It’s not that journalists have thin skins — it’s that they have no skins.
This adage gets trotted out once a month or more in better newsrooms to provide context for the overreaction of a reporter or editor who has found himself on the receiving end of criticism for something they’ve published. This week, some journalists who have been critical of Glenn Greenwald are seeking skin grafts for their skin grafts after reading his denunciation of them in the final chapter of his new book about the Snowden files, No Place to Hide.
I would ordinarily write something like — “Greenwald settles scores with the New York Daily News, David Gregory of NBC News, Alan Dershowitz, CNN, Reuters reporters, the Washington Post‘s Walter Pincus, Leslie Kaufman, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Jill Abramson, and Michael Schmidt of the New York Times, and others in the press corps for criticizing him, Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange” — except Greenwald isn’t a score-settler. Once you earn a place in his scope, there you will stay, even after he runs out of ammunition.
Which would be never. Whether the venue be the Web, TV, or Twitter, Greenwald is the sort of fighter who goes on punching after the bell has rung, after the last round has been fought, and continues once the ring has been packed up. If split open by a speeding Mack truck and left bleeding at the side of the Interstate, Greenwald would still be observed shouting at passing traffic, “Ya didn’t hurt me! Come back and get what you deserve, you diesel pig!”
I could be mistaken, but I must be one of the few journalists writing in the vicinity of Greenwald’s interests who have never tasted the orange of his flame, an oversight I hope to correct with this column. It’s gotta be my turn for abuse, if only because in No Place to Hide he quotes favorably from something praiseful I wrote about him for Reuters last summer.