We’ve been talking about the NSA Prism program if fears of overreach and abuse are only theoretical–something that could happen if these surveillance powers were in the wrong hands or left unchecked. Defenders insists everything is alright–it’s legal!–and we probably won’t hear much concern from them until a Republican is president again. But with far less technology, the government has spied on the likes of MLK, labor unions, suspected communists, environmental groups, anti-war groups, Muslims, black power groups–the list goes on.
You don’t have to be doing something wrong to be worried. And if you aren’t worried, you’re doing something wrong.
Instead of focusing on the giant government surveillance program vacuuming up all of our data, we’ve focused the story on Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke the story and who is, horror of horrors, openly opinionated about these matters. With Snowden hopping a flight to Russia before reportedly heading to Ecuador, attacks on him and Greenwald are only getting more intense. Meet The Press host David Gregory asked Greenwald if he was “aiding and abetting” Snowden and his “movements” across the globe and should he, you know, be imprisoned for that? New York Times financial columnist, Andrew Ross Sorkin, says yes, yes he should. Over on Fox News Sunday–my favorite of the Sunday shows–Bob Woodward, of all people, said, “We don’t know whose interest is being served by these leaks.” Of course, Bob may simply be jealous that a major leaks wasn’t revealed through one of his biannual tomes detailing Washington gossip.
Snowden’s true motives has become more suspect than the NSA program itself. Of course, anonymous sources all have their reasons, and some are not 100% pure if you can believe it! Speculating on the insidious motive of Snowden also matches up nicely with a White House talking point distributed to reporters Sunday. Here’s a Buzzfeed reporter’s screen shot of the anonymous quote. Would any of the journalists embracing these ideas have not printed the Prism story if they were presented with the information from a whistleblower? I’d like to think so, but maybe not. Maybe they really are into aiding and abetting the government’s restriction of press freedom. David Carr sums up the situation.
If you add up the pulling of news organization phone records (The Associated Press), the tracking of individual reporters (Fox News), and the effort by the current administration to go after sources (seven instances and counting in which a government official has been criminally charged with leaking classified information to the news media), suggesting that there is a war on the press is less hyperbole than simple math.
That many in the press don’t see it, or don’t seem to have a basic understanding of using sources, or the difference between reporting and treason, says a lot about the state of journalism. Or as my friend August Pollak wrote, “Hahahaha but seriously remember journalism? If you’re under 25, probably not. Good luck, America.”