At this point, it seems as if journalists reach out to Rep. Peter King for comment anytime NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden does anything of note on Earth. So when NBC aired an hour-long interview with Snowden on Wednesday night, King was there on Thursday morning to be angry about it.
On MSNBC's Morning Joe, King said that the interview was an "infomercial" for Snowden. The New York Republican added that Snowden was a "fraud" and said that the anchor's questions were negligent: "Brian Williams did not ask Edward Snowden one question," he said, "give the name of one American whose rights have been violated, give one instance where the NSA has violated the statute, has violated the court." King is so mad, he added, that he agrees with Secretary of State John Kerry on the Snowden issue. That, it seems, also makes King angry. "“I agree with John Kerry, for once I agree with John Kerry, that Edward Snowden is a traitor. He’s put American lives at risk."
Kerry, of course, was uncharacteristically angry on the morning shows on Wednesday, based on a snippet of last night's interview teased by the network. The secretary of state was angered by Snowden's assertion that he is a "patriot." Kerry said that Snowden "should man up and come back to the United States" to face charges for giving information on the NSA's covert spying programs to the press.
Meanwhile, those remarks triggered a meta reaction from Fox News host Jesse Waters, who said the following: "kind of an aristocratic guy telling him ‘man up,’ calling him ‘dumb,’ it doesn’t make a lot of sense. And if anybody’s going to call someone a traitor, I don’t know if John Kerry needs to look in the mirror." The remark prompted a physically and verbally negative on-air reaction from Fox News analyst Bob Beckell.
Although these discussions about the character of Snowden, or the character of Snowden's haters, might seem beside the point, this is exactly the sort of discussion NBC's own promotion of the interview encouraged. The network tagged the interview with the phrase "Patriot or Traitor?" and asked viewers to tweet which one they thought Snowden was while the interview aired. On Thursday, the network was able to conclude that "Americans [are] divided on whether the fugitive leaker is a patriot or a traitor — but leaning toward the prior." So that settles that.
In any case, the real backlash against Snowden — or, at least, the results of the articles published based on the information he brought to the press — was already playing out in Congress last week, after the House gutted a bill originally intended to reform the NSA's bulk data collection practices. The watered-down version of the bill, if it eventually becomes law, will not address many of the core concerns about the program raised by Snowden's leaks in the first place. That should be of concern to those who care about privacy, no matter what you think of the whistleblower himself.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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