Five Best Tuesday Columns

Eugene Robinson on the benefits of Edward Snowden's leaks, Cord Jefferson on white rioting, David Weigel on the chances of a Grand Bargain, Frank Bruni on ailing Detroit, and Brian Powell on a conflict of interest at NBC.

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Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post on what Edward Snowden's leaks accomplished We should all thank Edward Snowden for revealing the mass surveillance apparatus of the National Security Agency, not because we agree with it but because it has sparked a public conversation about privacy. "Many of those same [NSA] officials grudgingly acknowledge, however, that public debate about the NSA’s domestic snooping is now unavoidable," Robinson writes. "We’re talking about these issues. You can wish Edward Snowden well or wish him a lifetime in prison. Either way, you should thank him." Most importantly, the column got the approval of Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian reporter who worked with Snowden to reveal the confidential documents. "Most of the abuses we know about post-9/11 is because of leakers, not our gov't," tweets Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor of the Guantanamo military commissions.

Cord Jefferson in Gawker on riots and a white culture Gatherings in California after the U.S. Open of Surfing devolved into riots on Sunday night, and Jefferson takes the opportunity to criticize the perpetrators as "thuggish white youth" in a tongue-in-cheek piece mocking the self-satisfied commentary after the acquittal in the Trayvon Martin case. "White-on-white violence is a menace," he writes, and laments the failure of white parents and community leaders. "I know a lot of whites don't want to hear this kind of tough talk," he writes. "How long must we wait for the white community to get its act together?" The scathing piece was strongly applauded, as journalists happily joined in on the faux-outrage. "Phenomenal. Must read," writes The Atlantic associate editor Matt Schiavenza. "We needed this," writes National Post reporter Bruce Arthur.

David Weigel in Slate on the slim chances of a bipartisan budget deal The chance at a Republican-Democratic "Grand Bargain" to cut entitlements is being undermined by the futile right-wing political attempts to defund Obamacare. Democrats won't bargain whatsoever on defunding Obamacare, Weigel argues, and so Republicans won't be able to negotiate any deals if they continue down that road. "So the threat to Obamacare doesn’t actually scare the left. To them, it feels like the demands conservatives have made on taxes in every round of the Debt Wars." But Brian Beutler of Talking Points Memo takes the opposite view, and writes "Think @daveweigel gets this backward. Senate conservatives' zealotry is emboldening consensus-minded [Republicans] to cut deals." Still, Guardian columnist Michael Cohen doubts that any deal will ever be made. "Why do smart political reporters keep imagining that a "grand bargain" is possible? It's not."

Frank Bruni in The New York Times on ailing Detroit The Motor City was already showing signs of erosion when Bruni lived there in the 90s, but that only contributed to the city's home-spun charm. "I encountered little smugness in Detroit. ... And that wasn’t just about limited means. It was about different, more down-to-earth priorities." Detroiters, Bruni claims, are a different breed of people than the glamor-seekers of New York, San Francisco, or Washington, D.C. "They long ago made peace with Detroit’s absence of flamboyant beauty, its shortfall of romance. Home isn’t about such shimmer. Their home, at least." Current and former Detroiters responded positively to the piece, as National Journal editorial director (and Detroit native) Ron Fournier writes, "FrankBruni nails it," and Detroit Free Press writer Megha Satyanarayana tweets, "This is *exactly* how I feel about Detroit. Come as you are. Be what you are. Do as you do."

Brian Powell in Media Matters for America on NBC's Hillary Clinton documentary NBC Entertainment plans to produce a mini-series on Clinton leading up to her expected 2016 presidential run, and Powell wonders if this will undermine the objectivity of NBC News. The two groups are distinct but under the same umbrella organization, which raises "thorny ethical issues," he argues. "It remains to be seen whether American media consumers will accept the distinction and whether NBC's reputation for objective journalism will be tarnished by NBC's pursuit of ratings gold." The Daily Caller managing editor Vince Coglianese tweets that the piece "gently chides NBC," but BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith writes it actually has more to do with Media Matters than with NBC: "Media Matters inoculating itself against 2016 attacks for being a Clinton extension."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.