Whistleblower or Traitor: Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg and the Power of Media Celebrity Anthony Moretti, Ph.D. [email protected] Robert Morris University, Moon Township, PA (USA) 2013 Moscow Readings Conference Moscow State University, Moscow, Russian Federation Snowden and Ellsberg Polarizing figures – hero and villain (but to whom?) Interested in publicizing a (perceived or real) government mistake Endured the wrath of that government Operated in a different media and political environment Daniel Ellsberg RAND Corporation employee who photocopied and then handed over to multiple news agencies a 7,000-page assessment of the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War TIME magazine: Nearly a day went by before the networks and wire services took note [of the initial set of “Pentagon Papers” published by the New York Times]. The first White House reaction was to refrain from comment so as not to give the series any greater "exposure.“ Democrats: Publication underscored the “deception” taking place in Washington and affecting both parties Republicans: How dare the New York Times make its own rules about what is national security Media never offered a “label” for him Edward Snowden CIA contractor who sent thousands of documents to The Guardian and other newspapers about NSA surveillance of Americans, and foreign governments Democratic and Republican politicians: traitor Sharp criticism directed at journalists, especially Glenn Greenwald Instant labeling of Snowden by media: whistleblower, source, leaker, implied traitor 40 Years Is a Long Time Explaining the differences in the media and political environment Corporate Ownership More media owned by fewer groups Cutting news staffs; shrinking news holes; declining emphasis on investigative reporting; the “homogenization” of news coverage; demanding ever-higher profits; and emphasizing people/celebrities as newsmakers 1970s: Who Ellsberg is/what makes him tick irrelevant in a national conversation about serious reporting and analysis about serious issues 2010s: A kind-of pop psychology about why Snowden did what he did; how social media reacted to it; drama about deportation/extradition 40 Years Is a Long Time Explaining the differences in the media and political environment Technology Fenton: “Speeding it up and spreading it thin” Opinion seeping into news coverage Boczkowski: “A journalist spends more time learning about other media than ever before, and this information increasingly influences editorial judgments Carr: an emerging Fifth Estate of leakers, activists and bloggers Mainstream media losing their prestige, audiences 1970s: What is happening here answered by fewer media, reaching larger audiences and journalism standards clear and enforced 2010s: What is happening here answered by MSM, social media, opinion programs; focus on the individual becomes easy 40 Years Is a Long Time Explaining the differences in the media and political environment Changing and weakened government policies FCC and its “public interest” raison d’ etre Ownership of newspaper/broadcast entity and audience reach Shaffer and Jordan: “Members of Congress have sponsored legislation aimed at severely limiting – and even stripping – FCC regulators of their power to review acquisitions” Supreme Court ruled in favor of New York Times in 1971 So What? Should media reporting and analysis be on the actors and their motivations, or their actions? If fewer voices are involved in conversation, then which sources enter media discourse? If a journalist injects himself/herself into an issue, then what industry standards has he/she violated? And who is defining those standards? In a deregulation modus operandi for government, should we be surprised that lax policies exist in media?