Almost by definition, most establishment journalists accept an implicit framework within which they can work while still being accepted by the establishment of which they're a part. This doesn't mean they can't do excellent journalism, and many of them certainly do. But for others, I suspect there's a sense of subornment, a recognition that they've sold out, that they're owned or at least rented by the people they pretend to hold to account. A recognition like this, no matter how oblique, isn't psychologically comfortable. And the uncompromising work and aggressive deportment of someone like Greenwald acts as a kind of mirror in which these people are forced to view the most unflattering version of themselves. The admirable reaction would be to hold yourself to a higher standard and try to do better. The more common reaction is to hate the person who is causing your increased awareness of your own shortcomings. Of course I could be wrong, but this theory would explain some of the differing reactions to Greenwald, on the one hand, and Barton Gellman, on the other. After all, Greenwald and Gellman have both covered some of the same ground and broken some huge stories based on Snowden's whistleblowing. Indeed, both have won Polk awards, and the organizations they reported with have won Pulitzers, for their Snowden-based reporting. And yet I've never seen fellow journalists going after Gellman on a personal level. I've seen no attempts to marginalize him as an activist, a go-between, a perpetrator, etc. Certainly I've seen no calls for his imprisonment. What explains the different reactions? Sure, some of it can be attributed to temperament. Gellman strikes me as having a knack for disarming people, a knack Greenwald has no apparent inclination to develop or deploy himself. But I think there's something more fundamental at work here. Correctly or incorrectly, I think Gellman is widely perceived to be adversarial within the system, and this is something the system is willing to accept even if the reporter in question does the kind of superb journalism Gellman does. But Greenwald, again correctly or incorrectly, is widely perceived to be adversarial to that system. And for the system itself, that kind of adversity is an unpardonable sin.