Focusing On The Leaker, Not The Leak

Waldman is tired of hearing about Snowden’s personal life:

We all know that the news runs on personalities; a “story” without protagonists and antagonists isn’t a story at all, it’s just an “issue,” and that’s dullsville. But I’m sure the White House couldn’t be happier that the NSA story is quickly becoming dominated by a discussion of Edward Snowden himself, which naturally crowds out discussion of the substance of his leak and whether we want to make adjustments to the policies and programs he revealed. So now we’ll be treated to endless “investigations” of who Snowden was friends with in grade school, what kind of food he likes to eat, and any other details that can be known about him.

James Poniewozik likewise thinks the fixation on Snowden is wrongheaded:

A Snowden or Assange could be a not-so-great person advocating a worthy position, or vice versa. It’s also possible to argue, say, to condemn the government Hoovering up phone records yet question whether people with access to state secrets should be able to declassify them unilaterally. Or it should be, anyway. Dividing the debate between Team Snowden and Team NSA, though, crowds out the room for the arguments in between both poles.

Alyssa sees the issue differently:

Calling Edward Snowden “the ultimate unmediated man,” or speculating about whether or not he’s a terrible boyfriend to the live-in girlfriend he appears to have left behind in Hawaii isn’t really about the morality, efficacy, or lackthereof in his decision to leak material to Glenn Greenwald and the Washington Post. It’s a combination of prurience and a decision about whether we should invest in him in a larger sense. And whether that’s right or not, it’s not without consequence.