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Snowden: After 9/11, Media Abdicated Its Role as a Check to Power

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In a newly released interview with author and journalist Peter Maass, whistleblower Edward Snowden slams the establishment media as having dispensed with its function of acting as the Fourth Estate after 9/11.

The interview, which was conducted as an encrypted online question-and-answer session, was mediated by Laura Poitras, the documentary film maker who first interviewed Snowden along with Glenn Greenwald.

Maass asked Snowden why he approached Greenwald and Poitras with his revelations about the NSA’s spying programs instead of attempting to bring them to the attention of mainstream news outlets like the New York Times or the Washington Post.

“After 9/11, many of the most important news outlets in America abdicated their role as a check to power — the journalistic responsibility to challenge the excesses of government — for fear of being seen as unpatriotic and punished in the market during a period of heightened nationalism,” said Snowden. “From a business perspective, this was the obvious strategy, but what benefited the institutions ended up costing the public dearly. The major outlets are still only beginning to recover from this cold period.”

Snowden also shot out a warning to investigative journalists who do not encrypt their communications.

“I was surprised to realize that there were people in news organizations who didn’t recognize any unencrypted message sent over the Internet is being delivered to every intelligence service in the world. In the wake of this year’s disclosures, it should be clear that unencrypted journalist-source communication is unforgivably reckless.”

Snowden talks of his apprehension about being filmed by Poitras, and how the two interviewers thought the whistleblower “was younger than they expected.”

“I think we all knew there was no going back once she turned that camera on, and the ultimate outcome would be decided by the world,” concluded Snowden.


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