Greenwald has not only busted the irony meter with this piece, he’s gone back in time and murdered its ancestors.
It was pure petulance and entitlement: they elevated a trivial feeling of personal offense (some unknown, uncredentialed person online said something mean to me) into something of great societal significance (this is a huge threat to all things Good). This grievance became so pervasive that pejorative journalistic caricatures of bloggers as nameless, angry losers became a cliché (and it continues now even when many of them have been forced by commercial realities to become bloggers themselves).
Oh, and it continues, because it’s Glenn Greenwald and every piece is a twenty-paragraph essay:
Beyond being confrontational, Twitter is also distortive: it can make a small handful of loud, persistent people seem like an army, converting a fringe view into one that appears pervasive (my favorite example: MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki felt compelled to gravely address the Twitter complaint that a journalist must always use the title “President” when referring to Obama lest one be guilty of disrespect, even racism). That, in turn, can cause journalists to feel besieged - like the whole world is railing against them - when, in reality, it’s just several malcontents or, at most, a couple dozen people voicing a criticism that most of the world will never hear, let alone care about.
And the closer:
Being aggressively, even unfairly, criticized isn’t remotely tantamount to being silenced. People with large and influential platforms have a particular need for aggressive scrutiny and vibrant critique. The world would be vastly improved if we were never again subjected to the self-victimizing whining of highly compensated and empowered journalists about how upset they are that people say mean things online about them and their lovely and talented friends.
I can’t say that I find Jonathan Chait very interesting (even his recent much-thinkpiece’d article about resurgent ‘political correctness’ on the Internet, which I’m otherwise deeply curious about) but somehow Greenwald is even more Greenwaldian—the pompous self-aggrandizing, the contempt for “establishment journalists,” the utter lack of self-awareness—that I can’t help but congratulate Chait on precipitating the Platonic Form of Greenwald.