Posted by Bob Lord
Patrick Smith at Salon as perhaps the best piece I've read on the Edward Snowden / NSA saga: Middling Logic, Middling Newspaper: New York Times Bows to Government, Again, on NSA. Smith's focus is on how in the tank the Times is, but his piece provokes other thoughts.
First, he makes this point:
Ever since Edward Snowden made his daring leap into the kingdom of his own conscience last spring, I have tried and tried but can’t find a single American–even among Snowden’s most uncomprehending critics–who can mention one thing he has told us that we wish we did not know.
Yet we've acquiesced in the Government treating Snowden as a fugitive all these months and allowed insane, corrupt politicians like Dianne Feinstein label him treasonous, while justifying the NSA spying on citizens program because "people might become terrorists in the future." Her only problem with the program is that she herself was kept out of the loop. Words could not describe the level of arrogance there.
The intended (and brilliant) takeaway from Smith's piece as to the complicity of the Times (and the rest of the mainstream media):
On the BBC the other week, Jill Abramson, the Times’s executive editor, came to the defense of the indefensible with this remark. “Responsible journalists do care, as citizens do, about national security and the safety of citizens.” It is worth quoting because it is a concise summation of the argument in full.
And it is flaccid. It is precisely the kind of middling logic that makes the Times, in spite of the worn-out pose, such a middling newspaper. The explicit point is apple-pie obvious. The implications are pernicious. Ponder it. You will see right through to the other side.
One cannot say what Abramson means by “responsible journalists,” but given the population of her newsrooms and bureaus the probabilities are upsetting. Responsible journalists grasp their ethical responsibilities, worry not about where chips fall and do their jobs, and in so doing are good citizens. That is how they contribute to security and safety. The rest is a swamp. Advocating, collapsing boundaries, making a “we-and-they” of the world are not the tasks of journalists. Claiming the right to decide what people should and should not know is preposterous—so stupid one cannot even call it arrogant.
As for Snowden himself:
Edward Snowden is a good citizen. He did his job when he listened to his inner voice and acted as he saw to be right. It is precisely what Americans are not supposed to see in him. It is precisely what he truly has to say. It is why he is in exile.
So, if just Americans won't stand up for Snowden, for whom will we stand up? Can we sit idly by while the New York Times decides what we should or should not know and whom we should or should not defend? Can Americans really afford to allow our Government to continue down this road without our taking to the streets?