Glenn Greenwald on Joe Klein... Yet Again

26 November 2007

Joe Klein has written a fifth piece about the pending FISA legislation. Glenn Greenwald brings us up to speed here:

In the last five days alone, Klein has now written five separate times about his FISA debacle, and is further away than ever from having any idea what he's even talking about -- first was the column itself; second was the Swampland post the same day in which he emphatically defended the accuracy of what he wrote in response to my post; third was the post yesterday in which Klein said he "may have made a mistake in [his] column this week about the FISA legislation" -- the understatement of the year; fourth was an Update he added to that post this morning claiming that he did speak to a Democrat but "may have misinterpreted a Democratic source's point" and "if [he] did, a correction will appear in the print magazine next week"; and now, his fifth effort, worse than the others, in which he still professes confusion after "spen[ding] the past few days nosing around in the ongoing dispute about what the House FISA Reform bill," and he then unleashes this: "I have neither the time nor legal background to figure out who's right."

I now know who Klein's editor for this piece was and I will have much more to say about all of this tomorrow. In comments to Klein's post today, the lawyer (and blogger) Anonymous Liberal quickly debunked the new, insultingly false claims from Klein about the alleged "dispute" over the meaning of the House bill. And the normally mild-mannered Ryan Singel of Wired today wrote his second post excoriating Klein's completely ignorant claims about FISA.

Thus, for now, I just want to ask that everyone ponder the extreme lack of professionalism and corruption required for someone like Klein to write the article that he did accusing Democrats of wanting to give Terrorists the same rights as Americans (therefore showing they can't be trusted on national security), and then -- once he is exposed for having spewed outright falsehoods -- announcing that he really isn't interested in bothering to find out if anything he wrote was accurate.

As my post earlier today here demonstrates, that is hardly unusual behavior for Time. But that doesn't make it any less flabbergasting, or repugnant. Doesn't it go without saying: if Klein doesn't have the time or background to understand what he's writing about, then he ought not to write about it? Doesn't anyone at Time agree with that?

I'm curious as to what Time magazine will actually do about this. My guess is that they'll do absolutely nothing.

I'm not a fan of the legislation myself, but people really need to either report on it accurately or refrain from mouthing off. Especially if they're ultimately arguing that something they don't understand enough to comment on is "well beyond stupid."

UPDATE: Joe Klein has now amended his fifth post, in an attempt to downplay his ignorance. Once again, Greenwald replies appropriately:
Klein has now returned to amend tonight's post by adding this phrase after his sentence about how he has neither "neither the time nor legal background to figure out who's right": "(ADD: about this minor detail of a bill that will never find its way out of the Congress)". This "minor detail" that he now wants to dismiss as irrelevant was the entire basis for his smear of House Democrats... he has now claimed, in sequence, that his false assertions were: (a) true, (b) disputable, (c) too complex and time-consuming to figure out, and (d) just a minor, irrelevant detail. Is this conduct not completely humiliating to Time?
Also, I really like this comment about Klein's choice of title ("FISA: More Than You Wanted To Know"):

Allow me to point out the condescending idiocy of the title of this post: this is not "more" than I want to know about FISA.

By your own admission, you have reached no conclusion about what the bill even says, and you don't have the "time" to figure out what it means. All you have told us about FISA is that you are utterly clueless about FISA, which I'm afraid everybody already knew.

As a politically aware, semi-literate American, I certainly want to know a whole lot more about FISA that this pathetic tripe.

Actually, the comments to this post are all pretty good. I highly recommend skimming through them.

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