I think I might have been the beneficiary of a Ponzi scheme


Once upon a time, when this blog was a simple little thing that I ran off a server in my lab, I was recruited to join ScienceBlogs. It was a great place — I shared the space with a lot of smart, interesting people, many of whom I still follow on social media. I was also enticed by the generous payments they made, with a significant sum based on traffic issued to the bloggers. Also great. I was making about $8000 month there.

Yes, I was stunned, too. I didn’t know how they were doing it: it was supposed to be ad-based revenue, but what it really was was massive investments by rich people with lots of money to throw around who were trying to promote a science-based perspective, and who hired popular writers to kick start the whole thing. Of course, the other people writing there will tell you they got nowhere near that amount — it was just the first wave who benefited most from all the publicity. And later, they started revising the fee structure, always downward, and then they sold it off to National Geographic who quickly ejected the old bloggers and brought in new ones who better fit their desired path. I had no ill will about the changes. I saw that first lucky wave as a windfall that I did not expect to last.

When Ed Brayton and I set up Freethoughtblogs, we also discovered that the game was up. We had no deep-pocket investors. We tried to make a go of it with entirely ad-based revenue, with a mistaken idea of how easy that would be, based on our experiences at Scienceblogs. It’s all a scam! You’re going to make peanuts off of ads, unless you want to play games with link farms and ludicrous SEO and other gimmicks. We just wanted a nice place to write and be read.

Then, of course, we were learning that the real winners at the ad game were…the ad services. Not us. We were supported by the Patheos ad machine, which was a horror. Inappropriate ads, and tons of them, and they also offered us extra pennies if we allowed them to try bizarre gimmicks. Anyone remember the sliding page ads? You’d log in, the whole page would jerk to the right, and an ad bar would slide in from the left, and fucking annoy everyone. Hated it. Hated it all. I finally gave up on ads altogether, and we run Freethoughtblogs at a loss — I figure I got rained on by the money tree a few years ago, I can coast on supporting this site for a good long while without the nuisance ads.

Now I hear, though, that there’s a hot new blog syndication site called Substack that’s all the rage — they’ve got some very well known people writing there, and apparently lured them in with big money.

Uh-oh, I thought. I’ve been there before. I can guess where this is going, and where it will end up in 10 years. Somebody is pumping money into another blogging enterprise, and they aren’t getting rich off ads. Someone wants to promote a certain set of authors.

Annalee Newitz spills the beans. They’re luring in lots of writers by paying a top tier “Pro” group large sums of money, and all the other people next to nothing, and sucking in lots of people to support them. Again, it’s almost a Ponzi scheme. If you aren’t in that first wave with the lucrative deals, you aren’t going to get rich. You can’t. The economics of blogging don’t support it.

Worse though, Substack has an agenda. (So did Scienceblogs, but their’s was just to promote science and tech. I think.)

It got worse when some of the Pro writers started to reveal themselves, because Substack’s secret paid elite all seemed to be cut from the same cloth.

As Jude Doyle explained in their newsletter:

Substack has become famous for giving massive advances — the kind that were never once offered to me or my colleagues, not up front and not after the platform took off — to people who actively hate trans people and women, argue ceaselessly against our civil rights, and in many cases, have a public history of directly, viciously abusing trans people and/or cis women in their industry.

Glenn Greenwald started his Substack by inveighing against trans rights and/or ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio, is currently using it to direct harassment at a female New York Times reporter, and has repeatedly used his platform to whitewash alleged rapists and domestic abusers. Freddie de Boer is an anti-“identity politics” crusader who became so infamous for harassing colleagues, particularly women, that he briefly promised to retire from the Internet to avoid causing any more harm; he’s currently using his “generous financial offer” from Substack to argue against “censoring” Nazis while pursuing a personal vendetta against the cis writer Sarah Jones. Matt Yglesias, who publicly cites polite pushback from a trans femme colleague as the Problem With Media Today — exposing the woman he named to massive harassment from Fox News and online TERFs alike — reportedly got a $250,000 advance from Substack. It’s become the preferred platform for men who can’t work in diverse environments without getting calls from HR.

Doyle notes that Substack also seems to have a secret list of writers who are allowed to violate the company’s terms of service. These people dish out hate speech, but remain on the platform with paid subscribers. Among them is Graham Linehan, who was already booted from Twitter for hate speech against trans people, and whose Substack is entirely devoted to the idea that trans women are a danger to cis women and should be stopped.

So all the ‘little people’ on Substack are there to provide an illusion of popular support to an ‘elite’ that consists of people like Greenwald, Yglesias, and Linehan. Charming. I shouldn’t be surprised, though.

Comments

  1. raven says

    So when does Milo Yiannopoulos show up?
    He desperately needs the money and will write anything for it, as long as it is trash.

    Hmmm, Jordan Peterson!!!
    He also desperately needs the money these days.

    Sam Harris.
    The right wingnut hate and lies media bubble is so large, they won’t have any problems filling up their blogs.
    OTOH, I already know enough to never go there.

  2. says

    @3 lol yeah, but every transphobe calls themselves a feminist. Although, maybe her use of “They can dress the way they want…” (which is the trans equivalent of “I’m not racist, but…”) does make her suspect in their eyes.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    Newitz’s article.

    She doesn’t explain – probably because she’s on the outside looking in through closed drapes – why anybody with enough money to waste a quarter-mil on a second-rater like Yglesias would splurge on a boatload of transphobia. (Most of which, it seems to me, derives from the usual flock-shearing of religious scapegoatery and/or neofascist recruitment, neither of which seems much in evidence (depending on how far Greenwald has gone lately, that is)).

    Could this be a plaything of some bigot billionaire? Thiel? Rowling? The Mercers?

  4. says

    Well, Atrios has ads and it doesn’t seem to be a problem. I blog on blogspot and it’s completely free and they don’t ask anything of me. Actually I don’t know why Google even provides the service, not clear what they get from it, comes with a Gmail account. I could have ads but I’ve never wanted to.

  5. rorschach says

    Well we had 2500 comments on posts and millions in side hits on the old Pharyngula. I suspected it, but didn’t know for sure. But good on PZ, his content created the traffic after all.

  6. pilgham says

    I was wondering what had happened to Andrew Sullivan. Now I know. Thanks. Let’s see if he can stick the landing this time.

  7. bcw bcw says

    For years, Greenwald wrote a lot of well researched and incisive pieces supporting human freedom and progressive ideas, culminating in the the work with Snowden, but then he moved to Brazil and seems to have undergone a transformation to a strange, paranoid, and disconnected person. Every once in a while, he breaks some interesting story but most of the time seems oddly hate-focused on traditional Democratic politicians like HIllary Clinton while embracing bizarre views of the people like Trump. While the government pressures during the Snowdon battle must have been arduous, it is a mystery how he thinks now.

  8. says

    Sounds kind of like Medium.com. Medium mystifies me, since it feels like all it has over, say, WordPress is its brand name. Maybe Medium is a decent piece of blogging software for all I know, but its brand isn’t built on that, its brand is built on the fact that they paid some famous people to write for them.

    One thing I like about blogging is that it’s not tied to any particular platform. If you don’t like a particular platform, you can switch to another one, and I can still follow you even if you use a different platform than me. Not like Twitter or Tumblr, where users are reliant on the platforms’ native news feeds, and are stuck only following people on the same platform.

  9. ealloc says

    Damn, I though substack had promise in finally motivating a stable subscription blog system.

    In light of this, they need to at least publish a list of who they’re paying and what the terms and durations are, and ideally the amounts, before I consider subscribing to anything there. Similar with the Intercept asking for money all the time and claiming to be user-supported while paying people $500,000 a year at the whims of a billionaire. I haven’t looked into such problems with patreon, but at least it lists totals for how much each person gets so I can judge what’s going on, and can redirect some money to people I like who aren’t making much.

    Annalee Newitz’s article outlines the problem well. (PS, you may have forgot to link her, but her article is on substack after all).

  10. says

    Greenwald was never progressive, he’s a libertarian. For a long time he only showed his civil liberties side, it’s just that he’s showing the whole thing now. I don’t think he’s changed, really.

  11. chrislawson says

    Siggy@12–

    Medium has two key advantages. Firstly, it imposes a house style that makes it look like a professional news website. Secondly, by making itself look like a news outlet, it can monetize content by people who want to look like professionals without the hassle of editorial standards.

    (Yes there are good writers on Medium.com, and no, I am not opposed to open blogging platforms. But I like them more when they don’t present themselves as something else.)

  12. says

    Marketing is lies. Any revenue system based on advertising is going to be sucked into the tailspin vortex of the clickbait sockpuppet economy – which is an attention circle-jerk. Soon it’ll just be a desert of bots commenting on other bots’ comments.

  13. says

    @#11, bcw bcw:

    most of the time seems oddly hate-focused on traditional Democratic politicians like HIllary Clinton

    Yeah, totally irrational to hate somebody who is so unimportant that their most recent major campaign was (consults notes) the 2016 presidential election, where they explicitly ran on a platform of sucking up to Republicans, turned the election into a referendum on which major party’s candidate was personally hated the most instead of policy, and gave us 4 years of President Trump with an initial Republican majority in Congress. Clearly, that’s totally trivial and forgivable, and we should all just Get Over It instead of criticizing it and demanding change.

    @#15, cervantes:

    I think he has changed, and I don’t think he’s a Libertarian (in the US, capital-letter sense, at least). He’s become a contrarian. If you were watching closely, you could see it happening — when the Democrats took Congress in 2006 and then failed to act on 99% of their platform, and then took the Presidency as well in 2008 and rolled out continuations of GWB’s policy (and an implementation of everything in GWB’s totalitarian “Total Information Awareness” other than the name), Greenwald assumed that his duty was to oppose those things. (And, in fact, it was. Refusing to call out bad behavior when it’s “your own side” doing it is wrong.)

    A large-ish portion of Democratic supporters turned on him for daring to apply the same standards to the Obama administration as he had done to Bush, and if you read the comments, you could see the gradual change as he realized that his earlier work had only found approval from those people because of the target, not because of the subject matter. From what I’ve read, he was basically kicked out of Salon because of it, too. Obviously the right behavior would have been for him to rise above it, but it is understandable that he would conclude that Democrats are an enemy. (Just like it is understandable, but not forgivable, that there were a lot of voters who were so desperate for change from the usual do-nothing corruption both parties have embraced that they fell for Trump claiming he would provide it.)

  14. says

    I just learned a bit more about Substack. Apparently they put a lot of emphasis on their e-mail subscription feature. And I’m just thinking… doesn’t literally every blogging platform have that feature already? I suppose substack must put some work into streamlining and improving the feature, if they consider it their core. But the reason that the “subscribe by e-mail” feature is underused is because receiving blog content mixed in with the rest of your mail is fundamentally a bad idea.

    Substack seems to have realized this, and launched their own RSS reader. Their reader can follow any RSS feed, and also follow Substack subscriptions, whereas other RSS readers can’t follow Substack subscriptions. It would be great if this led to increased awareness of RSS, but feels a bit like a devil’s bargain.

  15. PaulBC says

    Vicar@18

    turned the election into a referendum on which major party’s candidate was personally hated the most instead of policy, and gave us 4 years of President Trump with an initial Republican majority in Congress.

    Gimme a break. Hillary Clinton ran to win (badly). Blaming her for Donald Trump’s presidency is asinine, and borders on abuser’s logic.

    Yes, she ran a tone-deaf campaign, and some parts were unconscionable, like blowing off the rust belt entirely (with Schumer actually taunting that they would be “replaced” by suburban Republicans). However, anyone who did not vote for Hillary Clinton got the expected outcome of their vote in a two-party system. I’m not interested in “blaming” Bernie-or-Busters either. It is simply absurd to say “It’s your fault for not enticing me to vote for you.” Your vote is your own and that’s where the responsibility ends.

    Anyone who actually preferred Clinton over Trump, even marginally, had the option of voting for her and tipping the outcome in her favor. If you did something else, you should own it. (As I’ve said before, I have no quarrel with people who really believe there was no difference or that Trump would be some kind of salutary wake-up call–I disagree, but their vote was consistent–if you voted for someone else, though, and secretly wanted Clinton to win with votes from people like me, then you’re either a fool or an asshole.)

    The onus is not on the candidate to “make you vote” a certain way. They’re invariably going to put in that effort, though they may not be successful.

  16. PaulBC says

    More on topic, I used to read Matt Yglesias regularly on Vox, and I had only the vague awareness that he had moved on. Even finding him on substack wasn’t simple. I had to do a separate search for it, and when I found him, it annoyingly asked me to click to “see things without subscribing.” Sorry, too many hoops to jump. I find Yglesias smart and insightful (which doesn’t mean I always agree) but he’s off my radar and there is a limit to how much I trouble I will take to seek him out.

  17. says

    @Vicar:

    totally irrational to hate somebody who is so unimportant that their most recent major campaign was (consults notes) the 2016 presidential election, where they explicitly ran on a platform of sucking up to Republicans, turned the election into a referendum on which major party’s candidate was personally hated the most instead of policy, and gave us 4 years of President Trump with an initial Republican majority in Congress. Clearly, that’s totally trivial and forgivable, and we should all just Get Over It instead of criticizing it and demanding change.

    And if Greenwald hated the GOP, that might actually be a coherent explanation of what’s going on with him.

    Sadly, no.

  18. consciousness razor says

    I think he has changed, and I don’t think he’s a Libertarian (in the US, capital-letter sense, at least).

    Well, I agree with cervantes.

    The only thing any of us can really point at is his opposition to the police and surveillance state and various other abuses of power by the government over the years. (As you pointed out, this was aimed at both Ds and Rs, as it should be.)

    That’s what he’s known for, and for a long time the left — please don’t read this as “dems” or “liberals,” because I don’t mean either — were pretty much the only ones willing to listen. As far as I’m aware, he was never ranting about taxation and the deficit and so forth, as glibertarian are apt to do…. I just couldn’t say whether he would have done so if the opportunity arose, but (1) it definitely wouldn’t have gotten him any support from the left, which is what he needed at the time, and (2) that sort of thing wasn’t particularly relevant to his reporting anyway. But these days, he may feel more free to say whatever he wants about anything he wants.

    Like most people, I bet he does genuinely have some views we could be happy with (maybe he’s pro-union or whatever), but beyond the civil liberties and anti-war stuff, it’s just hard to tell where he stands.

  19. raven says

    But the reason that the “subscribe by e-mail” feature is underused is because receiving blog content mixed in with the rest of your mail is fundamentally a bad idea.

    True. Good point.
    My email is already clogged up with emails that I don’t have the time or reason to even open. They just get deleted.

    And, my email has gone from important to critical. Who makes phone calls these days anyway?
    Even most smart phone traffic is text.

  20. consciousness razor says

    More on-topic: the Ponzi scheme is better known as “capitalism.”

  21. PaulBC says

    CR@26 On that note, I don’t think PZ should feel remorse. $8000/month is a nice take, though I don’t know how long it lasted. It is still not a windfall for doing nothing, and capitalism has plenty of those too. If anything PZ may have been underpaid, just better than others who were robbed.

  22. consciousness razor says

    On that note, I don’t think PZ should feel remorse.

    Okay…? I mean, “remorseless” is not exactly what we should hope for I suppose, but his fee-fees are not really the point. Or are they?

    If anything PZ may have been underpaid, just better than others who were robbed.

    I know what it means for poor folks to be underpaid. But you can’t mean that, right?

  23. PaulBC says

    CR@28 I mean, “paid below market” and/or “paid peanuts compared to the people who got most of the money.” Capitalism, right?

  24. PaulBC says

    I would add that having worked at more than one venture-funded startup, “massive investments by rich people with lots of money to throw around” does not strike me as a scandalous source of income. (No point here really. Actually I think it’s nice that PZ got some money for his writing. Teaching is insanely labor-intensive and underpaid.)

  25. says

    Random thought on Linehan, but if anyone had known beforehand that going “woah, bro, not cool” would set him on an eternal blood vendetta against the trans community, would we have just let it slide?

  26. hemidactylus says

    @22 PaulBC

    I used to be an avid follower of Vox and especially Ezra Klein…not so much Yglesias. I at one point listened to Klein’s podcast exclusively and read his book, but just kinda fell away. The typical Vox “X Topic, Explained” stuff got really tedious.

    Now it seems Klein’s Vox podcast is renamed to Conversations. Odd. Oh wait…Ezra Klein has a podcast affiliated with the NY Times now?

    “In late 2020, Klein, Williams, and Yglesias left the site. While Vox had been founded with prominent journalists, Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff said that their brands had mature, mainstream audiences that no longer relied on personalities.”

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vox_(website)

    So Klein founded the platform and is now no longer there? Stuff changes. Flux.

  27. chrislawson says

    @33–
    “Vox Media CEO Jim Bankoff said that their brands had mature, mainstream audiences that no longer relied on personalities.”
    Translation: Our brand has become strong enough that our content creators can now be treated with contempt.

  28. daulnay says

    You can add Andrew Sullivan to the Substack writers list. At least they’re getting collected in one place.

  29. phronis666 says

    You raped me in Melbourne 2010. Hope you are proud. With all your hero advocacy.

  30. PaulBC says

    hemidactylus@33 I read Ezra Klein sometimes, but I can’t remember anything that made a big impression.

    More than Yglesias’s content, I think I enjoy his style, even when I completely disagree (like when he was cutting his teeth as a young Iraq war apologist, which he’s thankfully disavowed). There are other times I don’t entirely disagree, but I wish he’d mind his own business, particularly about the Bay Area housing shortage. It is mostly just “fun” to read what is often a very personal take (his explanation of Trump and Kushner as “bridge and tunnel” for intensive). He throws in eclectic and nerdy references, which works for me (though I guess it’s the fashion now, not just him).

    He was easy to find on Vox, but at this point, I give up. I may start reading him again, but I’ll view this as a marketing experiment for substack or anywhere else he may go.

  31. PaulBC says

    me@38 “for intensive” should be “for instance”. My brain has faulty autocomplete, especially this time in the morning. (Normally I don’t bother correcting, but I am not even sure that’s readable.)

  32. rorschach says

    @37
    “You raped me in Melbourne 2010. Hope you are proud. With all your hero advocacy.”

    What would this be about if one might ask?

  33. KG says

    rorschach@40,
    All of us, I guess. I can only plead that the nearest I’ve ever been to Melbourne is a brief stopover at Bangkok on my way to Taiwan.

  34. outis says

    Well, thanks for explaining some facts about the story of your blogging, sometimes one does wonder.
    But seriously, doesn’t anyone think that this barrage of ads we find everywhere in all possible forms is totally useless? I really think that no one pays the least attention to it, and here I may have a little story…
    Years ago, I was asked by some company to assess the effectiveness of TV ads: from 9.00 to 9.15 I was to glue myself to the tube and follow all the ads I could see. A few minutes later I was quizzed by phone on what I could remember and what I had noticed.
    You can guess the result: I retained NOTHING. No product names or brands, not even product class, nada, just that one ad had rather nice B/N cinematography. And I was paying attention! Imagine the effect when one doesn’t.
    So either I am a desperate case, or we are all suffering fer nuthin’ at all, just a crowd of grifters making life impossible for everyone else, in the hope of raking a few cents wherever possible.
    Grump. Is that someone on my lawn?

  35. PaulBC says

    outis@43 I think it’s hard to gauge from a single trial. With online ads, they can at least measure click-throughs and ultimately purchases (and I know they do, and I have worked with people whose eyes will light up and they’ll tell you more than you–or I anyway–ever wanted to know). They don’t have to get everyone’s attention. Maybe there is one out of a thousand who are especially receptive because they’re looking for just that product. If they like it, they may also help with word of mouth.

    I get a lot of ads that make little sense. The fact that I bought a bike tire means I won’t need one for a while, not that I’m that guy who buys lots of bike tires. I got an ad for a servo motor for months after getting just as many as I needed for my daughter’s robotics project. And I will probably never purchase a pair of harem pants. I don’t know why I started to get those ads. It’s even less likely I’ll by one of the women’s cotton dresses from the same site. The barefoot models are just kind of cute and I have clicked for that reason.

  36. iiandyiiii says

    Count me in as another who likes Yglesias and doesn’t believe he remotely deserves to be lumped in with the others.

  37. says

    I haven’t looked into such problems with patreon, but at least it lists totals for how much each person gets so I can judge what’s going on, and can redirect some money to people I like who aren’t making much.

    ealloc, you can only see how much content providers at Patreon make, if they haven’t switched off the showing of these information.

  38. Prax says

    OHHHHH, I get it. David Mabus is out of jail.

    It is Mabus, right? Haven’t looked it up in a long time.

  39. says

    Okay, these comments are frickin’ weird.
    The complaints about Substack paying out the wazoo to bring a bunch of established writers in to grow the audience more quickly are just silly. I mean, who even really cares? I don’t, and the idea that Substack should be adhering to some delusional “Utopia Now!” is outrageous.
    From Annalee Newitz:
    “All of this is to say that when a story appears in a publication, we know that’s because it has passed through an editorial process — usually involving payment, but possibly some other arrangement — and that publication is putting its brand or imprimatur on the story. The publication takes responsibility for what it publishes, in both ethical and legal ways. When this process breaks down, it’s a big deal. People get fired. Not at Substack, where their editorial policy is to cover up who writes for them. How can Substack be held accountable for what they pay to publish if the writers they pay — let’s call them staff writers — could be literally anyone on the site? The answer is that they can’t. But, you might be saying, Substack mostly publishes tons of people who are not staff writers. Look at the thousands of newsletters on the site that are clearly not written by staff! No, it does not matter that technically anyone can jump on Substack and get paid by subscribers. Technically anyone can sing on the street corner and get paid by passerby, but that doesn’t mean they are on a level playing field with Megan Thee Stallion. An elite group of Substack Pro staffers, handpicked by editors, have been given the resources to write full time. Everyone else on Substack has to do it for free until they manage to claw and scrape their way into a subscriber base that pays.”
    I do not get the need for all Substack writers to be on a level playing field, or to disclose who’s getting paid. Nor do I get the point about publications putting their imprimatur on content. I’ve only understood that for news articles, not opinion pieces. Every newspaper editorial section I can remember seeing always put a disclaimer in saying the opinions expressed are the author(s)’ alone. But also, web services aren’t subject to the same standards as newspapers. This is why you can’t sue a website for a post by a user while being able to curate posts by them. This is why Facebook can block articles as it wishes while not getting in trouble for all the freaky stuff that gives its content moderators PTSD.
    Also, it was news to me that Glenn Greenwald is anti-trans or transphobic: “Glenn Greenwald started his Substack by inveighing against trans rights and/or ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio, is currently using it to direct harassment at a female New York Times reporter, and has repeatedly used his platform to whitewash alleged rapists and domestic abusers.” So I clicked through the link in the excerpt of Jude Doyle’s newsletter (you have to go to Newitz’s article for the links) and read Greenwald’s post. Note that this is as far down the rabbit hole of hyperlinks I was willing to go, because I am lazy. But anyway, I fail to see how that post equated to “inveighing against trans rights” because from my reading of it, Greenwald thought it was weird that, oh bother here’s a quote:
    “Note that what is being discussed here are not efforts to criticize or protest Shrier and her book. Nobody disputes such criticisms would be appropriate. It is much more extreme than that: an effort to prevent others from hearing her views in her book — i.e., censorship: not state censorship, but corporate censorship.
    After various commentators noted Shrier’s article, the ACLU’s Strangio stepped forward to say that he not only agreed that the book was inaccurate and harmful — which he obviously has every right to believe — but that he supported and championed the efforts to stop its circulation[…]It is nothing short of horrifying, but sadly also completely unsurprising, to see an ACLU lawyer proclaim his devotion to “stopping the circulation of [a] book” because he regards its ideas as wrong and dangerous. There are, always have been, and always will be people who want to stop books from being circulated: by banning them, burning them, pressuring publishing houses to rescind publishing contracts or demanding corporations refuse to sell them. But why would someone with such censorious attitudes, with a goal of suppressing ideas with which they disagree, choose to go to work for the ACLU of all places?”

    Greenwald then references how the ACLU used to defend just about anyone’s freedom of speech, citing in particular neo-Nazi marchers in Skokie, Illinois in 1978. So my whole point in writing this unreadable brick wall of text is that I cannot connect my reading of this Greenwald article/post/whatever it’s called to being specifically anti-trans. The closest is him describing Abigail Shrier’s book as asking whether or not teenagers are mature enough to make a major life decision as transitioning. I feel that if the answer to that question is “Yes,” then that should be what is expressed, and not simply calling Greenwald anti-trans. Something is lost in translation when making that leap. (For the record, I would tend to side with the trans teenagers, my only caveat being that surgery can have risks, so maybe minors should be subject to a little more due diligence to make sure they do in fact understand those medical risks. Otherwise, full steam ahead.)

  40. PaulBC says

    @48

    Greenwald then references how the ACLU used to defend just about anyone’s freedom of speech, citing in particular neo-Nazi marchers in Skokie, Illinois in 1978.

    I think this is the operative point about Glenn Greenwald. His belief in the right to freedom of expression drives everything else he says and does.

    I mean, to be blunt about it, I liked Greenwald a great deal for his criticism of the Iraq War, and I did not like him at all for everything he did that undermined Hillary Clinton’s campaign and increased the probability of Trump’s narrow and disastrous electoral college victory.

    But for all that, I don’t think he is any more anti-trans than he is pro-Nazi (or pro-Trump for that matter). He has his own fish to fry, and he’s been entirely consistent as far as I can tell.

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