it is irrelevant to the NSA story, which Greenwald broke and continues to cover aggressively, but the Guardian reporter still tried to head off any damage by posting a column two hours before the Daily News article was published, stating up front, “When I made the choice to report aggressively on top-secret NSA programs, I knew that I would inevitably be the target of all sorts of personal attacks and smears.”
Smear is right. Without so much as an explanation why it would be mucking around with Greenwald’s past in the first place, the Daily News article dives in face first with all the subtlety of an American in Paris. Written by Dareh Gregorian, it opens in full tabloid mode: “The reporter who broke the story about the NSA’s secret wiretaps has a little secret of his own.
“Before he was a reporter and commentator for the Guardian newspaper, Glenn Greenwald was a lawyer — and had a part-time job in the porn business.”
It's all downhill after that. The article is an obvious attempt to impeach Greenwald’s credibility, probably because someone at the paper (Mort?) feels that what’s good for the goose is surely good for the gander, and that people who like to divulge secrets should know what it’s like to have their secrets revealed, too. Whoever green-lit it (Mort?) more likely than not ordered an editor to order a reporter (or two) to spend whatever’s necessary to get the goods on that sonofabitchtraitor!
They looked into anonymous “court papers” that contain information about a company Greenwald used to work for more than a decade ago called Master Notions Inc.—now out of business—and a friend named Jason Buchtel who ran the company, and also “one of the company’s clients” who was “then known as HJ—short for ‘Hairy Jocks”—who was really Peter Haas, who “had this pornographic company he wasn’t able to maintain,” so “Greenwald and Buchtel agreed to help Haas in return for 50% of the profits,” but “Haas made more money than he ever made before in his entire life” and “refused to pay the company its share of the profits, which led to a nasty legal battle," during which Haas accused Greenwald of “demanding changes to the content of the videos which were and are unacceptable,” of sending him emails calling him “a little bitch” and “a good little whore,” and of swiping “his client list to market their own videos on ‘hairystuds.com.’”
It’s like a normal day on GFY.com, but they published it anyway.
Greenwald, an experienced social networker, not only posted his point-by-point retraction in advance but also communicated with the Daily News, no doubt in an attempt to douse whatever small fires the article might start. In addition to the porn story—which is never really concluded because the case referenced to was settled many years ago and had long since evaporated into legal vapor, or so they thought—the Daily News also dredged up an old tax lien and other ancient issues Greenwald has had in the past that made it onto official documents.
It also noted that Greenwald is gay, but included the mention in another attempt at a pointless smear, noting, "In a 2003 lawsuit, [Greenwald] and his then partner, Werner Achetz, were sued by their West Side condo board for having a dog that was bigger than building by-laws allowed. The couple countered that they and their dog Uli were being singled out because they were gay, a charge the board denied. The case eventually settled."
Ironically, the article, which obviously takes offense at the way in which Greenwald is handling himself in the NSA matter, actually reinforces the idea being promoted by Greenwald that data retained by others about us—in this article, public documents used in court cases—can not only come back to haunt us, but can be used in abusive ways by people whose intent is to do harm (i.e., the Daily News).
In his post yesterday on the matter, Greenwald appeared both resigned to his past and also to continuing harassment. “I'm 46 years old and, like most people, have lived a complicated and varied adult life,” he wrote. “I didn't manage my life from the age of 18 onward with the intention of being a Family Values US senator. My personal life, like pretty much everyone's, is complex and sometimes messy.
“If journalists really believe that, in response to the reporting I'm doing, these distractions about my past and personal life are a productive way to spend their time, then so be it,” he added. “None of that—or anything else—will detain me even for an instant in continuing to report on what the NSA is doing in the dark.”
Apparently, reaction from journalists to the Daily News article has been tepid at best.
Buzzfeed covers pretty much covers the same ground today, but does include a follow-up quote from Greenwald about the porn claims. "Greenwald," writes Jessica testa for Buzzfeed, "who bridled Wednesday at the Daily News’ coverage of the porn tie — denied he was involved in any production of the adult videos. 'There was only a “corporate interest.'
“'But if I were, I’d be proud of it,” he'told BuzzFeed. 'There’d be nothing wrong with it.'"
And more of the same.