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Anorak | The Internet and the old-guard media disagree on the cult of Edward Snowden

The Internet and the old-guard media disagree on the cult of Edward Snowden

by | 9th, July 2013

Demonstrators burn a coffin and a replica of Uncle Sam outside the U.S. embassy in La Paz, Bolivia, Monday, July 8, 2013. Bolivia's President Evo Morales has accused the United States of pressuring European governments to deny his plane permission to enter their airspace amid suspicions that NSA leaker Edward Snowden might have been onboard. Venezuela and Bolivia both made asylum offers to Snowden over the weekend, and Nicaragua has said it is also considering his request. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

THANK Zod for the Internet, especially Twitter, because without them you’d be hard-pressed to know anybody here in America is rooting for poor Edward Snowden these days.

There’s a disturbing divide in the national opinion—you can find exceptions in either case, but for the most part it looks like the Twitterati overwhelmingly supports Snowden while the mainstream media can’t stand him. At least not mainstream editorial boards; the Washington Post’s went so far as to call for Snowden to surrender and quit leaking information (some of which the Post’s own news team had already published).

To be fair, though, the Post did later run an op-ed piece by alumnus Daniel Ellsberg, exposer of the Pentagon Papers, in which Ellsberg argued that “NSA leaker Snowden made the right call” when he fled the country.

Still, the bulk of America’s professional pundit class considers Snowden a spy, a traitor, or worse.

What’s weird about this is that American journalists—especially old-guard types who’ve been in the news biz long enough to work their way up to the highest ranks of the pundit class— love to wax poetic about the importance of the First Amendment   and the Fourth Estate , and every newsroom in America has at least one editor who keeps Thomas Jefferson’s quote tacked above his desk: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

So I don’t know when the hell all these patriotic American journalists decided the purpose of the Fourth Estate is to make the other three look good, nor who the hell told them “Government’s cock will not suck itself; that’s what a free and independent media is for .”

Still, even though I’m grateful for the online support granted Snowden and other whistleblowers, the ugly fact remains: some of that support takes on the trappings of a personality cult. Brendan O’Neill presumably had this in mind when he pleaded in Spiked Online , “Let’s call a halt to the worship of whistleblowers.”

“In 24 hours, Edward Snowden has gone from being a former contract worker at America’s National Security Agency to a godlike figure who has apparently ‘saved us’ from ‘the United Stasi of America’. It’s the religious terminology that is most striking. For leaking info about how the NSA keeps tabs on the communications of both American and foreign citizens, Snowden has been referred to not only as a saviour but also as a ‘martyr’ [….] St Snowden, the latest in a line of brave revealers of liberal gospel, who, according to one Guardian columnist, has carried out ‘extraordinary human acts’ and showed ‘an endless willing to self-sacrifice’ – just like You Know Who. The creepy Jesus allusions are even more apparent in the Twittersphere, where Snowden is referred to as saviour, martyr, even ‘libertarian messiah’.”

Turning anyone into a demigod is indeed a bad idea, yet I take a more charitable view of the whistleblower-worshipers because I know a drowning man will grab anything to keep from sinking. Maybe it looks strange from outside the US, but seriously: this a scary time

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Posted: 9th, July 2013 | In: Key Posts, News Comments (5) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink