Yet while Kinsley and, to a lesser extent, Packer bury the lede when it comes to their criticisms of Greenwald — mocking him for his hyperbolic claims of American tyranny and needling him for his rejection of the orthodoxy of “objective” journalism when, in truth, their critique is much more philosophical — the man himself is far more forthright about what the debate is really about. “Kinsley has actually done the book a great favor by providing a vivid example of so many of its central claims,” Greenwald writes in his response to the Times review. Kinsley’s piece, Greenwald claims, is evidence of how members of the media elite “reflexively demonize the personality of anyone who brings unwanted disclosure” and “attack anyone who voices any fundamental critiques of American political culture.” Referencing the now-infamous remarks Larry Summers reportedly made to Elizabeth Warren, Greenwald writes that his treatment at the hands of Kinsley and Packer is “simply a ritual of expulsion” from the American elite (which, he notes, comes to him as “a relief”).
To some degree, we shouldn’t be surprised to find that Kinsley, Packer and their supporters are less forthright than Greenwald, Snowden and theirs when it comes to acknowledging what, exactly, is being debated. With the exception of NBC’s David Gregory — who is far more salesman or game show host than journalist — few people in the media are comfortable defending the practices of the NSA. Indeed, both Kinsley and Packer at least give lip service to the idea that what Greenwald and Snowden have revealed is valuable and troubling. But in their predictable desire to distance themselves from the kind of fundamental and, yes, radical attack put forward by the NSA leakers, Kinsley and Packer are defending the national security state as flawed rather than corrupt, in need of reform rather than reconstruction. And if you think that sounds crazy, maybe you’re another Robespierre or Trotsky, too.
Yeah, probably I am. Because the national security state is an abomination to American liberties and governance.
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