A Response To My Good Friend Glenn Greenwald
[posted by Justin Levine]
As Patterico notes, Glenn Greenwald gets it wrong all over the place. I’ll lay out the facts and let everyone decide for themselves about me (and by extension in this instance, the controversy over “The Path To 9/11” – though it’s funny how Mr. Greenwald doesn’t seem to make a distinction between the two).
First let’s review the facts that Greenwald gets correct:
Yes – Nearly 10 years ago, I did work as a legal intern, and then paid employee, for the Individual Rights Association, which is associated with David Horowitz’s Center For The Study Of Popular Culture. We did some great work in defense of the First Amendment that I am proud of. I would have thought that Mr. Greenwald would appreciate that since he too has been a First Amendment litigator – but maybe he takes a limited view of that freedom after all.
Since working for the Individual Rights Foundation, I have held jobs with Playboy and Paramount among others. It’s fair to say that these entities did not have a right-wing agenda.
During my time with the Individual Rights Foundation, we were defending Matt Drudge in the defamation lawsuit brought by Clinton advisor Sidney Blumenthal.
And yes, I also screened the Matt Drudge radio show for a few years. I know that partisan liberals will never forgive him for breaking the Monica Lewinsky story, but I hardly think of Drudge as some conservative party hack. He will go wherever the stink is – a philosophy which I embrace.
I’ll admit to voting Republican more often that not. But I don’t think of myself as partisan. I gleefully slam people and institutions like Bill O’Reilly, Big Corporate Culture, Fox News and Lynne Cheney when I feel they are wrong. People who know me also know that I have slammed Hugh Hewitt as coming across as a partisan political hack at times. And you know what? Just like you, I have previously mocked Hewitt’s claims for having an audience “in the millions.”
Here is where Greenwald is even more mistaken:
The screening copy of “The Path To 9/11” was not sent to me. It was sent to “The Bill Handel Show.” As I’ve indicated before, I am one of 3 producers on that show, and don’t claim to have any special influence in the media beyond collaboratively consulting with Bill Handel and the other producers as to what we should be discussing on any given day. Disney/ABC probably don’t even know I exist. They certainly don’t know my background with the Individual Rights Foundation or Drudge. When the screening copy of the film first came in, it sat on the work desk for a bit along with all of the other books and videos that the show gets media copies of. Again, it wasn’t sent to me – it was sent to Bill Handel (presumably because he is the highest-rated morning host in the second-largest radio market in the country).
Nobody connected with the show (including Handel himself) had any immediate interest in seeing the film when it was first sent to us. Then, as it so happened, I heard KFI host John Ziegler praise the film, so I borrowed the screener copy that had been sent to Handel’s show, and watched it myself. At that point, I wrote my review and recommended to the other Handel producers that Bill Handel should see this thing, since I believed it would likely become a big news topic (which I was right about).
My own review of the film is my own opinion and naturally does not reflect the opinion of Bill Handel or anyone else. Because I was apparently one of the first people to post a review of the entire film (as opposed to just Part 1 which others in Washington had seen), it happened to get some notice in the blogosphere. But again, I don’t have any huge influence in the media, and I’m confident that ABC/Disney has never heard of me. I’m just a free-wheelin’ fun-lovin’ guy who happens to like his job in radio at the moment. So lighten up Glenn, ok?
As for Bill Handel – he wasn’t sent the advance screening copy of the film because he is some right-wing wacko. He was sent it because he has the highest-rated morning talk show in Southern California, on the single most listened-to talk radio station in America.
For the record, Bill Handel supports gay rights (including marriage), thought people were nuts for wanting to keep Terri Schiavo on life support, and supports socialized medicine among other things. Everyone who listens to him knows that Handel is not a “conservative” radio host (unless simply believing in the death penalty and criticizing illegal immigration makes you “conservative” regardless of your other opinions). Still don’t believe me? Judge for yourself. Visit KFI640.com, and listen to his show through the streaming link. Politics isn’t the main focus of the show to begin with – news and entertainment is.
As to the “stalker” comment – that’s a good one Glenn. What happened was that I was in a relationship with a co-worker at the building where the Drudge show is syndicated from (along with other radio shows that this co-worker was involved with). I broke off the relationship with her, and things regretfully turned ugly between us because we were sharing some of the same working space together. Being forced into the same working space with someone after you break up with them is hardly “stalking.” But the tension became so great that management was forced to split us apart. Given the requirements of the work there – one of us had to go since you can’t work on a live radio show from a different work space from where the show operates from. In the end, I was the one who was asked to step aside. Why? Probably because I’m the guy and she’s the girl, plus the fact that she was a more valued employee due to the fact that she was needed to work more hours in the building than me (I was also one of the highest paid screeners in the building, and I suspect that management didn’t mind getting rid of me in order so that they could pay my replacement less money. But that part is admittedly just speculation at this point). It was a regrettable incident, but there was no “stalking” involved and I have nothing to apologize for.
But hey, everyone who knows me knows that my life is an open book. If you feel that the best way to debate “The Path To 9/11” is to falsely slap a “stalker” label on me, go right ahead. It’s not going to affect my life in any way, dude. I’ve been involved with enough libel defense cases to know that trash-talkin’ is just part of the game. I get it. And with the advent of the blogosphere, more and more people get it too, since they have now managed to join a truly public debate and get sucked into the same dynamic. [Hey Glenn, feel free to use the previous “trash-talkin” link to slap the “misogynist” label on me too. It’ll be a hoot, and will no doubt boost your own credibility while diminishing my own.]
People who want to know the truth about something and engage the debate will do so. Others will find some false red-herring to fixate on in order to avoid the real debate. It also won’t stop me joining ranks with you in the future if you happen to find yourself on the correct side of First Amendment thought as a matter of principle instead of using it as a one-sided tool used to bludgeon political enemies with.
So, onward with the debate (for those who are genuinely interested…)
[posted by Justin Levine]