Joe Klein vs. Glenn Greenwald

Two heavyweights square off on national security, and personal honor

This article is from the archive of our partner .

To blog is to engage in daily combat, but rarely does it get as heated as this. Time's Joe Klein savaged Glenn Greenwald, tormentor of the mainstream press, after seeing his listserv e-mails turned against him in front of a much wider audience. Greenwald's tweet calling out Klein's writing to the "petulant little gossip club" with prose "even more banal and fact-free there than in his columns" sparked the battle, though Greenwald also linked to a transcript of a Klein rant against Greenwald that called the Salon columnist "evil," as well as a "crazy civil liberties absolutist"  and "crazily anti-national security."

There was more where that came from. Klein responded to Greenwald with this:

What I have seen from him, ad nauseum, are intemperate attacks in which he questions the character of--no, it's worse than that: he slimes--anyone who has the temerity to disagree with him. I agree with Greenwald on some things, and appreciate his insights on others. But he is a thoroughly dishonorable person--as he proved by releasing my private emails--and, when it comes to his oft-trumpeted belief in the right to privacy, a stone hypocrite as well.

To Greenwald, that looked like a "disturbed, Cheneyite rant," adding that Klein's trash talk isn't private:

Journalists, like everyone else, are entitled to have private conversations.... But when hundreds of highly influential opinion-makers gather to talk about politics, that is a matter of public interest. ... That's what journalism and leaks are about:  disclosing and publishing other people's secrets that are a matter of public interest. That's what journalists do all the time, or at least should do:  inform the public what powerful people are saying and doing in 'private.'

Earlier, Greenwald said he's proud to be an extremist, as Klein accused. "It's impossible to believe in constitutional principles and the rule of law without being 'extremist' and even 'absolute' because that is the nature of those guarantees," Greenwald wrote. "In the eyes of Beltway mavens, those who warned about and worked against the radicalism and lawbreaking of the Bush administration are the fringe, crazed, out-of-touch radicals."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.