Our Intellect of Independence
I applaud Ian Parker's mostly even-handed profile of Glenn Greenwald (if not the headline and teasers) in the September 3 issue of The New Yorker, and offer here some additional history and a key insight into the value Greenwald offers our nation in these troubled days.
Greenwald's first book, How Would a Patriot Act?, was a collaborative activism project that essentially harnessed the disruptive distribution power of what was then the emerging progressive blogosphere. This was a period during the George W. Bush Administration when few progressive voices were published by corporate houses or invited on cable and broadcast news.
After ushering George Lakoff's Don't Think of an Elephant from idea to bestseller in six weeks while at a small independent house (Chelsea Green), I reached out to Greenwald about partnering on a quick book in March 2006 because the comments section on his site, Unclaimed Territory, was the only place I'd seen liberals, progressives and conservatives of conscience debating respectfully and substantively about Bush's various abuses of power.
On any given day, you might see former Nixon staffer John Dean mixing it up with Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake and former Reagan officials like Bruce Bartlett weighing in on comments from "The Blogfather" Jerome Armstrong.
We created a pop-up imprint at Working Assets (now CREDO), and by June the Patriot book debuted on the New York Times bestseller list after rocketing from about 500,000 to the very top spot on Amazon in less than a day on a shoestring budget, confounding the publishing world, and especially conservative journalist Byron York.
Beyond his perhaps outsize and famed cantankerousness, Greenwald is a generous partner in speaking truth to power, and an inventive and courageously disruptive force for accountable governance. Unlike the other big name from those days, Markos Moulitsas, Greenwald did not become absorbed into the establishment Democratic Party power structure, and he does not choose to rest on his Pulitzer laurels with a cushy columnist gig at a major outlet.
With our political and media systems too often susceptible to groupthink, Greenwald burst onto the scene as—and remains—an intellect of independence, fiercely demanding that our elites and gatekeepers do more and better for the American people.