Burns, Greenwald, and Julian Assange
The last time I beat Glenn Greenwald by a day in writing on the NYT John Burns' hit piece on wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Today he is ahead of me writing a great takedown of Burns' surprised reaction that his piece of noxious hackery should itself be the target of so much scorn and negative reaction. Burns huffs that he can't remember ever having been a "subject of such absolutely, relentless vituperation" in all of his 35 years at the Times.
Glenn Greenwald goes on and expands his post into a critique of the MSM's hagiographic treatment of high government officials, and those in and around government. But what I wanted to touch briefly on is what an insufferable gasbag John Burns is. He was the Times Baghdad bureau chief from 2003-2007. He was instrumental in the construction and maintenance of the Washington narrative on the war and occupation.
This was completely unsurprising. Even before the war, the Times was a neocon conduit for propaganda hyping military action. Judy Miller and Michael Gordon's hysterical reporting regurgitated the Bush White House line on WMD. Then shortly after the invasion, in July 2003, the neocon control of the Times was further solidified by the naming of the thoroughly neocon Bill Keller as executive editor.
The truth is that if Burns had not agreed with the neocon narrative on Iraq he would never have lasted there. Keller would have pulled him for someone more compliant. And too Burns could do the shtick of the world weary reporter better than anyone I ever saw. I used to love to catch his appearances on Charlie Rose. As things went south in Iraq, Burns amped up the weariness even more. By the time he left, he was so weary as to be incoherent. Yes, he would say, things are going to hell in Iraq, but the only thing worse than staying is leaving. I always thought that was a great rhetorical ploy: admit there is a problem so as to establish your credibility and then propose the totally unrealistic solution that just happened to keep you in your great paying job.
It says a lot about hubris that Burns was so disconnected from the real world that he thought that he could lend his name to such a lame and obvious bit of slime as his hit piece on Julian Assange and that his name alone would give it credence and defend him from attack. This episode, however, should teach us that yes, these guys in the MSM, and in our elites more generally, really are that disconnected. We need to understand that the rich and powerful are not only unlike us but that they live in an insulated echo chamber totally divorced from us. The reason that an Obama acts like he can't hear us is because he can't hear us. None of them can. None of them want to. We are not their people. We are not the haves and the have mores.