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Whistleblower or Traitor: Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg and the Power of Media Celebrity. Anthony Moretti , Ph.D. moretti@rmu.edu Robert Morris University, Moon Township, PA (USA) 2013 Moscow Readings Conference Moscow State University, Moscow, Russian Federation.

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whistleblower or traitor edward snowden daniel ellsberg and the power of media celebrity

Whistleblower or Traitor: Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg and the Power of Media Celebrity

Anthony Moretti, Ph.D.

moretti@rmu.edu

Robert Morris University, Moon Township, PA (USA)

2013 Moscow Readings Conference

Moscow State University,

Moscow, Russian Federation

snowden and ellsberg
Snowden and Ellsberg
  • Polarizing figures – hero and villain (but to whom?)
  • Interested in publicizing a (perceived or real) government mistake
  • Endured the wrath of that government
  • Operated in a different media and political environment
daniel ellsberg
Daniel Ellsberg
  • RAND Corporation employee who photocopied and then handed over to multiple news agencies a 7,000-page assessment of the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War
  • TIME magazine: Nearly a day went by before the networks and wire services took note [of the initial set of “Pentagon Papers” published by the New York Times]. The first White House reaction was to refrain from comment so as not to give the series any greater "exposure.“
  • Democrats: Publication underscored the “deception” taking place in Washington and affecting both parties
  • Republicans: How dare the New York Times make its own rules about what is national security
  • Media never offered a “label” for him
edward snowden
Edward Snowden
  • CIA contractor who sent thousands of documents to The Guardian and other newspapers about NSA surveillance of Americans, and foreign governments
  • Democratic and Republican politicians: traitor
  • Sharp criticism directed at journalists, especially Glenn Greenwald
  • Instant labeling of Snowden by media: whistleblower, source, leaker, implied traitor
40 years is a long time
40 Years Is a Long Time
  • Explaining the differences in the media and political environment
    • Corporate Ownership
      • More media owned by fewer groups
      • Cutting news staffs; shrinking news holes; declining emphasis on investigative reporting; the “homogenization” of news coverage; demanding ever-higher profits; and emphasizing people/celebrities as newsmakers
      • 1970s: Who Ellsberg is/what makes him tick irrelevant in a national conversation about serious reporting and analysis about serious issues
      • 2010s: A kind-of pop psychology about why Snowden did what he did; how social media reacted to it; drama about deportation/extradition
40 years is a long time1
40 Years Is a Long Time
  • Explaining the differences in the media and political environment
    • Technology
      • Fenton: “Speeding it up and spreading it thin”
      • Opinion seeping into news coverage
      • Boczkowski: “A journalist spends more time learning about other media than ever before, and this information increasingly influences editorial judgments
      • Carr: an emerging Fifth Estate of leakers, activists and bloggers
      • Mainstream media losing their prestige, audiences
      • 1970s: What is happening here answered by fewer media, reaching larger audiences and journalism standards clear and enforced
      • 2010s: What is happening here answered by MSM, social media, opinion programs; focus on the individual becomes easy
40 years is a long time2
40 Years Is a Long Time
  • Explaining the differences in the media and political environment
    • Changing and weakened government policies
      • FCC and its “public interest” raison d’ etre
      • Ownership of newspaper/broadcast entity and audience reach
      • Shaffer and Jordan: “Members of Congress have sponsored legislation aimed at severely limiting – and even stripping – FCC regulators of their power to review acquisitions”
      • Supreme Court ruled in favor of New York Times in 1971
so what
So What?
  • Should media reporting and analysis be on the actors and their motivations, or their actions?
  • If fewer voices are involved in conversation, then which sources enter media discourse?
  • If a journalist injects himself/herself into an issue, then what industry standards has he/she violated? And who is defining those standards?
  • In a deregulation modus operandi for government, should we be surprised that lax policies exist in media?
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