How Media Abandoned Real Story In "Search" For Snowden

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[Op-Ed]

The Spinning Of Corporate Media

 

I stopped watching any news about the NSA leaks.

Why? Well no one seemed to be reporting on the original story anymore. Instead I watched for 30 minutes as CNN speculated as to which airport Edward Snowden was in. I haven’t seen such a televised cat-and-mouse game since Tom & Jerry.

Just the other day I read a headline on Yahoo! discussing how former Russian spy Anna Chapman tweeted a marriage proposal to Snowden. According to Yahoo! 700 million people visit their site.  That could mean that for 700 million people that is the main take away from the NSA leaks. What would Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein have to say about Yahoo! Playing matchmaker? Reporting of the Watergate scandal was not spent trying to uncover the identity of deep throat.  It was spent combing through evidence and asking hard questions.

That combination of hard questions and research is exactly what is missing from some major corporate news providers today.  National Security Agency Director, Gen. Keith Alexander, went before Congress and claimed that due to the NSA surveillance program four plots had been foiled.  It was later found that in fact that this was not true.

It was claimed by the government that Congress was well-informed about the surveillance and that turned out not to be true as well. This at least should’ve caused mass public outrage.

Yet during an interview with WikiLeaks' Julian Assange on CNN, the major question was whether Snowden was really stuck in Russia or in Cuba. Assange tried to redirect the conversation to the gravity of the NSA leaks. Instead of entering a meaningful discussion CNN was playing CIA and interrogating Assange on Snowden’s whereabouts.

Then information was revealed in the leaks that the NSA might be spying on European Union offices and embassies. Top German officials described this as “cold war” tactics.  Why were they stung? Their sentiment was that one does not spy on their allies.

The U.S. Administration then accused Snowden of endangering diplomatic affairs. This logic seemed skewed.  Perhaps spying on allies’ does more to endanger diplomatic affairs? Instead of shooting down this blatant propaganda it seemed that the media was giving it a platform -- repeating that Snowden had endangered diplomatic ties between the United States and other countries.

This capitulation from journalistic responsibility should be deeply troubling to every citizen. One of the most important lesson I was taught in college was that of the Fourth Estate. There was a time where citizens had no idea what was going on in Congress. Let's look at the history from the other side of the pond for a minute. In England a group of people was allowed in the House of Commons to tally votes. Their duty was to sit, record, report, and most importantly to watchdog the goings-on in the House of Commons. This notion also came over to our side of the pond.

I bring this up not to give a much needed history lesson but to hearken an important point that seems to have been lost. The news media is supposed to be here to watch over the government. To inform citizens when the government has erred.  Not to act as a machine to spread propaganda.

The Fourth Estate needs to gather itself up again and quick. These leaks have so many implications and consequences for citizens. The media needs to act as a translator and inform citizens of what is occurring. To sort through the half-truths until the whole truth is discovered. The five W’s need to be asked over and over again.

There have been news sources that are doing a fantastic job of reporting on the surveillance. The Guardian has been a great example of how sticking to journalistic basics and asking hard questions can uncover a lot.

This is a problem that can easily be solved.  The beauty of media giants such as CNN is that they have a wealth of connections and resources at their disposal. They can verify facts with more ease than smaller media outlets.

In short let’s not make a celebrity of Edward Snowden. Let’s focus on the NSA’s spying programs. Let’s follow its every word with same fascination we follow Amanda Bynes’ tweets.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t care where Snowden is.

 

 

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