Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who broke the Edward Snowden story, found himself in the spotlight on Wednesday as two very different articles about him were published. The first, from the New York Daily News, focused on Greenwald's involvment with a porn company in the early 2000s and his substantial tax debt. The other, a more detailed and flattering profile in BuzzFeed, covered Greenwald's life and his unusual career path, touching and expanding on some of the more salacious details from the Daily News story.
The partnership with the porn business took place in 2002, a "long time ago" as Greenwald told the Daily News. Greenwald, who had just quit his job as a litigator to join his friend's consulting company, Master Notions, arranged a deal with Peter Haas, the owner of a porn company called HJ, reportedly short for "Hairy Jocks."
Haas wasn't able to maintain the company, so Greenwald and his partner agreed to help in exchange for half of the company's eventual profits. With Greenwald's help, the company began making money, but when it came time to pay up, Haas refused, saying Greenwald had demanded "changes to the content of the videos which were and are unacceptable." He also accused Greenwald and his partner of pressuring him into the deal, going so far, Greenwald said, to create fake emails from Greenwald calling Haas "a little bitch" and "a good little whore."
Greenwald addressed the issue himself Wednesday afternoon in a post on The Guardian, after he was contacted by the Daily News reporter:
Once our company threatened to retain a forensic expert to prove that the emails were forgeries, the producer quickly settled the case by paying some substantial portion of what was owed, and granting the LLC the rights to use whatever it had obtained when consulting with him to start its own competing business.
In the BuzzFeed profile, Greenwald denied having any role in the production side of the porn business, though he said he would have been "proud" if he had been involved, noting that there's "nothing wrong with it."
The Daily News story also uncovered Greenwald's past and present tax problems, including some $126,000 in open judgements and liens against him going back to 2000, including an active $85,000 lien against him from the IRS. “We're negotiating over payment plans,” Greenwald said.
The BuzzFeed profile focused more on Greenwald's personal and professional life, including his precocious entry into local politics (he ran for city council as a 17-year-old senior in high school), his decision, while still in law school at NYU, to join a high-paying corporate law firm that represented Goldman Sachs and other bankers (“It was just the symbolism” of the firm offering civil union benefits), and his mostly pro-bono work over the course of five years representing the first amendment rights of various neo-Nazis ("I was interested in defending political principles that I believed in. I didn’t even care about making money anymore.")
The article also notes that Greenwald's now-famously combative nature pre-dates his career as a journalist and writer. For instance, he has sued, on his own behalf, at least two landlords, once over an issue involving his dog's weight, and American Airlines, when the company failed to deposit the correct amount of frequent flier miles into his account.
As for his personal life, BuzzFeed mentions his current relationship with David Michael Miranda, a Brazilian who was 19 when Greenwald met him in the mid-2000s, while on a two-month vacation in Rio to “figure out what [he] wanted to do next.”
“We instantly fell in love,” Greenwald said of meeting Miranda. Partly because of US laws preventing gay partners from gaining citizenship or permanent visas, Greenwald moved to Rio to be with Miranda. The couple have lived there now for eight years, with 10 rescued dogs.
While in Rio, Greenwald launched his blog, inspired by a report about George W. Bush's authorization of NSA eavesdropping. The blog took off and, in 2007, Salon hired him and then, in 2012, he moved to the Guardian, where he'd eventually break the story that would make him a household name and the subject of stories about his porn business past and as well as idiotic threats from US lawmakers.
As Greenwald put it himself in the Guardian post on Wednesday
I'm 46 years old and, like most people, have lived a complicated and varied adult life. I didn't manage my life from the age of 18 onward with the intention of being a Family Values US senator. My personal life, like pretty much everyone's, is complex and sometimes messy.
[BuzzFeed/New York Daily News/Image via AP]
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