As a lot of people seem to know -- but many are blissfully oblivious, may they remain at peace! -- Mark Ames over at Pando, one of America's most inveterate Big (enough) Media journalists, a muck-raker of muck-rakers, and all around bon vivant terrible, posted a piece yesterday at Pando in which he pointed to documentary evidence that was apparently quite easy to find that Pierre Omidyar, through his Omidyar Network, has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Ukrainian opposition that recently succeeded in overthrowing the Yanukovych regime in Kiev.
Omidyar's efforts were aligned with those of a plethora of State Department agencies and activists, NGOs and foundations which together poured millions and millions of dollars into the Yanukovych opposition, providing abundant financial support at the very least. The CIA has also long been rumored to be a part of the funding and support mix keeping the protests going and eventually enabling the end of Yanukovych's rather inept rule.
The fact of direct American involvement in funding the Ukrainian opposition is hardly a surprise, as these things are going on all over the world all the time, and they have a long and brutal history. The surprise, if there is one, is Omidyar's direct funding of opposition groups to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. So far as I've seen, no other billionaire is directly funding the opposition in Ukraine.
Ames said he was clued to look into the matter of outside funding of Ukrainian opposition groups by a series of tweets by Marcy Wheeler which mentioned coups and dark or deep forces and American financial and other backing...
And shortly he found documentary evidence of Omidyar funding of Ukrainian opposition groups in the archives of one of those groups. You can find just about anything online if you look hard enough, eh?
Ames suggested that there might be a journalistic conflict of interest, hmmmm, if Omidyar is funding oppositions while his stable of journalists are... ignorant?
Hard to say.
At any rate, after stonewalling yesterday, both Greenwald and Wheeler have "responded" to the Ames piece with what can only be called Apologetics, and like the Catholic kind, one can believe them or not, but it is difficult or impossible to argue with them, for they ultimately rely on Faith Alone.
I shall now attempt to do a running commentary on Greenwald's response. (Italicised segments are my paraphrases of Greenwald's statement at the Intercept.)
A. Intro. I just found out about this 30 minutes ago, sorry I haven't responded before now. I don't follow Twitter all the time, you know.
- This would be called a "dodge" in any rational situation, as the story was posted many hours before someone apparently alerted him to it, and Wheeler had been furiously Twittering with Paul Carr for hours already over it. To suggest that Greenwald hadn't been alerted earlier than "30 minutes ago" is disingenuous at best.
- "Spoken" maybe not, but there is always Twitter and various other communications media that don't require one to "speak" with whomever one is communicating. To say he hasn't "spoken" says nothing about other forms of communications.
- "I had no prior knowledge..." (h/t Tanya Harding) A classic dodge. Lawyers and politicians use it all the time. "You've caught me unawares, I know so very little, but if you'll permit me, I'll attempt to respond to your questions one at a time, and if you'll allow me to, I'll make a statement about what I believe is really important here."
- Uh, "investment?" Ok then, so if this was an investment, one would assume earnings -- a return on investment, no? How, exactly, would that work? Oh, never mind.
- A grant is not an "investment," but in classic Greenwald style, he conflates the two, at one point referring to an "investment" and in the very next paragraph referring to a $3 million "grant" that covers the same thing as his previous "investment." This is a form of trickery called "sleight of hand," in which terms get deliberately jumbled so that later he can say with a straight face, "I don't know what you are referring to."
- This is both disingenuous and nonresponsive as nobody claims they were ashamed of it or trying to hide it. The fact that a grant (or was it an "investment?" You decide) was announced in a 2011 press release and detailed on a website doesn't indicate anything about how well it was publicized. But that isn't the issue.
- Nonresponsive, disingenuous, and distractive. The issue is not that this is a "scandal" but that it is potentially important that a billionaire who is funding a New Media venture is also backing opposition efforts in foreign lands. It has nothing to do with whether Greenwald supports the Ukrainian coup or not. It's not about him in that respect.
- Nonresponsive, disingenuous, distractive, irrelevant. This is what's known as "grandstanding." It has nothing -- at all -- to do with the article in question, it's merely Greenwald's plea for attention. In fact, Ames never mentions the CIA. We may have to come back to this erm... slip... later.
- Typical dodge, but it points to something that, if true, should be worrisome. Basically, Greenwald is using "Lawyer Ethics" -- he'll work for anyone who pays him, and he won't ask questions. That's not journalism. Far from it. The question here is whether he's telling the truth, because if he has never looked into the backgrounds and ties of any of his current/former employers, then he isn't doing even rudimentary due diligence. Or did he, as Alexa O'Brien so elegantly put it, "He fucking lied."
- Irrelevant, nonresponsive, juvenile. 'Nough said.
- Juvenile, puerile, strawman, horseshit. Here Greenwald is accusing Ames, who he refuses to name, of being just like him, unaffected by the "repugnant" views of the of the media outlets they work for. So there. The problem is, Ames hasn't accused Greenwald or anyone else of being "affected," by their employer's political views. That's not the point.
- Nobody said he was. But since he's so sensitive to the accusation that isn't made, maybe somebody should look into it...
- Irrelevant. Ames has always been very up front about the investors in Pando, and their roles with the organization; Greenwald has always feigned ignorance and/or been evasive when asked about Omidyar and his actual role in First Look. Basically, he won't answer about Omidyar, but he seems to know plenty about the funders of other organizations while claiming to know and care nothing about Omidyar.
- Nobody said you were!!!! Why are you yelling!!!!!
- We know. Thank you for sharing.
- Lie. Ames says that he and Poitras have the only "complete" sets of Snowden Docs, something Greenwald has on other occasions acknowledged, but here he implies that Ames claims that Greenwald and Poitras are the only journalists with any of them, but that's simply, obviously and grossly false. Greenwald has done this on other occasions as well when people say he and Poitras have the only "complete" sets of Snowden Docs. He lies and claims they are saying he and Poitras have the only Snowden docs. Both Greenwald and Poitras are also employed by Omidyar. The issue in dispute is whether Omidyar has access to the documents. Greenwald denies it, but we have only his word to rely on. And that word is... decide for yourself...
- Note the dodge here: he is opposed to government interference in the affairs of other nations, but he has nothing to say about private foundations or individuals interfering. Nope. Not a word.
- Juvenile, nonresponsive. Tiresome. Has nothing to do with the topic of Omidyar funding of Ukrainian opposition.
This is typical of Greenwald's defenses and apologetics. It's mostly about something other than the issue at hand, and when the actual topic is addressed, the answer is basically, "I don't care about anything but ME."
That's long been his answer to everything. What about MEEEE?
Oh snap! Paul Carr, Pando editor, responds to Greenwald's apologetics.
Should Glenn Greenwald ever find himself curious as to what his boss is up to, he can rest assured the answers will always be found right here on Pando.The whole thing is kind of precious. But I realize that Twit Wars and pissing contests bore a whole lot of people who have actual lives to lead... ;-)