Edward Snowden is now the talk of the town — and the world. His story on the NSA’s PRISM spying system has given exposure to a story that NSA expert James Bamford had exposed in 2008, but which no one in the mainstream media bothered to promote.
Snowden went to the Washington Post first, but when the Post waffled, he dropped them and went to Glenn Greenwald, a pro-civil rights lawyer who lives in Brazil and writes for The Guardian, a British newspaper/website. Greenwald wrote up the story as Snowden gave it to him, thereby scooping the world. He gets 100% credit, as does The Guardian. The Washington Post gets also-ran status.
These days, a leaker with a story can get his story out his way. There is always a journalist somewhere who will run it. If it’s in a major publication, which The Guardian is, the story will get coverage.
A leaker no longer has to do it anyone else’s way. He can do it his way.
This has put governments on the defensive. Because the Web acknowledges no borders, a story gets picked up and sent around irrespective of where it was published. The Guardian does not operate in the USA. It is not in the shadow of the U.S. government. It owes the U.S. government nothing. It is not dependent in any way on the U.S. government. So, the Administration’s spin-meisters have no leverage over The Guardian.
This is the age of the leakers. They can get their stories out to the public by doing an end run around their nation’s fearful mainstream media.
There are no more national gatekeepers. If a newspaper reporter wants a scoop, he will have to do it the leaker’s way — otherwise, he will be an also-ran.
It’s not 1974 any more. All the President’s Men was a good yarn — for 1974. Not today. Today, Woodward and Bernstein would be scooped by a dozen offshore media outlets.