Washington Post Calls Edward Snowden a Hypocrite — Well, They Are Too

The Washington Post editorial board published an op-ed yesterday titled: "Plugging the Leaks in the Edward Snowden case." Why the Washington Post is interested in plugging the same leaks that it assiduously published only weeks ago is beyond understanding. Although the article spends a lot of time exploring the implications of Snowden's actions for the Obama administration, it also clearly denounces his whistleblowing activities. This article demonstrates both the certain hypocrisy of the Washington Post as a major news media source in the United States.

Edward Snowden has demonstrated through his pursuit of asylum in countries like China, Russia, and Ecuador — among 19 other countries — that he does not actually imbue the Internet freedom principles he claims he does. So, he is also a hypocrite of a kind. His leaks were enlightening and admirable in bringing such pervasive privacy violation to the attention of the American people, but any action should be judged on intention and outcome. Snowden could have leaked only to an American media source, could have kept international affairs out of the conversation, and could have spent more time on thinking out the impacts of what each leak may do. People should know, but impeding the American ability to operate in international affairs is unpatriotic, unnecessary, and far from respectable.

On this basis, the Washington Post appropriately denounces Snowden and justifies its case to plug the leaks and prevent further damage to the political standing of the United States. Had the Post itself not been involved in the leaks this would be a sound and logical position. The Post, however, was part of the "problem." It was among the first sources to report on the leaks that would come to damage American political standing. Doing massive exposés on the effects of PRISM or other NSA programs on foreign governments and peoples using information from what the Post would later call a condemnable source is arguably more abhorrent than letting out the information in the first place.

The Washington Post has a responsibility as a member of the modern media to produce the truth and make the government accountable. It effectively did so on its reporting of the initial leaks. Well done, WaPo, well done. Turning around to criticize further leaks is like teaching a dog to bark and then yelling at it when it does. In addition to that hypocrisy, a media outlet portraying Edward Snowden as unpatriotic seems to undermine the purpose of the press. Media outlets need to be advocates for a free press and open society.

In sum, Edward Snowden and the Washington Post are both hypocrites. 

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George Hartmann

Georgetown University Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service Class of 2014

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