A TIME magazine reporter caused ire on Twitter Saturday night when he said that he "can't wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out" Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
Michael Grunwald's tweet, since deleted, was quickly met with outrage and bewilderment. Glenn Greenwald, who recently broke several revelations about NSA surveillance programs based on documents provided to him by leaker Edward Snowden, was particularly vocal in expressing his disgust with Grunwald's statement.
— adam hernandez (@Ahernz1991) August 18, 2013
Things like this make you not just understand, but celebrate, the failings of large media outlets - TIME edition: https://t.co/NhXiZ5jdTl
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) August 17, 2013
Derp RT @MikeGrunwald: I can't wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange.
— Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell) August 17, 2013
Strange thing to say RT @MikeGrunwald: I can't wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange.
— Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias) August 17, 2013
Okay I think I figured out @MikeGrunwald's political ideology: authoritarian.
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) August 18, 2013
Assange is an asshole, was unbelievable horrible to me personally, & says inconsiderate things. But I've never seen him call for murder. 1/2
— Quinn Norton (@quinnnorton) August 18, 2013
Grunwald deleted his tweet after a follower argued that it would only encourage Assange supporters.
Fair point. I'll delete. @rober1236Jua my main problem with this is it gives Assange supporters a nice safe persecution complex to hide in
— Michael Grunwald (@MikeGrunwald) August 17, 2013
But that didn't stop the incredulous responses.
.@MikeGrunwald Yeah, SO you don't have to be an "Assange supporter" to find calling for extra judicial murder to be sickening.
— William Patrick Wend (@wpwend42) August 18, 2013
.@MikeGrunwald I think Assange is pretty much an enormous douchebag. Interestingly enough, you're clearly an even bigger one.
— Robin (@caulkthewagon) August 18, 2013
As the backlash against Grunwald's tweet kept coming, he retweeted some of the more aggressive responses on his account.
— Bear_Code (@webwildink) August 17, 2013
One person tweeted a caricature of a man with an exaggerated hook nose rubbing his hands together, which also appears to have since been deleted, with the words "found this picture of you."
Shortly afterwards Grunwald apologized for the tweet, calling it "stupid."
It was a dumb tweet. I'm sorry. I deserve the backlash. (Maybe not the anti-Semitic stuff but otherwise I asked for it.)
— Michael Grunwald (@MikeGrunwald) August 18, 2013
Grunwald's employer distanced itself from the substance of his tweet. "Michael Grunwald posted an offensive tweet from his personal Twitter account that is in no way representative of TIME's views," a TIME spokesperson said. "He regrets having tweeted it, and he removed it from his feed."
The reporter had previously criticized the opposition to drone strikes. In March, Grunwald tweeted that he doesn't understand why people were concerned about the death of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, by drone strike in Yemen.
While I'm on the uncaring kick: I don't even get why I'm SUPPOSED to care about the American we iced in Yemen. He was Al Qaeda!
— Michael Grunwald (@MikeGrunwald) March 5, 2013
In April, Grunwald wrote a piece for TIME criticizing libertarians and defending the government's efforts to fight terrorism:
But while the “stand with Rand” worldview is quite consistent — against gun restrictions, traffic-light cameras, drone strikes, antidiscrimination laws, antipollution laws and other Big Brother intrusions into our private lives — it’s wrong. And most of us know it’s wrong, which is why we celebrate our first responders, our soldiers, our law enforcers. They’re from the government, and they’re here to help. We know our government is fallible, because it’s made up of people, but we still count on it to protect us from terrorists, from psychos with guns, from exploding factories. We also need it to protect us from floods and wildfires, from financial meltdowns and climate change. We can’t do that kind of thing ourselves.