Appearing Sunday with CNN host Howard Kurtz, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald discussed his thinking behind releasing a video interview containing explosive revelations about the National Seucirty Agency, saying he wanted to present whistleblower Edward Snowden in his own words to preempt the smear campaign that's now in high gear, as the debate seems to have taken the whole of the Western media by storm.
"[Snowden] was concerned that [the media] would distract away from the revelations of what our government is doing onto him personally," Greenwald told Kurtz. "[W]henever there's a whistleblower... the favorite tactic is to demonize him and highlight what are his alleged bad personality traits. That's why we wanted to present him in his own words to the world, so they could form their own impression before these smear campaigns began."
Then he turned his gaze to the media, which has been buzzing about Snowden since his story broke on June 9. While in some of the more fair-minded media the jury appears to still be out, there are quite a few commentators and political figures lining up to criticize him.
"I don't think there's any problem with people who want to criticize what he did on the merits, although I think it's extremely strange that people who call themselves journalists find it more contemptible than almost anything when someone steps forward and brings transparency to what the government is doing," Greenwald said. "That's supposed to be their jobs. They should be in the lead cheering for that. But, so be it. If they decide that disclosure and transparency are bad things, I think it's odd that they call themselves journalists, but they have the right to do that."
He added that the Nixon administration operated similarly, using friendly media figures to demean citizens who could pose a threat to their agenda. "It's the tactic of the establishment of trying to demean peoples' psyche and personality as a way of discrediting their revelations to the public and distracting attention away from it," Greenwald lamented. "That's, I think, what you're seeing and that's what I think is illegitimate."
This video is from CNN, aired Sunday, June 16, 2013.