Following a series of stunning revelations concerning the NSA's surveillance and data collection tactics, queries into Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald's personal life weren't on the top of the list of pressing questions for most. But for those who did have questions about the columnist, who broke the bulk of the stories so far out of Edward Snowden's leaks, the New York Daily News is here for you. Perhaps Rep. Peter King will take a break from calling for Greenwald's prosecution and glean some new material from the story.
Of all the reporters publishing material based on the Snowden leaks, Greenwald has faced the strongest and most public scrutiny in the media for his role in reporting the story — essentially the same treatment levied at Snowden himself almost immediately after he revealed himself as the source.
Essentially, the Daily News revelations boil down to three broad stories: first, Greenwald's involvement as a partner in Master Notions, a company that settled a lawsuit with a former client, which just happens to be a porn company, after the company's owner refused to pay Master Notions for business consulting services.
"Owner Peter Haas “had this pornographic company he wasn't able to maintain,” Greenwald said. They agreed to help him in return for 50% of the profits. In the two months the companies worked together, “Haas made more money than he ever made before in his entire life,” Master Notion’s filings say. But Haas refused to pay the company its share of the profits, which led to a nasty legal battle...After the business relationship soured, Haas also accused Greenwald and Master Notions of having swiped his client list to market their own videos on “hairystuds.com.”
Second, Greenwald's back taxes and other apparent financial problems relating to his former law practice:
"Filings also show he’s had some money problems...The New York County Clerk's office shows Greenwald has $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 — although he’s still trying to pay down an old IRS judgment against him from his lawyer days. Records show the IRS has an $85,000 lien against him."
And third, a lawsuit (also settled) having to do with the size of the dog Greenwald and his then partner kept in their West Side apartment:
"In a 2003 lawsuit, he and his then partner, Werner Achetz, were sued by their West Side condo for having a dog that was bigger than building by-laws allowed.
The couple countered that they and their dog Uli were being singled out because they were gay, a charge the building denied. The case eventually settled.
“The co-op board said the dog could stay,” he said.
Greenwald strongly denied the more salacious parts of the three stories — that, for instance, he sent bullying emails to the porn company owner using the bonkers screen name of "DomMascHry31" — while responding to the story's findings.
He also published a longer piece of his own on Wednesday, basically pre-empting the Daily News's story:
"So I've been fully expecting those kinds of attacks since I began my work on these NSA leaks. The recent journalist-led "debate" about whether I should be prosecuted for my reporting on these stories was precisely the sort of thing I knew was coming.
As a result, I was not particularly surprised when I received an email last night from a reporter at the New York Daily News informing me that he had been "reviewing some old lawsuits" in which I was involved – "old" as in: more than a decade ago – and that "the paper wants to do a story on this for tomorrow". He asked that I call him right away to discuss this, apologizing for the very small window he gave me to comment."
While newsworthy figures, and bombshell stories, are generally fair game for scrutiny, the Daily News doesn't exactly make the case for the relevance of any of their dirt the actual reporting that put Greenwald in the spotlight in the first place.
Update, 10:46 p.m.: Buzzfeed published a long piece on Greenwald on Wednesday, too. While the piece is a much more complete profile of the journalist than the Daily News's was, it's notable that the piece devotes significant space to the same stories outlined in the Daily News. Here's their lede:
"Before Glenn Greenwald was the journalist who broke and defended the most important story of 2013, he was many other things: an underage South Florida politician, a lawyer at a high-powered corporate firm, Kips Bay’s most combative tenant, and even the legal arm of his business partner’s gay porn distribution company."