David Sirota writes: Two weeks into the hullaballoo surrounding whistleblower Edward Snowden and Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, one thing is clear: they did not just reveal potentially serious crimes perpetrated by the government — including possible perjury, unlawful spying and unconstitutional surveillance. They also laid bare in historic fashion the powerful double standards that now define most U.S. media coverage of the American government — the kind that portray those who challenge power as criminals, and those who worship it as heroes deserving legal immunity. Indeed, after “Meet the Press” host David Gregory’s instantly notorious performance yesterday, it is clear Snowden’s revelations so brazenly exposed these double standards that it will be difficult for the Washington press corps to ever successfully hide them again.
The best way to illustrate these double standards are through 10 simple questions.
1. During that “Meet the Press” discussion yesterday of Greenwald publishing stories about Snowden’s disclosures, Gregory asked Greenwald, “Why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?” Beyond the odiousness of a supposed journalist like Gregory seeming to endorse criminal charges against journalists for the alleged crime of committing journalism, there’s an even more poignant question suggested by Mother Jones’ David Corn: Why hasn’t David Gregory asked reporters at the Washington Post, the Associated Press and Bloomberg News the same question, considering their publication of similar leaks? Is it because Greenwald is seen as representing a form of journalism too adversarial toward the government, while those establishment outlets are still held in Good Standing by Washington?
2. Trevor Trimm of the Freedom of the Press Foundation asks a question that probably won’t be asked of Gregory: Should Gregory himself be prosecuted? After all, as Trimm notes, “when interviewing Greenwald, he repeated what government officials told him about classified FISA opinions.” So will anyone of Gregory’s stature in Washington go on national television and ask if Gregory should now be charged with a crime?
3. Later during “Meet the Press’” discussion of Greenwald’s reporting, NBC’s Chuck Todd demanded to know “How much was (Greenwald) involved in the plot?…What was his role — did he have a role beyond simply being a receiver of this information? And is he going to have to answer those questions?” Why did Todd not ask that same question of reporters at Washington Post, the Associated Press and Bloomberg News? Again, is it because Greenwald is seen as representing a form of journalism too adversarial toward the government, while those establishment outlets are still held in Good Standing by Washington?
It has to be a source of embarrassment — even humiliation — that the biggest story in Washington in years, gets broken by a foreign newspaper. All those journalists — from Bob Woodward downwards — who for decades have built their careers around their possession of privileged access to the government’s most senior officials, have spent much of the last three weeks recycling information that first appeared in The Guardian. They are bound to feel as though their power has been usurped. Even worse, it’s been usurped by a pesky blogger who doesn’t even live in DC.