Greenwald’s Gold Star?
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
“If the U.S. government said you shouldn’t publish this, and you shouldn’t publish that, and you shouldn’t publish this other thing, because to do so will endanger national security, Bill Keller proudly said the New York Times didn’t publish it. He was very, he was beaming, like a third grader that had just gotten a gold star from his teacher.”
Those words mocking the erstwhile executive editor of the New York Times are from Glenn Greenwald, whose disclosure of some of the secrets stolen by the fugitive spy Edward Snowden has won for the Guardian newspaper the Pulitzer Prize’s gold medal. It’s not the Sun’s usual cause to defend Mr. Keller, but someone has to do it. It would be a tragedy were the Pulitzer gold medal be taken as an endorsement of Mr. Greenwald’s posturing.
He has, after all, spent much of the past year sneering at the establishment press for displaying the least concern for national security. The comments above are from a vainglorious tirade delivered by Mr. Greenwald a year ago to a conference called Socialism 2013, which gathered at Chicago. It is an annual parley of a new generation of hardline Marxists. It is a project of something called the Center for Economic Research and Social Change.
The center is up to no good that we can discern. Among its other projects are the International Socialist Review, Haymarket Books, and an anti-Zionist Web site, Mondoweiss. Mr. Greenwald fits right in. He has made hostility to Israel among his own causes. The annual Socialism Conference is a perfect platform for him. He addressed it by Skype from outside America.
The first time Mr. Greenwald returned home since entering his journalistic partnership with Edward Snowden was on Friday, when he arrived at New York to pick up the Polk Award. He was quoted by the Times as saying that he didn’t expect trouble on landing, but that his lawyers would be meeting him at the airport. “The chance of being arrested is pretty low, otherwise I wouldn’t be going,” the Times quoted him as saying before he embarked.
What a contrast with J. Loy Maloney and Stanley Johnston. Maloney was the managing editor of Chicago Tribune and Johnston one of his correspondents in World War II. We have written about them before. They were at the center of what had heretofore been, after the Pentagon Papers, the most famous case in American journalism involving the publication of wartime secrets. They had disclosed — inadvertently — facts that could have allowed our enemies to deduce that we’d broken the Japanese code.
They never intended to break wartime secrecy. They were paragons of newspapermanliness. When it looked like they might be in trouble with the law, they spurned the advice of the lawyers and barged into the office of the United States prosecutor. They demanded to be taken before a grand jury, right then and there. The grand jury refused to indict them. It turns out that the Tribune had cleared the offending dispatch — on the Battle of Midway — with the wartime censors.
We don’t have such a system of censors today, and the Sun doesn’t want one. Yet how we do admire the heroes of the days when we took our wars more seriously. It’s not that the proprietor of the Tribune, Robert McCormick, was scared of state secrets; after World War I, he published the entire Versailles Treaty when it was still under wraps (and put paid the League of Nations). He was against entering World War II. But America knew that once the fighting had begun, he was in it to win. The gold star he shared was his own role, however modest, in the American victory.