Abject stupidity defined

The right-wing blogosphere never ceases to surpass its prior humiliations, even when you're convinced it can't.

Published October 29, 2007 4:51PM (EDT)

(updated below - Update II - Update III)

If there is a place with more abject stupidity swirling around than the right-wing blogosphere, I'd like to know where it is. Truly, consider what has to be going on inside their brains for this to happen:

Yesterday, in writing about the email I received from Col. Boylan's email address, I published two versions of the email -- the full, unedited version (here), as well as lengthy excerpts from the email in the post I wrote about it. I made this as clear as could be -- for anyone capable of reading English. The first two sentences of my post -- the very first two -- said:

I received this morning an unsolicited email from Col. Steven A. Boylan, the Public Affairs Officer and personal spokesman for Gen. David G. Petraeus. The subject line of the email -- which I am publishing in full, unedited form here -- is "The growing link between the U.S. military and right-wing media and blogs" . . . .

The link went to the full, unedited version of the email I received from Col. Boylan's email account, which I published without edits of any kind.

Then, in the very next paragraph, I explained that I was going to post selected excerpts from that email:

In terms of whether the U.S. Army under Petraeus and Boylan is, in fact, becoming a political actor, I'll let multiple passages from Boylan's email to me this morning speak for itself:

I then proceeded to post 9 excerpted passages from the email.

In the post, I wrote: "Anyone who would like to have forwarded to them a copy of the email I received originally can email me and I will send it." Several people emailed me to make that request, and I forwarded them the email, including -- apparently -- one right-wing blogger who calls himself "Dread Pundit."

Now that he has cleverly obtained from me what he thinks is previously secret evidence (i.e., the full, unedited Boylan e-mail which I published myself yesterday), Dread Pundit has written a dramatic post accusing me of concealing parts of Col. Boylan's email. And that's not all. Also: "The parts that Greenwald chose not to publish tend to contradict his characterization of the email as 'bizarre' and 'unsolicited'." He has titled his post: "Full Text of Email Reveals Greenwald Mischaracterizations," and he re-prints the entire e-mail which I sent to him, bolding the parts he says I "chose to leave out." Very dramatic.

Of course, the whole post is based on his belief that I only published the excerpts, not the full and unedited email (even though the second sentence of my post says: "which I am publishing in full, unedited form here)." It is further based on the belief that I tried to pass off the excerpted passages as the full, unedited email (even though the excerpted passages are preceded by the explanation that what follows are "multiple passages from Boylan's email to me"). Put another way, the (serious) accusations he is making are precluded by the most basic skills of reading comprehension.

The fact that a right-wing blogger spews serious accusations based on complete idiocy is ordinarily not worthy of comment. That happens virtually every day. That is what the right-wing blogosphere is, more or less; it is why it exists.

But now, in a short period of time, this accusation of my nefarious concealment of the full Boylan e-mail is becoming the scandal du jour among right-wing blogs, including some of the largest. Here is but a sample:

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs writes that I've "now pulled another astonishingly mendacious move," and announces that "[d]etails on Greenwald's sleazy maneuver are at The Dread Pundit Bluto." Lorie Byrd at Wizbang excitedly announces: "Bluto has posted the full text of the email Glenn Greenwald received from Colonel Steven A. Boylan" (something I did myself yesterday) and then says: "Interesting is what Greenwald chose to post from the email, and what he chose to omit." The individual who calls himself "Dr. Rusty Shackelford" says that I "edited the email to [my] best advantage" but that "the full text is here [at Dread Pundit's blog] with the portions Greenwald left out in boldface." And on and on and on.

The fact that I published the full-email was so painfully transparent that even right-wing bloggers like this one were able to figure that out -- and read his post to see how low that bar is. But in less than 90 minutes from the time "Dread Pundit" unveiled his brilliant discovery, the right-wing blogosphere has worked itself into one of its defining lynch mob fits of hysteria, all based on the inability to comprehend the most basic English, as in: "the full, unedited version is here" and "multiple passages from Boylan's email."

Another few hours and right-wing blogger Howard Kurtz will have a full Washington Post column on this. Add this to their always-expanding list. I'm honestly interested in knowing: what else besides abject stupidity can explain this? I mean that as a serious question.

UPDATE: As Overlander notes in comments, the passages I provided in the post itself also contained ellipses. For people who have mastered basic English, "ellipses" signify that only excerpts are being provided, not the full text.

UPDATE II: As many people have in comments, Jonathan Schwarz offers an alternative (or supplemental) explanation for this behavior, via George Orwell.

UPDATE III: Now, we're awaiting only the Glenn Reynolds link (and the Howard Kurtz follow-up article) and the cycle will be complete.

By Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

MORE FROM Glenn Greenwald

Related Topics ------------------------------------------