Now the New York Times and the nonprofit investigative reporting group ProPublica have bought partial access to the purloined papers of Edward Snowden, the fugitive patriot now residing in Moscow.
In a move clearly intended to broaden Snowden’s legal protection, his puppet master Greenwald is enlisting as many legitimate journalistic shields as possible into their joint enterprise. But what are the Times and ProPublica doing?
It would be comforting to believe those respected organizations are not just buying into Snowden but using their access to shed further objective light on his activities. But what are the odds?
At a time of turmoil for newspapers such as the Times, the vaunted line between “church and state,” editorial and business, has been breaking down. The Snowden venture may be just another breach in which institutional self-interest triumphs.
But for those who have loved the Gray Lady for so long, there is comfort in recalling the days of the Pentagon Papers, when the Times did not buy its way into classified government material but went through an arduous journalistic and legal process to publish it.
Unlike Snowden’s crime, Daniel Ellsberg’s revelations did not endanger any Americans in ongoing activities, and Ellsberg himself did not flee the country but surrendered to authorities to face the consequences of his actions.
Back then, the now-reviled mainstream media took their responsibilities seriously. What are they doing now?