Thursday, January 2, 2014

Snowden: Time for Reporters to be Journalists, not Human Microphone Stands

With the New York Times and the Guardian editorial boards calling for clemency for Edward Snowden, it's essential for reporters to stop being human microphone stands for politicians.   

Reporters know what certain politicians are going to say, that Snowden should have made his complaints through official channels.   Previous whistleblowers who took that route did not get rewarded for doing what was right; they got punished.   It's essential the reporter point that fact out to the politician.   It's essential the reporter actually ask the logical follow up question.   Why would any thoughtful person knowing the history of what had happened to whistleblowers trying to do the right thing, take an action that he knew would be a waste of time?

So when someone like Rep. Rogers says, "He didn't use any of the whistleblower protection avenues laid out before him. None. Zero" the reporter can't just sit there and fail to put such a comment in proper context, i.e., that the whistleblower protections don't work and that government officials who don't provide whistleblower protections are not being held accountable.

Any news organization writing about such a comment should link to the articles reminding America's citizens how the secret government has beaten up those trying to do the right things.   USA Today did an excellent piece, so did US News. 

Reporters need to ask politicians to explain why they're more upset with Edward Snowden telling the truth than they are with the Director of National Intelligence lying to Congress.   

The only way to hold the secret government accountable is for the American press to follow the example set by the Guardian.    It's time for the American press to stop being such lapdogs.   It's time for American reporters to start being journalists and stop being human microphone stands. 


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