Let’s follow the bouncing ball on this one as it takes some unpredictable rebounds.
On Friday, PandoDaily’s Mark Ames revealed that Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire funding Glenn Greenwald’s new journalistic effort, First Look, had helped fund efforts to bolster the opposition groups in Ukraine responsible for ousting President Viktor Yanukovych. Ames wondered about Greenwald and documentarian Laura Poitras, two people with access to the full cache of Snowden documents, working for a billionaire who was using his money to affect global politics.
On Saturday, Greenwald fired back, ridiculing Ames for suggesting that Greenwald wouldn’t act completely independently as a journalist, regardless of who was writing his paychecks. In fact, he said, he didn’t even particularly care about Omidyar’s political activities: “Prior to creating The Intercept with Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill, I did not research Omidyar’s political views or donations.”
On Monday, PandoDaily’s Paul Carr pointed out that in 2007, Greenwald had a very different attitude about the political ambitions of media owners when he lambasted The Politico because its president and CEO was a longtime Reaganite. Wrote Greenwald then: “There is nothing wrong per se with hard-core political operatives running a news organization. Long-time Republican strategist Roger Ailes oversees Fox News, of course. But it seems rather self-evident that a news organization run by someone with such clear-cut political biases ought to have a hard time holding itself out as some sort of politically unbiased source of news.” (Emphasis ours.)
Then, Tuesday morning, Greenwald seemed to be addressing this squabble when he celebrated RT anchor Abby Martin for her views on Putin’s invasion of Crimea.
For days, RT (formerly Russia Today), had been broadcasting Putin-friendly reports that bordered on outright propaganda. But then on Monday night, Abby Martin, who is based in Washington, went against the prevailing view at RT and announced, “Just because I work here, for RT, doesn’t mean I don’t have editorial independence and I can’t stress enough how strongly I am against any military intervention in sovereign nations’ affairs. What Russia did is wrong.”
Greenwald’s celebration of Martin sounded remarkably like his heated defense of his own independence just a few days earlier: “That that network has a strong pro-Russian bias is unquestionably true. But one of its leading hosts, Abby Martin, remarkably demonstrated last night what ‘journalistic independence’ means by ending her Breaking the Set program with a clear and unapologetic denunciation of the Russian action in Ukraine.”
And now, another strange bounce of this caroming story. The New York Times today, on its blog The Lede, where updates to the Ukraine situation tend to come in small, incremental bites, let loose with a lengthy takedown of Abby Martin, outing her as a longtime 9/11 “Truther.”
“Before she rose to prominence on television, she was an active member of what is known as the 9/11 Truth movement, whose members hold that the official history of the terrorist attacks is a cover for a concealed government conspiracy,” writes Times reporter Robert Mackey.
The piece linked to a 2008 YouTube video of Martin talking about the 9/11 attacks being “an inside job” as she marched in a Santa Monica protest.
For her part, Martin has denied reports that RT is sending her to Crimea for on-location reporting (and for “re-education,” some have joked). And she has blasted back at Mackey on Twitter…
— Abby Martin (@AbbyMartin) March 4, 2014
@RobertMackey Thanks for psychoanalysis, but your job isn’t to provide context it’s to discredit the message & the source. Well done journo!
— Abby Martin (@AbbyMartin) March 4, 2014
On Twitter Mackey defended the Times piece by saying it gives ‘context’ to Martin’s views about Crimea. The only context we can see is that being a Truther destroys her credibility. And now, we can’t help wondering what Greenwald will say to that (and we have a feeling we won’t have to wait long to find out).
Watch the 2008 video of Abby Martin describing her 9/11 views at a Santa Monica protest…