Let me preface this commentary with some disjointed points:
- When tweets are involved, I should probably call this category “Unethical Tweet Of The Hour.” Minute, even.
- Matt Zoller Seitz is a hard-left critic and screenwriter who sometimes opines for the proudly Left-Lunatic “Daily Kos.”
- Ann Althouse’s reaction to this—she gets the EA Pointer for finding the tweet—puts me in mind of Captain Von Trapp’s rebuke to his friend, the venal and principle-free theatrical producer Max, in “The Sound of Music” film when Max tries to rationalize the Anschluss by noting that it was “peaceful”: “You know, Max. . . . . .sometimes I don’t believe I know you.”
- She also professed ignorance at the tweet’s reference to “the Bruenigs.” See the note immediately above: it took me ten seconds to check the reference, longer than it must have taken Ann to write that she didn’t understand it. Matt Bruenig is a Socialist pundit, and Elizabeth Bruenig is a former columnist at the Washington Post of similar ideological sympathies, now with the New York Times. The Bruenigs have a podcast called “The Bruenigs.”
- The “tweets” Althouse refers to relates to a re-tweeter of the Seitz tweet who added this shot from a film I couldn’t identify:
Sietz is scummily implying that criticizing the now obvious turn by the American Left to totalitarian-style speech suppression and the mainstream news media’s complicity in the process is the equivalent of Fifties-style, white prep school conservatism mocked in films like “Auntie Mame,” Animal House,” and “Trading Places.” In fact, Greenwald, Sullivan, Yglesias and, though unsmeared here, Matt Taibbi are all left-leaning journalists or pundits of long standing who have had the integrity to break with their biased and unethical employers to blow necessary whistles on their former colleagues, as mainstream journalism has abandoned any pretense of doing its job while following its own ethics rules.
Althouse, meanwhile, wrote,
I haven’t paid too much attention to the metamorphosis of Yglesias, but I have been following the transformation of Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Sullivan, and these tweets strike a chord.I’ve got to hypothesize that this has something to do with the financial incentives at Substack, where Yglesias, Greenwald, and Sullivan have relocated. Again, I have no idea about “the Bruenigs.” It’s possible that when Yglesias/Greenwald/Sullivan says something that jibes with conservative ideology, it gets massive linkage that translates to cold hard cash. Imagine trying to think with such static. Or do you have more of the Samuel Johnson view of it? “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.” Maybe it’s hard to imagine writing without feeling that your fingers tapping on the keyboard are printing money? It’s the definition of professional. I have no idea, really, what Yglesias/Greenwald/Sullivan are doing — what they consciously believe they are doing, what they want deep down, how they really lean politically, and whether they’re authentic in their writing.
The professor is suggestion that the integrity demonstrated by these pundits and journalists is only venality: they have turned on the Left because it’s profitable. I see no evidence of that at all. Moreover, Greenwald has not changed his orientation one millimeter since leaving his own platform, “The Intercept” over the media embargo of the Hunter Biden laptop story to make sure Biden won the election. Has Ann not read his reports over the years? If not, hers isn’t just an unjust attack, it’s a lazy and incompetent one. If so, she’s engaging in an intentional smear.
These liberals/progressives who are trying to return journalism to the model a democracy needs in order to survive are true whistleblowers from within the industry. Ethics Alarms has been bemoaning the lack of such for years. Indeed, the current handful being attacked is far from sufficient: what is needed isn’t faint-whistles coming out of the dark, but a symphonic screech that can shatter glass.
I take hope, however, from the fact that the nascent totalitarians like Seitz are alarmed enough to attempt this kind of character assassination to mute the truthtellers.