Gay journalist Glenn Greenwald has enjoyed a swift rise from relative obscurity to international fame and acclaim, but he may have gone as high as he can go, contends Politico national editor Michael Hirsh.
“For about a year, the global enterprise you might call Glenn Greenwald, Inc. has been taking off like a red-hot app,” Hirsh writes in “Has Greenwald, Inc. Peaked?” “The question now is whether the sudden rise of Greenwald — a 47-year-old lawyer-cum-activist from Queens by way of George Washington University — will soon follow the course of most Information Age startups: Boom. Bust. Bye.”
In the article, published online Wednesday, Hirsh says the answer is likely to be yes. Greenwald won a Pulitzer Prize this year for his reporting on National Security Administration surveillance of ordinary Americans, relying on documents leaked by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden. The Snowden revelations are still Greenwald's “main stock in trade,” Hirsh writes, but the NSA has cleaned up its act and public interest in the matter has waned. Hirsh spoke to former NSA director Michael Hayden, who said, “I think there’s a bit of Snowden fatigue out there right now.”
“Another issue that tends to deflate the prospects for Greenwald, Inc., perhaps, is that no one (least of all Greenwald) can point to any serious violation of civil liberties or prosecution based on the Snowden disclosures — except, arguably, that which threatens Snowden himself,” Hirsh adds.
But Greenwald, who lives in Brazil with partner David Miranda, has started a foundation and a digital magazine, and he remains confident there will be more groundbreaking stories to come. “I think one of most exciting things about the Snowden revelations is that we created a template for other people to come forward with blowing the whistle,” he told Hirsh. “I provided the template for vigorously defending my source and story, and aggressive reporting, and a big part of what I want to do is nurture that model.”
Despite Hirsh’s doubts about Greenwald's continued relevance, Greenwald and Snowden still made the Politico 50, a “list of the thinkers, doers and dreamers who really matter in this age of gridlock and dysfunction,” published in Politico’s September-October print edition. And an alternative take on Greenwald comes from Washington Post blogger Erik Wemple, who describes Hirsh’s article as a “hit piece” marked by “ignorance of history” and “reductionism.” Read Wemple’s take-down here, and an Advocate profile of Greenwald here.