‘No good deed goes unpunished?’ Chelsea Manning & Glenn Greenwald launch tweet-salvos at each other in a row nobody saw coming
Former army intelligence analyst Manning launched a seemingly-unprovoked Twitter attack on Greenwald on Thursday, calling him “greedy, unprincipled,” and someone she was “embarrassed” to have called a friend. The investigative journalist, Manning implied, had “chosen to bash, harass, humiliate, intimidate, and lie to get ahead.” She added that if she could return the $10,000 donation Greenwald had once sent her in a time of need, she would.
glenn greenwald, i don’t have $10,000 right now but if i get it i want to send it back to you from a donation you once did. i can’t deal with this anymore. im terrified of you and everything you do. you’re greedy, unprincipled, and im embarrassed for ever considering you a friend— Chelsea E. Manning (@xychelsea) September 2, 2021
Greenwald initially said Manning “didn’t specify any critique,” and that her post amounted to “smear artist conduct.” However, in a series of tweets, he then made some clear suggestions as to what might explain the sudden drama. Greenwald’s thread started with him denouncing “friendships that depend on political agreement,” which he called “cynical transactions,” while reminding his 1.6 million followers that he stood by Manning during her trial and imprisonment and fundraised for her. Manning spent seven years in military prison over the leaking of evidence of US war crimes in Iraq, such as the iconic ‘Collateral Murder’ video published by WikiLeaks. She was then ordered back to jail over the refusal to testify against WikiLeaks and its co-founder, Julian Assange, and was finally released in March 2020.
Friendships that depend on political agreement were never "friendships," just cynical transactions.When she was in prison trying repeatedly to kill herself, I was one of the only one who visited, spent hours on the phone, raising money for her.No good deed goes unpunished. 🤷♂️ https://t.co/ZJ3EtdGXzP— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) September 2, 2021
However, Greenwald’s thread suggests that the rift between the two appeared even before Manning’s second stint behind bars. In a screenshot of private messages Greenwald posted on Thursday, Manning apparently denounced his appearances on Tucker Carlson's show on Fox, calling Carlson a “nazbol demagogue” – a portmanteau of ‘national’ and ‘Bolshevik’, which can nowadays refer to both the extreme far-left and extreme far-right. She insisted Greenwald was “really off the mark” in accepting invitations to appear on the popular TV show.
The entirety of the grievance: pic.twitter.com/CvBvWZrHbT— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) September 2, 2021
“Lots of people on the left – not all, but many – mistake friendships for political agreements, such that when the political agreement erodes, for them the ‘friendship’ does, too,” Greenwald wrote, before reflecting on “what left-liberal spaces have become.”
“They all turn on each other, denounce each other, repudiate one another. Their currency is this form of self-victimizing grievance,” he wrote. Greenwald also noted that Manning took an apparent swipe at Assange in June, telling the Intercept’s Ken Klippenstein she would rather have leaked the classified materials to him, had he been around at the time. Greenwald quit the Intercept in October 2020 citing lack of editorial freedom. He said that the investigative outlet, which he co-founded, refused to publish his article on then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden unless parts of the story critical of Biden were removed.
Julian Assange is currently being caged & tortured for being the recipient of those leaked documents, and courageously publishing them. What a shitty thing to say, and what even more callous and bullshit thing to promote. https://t.co/bI0N55EuVu— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) June 25, 2021
While Manning herself didn’t announce the specifics of her grievances against Greenwald to the public, apart from a vague suggestion the journalist “hurt” some of the people she knew, Manning’s followers were quick to supply their own reasons, running the gamut from a lack of sympathy or understanding of the trans experience to “he’s vicious.”
So nothing specific, just don't like him because he talks to people on the right. Got it. The left is absolutely pathetic.— 🌺 Gay American Labor Nationalist 🌺 (@AntiEstabli1989) September 2, 2021
But most others seemed to suspect it was Greenwald’s apparent shift rightward from the perspective of liberal critics that had caused the rift, mentioning either his Fox News appearances, his high-profile move to the video platform Rumble (used by many who have been kicked off YouTube and other mainstream platforms), his decision to abandon the Intercept for its refusal to allow meaningful criticism of Joe Biden, and his general voicing of opinions critical of Democrats, neo-liberals, and ‘the woke’.
Going from civil libertarian mass-surveillance critic to taking money from CIA-funded Trump-supporting mass surveillance vendors to be a propaganda mouthpiece is quite the trip.— 🍵🧲NtM🧲🍵 (@N0TtheMessiah) September 2, 2021
Greenwald hit back, noting that such “public denunciation rituals” were simply “the way you get clout and applause on the left.”
Every week, there's a new melodramatic denunciation ritual like this in left-liberal spaces. The victim rises to their spotlight, spouts vague grievances of having been "abused" or "endangered" or mistreated, then collects the applause & rewards. Victimhood is their currency. pic.twitter.com/qUuSETR0yo— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) September 2, 2021
However, this retaliation soon became fodder for his usual critics, and as the row began trending on Twitter, the site's trends section showed messages almost exclusively critical of Greenwald, calling him cruel, narcissistic, and unprincipled.
Name a more iconic duo than Glenn Greenwald and throwing somebody's personal struggles with mental health back in their face as soon as they criticize you pic.twitter.com/6gN21yylSt— Toyota Echo🌹 (@Durand_Durand_) September 2, 2021
Watching Glenn Greenwald spiral into ever greater depths of cruelty is only surprising if you've never seen a narcissist's mask slip.It's what narcissists do when they feel they're losing control of how the public perceives them, my dudes.— Kendall Brown (@kendallybrown) September 2, 2021
Greenwald also received support from contrarian voices on Twitter.
Left-wing activists and journalists (no distinction whatsoever between the two categories) think that publicly defaming friends and colleagues over political disagreements is some sort of admirable virtue. That’s why all their organizations are full of self-immolating trainwrecks— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) September 2, 2021
Whenever I see Glenn Greenwald trending, I know I’m guaranteed to see thousands of liberals losing their minds in rage over something they professed as a core belief until just a few years ago.— MartyrMade (@martyrmade) September 2, 2021
Cognitive dissonance in the comments is incredible. Yes he may be one of Bolsanaro’s staunchest critics but he is evil fash man because he went on Tucker a couple times— Poppy Coburn (@kafkaswife) September 2, 2021
Some wondered why the two couldn’t just get along, or why they were fighting in the first place, while others suggested that such infighting had sadly become commonplace on both ends of the political spectrum.
It is disheartening that the American Left wing on Twitter has adopted High School drama.— Arthur Morgan (@echtMorgan) September 2, 2021
Self-immolating train wrecks that increasingly control culture, discourse and almost every institution of note in America?— - (@SocratesNoir) September 2, 2021
All spaces in politics have become this. From left to right.— David Sanchez (@dms7807) September 2, 2021
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!