I don’t really want to go too far down the road on this when there are far more important things happening in the world, but really, take just a moment to look at the language in the Ken Silverstein piece on the world-historical tragedy of him finding out that it was less than ideal to work for a rapacious, dodgy billionaire:
“[Matt Taibbi] hired some incredible writers, including Alex Pareene, Edith Zimmerman and other insanely talented people [for the oligarch-funded vehicle called Racket] …. During my short time at Racket, we talked about how we should have the courage to write whatever we wanted—and not to worry about whether First Look management liked what we did or whether we offended potential future employers. At bottom, that is the true formula to produce fearless, independent journalism. You will never produce fearless, independent journalism if you live in fear of angering your media boss or to please your sources or even your friends.”
I mean, just look at that phrasing. All of Silverstein’s pals at racket were not just good journalists, they weren’t just talented people; no, they had to be INSANELY talented. They were all (him included) people endowed with talent beyond all normal measuring.
And then, in those deep, soulful conversations he reports having with Taibbi and the other god-like creatures assembled at Racket, Silverstein talks of the “fearless, independent journalism” (a phrase repeated in two successive sentences) they were all courageously pledged to create, no matter what the oligarch who was giving them tens of millions of dollars might think.
But really: who on god’s green earth talks about themselves in this way? Who beats their chests and shouts about how FEARLESS and INDEPENDENT they are, how INSANELY TALENTED all their colleagues are? Who, who actually was fearless and independent, would sign up with a bloated billionaire techno-oligarch in the first place? And what genuinely talented person needs to proclaim anxiously to all the world how talented — sorry, not just talented but INSANELY talented — they and their friends are?
And again, really: Alex Parene, INSANELY talented? You might, at a stretch, say that Tolstoy or Shakespeare were INSANELY talented; that is, that their talents seem to exceed those of most other writers. But some guy who used to write pieces for Salon? He’s incomprehensibly talented, is he? Couldn’t he be, like, just talented, or even less hyperbolically, just a good writer? Is that not good enough?
And again, as with Glenn Greenwald, who famously declared that he took no interest at all in Omidyar’s background or politics before he took his multimillion dollar checks, Silverstein too declares that he “knew little” about Omidyar when he took the oligarch’s money, and that the oligarch — whatever he did or stood for — “wasn’t a big part of my decision-making.”
Not to belabor the point, but again we are talking about self-proclaimed FEARLESS INDEPENDENT journalists — Greenwald and Silverstein — who freely admit that they did virtually no due diligence, no FEARLESS investigation, of the oligarch who was waving fat wads of money at them. They just took the money. And now we are supposed to feel sorry for Silverstein and Taibbi and the other INSANELY TALENTED FEARLESS INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS who discovered that working on Petey’s Farm was not the utopia they thought it would be. I suppose being INSANELY TALENTED and FEARLESSLY INDEPENDENT doesn’t preclude you from being MONUMENTALLY STUPID and WILFULLY IGNORANT. But such glaring evidence of the latter does tend to tarnish somewhat one’s savvy, dissident cred, does it not?
So what is the upshot of the whole Omidyar FUBAR? The end result has been 1) to shut down for months on end some of the few ‘dissident’ writers able to publish in the mainstream media; and 2) undermine their credibility and make them all look like stupid, self-aggrandizing, money-grubbing goobers. If you had deliberately designed a scheme to cripple the already minuscule portion of mildly oppositional stances toward our militarist empire allowed to surface on the margins of the national discourse, you could not have been more effective than the long slow-motion train wreck of First Look Media.