Just attempted to get through “Meet The Press” on NBC. I tuned in because they had Glenn Greenwald, a reporter for the British newspaper, The Guardian, which released information on the massive electronic spying operation by the U.S. Government, provided by whistle-blower Edward Snowden. The Washington Post followed suit, and subsequently also released information provided by Snowden. Those involved have been careful to say that the information has been thoroughly screened, to prevent any security threat to the United States. The information, they say, is about the extent of the spying operation. They released it, they say, so that U.S. citizens will at least have some idea as to the scope of what’s going on, as they may be getting caught up in this government “dragnet” which apparently captures millions of phone call records and emails and then stores them for years.
Things got a little hot when the program’s host, David Gregory, asked Greenwald, “To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?” How sad. It’s possible to indict someone with a question, it’s an old technique, and that’s what Gregory did. It wasn’t an unreasonable question, it was the way in which it was presented. It felt more like a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Intelligence, than a network news show – or what network news shows used to be prior to the death of real investigative reporting, back when tv news was still being done in the public interest as opposed to being an insider platform for government officials.
For his part, Greenwald responded by saying, “I think it’s pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies. The assumptions in your question, David, is completely without evidence, the idea I’ve aided and abetted him in any way. The scandal that arose in Washington before our stories began was about the fact that the Obama administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism by going through the e-mails and records of AP reporters, accusing a Fox News journalist of the theory you just embraced, being co-conspirator in felonies for working with sources.”
Gregory, asked none of the several politicians who followed about their possible criminal liability or negligence in looking the other way while the House and Senate set aside whole sections of the Constitution. No, it was all about Snowden, fleeing to a country that is unfriendly towards the United States. What a shock that is. Where else can he go? The guestroom at the Ecuadorian embassy in London is occupied. If he comes back to the U.S., he can be kidnapped by the military and “rendered” to a secret jail on foreign soil never to be heard from again. And it will all be perfectly legal. David Gregory, didn’t bring that up, either. Nor did he talk about the irony of the United States accusing Snowden of having committed the crime of spying for revealing the spying being committed by the United States. It’s okay when it’s legal, I guess, even when we the people have no idea just how far it’s gone? They did talk about that one, albeit while hedging the discussion on the side of the government by saying we’re in a new age where tech-savvy citizens expect greater transparency, so maybe the government needs to try a little harder in that one area? Wow, what an admission.
With nary a mention of the First Amendment (if they did mention it I missed it) the experience reminded me of why, generally, I no longer watch these shows. It also reminded me of just how far to the left I, and others like me – those of us who were in the political center during the 60’s and 70’s – have been pushed by an ever-burgeoning and increasingly fascist corporate right in America, which continues taking us down the road to neo-feudalism. They’re buying the country, with K-Street lobbyists in Washington, and with “ALEC” in the many state capitols. Greenbacks are being pumped in to influence legislation as Democracy is set aside.
Sounds reactionary, doesn’t it? But hey, I’m just an old Eisenhower Republican. A guy who joined the Boy Scouts and played high school football while growing up in Michele Bachmann’s congressional district in rural Minnesota. A one-time member of the YGOP, who was told that America was a land with a level playing field, only to be left behind by a party that is now tilting so far to the right as to be nearly out of sight. Our government, “of, by and for the people,” even our essential civil rights, are on the run. President Eisenhower, would be horrified by this current state of the union. However, unlike so many of those who now sit in the House and Senate, he had seen and smelled the terrible face of war while witnessing our liberty being paid for with American blood.
Our values are shaped by experience.
For all these reasons I yearn for the days of David Brinkley and Sam Donaldson. The straight-ahead reporting of Walter Cronkite and Daniel Schorr. An environment which, I fear, will never return, as Journalism in the public interest, rather than for the corporate good, continues going the way of the Dodo.