On Sunday's NBC morning talk show Meet the Press, host David Gregory lambasted Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald by implying that he was "aiding and abetting" NSA leaker Edward Snowden in his illicit activities and current movements to an as yet unconfirmed location.
Greenwald, who replied that it was "pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies," raises an alarming point relevant to the field of journalism, and whether it is in the crosshairs of the government.
Since when is it acceptable to impugn journalists for fulfilling their duties in reporting the news? Is this not already covered in our First Amendment rights of the Constitution?
While it might be easy to excuse Gregory for, perhaps, poorly picked words, the assumption in his question to Greenwald revealed all in what is an obvious proclivity to the defense of government secrets. Here, Gregory is effectively deceiving his role in society as a so-called "journalist."
As I mentioned in a previous op-ed, it isn't so much a journalist’s job to befriend the powerful as it is their job to monitor them. Greenwald has executed this to a T, in both reporting the materials delivered to him, being cautious with the contents, and protecting his source; but Gregory, instead, inferred that for this kind of work, investigative reporters should be prosecuted.
Although as a journalist himself, Gregory is entitled to ask the tough questions — even to other journalists — that isn't the question here. Gregory could have been more artful and chosen a less laden preamble to his ultimate question or he could have erred on the side of forthrightness or neutrality, but he didn't. Rather, he showcased a specific personal allegiance to the Obama administration.
Beyond his display of personal bias, Gregory also made a grandstanding demonstration of his ignorance in the legal implications of this coverage; the standard being that as long as Greenwald didn't assist in any way in procuring the information — and just received it — then it is by and large his to report.
There is a journalistic integrity and standard that is persistently being ignored today. Whether it has to do with the internet era, a decline in journalistic quality (but I shudder to think it is that), or some other eroding factor, this exchange between one solemn-brand "journalist" and a real journalist are prime examples of the journalistic route we are taking in this county, as opposed to the one we ought to.