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John Dvorak: “Yesterday I was fired from PC Magazine” (twitter.com)
308 points by leothekim 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 183 comments

About 12 years ago I was working for a PC Magazine competitor when they cut the Managing Editor loose, a man who'd worked there 20+ years and was in his late 50s.

I ran into him in the bathroom, tears in his eyes, asking me what he was going to do now? That this is how they reward decades of loyalty?

Ironically that magazine, dedicated to predicting future technology trends, would go down the toilet some years later because they didn't see technology trends like Google and internet advertising coming.

Companies have no loyalty folks...neither should you.

"Companies have no loyalty folks...neither should you."

That's a broad brush to paint with; companies are just a group of people, not some inhuman construct. People make the decisions and just like every other aspect of life, some people care don't put their impact on others first, or can't because of circumstances. Not every company discards employees like garbage, and it's a lousy narrative to propagate.

That may be true but then your boss's boss fires my boss and brings in someone new and doesn't know or care about you or your company gets bought just to shut down a competitor or any of a million other things.

>Not every company discards employees like garbage, and it's a lousy narrative to propagate.

Depending on which industry you are in or nations. But generally speaking there are less than 10% chance of this so call Good company, so I argue this is not a broad brush at all.

You didn't mention a single counterexample. Meanwhile:

IBM, Oracle, Apple, Microsoft, you name it. All of those have done large cycles of layoffs.

And the coding industry is infamous for its Ageism.

I believe it is healthy to take at least some aspect of their mind-set on this.

Unless you have a contract with a golden parachute, anything could happen in a moments notice. Very few people outside of senior management have such parachutes, and even then not all of them negotiated for a good one.

If nothing else, keep your resume and linkedin up to date.

Usually when you have groups of people trying to maximise their own gains, selfishness and ruthlessness tend to dominate the group.

What you write is true but one can never know for sure if you are in a nice company. Even if you are in a nice company today you don’t it will remain nice. You don’t know what economic factors will occur that may turn the company culture toxic. The company may be bought out tomorrow and new management might suck.

Since you can’t know that these possibilities won’t occur it’s best to keep the mindset that the company is not your friend. They do not have loyalty to you in perpetuity. It’s a business and not a person. It’s run by people but the more people it is being run by the easier it is for them emotionally to treat everything in business terms.

Do not have loyalty to a company. It’s just business and not personal.

> That's a broad brush to paint with; companies are just a group of people, not some inhuman construct.

Companies are a group of people hired to make money for shareholders. They owe loyalty to shareholders, not their workers. It's actually the fiduciary duty of the board and the execs.

> Not every company discards employees like garbage, and it's a lousy narrative to propagate.

Of course not. But the point is they will if they have to.

Companies exist to generate value for shareholders. Not to be nice to their workers. When times are good, you have nothing to worry about. But when things get tough, all bets are off.

Thre's also the "faux friend" situation too. The people you work with have to get along with you but they are not your friends. If you're laid off you'll probably never heard from any of them ever again.

And HR isn't your friend either. Many young people misunderstand the role of HR and believe it is a shoulder to cry on. Think of HR as just another company product or tool.

Your relationship to your coworkers is entirely contextual, varies from person-to-person and company-to-company, and doesn't lend itself well to pithy broad brush statements.

Completely right about HR, though. Their mission is to push paper and ensure the company doesn't get sued.

HR is there to maximize the value and minimize the risk from your humans. Everything in a company is designed to maximize (short term) shareholder value. This isn't evil; the company needs shareholder value to survive.

"This isn't evil; the company needs shareholder value to survive."

Viruses need animal hosts in order to survive. That isn't evil either. But if you're the host it's bad for you.

Companies as embodied in capitalism are generally bad for most humans in the long term. They are an irrational and little understood mechanism receiving un-critical, near-religious adulation.

That is junk economics and libertarianism. Companies certainly can and are evil, unrestrained competition is basically drug cartel turf wars/slavery, and maximized shareholder value doesn't produce the most competitive products and long-term health of a company, it produces the most short-term money to investors.

Yeah, lots of people think HR is resources for humans, but it’s really for the management of resources that are humans.

I prefer the term Human Accounting myself.

Indeed, but you must be careful not to be hostile to HR. You need to work out what they need to hear. So for instance, I was open to HR about some issues I was having but I was very careful to limit my information in a non-obvious way and I couched my explanations in a positive manner, and worked out what they needed to hear.

Ironically I wasn’t actually being dishonest (I just can’t do that) but I was very careful in what I said, and I was very careful not to be overly negative. And I did this when I had no other choice... it’s not something I would have done if I could have avoided it!

> Indeed, but you must be careful not to be hostile to HR.

I agree, but don't confide in them like a life long friend either. Keep it neutral like a job interview be professional and unemotional. Only state what you did, you said.

And ask HR for a follow up e-mail of any conversation you have with them asap.

It's just business. Obedience to authority can make people do terrible things, as shown in the Milgram experiment, and in business you have a whole chain of authorities.

The Milgram experiment has been thoroughly discredited.

Source? The only item under validity on wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment#Validity) is a book, rather than a journal, and it's far from thoroughly discrediting.

Thanks for sharing that was quite interesting.

This one in particular argues: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/bjso.12074 (1) willingness to perform unpleasant tasks is contingent upon identification with collective goals and (2) leaders cultivate identification with those goals by making them seem virtuous rather than vicious and thereby ameliorating the stress that achieving them entails.

Quite interesting perspective on leadership. I suspect it's a bit of both.

However, from your first link:

"But many psychologists argue that even with methodological holes and moral lapses, the basic finding of Milgram’s work, the rate of obedience, still holds up. "

Doesn't seem thoroughly discredited to me.

It's possible I over-egged the pudding. It would be more accurate to say that there are significant concerns with the experiment.

Fair enough, thanks again for sharing.

There's definitely far more to Milgram's than I knew. Many insights.

'You're loyal to your work, not company'

How does it have anything to loyalty? A job doesn't last a lifetime. There aren't that many company that even live a full decade.

When an employer will happily use up your most productive years and let you go as soon as it isn't constantly profitable... A job might as well be for a lifetime.

It's not an uncommon story, true. But it's a pretty shitty one.

The firing happened because company ran out of money. That's what happened to most magazines lately.

I totally agree. Economics in the media industry (print or web) have been hellish for 10 years or more. Paywalls are unpopular, don't work and go against the 'free information' culture of the internet. However, the email he was sent firing him which he screenshotted to Twitter, was indeed so curt as to be rude, as he said. Its just that these editors and publishers are so behind the 8-ball to be desensitized to the types of cost-cutting that they do everyday. It must have never occurred to that editor that they were in this case firing someone who is a near-institution in the PC periodical literature.

The funny thing is, if you gave me the option of reading a Dvorak article or an arbitrary PC Mag article, all other factors held fixed, I would pick Dvorak every time. That is, they just laid off an asset that was more valuable than the rest of the company.

Absolutely true. Dvorak should start his own venture...a lot of fans would jump (the sinking) ship in an instant.

He should do his own Wordpressed based blog with Adsense and other advertisment on it to earn money. Do podcasts and stuff like that.

If you didn't know, he has a blog (http://www.dvorak.org/blog/) and is a co-host of the No Agenda Show Podcast (http://www.noagendashow.com/) and DHUnplugged (https://www.dhunplugged.com/)

While Dvorak's right that it was a shabby way to end things, it very well may be that PC Mag is on its way to shutting down. Note that the screenshot of the email notifying him indicated they were going to 'put all outside columns on hiatus.' That sounds like pure cost cutting to me.

Is Tim Bajarin still a columnist for PC Mag? Wayne Rash? Whitson Gordon? Brent Johnson?

No idea. Assuming those are all 'outside columns' (I don't know as I haven't read PC Mag in years), it seems like the veracity of the story Dvorak's been told will become clear very soon.

They're listed as Columnists (as opposed to Contributing Editor, which means you're an employee), have non-pcmag.com (unlike all of their other authors) email addresses in their Author Bios on PC Mag's site and with one exception (a twice-yearly contributor anyway) they all have published PC Mag articles within the last week. Moreover, they all have full-time jobs which are not at Ziff Davis.

Knowledge is power.

> (as opposed to Contributing Editor, which means you're an employee)

It might mean that at PC Mag, but it definitely does not mean that on other magazines. In fact, at most publications it refers to someone who is not an employee. For more, see [1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contributing_editor

You're certainly right. In fact most authors actually have Analyst or Reporter. I was looking at Tim Gideon and a few others as an example, who happen to have a pcmag emails. Thank you for the correction.

Most _US_ publications. In the UK we don’t do that, we just call them “contributors”.

It wouldn't entirely surprise me if this was a political issue. He's right-wing enough that he leans into, as another poster put it, "info wars lite." It wouldn't shock me if some advertisers no longer wanted to appear alongside him, pre-emptively, and his twitter thread notes that someone was complaining about him with some anti-Trump comments.

Then again, maybe not. I guess it'll become more clear once we find out the status of their other outside columnists.

Wayne Rash and Whitson Gordon are no longer listed as Columnists, but Tim Bajarin still is and had a new article posted yesterday.

He may always have been wrong, but he was like a lovable crazy uncle who is always wrong. This is a terrible way to treat a legend.

I won't have that!

He wasn't always wrong.

You know what they say about stopped clocks...

This is really too bad. After 36 years, they don't have the courage and decency for a call.

On a side note, I had always assumed 'Dvorak' was a penname --however, I've learned he's actually related to the actual Dvorak Keyboard creator.

You may be confusing him with Robert X. Cringely, which is a pen name.

Back at Caltech in the 70s, user accounts on the DECSystem 10 had 3 characters, and was set as the student's initials. One fellow had no middle name, so he used 'x'.

He got so used to it he legally changed his name so his middle name was 'X'.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_X._Cohen is actually David S. Cohen but the name was already taken.

Thanks for this -- I can't speak for the person you're responding to, but I had the same confusion and it was definitely because I was thinking of Cringely.

Of course Dvorak was one of the writers on the Cringely column.

So confusion is to be expected. :)

If you need your JCD fix, he does a bi-weekly podcast with Adam Curry called No Agenda. [0]

[0]: http://noagendashow.com

They don't have advertisers (listener funded) so they're able to sift through the news in a reasonably balanced way.

Each show also has crowd-sourced, listener produced podcast album art that's generated about an hour after the show airs live.

Try listening to the noagendashow at 2X speed to start.

>so they're able to sift through the news in a reasonably balanced way.

That classic Hilary is really a lizard person balanced take on the news.

I've tried to listen to NoAgenda twice and both times it was conspiracy theory borderline-racist garbage

You didn't miss anything, that's what the show is.

Agree except for the 2x part, Dvorak has a deep, slow, gravelly delivery that does not lend well to artificial acceleration.

Also the audio production on the show is absolutely top notch for being done by one dude, the co-host, co-inventor of podcasting, and former MTV VJ, Adam Curry.

Plus the “morning zoo” bit is just a hilarious ruse; don’t let the “light tone” distract too much from the serious media deconstruction happening.

Twice weekly on Thursdays. ;)

There is no "media deconstruction" happening. All they do is play cable news clips and give their uninformed and often offensive commentary. Zero journalistic work of any kind, just idiotic hot takes shot from the hip.

They're a propagandist's take on the news, with their own slant (but probably not an agenda). Balanced, no; but not completely right wing nut job, so they're tolerable to find out what's happing in the non-right-on liberal space.

Often wrong, often hilariously so. Continually confusing personal and tribal loyalty with patriotism and idealism. For example, criticism of Trump means criticising the office of the presidency, or disrespecting the US if you are not American; or a republican showing some independence of thought is letting the team down. I don't think they understand idealism at all, they can only conceptualise self-seeking behaviour, everything is framed as that, in part because that's what sells the show as a reveal of the hidden motives.

Dvorak in particular gets extremely agitated when foreigners criticise the US, or express an opinion on US politics. He seems unaware of how much US politics directly affects other countries. He is also almost as ignorant as Trump in understanding how critical the US hegemon has been to peace (albeit on US favourable terms) after WWII.

They had no problems imputing a link between Bill Clinton as president setting the morals for the nation (and making blowjobs ok!), but completely fail to do the same for Trump. Balanced, nope.

I'm amused that JCD can look out his window at the mud flats and refute careful measurements by the NOAA. [0]

They do some interesting analysis and some digging and often paint a pretty poor picture of typical news outlets but there's a fair amount of chaff with the wheat.

[0] https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_update.s...

And the Dvorak Horowitz unplugged podcast: https://www.dhunplugged.com/

There must be something to learn from Dvorak because he seems to have done something rare among the HN crowd, and that is being both very wrong and very appealing at the same time.

He was so consistently and predictably wrong that it was actually useful. You could bet against him and win every time, and in a way that kind of wrongness is as valuable as being prescient. He’d proclaim the death of the mouse, or the irrelevance of the iPod and you could take the opposite to the bank. If the guy said a stock was doomed, invest!

Well, his columns were often bad and often wrong, but people will forgive a lot as long as your columns aren't boring.

I'm curious how being very wrong is a liability for a journalist? Can you give me some examples where the being wrong part violates the ideal, and maybe explain what that ideal is, in the tech world?

To me, a reader of his since the very beginning, Dvorak has been wrong about a lot of things - but him being wrong has prompted much discussion in the broader world of things, and he is truly one of the very first 'social media influencers' of the tech world. I spent many a day in the 80's and 90's discussing mag articles with colleagues, in the ops centres, the desktops, the laptop and now the pocket era's, and .. it seems .. whatever Dvorak has to say about something, is going to get a rise.

But if there is some other standard by which such a rabble-rouser might be judged, I'd like to know. I seem to have missed something.

I would say Dvorak is a columnist not a journalist. It a columnist writes a bad column that is totally wrong it can accually be good because it gets people talking about it and to get ad buys.

If a journalist is wrong it can have very bad results. Write a story claiming someone is a murderer when the person is totally innocent for example could ruin lives.

Being wrong about tech probably has no ill consequences. But the quintessential example of journalists being wrong as a moral failure that I always think of is the lead-up to the Iraq War. Even that had historical precedents too, eg. the Spanish-American War ~100 years prior was also ill served by journalism.

So you could argue that Dvorak has been a dark influence on tech, since he convinced (by stint of his popularity) a lot of people to be wrong on things, quite a few time?

I mean, in the case of war journalism the standards are pretty high. But for computer tech .. its really more just an industrial mob being led by a malcontent loud-mouth boldly corralling the in-cognoscenti with his megaphone de-jour held high and proud? Or, at least it was.

I mean, I think Dvorak played a role in managing peoples expectations. Its interesting that for some its high, and others low in terms of journalistic decrepitude. 36 years is a long time to be wrong about it.

If you're an employee (no equity), be assured your employers don't care about you when the money starts to dry up. If you're overpriced for the revenue you bring in, you're gone. This is stuff everyone learned in the 90s bubble. Now the paper mags are falling over and he's acting surprised. SMH

Don't think that some paper equity gives your employer more loyalty to you

I agree, when the startup piggy bank runs out, the paper equity doesn’t mean much, speaking from personal experience.

If you're an employee (no equity), be assured your employers don't care about you when the money starts to dry up

Plot twist: they don’t care about anyone holding mere common stock. That’s why “preferred stock” became a thing.

> This is stuff everyone learned in the 90s bubble.

This is stuff every generation learns during every major recession. During the boom times, when business is good, the company treats its employees well and everyone thinks the company will always take care of them. Recession hits and reality smacks you right across the face.

I stopped following him after he turned his podcast with curry into infowars lite.

My guess is they couldn't afford him anymore. As a 36-year-old star veteran, his compensation was probably a sizable chunk of production costs. Meanwhile, the magazine business is still hurting.

It's not impossible his comp was more or less frozen ten or even twenty years ago when the boom times for print were ending. I would be surprised if he was getting four figures a month, and amazed and astounded if it was mid-or-higher four figures.

In fact all freelancers are disposable in magazine writing. It was always one of the original zero hours gig economy gigs.

The real value was in building a brand that could translate to book sales, consultancy, and so on.

He’s not 36 years old, he’s 66 years old. He’s a 36-year veteran.

I bet you're fun at parties.

Personal attacks will get you banned here. More generally, please don't post uncivil or unsubstantive comments.


He's been infuriatingly wrong in every article of his I've ever read, but holy shit! He was an icon. 36 years and they "fire" him via e-mail!? Despicable.

I read this guy back in the 90s. I think he put down mp3s. I think I emailed him and told him he was on the wrong side of that.

Dvorak's greatest hits: "nobody wants a mouse", "Steve Jobs going the way of pet rocks", "cable modems are a dead end", "the mac is dead", "ipod is a niche product", "wikipedia is a dead end", "podcasting is a dead end", "linux is a dead end", "time to short apple", "the iphone's a flop", "ipad's a flop", "apple watch's a flop", etc.

When I used to listen to the TWIT podcast (its been years..), I liked Dvorak's cynical perspective vs the love everything new and tech of the other hosts. He was cranky. I give him bonus points for remembering lotus's Jazz software in the podcast (and calling it out for its problems when it came out).


“I get no spam!”

Cranky Geeks was a great podcast.

One of my fondest personal memories is "printers and photocopiers use fundamentally different print technologies and will therefore never be integrated in one machine".

Does not in any way whatsoever justify the asshat fashion of the firing.

From a Bayesian perspective, he seems like an excellent source of predictive information, when appropriately weighted.

I’m curious, but what has he been right about? It didn’t say much on his Wikipedia article.

If you look at some of those, he was right if you extend the timeline out. "nobody wants a mouse" - True in the days of touch screens. "the mac is dead" - Becoming true as they continue with the hardware choices for their pro lines and iOS'ification of the MacOS. "ipod is a niche product" - It is now for those who just want a music player and not a phone. "apple watch's a flop" - That was true when it came out. Apple was expecting it to be far larger than it was. Its now starting to gain traction, but don't see it growing to the number users who have iphones.

It might be better to say he was ahead of the curve on many of his statements.

Yes nearly 40 years of predictions will offer plenty of fuel if you're looking to burn someone.

Some examples of what he got right then ?

He said people would still be using napkins in the year 2000

I LOLed.

I don't read PC Mag, and don't care to review so much material. Considering his long career and fame though I consider it uncharitable to assume he's made no right calls in that time.

Apple Watch isn't a flop?

You could call the discontinued "edition" line (gold/ceramic) a flop but on the whole it seems fairly successful by watch/smartwatch standards if not by iphone standards.

What's wrong with these? It looks like the average click bait title to me.

Well they are all demonstrably wrong, that's what's kind of peculiar with this guy's production.

or that time he couldnt put back together idiot proof IBM PS/2 desktop.

What an epic collection! Isn't this output from one person something of a record?

What a dick move. Oh well, will the last subscriber of PC Mag turn out the lights?

Subscribers? It's all clickbait-driven traffic to squeeze out fractions of cents worth of ad revenue nowadays.

Wait, PC Magazine is still a thing?

Homebrew/home-assembly computing nostalgic sigh

All those trips up and down the Valley, like was a spread out Guangzhou JDR Microdevices, NCA Peripherals, WierdStuff, Central Computers, MicroCenter, Halted, Egghead, mom&pop shareware and even the "evil" Fry's and CompUSA.

IIRC I spend somewhere on the order of $5k on basically a homebuilt workstation... Adaptec U2W, IBM Ultrastar whopping 9 GB drive, Plextor CD burner, PC Power & Coolng PSU, GUS and a Courier modem. IIRC i got tired of hearing the 7000 RPM fan droning like a 1U server and made a fanless water-cooling setup with an RV heater core and CPU cooling block. Oh and UPSes since 1986.. south San Jose had frequent power outages.

IIRc we had back issues of PC Magazines for at least the previous year. I had C++ PJ and DDJ.

> Central Computers

Is still kicking. I think their business model is you a pay a small premium for retail service and stuff that works reliably.

Sad to see all these comments focusing on what Dvorak "got wrong" instead of his better columns, including recent ones: https://www.pcmag.com/dvorak

I would only read that magazine due to him so stupid move.

I didn't realize PC Mag was still around.

I felt the same when Yahoo was breached.

Those of you who are Dvorak fans (as am I) should find, read, and support the No Agenda podcast and email newsletter he's been doing with Adam Curry for about 10 years now. In the latest newsletter, John argues that he was fired for writing negative things about 5G networks -- and offers evidence that PCMag routed links away from his critical columns to more positive pieces.

I got to work with John a bit over the years. He is many things, but I have never known him to lie, or get his facts wrong when reporting. If what he says about PCMag unlinking from his columns about 5G is true, it's even more rude and insidious than the way he was fired.

John argues that it's more evidence that advertising drives much if not all supposed "journalism" these days. I hope he's wrong, but fear he's more right than most of us know or suspect most of the time...


Interesting exchange in the comments…

Ugh. That reaffirms my dislike of Dvorak

That’s a real shame, he was the only reason I read PC magazine. We canceled our subscription years ago, but I’d still go to Kramers and pick up a copy to read the columns. Aging out of the tech industry is a tremendous problem, but I don’t see there’s much we can do about it.

Wow, that is a pitiful way to let a long-term employee go.

The email says outside columns, he probably was a contractor.

Does this matter on a personal level? He's been writing for PC Mag for more than 3 decades.

This is such a shallow comment. Regardless of how long he's written articles sponsored by PC magazine, you don't know the details of his contract or the relationship he had with that sponsorship. Why bother creating a comment if you add no content?

His column was the only reason I still remembered PCMag exists, that’s such a dumb move.

I remember reading him decades ago. That’s beyond ignomious.

I remember him explaining why Microsoft wouldn't be able to ship Windows 2000.

He had a good run and was getting paid for about a decade longer than he should have.

I wonder what happened to the linked tweet.

Is he related to some keyboard keymap?

No, that's August Dvorak - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_Dvorak

They are, however, related:

"nephew of sociologist and creator of the Dvorak keyboard, August Dvorak"


I thought PC-Mag and Dvorak were both already dead. How long has it been since either one was actually relevant?


This is a good troll post.

No Agenda is not "white supremacist" in any way shape or form, and Curry is not an Islamophobe.

Dvorak got kicked from TWiT because he (correctly) thought there was something fishy about the clock kid story... and he sure wasn't the "misogynistic" one at TWiT...


Wait, Greenwald is now considered faux pas?

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18044580 and marked it off-topic.

(Just to be clear, this is about the subthread, not just the root comment.)

He spent a couple of years blasting Hillary for being a warhawk, for how her campaign was run and questioning the obsession with Russia.


Apparently questioning the party status quo is the worst thing that you can do.

"Greenwald’s political writing, which focusses on dramas of strength and weakness, and on the corruptions of empires. Greenwald writes aggressively about perceived aggression. His instinct is to identify, in any conflict, the side that is claiming authority or incumbency, and then to throw his weight against that claim, in favor of the unauthorized or the unlicensed—the intruder. Invariably, the body with authority is malign and corrupt; any criticisms of the intruder are vilifications or “smears.” He rarely weighs counter-arguments in public, and his policy goals are more often implied than spoken."

I've been reading Greenwald for years and don't recognise that description at all. But it comes from the New Yorker so this is perhaps not a surprise.

It's worth being extremely careful paying any attention to American media on the topic of Glenn Greenwald. He is essentially the only journalist in the world who routinely and strongly criticises other journalists and points out their lying and manipulations. In recent times he's written a series of articles showing how frequently US media's stories related to Russia collapse, are retracted or turn out to be fraudulent.

He also got the scoop of the decade when Snowden went directly to him and Poitras, news non-entities, because he simply didn't trust other journalists at all.

I suspect by now most Washington/New York based journalists hate his guts.

> I suspect by now most Washington/New York based journalists hate his guts.

Not so - he is a regular guest on Fox News.

He's become very partisan over the years, and you can guess the slant based on the media where he chooses to appear.

I wouldn't say he is so much pro-Republican as anti-Democrat but it's getting really hard to say. Pro-Russian and pro-Republican politics have gotten all mixed up together since 2016.

I wouldn't say he is outwardly pro-trump, but he certainly doesn't seem to criticize him to anywhere near the extent he lavishes on the Democrats. Nor does he seem to be particularly concerned with criticizing American foreign policy now that Republicans are in the drivers' seat, which was his fig-leaf back in the early teens.

And in fact, he spends most of his time justifying the exact same types of behavior from the Russians. So much for "questioning the politics of the status quo and the corruption of empires".

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

My sense is that in the post-Snowden era, most of his articles focus on hypocrisy of some sort. At least that seems to be a dominating theme. I don't read every article he publishes but that's what I associate with Greenwald - he goes after people pushing certain views but then not living by them. Even when he was reporting on surveillance, a lot of his articles had as a theme "the NSA say X but they do the opposite".

When it comes to specific policies and what the best policies are, Greenwald is mostly silent, except for his open dislike of mass surveillance and wars.

Journalists make for an easy target for such a guy because they claim (implicitly or explicitly) to be neutrally documenting events, but then try to actively change the course of those events through manipulating their coverage.

He also targets the Democrats in some stories yes, but usually from the angle "they claim they support X but here they are doing not X". Is this partisan?

You could say that Republicans have the same issues, but I don't see them talk about fiscal conservatism anymore, Trump certainly didn't run on such a platform. Trump is many questionable things but most people I've heard express opinions on him say something like "I disagree with policy X but huh, it's weird to see a politician actually doing what he said he'd do for once". That is, labelling him a hypocrite is tougher than perhaps with other politicians.

Maybe that's why he's hard to pigeon-hole. His latest article on the Intercept is about Michael Moore's new movie. In it he says things like:

Moore’s film is highly worthwhile regardless of where one falls on the political spectrum. The single most significant defect in U.S. political discourse is the monomaniacal focus on Trump himself, as though he is the cause – rather than the by-product and symptom – of decades-old systemic American pathologies

He then goes on to criticise the narrative that America was "good" until Trump was elected, whereupon it became "bad". He criticises a swathe of US policy stretching from the Bush era to the Obama era.

That doesn't sound like he's particularly partisan to me. Instead Greenwald argues for a systems-oriented take on politics. In Greenwald's world, Trump is merely a symptom or byproduct of deeper issues, and it's those issues that are the most interesting to study. This is probably why I like his writing.

> If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

So the anti-war, anti-domestic spying, gay progressive duck is a conservative Trump-lover?

What ducks are you looking at?

Oh, well, if he's gay then it's cool. /s

Poltics makes for strange bedfellows. The enemy of my enemy can easily become my friend. There is a certain segment of the left that seamlessly transitioned from criticizing Democrats and American foreign policy into cheering Russian propagandizing and backing Russian foreign policy goals ("as a counterweight to American power" or similar). Greenwald is one of them.

If his critical of the power of empire, now would be a good time to start criticizing the other side too. Democrats haven't held power for almost 2 years now and spending all his breath criticizing them isn't really helpful. It is, however, revealing about his agenda.

Again, I don't think he was always like this. He used to be doing legitimate journalism, deep dives into American abuses of power that nobody else was doing. It was good work, regardless of whether the expose happened under a Democratic administration.

That journalism is still happening, while Greenwald is off doing Fox News segments on how bad Democrats are. He's just not involved in it.

His decline from investigative journalist into partisan shill is very, very blatant. And I do feel from him, there is no question the media gave him a very rough go after Showden. But it doesn't excuse his "activism" since 2016. One good expose doesn't beatify everything you do for the rest of your life.

I think it's probably mostly him burying his head in the sand about the consequences of his activism. I don't think he consciously wants to trade American empire for Russian empire, he just can't get past the whole "enemy of my enemy is my friend" thing, or viewing Russia as a counterbalance to American power, however you want to put it.

I hope he gets back on the horse, but right now he's definitely kinda broke-brained. C'mon, the guy spends his time on his farm caring for the 40 dogs he's rescued, nobody does that who's not at least a little broke-brained. I wish him a speedy recovery (dogs help with that!), but right now you really shouldn't be taking him overly seriously.

Conversely, someone who agrees with my enemy on something is not automatically my enemy as well. My enemies aren't always wrong, after all.

I actually am mostly in agreement with you, I'm just explaining the perspective of the people who _hate_ him.

The New Yorker article is actually very interesting and pretty generous towards Glenn.

Yeah, Greenwald has gone off the deep end over the last 2-3 years. He's pretty much paralleled the fall of Wikileaks, where they made some important points at the start but have fallen into the orbit of Russia specifically and anti-americanism generally.

Whatever you think of the Democrats or American foreign policy, there really is no call for actually defending Russia and their foreign policy, or downplaying their attempts to subvert our election system, and that's where Greenwald has been for the last couple years. He generally views Russia as a countervailing force to American/Democratic power and thus a necessary evil. Which, yuck.

There is still important work being done on exposing American mass surveillance and other such topics, but it's not being done by Greenwald, who mostly seems concerned with sniping on Twitter at this point.

I feel like it's only true if you just assign positive and negative points to stories, and then count the balance. But that model lacks too much nuance to be useful. You can be very much appalled at Russia, while also acknowledging that a lot of criticism that comes form the left is borderline conspiracy theory stuff with zero evidence to it. And if you're preaching to a specific audience, it might look imbalanced overall, because you don't waste time addressing the points on which your audience agrees with you anyway.

For example - and I'm saying this as a liberal - it is becoming standard fare to dismiss any criticism of any left-wing policy as "Russian bots". Does someone calling it out means that they reject the general notion that Russia employs paid shill accounts and bots for propaganda purposes? Of course not.

Yap, Zizek is out too apparently.


Talented troll I’d say


Are you non-sarcastically defending Alex Jones?

His right to free speech? Sure I am.

I'm quite certain he's still speaking, and no one is stopping him. You just can't go to Twitter to hear it.

You have the right to say (almost) anything you want. I have the right to tell you that you can't use my microphone. Someone else has the right to build a microphone tailored for you.

So I suppose you are all for Comcast, AT&T, etc. injecting ads into your traffic, charging premium for your Netflix binges, and worse?

I mean it's their ~~microphone~~ fiber.

Oh, but this is different, I'm sure you'll say, because reasons.

Well that's why we generally, in the US at least, have always thought it was a good idea to just allow all speech, even if some awful stuff leaks out once in a while.

He still has that. Just without someone else's soapbox to stand on. Being obnoxious is a right, but it can invite consequences.

Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequence.

The right to free speech is not the right to a platform.

Dvorak: "Twitter and Facebook Are Publishers, Not Platforms" https://www.pcmag.com/commentary/363100/twitter-and-facebook...


Uh huh... that poem had more than one line, and if it started with your version the response would broadly be, “get back to me in a few lines and I’ll start fighting.” Even the fallacy you’re invoking is a slope and not a cliff. The republic isn’t going to implode because Alex Jones can’t use PayPal. Now if the government were throwing him in jail for what he said, I’d grudgingly support his right to be a bloviating psychopath, with rights under the 1st amendment.

Companies not wanting to do business with him? yawn

I highly recommend reading Frederick Douglass' "A Plea for Freedom of Speech in Boston." It was written after he was deplatformed by protesters shouting him down while he was trying to give a speech. It talks about how he thought it was good enough that the government could not block his speech and how wrong he was about that.

Obviously Jones is no Frederick Douglass, but the culture of deplatforming/censorship is a dangerous one nonetheless.

Let’s make a deal, when they start to come for the modern equivalent of a Frederick Douglass, I’ll care, and we’ll still be high up on the list with plenty of time to fight. Until then this feels a lot more like a slippery slope fallacy, and not a sound argument. After all the poem is all about how many chances for intervention were passed by, not that only ideological absolutism can prevent tyranny.

Not to mention that despite attempts to silence him, Douglass was ultimately successful and still remembered.

Who gets to decide who is a Frederick Douglass and who is an Alex Jones? What makes you feel so confident that you will be on the right side of history when the modern Frederick Douglass is deplatformed?

When that modern Frederick Douglass is deplatformed, we can talk, instead of this hysterical “when the world ends where will you be?!” shit. If you have something more than slippery slopes to offer, and comparing Alex Jones to Frederick Douglass, I’m all ears, otherwise, have a good day.

I don't know if any modern Frederick Douglass' are being deplatformed. It's nice to imagine that if I lived in 1863 that I would recognize that Douglass was on the right side of history, but statistically that is unlikely. I highly doubt you would recognize a Frederick Douglass either, if I could manage to point one out. That is why everyone must be allowed to speak.

If I find someone that I think is an Alex Jones, a Nazi, etc. it's easy enough to block them. What I don't do though is tell you that you're not allowed to listen to them either. That's where sensibility turns to authoritarianism. Freedom of speech is not just the right to speak, but also the right to hear.

What I don't do though is tell you that you're not allowed to listen to them either.

No one has said that about Jones, not Apple, or Youtube, and certainly not PayPal. They chose not to publish him or process his payments, and that’s all. In the same way that a book publisher doesn’t owe anyone a book, a radio station isn’t obligated to allow everyone who wants to be a DJ on the air, and TV stations don’t owe anyone a talk show. Yet when it’s the internet people pretend that a company choosing who they do business with is something new, is censorship, etc.

It isn’t, no amount of hand waving and slippery sloping makes it that, and everyone should be sick of these canards being used almost exclusively in regards to conspiracy theorists and far right nutjobs.

For better or worse the public square now exists on FB, Youtube, and Twitter. I haven't suggested that the government should come in and force any of those companies to do business with anyone. I'm more closely suggesting that these companies are doing the modern equivalent to book burning and no one seems concerned about that.

This isn't just far right nutjobs. Youtube decided to delete every single pro-Syrian channel recently which happened to coincide with the battle for Idlib. Apparently Youtube decided anyone opposing the war of aggression being conducted by the US is "Alex Jones" territory. Alex Jones just happened to be pretty famous. Lots of smaller people are being deplatformed, it just doesn't make the news.

It all had to do with his keyboard. Metcalfe was the better read.

Isn’t this the guy who was upset by the idle process and rubbished the mouse?

It's worth noting that JCD had posted some tweets the day before that were critical of postmeritocracy.org and some comment by Al Gore about Trump.

Looks like a de-platforming may have happened.

Quoting blihp: Note that the screenshot of the email notifying him indicated they were going to 'put all outside columns on hiatus.' That sounds like pure cost cutting to me.

It sounds like the magazine is dead or dying.

Yeah, not really how that works.

Please explain. Having a strong political opinion as an editor and firing your most popular author who has the contrary opinion sounds exactly like what that is.

That's just how it appears anyway.

The email states they’re winding down more than just him. Not everything is a conspiracy, PC Mag could just be cost cutting or downsizing due to a reduced readership.

The timing looks really bad. I'm reserving judgement to see confirmation from their other columnists (whom I listed in a separate reply). His tweet also claims it to be a false pretense -- why take one person's word over the other?

Because his whole tweet stream is like that. There will be no perfect timing where you will not be able to find something political adjacent to "explain" firing.

Still, firing over email is still sucky.

I think you are right and it's probably the most plausible answer. But in the spirit of interpreting the parent comment with good faith, help me walk through a thought experiment:

Try getting a job or a promotion with any VC backed SV company while having a Twitter bio that indicates you voted for or support Trump. Not quite willing to do that? A bridge too far? No prob. Instead, just put that you support the 2nd Amendment. Or the military. Or law enforcement. Or smaller government.

I dare you...

I've never seen a problem with coworkers who loudly support any of these causes at VC backed SV companies. One of my coworkers posted about how happy he was about King Trump winning the election. He was promoted and later hired at another VC-backed SV company.

Great! Please share a link to the post. I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

De-platforming is an explicit choice to disassociate from a particular, repugnant point of view. It's a highly visible, inherently political (and therefore public) move.

Firing your star columnist by email citing budget concerns doesn't fit the MO.

De-platforming is also not usually deployed in service of mere political disagreement (staunch conservatives speak at institutions that perform no-platforms all the time). It's reserved for positions that are perceived to be outside the bounds of what should be accepted by society such as white supremacy, blatant homophobia, etc.

As far as I'm aware, Dvorak didn't publicly hold any such positions. So even if (and that's a HUGE what-if given the facts) he were let go for ideological concerns, it wouldn't count as a no-platforming move.

I think if you were to casually browse JCD's twitter feed over the past few weeks, you might see a lot of posts and retweets that many people might find objectionable.

Look, you can believe whatever you want about why he was fired, but "no-platforming" is an actual deliberate thing and this was by definition not it.

I read over his tweets for the past couple weeks and while he comes off as your typical conservative blowhard, there's nothing worthy of public outcry and therefore worthy of a de-platforming event.

Look. I almost feel bad about myself for engaging with you on this level. But this is important. Progressives actually don't oppose the right of people to believe differently. The idea behind no-platforming is that it's not acceptable to amplify someone spewing hate. You may not agree with that, but if you can't understand that that's the motivation, then you're tilting at windmills here.

Woah, hold up there. You're speaking for some progressives as if you're speaking for all. I generally like to think of myself as progressive.

I'm pretty sure that many progressives consider employing someone in your organization who posts hateful content online _is_ amplifying them. Look at the internal messages of Google employees in the John Damore lawsuit documents if you don't believe me.

Breitbart fired Milo over the same shit.

Damore wasn't fired for having certain views. He was fired for making his feelings about his views in relationship to his company a national issue. I think many negative things about my employer, all not ideological, but I fully expect to get fired if my rantings about it end up as national news. On the other hand, if I act like an adult and minimize my impact, my employer doesn't give a rat's ass what my views are.

I'm not saying anything about why Damore was (deservedly) fired, I'm speaking specifically about the self-described activity of _some_ Google employees and managers to deliberately not hire or ensure the firing of non-progressives and to keep the company roster 'ideologically pure'.

I am purely speaking about the content of the internal messaging included in the court documents. It's a good read if you haven't gone through it yet.

He was fired for making his feelings about his views in relationship to his company a national issue.

Point of order: Regardless of Damore's thoughts, he posted them on an internal message board didn't he? It was the leaker who made it a national issue, and that person remains anonymous.

I was gonna say that's ridiculous, but took a second look and maybe not

> @MrNoysSky Replying to @THErealDVORAK @dancosta "Probably cuz you're a Trump supporter. Good for them"

Right, he did re-tweet Greenwald apparently and something about Keith Ellison's victim's abuse medical records. Well fire him on the spot and maybe even burn him at the stake, I guess. /s

Right. I looked at his tweets before I spoke. He may not be a Trump supporter but he clearly is unhappy with the effort made to remove him.

This absolutely has nothing to do with John's involvement with the No Agenda podcast and the talking points of this particular podcast.


Just budget issues which suddenly pop up after 36 years without any problems.


Do the people involved really think John and his fanbase are THAT stupid?

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