On Glenn Greenwald, and shooting the messenger

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Glenn Greenwald. ()
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Inquiries from the Daily News and The New York Times prompted Glenn Greenwald on Wednesday to address what he characterized as a smear campaign resulting from his recent reportage on clandestine government programs brought to light by former National Security Administration contractor Edward Snowden.

"When I made the choice to report aggressively on top-secret NSA programs, I knew that I would inevitably be the target of all sorts of personal attacks and smears," Greenwald wrote on the website of The Guardian, which has served as the platform for his high-profile N.S.A. scoops. "You don't challenge the most powerful state on earth and expect to do so without being attacked."

Greenwald, who worked as a lawyer prior to becoming a prominent blogger, wrote that a News reporter contacted him Tuesday night to ask about litigation he was involved in dating as far back as 2002.

One of the suits stemmed from a dispute involving an adult video company with which Greenwald had briefly worked in a consulting capacity.

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"Glenn Greenwald, journalist who broke Edward Snowden story, was once lawyer sued over porn business," reads the headline of the resulting News article.

Another suit, from 2003, had to do with co-op litigation brought against Greenwald and a former partner for having a dog whose size allegedly violated their condo's bylaws.

A third legal matter, about which Greenwald said he was also contacted by a New York Times reporter, involves an unpaid tax liability that the News article, written by Dareh Gregorian, pegged at $85,000.

Gregorian also reported on other alleged "money problems," including a late payment on Greenwald's law license registration in 2009 and "$126,000 in open judgments and liens against him dating back to 2000, including a total of $21,000 from the NYS Tax Dept. and the city Department of Finance. There’s no record of those debts being paid, but Greenwald said he believes he’s all caught up."

In his column, Greenwald said he's "been fully expecting those kinds of attacks since I began my work on these NSA leaks." He mentioned examples of how the Nixon administration smeared Daniel Ellsberg about his sexual practices after Ellsberg famously leaked the Pentagon Papers to the Times.

"If journalists really believe that, in response to the reporting I'm doing, these distractions about my past and personal life are a productive way to spend their time, then so be it," Greewnwald wrote.

Various journalists came to Greenwald's defense on Twitter.

"Glenn has not been kind to me in the past, but these attacks are disgusting," wrote The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza, while Matt Apuzzo of the Associated Press chimed in: "Ridiculous. I care less about @ggreenwald's personal life than I do about Snowden's. That's saying something."

Others aimed their criticism at the News, whose spokesman did not immediately have a comment when reached on email Wednesday night.